Health, Medicine & Nutrition
American Lung Association Report Says U.S. at Tipping Point for Policies that Help Smokers Quit PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Micki Sandquist   
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 14:35
Coverage in Iowa is lacking

Des Moines, IA– The United States is at a tipping point when it comes to policies that help smokers quit, according to the American Lung Association’s ―Helping Smokers Quit: Tobacco Cessation Coverage 2012‖ report. The annual report provides a  comprehensive review of each state’s tobacco cessation coverage and an up-to-date look at federal coverage and requirements
under the Affordable Care Act.

“Over the next year key decisions will be made by the federal government and the states about whether or not they will help save lives, prevent disease and reduce health costs,” said Micki Sandquist, Executive Director at the American Lung Association in Iowa. “We know that the vast majority of smokers want to quit, but the complex web of state and federal coverage for effective quit smoking programs and treatments prevents too many from getting the help they need. States and the federal government can reduce the enormous health burden of tobacco use by providing access to these proven interventions.”

The American Lung Association report shows that the federal government has missed several key opportunities to improve access to quit smoking medications and counseling. The record for the states is mixed, but far too many fail to ensure coverage.

The report’s key findings are:

Medicaid Coverage:

Two states provide comprehensive cessation coverage: Indiana and Massachusetts; two states provide NO cessation coverage: Alabama and Georgia; four states provided new counseling benefits for pregnant women in 2012: Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota; and Connecticut and Tennessee announced new benefits for everyone in 2012 that are close to comprehensive.

State Employee Health Plan Coverage:

Four states provide comprehensive coverage: Illinois, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Rhode Island;

Zero states provide no coverage; and Florida, Georgia, Nebraska and New Jersey added new cessation benefits for state
employees in 2012.

Investment in State Quitlines:

Telephone quitlines are also an essential part of any state’s tobacco cessation efforts. As more and more smokers want to quit, the majority of states are not providing adequate funding for their quitlines.

Only two states—Maine and South Dakota—currently invest in quitlines at or above the recommended amount. This is a critical lost opportunity for people who are trying to quit.

Federal Coverage:

On November 26, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed rule that requires the Essential Health Benefit coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act to cover preventive services, including tobacco cessation.  However, because HHS has not yet defined what insurers must include as part of a tobacco cessation benefit, the Administration missed a crucial opportunity. Now, each state can choose its own benchmark plan, which will then serve as the Essential Health Benefit standard for plans in that state’s health insurance exchange. Until HHS officially defines a comprehensive tobacco cessation benefit, it has missed a crucial opportunity to provide many smokers with new access to help quitting, and to establish tobacco cessation as a truly essential health benefit for all health insurance coverage.

Iowa policymakers can now help smokers quit by including comprehensive tobacco cessation benefits as they implement state health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansions.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The economic costs in the U.S. due to tobacco total $193 billion annually. Providing comprehensive quit-smoking treatments is crucial in both saving lives and curbing health costs – one recent study showed that providing this help has a 3-to-1 return on investment.

“Giving all smokers access to a comprehensive cessation benefit is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said Sandquist. “The bottom line is that quitting smoking saves lives and saves money.”

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Editor’s Note: Available as a standalone graphic is ―Tobacco Cessation Treatment: What is covered?‖— the American Lung Association’s breakdown of what the biggest health insurance programs cover for tobacco cessation and how the Affordable Care Act changes coverage.

About the American Lung Association in Iowa: Our mission is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungIA.org.

 
Give one last gift this holiday season, give blood PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ben Corey   
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 14:10

PEORIA, Ill. (Dec. 4, 2012) — The holiday season is here, and with it comes the exchange of gifts amongst family and friends. But many hospital patients have a gift on their wish list this year that only generous hearts can give: a blood donation.

Once the hustle and bustle of the holidays subsides, the American Red Cross reminds people to give one last gift — give blood. A blood donation can be the most meaningful gift of the season.

As many as 44,000 blood donations are needed every day across the country to meet the needs of patients. Make an appointment to donate by visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities:

Carroll County
Dec. 29 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 502 Third St. in Savanna, Ill.

Clinton County
Dec. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lyondell Chemical Co., 3400 Anamosa Road in Clinton, Iowa

Henry County
Dec. 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Kewanee Hospital, 1051 W. South St. in Kewanee, Ill.
Dec. 26 from 2-6 p.m. at First Christian Church, 105 Dwight St. in Kewanee, Ill.

Mercer County
Dec. 18 from 12-6 p.m. at VFW Hall, 106 SW Third Ave. in Aledo, Ill.

Scott County
Dec. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mel Foster Co., 3211 E. 35th St. Court in Davenport, Iowa

Whiteside County
Dec. 18 from 1-5:15 p.m. at River Bend Senior Center, 912 Fourth St. in Fulton, Ill.
Dec. 19 from 2-6 p.m. at Rock Falls Blood Donation Center, 112 W. Second St. in Rock Falls, Ill.
Dec. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rock Falls Blood Donation Center, 112 W. Second St. in Rock Falls, Ill.
Dec. 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at River Bend Senior Center, 912 Fourth St. in Fulton, Ill.
Dec. 27 from 3-7 p.m. at Rock Falls Blood Donation Center, 112 W. Second St. in Rock Falls, Ill.

The need is constant. The gratification is instant. Give blood.™

Shop the Holiday Giving Catalog:  The 2012 Holiday Giving Catalog at redcross.org/holiday has even more charitable gift ideas. Shoppers can buy food and shelter for disaster victims, phone cards for members of the U.S. armed forces or vaccinations for an entire village, among many other gifts. Catalog purchases come with greeting cards for loved ones, letting them know a donation was made in their name.

How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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IOWA FARM BUREAU PARTNERS WITH HEALTH CARE BENEFIT ADMINISTRATOR TO HELP MEMBERS MANAGE RISING HEALTH CARE COSTS PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Laurie Johns   
Monday, 03 December 2012 11:11

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Dec. 3, 2012 – Farmers, like many self-employed Iowans, are concerned about the rising costs for health care and the changing environment of health care regulations. To kick off Iowa Farm Bureau Week Dec. 2 – 8, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) has added a new benefit partner to help members qualify for an average of over $4,000 in tax savings to reduce out-of-pocket and health insurance premium costs.

BASE, a third party benefit administration company headquartered in Adel, Iowa, will work with Farm Bureau members who are self-employed or small business owners to customize a benefit plan for their specific needs and ensure the plan is in compliance with government regulations. More than 70 percent of self-employed are able to qualify for tax advantaged plans, regardless of how their business is structured.  BASE will also offer exclusive savings to Iowa Farm Bureau members on these plans, providing another tool in Farm Bureau’s suite of supplemental health care benefits designed to ease the pinch of rising costs.

“As farmers, we depend on our certified public accountant to provide us with every legitimate tax deduction we can get. That’s why we’ve been using the BASE Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) to deduct our medical expenses each year,” said Joanne Piercy, a farmer in Lenox. “With such a great tax savings each year, we’ll continue to take advantage of the BASE HRA as long as we’re farming.”

Iowa Farm Bureau members who own a farm or business and pay for health insurance premiums or out-of-pocket health care costs or are looking to provide an additional benefit to employees should contact BASE at (866) 550-5525 to see if they qualify. For more information, go to www.BASEonline.com or www.iowafarmbureau.com.

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The Fiscal Cliff &The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Marilyn M. Singleton, MD, JD   
Monday, 03 December 2012 11:10

It’s doubtful that the country will be popping bottles of champagne on January 1, 2013—we can’t afford it. But we will be throwing confetti printed by the Federal Reserve over a cliff.

As of November 27, 2012, the country's debt was $16.279 trillion—just $115 billion below the $16.394 trillion statutory ceiling. The Treasury predicts that borrowing will reach the current limit near the end of December 2012. Right around the Mayan calendar “end date” of 12-21-12.

Apocalyptic prophecies aside, there are a number of things that are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012. One is the Medicare “Doc Fix,” which postponed until Dec 31 the day that the rates at which Medicare pays physicians will decrease by 27 percent. Another is the “Bush tax cuts.” On January 1, all income tax, estate, and capital gains tax rates will go up substantially, and millions more people will be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax.

Then there are new taxes, compliments of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ObamaCare), some of which take effect in 2013. These include the Medicare surtax on so-called millionaires and billionaires, i.e., individuals making more than $200,000 a year ($250,000 if married), and a new 3.8% tax on capital gains and dividends, interest, and other passive income. The now infamous penalty-that-is-really-a-tax kicks in for those who don’t buy government-approved health insurance in 2014. Another revenue-raising measure is a cap of $2,500 on previously unlimited Flexible Spending Accounts. This discourages Americans from taking personal responsibility for medical spending instead of relying on third-party payments.

And January 2 could ring in sequestration, that is, automatic budget cuts. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) authorized the President to increase the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion in exchange for some $917 billion in cuts, from 2012 to 2021, in “discretionary”—that is, nonentitlement—programs such as defense, education, national parks, the FBI, the EPA, low-income housing assistance, medical research, and many others. Unless Congress and the President agree to modify or repeal the BCA, spending reductions of some $109 billion per year with half coming from defense budget and half from nondefense are triggered. Sequestration for Medicare payments to health care providers and health plans is limited to 2%.

The President does not want cuts to his signature law, the inappropriately named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). It is, however, a financial disaster. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected a cost of $1.4 trillion over 10 years, but if we look at history, such projections are meaningless. In 1967, the House Ways and Means Committee said Medicare would only cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual cost was $110 billion. In 2010, total Medicare expenditures were $523 billion. Medicare spending has been forecasted by the CBO to increase to $922 billion in 2020.

Just the IRS and HHS costs to implement the PPACA, $20 billion over 10 years, exceed the House’s initial estimate for all Medicare spending. And how can we afford a vast new entitlement when the CBO admits in an Oct 1 report, CRS Report R41390, that “even maintaining current funding levels for existing programs with an established appropriations history may prove a challenge under growing pressure to reduce federal discretionary spending.”

In the PPACA, there are about 100 new programs with noble-sounding names or goals: for example, the program to facilitate shared decision making, culture change (to patient-centered care), the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, the Offices of Minority Health, and the Offices on Women’s Health. But none have been evaluated for effectiveness before we start pouring money into them. Under the circumstances, I think we should add more funds to the newly minted Centers of Excellence for Depression.

Fortunately, the PPACA’s discretionary provisions are subject to the congressional appropriations process, which can potentially defund a program. Additionally, appropriations are needed for administrative costs associated with even exempt programs. Thus, Congress has the power to back off from the PPACA contribution to the cliff, if it has the will to do so.

The cliff, however, is not going away. Cliff diving, anyone?

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http://www.aapsonline.org/

 
Digital Eye Exam Machine Needed for QC's PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by M. McNeil   
Monday, 03 December 2012 11:09
The Early Childhood Coalition is hoping the generous Holiday spirit in the Quad Cities will help the group get a new digital eye exam machine this fall

(Moline, IL)  The Early Childhood Coalition (ECC) has been coordinating efforts to offer monthly free Early Learning Screenings for children 4 months to age five at various locations throughout Rock Island County for years.  The group also has spent a decade offering vision, hearing and overall developmental screenings.  Now it wants to make the screenings more effective and quicker.  This can be done with a new digital vision camera called the “Spot”, manufactured by Pediavision.

The Secretary of the ECC, Lisa Viaene, says the current camera the group is using, the ‘Photo Screener’ is becoming obsolete and the film is no longer being produced.  Viaene says the new camera will cost almost eight thousand dollars and she is reaching out to the community for assistance in securing the funds.   Since the group began their monthly screenings in September of 2002 more than 2,200 children have been screened.  Viaene says with the new camera thousands more children will be served.  She says when vision problems are found early children will be more successful throughout their lives.
***The media are invited to hear more information on the new camera on Monday, December 3 at 9:00 at the Early Childhood Coalition/AOK office (4341 18th Avenue Rock Island).

 
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