Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Braley's Plain Language in Health Insurance Act Goes into Effect Today PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Amanda Bowman   
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 07:53

Waterloo, IA – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today announced that his “Plain Language in Health Insurance Act” is going into effect. The bill requires health insurers to write healthcare documents in simple, easy-to-understand language. The goal of the act is to lower costs and cut confusion for insurance consumers.

The Plain Language in Health Insurance Act was originally introduced on June 25, 2009, and was incorporated as part of the Affordable Care Act.

In the bill, publicly distributed material issued by health insurance providers must be written in plain language. As of today, health insurers are required to provide consumers with a standard template outlining benefits and costs in easy-to-understand language. For an example of the template that must be used by insurance companies, see

Documents written in plain language result in significant cost savings for organizations who implement the changes, and are easier for everyone, young and old, to understand.


“For the average person, trying to decipher an insurance company’s prescription drug formulary or shopping for health insurance in comparative brochures is incredibly confusing and difficult,” said Braley. “That is why providing clear, plain information to all of our citizens is important to help Iowans make smarter choices about their health insurance, as well as keep healthcare costs down for everyone. This is a common sense approach that is being implemented at a low-cost with high savings.”


Braley also wrote and introduced The Plain Writing Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2010. The law requires government agencies to write forms and other public documents in simple, easy-to-understand language. In July, Braley joined with the Center for Plain Language to unveil the first-ever “Plain Language Report Card” and continues to implement easy to understand writings across government agencies.

The Federal Plain Language Guidelines provide an outline for these best practices. According to the guidelines, plain language documents should, for example:

  • Use short, simple words
  • Use “you” and other pronouns to speak directly to readers
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Avoid legal, foreign, and technical jargon
  • Avoid double negatives

For a full description of the Federal Plain Language Guidelines, see

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Iowa Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Joyce David   
Thursday, 20 September 2012 08:02
The Iowa Mission of Mercy is rapidly approaching, and we are very excited about our two-day free dental clinic in Davenport on October 5-6 at the RiverCenter. A couple of thoughts:
  • We have an urgent need for interpreters.  Each year, Iowa MOM has a number of non-English speaking patients, and we need help communicating with them. We could use a wide variety of volunteers including those who speak Spanish, French, Vietnamese, as well African languages.
  • We have a number of local dentists including Dr. Mary Mariani and Dr. Kyle Gagliardo are available to talk about the event, the patients we serve, as well as past experiences.
Volunteers are desperately needed to help out with the Fifth Annual Iowa Mission of Mercy (Iowa MOM), which is a free dental clinic held in Davenport in early October.  There are two types of volunteers needed. 
1. Professional volunteers including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants.  
2. Lay volunteers to help take groups of patients from one area toanother.  Duties may include serving food or help check patients in or out.
Plus, there is ahuge need for translators.  There is a sign-up form on the Iowa Dental Association website.
As you are probably aware,  the Fifth Annual Iowa Mission of Mercy, free dental clinic will be held Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6 at the River Center in Davenport.  Clinic hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.   The Iowa MOM is a two-day free dental clinic for any child or adult that needs dental services, regardless of income or previous dental history.  Patients are seen on a first-come, first-served basis, so individuals are encouraged to arrive early and expect long lines.
FYI: Usually people will wait in line overnight for dental treatment, but the line is not allowed to form until 5 p.m. on Oct. 4. 

Here is the link to the Iowa Dental Association website:

Lt. Governor Simon to drivers: Texting while driving can wait PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Kara Beach   
Thursday, 20 September 2012 07:59

Simon signs “It Can Wait” pledge on national “No Text on Board” day

CHAMPAIGN – September 19, 2012. In her campaign to end texting while driving, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today urged Parkland College students to take the “It Can Wait” pledge to practice safe texting.

As the Governor’s point person on education reform and an advocate for community college students, Simon urged the Champaign undergraduates to log onto Facebook and take the pledge as part of a national “No Text on Board” event sponsored by AT&T and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Nationwide, drivers are 23 times more likely to get in an accident if they text while driving. In the first half of 2011 in Illinois, cell phone distractions were the cause of more than 500 crashes.

“Most community college students commute to class on a daily basis and need to understand the grave danger of texting while driving,” said Simon, who signed the pledge with students at John A. Logan College in Carterville last week. “I’ve taken the pledge to never text and drive, and I encourage students everywhere to join me. When you are driving, put down your phone – it can wait.”

AT&T hosted 11 events throughout Illinois on the “No Text on Board” pledge day. Other supporters included Governor Pat Quinn, Secretary of State Jesse White, and officials of the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Tollway and IDOT. AT&T also premiered a new public service announcement from Chicago basketball star Derrick Rose that will appear on the AT&T website, Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

To take the pledge, you can log on to

“Our goal is to save lives,” said John Quinn, External Affairs Director, AT&T Illinois. “Too many lives have been forever changed by a texting-while-driving accident, and together, we want to spread the word about how deadly a single text can be. We’re challenging everyone to take the pledge to never text and drive and to make it a lifelong commitment.”

Parkland College Vice President for Student Services Dr. Linda Moore said that to promote safe driving among students, the college will provide an informational posting on its student intranet, as well as promoting the initiative through social media and its website.

“We want to ensure our students are safe and understand the message that texting and driving can have serious consequences. We want our students to stay on the path to a brighter future, and part of that path is traveling responsibly when driving,” Moore said.

“We believe community colleges are uniquely positioned to help in the effort against texting and driving and we fully support the initiative from Lt. Governor Simon and AT&T,” said Geoff Obrzut, president and CEO, Illinois Community College Board.

"I am confident that my colleagues from the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents join with me and Lt. Governor Simon in enthusiastically supporting the ‘It Can Wait’ anti-texting while driving campaign," said Margaret B. "Peg" Lee, Oakton Community College President and President of the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents.


How to Spot a Victim of Domestic Violence PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 15:02
Health-Care Pro Discusses the Many Warning Signs

In the United States, women are assaulted or beaten once every nine seconds; worldwide, one in three women have been battered, raped or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to women’s advocacy organizations.

“That means most of us – while grocery shopping, at work or at home – come across several women a day who have either been abused, or are currently enduring abuse,” says Linda O’Dochartaigh, a health professional and author of Peregrine ( “It’s a terrible fact of life for too many women, but if there is something we can do about it and we care about fellow human beings, then we must try.”

There are several abuse resources available to women who are being abused, or friends of women who need advice, including:, National Domestic Violence Hotline, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, 1-800-799-SAFE (7223), provides unbiased, advertising-free mental health information to give people the self-help options to help people understand, prevent, and resolve life’s challenges, allows women to search for an offender in custody by name or identification number, then register to be alerted if the offender is released,  transferred, or escapes, 1-888-7HELPLINE, offers crisis intervention and support services for victims of intimate partner violence and their families

Perhaps the best thing friends and family can do for a woman enduring domestic abuse is to be there for her – not only as a sympathetic ear, but also as a source of common sense that encourages her to take protective measures, O’Dochartaigh says. Before that, however, loved ones need to recognize that help is needed.

O’Dochartaigh reviews some of the warning signs:

• Clothing – Take notice of a change in clothing style or unusual fashion choices that would allow marks or bruises to be easily hidden. For instance, someone who wears long sleeves even in the dog days of summer may be trying to hide signs of abuse.

• Constant phone calls – Many abusers are very controlling and suspicious, so they will call their victims multiple times each day to “check in.” This is a subtle way of manipulating their victims, to make them fearful of uttering a stray word that might alert someone that something is wrong. Many abusers are also jealous, and suspect their partner is cheating on them, and the constant calls are a way of making sure they aren’t with anyone they aren’t supposed to be around.

• Unaccountable injuries – Sometimes, obvious injuries such as arm bruises or black eyes are a way to show outward domination over the victim. Other times, abusers harm areas of the body that won’t be seen by family, friends and coworkers.

• Frequent absences – Often missing work or school and other last-minute plan changes may be a woman hiding abuse, especially if she is otherwise reliable.

• Excessive guilt & culpability – Taking the blame for things that go wrong, even though she was clearly not the person responsible – or she is overly-emotional for her involvement – is a red flag.

• Fear of conflict – Being brow-beaten or physically beaten takes a heavy psychological toll, and anxiety bleeds into other relationships.

• Chronic uncertainty – Abusers often dominate every phase of a victim’s life, including what she thinks she likes, so making basic decisions can prove challenging.

About Linda O’Dochartaigh

Linda O’Dochartaigh has worked in health care is an advocate for victims of child abuse and domestic violence.  She wants survivors to know that an enriched, stable and happy life is available to them. O’Dochartaigh is the mother of three grown children and is raising four adopted grandchildren.

New Executive Order Increases Government Data Available to the Public CHICAGO – September 18, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new executive order to further increase transparency and accountability in government by establishing a new state Ope PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Craig Cooper   
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 14:59

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