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SPRINGFIELD – May 24, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today released a statement regarding the Illinois General Assembly passing Senate Bill 2840, a key part of his proposal for Medicaid restructuring.
“I salute Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, Minority Leader Christine Radogno, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Rep. Patti Bellock, Sen. Heather Steans, Sen. Dale Righter, members of the General Assembly and everyone who joined the working group for making significant progress today towards rescuing our Medicaid system.
This is the first step toward saving Medicaid for those that rely upon it. The status quo would have led to Medicaid’s collapse, and I am pleased to see the General Assembly take strong action to put our Medicaid system and our state on the path to sound fiscal footing.
And there is more work to do.
The General Assembly must move quickly to pass legislation to add a dollar a pack to the cost of cigarettes, which – combined with today’s legislation - will achieve the necessary $2.7 billion in savings to rescue Medicaid.
Raising the price of cigarettes is also sound health policy; smoking-related conditions are a significant burden on our Medicaid system, and this measure will improve the health of our people and reduce future Medicaid costs. Members of the General Assembly should not delay in taking action to reduce our Medicaid burden and access dollar-for-dollar federal matching funds by increasing the price of cigarettes.
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today received full Senate passage of his legislation to impose a nationwide ban on the chemicals used to make the dangerous drugs known as “K2” or “Spice.” As Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, Grassley advanced the legislation, named for a young Iowa man who took his own life after using the drug.
“An 18-year-old constituent of mine tragically took his own life after using this drug,” Grassley said. “Other deaths around the country have been linked to it. It’s poison. Its manufacturing processes are largely unknown and 100 percent unregulated. In some instances, the drug is made on the floor of a household garage. People are spraying chemicals on a pile of dried plant clippings, putting that in an envelope and selling it to kids. Anybody who ingests this substance is risking their lives. A federal ban will go a long way in preventing this poison from causing any more harm.”
Grassley said the federal ban will prevent foreign manufacturers from getting their products into the United States in the first place. And a federal ban is necessary to get the material out of stores in all 50 states. The existing state bans vary from state to state and may not be broad enough to anticipate the chemical tweaks that cynical manufacturers use to evade the ban. “And the clock is ticking on how long the current federal regulatory ban will remain in place,” Grassley said. “Congress needs to finalize a permanent, comprehensive ban effective in all 50 states.”
Last year, Grassley introduced the David Mitchell Rozga Act, S. 605, named for the 18-year-old from Indianola who took his own life in June 2010, soon after using K2 purchased from his local shopping mall. Poison control centers and emergency rooms around the country are reporting skyrocketing cases of calls and visits resulting from K2 use, with physical effects including increased agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures. A number of people across the country have acted violently while under the influence of the drug, dying or injuring themselves and others.
The Senate approved the Grassley legislation as part of legislation re-authorizing a key component of Food and Drug Administration funding. The Senate also approved bans of the chemicals used to make other dangerous synthetic drugs, “bath salts,” “2C-E” and others. The measures were included in an amendment from Sen. Rob Portman. “I appreciate Sen. Portman’s attention to this issue and work to move forward on a ban,” Grassley said.
The House of Representatives passed similar legislation last December. Grassley said he hopes the House will give final passage to the synthetic drug ban as soon as possible.
“The chemicals used to produce these drugs have no household use,” Grassley said. “The manufacturers and sellers of these products are engaging in a cynical money-making ploy that plays with human life. Until a final ban is in place, everyone should stay away from these products.”
It’s necessary for Congress to act to ban the chemicals used to make the new wave of synthetic drugs because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s capacity to ban chemicals is limited. Grassley’s legislation treats K2 like other banned narcotics such as methamphetamine and cocaine. The same is true for the bills on “bath salts” and “2C-E.”
Fourth Annual Continuing Education Conference, to be held in Philadelphia on July 19-21, 2012, will feature nationally recognized lecturers in the field of obesity treatment.
MOUNT LAUREL, NJ — The 4th Annual Continuing Education (CME/CEU) Conference, The Science and Business of Weight Management for the New or Experienced Practitioner, beginning on July 19, 2012, in Philadelphia, will focus on the operational and treatment skills, techniques, and strategies healthcare professionals need to successfully open a new weight loss facility or enhance a current weight management program.
According to a May 2012 report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, about 42% of the U.S. population will be obese by 2030. Eric Finkelstein, lead author of the report, and co-authors estimate that 11% of the population will be severely obese by 2030.
Healthcare professionals are in the optimal position to improve the quality of life for individuals who are obese and overweight by reducing their weight and co-morbid conditions. As the obesity epidemic progresses, healthcare professionals should look toward educational forums to learn about the latest research advances, operational and treatment skills, techniques and strategies needed to successfully open a new weight management facility or enhance an existing program. To that end, the Annual Continuing Education Conference is pushing for education and providing an opportunity for networking and the exchange of essential knowledge.
Featured speakers at this year’s conference include: Dr. Robert F. Kushner; Judith S. Beck, PhD and Deborah Beck Busis, LSW; Thomas Wadden, PhD; John Baker, MD; John Hernried, MD; Susan Baker, MHA; and John Foreyt, MD, among others.
For more information about the 4th Annual Continuing Education (CME/CEU) Conference, The Science and Business of Weight Management for the New or Experienced Practitioner, visit www.WeightConference.com, or call Jennifer Eisenhofer at 888.519.1192, ext. 3012.
As you may know, the Supreme Court is in the process of deciding whether or not the federal government can require all Americans to purchase health insurance under the Constitution. This mandate, included in the President’s health care reform law, is an unprecedented form of federal action and government overreach.
When the health care reform law was pushed into law more than two years ago, we were told that the more Americans learned about it, the more they would like it. That has not happened. Americans remain strongly opposed to the health law and its expansion of the role of government in their lives.
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Herb Kohl, D-Wis., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., today filed an amendment seeking to combat the costly, widespread and inappropriate use of antipsychotics in nursing homes.
“The overuse of antipsychotics is a common and well-recognized problem that puts frail elders at risk and costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year,” Kohl said. “We need a new policy that helps to ensure that these drugs are being appropriately used to treat people with mental illnesses, not used to curb behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementias.”
“This amendment responds to alarming reports about the use of antipsychotic drugs with nursing home residents,” Grassley said. “It’s intended to empower these residents and their loved ones in the decisions about the drugs prescribed for them.”
“This measure is responsive to mounting evidence that antipsychotics are being misused and overused in the nursing homes we trust to care for our loved ones,” Blumenthal said. “The amendment will do what is necessary to curb this deeply concerning practice, putting the power to make key health care decisions back into the appropriate hands and eliminating unnecessary costs to taxpayers.”
The amendment to S. 3187, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act would require the Health and Human Services Secretary to issue standardized protocols for obtaining informed consent, or authorization from patients or their designated health care agents or legal representatives, acknowledging possible risks and side effects associated with the antipsychotic, as well as alternative treatment options, before administering the drug for off-label use.
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved antipsychotic drugs to treat an array of psychiatric conditions, numerous studies conducted during the last decade have concluded that these medications can be harmful when used by frail elders with dementia who do not have a diagnosis of serious mental illness. In fact, the FDA issued two “black box” warnings citing increased risk of death when these drugs are used to treat elderly patients with dementia.
Last year, the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) issued a report showing that over a six-month period, 305,000, or 14 percent, of the nation’s 2.1 million elderly nursing home residents had at least one Medicare or Medicaid claim for atypical antipsychotics.
The HHS OIG also found that 83 percent of Medicare claims for atypical antipsychotic drugs for elderly nursing home residents were associated with off-label conditions and that 88 percent were associated with a condition specified in the FDA box warning. Further, it showed that more than half of the 1.4 million claims for atypical antipsychotic drugs, totaling $116.5 million, failed to comply with Medicare reimbursement criteria.
The amendment also calls for a new prescriber education program to promote high-quality, evidence-based treatments, including non-pharmacological interventions. The prescriber education programs would be funded through settlements, penalties and damages recovered in cases related to off-label marketing of prescription drugs.