Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Grassley, Upton Seek HHS Answers on Questionable Grants for Health Care Exchanges PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 01 October 2012 07:42

Leaders Concerned With Reports of Taxpayer Dollars Paying for the Inclusion of Health Law Promotion in Network TV Shows

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan today asked the Department of Health and Human Services to explain waste and what appears to be inadequate or non-existent oversight of the open-ended federal checks awarded to states to establish health care exchanges through the President’s health care law.  More than $1 billion has been awarded to date, and revelations of questionable expenses, such as a public relations contract in California to promote the health care exchanges on primetime network television shows, continue to surface.

Grassley and Upton expressed concern over an unlimited budget and little or no restrictions and accountability for federal dollars to help states establish health care exchanges under the new federal health care law, especially in light of looming mandatory budget cuts of $1.2 trillion.  News reports have detailed the state of California’s contract with a public relations firm to “tap major network TV shows like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Modern Family’ to sell Americans on the health care law.”

“HHS has failed to provide substantive guidance to states on how the money is to be used,” Grassley and Upton wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Unsurprisingly given these facts, news reports have shown how states have engaged in questionable contracts with taxpayer dollars. … Ensuring proper use of American taxpayer dollars is of the upmost importance, and we trust that you share our concerns.”

Grassley is ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.  Upton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The text of their letter is available here.



Seniors and Seasonal Flu PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Craig Cooper   
Friday, 28 September 2012 15:27
Get In The Fight Against Flu

By Ann O'Donnell, D.O.

Genesis Health Group

Occasionally we may forget where the car keys are, or call a grandchild by a child's name, but we usually don't forget something that is free!

Flu shots won't cost you a dime out of your own pocket if you receive Medicare benefits. You can take advantage of the benefit, and protect your health, by getting a seasonal flu vaccination each year. This may be your first vaccine, your tenth or many more than that, but remember that you need it every year.

If you receive Medicare benefits, all you have to do is to show up and present your card. At Genesis flu shot clinics, and at most of the other businesses and organizations providing flu shots, your Medicare claim will be filed for you.

It is especially important if you are 65 or older that you be protected against seasonal influenza. As we age, our immune system weakens, making us more susceptible to the potentially dangerous, and sometimes fatal, complications of influenza. A frequent complication is pneumonia, so it also is a good idea to ask your physician about a pneumococcal vaccination.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 90 percent of all seasonal flu-related deaths in the U.S. each year occur in people 65 or older. The CDC also says that more than 60 percent of the flu-related hospitalizations also occur in people 65 or older.

Every year the vaccine is modified to reflect the strains that have been prominent in the world in the previous year. Usually the vaccine will protect against at least three different strains of the influenza virus. That is why one shot does not cover you for longer than one flu season. The best way to help prevent the spread of the virus is with good hand hygiene, cough etiquette and avoiding public contact with people who are sick. A flu vaccination is your best “additional” insurance against developing the flu.

If you get the flu, seek medical attention, especially if you have other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, COPD or heart disease. You'll likely know you have the flu from the fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and extreme fatigue. Influenza is a respiratory illness, not gastrointestinal. A doctor may suggest antiviral medication if you are just beginning to have the symptoms. Antivirals are more effective when the flu is diagnosed early. If you have had the disease for several days, the antiviral may have limited effectiveness. Fluids, rest and time are the key components to treatment. Like it or not, we can not hurry “Father Time.”

You may have heard of herd immunity. That is the concept that if the people around you have been vaccinated, you will be protected even if you haven't been vaccinated. This doctor's advice would be to not take the risk. If more people think that way, we will be looking at an outbreak of the flu in epidemic proportions. Get vaccinated!

Genesis is doing its part to create an umbrella of flu protection over the region. Last year, the health system vaccinated about 35,000 people, including 9,400 elementary school children, who received free flu shots from the Flu-Free Quad Cities program.

No excuses. It's free if you have Medicare and you'll not only protect yourself, but your family, friends and loved ones around you.

Dr. Ann O'Donnell, D.O. is medical director of Genesis Hospice and the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House.

New Report: Iowa Families Buying Health Insurance Would Pay Much More under Romney than under ObamaCare PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Matt Sinovic   
Friday, 28 September 2012 15:19

Families Buying Health Coverage on Their Own Would Pay an Average of $11,163 under Romney’s Proposals in 2016, Compared to $7,021 under ObamaCare

330,000 More Iowans Would Be Uninsured under Romney than under ObamaCare in 2016; by 2022, the Difference Would Grow to 400,000

Washington, D.C. – Iowa families buying non-group health insurance on their own in 2016 would pay, on average, about 60 percent more under the health proposals offered by presidential candidate Mitt Romney than under ObamaCare: $11,163 compared to $7,021, according to a new report released today.

That large differential includes comparative insurance premium payments as well as out-of-pocket costs (such as deductibles and copayments) paid by families when they receive health care.

The report uses never-before-released national and state-by-state data to analyze and compare health care benefits and costs among three different plans: RomneyCare (the Massachusetts health law signed by then-Governor Mitt Romney in 2006), ObamaCare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010), and RomneyCandidateCare, the health care proposals of presidential candidate Romney.

Titled “ObamaCare versus RomneyCare versus RomneyCandidateCare,” the report was prepared by the national health consumer organization Families USA, together with three distinguished health analysts who participated in the development and promotion of both RomneyCare and ObamaCare. [Biographical background of those analysts is provided at the end of this release.]

The report shows significant similarities between ObamaCare and RomneyCare but substantial differences between ObamaCare and RomneyCandidateCare, including the following:

·      170,000 middle-class Iowans would receive tax credit subsidies to help pay for insurance premiums under ObamaCare in 2016, while only about 100,000 Iowans would receive tax deduction subsidies to help pay for insurance premiums under RomneyCandidateCare;

·      The average size of those tax credit subsidies under ObamaCare would be $5,256 in 2016, while the average size of the RomneyCandidateCare tax deduction subsidies would be about half that amount ($2,637) in 2016;

·      In the absence of any health reform, there would be 410,000 uninsured people in Iowa in 2016. ObamaCare reduces the number of uninsured in that year by 210,000, but RomneyCandidateCare increases the number of uninsured by 120,000—a differential of 330,000 Iowans;

·      In the absence of any health reform, there would be 440,000 uninsured people in Iowa in 2022. ObamaCare reduces the number of uninsured in that year by 230,000, but RomneyCandidateCare increases the number of uninsured by 170,000—a differential of 400,000;

·  In 2016 and 2022, respectively, there would be 530,000 and 610,000 Iowans uninsured under RomneyCandidateCare.

On the national level, the contrast between ObamaCare and RomneyCandidateCare is just as stark:

·      In the absence of any health reform, there would be 56.0 million uninsured people nationwide in 2016. ObamaCare reduces the number of uninsured in that year by 30.7 million, but RomneyCandidateCare increases the number of uninsured by 11.2 million—a differential of 41.9 million;


·      Nationwide in the absence of any health reform, there would be 60.0 million uninsured people in 2022. ObamaCare reduces the number of uninsured in that year by 32.9 million, but RomneyCandidateCare increases the number of uninsured by almost 18 million—a differential of 50.9 million;

·      Nationwide in 2016 and 2022, there would be 67.2 million and 78.0 million uninsured, respectively, under RomneyCandidateCare. From the latest Census Bureau findings that 48.6 million people were uninsured in 2011, these totals represent 38.3 percent and 60.5 percent increases in the number of uninsured.


“ObamaCare and the Massachusetts-based RomneyCare, on the one hand, and RomneyCandidateCare, on the other hand, are as different as day and night,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA.

“Under RomneyCandidateCare, middle-class families would pay comparatively much more out of pocket for their health care, and the number of uninsured Americans would skyrocket,” said Pollack.


There are key differences between ObamaCare and RomneyCandidateCare that affect current Medicare beneficiaries as well. Under ObamaCare, seniors and people with disabilities in Medicare receive free preventive care services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. This new benefit is already in effect, and 25.7 million people enrolled in traditional Medicare—348,400 in Iowa—received such free services in 2011. By repealing ObamaCare, Governor Romney would require Medicare beneficiaries to pay for those benefits.


Similarly, ObamaCare helps Medicare beneficiaries that have high prescription drug costs and who fall in the large drug coverage gap called the “doughnut hole.” Currently, as a result of ObamaCare, seniors falling into the doughnut hole receive 50 percent discounts on their brand-name drugs; and by 2020, the doughnut hole will be completely eliminated.


In 2011, 44,500 Iowa Medicare beneficiaries who fell in the doughnut hole received discount help, and that help averaged $621 per person. Again, this and future help for seniors with high drug costs would be eliminated under RomneyCandidateCare.


“ObamaCare’s free preventive care and prescription medicine help are important for Medicare beneficiaries to enable them to remain healthy,” said Pollack. “Taking away these important benefits would cause great harm to Iowa’s seniors and people with disabilities.”


The report uses 2016 for the comparison because that is the last year of the next president’s term of office, and it is a year when there is full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


The full report, “ObamaCare versus RomneyCare versus RomneyCandidateCare,” is available at




The development of this Families USA report was aided enormously by three distinguished health policy analysts who played significant roles in the development and promotion of RomneyCare and ObamaCare. They are:


·      Stuart Altman is the Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Dr. Altman served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Nixon Administration and was one of the architects of Nixon’s health reform plan. He was Chair of the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission for 12 years under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. President Clinton appointed him to the president’s Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare.


·      Jonathan Gruber is a Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Gruber served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy in the U.S. Treasury Department. He is a gubernatorial appointee to the Board of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority. He is the Director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Program on Children. The new data in this report were derived from a model developed by Dr. Gruber.


·      John McDonough is a Professor of Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health, and he is the Director of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Leadership. From 2003 to 2008, Dr. McDonough served as the Executive Director of Health Care for All in Massachusetts, where he played a central role in the 2006 passage of RomneyCare. He served as Senior Adviser in the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where he played a major role in developing the health insurance expansion provisions of ObamaCare.


Families USA is the national organization for health care consumers and is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) organization that does not endorse, support, or oppose political candidates. Its mission is to achieve high-quality, affordable health coverage and care for all Americans.

Davenport Area Healthiest State Walk Set for October 3 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ron Summers   
Friday, 28 September 2012 14:54
- Goals: Continue momentum, build on successful 2011 event -

Davenport, Iowa – Residents of the Davenport and the greater Quad Cities will join with thousands of other Iowans in a one-kilometer Healthiest State Walk at 12 noon on Wednesday, October 3. Local walkers will meet at the River’s Edge, 700 West River Drive. We will walk from River Drive to Credit Island and back, with an option for those that would like to hike around the 2.3 miles island.

State organizers hope to involve even more than the 291,000-plus Iowans who participated in the Healthiest State Initiative’s “Start Somewhere” walk in 2011. A kilometer is about 7.5 city blocks, a 12-minute stroll for the average walker. Walkers can sign up for the event at

“Iowans showed their extraordinary support of the Healthiest State Initiative with last year’s walk,” said Theresa Hauman, local coordinator. “By itself, of course, a one-kilometer walk is not enough to change the health of the state, but we’re encouraging even more residents of the Davenport and greater Quad City area to join in this year’s event and maintain our momentum toward becoming the healthiest state.”

In 2011, Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds announced the plan to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation within five years as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®. In 2011, Iowa ranked 16th compared to all other states, up from the 19th position in 2010.

“The intent of the Healthiest State Walk is to encourage Iowans to take their own steps that will help us improve our state’s well-being rank,” Branstad said when announcing the 2012 walk date. ”The Healthiest State Initiative this year will continue to champion existing well-being programs with special emphasis on encouraging local walk groups, workplace well-being, consumption of fruits and vegetables, and smoking cessation. Progress in these areas will translate to a healthier Iowa and better quality of life for all its residents.”

The Healthiest State Initiative is a privately led, public effort that engages Iowans and their communities throughout the state. It involves individuals, families, businesses, faith-based organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a broad-based community-focused effort. For more information, visit


The War on Me PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 14:26
By: Letha Hadady, D.Ac.

Politicians arguing on the campaign trail carve up crucial issues of health and well-being by reducing them, especially Medicare and Medicaid, to numbers. Republicans would privatize Medicare, turning over this essential safety net for our seniors to private insurance companies. Have you dealt with one of your insurance companies lately?

Obamacare, passed into law by a Democratically controlled Congress, cuts some $700 billion from Medicare by limiting payments to doctors and hospitals. This will add to the list of hospitals and clinics going broke and to the physicians who refuse to accept patients who are on Medicare. Medicaid, which pays not only for services to the poor but nursing care for the elderly, is already in the tender grip of the hard-up states and is being slashed.

Politicians forget that everybody suffers from reduced health care. Germs and their attendant illnesses don’t care about the numbers: If I am sick, you are likely next in line. A hospital that must cut its cleaning staff will spread illness not only to its own patients but to the public. When it comes to health care, we are all in this together—which is why we must individually do more to protect ourselves, our families, and everybody else.

Last winter I retreated to my favorite hotel in the Florida Keys to finalize my most recent book, Naturally Pain Free (Sourcebooks, July 2012). While sunning at the pool I noticed a strange bite on my arm — from a flying insect or a spider? The bug bite was not warm or itchy, but I began to feel slightly feverish. After two decades running an alternative health practice based on traditional Asian medicines, I know trouble when I feel it. I quickly consulted a local physician who, even before the test proved positive, assured me I had contracted MRSA, the most dangerous of antibiotic-resistant staph infections.

Left untreated, MRSA can eat into flesh, and once it enters the bloodstream it is deadly. Rampant in hospitals, superbugs such as MRSA presently account for 100,000 deaths annually in the United States alone. Superbugs may be passed on at the pool, beach, gym, or yoga class. Pets can catch MRSA and pass it on to their owners. The Infectious Diseases Society of America warns, “because bacteria are constantly evolving and outsmarting the drugs used against them ... we are losing the ability to fight lethal infections.”

I passed on my infection to my lifelong partner (with a kiss and by sharing bedsheets,) but I learned not only how MRSA is treated but how to avoid it, which I incorporated into Naturally Pain Free. Personalized prevention (at home and in public) is the first defense for any illness and there are many natural therapies you can try that don’t require a prescription.

How’s your blood pressure? A little on the high side? You have lots of company. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 67 million Americans have hypertension but less than half are being treated. The condition can and does lead to discomfort, strokes, and heart attacks, the No. 1 killer of men and women.

Fortunately, you can lower your blood pressure by making a few dietary changes, doing simple, non-challenging exercises, and adding a few time-tested herbal remedies to your daily routine. (The information is available on my website,

Whether on my website, Facebook, or call-in radio shows, I am often asked for advice about curing or ameliorating pain -- backache, headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, toothache. The best answer is to take measures to ensure the body does not need to generate pain to call your attention to an underlying illness. However, an almost universal treatment to mitigate pain is centuries-old: acupuncture.

Many people suffer migraines. The most effective remedy addresses the source of head and neck pain, including tension, digestive problems or muscle spasm. But a tea made with Chinese chrysanthemum flowers will also help. For eyestrain headaches I often recommend a tea made with nourishing Tibetan goji berries.

This season, notices for flu shots seem to be in every pharmacy and even supermarkets. Here is a simple preventive for colds and flu: Gargle twice a day with a couple drops of Australian tea tree oil in a half-glass of warm water, and swab the inside of the nose with a Q-tip and tea tree oil.

There is talk of politicians waging a war on women. I say it is a war on men and women — on you and me. While personal prevention is the first shield against illness, we also must have easy access to affordable medical care in order to treat illnesses and avoid spreading them.

Tell the politicians by voting in November. But first, vote for yourself by practicing the art of self-defense.

About Letha Hadady

Letha Hadady is globally renowned for her expertise in traditional Asian and alternative health. The author of five books, including her latest “Naturally Pain Free,” Letha has made extensive appearances on TV, talk radio and the internet. Letha is an adjunct faculty member for New York Open Center, and The Renfield Center for Nursing Education, Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. She has led stress-management workshops and acted as a natural product consultant for Sony Entertainment Inc., Dreyfus, Ogilvy & Mather, and Consumer Eyes, Inc. in New York. Her website is

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