Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Harkin Announces Over $7.5 Million for Iowa Health Centers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 08:33

Funding comes from Affordable Care Act Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that six Iowa communities will be awarded funding totaling $7,582,021.00 from the Affordable Care Act Capital Development’s Immediate Facility Improvement and Building Capacity grant programs. The funding will help build, expand, and improve community health centers in the state. As Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Harkin played a pivotal role in passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  He is also Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies.

“Particularly in these tough economic times, community health centers play a vital role in our state, providing health care for thousands of Iowans who lack adequate health insurance,” said Harkin.  “These Affordable Care Act funds will help health centers care for additional patients while also creating jobs in these communities.  I applaud Secretary Sebelius for today’s announcement and congratulate the Iowa communities that were awarded funding.”

Today’s awards are part of a series of investments that are made available to community health centers under the Affordable Care Act, which provides $9.5 billion to expand services nationally over five years and $1.5 billion to support major construction and renovation projects at community health centers.  According to a new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services, the ACA has already supported 190 construction and renovation projects at health centers and the creation of 67 new health center sites across the country, and will support more than 485 new health center construction and renovation projects and the creation of 245 new community health center sites nationwide over the next two years.

Details of the funding are as follows:

Immediate Facility Improvements Program:
Davenport-Community Health Care, Inc.-$38,750
Dubuque-Crescent Community Health Center-$260,053
Leon-Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa, Inc.-$483,500
Urbandale-Primary Health Care, Inc.-$499,718

Building Capacity Grant Program:
Ottumwa-River Hills Community Health Center-$5,000,000 for consolidation of facilities
Sioux City-Siouxland Community Health Center-$1,300,000 for expansion of current facilities

 
Haiku as a Spiritual Practice PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Unitarian Universalist Congregation   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 14:20
Nancy Huse, retired professor of English at Augustana College, will lead a class on  “Haiku as a Spiritual Practice - writing in the springtime” at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities.  The class, which is open to the public, will be at 7 pm May 1 and May 8.  Haiku is a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.

 
Health Care Fairy Tales PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Dr. George Watson, D.O.   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 13:46

Retired Dr. Bill Roy proved again why he is a former Congressman from Kansas in a recent op-ed “GOP Solutions for Health Care Are Fairy Tales”.

The correct statement is, “Both Democrat and Republican solutions for health care are fairy tales.” They are fairy tales, and they are all un-Constitutional.

As would-be reformers generally do, Roy tells an emotional story. His example is an 11-year-old girl in Tarzana, California, with a bill for $4,852 for an emergency room visit for a stomach ache.

Roy laments, “This young lady’s dad had lost his job at a movie studio. Desperate for some coverage, he chose to buy about all the health insurance he could afford, a $5,000 deductible policy.”

Then Roy reports, “But the doctor ordered all kinds of diagnostic blood work at all kinds of unrevealed prices.”

Roy says, “There’s plenty to learn about this experience.” He says, “We’re overcharged, over-diagnosed, and over-treated.” He adds, “The free market absolutely doesn’t work in medical care.” And he concludes, “Finally, we cannot run a system built on private, for-profit health insurers with billionaire CEOs.”

And then Roy asks, “How long are movement conservatives going to insist on rationing health care by costs, while thousands die?”

Let’s start with Roy’s absurd statement, “The free market absolutely doesn’t work in medical care.” The fact is, the free market has not had a chance to work in medical care, because of the crooked, nit-wit schemes of politicians that think the way Roy does. If the parents had taken the little girl to a private physician (one who contracts directly with the patient and has no insurance or government contracts), the bill could have been $45 for lab work, $400 for an abdominal CT scan, and $75 for the office visit—payable by cash, check, or credit, the same way people pay for their cell phones, car payments, and car insurance payments.

Dr. Roy is correct in stating that in medicine we do have “all kinds of unrevealed prices.” That’s because of hospitals contracting with insurance companies and government—as a result of previous legislation. For example, the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1946 exempts the business of insurance from anti-trust legislation. Lyndon Johnson’s fairy-tale Great Society legislation of 1965 poured trillions of dollars into “fighting poverty,” as through Medicaid, which also results in hospitals shifting costs to private patients like this little girl. Then there was Nixon’s HMO Act of 1974, requiring employers to offer plans that feature secret agreements with “providers.”

A simple solution would be to require insurance companies to list what they will pay for certain procedures. Then the hospitals and doctors can charge fair prices. If Roy thinks patients can’t make decisions for themselves, he probably thinks they can’t read the menu in a restaurant, or they can’t decide which of the latest cell phones they want or need.

Roy’s lament, “this young lady’s dad had lost his job (and insurance)” is another consequence of congressional malpractice, the fraudulently named Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If the liars had written the law to do what the name implies, the girl’s father could still have had his insurance from employment, because he would have owned it, just like he owns his car and homeowner’s insurance.

Roy’s question, “How long are movement conservatives going to insist on rationing health care by costs, while thousands die?” betrays the fact that he has not read the fraudulently named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), under which an appointed board would ration health care by costs (Quality Adjusted Remaining Years--QuARY). This Act has no patient protection, and everyone knows it is not affordable. The Congressional Budget Office now estimates that it will cost $1.76 trillion, and Sen. Jeff Sessions says he has found $17 trillion in long-term costs.

The real questions are, “Who should determine the prices—the free market, or government bureaucrats and their cronies?” and “Who should decide what care a patient should have—the patient and her family, or the PPACA rationing board?”

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http://www.aapsonline.org/

 
May is Lupus Awareness Month PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Lupus Foundation of America, Iowa Chapter   
Monday, 30 April 2012 10:49
The Lupus Foundation of America, Iowa Chapter Urges the Public to Band Together for Lupus Awareness This May

Educational programs and events taking place in the Iowa areas throughout May as part of Lupus Awareness Month activities

(Des Moines, Iowa) New research has shown that most Americans, 59 percent, know little or nothing about lupus and its devastating impact. This May for Lupus Awareness Month, the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), Iowa Chapter is urging  residents of Iowa and across the nation to Band Together for Lupus Awareness™ to improve the understanding of lupus, an
unpredictable and sometimes fatal disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans, and support those who suffer from this terrible disease.

“A lack of awareness of the disease contributes to many people dismissing early warning signs of lupus, which can have serious health risks,” said Susan B. Kroska/Iowa Chapter Executive Director. “We are asking everyone to get involved and Band Together for Lupus Awareness, so together we can offer hope and improve the quality of lives of Iowa residents living with lupus.”

“When I tell people I have lupus, they typically don’t know what it is. And if they do know what it is, they tell me that I don’t look sick,” said Marie McNamara from Windsor Heights, Iowa. “It is hard to explain that while I may look totally fine on the outside, that I can be in so much pain or so sick on the inside. Awareness is very important so our family and friends understand what we’re going through and how they can support us.”

This year, the LFA is asking the public to Put On Purple for lupus awareness by wearing purple and telling people why they are showing their support for all people affected by this disease. Put On Purple Day will take place on Friday, May 18, 2012.

Lupus Awareness Month activities, which include social media, online, and grassroots components, will empower individuals, organizations, and companies with a wide-ranging number of tools and resources so they can educate their communities about lupus. Tools range from fliers, to Web banner ads, to facts about lupus.

There are many ways the public can Band Together for Lupus Awareness such as:

  • Listen and share new podcasts with lupus experts.
  • Share their lupus story on Lupus Voices Across America at www.lupusvoices.org
  • Include an article about lupus in their company newsletter or on their Web site
  • Post fliers in their community or around their office.
  • Post a Web banner on their Web site linking to the LFA/Lupus Awareness Month activities
  • Distribute purple wristbands to friends (available for sale at www.shoplupus.org).
  • Participate in Put On Purple Day on Friday, May 18 -- encourage friends to wear purple
  • proudly on this day and tell people why.
  • Send their networks lupus facts throughout the month of May via their social media pages
  • Participate in the LFA’s mobile giving campaign -- on World Lupus Day on May 10th, tell
  • 10 people about lupus and ask them to give $10 to the LFA by texting LUPUS to 80888;
  • contributions will help the LFA raise awareness, expand education programs, and advance
  • research.

The public can learn more about lupus and ways they can get involved in improving awareness of lupus this May by visiting the LFA’s Web site at http://www.lupus.org/webmodules/webarticlesnet/templates/iowa_home.aspx Tools, free of charge, are available at www.lupus.org/awarenesskit.

About Lupus
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system is unbalanced, causing inflammation and tissue damage to virtually any organ in the body. Lupus can be unpredictable and potentially fatal, yet no satisfactory treatment or cure exists. An estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus. Its health effects include heart attacks, strokes, seizures, miscarriages, and organ failure.

About the Lupus Foundation of America Iowa Chapter
The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), Iowa Chapter is a proud member of the LFA National Network, which is comprised of chapters, field offices, support groups, and community representatives. The LFA is the oldest and largest national nonprofit health organization dedicated to finding the causes of and a cure for lupus, and providing support, services, and hope to all people affected by lupus. The LFA and its National Network are focused on improving quality of life for people with lupus through programs of research, education, and advocacy.

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Minnesota Medicaid managed care, better program earnings reporting needed nationwide PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 30 April 2012 09:47

Grassley Continues Review of Minnesota Medicaid, Calls for Consistent Reporting

of Program Earnings at Medicaid Managed Care Plans Nationwide

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today said the state of Minnesota’s payment problems to managed care plans serving Medicaid beneficiaries, combined with inconsistent federal oversight of all state rate-setting in this area, call for consistent reporting standards across the board.

 

“Purchasers, in this case states, using transparent information about how their dollars are being spent, are best suited to make decisions about the value provided from managed care companies,” Grassley said.  “We have legitimate disagreements about many issues in Congress, but on this issue, there can be no disagreement.  We must have a better understanding of where $7 trillion will be spent by the Medicaid program over the next 10 years.”

 

Grassley’s comments came in testimony before a joint hearing of two subcommittees of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The hearing covered several aspects of payment concerns in Medicaid, including payments to managed care plans in Minnesota.  State officials in Minnesota accepted $30 million for the state from one of Minnesota’s contractor managed care plans and until this week, termed the payment a “donation” that did not require sharing with the federal government, which would be necessary under the state-federal Medicaid program.  This week, state officials agreed to give the federal government its share of the $30 million payment.

 

Information from the four managed care plans serving Medicaid beneficiaries in Minnesota showed that each plan listed excess revenues from Medicaid while showing losses on the state-only plans.  “This suggests the state might have overpaid managed care plans under Medicaid while underpaying the same plans to provide care for individuals covered with state-only dollars,” Grassley said.

 

Grassley said the federal government should make sure states are required to know the medical-loss ratio of every managed care company they contract with specific to the Medicaid beneficiaries they serve.

 

That medical-loss ratio should be clearly defined by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and consistently implemented across every state that uses managed care, and the medical-loss ratio should be based on independently audited, verifiable encounter data and expense data that make clear what administrative expenses are related to the provision of Medicaid benefits and what administrative expenses are not, Grassley said.

 

Also today, Grassley wrote to the Minnesota legislative auditor, asking for all correspondence between the auditor and the state government, including state legislators, on the UCare payment.  The state auditor has questioned the candor of state officials who apparently withheld from him – as well as from Grassley – a letter from the federal government questioning the UCare payment.

 

Grassley’s testimony before the House hearing is available here.  Grassley’s letter to the Minnesota legislative auditor is available here.

 

 

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