Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Obamacare Mandates Threaten Already Weak State Budget PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Rep. Rich Morthland   
Friday, 13 April 2012 15:31
U.S. Rep Schock and Leader Cross highlight need to repeal burdensome regulations on states as Supreme Court determines constitutionality of Obama’s Health Care Law
Moline– Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross joined forces with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (IL-18) in a stop in Moline to call attention to mounting budget pressures facing Illinois taxpayers on the twin threats of explosive Medicaid costs and implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare. In March, Congressman Schock attended the historic Supreme Court arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, giving him a firsthand account of the testimony provided for and against the legality of the health care mandate.
In February, Governor Pat Quinn unveiled his FY13 budget plan calling for a $2.7 billion reduction in Medicaid spending, leaving lawmakers to work out the details. However, the Quinn Administration has yet to secure the federal waiver needed to implement cost-saving reforms enacted last year that would require proof of income verification for all Medicaid applicants.

This failure to act comes with a big price tag as the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare is projected to have an unmanageable impact on Illinois’ already weak budget. In January, 2012, the Civic Federation warned Illinois will face a $34.8 billion backlog of unpaid bills if no action is taken to reform Medicaid. Using the Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ own projections, Medicaid will increase by more than 40% over the next five years (from $8.6 billion to $12.1 billion). Unless reforms are enacted, the Medicaid backlog will grow to $21 billion within five years.

In a November 2011 letter to Governor Quinn, twelve members of Congress, including Schock, expressed their concern about the drastic expansion of Medicaid in Illinois and the projected cost of impact to the state’s budget. In total, it’s projected that Illinois taxpayers will spend $10 billion more on Medicaid than they would have spent had the health law not been implemented.

“Illinois is facing the tough reality that is the consequence of a failed health care policy that was rammed through Congress two years ago. Immediately following the passage of Obamacare, states like Illinois faced enormous new costs and burdens,”said Schock.  “It was irresponsible two years ago to pass the president’s health care bill and it would be irresponsible now for Illinois to attempt to implement further cost crushing provisions of Obamacare until the Supreme Court has reached a final decision.”

“The United States Senate should follow the House of Representatives and repeal Obamacare and replace it with a solution that is workable for individual states.”
Elsewhere, the state faces the challenge of how to address the creation of health insurance exchanges as mandated under ObamaCare. Complicating matters is the fact that federal exchange regulations remain unwritten and forthcoming rules may yet redefine the exchange scope, governance, and operations. Even more, proposed federal rules are silent on what states must do in order for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to approve their exchanges.

“The idea of creating a costly new program with an untold number of new regulations is a non-starter in our current budget climate,” Leader Cross said. “We simply cannot afford to plunge into the rabbit hole created by open-ended federal mandates put in place by the Obama Administration and cross our fingers and hope for the best. We cannot and should not move forward on creating exchanges until we know all the parameters.”

“It’s impossible to kick a field goal if you don’t know where the goal posts are,” Cross added.

Rep. Schock added, “With so much uncertainty, states would be wise to hold off on creating insurance exchanges until the Obama Administration either gets its act together – or gets replaced.”
Meanwhile, 27 states have filed joint or individual lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare centered on the so-called “individual mandate.” The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in March, and a decision by the court is not expected until June 2012. In January 2011, Schock joined with ten other members of the Illinois Congressional delegation in writing to Attorney General Lisa Madigan requesting that Illinois join this multistate lawsuit and he was on hand in the Supreme Court chamber on the day that the arguments focused on the controversial individual mandate.

Last year, HHS estimated the cost of the health insurance exchange aid to states to be $367 billion from 2014-2021. In FY13, the budget puts the cost at $478 billion over the same time period – a staggering increase of $111 billion over last year’s estimate.

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AARP Applauds Iowa Senate for Passing Direct Care Worker Professionalization as Part of Health and Human Services Budget (SF 2336) PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ann Black   
Friday, 13 April 2012 15:16

Des Moines, April 12, 2012—AARP thanks the Iowa Senate for supporting Iowa’s largest workforce –Direct Care Workers, by funding and including language to professionalize Direct Care Workers in the Senate HHS Appropriations Budget, Senate File 2336.

“AARP thanks the members of the Iowa Senate who voted for improving and supporting Iowa’s largest skilled workforce so that Iowa is prepared to care,” said Kent Sovern, AARP Iowa State Director.

A task force made up of members of Iowa’s direct care workers as well as industry providers has spent more than two years developing the recommendations on how to better support Iowa’s Direct Care Workers.  SF 2336 establishes core state standards for training, creates career pathways for advancement and specialization, and creates a Board to oversee these professional standards.  Currently, Iowa has professional oversight boards and requires qualitative credentialing for all plumbers, hair stylists, massage therapists and a host of other occupations, but does not require a similar credentialing for all direct care workers.

“This most recent direct care support language passed in the Iowa Senate is the product of extensive negotiations and input from stakeholders in all corners of long term care,” said Sovern.  “AARP commends the Iowa Senate for giving Iowa’s direct care workers the recognition and professional status they want and deserve, and for insisting upon minimum training standards for paid caregivers for various Iowans and in various long-term settings.”

With an estimated 73,000 direct care workers in Iowa, these paid caregivers make up the largest segment of Iowa’s workforce.  Moreover, demand for direct care services is high and growing.  Iowa will need an additional 12,000 direct care workers by 2012.  High turnover is a persistent challenge.  This legislation elevates the profession by offering all Iowa’s direct care workers portable training and credentials.

AARP hopes the Iowa’s Representatives will also support this language and funding to continue to be a national leader in better serving Iowa’s long-term care needs.

About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


 
Scott County Continues Prescription Drug Discount Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Chris Berge   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 14:30
County Residents Take Advantage Of Free Discount Cards To Save Money On Prescription Drugs

April 12, 2012 — The NACO program has changed with an option for a $1 per transaction
revenue sharing fee for participating counties. Scott County has decided not to participate
in the transaction revenue sharing fee and pass the savings onto our citizens. Last year, the
Scott County free prescription drug discount program, saved Scott County residents $349,481.
Chairman Tom Sunderbruch announced that 34,183 prescriptions were filled with the card last
year at discounts averaging 28.3% or $10.05 per prescription.

Scott County launched the program in September of 2007 to help consumers cope with the
high price of prescription drugs. The county is making the free prescription drug discount cards
available under a program sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo) that offers
average savings of 24 percent off the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs.

Best of all, there is no cost to county taxpayers for NACo and Scott County to make these money
saving cards available to our residents.

The cards may be used by all county residents, regardless of age, income, or existing health
coverage, and are accepted at all the major pharmacies in Scott County. A national network
of more than 59,000 participating retail pharmacies also honors the Scott County Prescription
Discount Card.

Cards are available at County offices and participating pharmacies. County residents can call
the County Administration Office at 563-326-8604 or visit www.scottcountyiowa.com for
information on where to pick up the card. For assistance with the program, please contact your
pharmacy or www.caremark.com/naco.

“Using the NACo prescription discount card is easy,” said Chairman Sunderbruch. “Simply
present it at a participating pharmacy. There is no enrollment form, no membership fee and no
restrictions or limits on frequency of use. Cardholders and their family members may use the card
any time their prescriptions are not covered by insurance.”

 
Growth in Telemedicine PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 11:49
In Need of a House Call?
Telemedicine is Growing with Advances in Video Conferencing

Fans of the Fox TV drama “House,” now in its final season, may wonder why New Jersey isn’t known as The Mysterious Medical Maladies State -- it seems everyone who lives there has one.

Fortunately, they also have the fictional Dr. Gregory House, who makes up in diagnostic acumen what he lacks in charm and bedside manner.

Hugh Laurie’s acting talent isn’t the only reason the 2012 Guinness Book of Records ranks “House” the world’s most popular TV show. It’s as much because the premise is all too real, says Sean Belanger, CEO of CSDVRS, a national video relay services provider for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

“Many illnesses defy diagnosis and ingenious specialists are few and far between,” he says. “Which is why recent technological advances in video conferencing are so exciting. Telemedicine is not just about more convenient meetings – it’s about saving lives.”

Belanger’s corporation launched Stratus Video (www.stratusvideo.com) last year to focus on honing that technology. He understands the life-changing potential of high-quality, on-demand video conferencing – his company provides video-relayed deaf interpreting services to government agencies and businesses across the country, including the Social Security Administration, Boeing Corp. and Wal-Mart.

“On-demand, high-definition mobile video conferencing solves life-or-death problems, like the hospital patient in Georgia who needs to be seen by the specialist at the Mayo Clinic – fast,” Belanger says. "To that end, we support video technology today for American Sign Language and Spanish, and provide language interpretation access for more than 180 spoken languages, all on a mobile device."

Telemedicine is also used to bring doctors to far-flung rural communities; save travel time and money on consultations and team problem-solving; and even to have more experienced medical professionals offering guidance and instruction during procedures.

Observation and reliable connections are critical when video conferencing is used in these ways, Belanger notes. So continuing to refine and improve the tools will have far-reaching – and very personal – effects.

“Think about what happens when you go to the doctor. He or she looks down your throat, into your eyes and ears. What they see there gives them information about what’s wrong with you,” he says. “The better the video relay system, the more reliable and trusted telemedicine becomes and, who knows?, that could even lead to lower health insurance premiums.”

At the least, it ensures patients get all the medical whiz genius of a Gregory House – without the snark.

“Hey, with video conferencing,” Belanger says, “just hang up on him.”

About Sean Belanger

Sean Belanger is the chief executive officer of CSDVRS, the parent company of Stratus Video. A graduate of Virginia Technology, he has 30 years’ experience in the technology industry. He previously served as CEO of the Paradyne Networks and general manager of 3Coms’ network service provider division.

 
Obesity is Now a Problem for Unborn Babies PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 11:45
Author Lampoons Western Medicine, Examines Foreign Longevity

Obesity isn’t just an American problem; in Britain, doctors have begun administering the diabetes drug metformin to the unborn babies of morbidly obese mothers-to-be to reduce the fetuses’ weight.

The reason: dangerously overweight pregnant women create excessive amounts of insulin, which results in “sumo babies” weighing 11 pounds or more. These extra-large newborns have twice the chance of becoming obese adults, and their numbers have risen by 50 percent in the past four years. Obese pregnant women are at a higher risk of dying while pregnant, and their babies are more likely to be stillborn.

“I don’t know how many more signs we need in Western society before we really get serious about our health,” says Gordon Filepas, author of Lean And Healthy To 100 (www.adviceformychildren.com), a guide for achieving optimal health based on studying cultures where long lives are the norm.

“Are we really treating unborn babies for obesity?”

In his research, Filepas found many common practices and characteristics in especially healthy cultures. They include:

• Calories: It’s not necessary to count calories; people in healthy cultures don’t! Once you give your body what it needs, you’ll naturally consume fewer calories. This puts significantly less stress on the digestive system and reduces the potential of ingesting toxins.

• Heavy on nutrients: Human beings evolved as hunters and gatherers who took every opportunity for caloric intake. In the process, a wide spectrum of nutrients became the norm, and that is what bodies still crave today.

• Focus on whole and unprocessed foods, fats, and oils: Examples include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and grains. Meat, which is usually the main dish in Western culture, is often treated as a side dish in the cultures Filepas studied.

• Limited toxins: This includes few, if any, pollutants from processed food, water and other beverages, medicine and air.

• A sense of purpose: Individuals from these cultures feel like they are making a difference beyond earning money, and tend to work long days, six days a week.

• Innate exercise: Virtually no additional form of exercise is needed beyond their daily activity.

• Alcohol: Every culture has alcohol. Healthy populations drink regularly, but in moderation. And, they take a greater sense of responsibility for their health.

• Traditional cooking methods: This means low-tech methods, absent of microwaves.

Finding a lifestyle that naturally promotes excellent health became an obsession for Filepas after the deaths of his father and brother in a three-month time span. He wanted to ensure he and his wife and three sons would be together for years to come.

“I tell my friends, family and anyone who will listen: Whatever you hear about health in America, do the exact opposite and you’ll be much healthier than the average American,” he says. “Americans are bombarded with confusion and misinformation about health; it’s a life-or-death situation.”

About Gordon Filepas

Gordon Filepas spent 20 years researching Lean And Healthy To 100, interviewing physicians, attending seminars, and reading medical journals and other health-related literature. He is the founder of TGM Partners, a consulting and investment firm. Filepas says he was motivated to learn more about the requirements for optimal health following the deaths of his father and brother within three months of each other. He hopes to ensure the good health of his family, including his wife of 25 years and three sons.

 
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