Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Helping Veterans Access Health Care PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 11:39

Q.  Can veterans access telehealth services?

A.  Telehealth uses telecommunications technologies to deliver health care services, including medical consultations, prescriptions, preventive care and curative medicine.  Using telehealth could mean a phone call with a doctor about symptoms, or a trip to a local hospital for a high-tech appointment or treatment with a specialty doctor located hundreds of miles away.  For veterans in rural areas of the country, telehealth services improve access to care.  Seeing a specialist in person, without telehealth, can require many hours of driving and overnight trips.  For some older or disabled veterans, these trips can be especially difficult and may discourage them from taking preventive measures or seeking necessary health care.  The telehealth programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enable veterans to access health care from home or a local or conveniently located medical center.  Telehealth also reduces costs for the VA.  I recently reintroduced legislation with Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, which would help more veterans to access telehealth services.

Q.  What would your telehealth legislation do?

A. Some veterans who do not have a disability related to their military service are assessed copayments for VA medical care.  The bipartisan legislation, which I also cosponsored in 2010, would waive veterans’ copayments for telehealth services.  Right now, veterans’ copayments can be as high as $50 when specialized care is needed.  The goal of our legislation is to encourage more veterans to take advantage of this user-friendly, lower-cost alternative.  Accessing care through telehealth helps us to meet the promise made to America’s veterans that they would receive the care they need.   Already, thousands of Iowa’s veterans have enrolled in telehealth programs, and many more could take advantage of this service.  The elimination of copayments for telehealth would lessen the financial burden on those enrolled today and encourage other veterans to use this high quality and cost-effective health care delivery system.  The option of telehealth is a win-win for veterans and taxpayers.

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Braley Receives Iowa Medical Society Award PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Alexandra Krasov   
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 08:19

Washington, DC – May 18, 2011 - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after receiving the Iowa Medical Society Presidential Citation Award. The award was presented to Rep. Braley by the Iowa Medical Society “in honor of his tireless work to restore geographic equity to physician Medicarereimbursement”:

“Iowa doctors and hospitals provide some of the highest quality, lowest cost care in the country. But instead of rewarding this achievement, our Medicare system actually punished these providers with lower reimbursement rates than providers in other states. This is blatantly unfair, and threatens to discourage providers from giving patients the best possible care. I fought long and hard to fix this inequity during the health care negotiations, and I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish with the great help of Iowa doctors and hospitals.”

 

Throughout the debate on health care reform, Rep. Braley fought to address long-standing geographic disparities in Medicare reimbursements, and to increase reimbursements for high-quality, low-cost care.  Iowa doctors, hospitals, and health care providers have long suffered from an unfair Medicare formula, which reimbursed them at a lower rate thanproviders in other states – all while they were offering some of the highest quality, lowest-cost care in the nation. Thanks to Rep. Braley’s efforts, Iowa doctors are now seeing a 10% increase in reimbursement rates and Iowa hospitals are receiving $33 million in additional reimbursements this year and next year.

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In Iowa’s Interest: Protecting Medicare for Iowans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Thursday, 19 May 2011 07:50
By Senator Tom Harkin

Medicare is one of the real cornerstones of our middle class way of life in Iowa.  Thanks to Medicare, people of all walks of life have the peace of mind of knowing that, in their senior years, they will have guaranteed access to quality medical care.  We have always assumed that Medicare was something rock solid and permanent.  Unfortunately, there are some who want to end Medicare as we know it.  

Last month, the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed a budget that has profound implications for every American – but especially for seniors.  It calls for deep funding cuts to education and Medicaid, and it effectively ends the Medicare program. In its place, Republicans would give future seniors a voucher that they can use to purchase a private health insurance plan.  Our nation must find ways to address our nation’s financial situation, but this proposal is absolutely unacceptable.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, under this proposal, future seniors will have to pay two-thirds of the cost of their health insurance by 2030.  Those out-of-pocket costs will average more than $12,000 per person per year – more than double the current cost to seniors.  How is an elderly widow or widower struggling to live on a fixed income going to come up with $12,000 for health insurance?  Even worse, many seniors – especially those with serious health conditions – simply won’t be able to find a health insurer that will offer an affordable plan.  This is simply not right – especially when people have paid into Medicare their entire life and count on it to deliver comprehensive health benefits.  

Many will say that those currently on Medicare will not be affected and that Americans 55 and older will be able to keep their current Medicare coverage.  That’s a woefully short-sighted argument.  What will happen to the children and grandchildren of those currently on Medicare?  This cynical argument assumes that seniors don’t care about the next generation, and in talking to Iowans about this issue, this is not true.  Frankly, in my opinion, the proposal to dismantle Medicare is not just unworkable and unfair; it is unconscionable.  

This is not meant to be a scare tactic, but a call to action.  I know Iowans will not stand for this unwise, unbalanced, unfair assault on their economic security and middle-class way of life.  The Republicans’ proposed Medicare cut hasn’t come before the Senate yet, and I will do everything I can to stop it.  I will do everything I can to protect the security and health of today’s seniors, and all Americans who will one day turn to Medicare.  And I encourage all Iowans to voice their opposition to eliminating Medicare.

For more information, please feel free to visit my website at harkin.senate.gov or contact any of my offices in Washington, D.C. or Iowa.

 
Low Impact, High Results: TOPS Encourages Walking for Fitness PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Kimberly Greene   
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 10:10
MILWAUKEE, WI – May 17, 2011 National Senior Health and Fitness Day is May 25 and TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, and its members are offering their expertise and suggestions to help Americans reshape their bodies and lifestyles in the journey towards a lifetime of good health.

According to Amy Goldwater, M.S., educator, former body building champion, and physical fitness expert for TOPS, scientific studies indicate that the more active people are, the greater their life expectancy. “Scientists believe that a healthy, active lifestyle allows people to live a vibrant life – a physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially active, and functionally independent existence. These are the rewards of a wellness way of life,” she says.

For those who are looking for a way to begin on the path to good health, TOPS suggests starting with a walking program. Walking is a slow and easy way to ease the body into a higher level of fitness.  It is accessible to most everyone, doesn’t require any special equipment or practice, and offers a long list of health benefits, including:

• Lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
• Lowering blood pressure
• Reducing the risk of, or managing, type 2 diabetes
• Preventing osteoporosis
• Managing weight
• Improving mood

According to TOPS, speed is not as important as one might think.  For example, recent research indicates that walking at a normal, brisk pace can reduce the risk of heart attack by nearly the same amount as jogging or another aerobic activity.

Even though walking is a low impact activity and sustaining a serious injury is unlikely, it is important to prepare for this exercise to prevent things like blisters or muscle pain.  For this reason, one should wear comfortable footwear with arch support, a firm heel, and thick but flexible soles. Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothes in layers and dress for the weather and the time of day you are walking. Good posture is important. It is also important to begin slowly, to warm up the muscles, and to stretch your muscles before and after your walk.

Here are a few other things to remember when taking the first steps toward fitness:

• It’s okay to start slowly, especially if a fitness routine is new. Set defined goals of time and distance and stick to them.  Then slowly increase the time and distance to 30 to 60 minutes several times a week.
• Measure the intensity of the workout by monitoring heart rate. This can be done manually by checking the pulse in the wrist or neck or with an electronic device. Knowing the intensity of the workout will help to maximize its effect on the body.
• Set realistic goals that are attainable.  Again, starting slowly may be best for those just beginning a fitness routine.
• Keep track of the number of steps taken or the distance walked as a source of motivation.  Consider a walking journal or automated pedometer to keep this record.
• Bring a friend along if you don’t like to walk alone.
• Take different routes to avoid monotony.

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the original, nonprofit weight-loss support and wellness education organization, was established more than 63 years ago to champion weight-loss support and success.  Founded and headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, TOPS promotes successful, affordable weight management with a philosophy that combines healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness information, and support from others at weekly chapter meetings. TOPS has about 170,000 members in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. To find a local chapter, visit www.tops.org or call (800) 932-8677.

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Nursing Home Lobbying Group Seeking Exemption from Health Law Contributed $4.5M in Last Decade PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Pamela Helsey   
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 07:19

May 17, 2011 - Nursing homes are seeking exemptions from the new health care law, claiming an inability to fund new insurance coverage mandates, according to the New York Times.

According to analysis conducted by MapLight, over the past decade (Jan 1. 2001-Dec. 31 2010):

Breakdown by Party per Election Cycle

A closer look at contributions from nursing homes shows that their contributions to senators are fairly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats within each cycle, but contributions to House members vary according to which party is in power. While there was only one cycle in the last five in which either party in the Senate received more than 53% of nursing home contributions (57% to Democrats in the 2004 cycle), the party in control of the House of Representatives never received less than 58% of nursing home contributions to House members.

U.S. Congress:


2002 cycle 2004 cycle 2006 cycle 2008 cycle 2010 cycle Total
Democrat $ 613,233 $ 721,390 $ 970,863 $ 2,004,041 $ 1,953,872 $ 6,263,399
Republican $ 830,049 $ 940,655 $ 1,394,633 $ 1,406,510 $ 1,542,818 $ 6,114,665
Total $ 1,443,282 $ 1,662,045 $ 2,365,496 $ 3,410,551 $ 3,496,690 $12,378,064
Democrat % 42% 43% 41% 59% 56% 51%
Republican % 58% 57% 59% 41% 44% 49%

House of Representatives:


2002 cycle 2004 cycle 2006 cycle 2008 cycle 2010 cycle Total
Democrat $ 324,254 $ 310,385 $ 562,863 $ 1,179,870 $ 1,352,552 $ 3,729,924
Republican $ 532,599 $ 631,371 $ 1,005,807 $ 688,485 $ 997,385 $ 3,855,647
Total $ 856,853 $ 941,756 $ 1,568,670 $ 1,868,355 $ 2,349,937 $ 7,585,571
Democrat % 38% 33% 36% 63% 58% 49%
Republican % 62% 67% 64% 37% 42% 51%

Senate:


2002 cycle 2004 cycle 2006 cycle 2008 cycle 2010 cycle Total
Democrat $ 288,979 $ 411,005 $ 408,000 $ 824,171 $ 601,320 $ 2,533,475
Republican $ 297,450 $ 309,284 $ 388,826 $ 718,025 $ 545,433 $ 2,259,018
Total $ 586,429 $ 720,289 $ 796,826 $ 1,542,196 $ 1,146,753 $ 4,792,493
Democrat % 49% 57% 51% 53% 52% 53%
Republican % 51% 43% 49% 47% 48% 47%

Monetary and non-monetary contributions to candidate campaign committees of legislators serving in the 109th, 110th, 111th and 112th Congresses. Contributions data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics ( OpenSecrets.org). Contribution totals are based on campaign contribution figures connected to the nursing home industry as established by the Center for Responsive Politics.

A link to this data release can be found here.

 
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