California Renovation of Healthcare System: a Healthy Choice

California, which has the highest population count in the U.S., has the seventh highest rate of uninsured people.  Clearly, some revisions need to take place.

Governor Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders suggested the following:

  • Everyone is required to acquire health insurance
  • Low-income residents will be subsidized for insurance coverage
  • Employers must provide insurance or pay a fee to the state to underwrite insurance
  • Increasing taxes on luxury items and tobacco to find insurance
                                   Two Sides of the Health Insurance Coin
Liberals view a repair of the health plan as being government-run.
Conservatives back a plan giving tax incentives to facilitate individuals in their purchase of their own coverage.  Many additional suggestions fall in between the two.
                                      
                                         Drawbacks to Reform Proposals
In today’s economy with every family dollar being accounted for, will families be able to foot the insurance bill suggested?
Who will support the hike in taxes needed to subsidize the insurance plan when money is tight?
Will those that are currently insured be willing to support plans for those who are not?
What alternatives or suggestions have been mapped out for illegal aliens who have no insurance but may have a multitude of health problems necessitating care?
How will facilities afford the new systems and will care be compromised?
These are all questions that must be answered in order to move forward.
It is hard to convince others to accept new plans when more questions are raised than solutions.  I am sure that you can come up with some too!

Something Fishy

The diet of over 5000 men and women were studied in the Netherlands recently.  Analysis showed that consuming fish at least once weekly reduced the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease by 70%.

That omega-3s are good fatty acids that help the transmission of impulses between brain cells as well as helping to maintain cardiovascular health has been known for a while.  But new evidence suggests that there is an additional element in the fish besides the omega-3 that causes these benefits.

Thus, while it is helpful to add fish oil supplements to your vitamin regimen, it is not as effective as eating the fish itself.

Examples of fish that are high in omega-3 oils are:

 

  • sardines
  • trout
  • tuna
  • herring
  • mackerel 
Four ounces of these fish three to four times a week is not only nutritious, but medicinal as well.

Malpractice Insurance was bad enough…Now Blogger’s Insurance

Article appearing in the Wall St. Journal today titled “ Bloggers, Beware: What You Write Can Get You Sued,” chronicles the events of Shelee Hale who is being sued for journalistic comments she made in  a blog.  The article further mentions various insurance co.s that supply blog insurance for a price so that if you are sued, at least your legal defense expenses are covered.

 

Do you have blog insurance?  Scary thought but after reading this, a strong incentive to run out and get it!

 

Rigidity, Reform, Rules and Innovation Can not Exist in the Same Breath

Today the CEO of Eli Lilly,Mr. Lechleiter, tweeted his comments on his fear that new governmental reform will stifle innovation.  Below is a portion of his statement.

Yet in today’s policy-reform drama — if early clues from Washington are a guide — the requirements of innovation may be written out of the script. Already in defensive mode, several large pharmaceutical companies are restaging the old merger play — continuing to narrow the ranks of firms with the full-scale capacity to innovate. Meanwhile, skittish investors have retreated, leaving nearly half of all publicly traded biotech companies with less than a year of cash on hand. These trends amount to show-stoppers if they continue.

Biomedical innovation is not incompatible with the health-care reform goals of universal access, quality improvement and cost control. On the contrary, without new, more effective medicines — along with new devices and diagnostic tools, and better treatments and surgical techniques — it will be impossible for larger numbers of Americans to obtain better health care at a manageable cost.

So it is vital to all of us that we insist that reform proposals pass the “innovation test.” Providing insurance to millions of Americans through a government-run plan would fail the test. Similar efforts around the world have led to rationing of health care and created hurdles between patients and the most advanced treatments. On the other hand, innovation would remain reasonably secure if universal access were achieved through tax credits and government subsidies that allow patients to choose from a variety of private health-financing options.

Curtailing health-care costs by allowing the federal government to dictate prices for branded medicines also would fail the test. Price controls and rebate requirements tend to be arbitrary and make it much harder for innovators to attract and recoup investments. For their part, private insurers and patients tend to control costs by insisting on value — forcing companies to demonstrate how the effectiveness or broader savings generated by their product justifies its price. That approach maintains the incentives for innovation and is yet another reason not to crowd out the free market.

Proposed laws that could weaken the enforcement of patents on biotechnology products flunk the innovation test as well. Some in Congress want to leave the creators of new biotech medicines with only small periods of time in which to retain exclusive use of research-and-development and manufacturing-process data for these products. This might speed the arrival of copied versions of some medicines, but it would kill critical incentives to discover and develop them in the first place.

In contrast, the “Pathways to Biosimilars Act” now before Congress gets the mix right. It does this by giving innovators the time needed to recoup their research investments while defining a clear framework for legal copying of biotech products down the road. It strikes the right balance between innovation and competition.

Our legislators in Washington still have the power to keep innovation in the health-care reform script. Not doing so would be a true American tragedy.

Mr. Lechleiter is chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly & Co.

__________________
The next question is would brilliant minds still continue to innovate and create in order to satisfy intellectual cravings or to feed ego without proper payment?  Perhaps for the recognition?
The idea of being immortalized can be a powerful motivator although I am not suggesting for one moment that proper financial rewards should not be bestowed upon such people.
 It is wonderful to know that you are helping mankind, but in a capitalistic society, you still need capital to exist.

The “New” Physician

According to Maggie Mahar of Health Beat, physicians need to be trained to be more compassionate and more sympathetic starting from training in medical school.  She also feels that taking students who do not perform as well on national qualifying exams (which she states are biased against rural, poor students) would further the goal of seeing physicians in underprivileged areas and in primary care as opposed to higher paying specialties which are not in as great demand.  Finally, she wants a  student that took humanities over science courses so that this student can show how well rounded he or she is.

Do you want a physician that failed exams but is more compassionate?  I want the one that knows everything possible and can utilize that information, not the one who is most popular!

However, I do have a solution to the problem…

Most physicians buy azithromycin singapore start out idealistically because they truly love medicine as well as treating and helping people. Those interested in amassing a fortune go into business nowadays.

Removing the debt that future physicians will be buried under allows them to concentrate on medicine.

You want them to go into low income areas? You want them to be a certain specialty?

Reward them and it will happen.
For a pledge of your desired goal, allow them to go through medical school with a stipend and no bills. Carry this forward to the residency and set them up in practice with a decent salary and the malpractice paid for.

With less financial demands placed on your “new” physician, he or she will be able to focus on what is important-treating the patient- not the ICD9 sheets.

Paid to be Fired- Stimulus Bill Proposal (re:Honey, Your Fired!)

This is a post by Charles Read on Feb.23,2009 which I feel is worth noting.

Honey, your fired!

Hidden in the 1000 pages of the “stimulus” bill is another extension of socialized medicine.

If you were involuntarily terminate (even for cause, apparently) between September 1st 2008 and January 1, 2010 you can pay 35% of your COBRA medical insurance cost and have it be treated as 100% paid.

Your former employer must pay the rest and gets reimbursed by the government with a reduction in taxes, FIT/FICA/Medicare, withheld from paychecks that are otherwise due to the government. This is a non-taxable gift from the government. Unless of course you make too much then the payment by your employer is taxable as ordinary income on your 1040.

Besides being a logistical nightmare to handle and account for, since when do the taxpayers pick up medical insurance for the unemployed and their families?  Somehow I missed that in my reading of the Constitution.

An employee can come in late, drunk, take a swing at the boss and get fired. We, the taxpayers, will then pickup 65% of his medical insurance for he next 18 months. If I fire my wife is the government going to pickup 65% of her and her families health insurance? Honey, your fired!

This of course is in addition to the expansion of medical insurance for children that is in this “stimulus” package. A few more steps and the Clinton one payer plan will be in place and our quality of medical care will be that of the rest of the developed world, rationed by politicians.

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Think Pink-Awareness of Breast Cancer and Mothers Everywhere

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

The Mets celebrated Mother’s Day in quite a unique manner today.  Think Pink!

Bats were pink as were the arm bands of each player.  The purpose of this was to pay tribute to Breast Cancer awareness and to raise funds for this worthy cause as well as to fund research to eradicate this devastating health condition.  It was also to honor Moms everywhere.

When each player came up to bat, in addition to his name and stats on the scoreboard, the name of his mother appeared adjacent to his.  A video tribute also was played where the player informed the crowd why he felt his mother was so special in helping him achieve the level of success he has had.

What a wonderful way to view the game with your family outside in the sunshine, help a worthy cause and honor Mothers simultaneously.  Hope you had a good one.  I sure did!

Concierge Medical Practice: Greed or Self-Preservation?

An interview with Jessie Gruman, PhD, founder and president of the center for Advancing Health, an independent, non-profit Washington-based policy institute led to the explanation of concierge practice below.  Dr. Gruman is on the faculty of the School of Public Health and Health Services at The George Washington University and serves on the Advisory Panel on Medicare Education of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Public Health Institute. 

NEW MODEL OF MEDICAL CARE

Personalized/concierge practices are designed to give you extended and personalized care and greater access to your doctor — including 24/7 pager/phone access and same day and longer appointments. Patients sign a contract and pay a monthly or an annual fee, typically in addition to other charges (i.e., your normal co-payments and deductibles). These fees are highly variable depending on the level and type of service, but generally do not cover specialist visits, laboratory tests, medical procedures, prescriptions, hospitalizations or emergency room visits. The leading company in the field, Florida-based network MDVIP (www.mdvip.com), has a typical annual fee of $1,500 per adult patient and an upper limit for practice size of 600 patients per physician. In upscale communities like New York City many doctors with a concierge practice charge twice that or more… luxe boutiques in places like Miami Beach and Beverly Hills may have fees that exceed $100,000 (and include extravagant perks). Critics charge that concierge medicine is exclusionary and elitist, since not everyone can afford it, but Dr. Gruman points out that our medical system is already multi-tiered. If you can afford it and believe you would benefit from this kind of certain, focused medical attention, it is worth exploring the options available to you locally, she said.

 

Funny how times have changed.  Being available 24/7, 365 was the responsibility of every medical practice and you did not pay extra for it.  This was understood as being part of the job description.

Unfortunately what is viewed as avarice is merely a self-preservation technique for private physician offices to meet their expenses and exist in today’s economic climate.  Can people still afford to support this practice?

Health Reform should be Health and Tort Reform

Bureaucrats and local legislators are vying for massive intrusion into medicine for “the good of society”.  Is there a benefit in doing so for healthy patients in our “capitalistic” society?

There will be an inability to keep medical costs down across the board, without Tort Reform. To do so would truly reflect a real effort of the government  to reduce health spending. How do medical facilities keep costs in check with spiraling malpractice insurance costs?   Putting a cap on rewards and censoring attorneys that take frivolous cases to court, tying up our judiciary system should be steps done simultaneously with health care reforms.

If nothing else, it would be a welcome relief not to see commercials constantly broadcast  by “ambulance chasers” mucking up the airwaves!

Inertia on a Grand Scale

Over the last week, I had the opportunity to travel through  seven states.

The scenery was beautiful-lots of greenery, with a burst of colors from wild poppies and other wild flowers in bright yellows,purples  and deep reds.  Magnolias were in bloom with fistful- sized blooms.

As we were riding, my mind wandered to people in overcrowded cities.  Not the ones who love being there for cities hold their own exciting vitality and there are people who truly thrive on this.  I was thinking of those who never see or enjoy  the beauty around them-who complain about overcrowding and are unhappy about their living conditions.

Why, one would think, wouldn’t they pick themselves up and relocate when there really are so many beautiful large tracts around?  They have but to take the first steps but don’t or can’t.  They are “stuck in sameness.”  It brings to mind the saying: “the only difference between being in a rut and a grave is the depth”.

This mentality can be compared to those who are in dead-end jobs where it is easier to show up each day and complain about it than to “make the move”.

Just as well.  Otherwise, everyone would be a copywriter!