Health Care Reform!

healthLast week I spent an afternoon going through printouts of my hospital bills from the last few years. After wearing out a few of the keys on my trusty TI-84 calculator, I confirmed what I had only suspected previously: that since May 1, 2005 Medicare, along with a potpourri of state medical assistance programs, has spent just over 1.1 million dollars keeping me alive.
Whether or not this 1.1 million dollar raid on the Social Security Trust Fund, as well as the State of New Mexico’s oil and gas royalties, represents a bargain is a matter of personal opinion. I mention it only to call attention to the promises regarding health care “reform” made by then-candidate Obama during the recently concluded campaign season.

The only problem I foresee regarding health care “reform” is that, in political terminology, “reform” is Orwellian Newspeak for “government meddling.”

Depending on who you talk to, the Obama Administration or some other equally partisan group, “reform” will probably add around 40 million people to an already over-extended health care system. If you think that having to wait 12 hours just to get into an Emergency Room or Urgent Care Clinic is bad, try to think about what adding another 50 people to the line ahead of you will do for your attitude.

I realize that there will be some who believe that more government involvement in health care will lead to cost control through “greater efficiency.” If you believe that line, just talk to any veteran that uses their local Veterans Administration Hospital and see what kind of testimonial to government efficiency that you get. Better yet, visit my old stomping grounds at the Indian Health Service Hospital in Gallup, New Mexico to see what kind of a bureaucratic mess that government supervision of health care can make.

Under Obama’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan, or whatever it’s being called this week, the government proposes to spend $87 billion for the state-run Medicaid programs, $20 billion to improve health information technology, and about $4 billion for improvements in preventative medicine. While this may look good on paper I must ask what the cost will be next year, or in its third year. I can assure you that the 50 states will run through that $87 billion of Medicaid funding in a matter of months! Does Obama’s proposed spending include funding these programs 5 years down the road? And the part about “preventive care” may look like a good idea, but it’s an even bigger joke.

Discovery Health Channel!

Discovery Health has begun taking registrations for its National Body Challenge 2009, billed as a free, comprehensive weight loss and fitness challenge. The National Body Challenge 2009 aims at providing weight loss tools and inspiration, as well as expert advice and recipes. Discovery Health Channel programming is an integral part of the National Body Challenge 2009.

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The January 5-9, 2009, kickoff will feature two competing teams of severely overweight people working with Bally Total Fitness personal trainers, a nutritionist, a therapist under the guidance of fitness expert Dr. Lydie Hazan. The teams’ goal will be to shed a lifetime of unhealthy habits in the span of six months, replacing them with healthy ones.
The National Body Challenge 2009 is not the latest fad diet or reality tv show. What the challenge aims for is educating and supporting viewers on healthy lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk heart disease, stroke and cancer.
This is the 6th annual National Body Challenge so naturally potential participants will want to explore the effectiveness of past year’s challenges.
According to Dr. Pamela Peake, a Discovery Health Channel spokesperson, the 2005 National Body Challenge resulted in a cumulative weight loss of 395,000 pounds (or 197.5 tons) for participants nationwide, almost double the amount lost in 2004.
The National Body Challenge generates a lot of enthusiasm for lifestyle management changes even among those who are not ultimately up to the challenge. On the 3fatchicks blog, 3 bloggers who tried the National Body Challenge in 2007 applauded it as fun and worthwhile, even though 2 of the 3 dropped out.
Testimonials on the Discovery Health Challenge website also praise the benefits of the National Body Challenge. One woman wrote that she lost 65 pounds in 2008, dropping from 208 pounds to 143, and dropping from pants size 19 to 8. Another lamented regaining the 40 pounds lost in the 2008 challenge but expressed determination to lose weight and keep it off as part of the National Body Challenge 2009.
Among the tips from those who have participated in past National Body Challenges: it is not necessary to join Bally’s Total Fitness when the 8 week trial membership expires or to avoid the challenge if there is no Bally’s nearby. Success at the challenge does require exercise but that exercise can be done at home.

Repealing Health Care Reform Law!

healthThe healthcare law has been an issue that has divided the country and seemed to cause a divide between Republicans and Democrats as well. Although the health-care bill was signed into law, it does not mean the fight is over for the Republican Party.

The Huffington Post reports that the dominant House Republicans voted unanimously Wednesday, Jan. 19, to repeal health care reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised his chamber won’t even consider the House’s bill, making it highly unlikely to be repealed.

The repeal of health-care reform has been a major issue for the Republican Party, especially during the 2010 mid-term elections. The Republican-dominated House has made the repeal a top issue for 2011 and hopes that more Democrats will support the repeal.

The climate in the Senate and the White House is that they are not too worried about this repeal effort. The Senate has said numerous times that the House’s bill is going to go nowhere and they have no intention of voting for a repeal of the law. The fight will instead go to the funding and rule-writing of the health-care bill, which is where the Senate is focusing their attention.

There will of course be a few Senate Democrats who choose to vote to repeal healthcare reform, but it will not be enough to move forward in the process. The Senate is still controlled by the Democrats, so they can stop legislation from moving beyond the Senate floor.

Knowing that the Democrats are still in control of the Senate will make it very hard, if not impossible, for the repeal to pass the Senate. The White House has been firm saying that any and all repeal efforts by the House will be unsuccessful. Even if it made it to the President’s desk for a signature, there is almost no chance he would sign it. The White House has been adamant in defending healthcare reform and is not going to slow down or stop their efforts on enacting the legislation based on the repeal in the House. When it comes to the demeanor of the White House, they are very positive that their reform will be upheld and seem to believe they are doing the right thing.

Based on my examination of the news, the likelihood of the House bill’s passage being signed into law by President Obama is basically non-existent. Obama has been fighting his entire presidency to get the health-care bill signed into law, so why would he sign to repeal it?

The House’s bill for a repeal of the healthcare reform is more symbolic than anything because it shows they are keeping their word on a very important issue. I would have to say that the House’s bill will not be signed by Obama, but it definitely shows the Republicans are going to fight until the end.

Medications Necessary For Recovery!

healthMedications necessary for recovery would be included in the plan.
Medicare – one thing many may not realize is those on this plan have paid into this plan. They are being treated with money they paid. They already have their health care taken from their income before receiving it.

In addition, a functioning government monitoring team MUST ensure that fraud is eliminated. Intentional fraud results in severe penalties. Penalties can be set dependent on the fraud amount with those caught in fraudulent activities above a certain amount receiving the severest of penalties.
Each individual is paying equally for their care based on their income level.
Those who require more care will be balanced out by those who rarely seek medical coverage.
Why won’t this happen; because the insurance industry does not want the American public to know exactly how much their plans have driven up the cost of health care. They will fight tooth and nail against a plan such as this. It would eliminate their jobs, their industry – to a point.
They can still insure, if they wish, those wishing cosmetic health treatments… Tummy tucks, eye lifts, etc. If it is not being performed to improve the quality of life of the patient or life saving, it is elective and is not covered under this.
Whatever system is eventually implemented, it would be better if time was taken to ensure it is the right way to go, not the fast way to go. Is this administration pushing for fast because they don’t know if they will hold the majority after the next election?

Fast is NOT in the best interest of this country’s citizens and should not be tolerated.
At the next “town hall” meeting held by an elected official, refrain from the shout fest. Nobody is listening at those. Instead, inform your elected official that while you may believe health care is in dire straits, you would prefer they vote “no” for now and push the House and Senate to take the necessary time to look at this from all angles.
Fraud prevention, majority coverage, funding, and reducing costs to patients are the most important things that can come from any legislation is what is needed most, not speed for a plan that has huge holes in these areas.

Health Care Debt At An Advanced Age!

HealthHow can anyone afford that kind of health care debt at an advanced age? He was able to, and because he was able to, he had to pay. Others in the same facility receiving similar or even more advanced care may not have had to pay as much simply because they did not have it. How is this just?

By doing away with health insurance companies, we can hopefully reduce the skyrocketing costs for basic health care needs.

So, with health insurance eliminated, how do we pay for health care? A tax, percentage based equally to all. For example, a 5% health care tax taken from every individual. Dollar-wise, those making more will pay more, but percentage-wise, everyone is paying the same percentage of what they earn towards their health care.
Trips for health care needs no longer would require Co-pays or other funds up front. If you are or have been legally employed in the United States, you are covered. If a doctor deems a medical procedure is necessary for your care, you get it. No board of directors trying to pad their bottom line to deny coverage and jeopardize your health for their profit.
Illegal immigrants? No coverage. They must pay for health care issues out of their pocket. No free rides to anyone who is not a legal U.S. Citizen.

This plan is in operation in some form around the world, only the United States requires their citizens to be lottery winners to receive quality health care.

The savings to employers would be immediate, the elimination of work place health plans. This should help them to be able to rehire some workers laid off in order to afford the health insurance for the rest.

Now this plan is for “health care” not elective items.
Botox, plastic surgery for looks (not for restructuring after a maiming accident), would NOT be covered. This health care plan is solely to provide the needed health care individuals and families need to remain healthy.

All hospitals work on all patients (exceptions made for hospitals that are specialized such as cancer, cardiac, and burn hospitals).

The tax collected is distributed to the various health care institutes to cover their costs. To further aid in reducing health care costs, health care facilities would be exempt from fees, taxes, and other monetary add-ons designed to make money.
All hospitals would become non-profit, in that they are not facing boards to explain why they are not making money. Caps on doctors’ salaries to prevent the majority of the taxes collected to be spent paying payroll.

Clinics would handle the non-emergency cases. Colds, flu, simple fractures, etc would be removed from emergency rooms. This frees E.R. doctors for actual emergency cases which will hopefully decrease wait times and save more lives.

When Selecting A Health Care Plan!

Every year, Americans spend $200 billion in prescription drugs. People are taking more drugs, and drugs keep getting more expensive. The same can be said about medical insurance costs, which are so high now that some companies are dropping health benefits altogether.

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Not having enough money to pay for their health care, some people are taking potentially fatal risks, such as skipping medications or stretching out their doses. There are, however, various options for people seeking good medical coverage with a tight budget.
When considering the costs of a health plan, you should pay close attention to:
Premiums
These are the monthly payments you have to make to be in the health plan.
Deductibles
These are the amounts you will need to pay first before the health plan covers the costs.
Co-payments
These are fees you need to pay for each doctor or emergency room visit.
Generally, the lower the costs, the less flexible the plan is. If you want freedom to select any physician or service, you may have to pay high premiums. This type of plan is known as traditional indemnity.
Another option is a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).

An HMO is not expensive and usually has a broad coverage. Although there are no deductibles-just co-payments-you can only see a doctor approved by the plan. Also, before seeing a specialist you must go to your selected primary care provider, who will refer you to the specialist.
A different plan is known as Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). Usually more expensive than an HMO but less expensive than a traditional indemnity, the PPO plan offers incentives for seeing a doctor within the plan’s network-you may see other physicians but at a higher cost. Both deductibles and co-payments are charged for some of the services.
A mix between an HMO and a PPO is the Point of Service Plan (POS), which costs about the same as a PPO. It is similar to an HMO in that you must choose a primary care provider, but, like a PPO, it lets you go out of the network at a higher cost.
If you don’t have health insurance or have only major medical coverage, you may be eligible for a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA is like an IRA, but instead of saving pre-tax money for retirement, you save to pay for medical expenses. The money can be withdrawn at any time for qualified expenses-otherwise you would have to pay taxes. This plan is good for healthy people that rarely use medical services.
Your employer may not offer every type of plan, but you can take some steps to obtain the best price according to your needs:
1. If you want a low premium and have some emergency savings, you can select a deductible between $250 and $500.
2. If you want lower costs in general, choose an HMO with a co-payment of $25.
Other factors that affect the amount of your health insurance premium are the lifetime maximums and the number of benefits in your plan. For example, you will probably want to include dental benefits in your plan, but not vision benefits. These days, health insurance companies offer sophisticated services that most people don’t really need-the more services you pick, the higher your premium will be. So choose wisely.

Holiday Health Fair!

Health careYesterday at the Holiday Inn in Denver, over 40 Cannabusiness, 2 lawmakers and thousands of people gathered for the first ever Cannabis Holiday Health Fair brought us by the amazing and hardworking Laura Kriho of Cannabis Therapy Institute or C.T.I.

“It’s really exciting to nurture the little seeds and introduce ourselves to the community and show how professional we are and how important we are to the economy, I think we’ve done that very successfully.” Kriho told the reporter of Denver Daily News.

One of the several news agency’s in the city to cover the event
And even though they might not like each other personally, The two Colorado lawmakers who have been leading the push to regulate the industry – Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown and Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver – both made appearances at the fair.

Romer meet one on one with several patients and talked with attendees and defended his bill to an often-disagreeing crowd. Brown also made the rounds talking with businesses and attendees stopping at our table only only for seconds, to get an ear full of complaints regarding his city proposal’s.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this an amazing event and one I hope to see every year here on out as we move into 2010 and another step closure to Freedom!