Thursday, August 16, 2012

Truth to Power

A lot of people are saying these days that President Obama took $716 billion from Medicare and used it to fund "Obamacare."  This is a lie.  President Obama cut payments to Medicare Advantage Plans -- private HMOs that administer Medicare -- because it was shown that the private insurers who run Medicare Advantage plans were making an unseemly profit on the system.  There was no reduction in the mandatory benefits that came with that.  President Obama also has tried to reduce inefficiencies and waste -- so they are cutting payments to hospitals with unacceptable readmission rates and they have stepped up fraud investigations.  In addition, President Obama has initiated a plan to coordinate the care of people who are on both Medicare and Medicaid, which will save some of the expense associated with these most expensive beneficiaries.  President Obama also included in the health reform law the phase-out of the Medicare Part D (drugs) doughnut hole, which already has saved seniors a bundle.  In fact, the changes President Obama has made to Medicare extended the life of the Medicare program.  You don't have to agree with me on health reform or on President Obama, but at least let the critique be truthful. 

Another installment from the NY Times blogger and cancer patient who's been undergoing a bone marrow transplant.  This time, she talks about how to talk about being sick -- something I best most of us with chronic illnesses have thought a lot about.

Clostridium difficile -- affectionately known as c diff -- is a nasty infection that causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating.  It shows up in hospitals a lot, although I've had it many times when I've had to take antibiotics.  What's news is that it kills about 30,000 Americans each year.  More can be done to stop it -- it's not even complicated if we just make it a priority.

A new AARP ad is reaching out to caregivers, acknowledging their burden and trying to provide them with some support.  This is so important -- we get so many calls from people who are calling on behalf of a child, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, trying to juggle caregiving with the rest of their many burdens.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghan veterans are suffering from a degenerative brain disease that has no known cause or cure.  It can cause angry outbursts, memory loss, problems walking and speaking, paranoia, and even suicide.  These may be invisible wounds that plague soldiers long after they return home. 

The entertainment industry is starting to portray mental illness in a more positive light as it makes its way into the lives of television characters.  It's no longer just the crazed gunman; it's Tony Soprano in therapy, Monk's OCD.  But there's still a long way to go.

And on that note, I bid you a great day!  Jennifer

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