Monday, September 24, 2012

NY Times Article on Jennifer

We want to thank everyone for the kind and loving messages. Jennifer's impact was far greater than she ever knew. There was a touching article in the NY Times today which we wanted to share here, for all of our followers.

We greatly appreciate everyone's understanding and patience during this difficult time. The daily blog posts will have to be postponed, but check back for updates about Jennifer's memorial service.

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Heavy Heart

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the untimely passing of Jennifer Jaff, Esq, Founder and Executive Director of Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, Inc. Jennifer conceived of and founded Advocacy for Patients because of her extraordinary passion and commitment to ensuring equal rights for those living with chronic illness.  She dedicated her life and career to improving the quality of life for others based on her own experience with Crohn’s disease. 

Her advocacy on a personal level with individuals, in chronic illness arenas for larger disease populations, and in global forums for local and national health care reform was unparalleled in its sophistication, conviction, judiciousness, and honor. Jennifer believed fiercely that this cause was a civil rights issue, and her belief in the worth and rights of every individual with a chronic illness set precedents and models for equality nationwide.  Her goal to increase awareness of the need for and the power of advocacy for chronic illness touched all of us who knew her as well as the population at large. She always worked with amazing energy, grace, fortitude and resolve.

It was Jennifer’s aim to never refuse an opportunity to help someone in need and we know that there are many clients and companies with whom she was working at the time of her death. We appreciate the patience of our clients, friends and partners as the Advocacy for Patients staff works to contact those immediately affected by this tragic and unexpected loss and to develop plans for the future. 

We know that Jennifer will always be remembered for her dedication and the actions she took in the pursuit of justice for those with chronic illness.  Be assured that the Board of Directors and the Staff of Advocacy for Patients will do everything in our power to promote Jennifer’s great legacy.

We are informed by Jennifer’s family that any funeral arrangements will be private, but we are planning a memorial gathering for Jennifer in the next few months and we will announce the date, time and place once those details are final.  For those who want to donate gifts in her memory, please send them through our website, or by mail to Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, Inc., 195 Farmington Avenue, Suite 306, Farmington, CT 06032.

Thank you.

Carol Fain Walters

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I've waited all summer for a time when I could take a few days off.  There was always something in the way -- until now.  So I'm taking a couple of days off from blogging (and from life).  I'll be hunkered down with the most purrrrrfect Ms. Emily, a couple of good books, a few good movies, and nothing else.

But before I go, a bit of good news to leave off on -- the number of Americans without insurance has fallen to its lowest rate since 2008, all due to health reform, mostly due to coverage of people under age 26.  If only the American people will let this play out to 2014, things really are going to get better.  Here's the proof that it's already happening. 

Have a great week-end.  See ya Monday!  Jennifer

Hump Day Headlines

 The Institute of Medicine issued a report saying there's a TON of waste and opportunity for savings in the health care system.  The big recommendation is payment for quality outcomes rather than for each individual service.  We have to do something -- that much, we all agree on.

Indeed, health care costs nearly doubled for workers since 2002.  In what industry can you double your prices every 10 years without changing the product, or even cutting back on it?  And you don't think we have to do something to regulate insurance companies?  Indeed, increased rate regulation and tools like the medical loss ratio slowed the growth in premium prices to about 4% -- well below last year's increase and well below the decade's average of 8%.

Figures on the number of uninsured Americans should be released today.  The 2010 figures were right about 50 million.  Today will be the 2011 figures.  There should be a reduction, at least for the young Americans on their parents' policies to age 26.  We'll see.

One of the delivery system reforms in the health reform law is Accountable Care Organizations -- groups of hospitals, doctors, other providers to come together to provide complete care that is coordinated and patient-centered -- and, hopefully, saves money.  Previously, this was done as a pilot program, and the results will be published today.  The main finding is that Accountable Care Organizations save money.

Last week-end, Mitt Romney said he would keep the good parts of the health reform law, like coverage of people with pre-existing conditions.  However, apparently, this only applies to people who have not had a gap in coverage.  If you have had a gap, or if you've never had insurance, your option would be a high risk pool.  Twice as expensive, lifetime limits -- high risk pools are no answer for us.  Please, people.  Read and think for yourselves.

Fish oil pills don't prevent cancer.

The top 10 finalists in a scientific photography contest -- don't miss this.  These are stunningly beautiful. 

And that's it for this morning.  Have a great day!  Jennifer

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

The health reform law will make it easier for individuals to shop for, and compare, insurance.  That has touched off a wave of marketing as companies compete for markets they never aimed at before.

Mitt Romney is really struggling over health reform these days.  He wants to tack to the center, supporting things like coverage of pre-existing conditions, but the GOP base hates, with intense passion, anything to do with health reform.  Rick Santorum always said Romney was the worst possible person to go against President Obama on health reform because of Massachusetts -- but it may be true not only for that reason, but because Mitt Romney really isn't against every aspect of health reform.  But will he ever stand up to the right of his party?  When they got upset about his warming towards parts of the law, he immediately reaffirmed his vow to repeal health reform day one.  Meanwhile, former Obama health advisers issued a report that tells us what Romney/Ryan's Medicare plan would cost us -- and they now say they were being kind to Romney.  And then there's a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation that also says it would cost seniors thousands.  It's fair to guess Governor Romney doesn't agree.

An Epidemic of Absence -- a new book on allergies and autoimmune diseases makes the case that getting rid of too much bacteria has weakened our immune systems.  I tend to buy this.  Why else is it that richer countries have higher incidence of Crohn's, MS, etc.?  Now, if only we could be cured by rolling around in the mud!

The US Preventive Service Task Force says testing for ovarian cancer is ineffective and generates too many false positives.  In fact, this isn't news -- the panel has been recommending against this test for years, as has the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  Hmm.

The government is beefing up suicide crisis lines for military and civilian.  Call  800-273-8255.  36,000 people die of suicide each year.  The goal is to save 20,000 of them. 

Every second counts when trying to open a blocked artery.  The technology is amazing, truly. 

Local health offices are going door to door, preaching better health.  Some say newsletters and dropping in isn't enough -- but isn't it better than nothing?

When children learn a musical instrument early on, they have long-term benefits, even years after they stop taking music lessons.

Steroids for children may stunt their growth.  This includes kids who use steroids for asthma.

And that's it for this morning.  Have a great day!  Jennifer

Friday, September 7, 2012

NY Times Puzzle Solved!

Pseudochromhidrosis.  Read about it here.  And if anybody asks you why Smurfs are blue, the answer is pseudochromhidrosis!  Jennifer

Finally Friday!

Another really long, short week.  Got some work done, but we have a docket of insurance appeals right now as long as your arm.  Sort of intimidating.  Just have to take them one step at a time, like life in general.  Anyway, the news first.

Interestingly, most of the talk about health care at the two conventions came in the form of personal stories of people who've been up against the system.  It's deeply personal.  Does the deeply personal have a place in politics?  I believe the distinction between personal and political is a construct, not a real distinction.  Our policies are driven by our personal experience.  Stories are remarkably effective tools for changing minds.

$750 billion per year on medical waste. Administrative crapola, fraud, duplication of tests, avoidable errors -- it's huge, and we should be focusing right there when we start talking about health care costs.  The Institute of Medicine says our system needs a complete overhaul.  Can you imagine going to buy a car and not asking what it will cost?  Why not ask about labs, surgery, CT scans?

Our friend Nina Bernstein has written about long-term care and the cost of Medicaid for the elderly in nursing homes.  The more we prolong our lives, the more some of us will need nursing home care.  How to pay for it, though?  Medicaid isn't all about moms and kids.  And the cost of providing long-term care to the baby boomers is pretty daunting.

The great Dr. Pauline Chen writes about safety net hospitals.  You know -- the County hospitals that you avoid under all circumstances?  The assumption is that, because they're run down, the care is awful, but it's not true. 

An interesting essay by a woman who doesn't like the phrase "cancer survivor."  Neither do the members of her support group.  Maybe cancer "treatment" survivor, she says, but not "cancer survivor."  Different take -- interesting.

What happens when a Catholic hospital merges with a non-religious one?  The merged entity has to follow the Catholic Directives, which means not even offering counseling on birth control.  We're having a heck of a battle in Connecticut about one such merger.  Thanks to the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women's Teresa Younger for fighting the good fight on behalf of us all.

And that it.  Check back later to the answer to yesterday's NY Times puzzle.  And have a great day!  Jennifer

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday Themes

It's NY Times puzzle day.  A 17 year old begins to turn blue.  What's the diagnosis?  I can hardly wait for tomorrow to find out!

About 800,000 more Americans ran out of food in 2011 than in 2010.  As many as 5.5% of Americans skipped a meal - or a day of meals - due to running out of food last year.  And the GOP wants to cut food stamps?  Really?

A judge in New York has stopped Medicaid cuts to home care from taking effect.  Budget woes are not a legal basis for depriving people of services to which they have a right.

CalPERS -- the California teacher retirement system -- saved $27 million by coordinating medical care in a teaming of Blue Shield, a hospital group, and a large physician's group.  This is really interesting.  One of the main ways people are suggesting we could save money would be through better care coordination to avoid duplicate tests, medication conflicts and consistent treatment plans.  And lo and behold, it works!

There are bits of DNA that, before now, scientists believed was junk.  But now it's been shown that these bits of matter serve a useful purpose in how cells and organs behave.

Sorry -- that's all I have for you this morning.  Unless you want to hear about Bill Clinton's speech.  So have a good day and expect another slow news morning tomorrow, unless you want to hear about President Obama's speech.  Jennifer

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hump Day Headlines

I'm loving the fact that it's Wednesday already, although I have a lot on my plate today.  So let's start with the news:

The President's team came out swinging on health reform last night.  That may turn people off, but I say it's about time the President took credit for doing something that's been tried and failed for generations.  I don't tell you who to vote for, but I will tell you that, if we get to 2014, we will be able to buy insurance.  If that matters a lot to you, as it does to me, there's only one vote possible.  As Stacy Lihn approached the podium with her little Zoey, whose life was saved because of health reform, she reminded us that A President Romney has pledged to repeal that law -- and that could mean death for her child.  What could possibly matter more?  The Dems have adopted the name Obamacare -- and I say Obamacare is care for 30 million Americans.  It's saving lives.  How is that a bad thing?  Only to those would say anything to beat President Obama, like the super-PAC, Americans for Prosperity, which says Obama care is like care in Canada.  But in Canada, the country runs health care and under Obamacare, it's still in the hands of private insurance companies.  When it comes to health care, the real question is whether Americans will buy whatever they're told or whether they'll actually think for themselves.

Maine decided to do something drastic to bring down insurance premiums.  They cut mandatory coverages to make it cheaper.  Not one new insurer entered the state, and while prices went down for individuals, they went up for groups -- with the highest increase for older Americans.

UnitedHealthcare issued a report showing huge differences in the cost of the same care under Medicare -- same patient population, same payer -- The only way this goes away is if Americans learn to comparison shop for care just as they do for other things.

Would you be healthier without email?  There was an experiment in which people went 5 days without email.  They were more productive, relaxed -- but when they were allowed to go back to email, they did.  I'd love 5 days without email.  In fact, I'll take 5 hours!

One-third of Americans have high blood pressure -- only half of them are treated.  Blood pressure meds are relatively inexpensive.  So why don't people get tested and treated?  Awful.

A new study shows that prolonged efforts at CPR may have value, and it's wrong to stop too soon.  An extra 9 minutes saves lives.

And that's it for today.  Have a great day!  Jennifer

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

Staying away from politics and conventions these days is easier said than done.  Thus, the short blog posts -- we're a nonprofit and while we do try to educate about health reform and Medicare, we try to stay out of electoral politics (although I do get into that stuff on my personal Facebook page if you're interested.

New diseases -- drug-resistant TB, a new tick-born heartland virusFarm use of antibiotics defies scrutiny Standford scientists question advantages of organic meat and veggies.  Relief of asthma at a priceUse of inhalers may affect growth.  Does any of that make any sense at all?

Trying a new line of attack in heart disease -- attacking inflammation.   This fascinates me.  Think of all of the inflammatory illnesses  -- and then think of a single cause.  Wouldn't that be something?

HHS has stated that it will not tolerate health discrimination in health care against transgendered.

A new program teaches doctors to treat addiction.

Kids with autism are bullies more than other kids.  As a fat kid, I sort of doubt kids with autism are bullied more than fat kids or Downs kids or any kids who are different.  But it all sucks.  Peter Paul & Mary's song Don't Laugh at Me comes to mind.

A rare infection prompts neti-pot warning.  Think twice, folks. 

That's it.  Have a great day.  Jennifer