Category Archives: Healthcare

“Elusive Zzzzzzzs: Setting back clock won’t erase sleep deficit nagging older adults” – The Boston Globe

ADULT SLEEPDr. Sanford Auerbach, director of sleep disorders at Boston Medical Center, checked on the fit of a CPAP mask.” JOHN TLUMACKI / GLOBE STAFF/GLOBE STAFF

by Robert Weisman

“Will you enjoy an extra hour of sleep when daylight saving time ends Sunday?

“Many sleep-deprived seniors, after dutifully setting back their clocks Saturday night, will mark the occasion doing what they’re often doing in the wee hours: tossing and turning, nudging snoring spouses, and fretting about being awake.

“It’s a cruel irony for older adults. At a time of life when they should be able to relax, after decades of raising children and trudging to work, falling and staying asleep are more challenging than ever. Chalk it up to rising anxiety, changing circadian rhythms, and unhealthy habits, ranging from late-day caffeine and alcohol intake to nonstop digital interruptions.”

Continue reading this article in its entirety at The Boston Globe, click here.

“Medicare Shopping Season Is Almost Here” – The New York Times

“Every fall, the 60 million Americans who use the health plan can compare options and save money. Here’s what to consider.”

medicare

Credit: Corey Brickley

by Mark Miller

“If you’re enrolled in Medicare but worry about the cost of health care, your chance to do something about it is right around the corner.

“Most people enroll in Medicare when they become eligible at age 65. But every fall, they have the opportunity to change their coverage during an enrollment season that runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. This is the time of year when you can switch between original fee-for-service Medicare and Medicare Advantage, the all-in-one managed care alternative to the traditional program. You also can re-evaluate your prescription drug coverage — whether that is a stand-alone Part D plan, or wrapped into an Advantage plan.

“It’s a good idea to do a checkup on your coverage, even if you are happy with your current choices.”

Keep reading this article at the New York Times, click here.


Free, Objective, Expert Medicare Counseling

The APPRISE program offers free Medicare counseling to older Pennsylvanians.  APPRISE counselors are specially trained to answer your questions and provide you with objective, easy-to-understand information about Medicare, Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Medicaid, and Long-Term Care Insurance.”

Each county’s Area Agency on Aging has APPRISE counselors to help you understand the options and opportunities.

US Senate Special Committee on Aging Webpage has huge aging resources links

senate aging

For information about aging topics click here or on the above graphic.

“States Flubbed the Rollout of Their Health Insurance Exchanges. Now They’re Ready to Try Again.” – Stateline

health insurance marketplace“A cancer patient receives treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania is among at least six states that are creating their own health insurance marketplaces or considering it.” Matt Rourke/The Associated Press

“The launch of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act was marred by the performance of the newly created state health insurance marketplaces.

“With generous federal financial support, many states created these markets, also called exchanges, based on soaring promises: Individuals and small businesses could compare policies. They could get federal subsidies. It would be easy to sign up. And if people’s income declined, they could enroll in their state’s Medicaid plan.

“It didn’t work out that way. Websites didn’t work. Data couldn’t be accessed. Call centers were overwhelmed, and states spent millions on quick fixes, many of which failed.

“Hawaii, Nevada and Oregon abandoned plans to operate their independent marketplaces and instead relied on the federal marketplace, Healthcare.gov. Other states, including California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, spent millions of dollars to overcome problems with technology.

“The experience so rattled states that seven years later, only 11 of them, plus Washington, D.C., operate independent marketplaces. The rest either use the federal marketplace or a federal-state partnership.

“But now at least six states — Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania — are creating their own marketplaces or seriously considering doing so.”

“Sudden switch from hospital to nursing home can leave families scrambling” – The Buffalo News

Healthcare transition often can present a confusing scenario. This article is from The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY) and is specific to New York, but the issue of transition applies everywhere.

“Staffing levels, health inspections and whether a facility has been fined for conditions that could harm residents are all public information and easily accessible through the federal Nursing Home Compare website that rates nursing homes. But many families don’t have the information at the very moment they need it most.”

1011008986 Henry NURSING HOME KIRKHAM“Already two hours late, Roberta Novack waits patiently in a corner for an ambulance team to arrive to transport her brother Henry Kostrzewa, 52, to his latest stay at the Buffalo Center for Rehabilitation & Nursing on Delaware Ave. in Buffalo This was on Saturday, July 28, 2018.” (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

by Lou Michel

“The call from the hospital jolted Henry Kostrzewa’s sister. Erie County Medical Center was going to discharge the 52-year-old disabled welder and she needed to help him pick a nursing home.

“The clock was ticking.

“Kostrzewa had been informed he could end up personally responsible for his hospital bills because he had been ‘medically cleared’ to move into a nursing home.

“Roberta Novack told her younger brother not to sign anything. She feared he would end up in a facility unable to provide quality care for the bone infection in his spine that had kept him bedridden for months following a hip replacement surgery.”

Click here to read this article at The Buffalo News in its entirety.

 

“For Older Patients, an ‘Afterworld’ of Hospital Care” – The New York Times

“Long-term care hospitals tend to the sickest of patients, often near the end of their lives. Many will never return home.”

never home againCredit: Monica Jorge for The New York Times)

by Paula Spahn

“The Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, Conn., had 10 patients in its close observation unit on a recent afternoon. Visitors could hear the steady ping of pulse monitors and the hum of ventilators.

“The hospital carefully designed these curtained cubicles to include windows, so that patients can distinguish day from night. It also placed soothing artwork — ocean scenes and landscapes — on the ceilings for those who can’t turn over and look outside.

“All these patients had undergone a tracheostomy — a surgical opening in the windpipe to accommodate a breathing tube attached to a ventilator — when they arrived from a standard acute-care hospital. Some had since been weaned from the ventilators, at least for part of the day.”

Read this New York Times column in its entirety, click here.

“Opinion: It’s Your Right To See Your Medical Records. It Shouldn’t Be This Hard To Do” – NPR

medical-recordsAmericans have the right to access their medical records, but actually doing so is often complicated, slow and costly. – Sean Justice/Getty Images”

by Harlan Krumholz

“At a time when many insurers and health information technology companies are busily assembling databases of hundreds of millions of medical records, Americans find it difficult to get access to their own.

“If you try to get yours, be prepared for confusing policies, ill-informed staff, wasted time and high costs. Even then, you may not get the records you seek. And all of this is at odds with your federal rights.

“Last week a relative of mine relayed a typical story. She requested her medical records in digital format, a right endorsed in federal statutes. Now, two months later, she is still struggling to get them. The hospital had contracted with a third party, and evidently this company transacts only through snail mail.”

Read this opinion column in its entirety at National Public Radio, click here.

“Confronting the High Cost of Hospital Prices” – UnitedHealth Group

high hospital prices

“Health care spending in the United States is expected to reach $6 trillion by 2027, up from $3.5 trillion in 2017, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. However, there are three areas where major savings are achievable:

  • Avoidable hospital emergency department visits
  • High-value physicians
  • Hospital prices.

Click here to read more.

“woman’s story personifies failures in Medicaid waiver program” – A long read about “system failures” at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

trib review article“Fran Morgante moves her mom, Vilma Morgante, 100, to spend some time in the front room, Thursday, June 20, 2019, at the family’s Lower Burrell home. Fran Morgante, a professional musician lives in New York State and has moved back home to care for her mother.” – SOURCE: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

by Deb Erdley

“Fran Morgante brushed back her mother’s hair tenderly as she offered the tiny elderly woman a drink of water on a hot June day.

“Vilma Morgante, who celebrated her 100th birthday June 21 in her Lower Burrell home, never asked much of the world.

“Her one desire: to die in the neat brick bungalow she and her late husband, Steve, scrimped and saved for and then built from the ground up seven decades ago.

“Frail, suffering from moderate dementia for the previous year and a half and forced to use a wheelchair, she relied on her daughter — a professional violinist with the Buffalo Philharmonic — to steer her through the complex web of rules and regulations that govern the safety net designed to protect the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

“‘Years ago, I tried to talk her into coming to live with me, and she said, “Chica, I want to die at home,” Fran Morgante recalled.

“On July 4, Vilma died at home, one year and two days after qualifying for 24-hour home care — care that never arrived.”

Click here to read this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article in its entirety.

HHS’s Proposed Changes to Non-Discrimination Regulations Under ACA Section 1557 – Kaiser Family Foundation

Removing gender identity and sex stereotyping from the definition of prohibited sex-based discrimination could allow health care providers to refuse to serve individuals who are transgender or who do not conform to traditional sex stereotypes.”

On June 14, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed what it describes as “substantial revisions” to its regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in health programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Notably, it is the first federal civil rights law to prohibit discrimination in health care based on sex. The 60-day public comment period on the proposed changes closes on August 13, 2019. The proposal cannot change Section 1557’s protections in the law enacted by Congress but would significantly narrow the scope of the existing HHS implementing regulations, if finalized, by:

  • Eliminating the general prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity, as well as specific health insurance coverage protections for transgender individuals;
  • Adopting blanket abortion and religious freedom exemptions for health care providers;
  • Eliminating the provision preventing health insurers from varying benefits in ways that discriminate against certain groups, such as people with HIV or LGBTQ people;
  • Weakening protections that provide access to interpretation and translation services for individuals with limited English proficiency;
  • Eliminating provisions affirming the right of private individuals to challenge alleged violations of § 1557 in court and to obtain money damages, as well as requirements for covered entities to provide non-discrimination notices and grievance procedures;
  • Narrowing the reach of the regulations by only covering specific activities that receive federal funding, but not other operations, of health insurers that are not “principally engaged in the business of providing health care,” and no longer applying the regulations to all HHS-administered programs;

HHS also requests comment on whether to change certain provisions intended to ensure equal access for people with disabilities. It also proposes eliminating prohibitions on discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in 10 other Medicaid, private insurance, and education program regulations outside Section 1557. If finalized, HHS’s proposed changes would substantially narrow, and in many cases entirely eliminate, the regulations’ existing protections against discrimination in meaningful ways.

Continue reading this article at the Kaiser Family Foundation, click here.