Monday, April 8, 2013

A Smorgasbord of Health News

 

The Medical Minute brought to you from a variety of sources.

 

Pentagon Struggles With High Cost Of Health Care WASHINGTON -- The loud, insistent calls in Washington to rein in the rising costs of Social Security and Medicare ignore a major and expensive entitlement program – the military's health care system.

 

The Drug War And Mass Incarceration By The Numbers

NEW YORK -- Despite an increased emphasis on treatment and prevention programs in recent years, the Obama administration in its 2013 budget still requested $25.6 billion in federal spending on the drug war. Of that, $15 billion would go to law enforcement, interdiction and international efforts.

The pro-reform Drug Policy Alliance estimates that when you combine state and local spending on everything from drug-related arrests to prison, the total cost adds up to at least $51 billion per year. Over four decades, the group says, American taxpayers have dished out $1 trillion on the drug war.

What all that money has helped produce -- aside from unchanged drug addiction rates -- is the world's highest incarceration rate. According to the Sentencing Project, 2.2 million Americans are in prison or jail.

 

Health Care Curbing Government

FILE - In this March 19, 2010, file photo, President Barack Obama speaks about healthcare reform at the Patriot Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Back when the big health care law was little more than a dream, and when he was a presidential hopeful, Obama spoke out against the idea of forcing people to get health insurance. He said that would be like solving homelessness by passing a law making people buy a house. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

 

Big Pharma Pockets $711 Billion in Profits by Robbing Seniors, Taxpayers  Here's an outrage that must be changed: Big Pharma has been systematically price-gouging the Medicare program for seniors and people with disabilities -- and raking in billions in excessive profits. The 11 largest global drug companies made an astonishing $711 billion in profits over the 10 years ending in 2012, and they got a turbo-charged boost when the Medicare Part D prescription drug program started in 2006, according to an analysis of corporate filings by Health Care for America Now (HCAN).

Combined Net Profits of Top Pharmaceutical Companies Medicare Part D

 

Ex-Felons Are About To Get Health Coverage 

Newly freed prisoners traditionally walk away from the penitentiary with a bus ticket and a few dollars in their pockets. Starting in January, many of the 650,000 inmates released from prison each year will be eligible for something else: health care by way of Medicaid, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

A sizeable portion of the nearly 5 million ex-offenders who are on parole or probation at any given time will also be covered.

The expansion of Medicaid, a key provision of the health care reform law, is the main vehicle for delivering health insurance to former prisoners.

 

How Health Insurance Giants Can Avoid Obamacare Regulations For A Whole Year 

   Health insurance companies are looking to put off complying with health care reform rules that guarantee basic benefits and consumer protections -- and they've figured out how to do so for up to one more year.

The health care law requires insurance plans sold to individuals who don't get benefits through their employers to cover a minimum set of benefits, prohibits companies from refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions or to charge them higher rates than healthy people, doesn't allow health insurers to levy higher premiums on women than men, limits how much more older people can be made to pay, and guarantees customers can re-up their plans each year.

But those rules don't take effect until January -- or whenever a customer's current health insurance plan expires next year, which could be later. According to the Los Angeles Times, some insurers are weighing a lawful scheme in which they would renew customers' plans before 2014, thus preventing them from having to meet Obamacare standards until as late as Jan. 1, 2015.

 

Obama's Budget: Medicaid Would Be Spared From Deep Cuts 

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's budget next week will steer clear of major cuts to Medicaid, including tens of billions in reductions to the health care plan for the poor that the administration had proposed only last year.

Big cuts in the federal-state program wouldn't go over too well at a time that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius is wooing financially skittish Republican governors to expand Medicaid coverage to millions who now are uninsured. That expansion in the states is critical to the success of Obama's health overhaul, which is rolling out this fall and early next year.

The president's budget is to be released next Wednesday.

Perhaps half the nearly 30 million people gaining health insurance under the law are to be covered through Medicaid. But the Supreme Court last year gave individual states the right to reject the expansion. A principal argument against the expansion in state capitals is that Washington cannot be trusted to keep its promise of generous funding for new Medicaid recipients.

 

And Now a Word from Our Sponsors (Of yesteryear)

 

With the Recent trend toward Health, Wellness and Prevention these advertisement would never make it in today’s world.

 

Employers Adopt Stricter Health Care Policies In Face Of Surging Costs

Faced with rising health care costs, employers are adopting stricter policies to keep workers healthy. Failure to comply with those measures could hurt employees' wallets.

Employer Health Care

Is it time for the Michelin ‘Marshmallow’ to go on a diet?

Workers at tire manufacturer company Michelin could miss out on reducing their deductibles by up to $1,000 if they show unhealthy signs like high blood pressure or waistlines over 40 inches, The Wall Street Journal reports. Companies such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot have similar policies, designed to reduce surging health care costs. But often these new policies require employees to share personal health information, something critics say is both unfair and an invasion of privacy.

With health care costs rising in 2012 to $12,136 per employee on average, according to a recent study, companies argue that the new policies not only help cut costs, but also contribute to the overall well being of their workforces.  Indeed, Michelin told The Huffington Post that The Wall Street Journal’s claim that the company is penalizing workers for showing signs of obesity is not accurate. Instead, the new policy set to take effect next year “helps us help our employees” by rewarding workers who meet standards for at least three of five health indicators, such as waist size, cholesterol and blood pressure.

 

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