January 31, 2012
The Washington Post
By: Michael Gerson
In politics, the timing is often the message. On Jan. 20 — three days before the annual March for Life — the Obama administration announced its final decision that Catholic universities, hospitals and charities will be compelled to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients.
Preparing for the march, Catholic students gathered for Mass at Verizon Center. The faithful held vigil at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Knights of Columbus and bishops arrived to trudge in the cold along the Mall. All came to Washington in time for their mocking.
Catholic leaders are still trying to process the implications of this ambush. The president had every opportunity to back down from confrontation. In the recent Hosanna-Tabor ruling, a unanimous Supreme Court reaffirmed a broad religious autonomy right rooted in the Constitution. Obama could have taken the decision as justification for retreat.
And it would have been a minor retreat. The administration was on the verge of mandating nearly universal contraceptive coverage through Obamacare without public notice. There would have been no controversy at all if President Obama had simply exempted religious institutions and ministries. But the administration insisted that the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s Hospital be forced to pay for the privilege of violating their convictions.
Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere. The religious exemption granted by Obamacare is narrower than anywhere else in federal law — essentially covering the delivery of homilies and the distribution of sacraments. Serving the poor and healing the sick are regarded as secular pursuits — a determination that would have surprised Christianity’s founder.
October 7th, 2011
By: S. D. Wells
Over 1,000 new synthetic food agents have been approved for consumption in the United States in 2011, and the human liver is the body’s primary detoxifier, bearing the brunt of filtering these chemical agents out so cancer cells don’t develop and multiply. Milk thistle, also known as Silymarin, prevents the metastatic process, stopping the spread of cancer in its tracks.
A powerful antioxidant that protects against nerve damage and abnormal brain aging, milk thistle also fights off Atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
Natural remedies represent the most intelligent and least expensive way to prevent and combat ailments and disease, and milk thistle offers these outstanding functions with zero side effects. It has been used for over 2,000 years to prevent and treat liver disease. Silymarin is actually the extract of the seed-like fruit of the milk thistle plant, which comes in capsules, liquids and teas, but since it doesn’t dissolve well in water, the most popular form is the standardized extract.
Currently, there are two ways to address America’s chronic care management system. The first way is to make sure you have enough health insurance coverage to pay for the ultra-expensive treatments offered by doctors prescribing pharmaceuticals and for surgeons, who charge an arm and a leg (no pun intended) for cutting organs out of your body when they fail.
The second way is to wait until you are sick and possibly dying, and then to scramble to find natural remedies for your ailments, hoping it’s not too late to save you from the massive over-indulgence of chemicals you failed to regulate along life’s path.
Fortunately, there is preventive care, which cuts off disease’s fuel and heads it off at the pass. This method requires consumers to read a few informative articles every week and to head to the local health food store to purchase the proper, effective vitamins, supplements, and yes, milk thistle.
The liver performs hundreds of critical metabolic functions, including filtering out drugs and alcohol. Research shows that antibiotics and pain relievers increase the liver’s stress and damage. In fact, Tylenol is the number one cause of acute liver failure in the United States.
Today, hormones and antibiotics pollute drinking water. In addition to the ones we take for sicknesses, millions of Americans, who eat meat, consume and then excrete more of these same chemicals because they are given to chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs in order to prevent infection from over-breeding, unkempt quarters, and abnormal growth.
Since the FDA and the CDC have already allowed over 80,000 chemicals to be approved for consumption without testing and without labels to warn consumers, it’s a cold hard fact that at some point, everyone will consume toxic food agents that create acid in the body and foster disease. The battle must be fought on both ends – by consuming organic foods that most likely do not contain chemicals, and then by detoxifying the body on a regular basis using herbs and supplements.
September 29, 2011
By: Kelly Kennedy
Companies nationwide are looking to trim their health insurance costs by combating chronic diseases — such as diabetes, obesity and depression — in their employees, corporate and government officials say.
The need for such steps was amplified again Tuesday as a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that health insurance premiums for families of four increased 9% this year.
“Just in the past six months to a year, we’ve seen a much bigger push toward addressing health issues,” said Joe Miller, managing director of CHC Wellness, which helps companies assess the health needs of their employees. “What we’re doing now is not working.”
The upward trend in health care costs can’t all be blamed on growing doctors’ bills. So, employers have started to provide on-site medical visits, access to gyms, chronic-care plans, smoking-cessation programs and even discounts for those who buy a banana rather than a cookie.
For an employer, costs can be as much as 40% higher in one year for someone who is overweight because of all the issues associated with obesity, including diabetes, back problems, asthma, depression and heart disease, said Kenneth Thorpe, who co-directs Emory University’s Center on Health Outcomes and Quality.
“Between 8% and 20% of health care costs is due to the persistent rise in obesity,” Thorpe said. “Wellness could make a difference.”
As an example, he cited a study he published in the journal Health Affairs about an evidence-based program that reduced type 2 diabetes cases by 71% in Medicare beneficiaries older than 60. It could save Medicare $2.3 billion over the next 10 years if pre-diabetic beneficiaries were enrolled, Thorpe said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a further incentive on Wednesday: It asked businesses to participate in a project to show what happens when private insurers coordinate with primary-care physicians to address health issues. This means personalized care plans, electronic records and preventive care, as well as partnerships with large firms that can offer incentives to their employees.
Tire-manufacturing giant Michelin North America began providing preventive care to all its employees three years ago, as well as chronic-care management for five diseases. Before the program started, only 7% of employees received basic care for diabetes, said company President Dick Wilkerson. Now, nearly 100% do. That cut health care costs for those patients by about $700 a year, he said.
Michelin now has primary-care facilities at all of its major workplaces for use by both employees and their families, Wilkerson said. Patients there can expect a 25-minute visit with a doctor instead of the national average of about seven minutes per visit.
They’ve seen a 30% reduction in employees classified as high-risk for chronic conditions, as well as an increase in people who work out.
“Already, we’ve seen huge reductions in our costs,” Wilkerson said.
At health insurer WellPoint, employees who receive comprehensive primary care from a company doctor have helped cut health care costs by 14%, said Sam Nussbaum, its executive vice president.
September 28th, 2011
By: Loren Berlin
Late September marks the beginning of “open enrollment,” the multi-week period when employees can select their employer-offered benefits, including health care plans. “It’s an opportunity to shop, so to speak, with regards to health care,” explains Yasmine Winkler, a senior vice president at UnitedHealthcare (UNH), one of the nation’s largest private health insurers.
While many Americans groan at the prospect of reviewing our benefits — so much paperwork, so many confusing terms — open enrollment is an important chance to ensure we’re getting the most bang for our health care buck. To that end, I spoke with Winkler and Michael Mahoney, vice president of consumer marketing at the insurance broker GoHealthInsurance.com, for tips on the most cost effective ways to select benefits.
In the first installment of this two-part series, the experts discuss how to save money on employer-offered benefits. In the second part, we’ll consider cost-saving strategies for people who don’t have employer-offered health insurance, and instead purchase individual plans.
1. Learn the Lingo
Health insurance terminology is vast and complicated, so find a website that can provide you straightforward definitions and explanations that you can refer back to as you work through your benefits. Good ones include Wisegeek.com, AARP and Bankrate.com,
2. Identify Which Benefits Need … and Which You Don’t
“A lot of people take employer benefits for granted. They don’t dive in on the details, they just know they’ve always had insurance through work,” says Mahoney. “But it may be that you have benefits you don’t need. For example, if you’re not planning to have a kid soon, you may not need maternity coverage.” In instances where your employer’s plan offers benefits you don’t need, Mahoney suggests pricing an individual plan that only includes your needed benefits, and comparing the two.
However, the opposite is also true. If you know that you need certain benefits, your employer-offered plan may be the cheapest way to get them. “I have three kids,” says Winkler, “and everyone in our family wears glasses, so it would be foolish for me to pass on the vision benefit given the cost of contacts, glasses, annual eye exams.” According to Winkler, many employers offer additional benefits such as vision, dental, disability and critical illness coverage for relatively low-cost premiums.
3. Establish Your Priorities
Once you know what you need, you can determine how important various aspects of your coverage are to you. You might have a certain doctor you want to use, or a specific medical facility. Is that more important to you than saving money on your monthly premium? These are questions you have to answer as you select your plan. For example, most employers offer access to both an HMO or a PPO plan. “Traditionally the HMO is cheaper but has fewer options,” explains Mahoney. “They have a smaller list of providers that insurance will pay for, and they won’t cover the service if it’s out of network.” In contrast, a PPO costs more, but has a wider range of providers and will cover some portion of the cost of service even if the provider is out of network (say, for example, that you require medical assistance while traveling out of state).
4. Compare Treatment Costs
Like most everything else in the world, the cost of medical services varies by provider and insurer. This is due in part to the fact that different providers negotiate different rates with different providers, and in part because each provider determines its own prices. As a result, most insurance providers offer tools that allow you compare the costs of various physicians and facilities, and Winkler suggests consumers use them.
“Comparing gives you a better sense of how much is paid by you versus the health plan for various services,” she says. “They give you a sense for discounts that apply that health plan has negotiated, and helps you to understand average cost of care.”
5. Determine Your Risk Tolerance
“Insurance should be a financial protection product,” says Mahoney. “It should protect you when you have an accident or an illness.” To that end, Mahoney stresses the importance of thinking long and hard about your comfort with risk when you select your plan. “If you earn $25,000 a year and you have an accident and have a $15,000 deductible, that insurance really didn’t provide any protection. If your deductible is $2,000, that’s a lot more protection, but you have to pay more per month for that privilege.”
6. Take Advantage of Preventive Care
Basic preventative care — medical services intended to help you stay healthy — is covered 100% by health care providers, irrespective of whether or not you have a low- or high-deductible plan. That’s a great thing not only for your wallet but for your long-term health as preventative care can identify problems before they become serious. So, if you aren’t currently taking advantage of these free services, which usually include annual physicals, well-baby care, immunizations, mammograms and colonoscopies, get started.
7. Know the Bells and Whistles
These days, employers are offering all sorts of extras to help employees get, and stay, healthy, and most of them can fatten your wallet while helping your health. For example, many employers are now offering incentive-based plans that “give employees the opportunity – and maybe dependents – to earn dollars for healthy actions,” says Winkler. “Sometimes it’s credit towards the premium, credit towards the deductible, or maybe even a gift card. We have an employer, an international company, who offers employees the chance to win a car in a raffle when they do various healthy actions.” The activities can be as simple as taking a screening exam to educate yourself about “your numbers” — that is, your cholesterol, your blood pressure, your glucose level.
According to Winkler, another popular program is the Health Savings Account. Unlike a Flexible Spending Account, the funds of which must to be used up within the year and cannot be transferred between employers, the Health Savings Account is “like a personal bank account specifically related to health expenses,” explains Winkler. “Those dollars are yours, so if you leave, that money can go with you. It’s interest-bearing and tax-free. There are limits on it — for 2012, single coverage is capped at $3,100, and family coverage is capped at $6,250 for the tax year. But it can be deposited pre-tax from your paycheck, so there’s a lot of tax advantage to it and it’s very worthwhile.”
Today, Kevin reveals the facts about the food industry that they don’t want you to know about! Plus, find out which cleanses Kevin uses to stay healthy!
The Government is Trying to Control Your Life
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April 6th, 2011
By: Matthew Boyle
Two mainstream news organizations are receiving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars from Obamacare’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) — a $5 billion grant program that’s doling out cash to companies, states and labor unions in what the Obama administration considers an effort to pay for health insurance for early retirees. The Washington Post Company raked in $573,217 in taxpayer subsidies and CBS Corporation secured $722,388 worth of Americans’ money.
“It is fine with me if they continue covering the ObamaCare debate,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, in an e-mail to The Daily Caller. “When NBC used to cover energy issues, they identified themselves as a subsidiary of General Electric. CBS and Washington Post just have to disclose that they are subsidiaries of the Obama Administration.”
The ERRP, which Republicans call a slush fund, provides taxpayer money to Obama administration-selected states, companies and labor unions with already-in-place early retiree health insurance programs, and aims to make certain that their employees who retire early still have health insurance coverage before they reach Medicare eligibility age. Almost $2 billion of the $5 billion fund, which was supposed to last until 2014, has already been distributed to corporations. New projections expect the funding to run out before the end of 2012, if not sooner.
At a Friday morning hearing, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, asked Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIO) official Steven Larsen for how the administration decides who gets a slice of the $5 billion pie – and how the application process works. In his response, Stearns referred to the fact that corporations like General Electric, Verizon and AT&T in addition to several labor unions were getting taxpayer funding.
Stearns was not impressed. “This program is providing ‘free’ money to corporations, states, unions, and pension plans,” the Congressman said in an e-mail to TheDC. “In addition, the Washington Post and CBS received funding under this program. How can the Washington Post and CBS be impartial on the issue of health care when they received funding under the health care law?”
CBS Corporation spokesman Gil Schwartz told TheDC that newsroom employees, like any other CBS employees, are indeed allowed to take the taxpayer subsidies.
“Yes they are,” Schwartz said. “Why wouldn’t newsroom employees be allowed access to that money like all other CBS employees?”
February 25th, 2011
By: Dana Chivvis
As a raucous week in the Midwest comes to an end, several state legislatures remain deadlocked over bills that many see as attempts to wrest power away from unions.
In the wee hours of this morning, Republicans in the State Assembly held a “flash” vote, passing a controversial bill eradicating collective bargaining for most public employees, before Democrats had a handle on what was happening.
Debate on the bill began in the Assembly on Tuesday morning and had lasted an exhausting 61 hours, as Democrats attempted to filibuster.
At 1 a.m. this morning, Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer opened and closed the vote in a matter of seconds. When it was over, only 13 of the 38 Democrats had managed to get in their votes.
Republican Assembly members stood up and left the chamber immediately following the surprise vote, as Democrats threw papers, shouted “shame!” at their counterparts and called them cowards, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
With only two-thirds of the chamber voting, the legislation passed 51–17 and will now be sent to the Senate, whose 14 Democrats are still in hiding in Illinois. Their absence means the Senate cannot achieve a quorum to hold a vote.
After 15 hours of debate, Republicans in Iowa’s House Labor Committee passed a bill at 6 a.m. today that weakens collective bargaining rights for public employees. Though Democrats proposed more than 50 amendments to the bill, House Study Bill 117, it passed 9-5 along party lines.
The legislation would eliminate collective bargaining for health insurance and retirement plans, bar unions from having a role in decisions involving layoffs, give the governor and the Legislature veto power over decisions made by an arbitrator, lift restrictions on outsourcing and allow workers to become non-unionized “free agents,” according to the Iowa Independent.
The bill will be sent to the full chamber for a vote.
Workers in Ohio are rallying against Senate Bill 5, which would weaken collective bargaining rights by disallowing them for all negotiations except wage talks. It would also ban strikes and end binding arbitration.
Republican Gov. John Kasich and supporters of the legislation say it will help close the state’s $8 billion budget deficit.
With all but three House Democrats hiding out in Urbana, Ill., Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma postponed all activity in the chamber until Monday, according to The Indianapolis Star. The Democrats are protesting 11 proposed bills. Earlier this week, Republicans killed a controversial “right to work” bill, which would ban contracts that require non-union members to pay union fees.
November 19th, 2010
More than 45 million Americans, or 20 percent of U.S. adults, had some form of mental illness last year, and 11 million had a serious illness, U.S. government researchers reported on Thursday.
Young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest level of mental illness at 30 percent, while those aged 50 and older had the lowest, with 13.7 percent, said the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA.
The rate, slightly higher than last year’s 19.5 percent figure, reflected increasing depression, especially among the unemployed, SAMHSA, part of the National Institutes of Health, said.
“Too many Americans are not getting the help they need and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed,” Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA’s administrator, said in a statement.
“The consequences for individuals, families and communities can be devastating. If left untreated mental illnesses can result in disability, substance abuse, suicides, lost productivity, and family discord.”
The 2009 mental health survey hints at the impact of record unemployment rates, which last year hit a 25-year high as struggling employers slashed jobs to cope with a weak economy.
For many, lost employment meant loss of health insurance, leaving many of the nation’s mentally ill unable to get treatment.
According to the survey, 6.1 million adults last year had a mental health need that went untreated, and 42.5 percent said it was because they could not afford it.
It found 14.8 million Americans had major depression last year, and 10 percent of the jobless did, compared with 7.5 of retired people or those not in the job force, 7.3 percent who worked part time and 5.4 percent who worked full time.
Only 64 percent of adults aged 18 or older with major depression were treated last year, compared with 71 percent a year ago.
Being jobless also increased the risk of suicide.
Adults who were unemployed last year were twice as likely to have serious thoughts of suicide as people who were fully employed, with 6.6 percent of the unemployed considering suicide, compared with 3.1 percent of those who were working.
The survey also found that 23.8 percent of women had some form of mental illness, compared with 15.6 percent of men.
Broadcasting from Germany, Kevin explains how harmful prescription and nonprescription drugs are, and how feeding your children the wrong food can give them mental problems! Also, KT gives you all the way to fight the blues, and how energetic balancing can help your health!
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August 5, 2010
Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a federal mandate to purchase health insurance, rebuking President Barack Obama’s administration and giving Republicans their first political victory in a national campaign to overturn the controversial health care law passed by Congress in March.
“The citizens of the Show-Me State don’t want Washington involved in their health care decisions,” said Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, one of the sponsors of the legislation that put Proposition C on the August ballot. She credited a grass-roots campaign involving Tea Party and patriot groups with building support for the anti-Washington proposition.
With most of the vote counted, Proposition C was winning by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1. The measure, which seeks to exempt Missouri from the insurance mandate in the new health care law, includes a provision that would change how insurance companies that go out of business in Missouri liquidate their assets.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cunningham said at a campaign gathering at a private home in Town and Country. “Citizens wanted their voices to be heard.”
About 30 Proposition C supporters whooped it up loudly at 9 p.m. when the returns flashed on the television showing the measure passing with more than 70 percent of the vote.
“It’s the vote heard ’round the world,” said Dwight Janson, 53, from Glendale, clad in an American flag-patterned shirt. Janson said he went to one of the first Tea Party gatherings last year and hopped on the Proposition C bandwagon because he wanted to make a difference.
“I was tired of sitting on the sidelines bouncing my gums,” he said.
Missouri was the first of four states to seek to opt out of the insurance purchase mandate portion of the health care law that had been pushed by Obama. And while many legal scholars question whether the vote will be binding, the overwhelming approval gives the national GOP momentum as Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma hold similar votes during midterm elections in November.
“It’s a big number,” state Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, said of the vote. “I expected a victory, but not of this magnitude. This is going to propel the issue and several other issues about the proper role of the federal government.”
From almost the moment the Democratic-controlled Congress passed the health care law — which aims to increase the number of Americans with health insurance — Republicans have vowed to try to repeal it. Their primary argument is that they believe the federal government should not be involved in mandating health care decisions at the local level.
While repeal might seem an unlikely strategy, the effort to send a message state by state that voters don’t approve of being told they have to buy insurance could gain momentum.
That’s what Republicans are counting on at least, hoping that the Missouri vote will give the national movement momentum.
“It’s like a domino, and Missouri is the first one to fall,” Cunningham said. “Missouri’s vote will greatly influence the debate in the other states.”
Proposition C faced little organized opposition, although the Missouri Hospital Association mounted a mailer campaign opposing the ballot issue in the last couple of weeks. The hospital association, which spent more than $300,000 in the losing effort, said that without the new federal law, those who don’t have insurance will cause health care providers and other taxpayers to have higher costs.
“The only way to get to the cost problem in health care is to expand the insurance pool,” said hospital association spokesman Dave Dillon. He said the hospital association didn’t plan to sue over the law, but he expected it would be challenged.
“I think there is going to be no shortage of people who want to use the courts to resolve this issue,” he said.
Democrats also generally opposed Proposition C, though they didn’t spend much time or money talking about it.
In the closing days of the campaign, many politicians ‘sidled up” to Proposition C, Cunningham said, seeing the momentum the issue had gained.
Among them was U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, who won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday night. Late last week, Blunt announced his support of Proposition C.
On Monday, Blunt said he hoped Missouri voters would send a “ballot box message” to the Obama’s administration by overwhelmingly passing the measure.
The question now is whether the administration will respond by suing the state to block passage of the law, much as it did in Arizona recently over illegal immigration.
The issue in both is the same: When state laws conflict with federal laws, the courts have generally ruled in favor of the federal government, because of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Richard Reuben, a law professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, said that if the federal government sues on the issue, it would likely win. Several other Missouri legal and political scholars agreed.
But Cunningham is undaunted. She’s got her own experts, and they’re ready to do battle in court.
“Constitutional experts disagree,” she said. “There is substantial legal status to this thing.”