Business and Finance

Health Care

Without Obamacare, could the state pick up the slack?

If President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress make good on their promises to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act, there may be little recourse for some low-income Washingtonians, officials in Olympia said this week.   http://crosscut.com/2017/01/without-obamacare-could-the-state-pick-up-the-slack/

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Aetna’s $37 Billion Humana Takeover Blocked by Judge

Aetna Inc.’s $37 billion deal to buy rival insurer Humana Inc. was blocked by a federal judge, thwarting one of two large mergers that would reshape the U.S. health-care landscape. Aetna said it was considering an appeal. The transaction would violate antitrust laws by reducing competition among insurers, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates in Washington ruled on Monday. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Aetna owes Humana a $1 billion breakup

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Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA) Report

Linked below is the report given by Bill Moss, Assistant Secretary, ALTSA DSHS, to the Legislature on January 17, 2017. ALTSA report

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Older Adults Are Still Skipping Vaccinations

It’s an ongoing and vexing public health problem: People once vigilant about vaccinating their children aren’t nearly as careful about protecting themselves as they age, even though diseases like influenza, pneumonia and shingles (a.k.a. herpes zoster) are particularly dangerous for older people.   http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/health/shingles-vaccine.html?mabReward=CTM&recp=4&action=click&pgtype=Homepage®ion=CColumn&module=Recommendation&src=rechp&WT.nav=RecEngine

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Medicare Proposal Takes Aim at Diabetes

The Obama administration plans  to propose expanding Medicare to cover programs to prevent diabetes among millions of people at high risk of developing the disease, marking the sixth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act with the prospect of a new benefit, federal officials said.   http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/us/politics/medicare-proposal-takes-aim-at-diabetes.html?action=click&contentCollection=Politics&module=RelatedCoverage®ion=Marginalia&pgtype=article

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Retirees Need $130,000 Just to Cover Health Care, Study Finds

Share on FacebookShare on Twitter Today's 65-year-olds can expect to spend an average of $130,000 on health care during their retirement, from premiums to co-payments to eyeglasses, according to new estimates. The average single 65-year-old woman can expect to need $135,000 to spend on health care in retirement, while a man will spend $125,000, according to estimates from Fidelity Investments. (The difference is because the woman is expected

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New Medicare Law to Notify Patients of Loophole in Nursing Home Coverage

WASHINGTON — In November, after a bad fall, 85-year-old Elizabeth Cannon was taken to a hospital outside Philadelphia for six and a half days of “observation,” followed by nearly five months at a nearby nursing home for rehabilitation and skilled nursing care. The cost: more than $40,000. The hospital insisted that Ms. Cannon had never been formally admitted there as an inpatient, so under federal rules, Medicare would not pay for her nursing

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Many Well-Known Hospitals Fail To Score High In Medicare Rankings

The federal government released its first overall hospital quality rating on Wednesday, slapping average or below average scores on many of the nation's best-known hospitals while awarding top scores to many unheralded ones.   http://kplu.org/post/many-well-known-hospitals-fail-score-high-medicare-rankings

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No Hearing Aid? Some Gizmos Offer Alternative to ‘Speak Up!’

"F.D.A.-regulated P.S.A.P.s (personal sound amplification products) might represent a simpler, cheaper solution." An estimated one zillion older people have a problem like mine. First: We notice age-related hearing loss. A much-anticipated report on hearing health from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine last month put the prevalence at more than 45 percent of those aged 70 to 74, and more than 80 percent among those over

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Keeping a busy schedule may benefit the brain

One of the best ways to keep your brain sharp as you get older may be to stay busy, according to new research. While scientists have previously recommended engaging in mentally challenging activities, a new study suggests that keeping a packed schedule may offer similar benefits. http://time.com/4341680/busy-brain-cognitive-function-aging/?xid=emailshare

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The Older Americans Act Finally Clears Congress

Congress finally just passed bipartisan legislation renewing theOlder Americans Act for three years and President Obama has signed it. Passage comes almost 10 years since the Act was last reauthorized, a delay which has been a source of great consternation to older adults and their advocates. The Older Americans Act (OAA) funds critical services that keep older adults healthy and independent—services like meals, job training, senior centers, caregiver

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Many See I.R.S. Penalties as More Affordable Than Insurance

Two years after the Affordable Care Act began requiring most Americans to have health insurance, 10.5 million who are eligible to buy coverage through the law’s new insurance exchanges were still uninsured this fall, according to the Obama administration. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/04/us/many-see-irs-fines-as-more-affordable-than-insurance.html

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Health Reform Realities

Health reform is the signature achievement of the Obama presidency. It was the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare was established in the 1960s. It more or less achieves a goal — access to health insurance for all Americans — that progressives have been trying to reach for three generations. And it is already producing dramatic results, with the percentage of uninsured Americans falling to record lows. Obamacare is, however,

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Don’t Blame Medicaid for Rise in Health Care Spending

Health care spending growth has moderated in recent years, but it’s still putting tremendous strain on state and local governments. A recent analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts revealed that it consumed 31 percent of state and local government revenue in 2013, nearly doubling from 1987. But Medicaid — the state-based health care program for low-income Americans — is not the chief culprit.   http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/upshot/dont-blame-medicaid-for-rise-in-health-care-spending.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_up_20150804&nl=upshot&nlid=71924083&ref=headline&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

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Families face tough decisions as cost of elder care soars.

Like others faced with the stunning cost of elderly care in the U.S., Goldblum did the math and realized that her mother could easily outlive her savings. So she pulled her out of the home. For the two-thirds of Americans over 65 who are expected to need some long-term care, the costs are increasingly beyond reach. The cost of staying in a nursing home has climbed at twice the rate of overall inflation over the last five years, according to the insurer

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Is It Better to Die in America or in England?

WE frequently hear complaints about how people near the end of life are treated in America. Patients are attached to tubes and machines and subjected to too many invasive procedures. Death occurs too frequently in the hospital, rather than at home, where the dying can be surrounded by loved ones. And it is way too expensive. Each year, the care of dying seniors consumes over 25 percent of Medicare expenditures. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/20/opinion/is-it-better-to-die-in-america-or-in-england.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=Moth-Visible&moduleDetail=inside-nyt-region-1&module=inside-nyt-region®ion=inside-nyt-region&WT.nav=inside-nyt-region

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Cardiologist Invents Device to Help Prevent Stroke

The idea of having a stroke is terrifying. But what if your doctor had an easy and inexpensive way to screen whether you were at increased risk and needed treatment right away? This will soon be an option thanks to the palm-size device above. This cardiac rhythm monitor from Washington-based Cardiac Insight can detect atrial fibrillation—an abnormal heart rhythm that can significantly elevate stroke risk if untreated.   http://www.lsdfa.org/documents/2069864.LSDF_story_linker.pdf

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State elected officials write in support of Skagit County nursing homes

State elected officials have voiced support for the skilled nursing homes in Skagit County, requesting that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services adjust the county’s wage index. The wage index in part determines reimbursement rates for care provided by the nursing homes. The requested adjustment would mean the reimbursement rates would increase. http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/state-elected-officials-write-in-support-of-skagit-county-nursing/article_8647da13-e36f-5e37-8069-647016b9c97e.html

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Major changes coming for Medicare this year

Whether it’s coverage for end-of-life counseling or an experimental payment scheme for common surgeries, Medicare in 2016 is undergoing some of the biggest changes in its 50 years. Grandma’s Medicare usually just paid the bills as they came in. Today, the nation’s flagship health care program is seeking better ways to balance cost, quality and access.   http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2016/jan/04/major-changes-coming-for-medicare-this-year/

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State dentists lobby is blocking low-cost care

Dental health for the poor is a big problem in Washington state. Some see dental therapists — licensed professionals who can perform simple procedures — as a route to less expensive care. But the powerful state dentists association has thwarted efforts to allow the therapists. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/times-watchdog/washington-dentists-lobby-is-blocking-low-cost-care/

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