Business and Finance

Health Care

At Home, Many Seniors Are Imprisoned by Their Independence

Almost two million people over age 65, or nearly 6 percent of those Americans (excluding nursing home residents), rarely or never leave their homes, researchers recently reported in JAMA Internal Medicine. The homebound far outnumber the 1.4 million residents of nursing homes. Using data from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study, the study authors defined as homebound those who in the past month had not left their homes at all or had gone

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PBS NewsHour report On Easing Burden For Caregivers

For the 42 million Americans who take care of loved ones at home, the responsibilities of care -- once the purview of trained nurses -- have become increasingly complex. AARP has begun to advocate for greater caregiver support through public policy and legislation, but the health care industry may be wary of additional regulation. Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/advocating-care-home-caregivers/ Two

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Keep Patients Healthy, and Doctors Sane

Obamacare has ripped the invisibility cloak off millions of people who ignored signs of deteriorating health until the consequences were irreversible. But, in case you haven’t been listening to talk radio, Obamacare is not perfect. Small communities such as mine must cope with thousands of patients who need specialty care at Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates. Many doctors are straining to treat urgent and expensive problems while paying

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State Alzheimer’s Planning Group Seeks Public Input

Washington State's Alzheimer's Disease Working Group is hosting  Community Meetings.  The group wants to hear about what's  needed and what could be improved to better help people with dementia and their family caregivers.  Public input will be used to shape strategic plans and policies. In person meetings will be held: Yakima - March 31, Seattle April 1, Spokane April 8, Olympia/Lacey April 28, Sequim May 1 See the Calendar for locations and

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Medicare for All

Universal health care, Improved Medicare for All, will establish cost efficiency that eliminates major medical bills and medical-related bankruptcies. It will simplify our way of paying for health care and lower the total cost for the United States. It will be good for the physical and financial health of Americans and America. All other 29 free-market countries (1) implemented their versions of universal health care between 1883 and 1972. Their

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Doctors must learn to talk about death, end-of-life care options

America’s health-care establishment is in the midst of a dramatic paradigm shift. Providers nationwide are being called to enact monumental changes in the care delivery model to expand access, improve quality and at the same time reduce cost. It’s a tall order. And yet, the numbers don’t lie. According to the World Health Organization, America spends more on health care than any country in the world — nearly double the amount committed by

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Generic drug price hikes defy reason

It appears generic drug manufacturers have taken a page out of the playbook of oil companies, which seem to find innovative ways of manipulating the market to maximize profits. #Maximizing profits is a time-honored principle of the free market system. But there are things that are so vital to life that the normal competitive nature of the marketplace aren’t sufficient to keep people from being harmed. #Medicine would certainly seem to fall into

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Health plan exchange enters second year, with more options

In a surprise move, the U.S. Supreme Court has said it will resolve another legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The crux of the dispute is whether taxpayer-funded subsidies are available only through state-based insurance exchanges, or through all of them. Thirteen states run exchanges. The rest are run by the federal government. The court isn’t expected to issue a ruling until late June. Washington and Idaho have state-based exchanges,

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Mental health court a ‘safe zone’ of help

Assistance program for those in criminal justice system not feeling pinch, official says Tracey Anne Green walks 9 miles round-trip to make her Clark County Mental Health Court appearances. “That’s my meditating time,” Green said Wednesday following a five-minute check-in with a judge. Green, 53, has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. She doesn’t travel by bus from her Hazel Dell mobile home to the

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Harborview as busy as ever, even with more people insured

With more people obtaining health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, places like Harborview Medical Center are providing much less “charity” (uncompensated) care. The Emergency Department there is as busy as ever, though.   http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024629781_harborviewercompanionpiece1xml.html

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Slight bump in premiums for employer health plans: Study

Health insurance premiums for the nearly 150 million people who get family health insurance through employers rose an "extraordinarily modest" 3 percent in 2014, a new report released Wednesday shows.   http://www.cnbc.com/id/101985624#_gus

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Proceed carefully in pushing insurance companies to cover sickest patients

The health care overhaul, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) prevents insurers from rejecting customers with expensive pre-existing medical conditions. Yet, insurance companies have figured out ways to discourage those expensive patients from buying their insurance.   http://union-bulletin.com/news/2014/sep/07/proceed-carefully-pushing-insurance-companies-cove/

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Guest: Is warehousing mental patients another state constitutional dilemma?

Article XIII in the Washington state constitution mandated that the state “foster and support” prisons, universities and institutions for the mentally ill, according to guest columnist Hugh Spitzer. http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2024404422_hughspitzeropedpsychiatricboarding28xml.html

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As newly insured seek care, rural doctor shortage worsens

As more people get health-insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the doctor shortage in rural areas is worsening. In Port Angeles, for example, a local clinic is turning away 250 callers a week. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024441142_acaruralaccessxml.html

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Group Health ends 20-year relationship with Virginia Mason, switches to Swedish

Group Health has signed an agreement with Swedish Health Services to provide Group Health’s Seattle-based hospital services, a decision that will end a 20-year-long acute-care relationship withVirginia Mason. http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/health-care-inc/2014/08/group-health-ends-15-year-relationship-with.html

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End state law that criminalizes mental health patients

Washington is in a real mental-health crisis now, with the state scrambling to open hundreds of psychiatric hospital beds after a state Supreme Court ruling in August. That is a welcome shift, because in the absence of those resources, prisons and jails are the de facto psychiatric  http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2024363282_jonathanmartinmentalhealthcolumn22xml.html

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What’s Troubling Mental Health?

These are the next steps for Washington state on mental-health challenges, found through months of conversations with mental-health professionals, policymakers, elected officials and the people who have been caught without the help they need — people with mental illness, and their families.  See the Seattle Times editorial conversation on mental-health challenges:  http://seattletimes.com/html/editorialsopinionpages/2024321014_whatstroublingmentalhealthcare.html

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Medicare Should Cover Low-Dose CT Screening For Lung Cancer

LUNG-cancer screening with low-dose CT scans could save up to 18,000 lives annually among those at high risk for the disease.

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The Oldest old: Reaching 90 more likely than ever

For More, see The rolls of America's oldest are surging

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Aging in Place

Most Americans over 50 prefer the idea of remaining in their homes, but doing it well requires good fortune and support services.   For More, see Forgoing retirement homes

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