Category Archives: Health Issues

Pediatricians Say Florida Hurt Sick Kids To Help Big GOP Donors

CNN has done a great investigative job on this.  Here it is in short:

Now we find out Florida is a state that puts politics and money ahead of proper care for suffering, disabled children, according to this excellent investigative report. It’s because of extremely disproportionate donations to the Florida state GOP coffers by the medical insurance companies, as compared to their donations into other states’ GOP coffers.

A professionally-designed, approved questionnaire was used as a screening tool inappropriately to “filter out” children from the special Medicaid program which catered to those children.

Despite protestations from pediatricians,

“In the spring and summer of 2015, the state switched more than 13,000 children out of a highly respected program called Children’s Medical Services, or CMS, a part of Florida Medicaid. Children on this plan have serious health problems including birth defects, heart disease, diabetes and blindness.”

“Nearly half of all children in Florida, are on Medicaid, which has several types of insurance plans. The state switched more than 13,000 children into new plans, many of which did not have the same participating providers that treated these special kids.”

And so, too many of these kids did not get the special medical and surgical treatment they required, due to doctors in the new plans not having the needed additional education and/or experience or were not listed as providers.

“But some Florida pediatricians worry about children with special health care needs who, two years later, are still off the program.  The doctors aren’t just worried; they’re angry.”
  • The data analysis the state used to justify switching the children is “inaccurate” and “bizarre,” according to the researcher who wrote the software used in that analysis.
  • The screening tool the state used to select which children would be kicked off the program has been called “completely invalid” and “a perversion of science” by top experts in children with special health care needs.
  • In fall 2015, a state administrative law judge ruled that the Department of Health should stop using the screening tool because it was unlawful. However, even after the judge issued his decision, the department didn’t automatically re-enroll the children or even reach out to the families directly to let them know that re-enrollment was a possibility.

“These are the sickest and most vulnerable kids, and (changing their insurance) can mean life or death for them,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University. “This is really very troubling.”

Six pediatricians from across Florida gathered to tell CNN their concerns about children losing CMS coverage. They accuse the state of hurting sick kids to help big GOP donors.

Dr. Rishi Agrawal, an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, agreed, adding that Florida should have more carefully considered how the insurance switch would affect the children’s health care.  “The process in Florida was particularly abrupt and poorly executed,” he said.
“It was a scam job,” added Dr. Nancy Wright, a pediatric endocrinologist in Tallahassee who said that dozens of her patients with diabetes were removed from the program.”
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[ Photos from http://www.cnn.com ]
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Florida Medical Marijuana Update

SOUTH FLORIDA WILL HAVE LOTS OF CERTIFIED DOCTORS WHO WILL BE ABLE TO PRESCRIBE MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Taken from Sun-Sentinel:

Hundreds of doctors in Florida are now certified since June 16th, who are able to  recommend medical marijuana for patients, and one of the biggest concentrations is in South Florida.

The state is moving forward to implement a constitutional amendment approved by voters; however, patients in some parts of the state have no access and insurance does not cover marijuana, so poorer patients could be priced out of the market.

  • State lawmakers eliminated the original 90 day waiting period to get medical marijuana;
  • There are now 957 doctors in Florida qualified to recommend medical marijuana, with 357 of them in South Florida;
  • Monroe county has the most certified doctors, with one for every 8,208 residents in the county;
  • Of Florida’s 30 largest cities, Boca Raton has the state’s highest per capita number of certified doctors;
  • Doctors “recommend” marijuana rather than “prescribe” it, because it is a federally-controlled substance.

HOW CAN I GET IT?

Patients must have a qualifying ailment.  Those include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class,” per the amendment’s language.

To find a local doctor, go to http://SunSentinel.com/marijuanadoctors

You can also go to Floridahealth.gov, or call the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use at 850-245-4657.

Patients can receive a 70-day supply at a time.  When that is exhausted, they must get another recommendation, which can be phoned in.  After 30 weeks, patients must once again see their doctor in person.

A typical in-person visit costs about $250.  Patients must also pay a $75 fee for their medical marijuana card; then, there’s the cost of the marijuana which ranges from about $100 to $200 for a 70-day supply.

At his Boca Raton clinic, one doctor treats about 50 patients.  He has used the law’s “other debilitating medical conditions” provission to prescribe (recommend) marijuana for auto-immune diseases similar to Crohn’s, severe arthritis and chronic pain from nervous system damage.

A photo ID is required on the card in order to be placed on the state registry, and there has been a steady increase in the volume of applications since Amendment 2 went into effect.

There are now 12 growers and there will be 5 more added in October.  They agree they have enough capacity to supply patient demand.

 

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DEA Delays Kratom Ban, More Senators Object To Process And ‘Unintended Consequences’

This is an update to my first post about kratom, dated August 30, 2016.  A follow-up by David Kroll on Forbes, shows that the DEA is listening to some of our representatives in government who are listening to their constituents.

kratom plant

Mr. Kroll states:

I was on the phone today [September 30, 2016] with DEA spokesperson Russ Baer when the clock struck 5:00 pm on the East Coast without a final order from the agency making two chemicals from kratom Schedule I controlled substances. Baer said that the plan to place the plant alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, onto the most restrictive classification of drugs of abuse and public health risk is still in progress and “will come sooner rather than later.”

The alkaloids have been known for over a decade to possess some modest opioid actions but their potential benefit for patients with chronic pain and substance dependence was overlooked in the notice of intent to place the botanical chemicals in the same class as heroin, LSD and mescaline.

Meanwhile today, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a two-page letter to DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg calling for the agency to delay this scheduling order. The Senators objected to the emergency, temporary scheduling order that could be enacted within 30 days without “a robust process of stakeholder input and discussion of medical, public safety and scientific considerations.”

In the intervening 30 days, kratom advocates and researchers have voiced concern that the botanical dietary supplement does indeed have legitimate medical uses, although not as an FDA-approved botanical drug. Most vocal on the scientific side have been researchers at Columbia University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The teams have independently and collaboratively published two papers on kratom-derived chemicals and their potentially beneficial constellation of complex actions on human opioid receptors.

Columbia associate research scientist, Andrew Kruegel, PhD, was specifically cited in the Booker-Gillibrand-Wyden letter to DEA as he led an 11-scientist letter of objection to kratom scheduling that was submitted to congressional representatives on September 2. Kruegel is also first author on a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in May showing the alkaloids in kratom act on opioid receptor signal transmission entirely differently [from] strong opioids such as morphine, fentanyl and oxycodone, posing less risk of respiratory depression.

This is the first time that Congressional elected officials have come out of their respective “closets” and are taking a stand against the strong-arm DEA when they have proof that the “plant” does have medical properties which are not as risky as the opioids.  In doing so, these Senators, in taking this heroic, progressive stand, are, in essence, thumbing their noses at Big Pharma and the FDA; telling them there is scientific evidence proving the benefits of kratom, and there is another way other than opioids, to help patients who are suffering with pain.

There is a big “however,” because Russ Baer, spokesperson for the DEA, still believes kratom’s inclusion on Schedule I “will come sooner rather than later.”

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#MillionsMissing Protest Coverage

 

Sept. 27th was a day of national and international protesting and recognition of #millionsmissingME, myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a greatly disabling, debilitating disease.

ME has been pushed to the sidelines for several decades by the HHS, CDC, NIH and governments around the world, as a figment of the patients’ imaginations.  The patients have been insulted with taunts and accusations that they are not really sick. Far from the truth.

We, advocates and patients who are able, must continue to make our voices heard.  We need more research and granting of funds by National Institutes of Health to continue and advance the research that has already been started by non-profit organizations with private donations.

We have lots to do to catch up and make up for the time lost and the lives lost along the way.  Millions are counting on the world to wake up and recognize ME as a devastating disease to the patients and families.

Please take a look at the site below to familiarize yourself with ME and what is being done to bring it to the forefront in the eyes of the world.

Protest Coverage

 

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The Election Isn’t The Only Thing On My Mind

 

At the top of my priority list is my daughter.

It was about 25 years ago, that she started noticing symptoms of loss of stamina, unusual tiredness, lots of pain, and seemed to be fighting low-grade flu-like symptoms every so often.  They were the types of feelings that we all just dismiss (was I really feeling so bad?) and go on with our lives, hoping those body signals of something “just not right” will go away.  And, to a point, they did, and no more thought was given.

But, every so often, they were there again.  Most times, they were almost unnoticed; other times, enough to force her to go about her daily activities of caring for her children, working full time, being a thoughtful, responsible person, by “pushing through” those symptoms, and then just falling into bed, exhausted.

This went on for so many years until about 15 years ago, when she was already living close by in Florida.  She came over for dinner one Sunday, with her then husband and her two daughters.  They arrived in late afternoon, before dinner time, and she told me she needed to lie down.  She was completely exhausted and just had to go to bed.  It was like an emergency, and I hurriedly prepared the guest room bed for her, and she practically fell into it as I closed the blinds.  She couldn’t move; and slept very soundly for hours.  When she got up, she didn’t feel refreshed, but she was able to dine with us and then they went home right afterwards.  It was from that point, that the symptoms would become more frequent and noticeable.

Going to work was and is not an option as of this past January 2016.  She really should have stopped work at least a year before.  Looking back, she kept up her pace with great difficulty because she was a single mom and her younger daughter was totally dependent on her, and she worried about finances.  She was living a physical, mental, stressful nightmare.

My daughter suffers with the disease that is the reason for the letter below which is circulating in the House of Representatives on behalf of MillionsMissing (a global movement for health equality) and is addressed to Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health.

Francis Collins, Director
National Institutes of Health
1 Center Drive, Room B1-126
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0001

Dear Dr. Collins:

We write to thank you for your attention to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), and encourage you to continue to strengthen the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) efforts in ME/CFS biomedical research.

As you know, ME/CFS is a complex, debilitating, and chronic disease afflicting 1 to 2.5 million Americans. It costs individuals, the U.S. health care system, and our economy an estimated $17-$24 billion annually. Yet, as the Institute of Medicine noted in its report, “Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness,” there has been “remarkably little research funding” to date to discover its cause or possible treatments.

A number of us sent you a letter in March of 2014 to express support for ME/CFS research and are heartened by your commitment to advance diagnosis, treatment, and a cure for ME/CFS through a reinvigorated Trans-NIH ME/CFS Working Group (Working Group) housed within the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and new intramural and extramural research programs that will bring new investigators into the field.

We encourage the Working Group to consider in a timely manner the input received through its recent Request for Information (RFI) regarding emerging needs, opportunities, and strategies for ME/CFS research and research training. We also ask that you provide us with the current status of this planning effort and the specific intramural and extramural activities planned for the rest of FY 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Thank you for your attention to these critical issues. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Zoe Lofgren                           Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress           Member of Congress

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently circulating the letter asking the NIH to strengthen ME/CFS biomedical research efforts. NOW, is the time to contact your representative to ask him or her to sign the letter.  Representatives have only until Wed., Aug. 31 to agree to sign the letter so action must be fast.

Here is a “Prevalence of Well-Known Diseases” comparison chart by state, which compares the number of people in each state that suffers from ME, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s (PD), and Multiple Sclerosis MS).  Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is quite short-changed as far as NIH funding, research and timeliness is concerned.

The following websites will be helpful if you had or will contact your U.S. Representatives:

http://www.meaction.net/wp-con tent/uploads/2016/08/Script- and-How-To-1.pdf

https://drive.google.com/file/ d/0B8cZyk4UDCJkQkhfWHJRbU1BZlU /view?usp=sharing

https://docs.google.com/forms/ d/e/1FAIpQLSd3mTxetR874PxJjDA1 AwLDPna9fSNcaKoIx- YnldwGxEerCA/viewform?c=0&w=1

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MY OPINION: Letter To Senators Requesting Opposition To The GMO Labeling Bill

gmo1

I’m writing to tell you that I strongly oppose the Roberts-Stabenow compromise language on the GMO labeling bill.

I ask that YOU also oppose it.  This legislation would overrule Vermont’s consumer-friendly GMO labeling law, and prevent states from passing similar laws, and would create a confusing, misleading and unenforceable national standard for labeling GMOs.

Instead of a uniform labeling standard like Vermont’s law, the language allows text, symbols, or an electronic code to be used. This is intentionally confusing to consumers, and the information may be entirely inaccessible if the consumer does not have access to the internet.

Perhaps most shockingly, this bill imposes no penalties whatsoever for violating the labeling requirement, making the law essentially meaningless. Thus, this is a weak bill, full of loopholes, without any requirement to comply.

A law is meaningless and harmful if there are no penalties for not adhering to its requirements.

Are our Senators and Representatives so weak, that they are willing to have themselves and their families and children and friends eat food that may not be safe, in order to submit to the BIG CORPORATION LOBBYISTS?

The overwhelming majority of Americans favor GMO labeling. People have a right to know what is in the food they eat. The Senate shouldn’t stop states from passing laws that let that happen. Please oppose the Roberts-Stabenow GMO labeling bill.

HERE AGAIN, WE HAVE LAWS PASSED WITHOUT REPRESENTATION OF THE MAJORITY.  Remember the Boston Tea Party?  Why did the patriots dump the tea into Boston Harbor?  Because we were being taxed without representation in Britain.

The Congress passes too many bills into law without the majority of the citizens’ desires in mind.  The seats that Congress occupies on Capitol Hill can be filled with other individuals who are more willing to vote in favor of what the citizenry wishes.

This is a time of political upheaval.  More voters will be voting in this upcoming presidential and congressional election than in any other election.  There are a greater number of registered voters who have left the two major parties or registered Independent or are just totally confused as to which candidate for whom to vote.

 

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What is ME/CFS?

The Open Medicine Foundation – Nonprofit fundraising and support for a cure for Neuro-Immune Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME, Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia and engages patients in research.

Please click on link below to get the real, true story in Q & A form:

Source: What is ME/CFS?

 

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Why Is Big Pharma Fighting Legalizing Marijuana?

 

MJ

It’s obvious.

We all know by now that most prescribed pain killers (especially opioids) are addictive, and yet, our government bows down to Big Pharma and continues to allow clinicians to prescribe them indiscriminately.

Many, many committees, commissions, agencies , etc., have been holding meetings to discuss this problem.  Has anything been done?  Of course not.

All the “conclusions” of these “get-togethers” have amounted to: ZERO.

Now, we have something else to throw into the “pot.”

There’s a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. These studies have generally assumed that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. But that’s always been just an assumption.

Now a new study, released in the journal Health Affairs, validates these findings by providing clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013.

Medical marijuana is being used for medicinal purposes and not for “recreational” purposes.  There is this misconception held by very conservative groups:  medical marijuana will be used for recreational purposes or will lead to recreational marijuana use in order to get “high.”  Medical marijuana is used as medicine to relieve pain and other symptoms of chronic and/or serious medical conditions.

fewer pills

The graph above, published by Bradford and Bradford, Health Affairs, July 2016, sheds much light on the impact the use of medical marijuana has had and continues to have, on addictive drug use.

Let’s get on with it, elected officials!  Let the light shine through, and give our ill citizens availability to this plant that has many healing qualities, especially relief from many types of pain.  Some of your colleagues have seen the light and passed state laws allowing prescribing of medical marijuana.  Until the federal government passes a national law or properly amends the scheduling of marijuana, I hope more states will join the almost 30 states which have already passed marijuana laws.

Source:  Article in the The Washington Post by Christopher Ingraham

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One Of My Few Rants: Medicare Advantage Plan

 

medicare

For the most part, I’ve been very satisfied – actually, happy – with my plan.  It doesn’t cost a monthly premium and I still get most of my Social Security check without having the full Medicare cost deducted.  And, I have been fortunate with the doctors I have found from the list of providers.  A good situation…  Until I found out about the following:

Last week, I received a bill from a company that provides cardiologists and hospitals with a recording device that is attached to a patient’s chest and measures whatever.  It was for a visit that occurred A YEAR AGO, when I spent most of the day at my cardiologist’s office while several different tests were accomplished.

Imagine my surprise.  I don’t recall any mention of a separate bill for this device usage.  Of course, it was a year ago.  Who would remember anything?  Well, maybe somebody would, but I think that is asking too much.

I won’t advertise the $ amount this company charged.  That is their prerogative to charge whatever they believe the service is worth while covering some of their expenses.  That amount is not the reason for my rant.

The reason is:  My insurance company paid only $2.00!!  And I am asked to pay many times that amount.  The device company allowed the insurance company to deduct almost $1,000 from their invoice, after failing to convince the insurance company to pay a larger portion.  Except for the $2.00 and my co-pay, the device company had to write off the bulk of the price.

More and more, as we are experiencing, the cost of health care is being borne by the people who can least afford it, while the insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

There’s no doubt about who is ruling the roost.

 

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[Medicare Advantage Plan image from bingdotcom]

 

Solve ME/CFS Initiative Takes Part in #MillionsMissing Protest

 

Solve ME/CFS Initiative President Carol Head said that following last year’s Institute of Medicine report, there is no reason for the federal government to drag its feet on aggressively funding research on the disease.

“It is the role of NIH and CDC to care for the health of their citizens, and the health of those citizens is currently being funded by ourselves for ourselves,” Head said.

The protest included a series of demonstrations by ME/CFS patients and their loved ones at locations around the country and across the world, including: Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Philadelphia, London, Melbourne, Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Raleigh, Canada, the Netherlands and Belfast. Protesters in D.C. assembled outside the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) headquarters. Other U.S. protesters assembled outside the regional HHS offices.

seattle netherlands canada

Millions Missing demonstration in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mary F. Calvert)

#MillionsMissing demonstration in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mary F. Calvert)

The shoes represent the active lives lost by the owners of those shoes due to being stricken with this devastating disease.

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[Video and photos from Solve ME/CFS Initiative]