Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Via Prensa Latina:
Thousands of Guatemalan elderly people without social security will begin protests on Friday to demand pensions included in the Elderly Law, recently suspended by the Court of Constitutionality.
Hector Montenegro, leader of the National Association of Elderly People without Social Security, asserted that they will fight for the economic assistance, which is equivalent to $66 a month.
Retired people of the Guatemalan Social Security Institute will join the protests.
Many of them are receiving minimum pensions after having worked and paid their bills for more than 30 years.
The judges´ main argument to suspend the Elderly Law was that the State would go bankrupt if it were implemented.
Just a week after introducing a wealth of shoe-friendly bills that would make Imelda Marcos proud, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has turned his attention to toilet training. Last Thursday, Brownback introduced three measures to suspend the duties on “padded potty seats,” “traveler padded-potty seats” and “contoured padded-infant potty seats.” That oughtta cover it. Spokesman Brian Hart said the amendments were introduced for the benefit of Mommy’s Helper, a business in Wichita, Kan.
Ed: Now that's pork...
The state of Iowa plans to rewrite rules that would allow hospitals to open units to offer specialized care for long-term patients.
The new wings technically would be separate hospitals and could attract millions of dollars in federal funding.
State regulators have said such arrangements would be illegal, but Steve Young, director of the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals, said his agency plans to rewrite rules that allow the special-care units.
The move comes after a different state agency rejected plans by out-of-state, for-profit companies, to build four-free standing, long-term care hospitals — two in Des Moines and two in the Iowa City area.
Critics said the plans were too costly.
Supporters say long-term-care hospitals can offer specialized care for patients who are too fragile to live in nursing homes but who don't need to stay in costly intensive-care units.
With Young's announcement last week, hospitals can consider adding the special units.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The Medicare Rights Center believes the only way to give people a good,
dependable and affordable drug benefit is to have it available under
Original Medicare and not through private insurance companies. It is working with state advocacy groups across the country to convene public hearings on the Medicare prescription
drug program and deliver a prescription drug plan that works first and foremost
for the American people.
For a full schedule and the date, time, and place of a hearing in your state, visit:
Friday, May 26, 2006
A new study is about to put Canadian seniors through a battery of tests to determine the effects of aging on older drivers.
"Most older people are excellent drivers," says Dr. Sylvain Gagnon, a scientist who is part of The Elisabeth Bruyere Research Institute and helping to co-ordinate the project. "They know what to expect when they are on the road."
But older drivers can be hampered by poor eyesight, slower responses, changes in perception, medical problems and the many distractions that come with modern cars.
And while seniors have years of driving experience, they are more likely to die from injuries suffered in automobile accidents because of their body's inability to recover as quickly as a younger driver's.
In Canada, drivers 65 and older account for 15.4 per cent of auto fatalities, according to Transport Canada. The highest proportion is in the 25-to-34 age group, at 17.5 per cent.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
An epidemic of deaths and injuries among elderly and disabled Australians riding mobility scooters is just around the corner, a new Australian study said.
Researchers from the Monash University Accident and Research Centre (MUARC) identified a serious emerging trend of such deaths and injuries, and said the problem needed immediate attention and a national approach.
Their study found six people died and more than 150 were taken to hospital with injuries from scooter accidents in Victoria between 2000 and 2005, with people aged over 80 most at risk.
MUARC injury prevention chair Professor Joan Ozanne-Smith said the real extent of injuries associated with scooters could be up to five times higher due to inadequate hospital surveillance systems.
She said the problem would only increase as the population aged and scooters became more popular with elderly and disabled people wanting to maintain an active, independent life.
The jeans were part of a tribute to Reno tailor Jacob Davis, whose 1871 idea of using rivets to strengthen pants led to one of the world's best known brands: Levi's blue jeans.
The city of Reno honored Davis by placing a historical marker on Virginia Street, where his tiny shop once stood.
The ceremony was held 133 years to the day that the Jewish Latvian immigrant and San Francisco merchant Levi Strauss were granted a patent for the copper-riveted work pants.
Strauss' company branched out to making jeans in 1873 after Davis approached him about the patent. Davis became head of its new jean manufacturing division, while Strauss, a Bavarian immigrant, continued as company owner.
‘‘This is about as close as you can get to Jacob Davis' original jeans,'' Lynn Downey, historian for Levi Strauss & Co., said as she held up the old jeans.
‘‘It took two cities and two immigrants to produce the most American garment,'' she said.
Despite appearing well worn with a rip in the back, the denim jeans look much the same as today's jeans - which still use rivets.
The pants, which rarely make it out of the archives of the San Francisco-based company, were among a small collection of vintage clothing purchased by Levi Strauss in 2003.
Taxpayers owe more than a half-million dollars per household for financial promises made by government, mostly to cover the cost of retirement benefits for baby boomers, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
Federal, state and local governments have added nearly $10 trillion to taxpayer liabilities in the past two years, bringing the total of government's unfunded obligations to an unprecedented $57.8 trillion.
That is the equivalent of a $510,678 credit card debt for every American household. Payments on this delinquent tax bill must start soon if financial promises to the elderly are to be kept.
The cost of retirement programs will start to soar when baby boomers — 79 million born between 1946 and 1964 — begin collecting Social Security in 2008 and Medicare in 2011.
"This is a monster financial problem that both parties are going to have to solve," says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a member of the House Budget Committee. "Most Americans and Congress members don't realize the terrific burden we are putting on future generations."
USA TODAY compiled a list of all taxpayer liabilities — federal, state and local — to provide a fuller look at the nation's financial condition. The numbers are based on official government reports.
Americans' government obligations are five times what people owe for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and other personal debt. The $57.8 trillion liability is the amount that government needs now, stashed away and earning interest, to generate enough cash to pay future obligations. The obligations are valued in today's dollars and come due as early as in a few days, when Treasury bills mature, to as long as 75 years for Social Security and Medicare.
Like an unpaid credit card bill, the balance grows every year — about $25,000 per household annually.
Taxpayer liabilities grew 20% in the past two years, 13% above the inflation rate.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has sued two California companies, accusing them of fleecing elderly residents out of their life savings by selling them living trusts and annuities they didn't need.
Cooper filed the lawsuit against American Family Prepaid Legal Corporation Inc. and Heritage Marketing and Insurance Services, both of Irvine, Calif., for using aggressive sales tactics on elderly consumers. Both companies were sued last month by the Pennsylvania attorney general for the same tactics.
"What they try to do is to scare seniors into buying these living trusts and then into buying these overpriced annuities," Cooper said Monday.
In one case, the lawsuit says, a Heritage agent convinced an 84-year-old man to buy two annuities worth $547,000, using the proceeds of his stock portfolio and another annuity. The man ended up paying $175,000 in capital gains taxes, which was not disclosed to him. He had to pay fees for cashing in one annuity to make the investments, where if he had waited 12 days, he wouldn't have had to pay any fees, according to the lawsuit.
In another instance, the lawsuit says, a Heritage agent sold an annuity to a 70-year-old woman who had been diagnosed as bipolar and paranoid schizophrenic. The agent took the woman to the bank to withdraw $29,000 to pay for an annuity even though she needed the money for her medical care, the lawsuit says.
To report suspected elder fraud or abuse, http://www.wmitchell.edu/elderlaw/topics/abuseAndNeglect/reporting.html
and click on the map to find the toll free reporting number in your state.
Monday, May 22, 2006
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently learned that an employee, a data analyst, took home electronic data from the VA, which he was not authorized to do. This behavior was in violation of VA policies. This data contained identifying information including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth for up to 26.5 million veterans and some spouses, as well as some disability ratings. Importantly, the affected data did not include any of VA's electronic health records nor any financial information. The employee's home was burglarized and this data was stolen. The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
Appropriate law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the VA Inspector General's office, have launched full-scale investigations into this matter. Authorities believe it is unlikely the perpetrators targeted the items because of any knowledge of the data contents. It is possible that they remain unaware of the information which they possess or of how to make use of it. However, out of an abundance of caution, the VA is taking all possible steps to protect and inform our veterans.
Read more at http://firstgov.gov/veteransinfo.shtml
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Eighty-year-old Mary Wohlford has informed family members of her wishes should she ever become incapacitated. She also has signed a living will that hangs on the side of her refrigerator.
But the retired nurse and great-grandmother now believes she has removed all potential for confusion.
She had the words "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" tattooed on her chest.
"People might think I'm crazy, but that's OK," Wohlford said. "Sometimes the nuttiest ideas are the most advanced."
Medical and legal experts expressed doubts that Wohlford's tattoo would prove binding, either in the emergency room or in the courts, but they give her credit for originality.
"I'll be darned," said Bob Cowie, a Decorah lawyer and chairman of the Iowa Bar Association's probate and trust law section. He added, "There are easier ways to do it than that," such as signing a living will or authorizing a medical power of attorney.
Said Wohlford: "I don't believe in lawyers too much."
Ed: Thanks to Bill Colby for sending me this item...
My friend Bill Colby, who represented Nancy Cruzan's family and is the author of Long Goodbye: The Deaths of Nancy Cruzan, has new book coming out later this month. Bill is a currently a fellow at the National Hopstice and Palliative Care Organization. Here's a review of Unplugged: Reclaiming Our Right to Die in America:
Medical technology has helped mankind conquer tuberculosis, polio, and countless other once certain-death diseases. It has given us hope against cancer and AIDS, allowed heart and brain surgeries that have saved untold numbers of lives, and delivered us from the pain and crippling legacy of injury. Medical technology, it seems, is a never-ending string of miracles.
But it is also a double-edged sword. More often than not, death today happens because of a decision to stop doing something, or to not do it at all. As the tragic life and death of Terri Schiavo so poignantly illustrated, universal definitions of life, death, nature, and many other concepts are elusive at best. Unplugged addresses the fundamental questions of the right-to-die debate, and discusses how the medical advances that bring so much hope and healing have also helped to create today’s dilemma.
This compelling book explores recent high-profile cases, including that of Mrs. Schiavo, and illuminates the complex legal, ethical, medical, and deeply personal issues of a debate that ultimately affects us all. Compassionate and beautifully written, the book helps readers understand the implications of current laws and proposed legislation, various medical options (including hospice), and the typical end-of-life decisions we all must face in order to make informed decisions for ourselves and our loved ones.
Hardcover: 256 Pages.
Order it here.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The musician and actor died Sunday in Hawthorne of complications of prostate cancer, said his son, Christopher Anderson.
Long mute as Clarabell, Anderson broke the clown's silence in the show's final episode in 1960. With trembling lips and a visible tear in his eye, he spoke the show's final words: "Goodbye, kids."
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
THE ALLAHABAD High Court on Monday ruled that receiving pension is the fundamental right of an employee and his family. The court made it clear that the pension is not a bounty.
Taking serious note of denial of pension, on one pretext or another, to a widow for the past ten years, the court directed the secretary, Urban Development of UP, to conduct an inquiry into the matter and fix personal responsibility upon the person or the officer due to whose lapse, the amount was not paid to the petitioner.
This order was passed by Justice Shishir Kumar on a writ petition filed by Bina Srivastava whose husband had died in 1996, during his service in UP Jal Nigam.
Despite a stony silence from the White House, Congress is warming up to the idea of waiving the penalty for seniors who missed Monday's sign-up deadline for the Medicare drug benefit — and doing so in time for the fall elections.
Forgiving the penalty for this year is seen as a compromise between Republicans who firmly resisted pressure to extend the sign-up period and Democrats who argued that beneficiaries needed more time to figure out the biggest and most complicated change to the program in 40 years.Even so, waiving the penalties for this year is unlikely to quell all critics of the drug benefit. Many Democrats also want to give seniors a one-time chance this year to switch among the private prescription plans providing the coverage. And some want the government to negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers. That would save money, they say, and the savings could be used to narrow the "doughnut hole."
The doughnut hole is a coverage gap built into the program to save the government money. When seniors' total drug costs reach $2,250 for the year, they must pay the next $2,850 in costs themselves, after which Medicare pays 95% of all further drug expenses.
"The penalty issue and the doughnut hole are going to be hitting around the time of the election," said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "It will be a lot easier to solve the enrollment penalty than to plug the doughnut hole."
It's not elder law, either, but:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation may be using National Security Letters, which where introduced in the USA Patriot Act, to gain access to phone records of reporters for ABC News, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
ABC News reports that the FBI has acknowledged that it was seeking reporters' phone records to investigate leaks about secret prisons in Europe and warrantless wiretapping.
"It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration," a senior federal official told ABC News "The Blotter" news blog.
ABC News explained that a National Security Letter (NSL) is "a version of an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government."
On Monday, ABC News reporters Brian Ross and Richard Esposito, who write "The Blotter," reported that a senior federal law enforcement official told ABC News that the FBI is tracking the phone numbers the two reporters call to reach confidential sources. The source told them in person that it was "time for you to get some new cell phones, quick."
Under Bush Administration guidelines, it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers. The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded. A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.
On Monday night, another federal source told Mr. Ross and Mr. Esposito that it was not that the FBI was "tracking" their calls. but that they were "backtracking." The Associated Press reported early Monday that the FBI said it does not "routinely" track calls made by and to reporters, but that it does check phone records of government employees as part of leak investigations.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Ariel Sharon reportedly will be moved to a long-term care facility next week.
Ma’ariv reported Wednesday that doctors believe there is no chance that the former Israeli prime minister, who was felled by a stroke in January, will regain consciousness.
He is to be moved next week from the intensive care unit at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem to a coma ward at Shiba Hospital in Tel Hashomer, the newspaper reported.
The Knesset Finance Committee on Tuesday approved state funding for the next five years of Sharon’s hospital treatment.