Friday, September 29, 2006
From ZeeNews (International edition):
When scores of people in Gujarat [India] saw glowing fireballs falling from the sky in July this year little did they realise that these fragments from outer space were one of the "oldest bodies found in our solar system".
Scientists at Physicial Research Laboratory (PRL) studying the meteor samples that fell in different areas of Kutch and Saurashtra are thrilled with the "discovery of a rare chondrule inside one of the fragments of the meteorite known as a Chondritre Meteorite in scientific terminology".
"Chondrules are small spherical ball like formations that are found inside a Chondrite Meteor. They are very rare to find and are believed to have been formed around two million years after our sun was formed", PRL director Dr J N Goswami said.
"Scientists are excited with the find as it will give a great opportunity to study how our solar system originated and developed over a period of time," he said.
Amid the current chaos of erroneous premium reductions and donut hole woes, Medicare beneficiaries need to be aware of the looming Annual Coordinated Election Period for Medicare Part D drug coverage, which starts November 15, 2006 and goes through December 31, 2006. During this period, Medicare beneficiaries who do not have a Part D plan can enroll in one, and those who do have coverage can change plans. Beneficiaries who take no action will remain in their current plan, with some exceptions for those who receive the low-income subsidy. However, since plans may change their formularies (list of covered drugs), tiers, utilization management tools, exceptions and appeals processes, and other aspects of their Part D plans, even beneficiaries who were satisfied with their plan in 2006 need to review their options.
Multiple sources and large quantities of information will be available to beneficiaries about their options for 2007. While beneficiaries can begin enrolling or changing plans November 15, they do not have to make a decision until December 31, 2006, and in fact may purposely choose to wait in order to make the most informed decision possible. Waiting to make an informed decision is especially important as Part D plans will begin marketing their plans October 1, 2006, while Medicare will not publish information about 2007 in the Medicare & You Handbook until late October. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has indicated, however, that beneficiaries who enroll or change plans after December 8th may experience delays in getting evidence of their enrollment in their new plan.
Every person with Medicare can be affected by changes to their drug coverage for 2007 and should therefore review his or her options. Part D plans may make changes to their benefit package for 2007, including changes in covered drugs, utilization management tools, and premiums. For example, Plan ABC offered in 2006 and 2007 will not necessarily have the same benefits in 2007, even though it is offered by the same company and has the same name as in 2006. It is therefore imperative that all beneficiaries review their current drug coverage - whether they are already enrolled in a plan, have retiree or other creditable coverage, or have no coverage at all - and reevaluate their options for 2007, even if they were satisfied with their plan in 2006.
Interviews that I've conducted with seniors have convinced me that few of them are making charges to their credit cards willy-nilly. So how to explain the increased balances? McGhee and Draut make the following observations: between 1992 and 2001, the retirement wealth of the majority of seniors declined; seniors became increasingly asset-poor; and the cost of health care and housing for seniors rose considerably.
When the basic costs of living rise, while income and assets decline, something has to give. And what has given is the ability of seniors to evade credit card debt. This cohort of Americans has historically been quite frugal and averse debt, but when there is no choice, they have few options but to turn to credit cards.
Ed.: Thanks to my former student Nate Hines for sending this along.
Over the last two years, $300 million has been set aside to fill critical gaps in mental health services for veterans, especially troops returning from combat.
But more than $50 million of those allocations didn’t get spent by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and millions more went to other programs, congressional investigators reported Thursday.
The funds were supposed to improve awareness of the VA’s mental health programs and provide better access for combat vets, former women personnel and others with serious mental illnesses.
The underspending was one of the topics at a hearing of a subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs Committee looking into the number of soldiers and Marines suffering post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.
“Please don’t hide behind statistics and bureaucrat-ese,” Democratic Rep. Bob Filner of California told medical experts at the hearing. “Let us know you have some passion for solving this issue.”
Gerald Cross, a top VA health official, replied, “I can assure you we do have passion, and we have the passion for caring for our veterans.”
The Government Accountability Office’s findings were another thorn for the VA and the Bush administration, accused of failing to prepare for how the Iraq war would stretch the capacity to treat affected veterans.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Here's your chance to become a "NAELA Celebrity" and share your knowledge, expertise and experience with your colleagues, May 3-6, 2007 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio. Proposals from all experience levels are currently being accepted through October 20, 2006 by NAELA's 2007 Symposium on Elder Law Steering Committee, chaired by Ed Boyer. For details, visit http://www.naela.org/PDFFiles/Event41.pdf
The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse has given Rebecca C. Morgan its prestigious Rosalie Wolf Memorial Elder Abuse Prevention Award, National Category
A consummate scholar who has taken her extensive academic expertise and applied it to the tough issues facing the elderly, Rebecca has fostered a climate of cooperation between the law school and the various professionals who face the problem of exploitation on a daily basis. She is an innovator and has supplied the energy behind successful partnerships with law enforcement and social services in Florida. Professor Morgan represents the marriage between academics and practice achieved by Rosalie Wolf.
A NCPEA committee selected Professor Morgan to receive the award which was presented at the 11th International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in San Diego, California on September 19, 2006. For information, visit www.ivatcenters.org.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The Social Security Admistration publishes a monthly update on recent developments in foreign public and private pensions. Get it here: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/progdesc/intl_update/2006-08/index.html
Are you a NAELA member who is an Institutional Ethics Committee member (at a hospital or similar facility? Have you identified yourself to the NAELA Health Care SIG???
If not, please notify the NAELA Health Care Special Interest Group of your affiliation by e-mail to Anabel Gray, SIG Coordinator at email@example.com.
The Health Care SIG hopes to offer an opportunity for discussion of Ethics Committee issues and resolutions for those interested on the following proposed topics: 1) Pharmaceutical company relationships with staff, 2) Committee lobbying activity, 3) Adoption of MOLST/POLST and results, 4) Policy concerning family/staff translators for non-English speaking patients, and 5) Medical Futility Policies.
Current NAELA members registered with the Health Care SIG who serve on an Ethics Committees for a Health Care Provider are: Gina M. Barry; William C. Beyers, CELA; Fay Blix, CELA; Mary Z. Ceridan; Robert H. Chesley; Nancy Catalini Chew; V. Anne Edenfield; Myrna Fawcett; Daniel P. Kapsak; Doris E. Hawks; Jim Higgins; Lee M. Holmes, CELA; Ed Long; Joan Nelson Hook; Keith P. Huffman; Hurme Sally ; James A. Jaeger, CELA; Natalie J. Kaplan; Daniel P. Kapsak; Jane E. Lokken; Colleen P. MacLean, CELA; Kate Mewhinney, CELA; Peggy O'Reilly; Carole Spainhour; Emily S. Starr, CELA; Barbara A. Venesy; Dennis S. Voorhees, CELA
Law students will be glad to know that the 4th edition of Elder Law in a Nutshell by Lawrence A. Frolik (Pittsburgh) and Richard Kaplan (Illinois) has just appeared. Along with various updating and revisions throughout the book, chapters on Medicare and Medicaid have been extensively rewritten due to recent legislation affecting those two programs, especially the Medicare Act of 2003 (Part D drug benefit, means-testing of Part B premiums, appeals procedures, new medigap options) and this past February’s Deficit Reduction Act (Medicaid eligibility regarding home equity, asset transfers, income-first rule for community spouses, long-term care Partnerships).
Elder law teachers should be able to get a complimentary copy from
the publisher. Visit http://west.thomson.com/replocator/ to find your Thomson-West representative and request your copy TODAY!!
Monday, September 25, 2006
Millions of UK workers are unaware of new ageism laws which come into force on 1 October, a survey suggests.
The Employers Forum on Age survey of 1,000 people aged over 16 found 50% did not know ageism in the workplace would be outlawed.
It also found 61% of respondents knew of cases of what they considered to be ageist behaviour where they worked.
And it found evidence that both young and old could lose out in areas such as pay and promotion because of their age.
Read more in the BBC News online, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5371218.stm
Jonathan Barry Forman (Oklahoma) has published Making America Work (Urban Institute Press, 2006):
Work. Hard work! And plenty of it. That is what has made the United States into the world’s foremost economic superpower. But while we Americans value and respect work, we are also concerned about economic justice. We like to see all workers earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. And we like having a safety net to catch those who cannot compete successfully in our labor markets. America works because of this balance between the desire to reward work and our concerns about economic justice. But according to Jon Forman, America could work even better.
In Making America Work, Forman explains how current government policies influence work and work behavior and makes the case for changing government tax, welfare, Social Security, pension, and labor market policies to encourage work and promote greater economic justice. It is a clear, provocative declaration of principles and a bold prescription for policies that restore and preserve the balance of work rewards and economic justice.
Friday, September 22, 2006
SURVEY INDICATES HOUSE BILL COULD DENY VOTING RIGHTS TO MILLIONS OF U.S. CITIZENS: Low-Income, African American, and Rural Voters at Special Risk
By Robert Greenstein, Leighton Ku, and Stacy Dean
On September 20 the House passed a bill (H.R. 4844) that would, starting in 2010, effectively deny the vote to any U.S. citizen who cannot produce a passport or birth certificate (or proof of naturalization). Although the bill's supporters present it as a measure intended to prevent non-citizens from voting, the bill's main impact will be on U.S. citizens themselves.
The national survey, conducted in January 2006 by Opinion Research Corporation and sponsored by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, finds that approximately 11 million citizens currently lack the required documents. A substantial number could have difficulty obtaining or affording them. The survey also indicates that the bill would affect certain groups disproportionately — including people with low incomes, African Americans, the elderly, people without a high school diploma, rural residents, and residents of the South and Midwest. Substantial numbers of these and other citizens could potentially be disenfranchised by the bill.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Here's a list of upcoming aging-related conference, from the AARP Global Aging Website:
1st Annual International Congress on Gerontology: Live Forever!
October 23, 2006— Lisbon, Portugal
3rd International Conference on Healthy Ageing & Longevity
October 13, 2006— Melbourne, VIC, Australia
United Nations 16th Annual International Day of Older Persons
October 5, 2006— UN Headquarters, NY, USA
World Ageing & Generations Congress 2006
September 27, 2006— St. Gallen, Switzerland
16th International Conference on Care of the Terminally Ill
September 26, 2006— Montréal, Québec, Canada
From the Commonwealth Fund's website:
Once upon a time, it was taken as an article of faith among most Americans that the U.S. health care system was simply the best in the world. Yet growing evidence indicates the system falls short given the high level of resources committed to health care. Although national health spending is significantly higher than the average rate of other industrialized countries, the U.S. is the only industrialized country that fails to guarantee universal health insurance and coverage is deteriorating, leaving millions without aff ordable access to preventive and essential health care. Quality of care is highly variable and delivered by a system that is too often poorly coordinated, driving up costs, and putting patients at risk. With rising costs straining family, business, and public budgets, access deteriorating and variable quality, improving health care performance is a matter of national urgency.
The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System has developed a National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance (see the table below for scores on 37 key indicators). The Scorecard assesses how well the U.S. health system is performing as a whole relative to what is achievable. It provides benchmarks for the nation and a mechanism for monitoring change over time across core health care system goals of health outcomes, quality, access, efficiency, and equity.
The US is 20th out of the 20 largest industrial nations.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The 2006 NAELA Institute Planning Committee is recruiting facilitators from each state to facilitate a discussion on the DRA's implementation the states. These discussions will take place at the luncheon on Friday, November 3rd following the DRA General Session at the Institute. For some states there will be a need for more than one facilitator. For the less populous states, it will be necessary to combine a few states at the same table.
If you have not already volunteered and are interested in serving as a facilitator, please email Martha Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest. If you have recommendations for facilitators from your state, please forward their names to Martha as well.
PS -- Don't forget to register for the conference and/or make your hotel reservations - the early bird registration expires this Friday!
The Commonwealth Fund's Chart Cart is an online resource that offers free and convenient access to Commonwealth Fund charts. This rich collection of graphical data is available for you to use in your own research and presentations.
You can browse the charts in a variety of ways: individually by title, by predefined "collection," or by area of interest. You can also create your own collection by selecting charts to save or print with the "My Chart Cart" feature at left. Customized collections are currently created in Portable Document File (PDF) format; charts can then be pasted from the PDF into a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation. Chart Cart will have a custom PPT option within the next two months.
Chart Cart now contains charts from the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance. Over the next several months, CF will add charts from all major Fund publications as well as presentations by Fund staff.
Ed: The Chart Cart is YOUR SOURCE for up to date information on health care in-access in the US and the consequences thereof! Check it out!!
An enzyme found naturally in the brain snips apart the protein that forms the sludge called amyloid plaque that is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD), researchers have found. They said their findings in mice suggest that the protein, called Cathepsin B (CatB), is a key part of a protective mechanism that may fail in some forms of AD. Also, they said their findings suggest that drugs to enhance CatB activity could break down amyloid deposits, counteracting one of the central pathologies of AD.
Li Gan and colleagues published their findings in the September 21, 2006, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.
Their experiments were prompted by previous studies showing that the cysteine protease CatB--an enzyme that snips apart proteins--closely associated with the amyloid-ß (Aß) protein that forms the amyloid plaques, a hallmark of AD. However, those studies had not determined whether CatB was "good" or "bad"--that is, whether it acted to produce Aß from a longer protein, called amyloid precursor protein (APP), or whether it broke down Aß.
In their experiments, Gan and colleagues determined that CatB was the latter--breaking down Aß, apparently to enable other enzymes to further degrade the protein for the cell's protein "garbage deposal" system.
They found that knocking out the CatB gene increased plaque deposition in a mouse model of AD in which mice expressed the human form of APP. They also found that CatB tended to accumulate within amyloid plaques and that it acted to reduce Aß levels in neurons. And they found that introducing a pathological form of Aß, called Aß1-42, into neurons increased CatB in young and middle-aged mice with human APP, but not old mice. "Thus, upregulation of CatB may represent a protective mechanism that fails with aging," wrote the researchers, and such failure may play a role in late-onset sporadic AD.
The two leading U.S. Senate hopefuls used an AARP debate Tuesday night to draw distinctions, not just in differences of policy but in honesty and effectiveness.
The debate gave Republican Mark Kennedy and Democrat Amy Klobuchar the chance to highlight significant differences on major issues, with a focus on those relating to senior citizens.
Kennedy defended the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit passed by Congress in 2003 as flawed but good for seniors, while Klobuchar criticized it as she called for easy importation of prescription drugs from Canada and for the government to negotiate with drug companies for better prices.
"It's not perfect but it is a plan that is providing coverage for seniors," Kennedy said. "They don't have to choose between health coverage and food on the table."
Klobuchar said the plan amounted to a "$90 billion giveaway to drug companies," and criticized Kennedy for opposing prescription drug imports from Canada, pointing out imports are supported by Minnesota's Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty.
Even as they talked policy, the candidates repeatedly returned to some now-familiar lines of attack, with Kennedy criticizing Klobuchar for "saying one thing and doing another" and Klobuchar arguing that Kennedy repeatedly distorts her positions.