Mar 082017
 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, has changed the lives of many previously uninsured Americans who can now find affordable healthcare, either as a result of the programs being offered through the government-run marketplace, or through private insurance plans. The ACA provides income-based premium subsidies to those who purchase their own insurance through the marketplace. The groups who benefit the most from the ACA are those who were previously discriminated against and the most vulnerable of society including low-income families and seniors. At least 20 million more Americans now have health insurance than before passage of Obamacare. Criticisms of the ACA include rising costs for young males, higher numbers of uninsured in states that did not expand Medicare, and increased cost for those who lost their health care benefits from insurers not in compliance with the ACA standards.

Pending legislation: S.191 – Patient Freedom Act of 2017

 Posted by at 8:49 am
Mar 082017
 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, has changed the lives of many previously uninsured Americans who can now find affordable healthcare, either as a result of the programs being offered through the government-run marketplace, or through private insurance plans. The ACA provides income-based premium subsidies to those who purchase their own insurance through the marketplace. The groups who benefit the most from the ACA are those who were previously discriminated against and the most vulnerable of society including low-income families and seniors. At least 20 million more Americans now have health insurance than before passage of Obamacare. Criticisms of the ACA include rising costs for young males, higher numbers of uninsured in states that did not expand Medicare, and increased cost for those who lost their health care benefits from insurers not in compliance with the ACA standards.

Pending legislation: S.191 – Patient Freedom Act of 2017

 Posted by at 8:48 am
Jan 152015
 

There are at least 20 million mostly low-income Americans who do not have health insurance, many from states which have decided not to implement Obamacare. Most of these people rely on free clinics and emergency rooms when they are ill or injured. Some of these uninsured Americans are also homeless. As its name implies, mobile medical services use vehicles to bring medical personnel and equipment on location to treat our homeless and poor. There are nearly 650,000 homeless people living in this country without access to medical care. All of these people face many challenges, but our elderly homeless endure unique difficulties. These include higher rates of geriatric syndromes, such as functional decline, falls, frailty and depression. There also is concern for the potential of homeless people to transmit diseases such as tuberculosis, which is easily treated if detected.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.29 – Mobile Medical Homeless Health Improvement Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current mobile medical service policy and wish to defeat H.R.29

I support awarding grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements to hospitals or other local health care facilities to improve access of homeless individuals to mobile medical health care services; giving priority to applicants from a geographic area that has a comparatively high ratio of homeless individuals to non-homeless individuals; continuing to provide services to an individual who has received services under this Act for 12 months after he or she becomes a resident in permanent housing, and wish to pass H.R.29

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Palliative care is an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. Chronic or uncontrolled pain is considered the driving force behind the euthanasia movement. Constant pain affects at least 100 million Americans every day. Terminally ill patients often experience severe pain for many weeks or months before dying. Historically, pain management has been a lesser priority to doctors than treating a patient’s illness. Concerns with addiction, side affects, or drug laws interfere with the attempts of doctors to dispense pain medication -or with patients to take it. Opioids such as codeine and morphine, processed from the poppy flower, are effective remedies for cancer pain. Health advocates say opioid prescriptions, although extremely addictive, should still be made more available to all pain sufferers. Consumer advocates say as much as anything else, economic factors seem to determine who receives relief from pain. People without health insurance as well as minorities and the elderly are forced to live with more pain than others. Chinese researchers have recently discovered a powerful new analgesic refined from the venom of the Chinese red-headed centipede. Laboratory tests show this pain killer to be more effective than morphine without measurable side affects.

Pending Legislation:

S.641 & H.R.1339 – Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act

I oppose reforming current pain relief policy and wish to defeat S.641 & H.R.1339

I support awarding grants or contracts for the establishment or operation of Palliative Care and Hospice Education Centers and incentive grants or contracts to advanced practice nurses, clinical social workers, pharmacists, chaplains, or students of psychology pursuing an advanced degree in palliative care or related fields; and awarding grants to schools of nursing, health care facilities, or programs leading to certification as a certified nurse assistant to develop and implement programs and initiatives to train individuals in providing palliative care in health-related educational, hospice, home, or long-term care settings, and wish to pass S.641 & H.R.1339

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Cancer of all types is the second leading cause of death in our society, accounting for more than 570,000 deaths each year. More than 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and this disease annually takes the lives of more than 40,000 Americans. Nearly 80% of all women who acquire breast cancer are over 50 years of age. It is thought that obesity contributes to as much as half of all cancer deaths among older women. Additional risk factors for breast cancer include genetic history and not birthing a child. Research shows having more children and nursing are important factors in reducing the chance of developing breast cancer, even more important than genetic factors. Studies indicate that the use of combination hormone replacement therapy appears to account for the increasing incidence of invasive lobular breast cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment has greatly improved breast cancer survivability and the number of deaths from this disease here and in Europe has fallen by nearly 30% since 1990. Nearly 70% of all American women over 40 have had a mammogram in the last two years. It was thought such screening could reduce breast cancer’s mortality rate if employed by all high-risk women. However recent studies have found the death rates from breast cancer were no different in women who got mammograms and those who did not. This may be due to increased awareness of this disease by women, better treatments and medications such as tamoxifen, and that it may now be less important to detect breast cancer early.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1531 – Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2013

H.R.1830 – Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act of 2013
Cure by 2020

S.931 & H.R.1984 – Breast Cancer Patient Education Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current breast cancer policy and wish to defeat H.R.531, H.R.1830 and S.931 & H.R.1984

I support requiring a group or individual health plan that provides medical and surgical benefits to ensure that inpatient (and in the case of a lumpectomy, outpatient) coverage and radiation therapy are provided for breast cancer treatment. Prohibits such a plan from restricting benefits for any hospital length of stay to less than 48 hours in connection with a mastectomy or breast conserving surgery or 24 hours in connection with a lymph node dissection, insofar as the attending physician, in consultation with the patient, determines such stay to be medically necessary; or requiring that a provider obtain authorization from the plan for prescribing any such length of stay, and wish to pass H.R.531

I support identifying opportunities and ideas within government and the private sector that are key components in achieving the end of breast cancer and which have been overlooked, yet are ripe for collaboration and investment; recommend projects to leverage such opportunities and ideas in the areas of the primary prevention of breast cancer and the causes and prevention of breast cancer metastasis; and ensure that its activities are coordinated with, and do not duplicate the efforts of, programs and laboratories of other government agencies, and wish to pass H.R.1830

I support providing for the planning and implementation of an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients anticipating surgery regarding the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction, prostheses, and other options, with a focus on informing patients who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups. Requiring such campaign to include dissemination of the following information: breast reconstruction is possible at the time of breast cancer surgery or at a later time; prostheses or breast forms may be available; federal law mandates that both public and private health plans include coverage of breast reconstruction and prostheses; the patient has a right to choose the provider of reconstructive care, including the potential transfer of care to a surgeon that provides breast reconstructive care, and wish to pass S.931 & H.R.1984

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Ours is the only wealthy industrialized nation that does not provide healthcare for its people. With costs increasing much faster than inflation, many advocates say we should follow Canada’s lead. Our northern neighbor’s publicly-funded healthcare system annually spends about $1,600 per person for healthcare compared to the $6,000 per person we spend. The World Health Organization reports that Canadians are just as healthy as we are, if not more so. Advocates warn that our growing healthcare costs are the biggest single driver of our budget deficit. The passage of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare, was the first major change in our healthcare system since 1965. Some Americans do not support this law for a variety of reasons and several states have decided against implementing it. Others object to Obamacare because it forces everyone to buy insurance from HMOs, claiming these firms are the main reason our healthcare system is so expensive and inefficient compared to other nations. However, the ACA’s marketplace health insurance exchanges have been credited with exerting downward pressure on healthcare prices due to increased competition. Supporters claim this law is helping HMO’s become more efficient while prohibiting the abuses allowed by previous HMO policies. If all states participated, 30 million additional people would have healthcare than before the ACA’s passage, and this would increase our population’s coverage to 95%. Even so, nearly 20 million Americans would still be without healthcare coverage. Many say the ACA is not the final solution to our nation’s healthcare crisis. They say that HMO’s are still charging us too much for their services, and that universal coverage and significant savings will only be achieved with a “single payer” or “public option” healthcare system. Canada has a single-payer system in which the government, rather than private insurers, pays everyone’s healthcare costs. Studies show this option would still be cheaper than what our nation is currently spending on all health services. A public option is a healthcare system operated by the government which would compete with private insurers. Supporters claim this competition would compel HMOs to become more efficient and affordable. An example of a public option system would be to allow Medicare to provide free healthcare services for all Americans who wish to participate. Opponents claim the quality of care will suffer with a government-run healthcare system. However, surveys have shown those receiving Medicare and Veterans health benefits are very satisfied with these government-provided healthcare services.

Pending Legislation:

S.177 – ObamaCare Repeal Act

H.R.676 – Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act

I oppose reforming current national health insurance policy and wish to defeat S.177 and H.R.45

I support repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, effective as of this enactment; restoring provisions of law amended by such Acts, and wish to pass S.177 (House version passed)

I support providing all individuals residing in the United States and U.S. territories with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services, and vision care; giving patients the freedom to choose from participating physicians and institutions; establishing the Medicare for All Trust Fund to finance the Program with amounts deposited from existing sources of government revenues for health care, increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% income earners, instituting a modest and progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income, instituting a modest tax on unearned income, and instituting a small tax on stock and bond transactions; sets forth methods to pay institutional providers of care and health professionals for services and prohibits financial incentives between HMOs and physicians based on utilization, and wish to pass H.R.676

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

With prices climbing rapidly each year, prescription drugs now cost more in America than in nearly every other nation. Advocates say our capita drug spending is about 40% higher than in Canada, 75% greater than in Japan and nearly triple the amount spent in Denmark. Since 2007, drug prices have more than doubled for dozens of established drugs used to treat multiple sclerosis, cancer, blood pressure and more. Fifteen new cancer medications introduced in the past five years cost patients more than $10,000 a month. Since medication is often a large portion of an elderly person’s budget, these Americans feel the pinch of high drug prices the most. Advocates say the cost of prescription drugs could be reduced by about $60 per prescription by using more FDA-approved generic medications and by allowing foreign-made drugs to be sold here. Generic competition typically lowers drug prices by 85-90%. However, large pharmaceutical companies often pay generic drug makers to delay marketing a generic version of their drug to keep the price of the original medication high. Critics claim this “pay for delay” tactic benefits both brand name and generic drug makers, but is bad for consumers who foot the bill for more than $1 billion in higher drug prices annually. Pharmaceutical companies warn that foreign-made drugs may lack the quality assured to consumers by FDA-approved medications. However, researchers recently purchased foreign-made pharmaceuticals from the Internet and compared them to FDA-approved drugs. They found these drugs proved to be safe and effective medications.

Another reason for our exorbitant drug prices is because Congress prohibited Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug companies when it passed Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage in 2006. Critics say “the drug lobby worked hard to ensure Medicare wouldn’t be allowed to cut into the profits which would flow to big Pharma thanks to millions of new customers delivered to them by Part D.” The Dept. of Veteran Affairs and Medicaid routinely negotiate lower prices with drug makers, who say that lowering their prices would deter the research and production of new drugs. However, studies have shown that half of all scientifically innovative drugs approved from 1998 to 2007 resulted from research at universities and biotech firms, not big drug companies. Moreover, other studies have shown these companies spend one-third of all sales revenue on marketing their products – roughly twice what they spend on research and development.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current prescription drug policy

I support declaring that pay-for-delay settlements are presumed to be anticompetitive and unlawful, and authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the law by initiating legal proceedings, and wish to identify a legislator who will either reintroduce S.214 – Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof

I support amending Medicare part D of the Social Security Act to negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to Medicare part D prescription drug plan, and wish to identify a legislator who will either reintroduce H.R.1102 – Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2013 (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof.

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Colorectal cancer is a cancer resulting from uncontrolled cell growth in the colon or rectum. Each year, about 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with some form of cancer. Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in American men and women. It is estimated that about 5% of our population will acquire colorectal cancer at some point in their lives, and more than 140,000 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed this year. More than 50,000 people also die from this disease each year, making colorectal cancer the second deadliest form of cancer after lung cancer. Colon cancer usually strikes men and women who are over 50 years old but most people are in their early 70’s when diagnosed. However, recent studies now show the incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing in young adults and falling among those who are older. By 2030, if this trend continues, the incidence of colorectal cancer will double among people between 20 and 34 years old, and will grow by 28% to 46% for people ages 35 to 49. Diets that are high in fats and low in fiber are believed to increase the risk of acquiring colon cancer. Eating red and processed meats are not recommended. Exercise and diets high in vegetables are believed to reduce the risk of this disease. Fortunately, due to early detection and improved treatments, the colorectal cancer death rates for both men and women have been falling for the past 20 years. As a result, there are now more than a million American survivors of this disease.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.991 – CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act of 2013

H.R.1070 – Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current colorectal cancer policy and wish to defeat H.R.991 and H.R.1070

I support providing Medicare coverage for screening computed tomography colonography as a colorectal cancer screening test, and excluding screening CTC from the meaning of “imaging services” for which there is a special rule regarding outpatient services department fee schedule payments; directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit a preliminary report to Congress on the status of coverage of CTC as a CRC screening test under Medicare, including the extent to which such coverage as required by this Act has been implemented, and wish to pass H.R.991

I support mending title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to waive coinsurance for colorectal cancer screening tests (thus covering 100% of their cost under Medicare part B [Supplementary Medical Insurance Benefits for the Aged and Disabled]), and wish to pass H.R.1070

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Since 2010, there has been an unprecedented shortage of many pharmaceutical drugs used by hospitals. The annual number of these shortages nearly tripled from 2007 to 2012. At least 80% of hospitals surveyed reported they have to restrict or ration chemotherapy and other critical-care medications. Most of these hospitals have had to delay treatments and many patients have received less-effective substitute drugs. There are currently about 300 “active”, or ongoing, shortages of pharmaceutical drugs despite new rules put in place by Congress and the FDA. There are many reasons for these deficiencies including shortages of raw materials and unexpected increases in demand. Some pharmaceutical firms claim to have experienced manufacturing and quality-control problems. Other drug makers have decided to stop making older, less profitable drugs knowing that the FDA can’t force them to keep making a drug it wants to discontinue. If a company is the sole supplier of a drug, it is required to notify the FDA six months before it anticipates a shortage of that medication. This important time-period is needed for physicians to acquire substitute medications before a crisis occurs. However, this rule is not enforced and companies do not face any legal consequences if they fail to notify the FDA in time to prevent a shortage. Health advocates say these shortages can cause great harm to patients who depend upon these drugs. Besides being forced to use inferior substitutes, there are no studies that predict the effectiveness of a drug that is substituted in the middle of a regimen.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current drug shortage policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill that imposes stricter penalties for pharmaceutical companies that do not report potential drug shortages in a timely manner

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill requiring our government to stockpile chemotherapy and other critical-care drugs to prevent manufacturer shortages

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

About 16,000 nursing homes are residences to more than 1.5 million mostly elderly Americans. These people reside at nursing homes for an average of 835 days. However, many of these people are not living in nursing homes by choice. More than 80% of all our elderly say they would prefer to die at home if they could. Even so, it is estimated that nearly half of all elderly Americans will move into nursing homes before dying. A recent study verified the rampant abuse of residents at some of these facilities. It found that one in three nursing homes had been cited for abuse violations within a two year span. Advocates say that nursing home abuse is underreported by residents who fear reprisal. Other studies have found that more than 90% of our nursing homes have staffing levels that are below minimum acceptable standards. There is compelling evidence that staff ratios are strongly linked to the quality of care in all nursing homes.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2864 – Nursing Home Patient Protection and Standards Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current nursing home policy and wish to defeat H.R.2864

I support improving oversight of nursing facilities under the Medicare and Medicaid programs by preventing inappropriate influence over surveyors; requiring testing programs in skilled nursing facility (SNF) survey and certification techniques to be sufficiently rigorous to ensure that surveyors are adequately prepared to survey and certify SNFs in a consistent and accurate manner; directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish requirements for the qualification and compensation of members of a survey team; ensuring a state employs an adequate number of individuals as members of survey teams to assure adequate oversight of SNFs, and wish to pass H.R.2864

 Posted by at 12:00 am