Health Care Solutions From Outside the Political Arena

The American health care system is one of the most talked about issues surrounding the upcoming 2008 presidential elections. Both Democratic and Republican candidates have outlined new health care plans that may have a drastic impact on how many voters choose to cast their ballots.The current economic recession has lead to financial trouble for many American families. With the cost of health care services and pharmaceuticals on the rise, this means some people are not able to afford the health care they need. Thousands of Americans, including children, are currently without any type of health care coverage.The presidential candidates have each outlined plans for health care reform that should address this issue. Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are lobbying for a more universal health care system supported by the government. Republican candidate John McCain supports the privatization of the American Health Care System.Research estimates 80 percent of healthcare spending is used by the sickest 20 percent of patients. This uneven distribution of funds can be adjusted if patients are given proper care at the start of their treatment to prevent the worsening of their conditions and the need for readmission to care facilities.Some companies are already helping to alleviate some of the burden of health care costs from Americans, regardless of the election outcome. Health care services provider, McKesson has recently introduced new programs intended to combat unnecessary health spending through prevention and thorough care.Community Care Advantage helps hospitals and other provider-based organizations provide high-quality care to indigent, chronically ill and newly discharged patients in a timely manner. This offering comprises three solutions that help to address preventable readmissions that cost Medicare $12 billion each year.Community Health Services, Community Health Technologies and Consumer Convenience Solutions work together to ensure all patients have access to the high-quality care they need following initial treatment. Through these programs McKesson facilitates the monitoring of recently released patients and provides them and their caregivers with access to information about their condition and treatments, improving patient safety. Community Care Advantage empowers both patients and providers to follow treatment plans for proper condition management.Patients are being effectively cared for and health care costs are being reduced thanks to community care programs. While health care reform may be getting considerable attention to its political relevance, these solutions are already beginning to improve the heath care situation.

Home Health Care History

The early nineteenth century witnessed the initial stages of the home health care industry that offered qualified nurses to take care of the poor and sick in their homes. In 1909 when Metropolitan Life Insurance Company started to write policies that comprised of home health care, this industry became very popular. This company is credited for paying the first compensation for home health care industry. This gave rise to the birth of organized home health care.The Great Depression in 1929 caused several businesses along with home care industry a lot of hindrances and struggle. This went on till the follow-up visits made by nurses after hospital discharge became reimbursable by the Medicare Act of 1966. The home care industry became most feasible and practical when Medicare in an attempt to reduce hospitalization costs set up DRG’s program (Diagnostic Related Group). This laid down that some disease or hospital practice needed a certain stay period. So the discharged patients were more sick compared to their DRG counterparts.The story does not finish with DRGs. This in fact was the commencement of patient care vs. medical ethics debate. This subject shall be soon addressed in the present health care reform segment. The price of health care is the issue. Questions like how much does a human life cost and how long one should pay for keeping alive a person after he ceases to be a contributor to the society need to be addressed.Home health care industry needs to answer these questions. The main intention of the DRG programs was to cut down the hospital stay in order to lower hospitalization costs. Thus this becomes a challenge to the agencies. But gradually home care started becoming expensive. The Balanced Budge Act of 1997 hand one major side effect. It limited the benefit days to the patients under home health care thereby lowering the compensations to the various home health care agencies. This resulted in many of these agencies going out of business.The price to take care of a patient will always stay an issue. There was a growth of nosocomial diseases in hospitals that lead to heavy health care costs. Patients started getting discharged in a much sicker condition than before. This put additional burden on the family of the patient to make available good care once the family member is home. Also majority of the people were working. Home health care agencies that provide services were unable to discharge patients when they exceed their Medicare days if they are in a bad condition or its not safe to depart from them without any nursing services.In case the home care agency declines admission of a patient who seems sicker than the number of reimbursement days allowed by the government, the patients’ family does not have too many choices. In case of the patient being discharged without any adequate follow-up care, the patients’ family can seek services of a qualified agency that could strain on emergency room visits and re-hospitalization leading to more compensation issues. Such questions are difficult to answer more so in cases where cost is to be taken care of. But, as time passes, such questions will continue to haunt till there are satisfactory answers to them.

The Smoke and Mirrors of Health Care Reform for the Elderly

I’m deeply concerned that the American public, especially our nation’s elders, will be relying on our government to provide long term care services they’ll never see. They’ll only see the “smoke and mirrors” of Health Care Reform.Our nation’s seniors are the most vulnerable segment of the U.S. population; vulnerable both health wise and financially. They’re silently discovering the savings they thought would be enough is not enough. They’re silently fearful of running out of money with no one to care for them as they become more frail. The silence is about to become deafening.Regrettably, when Health Care Reform proudly announced New Long Term Care Services, it discouraged many American’s from purchasing Long Term Care Insurance.The New York Times reported on ‘Options Expand for Affordable Long-Term Care’ THE NEW OLD AGE. The Associated Press announced ‘New Health Care Law Has Benefits for Seniors’. Point being, the casual reader was relieved to hear their government will “take care of them” when they need long term care services. We now know that is not about to happen.Fortunately our representatives in Washington discovered that Health Care Reforms answer to the problem of Long Term Care, “CLASS”, (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act) legislation would have been fiscally unsound. $70 billion in premiums that was expected to be raised for the new “long term care” program would have been counted as “deficit reduction”. The long term care benefits it was intended to finance were assumed not to materialize in the first 10 years. However, that money was not accounted for anywhere in the legislation.The new legislation proposed to “trim” $463 billion from Medicare. Yet Medicare is currently having trouble balancing its books today. Yet, why does the health care bill tell us Medicare can operate more cheaply going forward without the accompanying reforms?Our national media gave enormous fanfare to the CLASS ACT when it passed. Unfortunately the media has given the CLASS ACT’s demise little attention. Now what?Projections show that the federal deficit is expected to exceed $700 billion annually over the next decade. This essentially will double the national and $900 billion represents interest on previous debt. Would the CFO of any major corporation in the United States allow the company he worked for to end up in this type of financial position? Absolutely not.Our officials in Congress have been elected to protect the best interests of the American people. “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”, and once again printing more currency, has become our government’s mantra for the future. Yet the magnitude of the mismanagement of America’s purse strings has now reached an unconscionable state.The United States of America cannot continue to mismanage its financial future. Future Congresses will have to deliver a multitude of future reforms and, regrettably, history tells us THAT will never happen. Proposals for financing health reform were based on more “smoke and mirrors”. The “Cadillac” tax is scheduled to begin in 2018.The health care legislation that has been forced on each and every one of us is known to be fiscally unsound. Where do we go from here? It’s too easy to point the finger at the President and his administration. Yet Congress owns the responsibility of passing Health Care Legislation. And THAT is the problem.The 535 voting members of Congress shared the responsibility equally. If one clear thinking, intelligent, honorable Congressman had the entire responsibility for Health Care Reform, he or she would not have forced a fiscally unsound Health Care Reform Bill down our throats.Now let’s again evaluate how Health Care Reform will work against our senior citizens.A most recent government report identified that in 2000 there were 1.8 million available nursing home beds. As the year 2010 came to a close, there were 1.7 million nursing home beds; a net 5 percent reduction in available beds. And, there are no new nursing homes being built.Today there’s less than 1.5 million Americans confined to nursing homes. Reportedly 10 percent of these nursing homes are operating under bankruptcy protection. It’s well known that most of these facilities are understaffed and many don’t have competent help.Next, let’s consider that the Alzheimer’s Association tells us the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s after age 85 is 50 percent. By 2030, they tell us that the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.7 million, a 50 percent increase from the 5.2 million age 65 and older currently affected.The logical question I must ask is “if we cannot take adequate care of 1.5 million people today, how can we possibly take care of 7.7 million people in 2030?” We cannot. More simply put, when you or your spouse or your parent has Alzheimer’s, there is no place for them to go. Not to be cruel, but if you ever think for a moment about taking in an aged parent with Alzheimer’s into your home, please think again. Ask any caregiver who’s been through it. It’s GUARANTEED to destroy any families’ peace of mind and harmony.Why aren’t our political leaders actively working on solutions? Where’s the outcry? Regrettably our political leaders only align themselves with solvable problems.America’s seniors became more hopeful reading that Health Reform will help them with added Long Term Care services. And we now know THAT is not going to happen. There are no plans in place to help our nation’s seniors think they’ll receive the comfort and dignity of adequate long term care services. What’s worse is the silence shared by all our political leaders. The silence is now deafening.Now there’s newfound hope on the horizon. We have a new President election just starting to evolve. What the Republican and Democratic candidates have to say about our nations seniors need for long term care services? What do they think about the need for 7.7 million Americans with Alzheimer’s that need a place to spend the night and be cared for when we can’t take care of 1.5 million seniors today?The national media needs to start reporting that our nation’s seniors will have no place to spend the night when they become too old or frail to take care of themselves. Then the upcoming election presents one more opportunity for our political leaders to pay attention to our nation’s elderly and their need for long term care services.Copyright 2016Allan Checkoway, RHU