ELDERUPDATES.COM, BLOG #19

ELDERUPDATES.COM,  BLOG NO. 19 May 1, 2014 MIGRAINE HEADACHES, A NEUROLOGICAL DISORDER RATHER THAN A VASCULAR ONE, AFFECT 36 MILLION AMERICANS, but gets little research funding.  New research involving antibody injections, herbs such as butterbur, and “transcranial magnetic stimulation” are now being investigated.  (Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2014.) SB 1124 HAS BEEN INTRODUCED to prevent recovery of Medi-Cal expenditures for an individual’s estate when the person’s income was too low to qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.  (San Diego Elder Law Center News, April 25, 2014.) BILLING MEDICARE $4 MILLION IN 2012, a Brooklyn physical therapist reported treating 1,950 patients, with the average patient receiving 94 separate treatments. Federal authorities state that Brooklyn is a hot spot for Medicare fraud.  Wael Bakry responded that up to 24 different physical therapists worked for him.  94 treatments per physical therapy patient is 3 times the national average.  (New York Times, April 27, 2014.) ELDER FINANCIAL ABUSE results in $3 billion being taken from seniors every year.  Abuse may take the form of outright fraud, embezzlement or the provision of unnecessary business services.  (Valley Lawyer, September 2013.) THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS CONSIDERING THE REGULATION of electronic cigarettes (“vaping”), in which people inhale – and exhale – nicotine, an addictive chemical found in cigarettes.  E-cigarettes are often flavored to appeal to youngsters.  Los Angeles City has banned e-cigarettes in restaurants and public places,  (Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2014.) THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY HAS EMPHASIZED LOW-WAGE jobs fast-food over more highly skilled jobs.  Since the recession 2.6 million high wage jobs have been created, compared 3.8 million low-wage jobs.  (New York...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, BLOG NO. 18

ELDERUPDATES.COM BLOG, NO. 18 April 24, 2014 RIVERSIDE JUDGE DECLARES PENSION LAW that allows employees to force County to pay the employees’ pension contributions unconstitutional.  The union had protested the requirement they pay their share of pension costs under the 2013 Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act..  This case could affect several other cases in California currently involving pensions and insolvent public employers.  (Los Angeles Daily Journal, April 15, 2014.)  An appeal appears likely. BITCOIN, A “CURRENCY” GENERATED OUT OF THIN AIR AND A COMPUTER, is “property”, and taxable like a stock, says the IRS.  Enthusiasts say Bitcoin is more like a credit card or money transfer service with total anonymity.  (Los Angeles Daily Journal, April 15, 2014.)  Others might think it is simply a way to use dirty money, formerly called “money laundering”.  “Mt. Gox”, a primary dealer of Bitcoin, is in bankruptcy and apologized to Bitcoin holders for any “inconvenience” (i.e. loss of all their Bitcoin funds on deposit with Mt. Gox).  (Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2014.) THE U.S. PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP alleged that U.S. taxpayers pay $1,259 a year more than they would if corporations brought their money home from foreign tax havens.  The group claims the U.S. loses $150 billion in revenue every year because this money stays overseas, where it is untaxed.  (Newsmax.com, April 15, 2014.) LOS ANGELES CITY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER Miguel Santana predicts we will not have full services restored until 2018, and only by then if City employees pay 10% of their health insurance premiums and no increases in compensation. Santana states that salary, benefits and pension costs are outstripping tax revenues. ...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, BLOG NO. 17

ELDERUPDATES.COM BLOG  NUMBER: 17 April 17, 2014 Note: Apparently I should have written “APRIL FOOL’S DAY!” at the bottom of my April 1st blog.  I hope most of you saw it was a joke. IN A 5-4 DECISION, THE SUPREME COURT struck down a law limiting donors to contributing more than $123,000 to candidates in the two-year federal election cycle, writing that the law violated the donors’ right to free speech.  The Court did not address the limit of $2,600 per candidate.  (The WEEK, April 11, 2014.) A 38 YEAR-OLD MENTALLY ILL MAN was killed in March by police in Albequerque, New Mexico, who used stun guns and live ammunition as he lay on the ground pleading for them to stop.   (The WEEK, April 11, 2014.)  Reminiscent of the Orange County case in which another mentally ill man was killed, this case indicates that police across the country need better training to deal with the mentally ill. RESULTS OF “MINDFULNESS” (MEDIATION), HAVE BEEN DOCUMENTED BY MRIs, which show that meditation reduces blood flow to the part of the brain responsible for primal emotions (the amygdala).  While “mindfulness” is being adopted by many corporations, some are concerned it is merely a cover to push overworked employees to be more productive.  (The WEEK, April, 11, 2014.) NEW HEPATITIS C DRUG HITS MARKET with huge pricetag to match it’s  greater success rate.  Sovaldi ($84,000 per course), combined with Olysio ($66,000 per course), has an 80 – 90% success rate.  The annual cost of treatment would be $18 billion if all Californians with Hepatitis C received the treatment.  (Los Angeles Times, April 9,...

Elderupdates.com, Blog No. 15

ELDERUPDATES.COM BLOG NUMBER: 15  April 10, 2014 Note: Apparently I should have written “APRIL FOOL’S DAY!” at the bottom of my April 1st blog.  I hope most of you saw it was a joke.   7.1 MILLIOIN NEW ENROLLEES + 3 MILLION ON THEIR PARENTS’ PLAN + 4.5 MILLION NEW MEDICAID (MEDI-CAL) ENROLLEES = MORE THAN 14 MILLION people who now receive coverage due to passage of the Affordable Care Act.  (The WEEK, April 11, 2014.) Meanwhile, Congressman Paul Ryan, chair of the House Budget Committee, has submitted a proposed budget that would cut proposed spending by $5.1 trillion over the next 10 years and repeal the Afforadable Care Act.  The proposed cuts include Medicare ($129 billion(), Medicaid ($732 billion), and food stamps ($125 billion).  Ryan stated the cuts would “empower recipients to get off the aid rolls and back on the payrolls”. The proposal also includes an additional $483 billion for the military.  (The WEEK, April 11, 2014.) MEDICARE IS GOING TO FOLLOW THE LAW and pay for therapy which prevents further deterioration, and not just therapy that will result in improvement in a patient’s condition.  The change is a result of a class action lawsuit filed by the Center for Medicare Advocacy and Vermont Legal Aid.  People may be able to get the care they need in their homes and avoid institutionalization, according to Margaret Murphy, Associate Director at the Center for Medicare Advocacy.  The Center can be contacted at improvement@mediareadvocacy.org.  (New York Times, March 25, 2014.) MEDICARE TO MAKE PAY FOR PHYSICIANS AVAILABLE for $77 billion paid in 2012 to 880,000 health care providers. (New York...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, BLOG NO. 16

ELDERUPDATES.COM BLOG NUMBER: 16 April 10, 2014   SENATE DEMOCRATS may attempt to make Medicare changes more difficult by requiring a 60 vote threshold for any proposals to raise the age of eligibility or reduce benefits.  (NAELA eBulletin, April 2, 2014.).   U.S. PUBLIC PENSIONS HAVE BANNER YEAR in 2013, ending the year with $3.2 trillion, due to a rising stock market.  (NAELA eBulletin, April 2, 2014.)   ENROLLMENT INTO EXPANDED MEDI-CAL threatened by recovery fears.  The San Diego Law Center reports that while those receiving Medi-Cal may face collection after death for benefits received after they turn 55 the same exemptions are in place as before:   1)    No collection for benefits outside a nursing home before you reach 55;   2)    No recovery if there is a disabled or minor child who survives the recipient;   3)    Deferred recovery for life of surviving spouse; and   4)    Limitation on recovery to assets owned by recipient at time of death.  (San Diego Elder Law Center News-Blast, March 31, 2014.)   FOR THE 17TH TIME, Congress has voted to defer the payment reductions to doctors under Medicare, originally passed in 1997.  (Washington Post, April 1, 2014.)  Due to the continuing recession this is a good thing, and without taking issue with this particular action, it should be kept in mind that cuts projected for the future are often deferred to even further in the future.   THE LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL has voted to create 11 districts in Los Angeles for commercial and apartment building trash pickup.   It is hoped this will reduce landfill use.  (Los Angeles Times, April...