ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 69

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 69 April 30, 2015 MORE than “a dozen major studies confirmed that early childhood vaccines do not cause autism. But one possibility remained: that immunizations could cause autism in a small group of children who were already primed to develop the disorder. Now, new research has ruled out that possibility too. A study of nearly 100,000 children found that toddlers known to have an elevated risk of autism were no more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder if they were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella than if they weren’t.  What’s more, the diagnosis rate for high-risk children who were vaccinated was the same as for immunized children with no family history of the disorder, according to the report published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. The idea that vaccines cause autism goes back to a 1998 study (italics added), in the medical journal Lancet that described 12 young children with autism-like symptoms. Eight of those children started having behavioral problems after they got the MMR vaccine, according to their parents. That study was retracted in 2010 after its lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have falsified his research (italics added). Yet his claims continue to stoke the anti-vaccination movement.”  (Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2015.)  As Mark Twain remarked, “a lie is halfway around the world before the truth gets out of bed.” Years ago I discussed a similar matter with my doctor regarding glucosamine-chondroitin.  He said when a group of studies render an inconclusive or negative association, there is no association between the input (here, a vitamin), and the result (less joint pain), or alternatively,...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 68

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 68 April 23, 2015 JEB BUSH, Republican presidential candidate, has suggested Medicare members be required to sign advance directives dictating their care if they become incapacitated.  A similar proposal by President Obama — that doctors should be paid to advise patients on end-of-life decisions — lead to allegations of bureaucratic death panels.  (New York Times, April 20, 2015.) MEDICARE will stop using your social security number on your medicare card; a practice it had continued despite years of warnings from government watchdogs concerned it placed millions at risk for identity theft. FINANCIAL ELDER ABUSE does not require the elder person suffer actual loss, only that he or she has signed a contract or other agreement, which, if effected, would deprive the elder of their property.  (Los Angeles Lawyer, Prosecuting Financial Abuse, citing California Court of Appeals case Bounds vs. Superior Court, April, 2015.) FDA approves “Corlanor” as first chronic heart failure medicine approved in 5 years (Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2015.) JOHN Hancock life insurance company is offering 15% discount to customers who agree to have their health monitored.  (The WEEK, April 24, 2015.) STUDY finds men who work around hazardous environmental agents may be more likely to father autistic children.  (Autism Speaks, April 16, 2015.) VIBRATING pen, in development by Dopa Solution, may enable parkinson’s sufferers to keep hands steady enough to write legibly.  (The WEEK, April 24, 2015.) LEGISLATION is being introduced to require all California students attending public schools to be vaccinated, but stands little chance of passage.  (Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2015.)  Australia has passed a law preventing families from receiving government...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 67

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 67 April 16, 2015   RESEARCH SCIENTIST RICHARD POST is dead.  When he died Post was working on methods to improve the storage of energy from renewable sources.  (Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2015.) It is a reflection of how media perceives our values, that it mainly covers the likes of Bruce Jenner and Justin Bieber, while ignoring those who make our lives better and healthier through scientific, medical and engineering research. CURRENT Congress not so bad according to older Senator and Congressman, who wrote: “The country is so given up to the spirit of either party that not to follow blindfold one of the other is an inexpiable offense…” (John Quincy Adams, 6th President, quoted in John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger.) IRS funding reduced about 10% since 2010; it lost 11% of its employees and reduced investigations 19% from 2013 to 2014.  Employees complain they don’t have “functional computers or sufficient supplies”.  (Bloomberg BusinessWeek, April 19, 2015.) LOS ANGELES CITY workers, including garbage truck drivers (a refuse collection truck operator II now earns $68,700 plus overtime and other benefits, according to the City website), are contemplating a strike as the city proposes new contract without raises but which requires employees to contribute to their health care premiums.  (Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2015.) Careful readers will remember that former mayor Villaraigosa, exited after granting raises of up to 25% in the prior 4 years.  The city is preparing to have contractors do the work if there is a strike.  No doubt there will be plenty of trash truck drivers willing to work for much less...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 66

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 66 April 9, 2015   TAX nuggets for 2015: Social Security increases 1.7%; The wages subject to Social Security increase to $118,500; The amount necessary to earn per quarter for the quarter to qualify as a Social Security earnings quarter if $1,2120.  One needs 40 qualifying quarters to qualify for Social Security; Medicare Part B premium remains $104.90 per month; Early social security beneficiaries who work can ear up to $15,720 without any benefit reduction; The “kiddie tax” on the unearned income of children will not take effect until reaching $1,050, an increase of $50 from last year; Employers whose health plans are “unaffordable” will pay a tax of $3,126 for each full-time employee who purchases health care on an exchange; The employer mandate under the Affordable Health Care law takes full effect, with “stiff” penalties for noncompliance; Individual penalty for not having health insurance increases to $325; Personal exemption increases to $4,000; 20% capital gains tax rate begins from a higher base; And much more.  (Kiplinger Tax Letter, Special New Tax Rules        for 2015). AARP reminds you to plan for income taxes in retirement for income from: Company pensions; Some Social Security benefits; State income taxes; Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs); and Early withdrawals from IRA or 401k plans.  (AARP, April, 2015.) L.A. County, following L.A. City’s lead, votes to study whether to raise the minimum wage for County employees and those who contract with the County.  (Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2015.) Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County should also study whether to bite the bullet and join social security.  Social Security would give employees...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 65

ELDERUPDATES.COM,  No. 65 April 2, 2015   BY 2020 16.8% of Americans will be over 65, vs. 13% in 2010 and 9.9% in 1970.  (The Kiplinger Letter, March 13, 2015.) CONCURRENTLY, prescription drugs are the fastest growing part of health care costs.  Prices are expected to go up 9% this year, 10.6% in 2016, and 11% in 2017.  (The Kiplinger Letter, March 20, 2015.) NINE New York doctors charged with giving the homeless sneakers in exchange for the homeless agreeing to being driven around or tests at various medical clinics, for which Medicare was later billed almost $7 million.  (New York Times, April 1, 2015.) CALIFORNIA will use dollars freed up by recently House passed bill to fund Children’s Health Insurance Program for 2 more years.  (California Budget Bites, March 27, 2015.) HIGH nursing home costs grow so fast even the insurers can’t make a profit.  In 2014 the median cost for a shared room was $6,000 per month.  And since insurance companies use the premiums to buy bonds, which currently pay extremely low rates they must put even more aside to pay claims.  (Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2014.) ARE Universities educating students?  The Economist ( March 28, 2015),reports 45% of students made no gains in their first 2 years of college, and many employers take graduates of name universities only because it is so hard for those students to get in. The same issue also notes that in Brazil university students are tested before admission and after graduation to determine how much they have learned; Brazil now produces more scientific papers than all the rest of Latin America...