ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 132, JULY 29, 2016

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 132 JULY 29, 2016 SCOPE maker Olympia told employees not to notify hospitals of any dangers with the scopes.  “Should we notify our users?”…”No…[a company assessment] of the risk to patients found it to be acceptable”.  At least 35 people have died in hospitals after being infected by Olympia’s dirty gastro-intestinal scopes, since 2013.  (Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2016.) LAST week the DOJ (Department of Justice) charged 3 people with fraud and other charges alleging they tried to cheat Medicare out of $1 B.  This largest case ever filed by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which a month earlier charged 301 people with civil and criminal charges alleging $900M had been taken from Medicare by false billings. The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) has funded an additional $350M and expanded the Strike Force from 2 cities in 2007 to 9 today, while also funding increasingly advanced data software to uncover fraud.  2,000 of the 2,900 defendants in these cases have been convicted.  (New York Times, July 28, 2016.) 2 key dates to keep in mind: 2019: The year interest income won’t be enough to maintain Social Security payments, requiring the government to sell additional bonds; and 2034: The year when 21% cuts will be made unless rates are changed or other reforms made. (The Kiplinger Letter, July 15, 2016.) HILLARY Clinton’s plan is increase required payment of Social Security payroll taxes to those earning more than $250,000, from the current level of $118,500.  (The Kiplinger Letter, July 15, 2016.) DONALD Trump says he won’t make any changes but will close the funding gap by creating new jobs, leading...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 131

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 131 JULY 22, 2016 OBAMACARE rates to increase an average of 13.2% for California program next year.  (Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2016.)  Is Obamacare a rip-off?  Just last month I had an emergency hip replacement with a titanium hip, which would likely have cost more than $30,000 if I were uninsured.  My cost, as a Kaiser Permanente member through Obamacare, was less than $1,000.  Total rip-off?  I don’t think so. MEANWHILE, the average cost of a hospital stay in 2013 was $1,013 out of pocket (if you were insured).  (The WEEK, July 22, 2016)  The WEEK fails to note whether non-hospital costs such as surgeons, other doctors, lab tests, x-rays, cat scans, MRIs, and follow up home care are included in the “$1,013”. NATIONAL health spending to exceed $10,000 per person in 2016 and to consume 20% of total economy by 2025, as 1 in 5 Americans becomes a Medicare enrollee.  From 2015 to 2025 health spending is expected to increase 5.8% a year.  (New York Times, July 14, 2016.) FORMER Shefiff Lee Baca’s plea agreement for 6 months in jail unsatisfactory to federal judge.  Baca plead guilty to a separate count of lying to federal investigators (Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2016), in his attempt to continue to conceal violent and abusive behavior by deputies in the County jail. Baca’s Undersheriff Tanaka got a 5 year sentence for similar charges.  The judge wrote the proposed 6 month deal would “trivialize the seriousness of the offenses… the [need] for a just punishment [and] the need to deter others”. CAL-PERS got its worst return since 2009 in 2015, earning only...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 130

ELDERUPDATES.COM,  No. 130 JULY 15, 2016 GOVERNOR Brown signed 6 gun control measures into law, including background checks to buy ammunition and additional restrictions on automatic rifles.   (Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2016.) LOS Angeles Department of Water and Power vendor accused of spending public funds on Las Vegas party, complete with prostitutes, condoms and alcohol.  Vendor Price Waterhouse Coopers said it never billed for any payments “to which it was not due”.  (Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2016.) This new scandal follows on an earlier scandal concerning a training fund which pays lavish salaries and expenses to, supposedly, provide safety training. PENTAGON has lifted ban on transgender service members, which is expected to directly affect 0.1% of service members.  New recruits must have been “stable” in their gender identity for 18 months while current members will be offered hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery, if necessary.  (The WEEK, July 15, 2016, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2016.) AFTER recent takeover of AQMD (Air Quality Management District), Board, new focus is on incentives rather than fixed regulations.  (Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2016.) The former regulatory approach worked; I can remember how bad the air was when I moved to Los Angeles over 50 years ago.  And California regulations often serve as de facto national standards which auto makers comply with to be able to sell in California. SUPREME Court fails to overrule lower court ruling reversing Obama Administration program to protect illegal immigrant parents of children already protected from deportation.  (USA Today, June 24, 2016.) Ironically, many illegal immigrants are harder working and make greater contributions than many citizens. ...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 129

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 129 JULY 8, 2016   After this blog was completed the following was reported: DALLAS SNIPERS SHOT 11 POLICE OFFICERS PROTECTING A PEACEFUL BLACK LIVES MATTER (BLM)  PROTEST.  4 OFFICERS HAVE DIED AS OF THURSDAY NIGHT.  1 CIVILIAN WAS ALSO WOUNDED.  WILL BLM LEADERSHIP CONDEMN THIS ASSASINATION?  WILL THEY DISCOURAGE THE PRESENCE OF WEAPONS AT FUTURE PROTESTS?  WILL THEY ATTEND ANY OF THE FUNERALS?  OR WILL THE BLM LEADERSHIP SIMPLY REFUSE ANY STATEMENT AND ALIENATE WHITE SUPPORTERS WHO FEEL BLM IS SILENTLY SUPPORTING THE SHOOTINGS AND THE SHOOTERS?  TO MY KNOWLEDGE BLM WAS SILENT IN THE PAST AS 2 OFFICERS WERE SHOT IN THEIR CARS IN NEW YORK. On television Friday morning Reverend Hood, speaker at a BLM rally, called for an end to violence but made no particular particular statement regarding the shootings or the shooter. On KPCC later that morning a speaker active in legal defense work for BLM said becoming involved in commenting on the shooting would be a “distraction” and the police should be “defunded” so that black Americans could police their own neighborhoods. FBI Director James Comey calls Hillary Clinton’s email practices “extremely careless” and “reckless” in report lambasting the former Senator and Secretary of State for taking risks with information that was classified, even though it may not have been so marked when it was received or sent, or was later reclassified.  (New York Times, NBC, Los Angeles Times, etc.) One can be excused for wondering aloud at the obvious stupidity of these practices by perhaps the most qualified (in terms of experience and intelligence), person to ever seek the Presidency; being left only to conclude...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 128

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 128 JULY 4, 2016   SUPREME Court makes major rulings: Finding Texas law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital privileges and facilities to have 8 foot hallways unconstitutional and placing an undue burden on women seeking abortions; (Los Angeles Times, New York Times, June 27, 2016); and Finding Affirmative Action program appropriately took race into account as one factor. (Various.)   BRITONS vote to sever ties with European Union in referendum primarily based on anti-immigrant views.  Candidate Trump endorses “Brexit”, saying the British are taking their country back (while also noting a pound reduced in value will increase patronage at his British golf courses). London financial sector potentially hit hard as “passport” to other EU countries may be limited or revoked, requiring firms to move on to the continent.  AAA credit rating for Britain reduced.  Pound weakens against dollar, possibly contributing to inflation.  English banks will need to increase capital, reducing amount they can loan, while London, which requires loans to continue operating as usual, finds money harder to get. Housing values may be in jeopardy as Britain may lose many financial, legal and investment professional positions as firms transfer them to the continent. Income tax receipts from these professional positions, as well as staff supporting them, may also be lost. Normally, EU requires an average tariff on imports of 9%.  Will the British have to pay this tariff?  Most rural Britons knew nothing of most of these impacts or dismissed them, urban Britons supported staying in the EU.  Scotland (part of Britain), also supported staying in the EU and may try to sever from Britain over...