ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 141

ELDERUPDATES.COM, 141 SEPTEMBER 30, 2016   CONGRESS passed, and President Obama signed into law, this month’s “continuing resolution”, aka stopgap federal government funding bill through December, to provide additional $1.1 B to fight the Zika virus, $500 M for flood relief to Louisiana and other states, and 2017 appropriations for military construction and veteran’s programs.  (Roll Call, September 29, 2016.) Readers may remember some in this same area complained after Katrina they could not access federal resources because they had cash businesses and could not document their income.  Like so many small scale Donald Trumps, they had apparently decided the government would simply “squander” their money, so why pay taxes? Supporters of Trump, and his precursor Grover “get government so small you can drown it in a bathtub” Norquist, should be asked if this aid, or money to limit the Zika virus, is “squandering” of citizens’ and other workers’ hard-earned tax payments.  Seems even Congress, like a broken clock, can be right twice a day. STATUTE of limitations will no longer apply to certain sex crimes, “including rape, forcible sodomy and molestation of a child can be prosecuted regardless of how long ago the crime occurred”.  The bill was signed into law by Governor Brown on Wednesday, and is a result of the spate of sexual abuse allegations against the formerly beloved Bill Cosby. (Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2016.) Of crucial importance now is to guard against “false memories”, such as happened years ago in the McMartin case, where a family providing daycare to children was ruined financially, socially and psychologically by false charges of sexual crimes against children....

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 140

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 140 SEPTEMBER 23, 2016 FDA approves Serepta for treatment Muscular Dystrophy, the first drug ever to be approved for this condition.  (Nightly Business Report, September 19, 2016.) OPIOID industry is spending large sums to prevent the regulation of opioid medication, (Nightly Business Report, September 19, 2016), which has decimated whole communities (see “Purdue Pharma” from earlier editions). MYLAN CEO testifies to Congress, stating the increase in charges (up 500% in 6 years), is justified, but is unable to give straightforward answer as to why.  (NBC, other outlets, September 21, 2016.)  The ephedrine injected is a garden variety drug, and the plastic delivery system cannot be that complicated. “Well, cheapskate, do you want your kid to live or die?”  I guess when you put it that way, you can charge what the traffic will bear. PREMIUM increases of 9% expected in Obamacare exchanges for 2017 for “second-lowest” silver plan.  In the last 5 years premiums have increased 19%, deductibles up 63% and wages up 11%.  Younger people are not signing up, even though there is a penalty for not obtaining health insurance.  And if Hillary Clinton wins, she will likely seek increases in subsidies to low income enrollees.  (The Kiplinger Letter, September 16, 2016.) Looked at as an investment the numbers lose some impact.  By providing preventive care now, emergency room visits and Medi-Cal/Medicaid costs reduced accordingly.  Just as a college education or skill as a carpenter might take awhile to pay off, the payoff is there and will be there. Critics seem to compare insurance extension results through a short-term perspective, supporters look at the long run perspective...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 139, SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 139 SEPTEMBER 16, 2016   HEALTH care providers and suppliers from hospitals to care homes have a year to meet federal disaster preparedness requirements recently completed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS).  The new rule seeks prevention of health care system breakdowns in disasters. (New York Times, September 9, 2016.) DONALD Trump has announced the basics of his proposal for maternity leave if he is elected President.  Each woman giving birth would be entitled to 6 weeks of government paid leave if the employer does not provide this benefit.  The funds would come from recovery and prevention of funds fraudulently claimed made against the unemployment funds.  (KPCC Radio, September 14, 2016. A few questions: 1-Is it constitutional to provide benefits only to the mothers who give birth? 2-How will the benefits be paid before there has been recovery for fraud against the unemployment system? And 3-What if the fraud collections, when fully operational, don’t provide enough savings to fund the program?  Will the program terminate?  Be paid on a first come first paid basis until funds run out? CLINTON’S plan provides longer benefits, includes men, and is funded by a tax on the wealthy. TRUMP’S staff also disclosed that his taxes run 12,000 pages and releasing them will be a “distraction” to the campaign.  (CNN, September 15, 2016.) ZIKA bill stuck in Congress as Republicans tie passage to Planned Parenthood cutbacks and Democrats refuse to go along.  (The WEEK, September 16, 2016.) CAL State University Los Angeles is now offering segregated housing to black students who want to avoid microaggressions.  (The WEEK, September 16, 2016.)  Living...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 138, SEPTEMBER 9, 2016

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 138 SEPTEMBER 9, 2016 U.S. and China ratify Climate Change Accord of 2015.  The countries are responsible for 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide production; their ratification of the agreement signals the rest of the world will follow.  As an executive agreement, as also used by Bush 41 and Ronald Reagan on environmental issues, the agreement does not require U.S. Senate approval.  (Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2016.) GOVERNOR Brown signed legislation requiring reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 by 2020.  Business, individuals and ratepayers will have to create and adopt new technologies as well as change lifestyles to be less polluting.  One key aspect requires more clean cars.  (Los Angeles Times, September 8, 2016.)  (Your blogger is pleased to report he was recently able to purchase a used Prius.) ITT TECHNICAL School shuts down all schools after students found ineligible for federal loans.  ITT students may have the options of voiding their loans and the time it took to attend ITT, or keeping the loans and transferring some or all of their credits from ITT to a Junior College. (Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2016.)  Another private school, Corinthian, also shut down when its students became ineligible for federal financial aid. EUROPEAN Union levies $14.5 B tax bill against Apple, stating 2 of Ireland’s tax rulings in 1991 and 2007 artificially lowered Apple’s tax rate.  The ruling is part of a broader assault on tax avoidance within the European Union; U.S. contested this action as “unfair”. (The Economist, September 3, 2016.) DISTRICT court erred by denying special education services to a disabled child when the...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 137, 9-2-16

ELDERUPDATES.COM,  NO. 137 SEPTEMBER 2, 2016    MYLAN CEO Heather Bresch, discussing the price increases over 400% for the epipen, the profits of which help fund her $18 M salary, says “no one is more frustrated than me” regarding the price increases since 2008, overlooking the millions of families with allergic children who have no choice but to buy epipens for their children every year.  Meanwhile, drug companies have contributed $70 M to defeat The Drug Price Relief Act. (Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2016.) BOTH Clinton and Trump would let buyers purchase prescriptions from other countries where they are cheaper, (Los Angeles Times, editorial, August 28, 2016), overlooking the drug industry’s counterargument that drugs are sold to U.S. consumers at higher prices which then fund research, and if not for the higher U.S. prices the industry cannot afford research expenditures.  As the Times does note, the epipen costs $100 per pen in Canada (while in the U.S. the price is triple that). AMID the uproar Mylan announced it will market a generic of the epipen ($300 for 2 pens), but will also end various customer discount programs.  After considering insurance programs and other expenses, experts don’t know whether the new generic will cost consumers less or more.  (NPR [National Public Radio] and NBR [Nightly Business Report], August 29, 2016.) One could ask “how is it Mylan can turn out a generic so fast, but nobody else can be approved for what is essentially $3 worth of medication in a plastic injector tube”? FDA shows it can move fast when it wants to by making an emergency approval of a...