Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Health: November 2009

Kansans Want Health Care to Change

HAYS, Kan. - Do Kansans want lawmakers to improve health care? A recent survey of Kansans, conducted by the non-partisan Docking Institute of Public Affairs, addressed that question as well as others. The survey was designed to provide insights about what Kansans think about Kansas.

One particularly interesting aspect of the study involved the collection of opinions about the general state of health care in Kansas, as well as opinions on the government's role in ensuring that all citizens have adequate health care coverage. Half of our state's citizens think that health care in our state needs 'major change.'

Altogether, 83 percent of Kansans believe that health care in our state needs to change. A small number, only one-sixth of Kansans, expressed that health care in Kansas is 'adequate.'

The Way of the Brain

HAYS, Kan. - Lately, there has been a spate of media coverage on the connection of brain damage to the sport of football. The New York Times, NPR, and PBS have all weighed in. Congress held hearings about it, too. Probably the most influential piece of late is Malcolm Gladwell's "Offensive Play" (The New Yorker, Oct. 19, 2009.)

Mr. Gladwell focuses on the research associated with the football-brain damage connection. This brings up a big question: if repetitive hits to the head are causing brain damage in NFL players, could something similar be happening to younger players?

WASHINGTON - The goal of health care reform, according to the Obama administration, is to provide quality, affordable health care for every American while preserving what works in today's system, expanding choice, and containing costs.

In the first years, the Health Insurance Exchange is targeted to serve employees of small businesses, the self-employed and the uninsured. That means that tens of millions of Americans will be eligible to purchase the plan in the first year. The only place the public option will be available is in the 'Exchange.'

The public option will not be limited to just a few Americans; it will be available for purchase, from day one, by all Americans that are uninsured, self-employed, or work for a small employer with less than 26 employees. Also, that first year, even those who work for large employers will be eligible to purchase the public option plan, provided that their employers did not offer them an opportunity to participate in a plan through their jobs. The second year all of those just named, the uninsured and self-employed will still be able to buy the public option but it will also be extended to even larger small employers, including those with less than 51 employees. By the third year, small employers with less than 101 employees will be folded in, including all of the self-employed and all those uninsured.

Support Fundamental Basic Rights

WASHINGTON - Not only did the legislators listed below support the House health care reform bill, they also voted against the Stupak-Pitts amendment. Please support these House members.

The list of House Democratic members who represent right-leaning districts is as follows...

dennis-moore.jpgWASHINGTON - The White House overcame a major hurdle for health care on Saturday when the House of Representatives passed a bill that includes a public health insurance option.

The bill that passed in the House was far from perfect. What it did accomplish, is to provide a foundation upon which to build. No bill is perfect. While many are not satisfied with the final bill of passage it is important to recognize there is in place a health care policy that will compel legislators in the future to fix what does not work and expand on what does. Once Americans come to see this bill much like Medicare (that familiar voices vehemently opposed) actually is good for them, constituents will drive the need and desire to improve an imperfect bill.

While dozens of conservative Democrats sided with big Insurance to vote against the Affordable Health Care for America Act, one single Kansas Legislator stood tall. Congressman Dennis Moore, KS - 3 not only voted for the bill, he also voted against the Stupak amendment.

money-200px-wide.jpgHAYS, Kan. - A new study says that doctors need to talk with patients about money rather than just ignore the topic.

The researchers reviewed literature on relevant professional ethics and interviewed primary care physicians to see how the physician-patient relationship is changed by the current trend in consumer-driven health care.

"Consumer-driven health care" is an insurance industry buzzword used to describe the modern insurance plans that have high deductibles and high co-payment requirements. The advantage for insurance companies in these newer high-deductible plans is that consumers are less likely to use health care services at all or are likely to avoid any overuse of care since these first dollars are being paid directly by patients. This means that the insurance companies pay out less overall. In the high deductible plans, patients pay for more treatment themselves. One drawback can be that while making more frequent cost-related choices, patients may feel forced by finances to forgo lifesaving or life-improving health care.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A foundational problem with our health care system is the government health programs are duplicative, laden with paperwork, and incongruent rules and regulations.

America is the only industrialized nation to have different bureaucracies for different groups of citizens.

Every other industrialized nation has one health bureaucracy for all of its citizens. One for all. This bureaucratic duplication is complex and expensive. Therefore, the first step towards lowering the cost of health care is to consolidate, simplify, standardize, and digitize.

What Health Care Reform?

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Saturday night's vote in the House of Representatives was a real disappointment to me. As a member of the uninsured, I was hopeful that Obama and the Democrats would lead as they had on Social Security, the Voting Rights Act and Medicare and fulfill Obama's promise to "fundamentally transform the United States of America." But instead the party "of the people" has in the words of Rep. Massa (D-NY) enshrined "in law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry."

This isn't what health care reform was supposed to do.

For 17 years I enjoy national health care in Italy. Broken bones were mended, allergies brought under control, kidney stones dissolved. All at no cost to me. Whenever I needed to see a doctor I could either go down to the local clinic or make an appointment with a specialist and my tab was covered.

women-not-pre-existing.jpgHAYS, Kan. - If it becomes law, the bill currently passed today in the U.S. House would end the practice of setting premiums higher for females and denying coverage to women simply because of their gender.

Today, too many women in Kansas depend on a health care system that is failing them. 16% of women in Kansas report not visiting a doctor due to high costs. According to a 2008 report by the National Women's Law Center, typical 25-year-old women paid between 6% and 45% more than 25-year-old men for the same insurance market or health plans. Older women faced similar, and often even greater disparities.

Though some states offer protections against using gender to determine premiums, Kansas law does not protect women from gender discrimination. In Kansas, insurance companies can charge women more. Kansas insurance companies are also allowed to reject a health insurance application from a woman for a variety of reasons including her uniquely female medical history or her current health status, unique only to her gender.

Photograph courtesy of Melissa Carlson

SHAWNEE, Kan. - This morning, the Kansas City Young Dems led a protest and rally at city hall. About 100 activists gathered to hear speeches and show solidarity for the right of Kansans to be able to be offered a public option offering of health insurance. The specific purpose of their protest was to voice their opposition to an amendment that may soon be introduced in the Kansas State Senate by Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-District 10). Pilcher-Cook's amendment would allow the state legislature to prevent the public option, if passed in the U.S. Congress, from being made available to citizens of Kansas.


WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) signaled yesterday that it is his expectation is that the actual vote on the House health care reform bill will take place by 8 p.m. today, but may possibly be delayed until next week. Hoyer said this morning that he expects this bill to pass.

For most of today, though, debate will be lively. A 4-hour debate is now underway on floor of the House. For those that don't have a C-SPAN on cable television, the debate can also be followed online here.

MOUND CITY, Kan. - "Abort Obamunism," "Proud to be the Party of Know," and "Spay and neuter Democrats," were only a few of the mean-spirited signs hoisted by the "Tea Bag" attendees Thursday in front of the steps to our nation's Capital.
David Koch linked to
TEA Party funding

Another popular phrase, "Water board Congress," could be read on several signs and buttons.

Instigator of the "Tea Bag" protesters, Michele Bachmann, received the loudest cheers. Speaker and author Mark Levin suggested that Democrats are illiterate.

Thursday's GOP rally at the Capitol was technically a "press conference." According to a Capitol Police spokesperson in one report, lawmakers did not have a permit for a protest. However, speakers at Thursday's "press conference" took no questions. Rather, they repeatedly shouted to the "fired up" crowd, "Kill the Bill."

TOPEKA, Kan. - American Nurses Association (ANA) President Becky Patton sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on behalf of the nation's nurses strongly supporting HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. ANA has always been and remains committed to "the principle that health care is a basic human right and that all persons are entitled to ready access to affordable, quality health services." One of the chief roles that a nurse has is that of patient advocate, so it is no surprise that nurses support this legislation on behalf of the people we serve.

As a registered nurse and a member of the ANA in Kansas, I am proud that the primary national professional organization representing our nation's 2.9 million registered nurses has taken a stand on what is clearly an essential component of reform, the public option. Nurses are the largest group of clinical health care professionals that exist in our system, so Congress should listen to us when we step up in support of legislation that is vital to the well being of our patients. The public option is the only reasonable approach to ensure choice and competition. Anything less is a facade.

WASHINGTON - Today AARP announced its endorsement of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) and the accompanying Medicare physician payment reform bill (H.R. 3961), both put forth by the Democratic leadership in the House.

"Known as the "quiet crisis," the number of people with health insurance who might be bankrupted by a medical crisis is growing. We have heard a lot about the 47 million without any health insurance, but we've heard less about the tens of millions of middle-class Americans who are underinsured. More than half of underinsured adults go without needed medical care. Even while scrimping on care, more than half of America's underinsured have debt due to medical expenses." (from AARP's Divided We Fail)

Today's endorsement from the 40-million-member organization marks the first time in this legislative battle that AARP has put its full weight behind a comprehensive health care reform package.

HAYS, Kan. - In June 2009, a New York Times/CBS News poll reported that "most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector." Half of those questioned said they thought government would be better at providing medical coverage than private insurers, up from 30 percent in polls conducted in 2007. In early summer 2009, 72 percent were in favor of a public option plan.

Mainstream media received some criticism in August for calling attention to the disruptive attendees in some town hall meetings. Critics expressed concern that by photographing and interviewing those that were carrying signs or shouting in meetings, the media may have inadvertently given the impression to readers and viewers that the opponents of health care reform were greater in number than those in favor of reform.

Did the media cause the August down-tick in support through the media's showcasing of that minority of dissidents? Did the media fairly report the news - or can it be held accountable for actually creating the news? Opinion in the coming months is hard to predict, but as the media shifted away from the town halls and back to the core issues and policy facts in the legislation, it appears that the public has renewed its confidence in reform legislation.

HAYS, Kan. - A report published last March by the Journal of General Internal Medicine told us that the average American patient reads at an eighth-grade level. Thus, average medical patients are likely to have some difficulty understanding their own medical records unless given adequate time to study and review the materials.

Now, a study published this week by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine suggests that most patients are dissatisfied with the way they receive results of tests and want more access to information in their medical records, specifically, detailed, lay-language results from the tests.

They believed having access to their own medical records would put them on a more even level with their doctor so that, as patients, they don't have to depend on their doctor to cure their ailments, but rather they can work as a team with their doctors and play an active role in helping themselves.

SALINA, Kan. - Food Stamp usage in Kansas has been steadily rising for the last several years. In July 2009, 235,367 Kansans received Food Stamps as compared to an average of 140,403 in 2002. Even those families that do receive Food Stamps are not assured of adequate nourishment. The average payout of Food Stamps in 2008 in Kansas was $93.86 per person for one month, averaging $3 per day.

As our culture nears its annual feast, Thanksgiving, it's startling to learn that food insecurity is a real problem for the children of our state and nation. Holidays and tables full of delicious food usually go hand in hand, but for nearly half of the children in the United States, this is simply not guaranteed.

"49 percent of all U.S. children will be in a household that uses food stamps at some point during their childhood," says Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., poverty expert at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

We have more! This page only lists entries in a particular month. We encourage you to look back through our archives in this same category.

The previous archive is Health: October 2009. The next archive is Health: December 2009.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Health: November 2009 section.

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