The Charlotte Observer reported that South Carolina is "ripe for corruption because of government secrecy, weak ethics enforcement, little disclosure of legislators’ finances and low accountability for legislative and executive branch members".  A nationwide analysis gives South Carolina failing grades in nine of 14 key categories, with the state faring especially poorly in public access to information and executive accountability.  Each state was graded on 330 standards for its laws, regulations and enforcement in state civil service management, accountability of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, state budget processes and other key areas.

The report was based on an 18-month investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity; nonpartisan, good-government groups.  Analysts interviewed hundreds of state officials and employees across the country, along with expert professors, lawyers, and advocacy group leaders.

Governor Nikki Haley is not the only problem.  The report said undue political influence in South Carolina extends far beyond the governor’s office.   “An undercurrent of fear and political interference bubbles throughout the state’s civil service, one that is shot through with cronyism and patronage,” said its section on South Carolina.  The report said there is little public accountability for members of the part-time General Assembly.  “Because of virtually nonexistent asset-disclosure laws in South Carolina, lawmakers are more than able to hide their wealth – and who is paying them – even when it would create a clear conflict of interest,” the study said.

 

 Citing “a pervasive antagonism toward the press at the upper reaches of government,” the report found: “There is no agency that enforces the Freedom of Information law or monitors the state government’s compliance with it. There is also no appeal process, relegating to the courts any problem a member of the public or press experiences in obtaining public information.

 

USA Today reported that "almost 4 million seniors saved about $2.16 billion through discounts for their prescription medications in 2011", according to the Department of Health and Human Services.  "The 2010 health care law required a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the so-called doughnut hole, or the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the Medicare drug benefit, also known as Part D. In 2012, the coverage gap is $2,930. The Affordable Care Act eliminates the doughnut hole by 2020." 

In 2010, Medicare sent $250 rebate checks — totaling $846 million — to nearly 3.8 million seniors to try to counterbalance the gap. In the first two months of 2012, about 100,000 people have received $92.7 million in discounts — about $904 per person

Government costs for prescription medications through Medicare should decrease after seniors saved more than $2 billion in 2011 through discounts offered by the program. When Medicare recipients are able to take their medications, they are hospitalized less often for heart attacks, low blood sugar and asthma attacks thus reducing long term health care costs.

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Conservative Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast posted an interesting history lesson on the "individual mandate".   Meanwhile, a conservative law professor explains why the Obamacare mandate "passes constitutional muster" here.

In 1790, the very first Congress—which incidentally included 20 framers—passed a law that included a mandate: namely, a requirement that ship owners buy medical insurance for their seamen. This law was then signed by another framer: President George Washington. That’s right, the father of our country had no difficulty imposing a health insurance mandate.

That’s not all. In 1792, a Congress with 17 framers passed another statute that required all able-bodied men to buy firearms. Yes, we used to have not only a right to bear arms, but a federal duty to buy them. Four framers voted against this bill, but the others did not, and it was also signed by Washington. Some tried to repeal this gun purchase mandate on the grounds it was too onerous, but only one framer voted to repeal it.

Six years later, in 1798, Congress addressed the problem that the employer mandate to buy medical insurance for seamen covered drugs and physician services but not hospital stays. And you know what this Congress, with five framers serving in it, did? It enacted a federal law requiring the seamen to buy hospital insurance for themselves. That’s right, Congress enacted an individual mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance. And this act was signed by another founder, President John Adams.

 

W3Clinic is an online, healthcare information center produced by a team of Web professionals and medical experts. It provides easy-to-read, in-depth, authoritative medical information for consumers via its user-friendly and interactive website.  W3clinic provides the most detailed and credible information on a wide range of health topics, drugs and medications and medical
conditions so as to help you feel better about the health of you and your family

An article in the Wall Street Journal revealed effective methods to healing chronic wounds from pressure ulcers.  These wounds are commonly known as "bedsores", and result from pressure (being left in bed or chair all day).   These ulcers often begin as a small manageable problem.  however, if neglected or untreated, they can magnify into infectious wounds that are hazardous to the patient’s life. Overtime wounds develop bone infections fatally poisoning the blood of the patient.  In addition to the threat chronic wounds pose to the patient’s life, the pain and unsightliness of chronic wounds have lead to social isolation and even depression.

Numerous cases of pressure ulcers have ended in amputation or septic shock.  Lack of understanding and training concerning wound care are the primary causes of life-threatening wounds.  Wounds resulting from pressure ulcers pose a serious threat to immobilized patients, the elderly, and those suffering from obesity and diabetes.

John Hopkins School of Medicine found that over 6.5 million people are affected by chronic wounds.  The current issue of Skin and Wound Care recommends healthcare providers ought to follow such procedures as patient assessment, turning patients in bed frequently, and monitoring any at risk areas. These measures have been known for years to prevent the development of pressure ulcers.  The trouble occurs when an institution is unable or unwilling to follow these procedures. The failure to establish proper routines that protect patients from chronic wounds ultimately leads to an increase in severity and an escalation in costs.  $25 billion is spent annually to treat chronic wounds.

Care providers nationwide can gain valuable insight from the innovative wound care program developed at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.  Their methods include preventive screening, early detection and aggressive treatment, as well as outpatient visitation made by nurses and doctors. The key to their success is their philosophy of targeting a wound for treatment before its condition worsens.  Health care providers often find that many of the dangerous wounds they face may have been prevented through certain simple measures.  The Montefiore Medical Center of New York City avoids many of these costs through the collaboration of doctors, nurses and physicians assistants to identify pressure ulcers or diabetic foot ulcers before they become serious.  These methods and procedures form a holistic approach that eliminates many costly treatments.

 

Anyone doubting the healing powers of music ought to check out this amazing clip published in a USA Today article. The clip shows Henry Dreher, an elderly dementia patient who has been described as "inert, maybe depressed, unresponsive and almost unalive", springing to life upon hearing his favorite music.  The video that has already received 3.3 million views on YouTube, shows the story of an almost completely unresponsive, depressed patient suffering from dementia receiving an iPod and making a complete transformation as a result of the music, singing along, dancing, and creating poetic musings as a result.

The nursing home staff attending Dreher remarked their amazement witnessing the power of music overcoming the clutches of dementia. Dreher, who normally has difficulty even responding to questions with a yes or no, suddenly had no problem harmonizing with his favorite music or providing his own scat line.

What inspired this reaction in Dreher?

The elderly dementia patient remarked, "It gives me the feeling of love, romance and I feel the band of love and dreams."  

The video is a promo for a documentary called Alive inside and was created by an organization called Music & Memory, which collects and donates iPods to nursing homes help residents who suffer from dementia and other such ailments.  Despite speculations that this is just an attempt at an iPod promotional video, the video really serves the purpose of showing to what extent people need to take advantage of the new technologies to use in new ways. In nursing homes, especially it’s important to supply the residents with every opportunity to express themselves. The use of this technology gives new hope to families struggling with dementia patients. This inspiring video, also lends an insight that there is still new life in these residents.

 

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) announced the expansion and updating of NIHSeniorHealth, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) health and wellness website designed for older adults. The redesigned site includes more menu choices, longer pages, and a new search feature that offers access to a wider range of senior-related health resources. Presented in an inviting, colorful, and still easy-to-use format, the new NIHSeniorHealth features nearly 60 health topics, more than 150 open-captioned videos, as well as frequently asked questions, quizzes, and web training materials—all especially designed for boomers and their parents.

 

Health information is one of the key topics that older adults search for online according to the Pew Research Center, and since its launch in 2003, NIHSeniorHealth has been an accessible source of reliable, up-to-date health information for adults 60 plus. Built to address cognitive and vision changes that commonly occur with age, NIHSeniorHealth includes senior-friendly features such as large type, simple navigation, and open-captioned videos that make the site especially easy for older adults to use.

 

Current topics cover healthy aging, memory and mental health, medical care, caregiving, and safety issues. Visitors to the site can also learn about ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat aging-related diseases and conditions such as COPD, arthritis, cancer, and glaucoma. Coming soon are topics on prescription drug abuse, hip replacement surgery, and older driver safety.

 

Visit the new NIHSeniorHealth at www.nihseniorhealth.gov . Be sure to sign up for free updates and forward a link to the site to older friends and relatives.

 

 

U.S. News & World Report had a great article on why proper staffing is necessary to provide quality care at nursing homes.  "Loss of caregiving help is literally deadly for older folks, according to a study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College."  When the researchers looked more deeply into the higher rate of deaths among older people, they wondered if it might be tied to employment changes in health facilities.  What they found was that employment levels in healthcare actually dropped amidst overall gains in employment. "Low-paid, low-skill health workers find better jobs elsewhere," the study said, and they are not replaced.  They found the employment-mortality effect was significant in only one type of healthcare facility: nursing homes.

"The analysis revealed that a 1-percentage point decline in the unemployment rate caused more than a 3-percent drop in overall full-time employment at nursing homes," the study said. "A greater scarcity of these front-line caregivers may have a direct impact on the elderly," the study concluded, "causing them to die in greater numbers when the unemployment rate is declining."

"It’s a certainty that rising numbers of aging Americans will need more care in the future. People in their 80s are the nation’s fastest-growing age group. Over this same period, the retiring baby-boom generation will be succeeded in the workforce by much smaller generations of younger workers. The result will be a growing shortage of care providers."

 

 

An article from PRWeb reported the impacts recent cuts in federal and state reimbursement for care have taken on nursing homes. A survey conducted on 3,000 nursing home concluded that layoffs, changes in wages and cuts in benefits have resulted. 37 percent of these homes were laying off direct aid workers, 74 percent were changing wage rates, and 48 percent were cutting benefits. 

The article quotes nursing home abuse attorney Bernard J. Hamill warns there is a correlation between understaffing and the quality of care given by nursing home aids. State and Federal regulations exist to insure an adequate staffing level at all times. These regulations hold that the levels must be high enough to guarantee the highest level of care. Proper resident assessments and individual care plans must be drawn to ensure the patient’s best possible physical, mental and psychosocial well-being.

To gage the staffing levels of nursing homes, each state receives reports of staffing hours from each of its facilities. The reports cover a two-week period before each state inspection. Staffing hours per resident per day is the average amount of hours worked divided by the total number of residents. This data is then sent to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The staffing and data often decreases after each inspection.