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Posts tagged ‘healthcare’

Dr. Salma Opening Eyes

Meet Dr. Salma (A Seva Trained Eye Surgeon in Nepal).
From SEVA Foundation

In honor of International Women’s Day 2013, Seva proudly 15631highlights one of our most cherished staff members in Nepal. Dr. Salma is an eye surgeon who received her training thanks to support from Seva donors like you. Seva is committed to training women like Dr. Salma who go on to become important leaders in the movement to cure and prevent blindness and low-vision.

We are so proud to invite you to watch this short video feature about Dr. Salma, produced by Seva’s partner TOMS.

Your donation this International Women’s Day will provide training to more young women like Dr. Salma, and provides eye care services to women and girls in the places where it is most needed around the world. Donate.

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Overcoming the Gender Gap in Eye Care: Two-thirds of all people who are blind or have low-vision in the developing world are women. This is primarily because women and girls are treated less than half as often as men. Seva’s Women and Girls Initiative, works towards achieving gender equity by focusing on overcoming traditional barriers to women’s and girl’s access to healthcare. Awareness of the problem is not enough, providing solutions to these gender inequities is one of Seva’s top priorities.

Your donation in honor of International Women’s Day 2013, will train more doctors like Dr. Salma, as well as provide transportation for women and girls and subsidize outreach and surgical programs designed specifically to increase the number of women and girls served.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we thank you for generously supporting our programs in the past and hope you continue to support these important initiatives by making a gift to Seva today. Each donation will help open new doors for women and girls around the world.

U.S. Healthcare Near the Bottom

U.S. Healthcare Worse Than Almost All Other Industrialized Countries
by Carey L. Brown
Inter Press Service/Nation of Change
11 January 2013

U.S. citizens suffer from poorer health than nearly all other industrialized countries, according to the first comprehensive government analysis on the subject, released Wednesday.

Of 17 high-income countries looked at by a committee of experts sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the United States is at or near the bottom in at least nine indicators.

These include infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, and adolescent pregnancies, as well as more systemic issues such as injuries, homicides, and rates of disability.

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Together, such issues place U.S. males at the very bottom of the list, among those countries, for life expectancy; on average, a U.S. male can be expected to live almost four fewer years than those in the top-ranked country, Switzerland. U.S. females fare little better, ranked 16th out of the 17 high-income countries under review.

“We were stunned by the propensity of findings all on the negative side – the scope of the disadvantage covers all ages, from babies to seniors, both sexes, all classes of society,” Steven H. Woolf, a professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and chair of the panel that wrote the report, told IPS.

“It’s unclear whether some of these patterns will be experienced by other countries in the years to come, but developing countries will undoubtedly begin facing some of these issues as they take on more habits similar to the United States. Currently, however, even countries in the developing world are outpacing the U.S. in certain outcomes.”

Although the new findings offer a uniquely comprehensive view of the problem, the fact is that U.S. citizens have for decades been dying at younger ages than those in nearly all other industrialized countries. The committee looked at data going back to the 1970s to note that such a trend has been worsening at least since then, with women particularly affected.

“A particular concern with these findings was about adolescents, about whom we document very serious issues that, again, stand out starkly from other counties,” Woolf says.

Beyond insurance

The unusually high levels of population who lack health insurance in the U.S. would certainly seem to be one factor at work here. In 2010, some 50 million people, around 16 percent of the population, were uninsured – a massive proportion compared with the rest of the world’s high-income countries.

Of course, after a rancorous debate and more than a decade of political infighting, in 2010 President Barack Obama did succeed in putting in place broad legislation that will bring the number of uninsured in the United States down significantly.

Further, Obama’s winning of a second term in office, coupled with a recent decision by the Supreme Court, will now undercut most attempts by critics to roll back Obama’s new health-care provisions.

And yet, according to the new findings, the insurance issue has relatively little impact on the overall state of poor health in the United States. (In fact, those 75 years old or more can expect to live longer than those in other countries, a clear indication of the tremendous money and effort that has gone into end-of-life care.)

“Even advantaged Americans – those who are white, insured, college-educated, or upper income – are in worse health than similar individuals in other countries,” the report states. Likewise, “Americans who do not smoke or are not overweight also appear to have higher rates of disease than similar groups in peer countries.”

Indeed, some of the few categories in which U.S. citizens are found to do better than their peers in other countries include smoking less tobacco and drinking less alcohol. They also appear to have gained greater control over their cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

At the same time, people in the United States have begun to suffer inordinately from a host of other problems that can contribute to a spectrum of additional health concerns.

Sky-high obesity rates, for instance, are undergirded by findings that people in the U.S. on average consume more calories per person than in other countries, as well as analysis that suggest that the U.S. physical environment in recent decades has been built around the automobile rather than the pedestrian.

Health disadvantage

Confusingly, people in the United States not only record far lower health indicators on average when compared to other high-income countries, but also score far lower on seemingly unrelated issues related to environmental safety – for instance, experiencing inordinate numbers of homicide and car accidents.

The committee clearly had trouble putting together these seemingly disparate datasets.

“No single factor can fully explain the U.S. health disadvantage,” the report states. “More likely, the U.S. health disadvantage has multiple causes and involves some combination of inadequate health care, unhealthy behaviors, adverse economic and social conditions, and environmental factors, as well as public policies and social values that shape those conditions.”

According to Samuel Preston, a demographer and fellow committee member, “The bottom line is that we are not preventing damaging health behaviors. You can blame that on public health officials or on the health care system … but put it all together and it is creating a very negative portrait.”

Read entire article and other stories at Nation of Change.

Health Care Not Health Profit

Dear Gabriel,

Increase the eligibility age for Medicare to 67? Is Congress completely crazy?

We should be reducing the Medicare eligibility age, not increasing it. Healthcare costs when you reach 65 are greater than at any other time of your life. The notion that it’s good fiscal policy to wait a couple of years until the cost of treatment for many people will become more expensive due to delayed diagnoses and treatment is wrongheaded and cynical.

In fact, a small incremental increase in the payroll tax (currently just 1.49%) could cover everyone, young and old. That’s the direction Congress should take, and it’s exactly what we are fighting for in California.

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At California OneCare, we’re educating and advocating for a single, public, not-for-profit health-insurance plan that will cover all Californians and be a model for the nation. Our programs educate and empower people on a personal, grassroots level because we believe that person-to-person contact is the only way to achieve lasting change with this complex issue. Check out our media page for more information.

Your support is appreciated by us and, yes, by economists:

Last week, more than 100 economists emphatically endorsed a national single-payer, Medicare-for-All system in the U.S. that covers all ages as the most humane and fiscally-responsible way to run a health care system: http://econ4.org/statement-on-healthcare

Your continued support and your donation at this time will enable California OneCare to expand outreach, organizing and advocacy in 2013.

Please mail a tax-deductible contribution today to California OneCare Education Fund, P.O. Box 5116, Novato, CA 94948. Or go to http://californiaonecare.org/donate/ today and make a contribution.

With your help, we will win!

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Yours in health care justice,

Andrew McGuire

Executive Director, California OneCare Campaign

Healthcare Technology Reform

Quantum Units Education shares stories about mental and physical health, like what triggers domestic abuse and how to fight youth anxiety. But there are also big picture issues affecting the health industry, like the move towards replacing paper-based healthcare records with electronic medical records systems, as Cheryl Jacque writes about in today’s post. Cheryl also writes for http://www.healthadministration.org/, a website that aims to educate potential college students about higher education and careers in health administration.

The Future of Technology, Healthcare Administration and Reform
by Cheryl Jacque

Sweeping changes in healthcare will continue to affect the lives of Americans for the foreseeable future. Yet, while health care reform legislation has received the majority of media attention, advancements in technology are expected to play an important role in lowering healthcare costs in the coming years. In particular, the adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) by insurers and medical practitioners is having a far-reaching effect throughout the medical community, with many health industry professionals expecting an increased efficiency that will lower cost and improve the quality of care for every patient.

Research by The RAND corporation found that America’s health care system could save more than $81 billion annually while improving the quality of care by broadly adopting computerized medical records. The study, published in the journal Health Affairs in 2005, stated, “The U.S. healthcare industry is arguably the world’s largest, most inefficient information enterprise…Most medical records are still stored on paper, which means that they cannot be used to coordinate care, routinely measure quality, or reduce medical errors.” Since then, many health experts have claimed that EMRs will improve quality and efficiency as well as reduce costs by tens of billions of dollars annually by limiting orders of duplicate tests and procedures. The Obama administration has even included assistance to accelerate the adoption of EMRs as part of the Affordable Care Act reforms.

As with almost any rapid adoption of new technology, early word on EMR use has been mixed. A recent study found that physicians with access to electronic records are actually more likely to order additional imaging and laboratory tests than doctors relying on paper records, perhaps due to the increased ease of ordering tests, speculated Dr. Danny McCormick, lead author of the study. However, many early adopters of EMRs are quick to defend the technology.

“Electronic medical records can guide evidence-based care, prevent unnecessary duplicate testing, enable better and more informed care coordination for patients, and generate quality data in real time to help us measure the efficacy of rendered care to improve health outcomes,” writes Alan D. Aviles, President of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. A study from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology offers further support, with its findings showing 92% of articles on health information technology reach the conclusion that technology advances provide overall positive benefits such as increases in quality and efficiency of health care.

American Medical Software, one of the developers of electronic medical records systems, describes the process used by the system. When a medical professional creates a new encounter note using EMRs, macros and templates that incorporate key phrases and conditionals that reduce keystrokes and input errors. Coding guidelines then suggest the proper level of visits based on documentation during the patient meeting, as well as aiding in ordering labs, setting reminders and linking files. Fox Meadows Software, another company responsible for EMR migration systems, provides electronic features such as scheduling, billing, document management and authorization tracking. These advances in medical and information technology are developed with a goal of streamlining processes, reducing costs and raising the quality of experience for medical practitioners and patients alike. While any new technology takes time to fully develop, the promise of higher quality patient care is a benefit worth the effort.

History of US Healthcare

Healthcare history: How the patchwork coverage came to be.
by Bob Rosenblatt
Los Angeles Times
February 27, 2012

Workers swarmed through Henry J. Kaiser’s Richmond, Calif., shipyard in World War II, building 747 ships for the Navy. The war “had siphoned off the most hardy specimens,” a newspaper reported, so Kaiser was left with many workers too young, old or infirm to be drafted.

The workers needed to be in good health to be effective on the job, and Kaiser offered them care from doctors in company clinics and at company hospitals. The workers paid 50 cents a week for the benefit.

It was something new in industrial America — a bonus offered to attract scarce labor while wages were frozen during the war.

The war ended, the workers quit the shipyards, leaving behind hospitals and doctors but no patients. So the company decided to open the system to the public — and that’s how generations of Californians who never heard of Kaiser shipyards have since gotten medical care.

It is just one example of the way America’s health insurance system has grown into the strange patchwork program it is today.

Most of us get health insurance through our jobs, a system puzzling to the rest of the industrial world, where the government levies taxes and offers health coverage to all as a basic right of modern society. But for many Americans, their way feels alien — the heavy hand of government reaching into our business as some bureaucrat tells doctors and patients what to do.

We always seem to fight over the role of government in our healthcare. In 1918, California voters defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would have organized a state-run healthcare program. Doctors fought it with a publication declaring that “compulsory social health insurance” was “a dangerous device invented in Germany, announced by the German Emperor from the throne in the same year he started plotting and preparing to conquer the world.”

The amendment was defeated by a huge margin.

This year’s presidential and congressional election campaigns will feature intense argument over the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama in 2010, the most ambitious effort yet to bring health insurance to all Americans. Everyone is required to have health insurance, and all but the poorest citizens face a tax penalty if they don’t comply.

For liberals, the act is a culmination of the dream to complete the work of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. For conservatives, many of whom scornfully refer to the law as Obamacare, it is big government run amok. The first battleground will be in the U.S. Supreme Court next month, when the justices hear arguments on whether it is constitutional for the federal government to make citizens buy health insurance.

The long-standing tension between public and private healthcare in America has produced a unique and confusing way to provide protection against the cost of ill health.

It was Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party that first suggested, in the 1912 presidential campaign, that Americans would need help paying their medical bills.

Medicine was becoming safe and even effective. Doctors could treat typhoid and diphtheria. Hospitals were becoming places that could help you get better rather than serving as dumping grounds for the insane or warehouses for paupers.

Being able to treat sickness meant that healthcare started to cost more.

When FDR became president in 1933, the committees that developed the concept of Social Security for him also considered national health insurance. Roosevelt flirted with the idea but never threw political muscle behind it.

After Harry S. Truman became president in 1945, he called on Congress to provide national health insurance but could never bring it to a vote. Opponents included the American Medical Assn., which in 1948 asked each of its members to kick in $25 to fund a campaign warning that Truman’s “socialized medicine” plan could lead to socialism throughout American life.

Health insurance, when it did emerge on a mass basis, came from the business world, as exemplified by the Kaiser shipyard story. World War II-era employers faced government-mandated wage freezes to prevent them from competing with dollars for scarce workers, which would drive up prices and cause inflation. But the IRS allowed companies to offer benefits up to 5% of the value of wages without counting them as taxable income.

The ruling became permanent in 1954, creating the foundation for the insurance system we have today.

After the war ended, the powerful labor union movement focused on expanding health coverage as well as boosting wages. Health insurance became a standard feature in labor contracts. Elsewhere in the economy, nonunion employers too decided it was a good tool to attract workers.

And then, in 1965, after years of hearings and campaigns, the federal government dived into healthcare in a big way.

For years, there had been talk of the needs of the elderly, who couldn’t afford the hospital bills that came with the ravages of old age. Old people were a sympathetic and deserving group for politicians. President Lyndon B. Johnson, armed with the power and prestige of a landslide victory in 1964 and the support of big Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, pushed through a legislative three-layer cake.

For people ages 65 and older, there would be Medicare Part A. It would pay their hospital bills with taxes collected from workers, just as the government collects taxes from workers to pay for Social Security retirement checks.

The second layer on the cake was Medicare Part B, set up in a fashion to win over doctors: They would receive their usual and customary fees for each thing they did for patients.

The third layer on the cake was Medicaid, a federal-state program of care for the poor.

Even after Medicare became law, there were great fears it might be too controversial to work. Would doctors refuse to see Medicare patients? Would Southern hospitals agree to dismantle their segregated wards and have patients of different races sharing the same rooms?

The doctors didn’t strike. And the hospitals were immediately integrated without protest.

Today, Medicare seems like the birthright of every American who reaches age 65. John Breaux, a former U.S. senator from Louisiana, likes to tell the story of an elderly woman who accosted him at an airport, declaring, “Don’t let the government mess with my Medicare.”

Seniors had their national health insurance, and the Democrats thought they had a winning issue. Bill Clinton entered his presidency in 1993 with an ambitious plan to extend national health insurance to everyone.

Hundreds of experts spent hours behind closed doors drawing up intricate plans. But Congress felt excluded and insulted, and the plan never came to a floor vote in the House or Senate. Its fate was sealed when the GOP made big gains in 1994, giving Clinton a Republican House to deal with for the rest of his presidency.

The big plan had failed.

When President Obama approached the health insurance dilemma, he avoided the Clinton tactic of creating a detailed blueprint without input from Congress.

Instead, he relied on the congressional process. It was filled with deals.

Read entire article at Los Angeles Times.

Patrick’s Story

Excerpt from Amakuru! – News from the Rwandan Orphans Project.

Patrick’s Story

Sadly young Patrick has had to endure very difficult times at a very young age. Patrick was born in the town of Gitarama to two poor teenage parents. Unable to make any money in Gitarama Patrick’s father left for Kigali in hopes of finding a job. Despite the fact that he promised to send money back to the family, Patrick’s mother felt abandoned and remarried shortly after he left. The new stepfather didn’t like Patrick simply because he was another man’s son, so he began verbally abusing him and making him perform labor no three year old should do. This abuse forced young Patrick to the streets, where he felt safer than in his own home. Occasionally he would try sneaking into his home late at night when his stepfather was asleep and running away early in the morning before he woke up. Patrick lived like this for two years, begging for food and shelter on the streets near his own home.

One day he decided to go to Kigali to look for his father. A neighbour of his mother brought him there but they could not find him. He decided to stay in Kigali anyway, where he thought it would be easier to survive on the streets. Only seven years old, Patrick begged and slept in between buildings in an area called Kanombe for about two years before a local woman found him and brought him home to stay with her family. He stayed there for a short time before her husband tired of having another child to support that wasn’t his own and chased Patrick out. Alone again for the second time in his life, Patrick went back to the streets. A few weeks later he was found by the ROP supervisor, Jean de Dieu, who offered to bring him to the ROP Center.

Today little Patrick is going to school for the first time in life, and he’s settled in with the other young boys who live at the ROP. His role model is the ROP’s head teacher, Sandrine, and because of her influence he says that someday he wants to teach children who lived on the streets. He says that when he grows up he wants to have a big family and he will love them and protect them, unlike his mother who he feels abandoned him when he needed her most.

If you can help out a wee bit, please support Patrick and other children at The Rwandan Orphan’s Project.

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