Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform Passes

It's not anywhere near enough but here are 10 reasons to celebrate anyway:

 10 Things Every American Should Know About Health Care Reform

1. Once reform is fully implemented, over 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured.
2. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions—or to drop coverage when people become sick.
3. Just like members of Congress, individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums.
4. Reform will cut the federal budget deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years, and a whopping $1.2 trillion in the following ten years.
5. Health care will be more affordable for families and small businesses thanks to new tax credits, subsidies, and other assistance—paid for largely by taxing insurance companies, drug companies, and the very wealthiest Americans.
6. Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the legislation closes the "donut hole" gap in existing coverage.
7. By reducing health care costs for employers, reform will create or save more than 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.
8. Medicaid will be expanded to offer health insurance coverage to an additional 16 million low-income people.
9. Instead of losing coverage after they leave home or graduate from college, young adults will be able to remain on their families' insurance plans until age 26.
10. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion, doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay. 
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10. "Affordable Health Care for America: Summary," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010
3. "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed March 22, 2010
4. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Revenue Provisions," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010
5. "New Jobs Through Better Health Care," Center for American Progress, January 8, 2010
8, 9. "Proposed Changes in the Final Health Care Bill," The New York Times, March 22, 2010
10. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Addressing Health and Health Care Disparities," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 20, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Mom's always been this way. It's just worse now."

I can't tell you how many times I heard that statement from the adult children of a dementia patient struggling with the issue of whether Mom actually had dementia or not. The behaviors were already there -- the constant anxiety about insignificant things that had progressed into paranoia, the constant nattering chatter that no longer had any censor on it at all or, conversely, the tendency to be depressed that had progressed into a complete withdrawal from the world. And now that I live in close proximity to someone who exhibits these characteristics I understand more fully the underlying question: if these obvious signs of dysfunctional behavior were there all along to a lesser extent is this really dementia? And if it is dementia were they always suffering from dementia? As a Family Consultant it led me to question what dementia actually is. And what, if anything, could have been done about it from a behavioral point of view?

There have been multiple studies that have correlated the incidence of Alzheimer's Disease with a much higher then average incidence of depression or excessive anxiety earlier in life. There is also fairly conclusive evidence that people who stay happily actively engaged in life and who use their minds more regularly are more likely to keep their ability to function -- even with the supposedly tell-tale indicators of Alzheimer's Disease that are used to give a more precise "diagnosis" after death. The famous Alzheimer's Disease Nun study is a good place to learn more about that.  I was fairly convinced as a Family Consultant that something could have been done, should have been done, but the "what" eluded me then, continues to confuse me now.

On what level is one allowed to confront a family member with the news that not only are they driving everyone around them crazy, in a very literal sense they might be driving themselves crazy, too?!!! Well, I don't have an obvious answer to that -- and when it's progressed too far, it's in many cases too late!

Perhaps that's why I'm sharing this with you right now. I don't have to do this. I no longer get paid to write these things. But maybe, just maybe, if this message is put out there well enough and often enough by people who do care the idea will get across. Having a happy healthy attitude makes for a better life. Cultivate yours. Help your friends cultivate theirs. And do what you can in your family of origin, too.