Competing Business Interests Undermine Society’s Wellness Goals

The legislative battle winding up in Austin Texas over a proposal to restrict The smoking age for vapor cigarettes highlights the ongoing conflict between Americans’ stated policy commitment to wellness and the economic interests of certain businesses within the American economy.

Texas Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, a doctor, is among several representatives in the Texas Legislature supporting a bill that would among other things raise the smoking age to 21 and support preventative education to reduce smoking.  See  H.B. 1908.

Government and private research data has demonstrated that substantial health risks and costs of smoking for decades, see here, The propose legislation faces significant opposition from businesses who say that the new rules would hurt their financial profitability. See here.

The battle between businesses that profit from the sale of tobacco products and health care advocates who oppose their use for health reasons has gone on for decades and mirrors arguments betwee wellness advocates and businesses that profit from products with high sugar content, alcohol and a myriad of other products with no health risks.

Historically,  businesses have come out on top in these battles except in some notable instances where regulations restricting the sales marketing a product children have gained a foothold.  Well wellness advocates have obtain more success in promoting requirements and consumers, American law Hartley continues to Faber consumer choice over compulsory wellness in the marketplace.

The high value generally placed upon Americans on consumer choice create unique challenges in the promotion of wellness in the United States.   Smoking, diet and lifestyle based obesity, heart disease, diabetes in other epidemics associated with poor lifestyle choices merton our healthcare system with excessive costs and treatment demands.  Meanwhile health coverage policy continues to insulate individuals for consequences of poor lifestyle choices by insulating individuals from financial responsibility for the added costs of their choices through community rating, nondiscrimination requirements and other protective rules.

With lifestyle-driven health care cost a significant driver in our skyrocketing healthcare system, however,  efforts to restrict smoking and other unhealthy products are gaining more traction.  Likewise, a shift in favor of wellness is also reflected growing support for legislative reforms that allow financial or other incentives to support wellness initiatives like Congress’ 2009 amendment of the wellness provisions of the nondiscrimination rules of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act to permit greater financial incentives in group health plans.  However the effectiveness of these legislative actions to support well nest have been limited by heavy-handed policies of the equal employment opportunity commission that fly in the face of the congressional directive and continued prohibitions on most Health coverage underwriting.

With lifestyle-driven a leading contributor to America’s burgeoning healthcare costs, Americans should continue to reevaluate policy provisions that insulate Americans who exercise the freedom of choice our government allows to make unhealthy lifestyle decisions from the financial consequences of their actions.  

As long as Americans both refuse to restrict behaviors that are unhealthy and refuse to pass along the added cost of these unhealthy choices to individuals that make the poor lifestyle decisions in the form of insurance premiums or other penalties, it is unlikely that efforts to bring down these costs for behavioral change will be effective.

Health Savings Should Start With Misdirected “Quality” Standards 

Well-intentioned but misdirected “quality@ and safety regulations and third party imposed credentialing, rating and quality standards drive up operating costs of  hospitals, physicians and other health providers, payers and plan sponsors.  See e.g., here.

Beyond the proliferation of costly federal and state mandates, private rating, credentialing, rating, certification and other organizations also have proliferated. Private organizations justify their existence by promoting the need for tighter standards than government imposed, creating duplicative and ever heightened standards, then creating a demand for adherence to their self-created  requirements through marketing and lobbying.  

The number, requirements imposed by these third parties, their measurement and assessments and other associated activities have become a highly profitable industry, which siphons money away from patient care.

Americans should seek the elimination of costs from these activities that don’t meaningfully improve quality thorough critical reevaluation of these requirements and standards and elimination of duplicative or otherwise unjustified standards and requirements.

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ All other rights reserved.

Check Out Alzheimer’s Caregiver Resources

Families struggling to care for Alzheimer’s patients should check out the Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease: Your Easy-to-Use Guide from the National Institute on Aging and the many other resources available for free on the National Institute on Aging website here.

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Nonexclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.

House Set To Vote on Phase 1 of Health Care Reform 2017 Thursday

Congress is scheduled to vote on American Health Care Act on Thursday.  See here.

The first package of the reforms Republicans are pursuing to repeal or reform the Obamacare law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Act focuses on changing the revenue and tax components of the ACA.  Because of super-majority vote requirements in tge Ssnate, Republican leaders say  they intend to pursue through separate,  policy-focused healthcare reforms through separate packages of legislation coupled with regulatory reforms.

When introducing the Act, Speaker Ryan touted the Act as rescuing the US health care system from the ACA driving down costs, encouraging competition, and giving every American access to quality, affordable health insurance. 

Push past the rhetoric and form your own positions by reading the Act and getting other key information here.   While Speaker Ryan says some minor adjustments will be made before the vote, the original language otherwise is expected to pass the House in its original form.

Share your specific ideas and thoughts about the Act and your other input on what our health care system should look like going forward, how these proposals relate and the other reforms you believe Congress should make to build a better healthcare system for today that can survive into the future by joining the discussion in the Solutions Law Press, Inc. Coalition for Responsible Health Care Policy LinkedIn Group. 

Avoid Getting Sick For Going To The Doctor  

Staff infections are only one category of serious infection risks that patients, health care workers and their families face when getting health care treatment.  Patients can reduce these infection risks by sharing the following tips from the Center for Disease Control:

  • Speak up. Talk to your doctor about any questions or worries. Ask what they’re doing to protect you.
  • Keep hands clean. Make sure everyone, including friends and family, clean their hands before touching you. If you don’t see your healthcare providers clean their hands, ask them to do so.
  • Ask each day if your central line catheter or urinary catheter is necessary. Leaving a catheter in place too long increases the chances you’ll get an infection. Let your doctor or nurse know immediately if the area around the central line becomes sore or red, or if the bandage falls off or looks wet or dirty.
  • Prepare for surgery. Let your doctor know about any medical problems you have. Ask your doctor how he/she prevents surgical site infections.
  • Ask your healthcare provider, “Will there be a new needle, new syringe, and a new vial for this procedure or injection?” Insist that your healthcare providers never reuse a needle or syringe on more than one patient.
  • Get Smart about antibiotics. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections – they don’t work for viruses like the ones that cause colds and flu. Ask your healthcare provider if there are steps you can take to feel better without using antibiotics. If you’re prescribed an antibiotic, make sure to take the prescribed antibiotic exactly as your healthcare provider tells you and do not skip doses.
  • Watch out for deadly diarrhea (aka Clostridium difficile). Tell your doctor if you have 3 or more diarrhea episode services in 24 hours, especially if you’ve been taking an antibiotic.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of infection. Some skin infections, such as MRSA, appear as redness, pain, or drainage at an IV catheter site or surgery site and come with a fever. Infections can also lead to sepsis, a complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection.
  • Get Vaccinated. Getting yourself, family, friends, and caregivers vaccinated against the flu and other infections prevents spread of disease.
  • Cover your mouth and nose. When you sneeze or cough, germs can travel 3 feet or more. Use a tissue to avoid spreading germs with your hands.

Healthcare-associated infections are not only a problem for healthcare facilities – they represent a public health issue. Learn more about how to be a safe patient. Read: Patient Safety: What You Can Do to Be a Safe Patient.

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Nonexclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.