Personal care aide training essential to quality care

“Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” is the mantra of the moment. News reports and campaign slogans obscure the fact that there is job growth in America. That’s because occupations that are growing won’t lift workers into the middle class. As the National Employment Law Project recently reported, six out of ten (58 percent) new jobs created since the Great Recession are low wage.
America’s fastest-growing job is the Personal Care Aide (PCA). Our nation employs at least 1.6 million PCAs, who provide personal care and other support services to elders and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. These jobs are expected to increase by 70 percent between 2010 and 2020, surpassing 2 million by the end of the decade.


The need for healthcare coverage is neither red or blue

The airwaves and political arenas this year have been filled with talk about health care – from ObamaCare to RomneyCare and from repeal to retention of the federal health care law. Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have been using health care for political gain. That’s the rhetoric of health care.


Before you call for a ban on BPA, Ask yourself if the science supports it

It is ironic that Jeanne Rizzo’s post on behalf of the Breast Cancer Fund states that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “is tasked with making decisions in favor of public health based on scientific evidence—not on politics…,” when it’s clear that she wants the opposite. She wants FDA to ignore the scientific evidence and make a public health decision based on her beliefs and politics. Her post is fraught with factual inaccuracies that distort information about BPA’s safety and FDA’s review of BPA.


The candidates' positions on Medicare Advantage

President Obama and his allies continue to repeat attacks on Gov. Mitt Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan that were long ago discredited as completely false. That Republicans want to “end Medicare as we know it” is a popular line from the Democrats, but there’s nothing in the Romney-Ryan plan that ends Medicare as anyone has known it. Indeed, the whole point of the Romney-Ryan reform is to preserve Medicare for future generations. We are also told that the Republican plan would force seniors to pay $6,400 more per year for their care. This too is false. The Romney-Ryan plan guarantees that every senior will have the choice of at least two plans which will cost no more than current Medicare.


FDA needs to ban BPA in all food containers

By October 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will decide whether to ban the toxic chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, from infant-formula containers. The agency is reviewing a petition to do so submitted by Democratic Rep. Ed Markey of Boston. In July, the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles based on a similar petition from the American Chemistry Council. Both petitions argue the market is no longer using BPA in baby bottles and infant-formula containers, so let’s go ahead and make it official that the chemical should not be used for these purposes.


Beginning of the end of state-based insurance regulation

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the subsequent Supreme Court decision upholding its constitutionality, the public has been paying increased attention to the insurance industry. The announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as Governor Mitt Romney’s running mate and the recent Democrat and Republican Conventions has brought the industry to the forefront of public discussion.

The issue of insurance has always been one of great economic importance. It is one of the largest segments of our economy. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that provides us with peace of mind and helps get us get back on our feet in times of crisis. It is also a source of solid, stable, career-track jobs:  just walk down Main Street in any town in the nation, and you will see insurance offices of all sizes, providing jobs for thousands and thousands of Americans.


The IRS and healthcare: A heavy lift

Now that the Supreme Court has issued its ruling on the Affordable Care Act, many are taking a closer look at how the law will be implemented, including at the new enforcement duties given to the IRS. The Government Accountability Office has said the IRS faces “a massive undertaking.” The National Taxpayer Advocate believes that “with proper planning and funding, the IRS is fully capable of implementing healthcare reform.” I am not so sure. And even if the IRS comes through on healthcare, will tax administration be damaged in the process? I know the service will do its level best to implement healthcare reform, but the IRS confronts a long list of challenges. Several concerns are particularly important.


An ominous outlook for pancreatic cancer

The American medical community has arrived at a pivotal time in cancer research. Technological advancements, knowledge availability and human ambition have allowed us to make significant strides in treatment options, early diagnosis and improved survival rates. Research has resulted in medical improvements that have positively impacted many forms of cancer. In fact, during the past 40 years the five-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined has climbed from under 50 percent to over 65 percent.


Competitive bidding for diabetes testing supplies hurts seniors

As diabetes plagues our nation, countless seniors rely on diabetic testing supplies (DTS) from their local pharmacists in order to live with and manage their disease. Unfortunately, an expansion of Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program could disrupt that relationship and make it harder for seniors to obtain their DTS. This cannot happen. The House Small Business subcommittee hearing today offers the opportunity to re-examine the critical issue of ensuring continuity in how our seniors access essential diabetes testing supplies and face-to-face counseling on their proper use.


Identifying effective means of disease prevention

Which political party has a platform plank for more health and less healthcare?

The 2012 Democratic and Republican Party Platforms spell out what party leaders believe will address the needs of the American people. However, will they include a plank that acknowledges and addresses the fact that our nation spends more than all others on medical research and healthcare yet still has one of the highest infant mortality rates of developed nations? Which party will have a plank to improve America’s life expectancy that lags behind scores of other countries?  Which has a plank to reverse the tsunamis of obesity-induced diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease? Unfortunately, our nation’s plan seems to be to have no plan. We invest billions in basic biomedical research and leave the development of medical products to the free market.  Since our health insurance preferentially pays for treatment of illness, the commercial sector naturally develops new and more expensive illness-care that is often too late to help patients and at a cost that will soon approach 20% of GDP!