TBT: Happy 48th Birthday to Medicare!

OWL logoWith today being the 50th birthday of Medicare and Medicaid we thought it was appropriate to throwback to a post we ran two years ago. Do you think the sentiments and concerns around the programs are the same today?

It’s July 30, 2013. You are 48 years old, and if YOU TWO don’t have a Happy Birthday, who will? We will all suspect something is wrong. Maybe you haven’t been getting enough sleep, or maybe you are not eating right. The Congress isn’t treating you badly, is it? Maybe, too, you are both very proud of your lives, as you work your way through middle age; or maybe you are a little disappointed in your accomplishments.

Maybe you could have done more, and aren’t thinking right now about all of your millions of friends and supporters, let alone the nearly 1.5 million people who consider Medicaid and Medicare nothing less than lifelines to participation in the game of life, no matter how many years go by. (more…)


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Direct Access Testing: Putting Consumers in the Driver’s Seat

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Angela Young knew something was wrong. She hadn’t felt well for months but didn’t know what was going on. Her doctor ran tests for immune problems and endocrine issues. They all came back normal. Finally, Angela went to an independent direct access testing (“DAT”) laboratory and had them run some additional tests, including a test for something she suspected, but her doctor didn’t want to test her for: Lyme disease. When the Lyme disease test came back positive, she was relieved, because finally she knew what was wrong, could seek treatment and begin to get healthy again.

Michael S. is a typical 55 year old American man. He knows he doesn’t eat that well, too many quick stops at the McDonald’s on the way home from work and too much time sitting on the couch. He really should start working out, but life kept getting in the way. He felt OK, not great, but there wasn’t any reason to get to a doctor. His wife kept pushing him to get to the doctor, so to save time he just went into a direct access testing laboratory for some basic tests to get his wife off his back. He was shocked to discover that his cholesterol levels were in the upper 200s. He knew it was really time to lose weight and get moving. (more…)

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What the SCOTUS ACA ruling means for health consumers

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

The post below ran on Health Populi on June 29. Disruptive Woman Jane Sarasohn-Kahn puts together a great piece on what the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act means for consumers.

Now that the Affordable Care Act is settled, in the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court, what does the 6-3 ruling mean for health/care consumers living in America?

scotusI wrote the response to that question on the site of Intuit’s American Tax & Financial Center here. The top-line is that people living in Michigan, where the Federal government is running the health insurance exchange for Michiganders, and people living in New York, where the state is running the exchange, are considered equal under the ACA’s health insurance premium subsidies: health plan shoppers, whether resident New Yorkers or Michiganders, can qualify for health premium discounts. This means that people shopping for health insurance under the ACA are all-American, whatever state they live in. The yellow and the white states, when it comes to insurance subsidies, are all one color now. (more…)

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  • July 6th, 2015 Pope Francis’ Visit and Philadelphia Healthcare
    By Glenna Crooks
  • July Man of the Month: Farzad Mostashari, MD

    Casey Quinlan

    July 4 is Independence Day in the United States. Every year, we celebrate an unruly bunch of guys – the ones we now call the Founding Fathers – who, fed up with draconian rule from far away, decided to plant a new American flag and say “we’re running this show from here on out!”

    farzad_mostashariThere are plenty of analogies that can be drawn between the patients’ rights movement, healthcare reform, and our Founding Fathers. One of the champions of “data liberación” – the battle cry of healthcare open data efforts – Dr. Farzad Mostashari has consistently called for people, the ones commonly called “patients” by the healthcare system, to have equal rights within the system purportedly designed to help them maintain or achieve health.

    From the stage of Health Datapalooza 2015, Farzad threw down a gauntlet to the entire healthcare industry, encouraging every American to declare #dataindependenceday this July 4 by accessing their medical records online.

    “We believe that right now is the moment when patient demand for their records will be the ‘unknotter’ of the problem that we have — of the lack of access for patients to take their data and do what they want with it.” ~ Farzad Mostashari, MD (more…)


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    Let Freedom Ring

    Regina Holliday

    The following post ran on May 3 on Regina Holliday’s Medical Advocacy Blog.

    This winter was hard for me. Winter always is.  In my mind, I walk through yesteryears and live through the months I lost my husband Fred.

    I had a bad cough in January and February just like I had in 2009.  My cough was pertussis this time, not a chest cold.  This time it was my ribs that broke from explosive coughs, instead from metastasis as Fred’s had.

    This winter I felt I had to finish my memoir, so while coughed I wrote.  I tied together the story that I have been working on for five years.  This past week it became available on Amazon and it is called The Writing on the Wall.   I had wondered why I felt so frantic about quickly finishing my book on the importance of patient data access, but I have learned not to question such feelings.  I just act on them.

    Then I went to HIMSS15 in Chicago.  Then I heard CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) was considering cutting a key measure that affected patients in Meaningful Use Stage 2.  Facilities and Providers complained that they were not able to ensure 5% of patients would view, download or transmit their data in the Meaningful Use Stage 2 reporting window.  Anyway, they assured CMS, patients did not want access anyway.  So CMS proposed gutting the legislation, removing the 5% requirement and replacing it with literally “1” patient. (more…)

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    “I will not stop until we have the right to see our own information” – Part 2

    The post below original ran May 21 on Ted Eytan’s blog.Ted was one of our very first Men of the Month. See his March 2009 Man of the Month post here.

    This is the scene in which I encountered @ReginaHolliday yesterday

    Regina Holliday Paint In 55551

    That’s her with others, in front of the imposing low-rise brutalistic structure of the Hubert H Humphrey Building which is the headquarters of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (@HHSgov). (more…)

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    Data Independence Day Series

    my dataOur posts this week will all focus on health data and individuals right to access it in honor of “Data Independence Day”. Data Independence Day initiated by Former National Health IT Coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari (you will hear more from him later this week) is a movement that will come to a head on July 4 when the Get My Health Data effort launches. The movement is focused on consumers demanding electronic access to their health information. It began when patient advocates responded to the recently loosened rules governing the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program. In April, CMS announced it was changing the provision that requires eligible providers to prove that five percent of EHR users have viewed, downloaded, or transmitted information contained in their patient portal. The change, eligible providers now only need to prove that “equal to or greater than 1” patient has interacted with their record. You can see why patient advocates were outraged. (more…)

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    All women are health workers

    Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

    How women define health Center for Talent Innovation

    The following post originally ran on Health Populi on May 26. See the original post here.

    The spiritual and emotional top the physical in women’s definition of “health,” based on a multi-country survey conducted in Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK and the U.S.

    The Power of the Purse, a research project sponsored by the Center for Talent Innovation, underscores women’s primary role as Chief Medical Officers in their families and social networks. The research was sponsored by health industry leaders including Aetna, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cardinal Health, Eli Lilly and Company, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, MetLife, Pfizer, PwC, Strategy&, Teva, and WPP. (more…)


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    TBT: Birth Control and the Obama Adminstration

    Sally Greenberg

    The ACA requires insurance companies cover quite a few women’s health services at no additional cost beyond premiums. But two new studies found that insurance plans around the country are not providing many of these services including birth control. Today’s TBT post (which originally ran in February 2012) is a reminder of why birth control should be covered. For more information on the recent studies read this Kaiser Health News article.

    This has been a tumultuous week for the politics surrounding women and their reproductive choices. We support women’s right to reproductive health care as an overall good practice for women’s health. Providing women access to birth control should not be a political issue, though it seems to be. Contraception has proven health benefits both for women and their children. Controlling the frequency of pregnancies can prevent a range of complications that can endanger a woman’s health, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and placental problems, among others. Also, women who wait for a period of time after delivery to conceive again lower the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes, including low birth weight, pre-term birth, and small-for-size gestational age. Contraception means healthier mothers and families. (more…)

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    “What If 1 Million Americans Asked for Medical Records on the Same Day?”

    Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

    farzadThe following post ran yesterday on Health Populi, see the original post here.

    This was not a theoretical question Dr. Farzad Mostashari, former head of the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT in the Department of Health and Human Services, asked yesterday at the closing keynote of Day 1 of the Patient Engagement Forum.

    Dr. Mostashari issued a challenged to the community of mischief-makers in health/tech patient advocacy: tell everyone you know to contact their doctors — by phone, email, patient portal, or in-person, on one designated day which he called a “Day of Action.”

    Health IT journalist Neil Versel (disclosure: also a long-time friend in the field) covered this news story here in MedCity News.

    In the meantime, here is my (abridged) transcript of Dr. M’s talk, thanks to my note-taking skills. My own words are between carrots <> to provide additional context. (more…)

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    The Affordable Care Act As New-Business Creator

    Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

    The following post ran yesterday, March 19 on Health Populi.

    While there’s little evidence that the short-term impact of the Affordable Care Act has limited job growth or driven most employers to drop health insurance plans, the ACA has spawned a “cottage industry” of health companies since 2010, according to PwC.

    PwC-Cottage-Industry-due-to-ACA-300x226As the ACA turned five years of age, the PwC Health Research Institute led by Ceci Connolly identified at least 90 newcos addressing opportunities inspired by the ACA:

    • Supporting telehealth platforms between patients and providers, such as Vivre Health
    • Educating consumers, such as the transparency provider HealthSparq does
    • Streamlining operations to enhance efficiency, the business of Cureate among others
    • Connecting patients and physicians, like SmartPatients and Doximity do
    • Offering health and wellness benefits that complement health plans on the marketplaces, like the novel health plan Oscar does
    • Developing new payment and care delivery models, including Iora Health
    • Performing big data analytics, such as Human API does. (more…)


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    Digital health love – older people who use tech like health-tech, too

    Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

    The following post ran on March 4th on Health Populi.

    As people take on self-service across all aspects of daily living, self-care in health is growing beyond the use of vitamins/minerals/supplements, over-the-counter meds, and trying out the blood-pressure cuff in the pharmacy waiting for a prescription to be filled. Today, health consumers the world over have begun to engage in self-care using digital technologies. And this isn’t just a phenomenon among people in the Millennial generationMost seniors who regularly use technology (e.g., using computers and mobile phones) are also active in digitally tracking their weight, for example, learned in a survey by Accenture.Seniors18

    Older people who use technology in daily living (say, for entertainment or financial management) are keen to use tech for health, too. Specifically, illustrated in the infographic, Accenture found that:

    • 2 in 3 older people want to use self-care technology to manage their health
    • 3 in 5 older people are willing to track vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure via a digital device (more…)


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    What Do Women Know About Obamacare That Men Don’t?

    Susan-DentzerThe post below originally ran on The Health Care Blog. Susan Dentzer is one of Disruptive Women’s 2015 Women to Watch, read the post and you will see why!

    For the second year running, more women than men have signed up for coverage in health insurance marketplaces during open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, enrollment ran 56 percent female, 44 percent male, during last year’s open enrollment season; preliminary data from this year shows enrollment at 55 percent female, 45 percent male – a 10 percentage point difference.

    What gives? An HHS spokeswoman says the department can’t explain most of the differential. Females make up about 51 percent of the U.S. population, but there is no real evidence that, prior to ACA implementation, they were disproportionately more likely to be uninsured than men – and in fact, some evidence indicates that they were less likely to be uninsured than males. (more…)

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    Disruptive Women & Service join forces: Care for Military & Veteran Women Series

    stodder headshot DCWe are grateful to Disruptive Women in Health Care for giving us a platform to present solutions to the range of obstacles faced by women who serve. In the posts we will introduce highly informed contributors with an eye toward solutions. The writers will be military and veteran women as well as all those who care about them and for them.

    Patricia Lee Stotter, a multiple award winning composer, addresses all issues of health care, and has created the opportunity for this collaboration. As co-producer of the Emmy award-winning film, “Service: When Women Come Marching Home”, Stotter threw herself into creating social media bridging many gaps and bringing women together. Whether working on Sesame Street or suicide prevention, Stotter is all about the right voice at the right time, creating strategic partnerships to lift the voices of the disenfranchised. (more…)

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