Monday Health Blog Roundup
by The Opportunity Agenda, Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 11:31:13 AM EDT
- The Washington Post reports that the government's reckless overspending over the last few years, is now directly affecting the health of America's disabled and elderly. The Republican-led Congress of 2003 created a "doughnut hole" in drug benefit coverage in order to make it more affordable for the federal government. Nearly 3.4 billion people were affected in 2007, having to pay the entire cost of their medication until they spent, out of pocket, $3,850. Many people in Medicare have diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions. The result? 15 percent stopped taking their medications when forced to pay for the entirety of their prescriptions. For example, 10 percent of diabetes patients stopped buying their medication, while 16 percent of high blood pressure patients and 18 percent of osteoporosis patients stopped as well.
- In its opinion section, USA Today has a posting by a primary care physician, blogging at www.kevinmd.com. He writes about Medicare's call for a formula that would have regular decreases of more than 20% in physicians' payments by 2010. Medicare hopes to curb the exorbitant expenses of the US health care system which now exceeds $2 trillion annually and is the most expensive system in the world. But cutting doctor's pay by 20%, according to the author, would only cut spending by 2%, and would only drive doctors away from caring for Medicare patients. For example, in states like Texas, the number of physicians NOT accepting Medicare exceeds 40%.
- The Kaiser Family Foundation's blog reports on a story that appeared in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on how HIV/AIDS advocates from Georgia, craft messages towards "urban, white, gay men" whereas "black, rural, women and young people" are the group that are at high-risk for acquiring HIV/AIDS in Georgia. In 2006, blacks comprised 30% of the state's population, yet 71% of the state's HIV/AIDS population.
- Texas' Rio Grande Valley Region may be a microcosm for a potential trend in a diabetes outbreak for the U.S.'s growing Hispanic population. Written up in The Monitor on August 18, the Rio Grande Valley region has a diabetes rate three times the national rate. According to the chair-elect of the American Diabetes Association, "Hispanics, American Indians and blacks have a higher prevalence of the disease than other ethnic groups," while Texas state Senator Eddie Lucio said, "as many as half of minority youth across the nation will develop diabetes at some point in their lives." This statistic is compared to 8% of people nationwide that have diabetes. Moreover, the region's medical expenses associated with diabetes neared $1.5 billion in 2007, while such costs were $74 billion nationally in the same year. It is believed that lack of access to healthy food options is a primary factor causing this spike in cases.