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Posts tagged ‘California’

Terri Schiavo’s Family Joins Fight for Teen on Life Support.


A foundation started on behalf of Terri Schiavo, whose case sparked a national right-to-die debate, says it’s been secretly helping the family of of a 13-year-old brain dead California girl fight to keep her on life support.

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network said in a statement it’s been involved in the case of Jahi McMath in “relative silence,” as her family searched for a long-term care facility to care for her.

McMath’s family says it found a facility in New York; doctors at Children’s Hospital Oakland assert there’s no hope for her recovery. She was declared brain dead after complications from a routine tonsillectomy Dec. 12.

“Together with our team of experts, Terri’s Network believes Jahi’s case is representative of a very deep problem within the U.S. healthcare system — particularly those issues surrounding the deaths of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life,” the foundation said.

Schiavo’s case sparked a national debate in the ’90s as doctors, lawyers and family members battled over whether to remove Schiavo’s feeding tube. She died in 2005, nearly two weeks after doctors removed the device.

In the foundation statement about McMath, Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo’s brother and executive director of the organization, noted: “Families and individuals must make themselves aware of what so-called ‘brain death’ is and what it is not. Every person needs to understand that medical accidents happen every day. Families and individuals must be more aware of the issue of accountability and patient rights.”

On Tuesday, a judge extended Jahi’s life support an hour before a federal court order keeping the hospital from unhooking her was set to expire. The deadline was extended to Jan. 7.

McMath family lawyer Christopher Dolan said Wednesday he’s fighting for a tracheostomy for Jahi.

“However, many surgeons and hospital administrators are on holiday making our goal difficult to reach,” he said in a statement posted on the foundations website.

“If Children’s Hospital Oakland would perform the procedure we could quickly move Jahi to a facility that provides innovative world-class treatments, of the type being given to Prime Minister Sharon in Israel.”

Dolan pleaded for a specialist to step forward “and give this mother the choice and this child a chance.”

Children’s Hospital Oakland declared last week it “does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice,” ABC News reported.

Omari Sealey, Jahi’s uncle, said Wednesday the family still hopes to move her to another facility, CNN reported.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Obamacare Forces End of Year Rush on Medical Procedures.


As 2013 draws to a close many patients are scrambling to complete medical procedures at facilities they will be ineligible to use in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.

According to The Wall Street Journal, concern over anticipated higher deductibles in 2014 is also contributing to the spike in last-minute demand.

Some prestigious medical centers and specialists are not available under insurance plans offered under Obamacare, and many doctors have chosen not to take part in the system, the Journal reported Sunday.

Some 40 percent of participating physicians at Blue Shield of California, for example, have dropped out because they do not want to accept the lower rates prescribed by the new plans. UCLA‘s Ronald Reagan teaching hospital and its affiliated facilities will also be dropped under some Blue Shield of California plans, the Journal reported.

Overall, according to the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., 70 percent of plans under Obamacare will offer a comparatively narrower range of provider options than had been available.

The end of year “boomlet,” as the Journal called it, in doctor visits and procedures was noticeable around the country as scores of patients pushed up elective surgeries, preventive colonoscopies and various scans. Thomas Priselac, the chief executive of Cedars-Sinai Health System, reported “a big spike in December.”

Americans will be able to purchase plans that replicate existing coverage but often at significantly greater cost, the Journal also noted.

Some healthy people will face unwelcome surprises as they become aware of the limitations imposed by their new coverage.

“We have a lot of people who aren’t sick yet, don’t need any procedures and will have a rude awakening when they realize they don’t have access to the providers they want,” Joanne Conroy, chief health care officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, told the Journal.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Elliot Jager

Latinos Shun Obamacare Over Deportation Fears.


Image: Latinos Shun Obamacare Over Deportation Fears

Elva Garcia gets help signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care act at a Miami Enrollment Assistance Centeron December 23, 2013 in Miami, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Latinos are wary of signing up for Obamacare because of fears that the information they provide might be used to deport them or members of their family.

“They’re scared,” Ledy Ordonez, 43, who lives in Fremont, Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle. She has a clothing and jewelry stand at a farmer’s market in Oakland. “They’re afraid if they put in an application for their children … they’ll get deported.”

While enrollment figures are not available yet from the Obama administration, healthcare advocates say fewer Hispanics are enrolling in the Affordable Care Act because of such concerns.

“These families are just very fearful whether it’s true or not,” Hilda Martinez, a manager for the California Endowment‘s “Get Covered” campaign, told the National Journal. “We don’t have any reason to doubt the administration.”

California Endowment has spent millions of dollars on outreach efforts in Spanish. With such a large Hispanic population, many in California would rather risk health issues than deportation, the Journal reports.

More than 1.9 million illegal immigrants have been deported since President Barack Obama took office, including more than 368,000 people this fiscal year, according to the Journal, even though that is down from 409,000 in fiscal 2012.

About 397,000 illegals were deported in fiscal 2011.

In addition, more than 52 million Hispanics live in the United States, making up one of the youngest, fastest-growing demographics in the country.

Talks on immigration reform have stalled in Washington, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has provided assurances by letter that any information submitted with Obamacare applications would not be used for enforcement purposes.

That’s not enough, Daniel Zingale, California Endowment’s senior vice president, told the Chronicle. “I think something from the president himself would be helpful,” he said.

“There’s this fear in the community that isn’t just going to go away with a letter,” Martinez told the Journal.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Todd Beamon

Next Big Obamacare Shock May Come at Tax Time.


People who use subsidies to help pay for their Obamacare policies may get a nasty shock at tax time, when the Internal Revenue Service could hit them with a big demand to repay the money.

While it’s in the law, it’s still likely to make plenty of Obamacare subscribers angry at the IRS.

“If I were the IRS, I would be very concerned that I’m going to be viewed as the villain when people have to pay back money the government gave them for health insurance,” says Chris Condeluci, who served as Senate Finance Committee GOP tax counsel when Obamacare was being drafted.

According to the tax code, insurance buyers must be sure to alert insurance exchanges to life changes that affect their incomes through the year, reports Politico.

A new job, promotion, or anything that causes income to go up could result in a demand to return the tax credits, if the life change isn’t reported, according to the new rules.

Recipients who lose income could get a tax refund when next year’s taxes are calculated in 2015, but more likely, they’ll get a bill. For example, in California, 38 percent of people who get tax credits to pay for their healthcare are expected to get bills totalling more than $850 each if they don’t report income changes.

Editor’s Note: 22 Hidden Taxes and Fees Set to Hit You With Obamacare. Read the Guide to Protect Yourself. 

Many people, instead of having to cough up the money for the bill, instead will see smaller income tax returns, said University of California Berkeley professor Ken Jacobs, who co-wrote a study on the issue for healthaffairs.org.

Taxpayers can choose to pay the full price for their Obamacare policies and then collect refunds for the tax credits they passed up when tax time rolls around. However, many people choose to take the tax credits when picking insurance plans to help absorb the costs.

Midyear changes are often favorable to taxpayers, however, said Theresa Pattara, director of tax policy and practice for H&R Block. But with the Obamacare exchanges, events that change an income, such as a pay raise, must be reported personally. Many people are not used to doing that because employers usually handle adjusting workers’ taxes after they get a raise.

But not all taxpayers will have to pay back all the money. Those within 200 percent of the poverty line will have their repayments capped at $300 per person and $600 per family, an amount that increases until one is at 400 percent of the poverty line, for a maximum of $1,250 per person and $2,500 per family.

Those who earn more than 400 percent of the poverty level, or $45,900 per person and $94,000 for a family of four, could have to repay their entire tax credit.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Medicare Paying out Billions for Improper Hospice Care.


Over the past decade, the number of people discharged alive from hospice care has soared, partly because hospice firms are enrolling patients who are not actually dying, a Washington Post investigation has found.

These patients, whose care is paid for largely by Medicare, are more profitable since they require fewer visits and remain enrolled for longer, according to the Post.

Editor’s NoteObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?

The Post’s analysis focused on hospice industry records in California, which showed that the proportion of patients released alive from hospice care rose roughly 50 percent between 2002 and 2012, while the average length of stay jumped substantially as well.

Profit per patient quintupled over that time, reaching $1,975, the records showed. Medicare reportedly pays about $150 a day per Hospice patient for routine care, whether or not the Hospice company sends out a nurse or health care worker.

According to MedPACthe Medicare watchdog created to advise Congress, that financial incentive could be costing billions of dollars a year. In 2011, MedPAC found that nearly 60 percent of Medicare’s expenditure of $13.8 billion on hospice services went to patients who received care for longer than six months.

MedPAC has recommended reforming hospice payments in order to eliminate the incentive for improper care, according to the Post. But so far, no reform steps have been taken.

Meanwhile, four of the 10 biggest for-profit hospice companies in the country, including AseraCare and Vitas, have reportedly been sued by whistleblowers for allegedly taking in patients who did not need hospice care.

And in May, the Justice Department joined in, filing suit against Vitas, the country’s biggest hospice provider, alleging false Medicare billings.

“The Medicare hospice benefit is intended to provide patients nearing the end of life with pain management and other palliative care to make them as comfortable as possible,” said Stuart F. Delery, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“Too often, however, we hear reports of companies that abuse this critical service by using aggressive marketing tactics to push patients into services they don’t need in order to get higher reimbursements from the government.”

AseraCare and Vitas have reportedly denied all of the allegations made in the cases.

Editor’s Note: Weird Trick Adds $1,000 to Your Social Security Checks 

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Lisa Barron

Federal Court: No Halt to Gay Marriages in Utah.


A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that gay marriages can continue in Utah, denying a request from the state to halt same-sex weddings until the appellate process plays out.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state’s request for an emergency stay of a federal judge’s ruling that found Utah’s same-sex-marriage ban violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights.

The judge who made that ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Shelby, refused the state’s first request to put a halt to the marriages Monday.

Utah’s last chance to temporarily stop the marriages would be the U.S. Supreme Court.

The appellate ruling means county clerks can continue to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians. Nearly 700 gay couples have obtained marriage licenses since Friday, with most coming in the state’s most populous county.

Utah is the 18th state where gay couples can wed, and the sight of same-sex marriages occurring just a few miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church has provoked anger among the state’s top leaders.

“Until the final word has been spoken by this Court or the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Utah’s marriage laws, Utah should not be required to enforce Judge Shelby’s view of a new and fundamentally different definition of marriage,” the state wrote in a motion to the appeals court.

Shelby’s decision to strike down a law passed by voters in 2004 drew attention, given Utah’s long-standing opposition to gay marriage and its position as headquarters for the Mormon church.

It’s estimated that nearly two-thirds of Utah’s 2.8 million residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon church’s official name, and Mormons dominate the state’s legal and political circles.

The Mormon church was one of the leading forces behind California’s short-lived ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, which voters approved in 2008.

The church said Friday it stands by its support for “traditional marriage” and hopes a higher court validates its belief that marriage is only between a man and woman.

In court Monday, Utah attorney Philip Lott repeated the words “chaotic situation” to describe what has happened in Utah since clerks started allowing gay weddings. He urged the judge to “take a more orderly approach than the current frenzy.”

“Utah should be allowed to follow its democratically chosen definition of marriage,” he said of the 2004 gay marriage ban.

That confusion stretched to county clerks in Utah, some of whom were refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples even though they could face legal consequences for not doing so.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office warned counties they could be held in contempt of federal court if they refuse to issue the licenses.

A spokesman for the office, Ryan Bruckman, said it was not giving legal guidance to clerks’ offices.

In the meantime, state agencies have begun trying to sort out how gay marriages may affect state services.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s office sent a letter to state agencies Tuesday advising them to comply with the judge’s ruling or consult the Utah Attorney General’s Office if the ruling conflicts with other laws or rules.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services, which administers programs such as food stamps and welfare, is recognizing the marriages of gay couples when they apply for benefits, spokesman Nic Dunn told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

It’s unclear whether Utah will allow married same-sex couples to jointly file their state income tax returns next year, as they will be able to do for federal returns.

Charlie Roberts, a spokesman for the Utah State Tax Commission, said the agency still needs to consult the Utah Attorney General’s Office about the issue.

In October, the commission stipulated that because Utah did not recognize same-sex marriages, same-sex couples who had married out of state could not file jointly in Utah.

The state income tax forms do not currently require filers to specify gender, so it’s possible same-sex couples could have already filed jointly in previous years, but Roberts said the commission had never been aware of such a case.

The legal wrangling over the topic will likely continue for months. The 10th Circuit likely will hear the full appeal of the case several months from now.

Even if the 10th Circuit grants a stay or overturns the ruling, legal analyst say the marriage licenses that already have been issued probably will remain valid.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Hillary Clinton: ‘I Haven’t Made Up My Mind’ on 2016.


Image: Hillary Clinton: 'I Haven't Made Up My Mind' on 2016

By Lisa Barron

Hillary Clinton says she has not yet decided whether to make another bid for the White House in 2016.

“I haven’t made up my mind. Obviously, I will look carefully at what I think I can do and make that decision sometime next year,” Clinton told Barbara Walters Wednesday night on the ABC News special “Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2013.”

“It’s such a difficult decision, and it’s one that I’m not going to rush into . . . and I don’t think we should be looking at the next election,” she continued. “I think we should be looking at the work that we have today. Our unemployment rate is too high. We have people getting kicked off food stamps who are in terrible economic straits. Small business is not getting credit.

“I could go on and on, so I think we ought to pay attention to what’s happening right now,” added Clinton, whom Walters has named her “most fascinating person of 2013.”

As for what her husband, former president Bill Clinton, wants her to do, the former secretary of state said, “He wants me to do what I think is right.”

Whether or not that means running for president, Clinton does think there should be a woman in the Oval Office.

“It matters. It matters because we have half the population that has given so much to building this country, to making it work, raising children and, of course, I want to see women eventually in the White House.”

While Clinton claims not to have made up her mind yet, her supporters have clearly made up theirs.

Ready for Hillary, a super PAC aimed at building support for a potential 2016 run, ispulling out all the stops, increasing the number of fundraisers and informational meetings, reports CNN. In the past several days, the political action committee has organized events promoting a Clinton candidacy across the country, from California to Washington, D.C.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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