SUICIDE AMONG THE STARS

Mental Health/Bipolar Disorder/Suicide
by – Sheri de Grom

Our world shook this past week with collective sadness. We didn’t want to believe what we’d heard. Robin Williams’ suicide should not have happened.

There were brief moments in time when Robin Williams would admit to being bipolar (due to his manic behavior) followed by long stretches of the darkest depression.

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Perhaps his publicist or his wife told the media they wanted no mention of bipolar disorder in the remembrances of this gifted star. For me, a mental health advocate for reform, I see Robin Williams’ tragic death a wasted teachable opportunity. One out of five men with bipolar disorder commits suicide. The general public cannot name two accurate symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Mr. Williams spoke at Mental Health Conferences and at large gatherings of individuals with mental illness diagnoses and never once did I hear or learn later of his hiding behind his disease. He spoke openly and with great humility.

Decades of substance abuse, anxiety, rehab stays and relapses caused him endless self-doubt and shame. These feelings are normal for anyone but Robin Williams was a super star living a public life. Like so many with bipolar disorder, his instant witticism in interviews and stand-up routines were beyond the ability of all others.

It’s well know that a patient misdiagnosed as clinically depressed when they are actually bipolar is a time-bomb waiting to explode. The patient without the proper diagnosis doesn’t receive mood stabilizing medications.

Antidepressants, if prescribed alone for the bipolar patient, rather than with mood stabilizers or anticonvulsants are often a deadly mix.

I witnessed this first hand when my husband was admitted to a mental health unit for the first time on December 7, 1987. Tom was diagnosed as single episode, major depression and prescribed so many antidepressants, he was more a zombie than himself. Tom told me the combination of his medications felt as though he were putting his finger in a light socket each time he swallowed yet another one and it activated.

It was impossible for me to know who Tom would be from one hour to the next. He’d think nothing of spending $10,000 for gold and precious gems for a jewelry design he’d sketched without any idea of which market he’d be able to place the piece in and for the highest price.

Tom ordered the $10,000 in materials one day when he was manic and two days later when he’d already moved into a depression so deep he couldn’t get out of bed, the materials arrived and I’d once again lock them in the safe for a day when he might remember the design he ordered them for.

Sixty-five percent of all diagnosed bipolar individuals are also addicts per the Menninger Institute. The individuals will do anything to escape the hell the disease causes.

Tom is not an addict as most people define it with drugs or alcohol. When Tom is manic, he spends money as if however much he spends, it will be instantly replaced by some magical means. Spending money is Tom’s drug of choice.

Robin Williams said in an NPR clip, “Do I perform sometimes in a, in a manic style? Yes. Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah. Oh yeah.”

All too often a patient with a set medical regiment will be doing so well, they decide to take a “drug holiday.” They don’t like the side effects of the drugs: weight gain, feeling sluggish, dry mouth, numbed feelings and for the artist, lack of creativity.

Not being creative is enough to make most any artist stop what they perceive to be the problem and relapse into old behavior that’s familiar and they can control.

Early in our marriage, a piece of Tom’s blown glass won first in show at the Monterey, CA Museum of Art. The award was equally prestigious as he was still active duty military and world-renowned glass blowers had entered the competition.

Tom's Blown Glass

Tom’s Blown Glass

A friend of ours made a comment I didn’t place much meaning on at the time, but I’ve thought about it numerous times since the event. At the reception to honor the artists, our friend approached us and said, “Tom, congratulations. You do your best work when you are depressed.”

Nearly one-third of those who kill themselves visit a physician in the week before they die, and more than a half do so in the month prior to committing suicide.

The media reported that Robin Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This is not an unusual diagnosis when an individual has taken medication for bipolar disorder for many years. The symptoms of the bipolar disordered individual mimic Parkinson’s disease and are misdiagnosed time and time again.

Tom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease for two years and was prescribed medication wherein one of the medications main side-effects is suicidal behavior. Once all of the medications, to include his psych medications were taken away, the symptoms for Parkinson’s disease disappeared.

Parkinson’s disease is the same as bipolar disorder in that there aren’t any blood tests or other definitive tools for diagnosis. Both diseases are diagnosed from a set of symptoms.

It’s critical the mentally ill patient have an advocate who honestly cares about the care they receive. Misdiagnosis causes more harm than the diseases themselves.

The great majority of people who experience a mental illness do not die by suicide. However, of those who die from suicide, more than 90 percent have a diagnosable mental disorder.

Thank you for reading with me and being concerned for everyone facing the challenges of mental illness in today’s world.

 

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All About Mihran

sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.:

Aina has created a tribute to one of the kindest individuals I’ve had the pleasure of meeting since joining the blogging world. His willingness to support and urge many of us makes life that much simpler. I consider myself blessed to know Mihran, a remarkable friend to all bloggers.

Originally posted on Lyrics, Sentiments and Me:

All About Mihran

I have blogged for years now. But I never met a man as gentle and kind as Mihran Kalaydjian. Because aside from the fact that he had been so generous reblogging my posts, there was this one very warm conversation I had with him.

When I posted my condolences to our dear Ajaytao, I made Mihrank cry that day. Although I was worried if I made him cry because I wrote bad; or I wrote something for Oscar’s (coz I do have the tendency for drama), but I was really touched with his honest sentiment. Coz Mihran never met Ajay, yet he shed a tear for him. He even asked me “Why am I crying, Aina?” I told him, “It’s because Mihran, you’re a gentleman with a very big heart and beautiful soul.” And so we were both crying in the end.

And I mean those words up to…

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THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FACES A BRAIN DRAIN

One Woman’s Opinion
by – Sheri de Grom

 

A congressional committee has recommended federal senior government executives be required to remain in place if recruitment of a replacement is considered difficult. Federal agency leadership (the hired, not the appointed ones) is facing a brain drain and Congress is largely to blame.

It’s understandable that there’s a significant shortage of qualified top managers. There’s been a 36% increase in departures from Senior Executive Service since 2009. It’s become more and more difficult to groom a replacement in federal service than in private sector positions.

A Senior Executive may lose their job if they are even suspected of training someone for their position. A Senior Executive may announce their departure months in advance but the announcement of a new position and the recruitment process cannot begin until the position is vacated. Critical positions remain open for months, sometimes years and are often never filled.

The largest driver of senior executives out of government has been age. Nearly 80 percent of departing SES employees since 2009 was voluntary, non-early retirees.

One in five, however, left through early retirement or resignation.

Senior executives told researchers the financial crisis, pay compensation, award suspension and sequester were major factors that drove them out of federal service.

Senior Executive Employees know nothing will happen this year as congress remains in gridlock. Gridlock is bad, especially if you want action. But if you are the chosen sacrificial lamb, aka a career federal civil servant, gridlock has a certain appeal. If congress can’t or won’t do anything good for you, they also can’t do anything bad to you.

Ultimately, extending the tenure of retirement-eligible managers while mentoring and training new talent will reduce productivity during any transition period.

As with most changes brought about by congress for the federal workforce or the military, it will be too little too late.

It’s difficult for a government employee at any level to think generously about members of congress when it’s public knowledge that the leaders making the employees’ lives miserable are going home to plush accommodations as they leave their offices.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid props his feet up at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. While he may get a discounted rate, the cost per night at the Ritz starts at $649 and goes up to $810. Assuming the senator pays $3,000/weekly, that’s more than his take-home pay. Where does the money come from for such a lavish life-style for a ‘man of the people?’ His personal fortune? Do the taxpayers of Nevada believe Senator Harry Reid is so worthy as to pick up the tab for his living at the Ritz?

While Senator Reid is relaxing, you may take a tour of the Ritz at http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/WashingtonDC/PhotoTourPop.htm I can’t blame the Senator for loving the Ritz. I love the opulence, the charm and the feeling of no worries upon stepping through the gilded doorway.

Some say the Senator owns a condo at the Ritz. Oh, my heart be still.

Speaker of the House, John Boehner

Speaker of the House, John Boehner

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House John Boehner has long denied that his perpetual tan skin color is the result of sunless tanning. He just spends a lot of time outdoors; the Ohio Republican is known to say. If Speaker Boehner spends so much time out-of-doors, when does he have time to work?

Despite Boehner’s repeated denials of using tanning beds, he does have ties to the industry. Not only has he accepted campaign contributions from a group called the Indoor Tanning Association, Boehner lives in a D.C. apartment owned by a lobbyist for the American Suntanning Association.

In recent years, federal workers have been a primary target of deficit-fighters. The White House and Congress imposed the pay freeze, created the furloughs and shutdowns and are in agreement that feds should kick in more toward their retirement, and that future cost-of-living adjustments for retirees (federal, military and Social Security) should be trimmed, a tad, by using a new inflation-measuring yardstick.

In addition to raising retirement costs for current feds, there is talk and plans to eliminate the defined-benefit portion of the federal retirement package for future hires.

Many long-time feds, who have lived with cutback plans going back to the 1980s, have learned to grin and bear it. Lots of relative newcomers remain nervous. People who said that sequestration would never happen were proved wrong.

The good-news-bad-news (which is often the same thing when talking about political outcomes) is that Congress isn’t likely to do anything this year. They’ll focus all energy to see that everybody in Congress who wants to stay in the House or Senate stays in the House or Senate.

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SHIFTING THE COST OF EMERGENCY ROOM CARE TO YOU

Medical 2014
by – Sheri de Grom

The telephone startled her. She didn’t recognize the number but today had to be the day she’d break her rule and answer. The official sounding voice was one she’d never heard before. Without preamble, he told her his name and confirmed hers. He also confirmed her relationship to a patient he had in the emergency room of the local medical center.

Before she could ask questions, the voice on the phone was gone. She had questions: what, how, when, why an ambulance. Thank God she’d already had her shower and hurried to find jeans, sweater, run a comb through her hair, grab her purse and she was gone. Gone to the emergency room. Sheer panic had set in and she moved into auto-pilot.

How could it be? He’d been his usual cheerful, energetic self as he’d left the house that morning.

When she arrived at the Emergency Room (ER) the staff explained that her husband had passed out at work and so far, there was no known reason why.

A clerk interrupted, “Do you have your insurance cards with you?” Payment is at the front of every hospital’s mission in today’s economy.

She was advised that the specialists were running tests and she could have a seat in the waiting room.

What would happen to her if she screamed, “No, the only thing I want is my healthy husband, the man I love.” That wouldn’t happen now and she settled into a hard plastic chair in defeat.

It seemed she’d waited hours but it’d actually been less than two. Two hours with her guts turning over and over and a hammer in her head that refused to stop. It banged her front temporal lobe a million times a minute. She was sure of it.

Finally, someone from the ER staff asked her to join them and said, “The doctor will speak with you now.”

Unfortunately, she learned nothing other than her husband passed out at work, numerous tests had been completed, and nothing conclusive explained the incident. He was now resting but the doctor thought he’d be more comfortable if her husband stayed a while longer to ensure his stability.

She nodded her head yes and signed more papers. She didn’t want to take chances and agreed to a new strategy in emergency care (although she wasn’t aware that’s what was happening).

This new movement in emergency care is shifting the cost of expensive emergency care rates away from hospitals, Medicare, Medicaid and all commercial insurance companies. Patients are classified as ‘short-stay emergency department inpatients.’

National data collected by researchers at the School of Medicine at Perelman in December 2013, suggested that keeping selected patients under observation in a dedicated hospital unit with defined protocols could yield hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings for everyone but the patient. More often than not, the patient doesn’t understand the hidden cost of being transferred to observation status until a large charge appears on their statement.

The ‘kept for observation’ status has been a topic of controversy for Medicare patients for years, and in 2012 an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General found inconsistency between hospitals in how they determined whether a patient was admitted or kept under observation. For Medicare patients, such ‘observation stays’ are associated with higher out-of-pocket care costs and a lower likelihood that nursing home care will be covered.

Please be aware, any time you or a loved one is moved from a dedicated Emergency Room Department to an Observational Unit, there will likely be a reduced amount in what any insurance company is willing to pay.

This shift in cost for emergency care affects all patients. It is not exclusive to Medicare and Medicaid. I encourage you to read your health insurance policy carefully.

Any stay in a hospital beyond 24 hours is considered an admission to your insurance company but you may remain on observational status per the hospital. It is a catch-22 for the individual responsible for the account.

Many same-day surgeries result in observational status (i.e. the recovery room). However, if surgical complications or recovery from anesthesia occur, the surgery patient is placed in out-patient observation status.

Please be aware, any time you or a loved one are moved from the dedicated Emergency Room Department to an Observational Unit, your cost may be higher than expected.

          The entire financial burden could be yours.

 

 

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Victims of Domestic Violence Shouldn’t Be Made Victims to Guns

sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.:

There aren’t many things I can think of that equal the fear of being stalked. I experienced this fear first hand during the time I lived and worked in DC. My work was not to make friends but neither did I plan to encounter individuals believing they had nothing left to lose if they returned to prison because they shot me. Responsible gun ownership is a must if our nation is to become civilized on any level. It’s the criminal with the guns and not the mentally ill that need heightened regulation on gun ownership. Yes, some mentally ill slide through the cracks but nothing closely related to the criminal element in today’s society.

Originally posted on The Secular Jurist:

Courtesy of americansforresponsiblesolutions.org

Courtesy of americansforresponsiblesolutions.org

By Tanya (a Secular Jurist author)

I recently received this message in an email from a group called Americans for Responsible Solutions, of which I am a member. It was started by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband to fight for gun control laws:

Victims of domestic violence and stalking are at an unacceptable risk of gun violence. In fact, 30.5% of people in New York killed by their intimate partners were murdered with a gun.That number is unacceptable.

But there’s a bill in Congress that will make it much more difficult for convicted stalkers and abusers to own a gun. Next week, for the first time in history, the Senate will hold a hearing on the links between gun violence and domestic violence.

People need to know the harsh realities of guns and domestic violence if we’re going to change the law. As it stands, the…

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HEALTH CARE FRAUD

Medical 2014BLOG - FRAUD - MEDICAL
by – Sheri de Grom

 

Compiling satisfactory evidence for prosecution of individual(s) committing health care fraud requires thousands of man hours and sheer determination that this time, this one isn’t going to get away. Often it takes years of full-time investigation on one case.

I thought you might be interested in how serious health care fraud must be before it will be considered for prosecution. The following actions occurred in June, 2014 and they represent a small fraction of current cases being worked.

The owners of Elizabethtown Hematology, PLC of Louisville, KY agreed to pay $3,739 to settle false billing to Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and the Federal Employes Health Benefit Program.

Leonard Kibert, MD and four others of Houston, TX were charged in a 47-count indictment alleging a conspiracy to defraud Medicare of $2.9 million. A trial date is pending.

A Los Angeles physician was indicted for a $33 million scheme to defraud Medicare and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. A trial date is pending.

Husband and wife owners of Ohio Ambulance Company were sentenced to prison and ordered to repay $800,000 to Medicaid for transportation services they didn’t actually provide.

Indictment of two Florida scientists for obtaining government research contracting by fraud. Additional charges included wire fraud, identity theft and falsification of records in a federal investigation. If convicted on all counts, each faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in federal prison. The United States is also seeking a money judgment in the amount of $10,000,000 which reflects the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

A Miami Beach osteopathic physician was sentenced to 70 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release as a result of a Medicare fraud scheme. In addition, the judge entered a $1.6 million forfeiture money judgment against the physician and ordered the forfeiture of his Miami Beach residence and a 2002 Mercedes Benz. The doctor is also to pay restitution to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered Omnicare, Inc., the nation’s largest nursing home pharmacy company to pay $124 million to settle allegations involving false billing to federal health care programs. Omnicare, Inc., has agreed to pay $124 million for allegedly offering improper financial incentives to skilled nursing facilities in return for their continued selection of Omnicare to supply drugs to elderly Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

I could list page after page of medical fraud abuse convictions and indictments for June 2014. However, the purpose of this blog is to give you an idea of the size and frequency of fraudulent claims against Medicare and other health care insurance plans before prosecution will be considered.

I’ve seen thousands of cases wherein individual(s) are committing health care fraud on a daily basis, yet the dollars aren’t deemed high enough to qualify assigning a team of agents to investigate the activities in order to press federal charges.

Due diligence is required of every citizen to insure their insurance company is not being gouged by a medical provider and they are using your name in the process. Insurance fraud is the fastest growing criminal activity of white collar crime in the United States.

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GUNS, MENTAL HEALTH, VIOLENCE AND SUICIDE

 

I didn’t know the title of the theme song for the long-running television show MASH, but Tom did. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Tom could name the song, Suicide Is Painless, and sang along with it whenever it played on the radio.

I hadn’t given much thought to suicide before bipolar became a third party in our marriage. Tom and I’d agreed before we married that we didn’t want guns in our home.

I’d grown up with gun racks and loaded rifles in pick-up trucks in rural Kansas. Tom was taught to hunt as an adolescent and obtained sniper status for the military. Thankfully he was never asked to serve in that capacity.

The military was more interested in Tom’s intellect than his shooting ability and that afforded him comfortable working conditions. His military uniform was most often a suit and tie. He served as a key component of the Army’s Organizational Effectiveness Team. Instead of going to the field, his travel consisted of hotels where turn-down service was provided and a chocolate waited on his pillow.

There’s no disputing that mass shooting episodes are horrific. For the purposes of this blog, I’m addressing the 88 gun-related deaths that occur each day in the United States and not the mass shootings.

Of the 88 people that die each day from a gun: 90 percent of those deaths are suicide, a high portion of which are committed by seniors and individuals living in rural areas.

In cities, gun-related deaths are typically homicides. If we want to reduce this number, it comes to reducing gun-related violence on the streets.

Guns and gun legislation are topics we hear about daily. I couldn’t delay updating my research findings any longer. As recently as May 8, 2014 a team of investigative researchers at the American College of Physicians (APC) based all of their policy decision on scientific evidence.

Family doctors and internists have been identified as the first line of defense against both gun violence and suicide. The APC stated, “When it comes to reducing gun-related violence, physicians must play a vital role in making firearm safety a public health issue so that policy and law are based on scientific evidence.”

I’m in agreement with the APC. The United States will never have appropriate gun legislation while it’s tangled in second amendment rights.

The media has played into the mental health status of each mass shooting. We’ve watched them unfold in the news.

We’ve seen serious mental health issues connected to the shootings that should have been addressed years before these tragedies occurred. These incidents should have been no surprise to the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the shooter firing the weapon(s). The behaviors developed in the mind of a psychotic individual do not divulge over night.

Overall the mental health issues surrounding gun violence are in a complex area that requires a nuanced approach.

People with mental illness are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence. Individuals with mental illness who receive appropriate treatment are less likely to commit acts of violence.

Scientific Data Revealed: 32,000 deaths per year are caused by guns (roughly 11,000 to homicides and 19,000 to suicides).

Non-fatal gun-related injuries are more than double that of deaths.

My husband, Tom and I have often talked of the distorted truth regarding bipolar disorder and especially how the disease is misrepresented in the media.

The following facts about mental illness and violence were compiled by the American Psychiatric Association (1994). Fact Sheet: Violence and Mental Illness. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. The Fact Sheet has numerous citations and I’m happy to pass the individual sites on to anyone who’s interested.

FACTS ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS AND VIOLENCE

Fact 1 – The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent.

Fact 2 – The public is misinformed about the link between mental illness and violence.

Fact 3 – Inaccurate beliefs about mental illness and violence lead to widespread stigma    and discrimination.

Fact 4 – The link between mental illness and violence is promoted by the entertainment and news media.

FACTS ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS AND VIOLENCE BY LEADING RESEARCH FACILITIES

“Characters in prime-time television portrayed as having mental illnesses are depicted as the most dangerous of all demographic groups: 60 percent were shown to be involved in crime or violence.” (Mental Health America, 1999)

“The vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illness.” (American Psychiatric Association, 1994)

“The absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is small . . . only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill.” (Mulvey, 1994)

“People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et. al., 2001). People with severe mental illness: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis, are two and one-half times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population.” (Hiday, et. al., 1999)

This blog is the first of a series about Tom’s and my many struggles to keep our home free

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of guns. It should be simple but it’s not. I’ve spoken numerous times in multiple congressional committee meetings about the necessity of protecting the individual who wants to harm him or herself. A data base would not be difficult to set up nation wide and with volunteers such as myself, the data entry would be a free public service. I’ll discuss attempted suicides and how we’ve coped with the situation when it appeared in our lives.

Suicide and attempted suicide are difficult subjects to write about. I understand that sometimes the pain is relentless and there seems no place to turn. I fully understand how suicide can seem the only solution.

Suicide is anything but painless.

 

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“Now? Have you lost your mind?!”

sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.:

This blog written by Huntie at http://chasingrabbitholes.com is one of the best written essays of how we are losing our country one day at a time. Huntie places the issues front and center of what’s happening, how it’s happening and please, can we wake up and do something before it’s too late. I’d planned to post a blog of my own today, but Huntie’s post demanded prompt attention. Might I also suggest you follow this blog. You will not be disappointed. Not only does Huntie have a marvelous intellect but she’s as funny as all get out. Sheri

Originally posted on Chasing Rabbit Holes:

Perhaps you have heard something about illegal children crossing our southern border? More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors and 39,000 women with children have been apprehended on the southern border this year. How to handle this surge? Especially since a law passed in 2008 forbids returning children from non-contiguous countries, i.e., El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which happen to be the three countries most of these children are coming from. This law requires that each case be reviewed to prevent abuse of the children from human trafficking. Imagine the chaos ongoing. Something like 70% our our border patrol are taking care of this constant influx of children. It is not as if the children are sneaking through. No, not all. They walk up and present themselves to the border patrol. President Obama has requested $3.7 Billion to deal with this humanitarian crisis. How much of that proposed $3.7 Billion is to…

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MEDICARE PART D HAS ME WORRIED

Medical 2014
by – Sheri de Grom

The Obama Administration (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) set forth a proposed rule, January 2014. The proposal [Federal Register Vol.79, No 7, Pg1-157] would have brought about broad changes for about 39 million Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

MEDICARE PART D PILLS BOTTLE

The proposed rule would have ended the practice of covering “all or substantially all” drugs within six classes: antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, antineoplastics and immunosuppressants. This policy, known as the “six protected class” policy, has been in effect since the inception of Part D, and has strong congressional support.

Medicare tried to sell the proposal as a way to save taxpayers money and simplify the Part D program for seniors.

The ‘administration’ has indicated they will revisit their proposed plan and will submit a new proposed rule in the future. When the proposed rule is set forth, EVERY CITIZEN has the right to comment.

You do not need to be enrolled in Medicare to comment on any proposed rule set forth. As an American citizen, you’re entitled to express your opinion on every proposed legislative change. A proposal will become law if not enough citizens can support keeping the law as stated in its current format.

The House and Senate advised Medicare to back off and in a letter drafted by Orrin Hatch (R. Utah), clearly placed on record to Medicare that congressional members (both parties) had strong objections to the Medicare Part D proposals and were concerned the changes would disrupt care and unnecessarily interfere with an already successful program.

It’s important to remember the patients qualifying for coverage by Medicare and Part D are not just those over 65 but also those that are disabled and unable to work. This proposed rule would take away the coverage of numerous drugs necessary for mental health treatment.

I’m confident we’ll see further erosion of Medicare Part D. It’s the only plan within Medicare that helps pay for pharmaceuticals and the patient pays the premium and additional co-pays.

Thankfully, Tom and I have my Federal BC/BS and his Tri-Care for Life for our pharmacy coverage. I don’t believe I’d have the sanity to cope with Part D.

David L. Shern, Ph.D, president and CEO of Mental Health America, said, “These policies fail to acknowledge that physicians and consumers should make individualized treatment decisions, recognizing the unique and non-interchangeable nature of human beings and psychotropic medications, and acknowledging that lack of access to medications has both human and fiscal consequences.”

Medicare’s prescription drug program is widely considered to be a Washington success story. However, the Obama administration is proposing a series of significant changes to fix what critics say isn’t broken.

In my opinion, the continued attempts of Medicare administrators to destroy a program that works efficiently (Medicare Part D), is further evidence that our current administration has no one appointed to a cabinet position with ‘real world’ work experience. Their job security has never been threatened by real world performance standards and customer satisfaction.

The nomination of Robert McDonald, to Secretary of Veterans Affairs, former CEO of Proctor and Gamble, is the first executive with actual public leadership ability who understands what it means to be accountable to stockholders. Taxpayers have not had accountability with other cabinet positions.

I expect to see a newly formulated proposed Medicare Part D Rule submitted within the next six months. If you see the proposal before I do, please let me know. I wish to add my comment to the Federal Register plus express my views to elected officials.

What are your thoughts? Have you had success or problems with Medicare, Plan D? There were a significant number of changes with most insurance plans in 2014. Has your insurance changed their pharmacy coverage?

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How Much Is Your Medical IDENTITY Worth?

Medical 2014
by – Sheri de Grom

Few of us think about having our medical identity stolen. The crime of medical identity theft has been happening for years and is rampant today. Most of us are unaware that it’s occurred until something significant happens in our own world of health or our credit rating has crashed.

Medical identity theft is the fraudulent use of another person’s medical identity in order to obtain medical services and medications or to bill a third-party payer such as an insurance company or Medicare and then keep the payment for personal use.

The theft of your medical identity also reveals your social security number, health system ID, driver’s license number, health insurance and other personal information plus critical details a thief can use in multiple ways.

The crime can have long-lasting and dangerous effects, both on your health and your finances. The thief may obtain health services in your name or bill fraudulently for services that, although you never received them, could max out your annual or lifetime insurance limits.

Whether the thief is actually receiving medical treatment or just billing for fictitious treatments in your name, incorrect information—about blood type, diagnoses, or drug allergies, for instance—may infiltrate your medical records as a result.

Collection letters for overdue accounts for an unfamiliar doctor visit or procedure is the most common clue to victims of this crime.

Be vigilant about handling your medical information. Don’t let explanation-of-benefit statements from your insurer sit in a pile of unopened mail. Review them like you would a bank statement or auto repair bill. If you see an unfamiliar procedure, doctor’s name, or service date, call to inquire.

The media tells us when a large number of social security numbers are stolen or when our credit and debit cards are in jeopardy.

Your medical identity will be with you for a lifetime. It is one of your most important assets. Don’t allow someone to steal it from you.

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