Boomers & Medicaid Expansion

ObamacareNow that the Affordable Care Act has been cleared constitutionally by the Supreme Court, it’s up to States individually to decide if they wish to use the monies set aside for expansion of their existing Medicaid programs, or some variation thereof (like subsidizing purchase of regular insurance), to cover low-income individuals who otherwise could not afford health coverage.  Currently, many State programs cover only children & folks on disability.

A number of States have accepted the money; a few States, my own included (Florida), have refused it.  To learn why, I wrote my legislators asking their reasons for turning away those dollars, in our case $51B over 10 years to cover the approximately 1.2M uninsured here; what follows are the reasons, similar to those heard around the nation by others who have refused to participate:

  • By refusing the money, it will go back into the general US treasury and help reduce the deficit (folks for the expansion claim the monies, taken from FL taxpayer dollars, will just be used by other States);
  • We don’t trust the Feds to live up to this stated commitment, so we’re afraid we’ll be on the hook for the expansion when they renege down the line;
  • Our current Medicaid system is terribly dysfunctional, so we don’t want to be forced to expand it.

Hmmmmm…..

Something just didn’t seem right to me, so I fact checked their reasoning; here’s what I discovered:

  • The way the law is written, the monies for it are in a separate fund (not the general treasury), coming from a combination of new taxes on wealthier Americans, fines from companies/individuals who don’t Obamacare factsadhere to it, and projected savings from folks no longer using uncompensated emergency room care, instead using the regular system (less costly) thus improving their health outcomes (also reducing costs); monies refused by States go back into this fund to be used for future health care, not into the general treasury to reduce the deficit nor to other States currently willing to accept these dollars;
  • Although the feds are notorious for their “unfunded mandates” (eg passing a law without dollars behind it for enforcement), the federal government has never stopped paying on its medical obligations (Medicare/Medicaid), nor anything for which funding has been allocated;
  • Many State Medicaid systems are in fact quite poorly run (and so underfunded that no decent doctors will participate) which is why alternatives like subsidizing the purchase of regular insurance is an option that can be permitted (the option forwarded by a FL legislator who believes in using the federal dollars – he’s Republican btw); no State is being compelled to simply expand their current faulty Medicaid system.

Knowing the facts is particularly germane to we Boomers, because many of us are without health insurance, not on disability, and quickly falling into (or already in) the category of adults who qualify for this expansion of State health benefits.  About 8.6 million of us in fact, who were found to be without health insurance according to a special 2009 report by Commonwealth Fund.  As a result of the Great Recession coupled with ever increasing health care costs, Boomers caught between drastically shrinking retirement accounts and high Boomer unemployment (with the lowest rate of re-employment) are the biggest casualties.

So, Boomers – a generation known for its high rates of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity – living in States refusing expansion of more affordable care to a larger number of their citizens, are the group to be hardest hit by such decisions.  Next are our many adult children who are unable to find work offering benefits, in a system that relies solely on such employer-based access for the most affordable coverage.

As you determine your position on this issue, may the facts be with you.

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Simple Yet Effective Healthy Living Tips For Baby Boomers

middle age senior man stretching exercising on sports fieldThose who are nearing retirement will need to pay more attention to their health than they did in years past. Thankfully, living a healthy lifestyle is not overly complicated, although it does take some effort and self-discipline. Following are some simple yet very effective healthy living tips that a person who is getting on in years will want to put into practice.

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What I’ve Learned from My Cats

Here's one of them, Cat - yep, that's his name...

I have two of ’em – and they adopted me.  Both were abused, and then abandoned in my neighborhood, both decided on mine as their new home.  Obviously a good choice, because they’ve been living here for many years, now.

Both are now in fine health and living the good cat life: I am their concierge, feeder of exactly the right foods (or they shall not deign to eat it), back scratcher when they want attention & ignorer when they don’t, etc.

I’ve always been of the opinion that cats serve no useful purpose as companion animals – they don’t:

  • “come when you call” (although mine do sometimes…sort of…)
  • make you feel needed (more like tolerated when you do all of your cat-caring duties properly)
  • act like they care whether you live or die (see bullet #2)

But I have discovered something very important for our human well-being that I learned from them – just noticed it, actually.

When they are in their most relaxed state is when they groom themselves.  And then as a cyclic thing, grooming themselves perpetuates their state of relaxation.

With humans, one of the first outward signs of stress is letting go of our appearance – ignoring our “grooming”…

So, conversely, perhaps one of the best stress-reducers is grooming – whether going for the standard soak in a hot tub, or just taking some time to get (or give yourself) a manicure/pedicure, get your hair done, or taking some extra grooming steps at home as a treat.

Try it…and let me know how it works out!

Worth Reading….and Doing

 

mark bittman food in NY Times

Mark Bittman

I rarely do this, but this piece by Mark Bittman is so well constructed, with solid recommendations for fixing our food supply, that I want to spread his news as far as possible.

Share it with all you know around the world.  In many ways, our lives depend on it.

His article printed in the NY Times.

The Extremists & The Rest of Us…A Fairy Tale…

Once upon a time, in a land that was the mightiest throughout the world, the people in charge known as “Boomers” became very disgruntled and returned to their roots of activism; well, actually, only a small number of them did, but the media made it seem like it was lots & lots of them…

Yes, the protestors, on both sides of the political divide, became very ugly…ooops, uh, vocal… about their unhappiness with many things the rulers of the land were doing, things like:

  • Passing “health care reform” where the peoples’ money was to be used to keep lots & lots of loyal subjects from, well, dying because they couldn’t afford care
  • Or not passing any reform on the practices of big entities called “greed factories”…oops, sorry again, “financial institutions”]
  • Or not addressing a problem called “illegal immigration” whereby millions of people from other lands could sneak in without permission & get work, a  place to live, healthcare, and generally act like they belonged there…

The most well known protestors were called “tea partiers” (not because they were much for partying or tea…but that is another fairy tale for another time) and they were lead by a beautiful & vapid princess called “Sarah” who brought them to frothy heights of discontent with beautiful images of mustached tyrants, bucolic concepts of “reloading” as in guns,  and “death panels.”  And they were portrayed by the mainstream media as representing what most people of the land believed.

But low and behold, the tea partiers were actually:

  • only 24% of all registered voters, including the Boomers
  • overwhelmingly White & male
  • retired or semi-retired so they had lots of time on their hands
  • or unemployed so they had lots of time on their hands and they were really cranky…

These subjects’ main complaint was that government programs designed to help the people of the land, are bad…except the ones they use (as, alas, many of them were on a thing called “Social Security,” a government program designed to help the aging people of the land…or something called “unemployment compensation,” a government program to help people pay their bills while they’re out of work…).

And they vowed to take their revenge on any of the land’s leaders who voted for any new such programs like health care reform, which they didn’t believe to be needed since most of them would soon be eligible for “Medicare” – another government program providing medical coverage for older subjects…

But alack, what about the other 76%?  Where did they stand?  What did they want?  Why were their voices not resounding out across the land?  Where were the women?  The non-White ethnic groups?  The non-retired & employed?

Unfortunately for the mighty land, based on a type of governance called “democracy” whereby it was the peoples’ votes and knowledge of the issues that the rules of law were made, as it turns out the majority of its subjects didn’t vote, got there “issue knowledge” from 2 minute “sound bites” designed to inflame more than inform, or just stayed silent in their own discontent about the discontented minority.

Then there were things called “polls” whereby subjects were asked what they thought about things.  And one such poll in a part of the land called “FloriDUH” showed that most subjects were against the new healthcare reform.  Alas, the poll had what was called a “margin of error” (how likely the poll sampling reflects the rest of the land’s views) of 15% – a credible poll has a margin of error of no more than 3%; 10% is considered highly unreliable – which meant that the poll reflected the actual views of… those polled….  And they lived in a State where subjects regularly re-elected legislators who polluted the environments on which the main source of income was dependent (tourism), decried “government spending” while grabbing their share of it, and balanced their budget by giving their big businesses lots of tax breaks while decimating all the programs for their most vulnerable subjects (from the developmentally disabled to abused/neglected children).

Thus, over a short period of time, and with help from the entire range of main stream media, it appeared that a minority of the land’s subjects would be able to dictate what the majority would get & what they “should” believe.  Why did the majority put up with this?

Would they remain silent no more, understanding that so long as they did, the country would not be “majority ruled” any longer?!

We don’t as yet know the answer, but the moral of the story is:

In a land where the majority rules, and that majority is a “silent” one because they are either apathetic or “too busy to get involved,” the many will see their fate sealed by the will of the few…and in any other land, that is called “dictatorship.”