Tag Archives: reform

Healthcare reform for women – beginning today no co-pay for preventive care like mammograms, contraception

Under the Affordable Care Act, for the first time ever, women will now have access to life-saving preventive care, such as mammograms and contraception, without paying any more out of their own pockets.

 

 

Today, we move yet another step closer to giving women control over their health care. In addition to the benefits for women already included in the Affordable Care Act, beginning the first plan year after August 1, 2012, most private health insurance plans will cover additional women’s preventive services without requiring women to pay an extra penny out of their pockets. These services include:

  • Well-woman visits
  • Screening for gestational diabetes, which help protect the mother and her child from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling
  • Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence
  • Contraception and contraceptive counseling
  • HPV DNA testing
  • STI counseling
  • HIV screening and counseling

These services are based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, which relied on advice from independent physicians, nurses, scientists, and other experts, as well as evidence-based research, to develop its recommendations. And insurance companies know these services help prevent disease and illness, which can save them money in the long run.

By eliminating barriers like copays, co-insurance, and deductibles, secure, affordable coverage is quickly becoming a reality for millions of American women and families.

President Obama recalled his mother telling him, “You can tell how far a society is going to go by how it treats its women and girls.  And if they’re doing well, then the society is going to do well; and if they’re not, then they won’t be.”

 

Source: Facebook – White House, The White House Blog

Learn more about the Affordable Care Act – summary of Medicare reforms

A summary from the White House:

 

*Note: Medicare is for the elderly and Medicaid is for the poor. Most of the controversy and supreme court discussion is around Medicaid, not the below Medicare.

 

Strengthening Medicare

Nearly 50 million older Americans and Americans with disabilities rely on Medicare each year, and the new health care law makes Medicare stronger by adding new benefits, fighting fraud, and improving care for patients. The life of the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended to at least 2024 as a result of reducing waste, fraud, and abuse, and slowing cost growth in Medicare. And, over the next ten years, the law will save the average person in Medicare $4,200. People with Medicare who have the prescription drug costs that hit the so-called donut hole will save an average of over $16,000.

Lower Cost Prescription Drugs: In the past, as many as one in four seniors went without a prescription every year because they couldn’t afford it. To help these seniors, the law provides relief for people in the donut hole – the ones with the highest prescription drug costs. As a first step, in 2010, nearly four million people in the donut hole received a $250 check to help with their costs. In 2011, 3.6 million people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount worth a total of $2.1 billion, or an average of $604 per person, on their brand name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. Seniors will see additional savings on covered brand-name and generic drugs while in the coverage gap until the gap is closed in 2020.

Free Preventive Services: Under the new law, seniors can receive recommended preventive services such as flu shots, diabetes screenings, as well as a new Annual Wellness Visit, free of charge. So far, more than 32.5 million seniors have already received one or more free preventive services, including the new Annual Wellness Visit.

Fighting Fraud: The health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology. Thanks in part to these efforts, we recovered $4.1 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2011, the second year recoveries hit this record-breaking level. Total recoveries over the last three years were $10.7 billion. Prosecutions are way up, too: the number of individuals charged with fraud increased from 821 in fiscal year 2008 to 1,430 in fiscal year 2011 – nearly a 75 percent increase.

Improving Care Coordination and Quality: Through the newly established Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, this Administration is testing and supporting innovative new health care models that can reduce costs and strengthen the quality of health care. So far, it has introduced 16 initiatives involving over 50,000 health care providers that will touch the lives of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in all 50 states.

Providing Choices while Lowering Costs: The number of seniors who joined Medicare Advantage plans increased by 17 percent between 2010 and 2012 while the premiums for such plans dropped by 16 percent – and seniors across the nation have a choice of health plans.

 

More from this series:

MF Global shows Wall Street is ready for the good old days

If you don’t think Wall Street is chomping at the bit to get back to the good old days, take a look at MF Global. This financial services company was taken over by John Corzine, the former governor of New Jersey, a 24 year veteran of Wall Street, and the CEO of Goldman Sachs for 5 years.

The company was involved in a wide range of services and doing well for itself. Then Corzine came in with support from its leaders and promptly leveraged it to the max. Including a $6.3 billion dollar wager on European debt.

That obviously went south but that’s not what is interesting here. Rather, it’s that MF Global made the bet with its own money. A process called proprietary trading that is highly controversial.

Mostly because banks are not supposed to use their financial wizardry for themselves, but for us the customers. When they do start making their own bets it puts our money at risk. If one of those bets goes sour and the entire bank goes down, so do we.

It also makes the FDIC step in and we are back to square one with Wall Street making bets and Main Street cleaning it up.

Obama’s financial reform, called the Dodd Frank Act, largely ignored proprietary trading. Only at the last-minute did Paul Volker fight for some legislation on this, which is why the result is called the Volker Rule.

For the past year, U.S. Regulators and the major banks have been negotiating on the terms of this important rule. A spicy topic because proprietary trading accounts for up to 25% of all bank profits.

The rules are expected to go into effect next year (2012). Which is why I think Corzine went so fast, he was only CEO for 19 months, and went so huge. He wanted to get into the game before the rule set in.

I think he figured that if his bet worked then he would have turned MF Global into a Wall Street powerhouse to compete with Goldman, Citi, JP Morgan, etc.

Of course, he failed and now regulators have a fresh example to guide them in drafting the rules. This collapse rattled many of them and the rules will certainly be tightened.

The whole situation is like a throwback to the pre-recession days. It shows that firms will still take massive risks with other people’s money (and their own). We just have to hope that, going forward, those who do will be small enough to not take down our whole system.

source: Bloomberg

No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A's

In a previous post I asked the question: Can Every Child Get Straight A’s?

Oh wow, did I get some interesting responses. Every single person, except one, said no. The only person to say yes was my lady’s father, thanks Ravendad.

The overwhelming outcry was that students should not get straight A’s. Or, that it was an unreasonable or an unimportant expectation. Innumerable explanations were given in the comments and on Facebook. Here are some of them:

  • “There has to be losers in life”
  • “If you lower the bar enough, yes”
  • “Some kids just aren’t great at school”

Those were real comments. Others did give more complex answers with references to various experts (or pundits). But, I think the point stands, we have very low expectations for our children.

It’s no surprise that our education is barely competing worldwide with so few adults expecting us to do well. Many of us would probably like to blame this on schools or teachers. The documentary, Waiting For Superman, provides amunition for just that by pointing out all the problems and inadequacies they have.

Which is exactly where I draw the line. I get so worked up when adults blame our problems on schools, I even walked out on that movie in protest.

We do not have an education problem. Our schools are doing fine, if not exceptional. In every aspect of education our teachers, principals, and schools are improving. They are establishing uniform standards, trying new teaching methods, and in some cases radical reforms.

The results have been pathetic. Tiny gains or no gains all across the board.

Which has befuddled the entire country. You mean that money, radical changes, and firing teachers can’t fix education?

To which any educator will give you the “no duh” response. There is something more important than that, something so overwhelming that it makes anything else impotent. Parents.

There is no single factor more important than parents.

To which I propose we switch our conversation away from education reform and into parent reform. Now, this is not another finger pointing exercise, we have enough of that already. This is an attempt to engage in discourse that is productive. Like two children beating each other up, nobody wins. But if you can get them to talk first, to understand each other, then they grow and everybody wins.

If given the stage here’s an example of what I would say:

During the teenage years the child brain suddenly becomes the adult brain. Experiencing a large growth in ability. Beneath the raging hormones is a mind that will soon be able to perform geometry, calculus, write abstract essays, and more.

Very few understand this and even fewer understand how to respond to it.

Fortunately, our middle schools do and they focus almost entirely on skill building. They teach the rigor necessary to enable those powerful minds.

During grades six to eight, the content suddenly becomes repetitive. Topics that were covered in earlier years are rehashed, only to be covered again in high school. Which leaves teachers free to focus on:

  • Writing outlines
  • Organization
  • Punctuality
  • Forming paragraphs
  • Structured notes (math, science)

If successful the classroom turns into an escape from the chaos of puberty by establishing daily routines and regular practice. You would be surprised how relaxing it is for teenagers to have a well disciplined and quiet place to practice writing outlines. It’s like a hush comes over the class.

The same is true for parents. I had so many successful parent-teacher conferences where the sole discussion was on how to organize a backpack. At first the parents would look at me with shock. Where was the typical laundry list of problems or successes. Instead, I would explain about their child’s growing brain and the need to build basic skills. Then a few weeks later they would come back and thank me profusely.

It is these basic skills that form the foundation for future success in high school and college. If delivered at the right age it is almost magical. Providing students with exactly what they need, simplifying the parents challenging role, and allowing teachers to, well, teach.

Further, I can provide an example of this at every age, every grade, and every stage in life. I can offer to adults and parents critical knowledge that will save them countless hours and headaches, while making straight A’s a reasonable achievement.

Now, not everything I would say is perfect and backed by all educators. But, it does set the foundation for productive discussions. I would love national debates that introduce these largely unknown facts to parents. Instead of the pointless and unhelpful debates we have now.

I can only imagine how much improvement we would see if our education reform suddenly was about education and not money or blame.

What do you say, did I make a convincing argument for parent reform?

No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A’s

In a previous post I asked the question: Can Every Child Get Straight A’s?

Oh wow, did I get some interesting responses. Every single person, except one, said no. The only person to say yes was my lady’s father, thanks Ravendad.

The overwhelming outcry was that students should not get straight A’s. Or, that it was an unreasonable or an unimportant expectation. Innumerable explanations were given in the comments and on Facebook. Here are some of them:

  • “There has to be losers in life”
  • “If you lower the bar enough, yes”
  • “Some kids just aren’t great at school”

Those were real comments. Others did give more complex answers with references to various experts (or pundits). But, I think the point stands, we have very low expectations for our children.

It’s no surprise that our education is barely competing worldwide with so few adults expecting us to do well. Many of us would probably like to blame this on schools or teachers. The documentary, Waiting For Superman, provides amunition for just that by pointing out all the problems and inadequacies they have.

Which is exactly where I draw the line. I get so worked up when adults blame our problems on schools, I even walked out on that movie in protest.

We do not have an education problem. Our schools are doing fine, if not exceptional. In every aspect of education our teachers, principals, and schools are improving. They are establishing uniform standards, trying new teaching methods, and in some cases radical reforms.

The results have been pathetic. Tiny gains or no gains all across the board.

Which has befuddled the entire country. You mean that money, radical changes, and firing teachers can’t fix education?

To which any educator will give you the “no duh” response. There is something more important than that, something so overwhelming that it makes anything else impotent. Parents.

There is no single factor more important than parents.

To which I propose we switch our conversation away from education reform and into parent reform. Now, this is not another finger pointing exercise, we have enough of that already. This is an attempt to engage in discourse that is productive. Like two children beating each other up, nobody wins. But if you can get them to talk first, to understand each other, then they grow and everybody wins.

If given the stage here’s an example of what I would say:

During the teenage years the child brain suddenly becomes the adult brain. Experiencing a large growth in ability. Beneath the raging hormones is a mind that will soon be able to perform geometry, calculus, write abstract essays, and more.

Very few understand this and even fewer understand how to respond to it.

Fortunately, our middle schools do and they focus almost entirely on skill building. They teach the rigor necessary to enable those powerful minds.

During grades six to eight, the content suddenly becomes repetitive. Topics that were covered in earlier years are rehashed, only to be covered again in high school. Which leaves teachers free to focus on:

  • Writing outlines
  • Organization
  • Punctuality
  • Forming paragraphs
  • Structured notes (math, science)

If successful the classroom turns into an escape from the chaos of puberty by establishing daily routines and regular practice. You would be surprised how relaxing it is for teenagers to have a well disciplined and quiet place to practice writing outlines. It’s like a hush comes over the class.

The same is true for parents. I had so many successful parent-teacher conferences where the sole discussion was on how to organize a backpack. At first the parents would look at me with shock. Where was the typical laundry list of problems or successes. Instead, I would explain about their child’s growing brain and the need to build basic skills. Then a few weeks later they would come back and thank me profusely.

It is these basic skills that form the foundation for future success in high school and college. If delivered at the right age it is almost magical. Providing students with exactly what they need, simplifying the parents challenging role, and allowing teachers to, well, teach.

Further, I can provide an example of this at every age, every grade, and every stage in life. I can offer to adults and parents critical knowledge that will save them countless hours and headaches, while making straight A’s a reasonable achievement.

Now, not everything I would say is perfect and backed by all educators. But, it does set the foundation for productive discussions. I would love national debates that introduce these largely unknown facts to parents. Instead of the pointless and unhelpful debates we have now.

I can only imagine how much improvement we would see if our education reform suddenly was about education and not money or blame.

What do you say, did I make a convincing argument for parent reform?

Why I walked out on Waiting For Superman

You want know what the hardest part about being a teacher in the US is?

It’s living in a culture where everybody thinks they can teach. Which is like saying everybody can be a doctor. Yet that is exactly what happens in teaching.

Everybody knows how to teach and they all get involved. They espouse opinions and beliefs. It’s like teaching is some mystic art that no one knows how to solve.

In the documentary, Waiting For Superman, Davis Guggenheim explores teaching like it is a mystical mess. He focuses on the system and how hard parents are trying. Why tenure sometimes gets in the way, etc. Not really anything different than what’s been said for 50 years.

Here’s something different. It takes three years minimum to become just a good teacher. Five years, minimum, to become a master teacher. Including the one year of post-grad that is six years to master the skill of teaching. If you are good. If you don’t have the right mentoring or curriculum help it could be 7-8 years. How long does it take to be a doctor, or a lawyer or accountant?

What would change if we all thought about teachers as equal to doctors:

- We might give parents and the PTA’s less input into schools (they’re the reason why we have tenure and it’s issues).

- The role of an “active parent” would switch from blaming schools and “watching” teachers to reading, helping with math, and going beyond the classroom to teach new lessons.

- The “business” of teaching would be more like hospitals. With an MBA handling the money, HR executive handling the hiring/firing/development, and master teachers handling the education.

- Lastly, and most importantly, we would all understand that our 12 years of being a student in no way makes us experts. Instead it makes us biased, bitter, and unable to help (at all) until we become master teachers (or at the very least learn something about education).

I really hoped Davis would explore these problems but instead he gave an uneducated “parents view” of education. Thanks a lot bud, you used ur considerable skill and prominence to just make things worse.

—-

*I posted this in Facebook at 11:21pm on October 9th, just after leaving the theatre*