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Sunday, October 26th

Space Travel and Mental Illness

It goes with saying that one of the staples of Hollywood's science fiction genre is some crew member, on a long spaceflight, will flip out and endanger, at the very least, a mission, but at the most, attempt to kill other members of the crew. My favorite is the "HAL 9000" from "2001, a Space Odyssey". In that film, it is later explained in "2010", HAL flips out due to inconsistent programming and starts killing off members of the crew.

Surprisingly, this staple of film may be more fact than fiction. In this article from the Guardian, the author looks at hallucinations experienced by astronauts that appear to be caused by the loss of the gravity we all take for granted here on earth. Surprisingly, there have been more examples of this than NASA or the Russian Space Agency have told us about in the past. While no one (that we know of) has attempted to harm another person in space, NASA does have a plan in case such an event would happen. In "Apollo 13" fashion, it involves, "a rather pragmatic combination of duct tape, bungee cords and tranquillisers".
[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Kurt Gregory on 10.26.14 @ 01:02 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

America's First (and only) Emperor

Tags: Eccentric, San Francisco, Psychotic, Crazy, Lunatic

For years I have heard about the "Emperor" San Francisco harbored in the 1800s. I have always wanted to know more, but never took the time to actively seek out information about Emperor Norton I. Fortunately, this article came through my newsreader. It is definitely worth the read, giving historical and biographical information about this most interesting man and time. It is hard to tell if Joshua Abraham Norton was suffering from a mental illness, playing a well thought out joke, or scamming the good citizens of San Francisco. My thinking is he was playing a joke that he was able to turn into a way of making a living. Regardless, Check it out!
[Karma: 2 (+/-)] Kurt Gregory on 10.26.14 @ 12:22 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

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Sunday, September 14th

Wellpoint Cherry Picking

January 24, 2008

Filed under: FSSA, Indiana, insurance, Local (Central IN) News, Politics: Healthcare, Uncategorized
Tags: Anthem, Connecticut, indianapolis star, medicaid, medical loss ratio, Ohio, Wellpoint

From Anthem's parent company, comes this news from the Indianapolis Star. Apparently increasing profit by 7% isn't good enough and executives with the company continue to want more, more, and more...

However, the company also reported that during the quarter, it paid out 82.9 percent of each premium dollar for care - a measure called the "medical loss ratio" in industry jargon - up from 81 percent a year ago.

The increased medical spending came from WellPoint's commercial business and higher-than-expected medical claims in the company's Medicaid contracts in Ohio and Connecticut. WellPoint said it is terminating it's contract with the Ohio Medicaid program because it was unable to reach an agreement with the state that would allow the company to participate in a "financially responsible manner."

Just as a reminder, Anthem was one of the companies chosen by the Indiana Department of Family and Social Services Administration to administer Indiana's Medicaid Program.

[Karma: -1 (+/-)] Alice on 09.14.14 @ 10:15 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Wellpoint: Can't Buy Me Luv!

January 25, 2008

Filed under: Indiana, insurance, Politics: Healthcare
Tags: CF0, David Colby, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Journal Gazette, sex, Sexual Harassment, Wellpoint

Money can't buy love, but it can apparently buy a wife, 12 girlfriends, and a sexual harassment suit. Isn't it nice to know where your health insurance premiums were going?

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

David Colby was one of corporate America's most admired executives before he was abruptly fired last spring for what was vaguely described at the time as misconduct of a "non-business nature."

Now details about his personal life are spilling out, and it's clear he was more than just Wall Street's darling.

In a cluster of lawsuits gathered up by The Associated Press, the former chief financial officer of health insurance giant WellPoint Inc. is depicted as a corporate Casanova - a world-class, love-'em-and-leave-'em sort of guy who romanced dozens of women around the country simultaneously, made them extravagant promises and then went back on his word.

It gets way worse if you click over to the story.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 09.14.14 @ 10:01 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Lilly's Cymbalta Sales Grow

Filed under: Depression, Indiana, Local (Central IN) News, Pharmacology, psychiatrist, psychiatry, Rx Meds, Rx Meds: Cymbalta,Rx Meds: Zyprexia, Uncategorized
Tags: Cymbalta, Indiana, Lilly, Sidney Taurel, Zyprexa

From a Bloomberg report, via the Indianapolis Star:

INDIANAPOLIS: Eli Lilly and Co.'s antidepressant Cymbalta exceeded $2 billion in global sales last year, Chief Executive Officer Sidney Taurel said. That would represent at least a 52 percent increase from the $1.32 billion reported in 2006, when Cymbalta was Lilly's third-best-selling product globally. The drug is intended to replace revenue lost to generic competitors for the antipsychotic Zyprexa, Lilly’s top-selling drug, when it loses patent protection in 2011. "Cymbalta is growing very, very fast," Taurel said Friday in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum. "It will be bigger than Zyprexa before Zyprexa loses its patent." (Bloomberg)

They just keep finding new uses for this drug. Some physicians have found it very useful in the treatment of pain managment. New uses equal more prescriptions, which equal more sales.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 09.14.14 @ 09:51 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

State Lags in Mental Records Reporting (For Guns)

Filed under: Guns, IN Judiciary, Indiana: kurtglmft
Tags: courts, Fort Wayne, gun, Journal Gazette, Paul Helmke

When I read this headline, I was concerned (that's why I included the "For Guns" part). Then I read the story and calmed down. From the story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

Indiana hasn't supplied a national database with the names of people its state courts have deemed unfit to own guns because of mental health issues, but gun-control advocates hope federal incentives will change that.

[Paul] Helmke [president of the Brady campaign to prevent gun violence] argues that privacy is one issue that should have no bearing on whether states send records, because the reporting requirement applies only to people who have gone through the state court systems, not those who seek voluntary commitment or counseling.

Oh, so this is a court issue, not a mental health issue... Well why didn't you just say that? Big difference here in that courts have a different standard for judging someone as "mentally ill" than those in the mental health system. Still, if the courts are required to report, why don't they? They seem to notify the BMV when they take someone's license on a regular basis, so it can't be all that hard.

[Karma: 1 (+/-)] Alice on 09.14.14 @ 09:29 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Bill Clinton: I Have a Dream...Literally

Filed under: Bill Clinton, Misc, Uncategorized -- kurtglmft
Tags: Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King, President, sleep, video

Who says there isn't anything good on MTV anymore? Over the weekend I just happened to catch one of those shows that present funny videos of what happened over the week. This was one of them.

Apparently former President Clinton was very tired from all the badmouthing of Obama and decided to attend a Martin Luther King event at a church in New York City. Maybe he should have gotten a little more sleep.

The funniest part for me is when he suddenly wakes up and starts nodding his head like he was deep in thought. Of course the obvious watch checking at the end is pretty good as well. I don't know where the video came from, but the above is from the New York Post, via YouTube.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 09.14.14 @ 05:24 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Pay to Play: $25 for Jail, Guilty or Not

Filed under: Indiana, Local (NW IN) News, Substance Abuse, Uncategorized -- kurtglmft
Tags: Addiction, commissioners, dependency, Indiana, Porter County, State board of accounts, Tammy White

All things considered, paying $25 when jailed is about the least of your worries, but should one still pay, even if innocent? Apparently if your arrested in Porter County the answer is a definite "yes", even though the State Board of Accounts found the fee to be um, well, illegal. However;

Tammy White, a State Board of Accounts supervisor, said her agency's reports serve to audit compliance with state laws and regulations but are not legally binding. The Board provides information regarding laws in the hope officials will consult legal counsel and review the appropriateness of findings.

The commissioners who passed the ordinance justify it by explaining;

"The entire fund is used for the benefit of the jail, and most directly the inmates themselves," Lain said. "That's how we pay for the Chemical Addiction and Dependency Program."

Lain said the drug program has a large effect on the number of inmates who return to jail after being released. According to Lain, graduates of the 100-hour class have a recidivism rate of between 40 percent and 45 percent, compared to the typical recidivism rate at the jail of 65 percent to 70 percent.

"The biggest issue we have is how do we keep people from coming back," Lain said. "This has shown to be the single most powerful avenue toward reducing that."

Sounds like someone is massaging their numbers a bit. Any Chemical Addiction program that reduces recidivism to 45% is worthy not only of national acclaim, but patenting and copyrighting. Sell it and make your money that way. Something tells the us that won't happen soon. Second, the reasoning sounds a little circular here. They charge people who come to the jail, guilty or not, for a program that supposedly seeks to stop people from coming to the jail? Maybe it is just my math, but if successful, won't Porter County run out of money for the program?

Those issues aside, doesn't the whole innocent until proven guilty thing come into play? Doesn't that mean you treat, as well as think of a person, as not having done anything until proven otherwise? Now we aren't lawyers, but who would dream of charging someone a fee who hasn't done anything?

[Karma: 1 (+/-)] Alice on 09.14.14 @ 04:40 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Mental Health: Fourth Most Expensive Condition to Treat

Filed under: Counselors, Depression, Disorders, Healthcare, marriage counseling, marriage therapy, Mental Health Centers, Mental Health Prof's, Pharmacology, psychiatrist, psychiatry, psychologist, psychology, social work, social worker, Uncategorized -- kurtglmft
Tags: cancer, Cardiologist, Depression, disorder, Emergency Department, Heart, hospital, Mental Health, Oncologist, Pharmaceutical, Prescription

Wow, I was really surprised when I read this today. It's a study estimating the top 10 most expensive health conditions. It has the usual...heart conditions and cancer are numbers 1 and 3, respectively, but "Mental disorders, including depression" came in at number 4 with an estimated cost of 56 billion. I found that hard to believe because Therapists, Psychologists, and Psychiatrists don’t make anything near what a cardiologist or oncologist does. Then I saw this:

The money paid for visits to doctor's offices, clinics and emergency departments, hospital stays, home health care and prescription medicines [were included].

Okay, I get it now. Most of the money in Mental Health care goes to hospitals, emergency departments and prescription medications. This is due to the public perception they can handle any situation, or take a pill, and do not seek help early. When people figure out this strategy is usually ineffective, they usually end up in an emergency room or hospital, where the costs are astronomical. This “solution” is vastly more expensive than outpatient therapy. As an aside, most therapists, this one included, do not consider ER and hospital admissions treatment, but crisis management. With those factors included, the numbers make sense. If costs for "mental disorders including depression" are ever reduced, a correlating change in perception among the public would also have to occur. In that regard, Mental Health is no different from any of the other conditions cited, where prevention and early detection is paramount to decreasing costs.

[Karma: 1 (+/-)] Alice on 09.14.14 @ 04:27 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Zyprexa, Cymbalta Fuel Growth for Lilly

January 29, 2008

Filed under: Depression, Disorders, Healthcare, Indiana, Local (Central IN) News, Marion county, Pharmacology, psychiatrist, psychiatry, Rx Meds, Rx Meds: Cymbalta, Rx Meds: Zyprexia kurtglmft @ 11:22 am
Tags: Cymbalta, Eli Lilly, Indiana, Lilly, sales growth, Sidney Taurel, Zyprexa

From the Indianapolis Star:

Driven by solid sales of its antidepressant Cymbalta, Indianapolis drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. today said fourth-quarter profits grew to $854.4 million and 78 cents per share, beating many analysts' estimates.

Earnings jumped six-fold from the same period in 2006, when Lilly recorded income of $132.3 million and 12 cents per share as it took a big charge to settle claims with patients who said they were harmed by Lilly's Zyprexa schizophrenia drug.

But showing how little harmed it was by that publicity, Lilly said Zyprexa sales were again No. 1 in its sales lineup, accounting for $1.27 billion. Cymbalta was next up with $628.3 million. Overall, its sales increased 16 percent to $5.19 billion.

"Lilly completed a very successful year by continuing to deliver strong financial results to our shareholders in the fourth quarter," said CEO and chairman Sidney Taurel. "Our additional investment in sales and marketing helped fuel accelerated double-digit sales growth."

[Karma: -2 (+/-)] Alice on 09.14.14 @ 12:21 AM CST [link] [No Comments]

Autism and Vaccines: Pediatricians Speak Out

Filed under: autism, Disorders, kurtglmft
Tags: ABC, autism, Eli Stone, Genetics, vaccine

This from the Evansville Courier Press:

The nation's largest pediatricians' group on Monday said ABC should cancel the first episode of a new series because it perpetuates the myth that vaccines can cause autism.

ABC's new drama, "Eli Stone," debuts Thursday. It features British actor Jonny Lee Miller as a prophet like lawyer who in the opening episode argues in court that a flu vaccine made a child autistic. When it is revealed in court that an executive at the fictional vaccine maker didn't allow his own child to get the shot, jurors side with the family, giving them a huge award.

"If parents watch this program and choose to deny their children immunizations, ABC will share in the responsibility for the suffering and deaths that occur as a result. The consequences of a decline in immunization rates could be devastating to the health of our nation’s children," Jenkins said in a statement.

Autism is a complex disorder featuring repetitive behaviors and poor social interaction and communication skills. Scientists generally believe that genetics plays a role in causing the disorder; a theory that a mercury-based preservative once widely used in childhood vaccines is to blame has been repeatedly discounted in scientific studies.

Remember folks, this is a fictional series. Sometimes the whole "bad things happen to good people" way of thinking is too much to handle. We look for reasons and people to blame because the real explanation is too difficult to accept. However, please don't forgo vaccinating your child, as it is a proven way to make sure they will never develop a myriad of diseases, because of some theory that has little, if any basis in fact or research.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 09.14.14 @ 12:02 AM CST [link] [No Comments]

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Saturday, September 13th

Lilly Changing Marketing Payment Scheme?

Filed under: Blogs, Healthcare, Pharmacology, psychiatrist, psychiatry, Rx Meds, Rx Meds: Cymbalta, Rx Meds: Zyprexia - kurtglmft
Tags: Cymbalta, Eli Lilly, Lilly, Marketing, physicians, Zyprexa

The only authority for this is Dr. Daniel Carlat, who publishes the Carlat Psychiatry Blog. Rather than try to summarize, here is his article:

Eli Lilly "Slashes" Hired Gun Payments in Response to Dr. Drug Rep

One of my moles in the upper echelons of the pharmaceutical industry informed me that officials at Eli Lilly are changing some payment policies to hired guns in response to the article, Dr. Drug Rep.

Prepare to be underwhelmed.

The officials involved were apparently discussing the negative publicity generated by the article, and decided to put a more stringent cap on their payments to physicians who hawk their drugs to other doctors. In the past, there was a $100,000/year maximum for regular talks, with an option of tacking on an extra $50,000 for certain "brand-specific" talks, such as talks specifically relating to Zyprexa or Cymbalta. So the maximum was $150,000 per year, and many doctors were happily maxing out at that figure. Reportedly, Lilly is worried that allowing physicians to make “6 figures” for whoring themselves appears unseemly, so as of 2009, the total cap will be slashed to...drum roll please...$75,000/year. That's only 5 figures.

The physicians affected are unlikely to be hitting the welfare rolls soon, however, as they might be able to make up this lifestyle-threatening shortfall by engaging in a novel professional activity-treating patients.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 09.13.14 @ 11:56 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

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Wednesday, July 23rd

“Dr. Phil Show”: How’s That Working Out For You?

January 31, 2008

Filed under: Counselors,Marriage & Family,marriage counseling,marriage therapy,Mental Health Prof's,psychiatrist,psychiatry,psychologist,psychology " kurtglmft @ 8:37 am
Tags: Brittany Spears, California Board of Psychology, Dr. Phil, HIPA, HIPPA, Phillip McGraw

According to WTHR, Dr. Phillip McGraw "regrets" discussing his "visit" with pop singer Brittany Spears. Here is the background:

Spears, 26, was hospitalized in Los Angeles after a child custody dispute with ex-husband Kevin Federline resulted in an hours-long standoff with police January 3. Federline has sole physical and legal custody of their two sons, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1.

McGraw said he visited the pop singer as a family friend, and rejected critics who accused him of practicing psychology without a license.

This is what Dr. Phil has to say:

"I regret making the statement. It didn’t help. It didn’t work," the syndicated TV psychologist said Wednesday on ABC’s "Good Morning America."

"I did not go there to diagnose her. I did not go there to treat her," said McGraw, who showed up at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on January 5 as Spears was about to be discharged.

McGraw said he retired his Texas license after 25 years of private practice because of the demands of his "Dr. Phil" daytime talk show.

The Spears family has accused McGraw of betraying their trust by making an "inappropriate" public statement about the singer’s hospitalization.

McGraw had told celebrity news TV shows that Spears was in "dire" need of medical and psychological help.

In an appearance on NBC’s "Today" show Wednesday, McGraw said his public comments after visiting Spears were intended to prevent rumors and misinformation.

"I wanted to stop speculation about what may have gone on in there," he said.

OK, whatever. We all know he went there to get ratings for his pseudo-psychological show. Anytime a person in the therapy, or psychological, field puts their needs in front of a person or family, in a professional situation, they act unethically. Speaking of which, a formal complaint was filed in California over the incident. The California Board of Psychology treats complaints as confidential, so we don't know what will happen with this yet. Interestingly, the complaint also alleges Dr. Phil violated Ms. Spears confidentiality rights under HIPPA. While the California complaint is a felony, the HIPA violation could result in federal charges.

[Karma: -1 (+/-)] Alice on 07.23.14 @ 09:45 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Child Porn @ Work Not Illegal

February 2, 2008

Filed under: Indiana,Legal/Law,Local (NE IN) News,Local (NW IN) News,Sexual Abuse " kurtglmft @ 12:45 pm
Tags: Catherine Wilson, Child Pornography, Eric Tamashasky, John B. Penney, pop-under, pop-up, pornography, Prosecutor, St. Joseph county, YWCA

According to the St. Joe County Prosecutors Office, if your surfing the net for porn at work and child porn pop-ups, or pop-unders, appear, you are not guilty of a crime. Good to know. Can we please just make a law against stupid people and get it over with? I mean I get the point, the guy wasn't intentionally looking for child porn, but he was being stupid by looking for ANY porn at work. I just don’t get it. I mean if you want to look at porn at home, more power to you, but why bring it into the workplace? From the South Bend Tribune (link unavailable at source):

A former YWCA employee has been cleared of charges of possession of child pornography after prosecutors determined the images appeared on his computer without his consent.

Catherine Wilson, a spokeswoman for the St. Joseph County Prosecutor, said investigators determined that John B. Penney, 55, was not looking for child pornography when the images appeared on his computer.

Wilson said the images of child pornography found on Penney’s work computer "almost certainly were the result of 'pop-up' or 'pop-under' windows generated during other online searches" for adult pornography.

Penny was a legal advocate for the YWCA who lost his job after the images allegedly surfaced on his work computer.

Deputy Prosecutor Eric Tamashasky said on Thursday that Internet users should be cautious when surfing the Internet to avoid coming across illegal material, such as child pornography. He said users of adult pornography run a higher risk of accidental exposure to illegal material.
[Karma: 3 (+/-)] Alice on 07.23.14 @ 09:22 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Insurance Co. Refuses to Pay for Anorexia or Bulimia

Filed under: anorexia,bulimia,Depression,Disorders,Healthcare,insurance,Legal/Law,Uncategorized " kurtglmft @ 1:16 pm
Tags: anorexia, Blue Cross Blue Shield, bulimia, Facebook, Horizon, insurance, MySpace

This is about the dumbest thing I have heard. From Law.com (link eliminated by source):

Litigation over an insurer's refusal to pay health benefits for anorexia or bulimia may turn on what is revealed from the alleged sufferers' e-mails and postings on the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook.

The plaintiffs are suing in federal court in Newark, N.J., on behalf of their minor children, who have been denied benefits by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Horizon claims that the children’s online writings, as well as journal and diary entries, could shed light on the causes of the disorders, which determines the insurer's responsibility for payment. New Jersey law requires coverage of mental illness only if it is biologically based.

Horizon claims the eating problems are not biologically based and that the writings could point to emotional causes. It contends that access to the writings is especially important because the court has barred taking the minors’ depositions.

And insurance companies wonder why everyone hates them. Look, this is just another way for an insurance company to get out of paying for something to line their already fat pockets. So let me get this straight, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield is not going to pay for disorders that are not biologically based? What about the kid who breaks his arm at a football game. What about smokers who develop lung cancer. Don't even try if your depressed because your going through a divorce. It was one thing when insurers wanted detailed medical histories, but now it appears they want to delve into every detail of a person’s life to justify not paying a claim. At the same time, they charge higher and higher premiums. Nice. At some point the public (employers are already realizing this) are going to revolt and demand the service these companies promise at the time they sell the policies. Already, employees, when given the choice, overwhelmingly take cash over insurance benefits because of things like this. I guess everyone will have to make this choice before the insurance companies wise up and realize there are other options to their dictatorial policies and unjustifiable high rates.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 07.23.14 @ 09:14 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Lilly to Reach Deal with Feds?

Filed under: Disorders,Legal/Law,Local (Central IN) News,Pharmacology,psychiatrist,psychiatry,Rx Meds: Zyprexia,Uncategorized " kurtglmft @ 1:40 pm
Tags: Eil Lilly, Justice Department, Lilly, New York Times, Tarra Ryker, Zyprexa

Maybe, but no one is talking, according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, citing the New York Times. Here is the background:

Zyprexa was Lilly's top selling drug last year. It rang up $4.8 billion and accounted for 25 percent of the company's total sales, but it also has brought the company many legal headaches.

Beginning in late 2006, a series of articles in the Times said Lilly downplayed the drug's risks and marketed it for uses unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Attorneys general from 30 states have subpoenaed documents detailing Lilly's sales, marketing and promotional practices for Zyprexa as part of a civil investigation under state consumer protection laws.

The drug also has faced thousands of product liability claims from patients, many alleging the company did not adequately warn patients taking the medication of a heightened diabetes risk.

And here is what is being said:

Lilly spokeswoman Tarra Ryker declined to elaborate on the possibility of a settlement when reached by phone.

“We are cooperating with the government in these investigations, and the discussions around those are confidential,” she said. “We’ve said pretty much all we’re going to be able to say on this.”

She also declined to comment on the payment amount.

"We don't know where the information came from," she said.

The Times reported that federal prosecutors in Philadelphia are leading the settlement talks for the government, in consultation with Justice Department headquarters in Washington.

The amount being bantered around is 1 Billion dollars.
[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 07.23.14 @ 09:06 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

I.U. has openings for autistic children

This is sort of a public service announcement, via WTHR:

If you are a parent of an autistic child, the IU School of Education is encouraging you to enroll in a free research study.The "More Than Words" 14-week program is for children five and under and aims to assist in language development. To learn more about the study contact Andrea McDuffie.

The More Than Words program was developed by the Hanen Center in Toronto, Canada.

[Karma: -5 (+/-)] Alice on 07.23.14 @ 01:19 AM CST [link] [No Comments]

Big Insurance: “and throw a little sand in there too…”

Filed under: Healthcare,insurance,Legal/Law,Pharmacology,Rx Meds " kurtglmft @ 2:31 pm
Tags: Aetna, Anesthesiologists, Endoscopy, Gastroenterology, New Jersey, propofol, United Healthcare, Wellpoint

I don’t know if everyone will get the reference in the title, but I thought it was fitting. In another example of Big Insurance trying to prop up their already fat bottom line, comes this from the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog. By the way, this is what happens when MBA’s make medical decisions instead of MDs.

Aetna is about to cut back on its coverage of a popular, but expensive, form of anesthesia for patients undergoing colonoscopes, the AP reports. Docs aren't pleased.

Doctors say the fast-acting drug Propofol makes colonoscopes more comfortable (or at least less uncomfortable). But it's use often requires that an anesthesiologist be present, and boosts the cost of the procedure by $200 to $1,000. Insurers argue that "moderate sedation," which combines painkillers and a sedative, works equally well for most patients and doesn't require the presence of an additional specialist.

WellPoint cut back on its coverage of Propofol a few years back. As of April 1, Aetna will pay for an anesthesiologist to be present during a colonoscopy only in cases where the patient would be at high risk without one. United Healthcare covers Propofol during colonoscopy, according to the AP.

Some gastroenterologists and anesthesiologists are working with lawyers to fight the change. "To the extent litigation is an option, we’re looking at all options," said John Fanburg, counsel for the New Jersey State Society of Anesthesiologists and the New Jersey Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Society.

I have an idea, lets have the "insurers" who made this decision undergo the procedure the way they want everyone else to. Wonder if that would change their mind. smile

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 07.23.14 @ 12:46 AM CST [link] [No Comments]

More Trouble for Zyprexa

February 5, 2008

Filed under: Pharmacology,psychiatrist,psychiatry,Psychosis,Rx Meds: Zyprexia,schizophrenia " kurtglmft @ 9:20 pm
Tags: drowsiness, Eli Lilly, FDA, injection, Lilly, sleep, sleepiness, Zyprexa, Zyprexa Adhera

In what is becoming more and more common, Eli Lilly's Schizophrenia drug Zyprexa has run into a little more trouble. From the Reuters, via the Indianapolis Star:

counselingExcessive sedation is a "serious safety concern" with an experimental, long-acting form of Eli Lilly and Co.'s blockbuster Zyprexa schizophrenia medicine, U.S. drug reviewers said in an analysis released Monday.

Food and Drug Administration staff said the injectable formulation, called Zyprexa Adhera, was shown to be effective for acute and long-term treatment of schizophrenia, Reuters and Bloomberg both reported.

But risks include excessive sleepiness.

The analysis was released ahead of a meeting by a panel of outside advisers who will evaluate the drug Wednesday. "Excessive sedation events are a serious safety concern because of the severity of excessive sedation, the unpredictable characteristics, and relatively high incidence - 0.07% of injections and 1.3% of patients,"FDA staff said.

Lilly officials, in a separate summary, said they thought the benefits of the long-acting formulation outweighed the risks.

"Although there are important additional safety considerations associated with the injection, they are manageable with appropriate labeling and risk-minimization activities," the company said, Reuters reported.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 07.23.14 @ 12:36 AM CST [link] [No Comments]

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Monday, July 21st

Big Pharma Hates McCain: and that’s a bad thing why???

Filed under: Healthcare,insurance,John McCain,Pharmacology,Politics: Healthcare,Politics: 08 Elections,Pres Primaries,Rx Meds " kurtglmft @ 9:29 am
Tags: Healthcare, insurance, Law Firms, Lawyers, McCain, medication, Pharmaceuticals, President, retired

There are two ways of determining where a politician stands on healthcare; read their platform statements, and/or follow the money. If you choose the first, read carefully. The language is as carefully crafted as your insurance policy, probably because it was written by the same people. For example, something like "I want to reduce healthcare costs by implementing money saving technology" (which is common to several candidates) translates to: I want to save insurance companies money by forcing providers of all sizes to spend money on updating computers and software. So, sometimes following the second path is better. Look at where a candidate is getting their money. If it is from insurance and pharmaceutical companies, chances are they hope to make money if the candidate wins. How do these companies make money? In the case of insurance, either from charging the consumer more, or getting the provider to take less. In the case of pharmaceuticals, continued law allowing them to sell overpriced medication in the United States and placing restrictions on generics.

So, how does all this get us to McCain? Well, the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog has a good post on his relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. According to the Blog,

McCain opposes Big Pharma on two hotly contested issues: the re-importation of drugs from countries, where they cost less and giving Medicare the clout to negotiate drug prices directly. McCain has long stumped for re-importation to save money. And he voted against the expansion of Medicare to include a drug benefit because it didn’t allow direct price negotiations by the government and because the program covers too many people.

His health-care plan also calls for drug companies to reveal prices of their drugs and to develop a straightforward path for the creation of generic biologics, two other ideas that wouldn’t do much for the bottom line of the industry leaders.

So there is the rhetoric. Now how does that match up with the dollars? Surprisingly well. Again, according to the WSJ Health Blog:

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that McCain has received $39,797 in donations from pharmaceutical manufacturers. That puts him behind Obama ($154,710), Clinton ($140,544), Mitt Romney ($103,825), Rudy Giuliani ($91,550) and even Chris Dodd ($68,200)

If we turn contributions around and see who is giving to McCain, we find:

…The most generous group is the retired, with more than $5 million in donations. And who wants cheap drugs more than the retired? No. 2: Lawyers and law firms, which have given $2.5 million, according to the CRP. (No. 6 on the list are health professionals with $713,952 in contributions.)

So the numbers appear to match the rhetoric, when it comes to pharmaceuticals. However, the Blogmeister took a look at McCain’s healthcare plan. It is very nonspecific and difficult to tell what he wants to do overall. It would be interesting to apply the same analysis as above to his overall healthcare plan. Still, it seems McCain has popular support for at least half the healthcare problem. I’d really like to know, in non legal language, what he wants to do about the other half... insurance companies.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 07.21.14 @ 07:16 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

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Saturday, June 21st

Indiana Doc Leads Healthcare for All Fight

Filed under: Healthcare,Indiana,insurance,Politics: Healthcare
Tags: Anthem, blue cross, Blue Sheild, Healthcare, Hoosiers for a commonsense Health plan., indianapolis star, insurance, medicare, Rob Stone, Wellpoint

The Indianapolis Star has this article about Dr. Rob Stone. You may not agree with everything he says, but at least he's out there trying to do something about the insurance problem.

Stone, an emergency room physician at Bloomington Hospital, has emerged as one of Indiana's most outspoken advocates for making insurance accessible to all. He is co-founder and director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, which contends that the current system is too profit-driven, too inefficient, and leaves too many people without affordable access to health care.

One of Stone's favorite targets is Indiana's largest health-care insurance provider, Indianapolis-based WellPoint, a $61 billion health insurance giant that provides coverage to 35 million people in America.

"WellPoint epitomizes our system," he said. "They're it."

Stone's PowerPoint presentation lays out his case. A Medicare-type program for all is better than the current system, he says. Medicare is currently for the elderly.

One slide "with information attributed to the International Journal of Health Services in 2005 shows Medicare overhead spending was 3.1 percent of its budget, compared with 26.5 percent for investor-owned Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

Another slide; with information from the Employer Health Benefits Annual Survey and Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that from 2000 to 2006 health insurance premiums rose 87 percent while workers' earnings rose 18 percent.

For its part, WellPoint sees having a competitive, free-market system as key to improving the quality of care and controlling costs.

"We believe a single-payer health-care system would hinder progress in these areas by eliminating competition and restricting patient choice and could require patients to endure long wait times for care while possibly reducing the quality of health care," WellPoint spokesman Jim Kappel said in an e-mail.

In its recent earnings report, WellPoint touted that it lowered its administrative expenses to 14.5 percent of premium revenue in 2007 from 15.7 percent in 2006 even as it added 708,000 members.

The company also pointed to flaws in other nations' health-care systems.

"In Canada, which has a single-payer system, the average wait between a general practitioner referral and a specialty consultation at times has been longer than 17 weeks."

Stone stands by his position. He recalls a patient who refused to seek treatment for chest pains that turned out to be a heart attack. He finally sought treatment for a second attack, only because the first attack left him disabled, but now eligible for government coverage.

"Medicare works pretty well, and it's been around for a long time, so why not pattern something after Medicare?"

[Karma: 2 (+/-)] Alice on 06.21.14 @ 11:50 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

Cheap Healthcare Website Destined to Fail

Filed under: Healthcare,insurance,Politics: Healthcare
Tags: doctor, free market, Healthcare, insurance, website

The South Bend Tribune has this Associated Press Story about a website that allows users to search for health related services in an attempt to find low cost providers. The site is a good idea, but will fail. Why, you ask? Because the "medical business" is not like other businesses (this is also why "free market" approaches fail). Not because doctors are greedy, or they don't want to negotiate their prices (as they do everyday with insurance companies), but because the rule of law will not allow them to. See every doctor has to follow rules. Some are legislated, which is not what I'm writing about here, and some are contractual. These contractual rules often contain "non-disclosure" clauses, which prohibit telling you why the site will fail. If a doctor wants the dollars from big insurance, he signs the contract, sign the contract, play by insurance's rules, and don't tell anyone what the rules are. Unfortunately, this make doctors look bad, which they hate, but they cannot afford to not sign insurance contracts. So, the site will fail, docs will look bad, and everyone goes back to the same old way of doing things. Ask yourself who benefits from this failure of a free market system, and you will see where the problem lies. Unfortunately, those who know can't talk about it.

[Karma: 0 (+/-)] Alice on 06.21.14 @ 11:28 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

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Tuesday, May 13th

Clarion Health Makes WSJ Blog for Employee Health Fiasco

Filed under: Healthcare,Indiana,Indiana University,insurance
Tags: Clarian, Emloyees, Health, Indiana, Indianapolis

This came through this morning from the Wall Street Journal Health Blog. Rather than summarize it, I"ll just post the whole thing.

Fines for Bad Health Set Off Employee Backlash

Posted by Sarah Rubenstein

Employers are eager to try wellness programs for their employees to restrain healthcare costs. Who could argue with the idea that the best way to avoid medical bills is to keep from getting sick in the first place?

TherapyTry the employees at Clarian Health in Indianapolis. The hospital system had to halt a program to encourage wellness even before it got off the ground after workers objected to increases in health insurance premiums tied to missed health goals, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Clarian set minimum standards for tobacco use, body mass index, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol, the Tribune reports. Employees who didn't meet the targets and weren't working toward them would wind up paying as much as $30 more per paycheck for health insurance, the newspaper said.

The reaction from some of the health system's 13,000 employees was less than positive. "Some of them quite frankly didn't get the essence of what we were trying to do," Sheriee Ladd, Clarian's vice president of human resources, told the Tribune.

So Clarian changed the plan, offering extra money in paychecks of employees who meet the health standards or are following a plan to improve.

That seemed to mollify most everyone. The revised program drawing 95% participation during this past fall's enrollment period.

[Karma: 2 (+/-)] Alice on 05.13.14 @ 12:42 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

FDA: Allowing Big Pharma's Off Label Advertising

Filed under: Announcements,Ethics,Healthcare,Pharmacology,psychiatrist,psychiatry,Rx Meds
Tags: FDA, food and drug administration, off-label, Pharmaceutical

According to the Indianapolis Star this morning, the Food and Drug Administration will continue allowing pharmaceutical companies efforts to market a drug's "off-label" uses, as long as the companies adhere to certain guidelines. This "marketing" includes giving physicians articles describing "off-label" use. In the past this practice has come under fire as the companies themselves sponsored the research and the articles were not published in peer reviewed journals. According to the new guidelines;

Articles should not be false or misleading and should come from a peer-reviewed journal that is not influenced by the company. The proposal also says companies should attach a disclaimer to the materials indicating that the FDA has not reviewed them.

Drug industry advocates said the proposal firmly establishes FDA's role as a regulator of medicine--" not information.

However, these "advocates" have a lot to gain by the ruling.

Off-label prescriptions account for an estimated 21 percent of overall drug use, according to a 2006 analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The practice is common in treating conditions such as cancer, where doctors will prescribe drugs approved for one type of cancer for another.
[Karma: -6 (+/-)] Alice on 05.13.14 @ 12:31 PM CST [link] [No Comments]

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