Still Under The Weather

Thanx to everyone for their kind wishes…..I am still in the grips of a punishing head cold….I will not be posting much until after Christmas.

Thanx for visiting even if there is little of substance….please bear with me and all will return to what passes for normal here on IST.

Everyone take care….be well and be safe….

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Medicare Advantage Plans

I know you have seen those Medicare Advantage plans on TV…..I have written what I think about these plans…in short a con job to separate seniors from their money….

Those MediCare Advantage Plans

It appears that Congress will attempt to investigate these scams….

The Biden administration on Wednesday proposed a ban on misleading ads for Medicare Advantage plans that have targeted older Americans and, in some cases, persuaded them to sign up for plans that don’t cover their doctors or prescriptions. The rule, proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would prohibit ads that market Medicare Advantage plans with confusing words, imagery, or logos. The rule also would ban ads that don’t specifically mention a health insurance plan by name, the AP reports.

It’s an aggressive step to tackle a growing problem in the Medicare Advantage marketplace, a booming business that offers privately run versions of the government’s Medicare program for people who are 65 and older or have disabilities. Nearly half of all Medicare enrollees—about 28 million—are now turning to Medicare Advantage plans. And some have been deceived by television commercials, online ads, and mailers put out by the marketing agencies and brokers that some insurers have hired to win over customers. The proposed rule “takes important steps to hold Medicare Advantage plans accountable for providing high quality coverage and care to enrollees,” said agency Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a statement.

The problem has become so pervasive that CMS agents have been secretly shopping for plans by calling the phone numbers in advertisements, finding in some cases that brokers have overstated the benefits that enrollees would get and the money they would save in the new plans. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee released an investigative report last month showing that several states also reported an increase in complaints about deceptive marketing schemes in 2021. “These proposals are an important step towards protecting seniors in Medicare from scammers and unscrupulous insurance companies and brokers,” the committee’s chairman, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Will this put a stop to these types of scams or is it just going through the motions to look like the government actually cares?

Whatcha think?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

2023 Medicare Cuts Pending

As a retired senior I am constantly watching for news on Medicare so that I can bring the news to my senior readers…..a public service from IST….

In 2023 we will have a new Congress and there is already cuts on the books to Medicare without the silliness from the GOP.

If you are a senior that depends on Medicare for your medical needs you need to read this and be aware of the changes we are looking at for the coming year.

New changes are set to come to Medicare next year. They will likely make expenses tighter for doctors, and put vital healthcare out of reach for some older patients. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, announced several policy changes in early November that will come into effect at the beginning of next year.

Among them are Medicare cuts to doctors through the Physician Fee Schedule, which is used to determine which services doctors are reimbursed for, and how much they get. Medicare reimbursement will decrease by about 4.5%, and ​​surgical care will face a nearly 8.5% cut.

“It’s affecting how doctors can run their businesses,” Christian Shalgain, Director of Advocacy and Health Policy at the American College of Surgeons, told Insider. “I’ve talked to doctors who are saying, ‘I have to decide whether to hire a new person or buy a new piece of equipment.’ That’s a significant problem from a patient’s perspective.”

If healthcare providers get less money through Medicare, they won’t be able to hire as many nurses, doctors, and other staff, as well as fund necessary equipment for services. It affects the quality of care patients are able to get, and can even impact how many Medicare patients a healthcare provider can take on, Shalgain said.

In years past, Congress has been able to postpone these preplanned cuts until the next year, varyingly achieving full scraps of the plan, or reduced cuts. Doctors’ groups lobby annually for Congress to intervene, because they say that it stretches their budgets thin, which is especially a problem given that hospitals are already strained from COVID and healthcare costs are skyrocketing. 

https://www.businessinsider.com/medicare-cuts-affect-seniors-healthcare-medicaid-social-security-funding-2022-11

The good news is that your insulin may be more affordable….the bad news is the rest of your health needs will be more expensive.

Before you get excited maybe you should read this……

Peace and economic justice advocates responded to the imminent unveiling Friday of the United States Air Force’s new $750 million-per-plane nuclear bomber by reiterating accusations of misplaced priorities in a nation where tens of millions of people live in poverty and lack adequate healthcare coverage.

Military-industrial complex giant Northrop Grumman is set to introduce its B-21 Raider on Friday. The B-21, whose development was 30 years in the making and whose total project cost is expected to exceed $200 billion, is tapped to replace the aging B-2 Spirit.

“One thing the world definitely does not need is another stealth bomber,” Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the peace group CodePink,

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/12/02/millions-americans-lack-adequate-health-coverage-pentagon-has-new-nuclear-bomber

That’s right we will get stale bread crumbs and the M-IC gets champagne…..

And you vote for these people….shame on you!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Up Uranus

Sunday and thought I would give you a little FYI…..today is a little medical news….

Remember the days when Pharma pushed a drug for those that cried and laughed uncontrollably?  Or maybe you will recall the “Restless Leg Syndrome”?

Now we have another ‘new’ disease that will need a drug to control….

The condition is called “Phantom Rectum Syndrome”…..

You may have heard of phantom limb syndrome, a particularly odd condition that 80-100 percent of people experience after going through an amputation.

Amputees can experience sensations, discomfort, and pain that feels like it’s coming from a limb or appendage that is no longer there. Though common after limb amputation, the condition can also affect people who have had other body parts removed, including breasts, tongues, penises, and even internal organs. In fact, if you can feel sensations in it pre-removal (we’re looking at you, stomach and bladder) then it’s possible to have phantom discomfort or pain in it after operation. 

This is true also of people who go through operations to have their rectum and colon removed (for instance following rectal cancer located low down in the rectum), leaving patients with a condition known as “phantom rectum syndrome”.

“People who have lost a limb, still feel pain or itching or they feel like their limb’s still there,” BBC presenter Sam Cleasby, who runs the website So Bad Ass documenting her experience following a colectomy in 2013, told the BBC. “So that’s the same but in your rectum. It’s like your brain doesn’t know that it’s not attached anymore.”

The syndrome affects somewhere between 32 and 68 percent of patients following rectum resection, and varies in its effects. Around half of people who experience it do so as pain, with others feeling sensations such as itching, feeling of feces in the rectum, an urge to defecate, feeling like your anus is contracting, feeling like you are passing wind, tightness, stinging, shooting pains, and pins and needles.

https://www.iflscience.com/phantom-rectum-syndrome-is-a-real-pain-in-the-ass-66429

As long as we are on Uranus…..how would you like to earn as much as $180,000 a year?

In these days of high inflation we all could use some extra cash…..

If so I have an answer for you.

Every time you poop, you might be flushing money down the toilet.

It’s true. Some medical companies will pay healthy donors for their stool. Depending on the company, the poop is then used for microbiome studies or in treatment of patients with Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that causes infections in the colon.

Looking for a side hustle? Your poop could save lives and make you some cash in the process.

Here’s what you need to know to sell your poop.

The amount you earn with each donation depends on the company.

  • HumanMicrobes pays $500 per stool donation. If you poop daily and send it, you could net up to $180,000 per year.
  • GoodNature offers $25-75 per visit and up to $1,500 per month.
  • Poop With Purpose pays $50 per donation and up to $1,500 per month.

Like any other side hustle, get details on compensation before you sign any contracts or make any commitments.

While everybody poops, not everyone is eligible to be a donor. Each company has health and geographical requirements.

How to Make Up to $180,000 a Year Selling Your Poop (If You Can Stomach It)

Now you have all the health news for this Sunday…..

Be Well….Be Safe….

“lego ergo scribo”

Do You Drink Diet Sodas?

I know we all are concerned about our health and the first place many start is the cutting out of sugar from their diets….but is that a wise decision?

First question to ask is….are these sodas healthier?

Diet sodas are popular beverages all over the world, especially among people who want to reduce their sugar or calorie intake.

Instead of sugar, artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame-k, or sucralose, are used to sweeten them.

Almost every popular sugar-sweetened beverage on the market has a “light” or a “diet” version — Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, Sprite Zero, etc.

Diet sodas were first introduced in the 1950s for people with diabetes, though they were later marketed to people trying to control their weight or reduce their sugar intake.

Despite being free of sugar and calories, the health effects of diet drinks and artificial sweeteners are controversial.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/diet-soda-good-or-bad

This is what happens to your body with the consumption of diet drinks…..

Every food or drink you include in your diet can affect your health. From orange juice consumption being linked to immune support to a cup of tea being linked to reduced inflammation, your dietary choices can profoundly impact your overall health.

And while you might lean on diet soda for that distinct sweet effervescence without worrying about loading up with sugar, doing so may have other effects on your health that you may not realize. Here are six other effects (positive and negative) that can happen when you sip diet sodas on the regular.

https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7964257/this-is-what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-drink-diet-soda/

You can break your Diet drink addiction…..

There are plenty of simple steps you can take to decrease your intake of diet soda.

Start by slowly swapping it for other drinks in your diet. Here are a few alternative drinks to consider:

Look for versions of these drinks that either are unsweetened or have a lower sugar content. Try adding a splash of juice to water or seltzer.

You can make flavored water by adding cucumber slices, fresh or frozen fruit, herbs like basil and mint, or citrus fruits like lime or lemon to plain or sparkling water for a hint of flavor without added sugar.

Tye best way to handle this is talk with your medical professional….for I am in no way qualified to give medical advice…..

This post is just FYI and a place to start if you have an addiction to these drinks….

Always put your health first.

Have a great weekend…..Be well and Be Safe…..

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Those MediCare Advantage Plans

You have seen the ads…..everybody sells these plans, even AARP, that say they can put money back into your Social Security check….but what of these plans?

First of all the whole US health care system is a scam.

But what of these ‘advantage’ plans?

At least one Senator is not convinced these are anything but a deception….

Sen. Ron Wyden on Tuesday launched an inquiry into “potentially deceptive” marketing tactics being used by private insurers and other companies that offer Medicare benefits through Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans, citing “alarming reports” about contractors “engaging in aggressive sales practices that take advantage of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.”

In his capacity as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal healthcare programs under the Social Security Act, including privately run Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D drug plans, Wyden (D-Ore.) sent letters requesting more information from 15 state insurance commissioners and state health insurance assistance programs.

The letter—sent to officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas—comes amid a surge in complaints about MA and Part D marketing materials that purport to inform seniors of their coverage options.

In May, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which has the authority to regulate materials used to market MA and Part D plans, reported that complaints from seniors more than doubled from 2020 to 2021.

Among other things, Wyden wants officials to provide data on the number of complaints about MA and/or Part D marketing materials they have received in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, including possible patterns of discrimination, as well as “examples of potentially false or misleading marketing materials and advertisements in MA or Part D, including mailers, robo-calls, websites, television commercials, and online advertisements.”

Of Medicare’s 60 million beneficiaries, nearly half are enrolled in MA plans and 50 million are enrolled in Part D plans. Corporations that manage MA plans have come under fire for upcoding, or exaggerating patients’ illnesses in order to reap larger payments from the federal government—something they do while refusing to provide necessary care for tens of thousands each year.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/08/23/wyden-launches-probe-deceptive-marketing-medicare-advantage-plans

So the question remains….is Medicare Advantage a necessary expense?  Is it a scam?

My thoughts are this is an unnecessary expense with promises that may not be realized or needed.

Watch This Blog!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Time For Men To Pay A Price

Roe v Wade decision has made our women second class citizens yet again….their personal choices out of their hands and put it into the hands of the old farts that run state governments.

Some have said that there should be some price for men to pay as well…..most of the concern is that of the popularity of Viagra….but I read about one idea that I could get behind and maybe you should as well if you are at all concerned about the loss of the right of choice.

An Oklahoma Democrat has proposed that young men in his state be forced to have vasectomies in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning the Roe Vs Wade ruling.

Last month, Mickey Dollens invited his fellow lawmakers to co-author a bill which would give a mandatory vasectomy to every young man in Oklahoma.

The vasectomy would only be reversed once each man could prove they were financially and emotionally stable, and not a moment before.

If any of this is sounding insane, that’s because Dollens is only raising the bill to make a point that the state having such invasive control over a person’s body is, indeed, insane.

This invasive control is exactly what will happen to many US women after the Supreme Court made the decision to overturn Roe Vs Wade last week, effectively ruling that the constitution doesn’t safeguard a woman’s right to an abortion.

The only exceptions to Oklahoma’s new abortion laws are in the case of rape or incest, and even then only if they have been reported to the authorities.

Saying he was thinking about introducing the legislation on forcing men to have vasectomies next year, Dollens suggested to Republicans who thought he was being ‘crazy’ that now ‘maybe you understand how 50 percent of Oklahomans feel’.

Republicans have argued that there is ‘nothing higher or more critical than the defence of innocent, unborn life’.

https://www.unilad.co.uk/news/lawmaker-mandatory-vasectomy-roe-wade-decision-20220627

It may sound a bit extreme but no more so than taking a woman’s right of choice.

I agree with this idea…..let men pay for a price as well as the women.

Any thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

More SCOTUS Thoughts

Our political hacks that we call SCOTUS are rolling our country down the road to ruin because of a political agenda not what is right.

A few thoughts for you to consider.

We now know what the courts think about the right to choice…..but there is more than just abortions that could be the problem…..

More than 73,000 babies were born in the U.S. by means of in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques in 2020, slightly more than 2 percent of all births that year. About 85 percent of children born as a result of IVF procedures in this country are born from thawed embryos. Since 1987, more than 1 million Americans started their lives as embryos created outside of their mother’s bodies. By one estimate, as many as 1.4 million embryos remain frozen at U.S. fertility clinics.

It is not clear what effect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will have on would-be parents seeking to use IVF as a way to have children. The majority opinion states that abortion destroys “potential life” and what the Mississippi statute at issue in the case calls an “unborn human being.” It does not, however, mention IVF or other assisted reproduction techniques.

Infertility advocates and practitioners of fertility medicine are, nevertheless, concerned about the long-term implications of the Dobbs decision. In an article in Contemporary OB/GYN, Jared Robins and Sean Tipton, respectively the executive director and the chief policy and advocacy officer of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, argue that the Dobbs decision puts fertility care at “significant risk.” Under current practice, patients of IVF clinics generally choose to create numerous embryos for possible implantation. As fertility treatments proceed, embryos are often discarded when pre-implantation genetic diagnosis indicates significant inheritable maladies or after patients have completed their families.

The Supreme Court’s Dobbs Decision Threatens Assisted Reproduction

Another ruling that could change everything and for a long time…..gerrymandering.

The Supreme Court handed down a brief order Tuesday evening that effectively reinstates racially gerrymandered congressional maps in the state of Louisiana, at least for the 2022 election.

Under these maps, Black voters will control just one of Louisiana’s six congressional seats, despite the fact that African Americans make up nearly a third of the state’s population. Thus, the Court’s decision in Ardoin v. Robinson means that Black people will have half as much congressional representation as they would enjoy under maps where Black voters have as much opportunity to elect their own preferred candidate as white people in Louisiana.

A federal trial court, applying longstanding Supreme Court precedents holding that the Voting Rights Act does not permit such racial gerrymanders, issued a preliminary injunction temporarily striking down the Louisiana maps and ordering the state legislature to draw new ones that include two Black-majority districts. Notably, a very conservative panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied the state’s request to stay the trial court’s decision — a sign that Louisiana’s maps were such a clear violation of the Voting Rights Act that even one of the most conservative appeals courts in the country could not find a good reason to disturb the trial court’s decision.

https://www.vox.com/23187117/supreme-court-louisiana-racial-gerrymander-ardoin-robinson-congressional-maps

Gerrymandering is not good for the country….at least with competitive districts makes our nation stronger….we are losing that capability…..

Competitive congressional districts have been steadily disappearing for decades. In the current redistricting cycle, six highly competitive districts in the House of Representatives were drawn out of existence. The Cook Political Report estimates that less than 8 percent of congressional districts will be competitive come November.

This is a problem. It’s not because competitive districts are a powerfully moderating force on our democracy — instead, the decline of competitive districts is a problem that reflects deeper causes of partisan polarization and leaves the overwhelming majority of Americans in places where their votes don’t matter, and where parties and candidates don’t need to work for anybody’s votes.

Governing in America requires compromise. But when over 90 percent of congressional districts lean toward one of the two major parties, that means most representatives have little incentive to compromise. In fact, representatives increasingly face strong pressures to be very partisan, which has made governing very difficult.

But perhaps more importantly, when there isn’t competition, citizens and parties have little reason to show up and vote. Instead it becomes the highly organized donors and activists who are engaged, while the rest of the district is ignored. It’s true that competitive districts might not produce especially moderate candidates, but they are important when it comes to engaging and informing citizens. And this participation has valuable spillover effects for communities, well beyond our elections. 

What We Lose When We Lose Competitive Congressional Districts

Gerrymandering is just politicians choosing their voters not the other way around.

Any opinions?

Watch This Blog!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Pentagon Does The Right Thing

In my opinion for the wrong reasons…..

The Pentagon has come out on the side of ‘reproductive rights’….(for now)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday that the Pentagon is working to ensure that members of the military, their families and its civilian employees will still have access to “reproductive health care” after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters: The Defense Department currently does not have a policy to accommodate service members or employees who are seeking an abortion but are stationed in a state that has outlawed abortion, Politico reports.

  • Federal law currently allows military medical facilities to provide abortions only in cases of rape, incest or if a woman’s life is in danger, while the military’s health program is allowed to cover abortions at private facilities for those same reasons only.

What they’re saying: “Nothing is more important to me or to this Department than the health and well-being of our Service members, the civilian workforce and DOD families,” Austin said in a statement on Friday.

  • “I am committed to taking care of our people and ensuring the readiness and resilience of our Force. The Department is examining this decision closely and evaluating our policies to ensure we continue to provide seamless access to reproductive health care as permitted by federal law,” he added.

The big picture: The court’s decision may further strain the military’s recruitment efforts — already hampered by low employment and other factors as potential recruits may fear being stationed in states that have banned abortions, according to Bloomberg.

  • Women make up around 20% of the military’s 1.3 million-member active-duty force, and 95% of them are of reproductive age, according to Stars and Stripes citing department statistics.

(axios.com)

Ain’t that some kind of special?

My thoughts is that this will be a recruiting tool…..I mean the Pentagon has a hard time doing anything about sexual assaults, rape and such, in the military why else would they be so concerned about reproductive rights?

Next this ought o make conservs lose their under productive little minds.  (Something that would give me hours of enjoyment)

But here is a thought for them….punish the Pentagon by slashing their budget by $250 billion and use the cash for infrastructure and social programs.

That is just my wishful thinking for that will never happen….the M-IC and its oligarchs will slip lots of cash to our Congress to soothe their troubled minds.

This is nothing more than a news trap….in other words bullsh*t.

Any thoughts of this little piece of theater?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”