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Starting next year, the government will offer some seniors enrolled in private Medicare Advantage insurance an opportunity to leave those plans if they lose their doctors or other health care providers.
be in Arizona Saturday as she works to encourage residents to sign up for individual health insurance or renew and re-enroll for coverage they bought last year.
You may not realize it, but there are actually two ways to receive your Medicare benefits.
Arizonans are painfully aware of the skyrocketing costs of health care. Both federal and state governments continue to ask for more tax dollars to pay for Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Taxpayers are contributing more than ever for health care for the less fortunate. Those below 133 percent of the federal poverty level now qualify for Medicaid and those using an ACA exchange receive a heavy subsidy. These programs will be inordinately expensive. Proposition 480 fails to acknowledge these massive changes and the sacrifices taxpayers are already making by asking for a 27-year, $1.6 billion bond and tax increase for the old way of doing health care business. At this point, the county hospital is only a true safety net for illegal immigrants because they do not qualify for AHCCCS or ACA, which begs the question why only Maricopa County property taxpayers should pay for a federal responsibility.
Q: Why are you running?
Facing a lawsuit they appeared to be losing, state prison officials have agreed to improve health care for the more than 34,000 inmates in their custody.
PHOENIX -- Facing a lawsuit they appeared to be losing, state prison officials have agreed to improve health care for the more than 34,000 inmates in their custody.
The stipulation filed Tuesday in federal court here requires the Department of Corrections to live up to more than 80 specific performance standards for how it handles medical issues. These range from staffing requirements and emergency response times to ensuring that inmates get their medications in a timely fashion.
Potentially more significant for those affected, the stipulation also requires the state to revamp its rules on solitary confinement of inmates -- the department calls it "isolation'' -- with serious mental illness.
Where current regulations keep those prisoners in their cells all but six hours a week, they will now have at least 19 hours a week elsewhere. And that time also must include mental health treatment and other programs.
And the Department has also agreed to use chemical agents like pepper spray on inmates classified as seriously mentally ill "only in case of imminent threat.''
That is defined as situations that jeopardize safety or security like an attempt to escape or active physical resistance. But it specifically precludes pepper spray for things like "passive resistance to placement in restraints or refusal to follow orders.''
Don Specter, an attorney with the Prison Law Office, said this deal, which must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa, is more than just his organization and the American Civil Liberties Union accepting on faith that things will get better.
"We will be able to tour the prisons to check ourselves to see whether they're providing adequate care,'' he said. "And we will also get a lot of documentation.''
The deal comes four months after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the go-ahead for the case, alleging inadequate health care, to be handled as a class-action lawsuit.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt, writing for the appellate court, said the attorneys for the inmates provided detailed allegations of everything from "outright denials of health care'' to improper isolation policies. And they also had information on how spending on certain services dropped by more than a third over a two-year period even as inmate population did not.
But Reinhardt, in refusing to require each inmate to prove his or her rights were violated, said the claims alleged "systemic failures'' in the prison's health care system "that expose all inmates to a substantial risk of serious harm.'' And if that is the case, Reinhardt said that would require a wholesale revamp of the agency's policies -- and not simply correcting the problems of the 13 inmates who filed the original 2012 lawsuit.
That paved the way for a trial to begin Monday.
No one from the Department of Corrections would agree to be interviewed about the decision to settle after two years of disputing the allegations. Instead, the agency issued a prepared statement from Director Charles Ryan calling the deal "positive news'' for his agency -- and essentially claiming victory.
"On the eve of trial, the plaintiffs in this case have essentially agreed that the department's current policies and practices, along with recent enhancements to programming opportunities, adequately addresses the plaintiffs' concerns relating to constitutional healthcare and conditions of confinement for maximum custody mentally ill inmates,'' the statement read.
But agency spokesman Doug Nick refused to detail what changes the department has made since the lawsuit was filed and why, if there were no problems, it took two years to settle.
The department's statement, however, suggests that money was a consideration in opting not to go to trial where a judge might have ordered some more extensive -- and expensive -- changes in inmate health care.
It says that California is spending nearly $18,000 per inmate for health care following two decades of litigation brought by the same organizations who are representing inmates here. "By contrast, Arizona spends nearly $3,800 per inmate in health care costs,'' the statement says.
The allegations made -- ones that Nick will not address -- were serious.
They include "lengthy and dangerous delays'' and "outright denials of health care,'' failure to provide necessary medication, a practice of "`employing insufficient health care staff,'' substandard dental care and denial of basic mental health care to suicidal and self-harming prisoners. The lawsuit also said that inmates in isolation units were denied adequate recreation and nutrition, constant cell illumination and inadequate mental health care staffing and treatment.
To prove their case, the inmates presented evidence of the agency's policies, internal communications and reports from four experts in prison medical care and conditions of confinement. And they provided specific incidents.
One involves an inmate who collapsed in his cell from a heart attack but where the lawsuit says officers told prisoners who asked for help to "wait and see what happens.'' While the inmate was taken, eventually, to the medical unit, he was told he had a medical appointment in a few days.
But the inmate, according to the lawsuit, had another heart attack the next day and died.
The legal papers also cite a prisoner, four months pregnant who experienced painful contractions and spotting blood. But a staffer at the medical unit told her it was nothing serious and "all in her head,'' refusing to allow her to see someone for evaluation.
She eventually miscarried.
Q. Why are you running?
Maricopa County residents will decide next month the role the county should play in Arizona’s health care system, which is already affected by state and federal health care programs.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rates the relative quality of the private plans that are offered to Medicare beneficiaries through the Medicare Advantage program. CMS rates Medicare Advantage plans on a one- to five-star scale, the highest quality being five stars. This star rating provides an overall measure of the plan’s quality and is an indication of the quality of care, access to care, responsiveness, and beneficiary satisfaction provided by the Medicare Advantage plan. This means that the higher the star rating a plan receives, the more likely you are to receive the care you need, when and where you need it - and most of all, you are more likely to be satisfied with your plan.
Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust has awarded Helen's Hope Chest a $55,000 grant to purchase furniture, fixtures and equipment for a building under construction that will house the clothing, book and school-supply bank for foster children.
With the Ralph Heap for State Senate campaign, it’s not about what he says; it’s what he doesn’t say.
A Pima County Superior Court judge may have paved the way for the state's more than 52,000 medical marijuana users to get into business of selling the drug, at least to each other.
A Texas state senator being forced out of office by a Tea Party Republican is helping Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer raise money to elect like-minded candidates to Congress.
Daughters whose mothers have died can attend a six-session workshop at Hospice of the Valley every Wednesday starting Aug. 6.
July 9, 2014
The voters of Congressional District 9 are faced with a couple of choices. Do we keep Democrat Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema to represent us or do we elect someone else?
Banner Baywood Medical Center, 6644 E. Baywood Ave. in Mesa, is now certified as a pediatric prepared emergency care center.
Politicians are climbing over each other to see who can express the most outrage over the failings of the VA. Sen. John McCain as usual led the charge, the first to demand the resignation of the Phoenix VA hospital director. Other eagerly joined in.
Allegedly professionals at the Phoenix Veterans Administration Hospital knowingly and willfully delayed, misled, and maltreated our nation’s veterans, and that infuriates me and it should infuriate every American.
Without a doubt the stories coming from the Phoenix VA are deplorable. I would hope the coming fair investigations will reveal exactly what transpired at this Facility.
Just got through watching another of President Obama’s dog and pony shows on the TV. As usual, his administration was blameless. The VA scandal was all George Bush’s fault. Too many wounded warriors were showing up for their “promised” VA healthcare. Congress was at fault too. Even though he knew of the VA’s “gaming” of the vet’s appointments back in 2009, it still wasn’t his fault. Excuse after excuse, finger pointing after finger pointing, study after study, commission after commission and now President Obama’s right-hand man is going to “look into the situation and report to President Obama directly” so that he has a better picture of what he has known all along. When will we hear President Obama’s inevitable mea culpa “I am the President of the United States and the buck stops here”? He sounds like your PR-groomed, typical, slick, Chicago lawyer (oops, he was a Chicago lawyer ... lol).
In a ruling potentially affecting thousands of Arizonans, a federal appeals court on Tuesday voided a cost-saving bid by the state's Medicaid program to deny incontinence briefs to some adults who need them.
Mesa Library is hosting a free workshop on hospice care and how to provide to the patient and family.