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Health: United States 

Archives  2004

Reports               Articles 



HIV, AIDS, and Older People (June 2004)
(Report also available in Spanish
HIV/AIDS can infect anyone regardless of their age. About 19 percent of people living with HIV in the US are adults age 50 and over. Older adults often are not aware of what causes HIV/AIDS and do not go for blood tests. As a result, they do not realize that they have been infected because they mistake their symptoms for age-related issues. An older person infected with HIV/AIDS can suffer from depression, declining health and eventually financial problems. HIV/AIDS cannot be cured but it can be prevented and treated. Therefore, it is best for individuals to talk to their doctors about the disease and be tested early. 

The 2004 Survey of State Adult Protective Services: Abuse of Older Adults 60 years of Age and Older (2004)
This report by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) gives readers a clear idea about what is happening to many older adults in the United States. The information presented is based on fiscal year 2003 data from Adult Protective Services (APS) collected in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. APS is a state-operated program and it refers to “those services provided to older people and people with disabilities who are in danger of being mistreated or neglected, are unable to protect themselves, and have no one to assist them.” According to the study, the most common forms of elder abuse in the US are self-neglect, caregiver neglect, and financial exploitation. 

What is the Truth About the Cost of Utilization of Medical Technology in Europe vs. the U.S.? (December 3, 2004)

The United States spends 15% of its GDP on healthcare, more than any other industrialized nation. Yet, its overall health outcomes are arguably not correspondingly better.
It is believed that much of America's additional expenditure comes from a greater use of new medical equipment and devices. At the same time, medical technologies have been shown to save money and improve healthcare outcomes. 
The Global Medical Forum Foundation's second U.S. Summit will address this challenge, and seek to answer questions in three reports including: What lessons can American policymakers, providers, and payers learn from the European experience with healthcare machines and devices? Have the European industrialized nations learned to be better purchasers and users of these new medical technologies?
The follow-up:

Coverage & Access: Women's Health Varies Across Country (September 2, 2004)
There are several "notable differences" in women's health across the United States revealing the need to improve in every state, according to a report released in August 2004 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the study, researchers from the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women's Health and CDC ranked each state on 27 indicators including major causes of death, health risk factors, preventive care and health insurance coverage. Researchers organized the information by state "to help policymakers, program officials, researchers and others identify key issues of importance," according to a CDC release. The report also includes data on race and ethnicity. The report "highlights a growing awareness that gender plays a significant role in health and that women need special attention because of their biological differences from men."

Uninsured and Underserved: The Health Care Experiences of Latinos in the Nation's Capital (December 20, 2004)
A summary of Latino experiences and opinions regarding access to health care in the District of Columbia, this brief also contrasts the experiences of Latinos in the District of Columbia with those of Latinos nationally. 

"Medicaid Prescription Drug Reimbursement: Why the Government Pays Too Much" (December 7, 2004)
This report is a hearing transcript sponsored by the Committee on Energy and Commerce focuses on Medicaid's prescription drug reimbursement procedure. The panels are composed by health professionals, health, State employees, representatives of pharmaceutical firms and commercial firms. Find the answers to high drug costs in the USA.

Older Women’s League Mother’s Day Report 

Healthcare costs increased by double digits during the last few years. Quick fixes in the last decade simply slowed increases for several years. Once again women risk financial security as they age. Women are often at a loss in obtaining affordable adequate healthcare. OWL has advocated for change in the American healthcare system since its inception in 1980. Improvements have been limited and we find again ourselves experiencing a healthcare crisis.

Health Insurance Coverage in America: 2003 Data Update (December 2004)
”Almost 45 million Americans were uninsured in 2003…growing by 1.4 million from the previous year and a total of over 5 million since 2000”.This chartbook provides 2003 data on health insurance coverage, with special attention to the uninsured. It includes trends and major shifts in coverage and a profile of the uninsured population.

Prescription Drug Spending Under The MMA: Modeling The Impact On Out-of-Pocket Costs (November 22, 2004)
This report projects the impact of the new Medicare drug benefit on out-of-pocket spending for people who enroll in 2006. The analysis is based on a model developed by the Actuarial Research Corporation for the Kaiser Family Foundation. The model generally conforms to the Congressional Budget Office’s assumptions and projections about Medicare drug benefit spending and participation rates for the new benefit and for the low-income subsidy. 

National Survey on Consumer’s Experience with Patient Safety and Quality Information (November 2004)
Americans say that they do not believe that the nation's quality of care has improved, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and other important institutions. The survey also finds that nearly half (48%) of U.S. residents say they are concerned about the safety of the medical care that they and their families receive. About one in three people (34%) say that they or a family member had experienced a medical error at some point 
in their life. This study summarizes key findings from a national survey that assesses Americans' perceptions about the quality of health care, their awareness and reported usage of information in making their health care choices, and their experiences with their health care providers.

A Review of Federal and State Policies Related to Immigrant’s Eligibility and Access to Publicly Funded Health Insurance (November 2004)
This brief from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the uninsured provides an overview of health coverage challenges facing immigrants, the federal rules regarding immigrants’ eligibility for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and state efforts to provide replacement coverage for immigrants who are ineligible for Medicaid and SCHIP.

Prescription Drugs Trends (October 2004)
This two-page report provides trend data for prescription drug expenditures and the key factors that contribute to rising prescription spending: increases in utilization and prices, and changes in drug use from older drugs to newer higher-priced drugs. The report provides private and public responses to increasing drug costs.

Waste Not, Want Not : How Eliminating Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industry Waste Could Fund Health Care for All (October 7, 2004)
The United States ranks near the bottom of the industrialized countries in life expectancy, infant mortality. It does not provide public health insurance for its population. However, contrary to what many people think about the cost of health coverage for everyone, the United States already spends more than enough to insure the entire population. This report looks at the waste of the US private health insurance system with substantial detail. The US system subsidizes profits of corporations connected to the health industry rather than supporting good health for its citizens.

Americans & Health Care Reform: How Access and Affordability Are Shaping Views (September 15, 2004)
US citizens want their government to provide more public health care and favor importing prescription drugs. Will US legislators respond with programs that benefit citizens or that protect corporations? 
Opinion Research Corporation did telephone interviews from September 2 to 5, 2004, among a sample of 1020 adults 18 years old or older living in the United States. 78% of participants answered that they are willing to accept a greater government role in health care because it is a necessity such as water, gas, and electricity. Also, they appear willing to look at new ways to ensure access to affordable health care such as importing lower-cost prescription drugs. This report is originally made by Power Point but it is saved with PDF file. You may see the important parts of results of this survey with a lot of graphs.

Reimportation of Prescription Drugs (September 2004)
Spending on prescription drugs in America has increased faster than any other category of health care expenditures. Yet in Canada and many other industrialized nations, prescription drug prices are either partly or entirely kept in line by government negotiation and policy, leading to significantly lower prices for consumers.

A Review of the Quality of Health Care for American Indians and Alaska Natives (September 2004) 
American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIANs) continue to suffer significant disparities in their health status, despite the efforts of the Indian health system to improve the quality of care in AIAN communities. Severely underfunded, the system cannot deliver quality health care to this population. This paper reviews the current status of the quality of health care for AIANs. 

Americans & Health Care Reform: How Access and Affordability Are Shaping Views (September 15, 2004)
US citizens want their government to provide more public health care and favor importing prescription drugs. Will US legislators respond with programs that benefit citizens or that protect corporations? 
Opinion Research Corporation did telephone interviews from September 2 to 5, 2004, among a sample of 1020 adults 18 years old or older living in the United States. 78% of participants answered that they are willing to accept a greater government role in health care because it is a necessity such as water, gas, and electricity. Also, they appear willing to look at new ways to ensure access to affordable health care such as importing lower-cost prescription drugs. This report is originally made by Power Point but it is saved with PDF file. You may see the important parts of results of this survey with a lot of graphs.

Why Is Life Expectancy So Low in the United States? (August 2004)
The United has the second highest GDP in the world following Luxembourg . Usually, it is said that longevity is associated with income. In fact, Americans lived longer than people in other nations until 1980s. However, nowadays, American citizens do not live longer: the U.S. ranks 18th in life expectancy for women among the 30 OECD countries. Why? Alicia H. Munnell, a head researcher of this study, tried to figure out the reasons.

Employer Health Benefits: 2004 Summary of Findings
The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust introduced their latest findings on employers’ health benefits. They reported that all workers receiving health coverage from their employer fell from 65% in 2001 to 61% in 2004, estimating that at least five million people were affected by this change. Currently, most covered workers enjoy the same health benefits regardless their work place; however, experts are questioning whether smaller firms will continue to support family coverage if health costs continue to go up.

Doughnut Holes and Price Controls (July 21, 2004)
This detailed paper attempts to explore the implications of "doughnut hole" under the new Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit to be implemented in 2006. Medicare beneficiaries are left without coverage for expenses totaling from $2,250 to $5,100 referred to as the "doughtnut hole". Professor Anderson and colleagues propose to establish similar price controls existent in other developed countries such as Canada, United Kingdom and France. Professor Anderson hopes that such price controls will ensure better access to cheaper drugs. United States officials have to choose whether to introduce price controls and thereby reducing funding for Research and Development versus high drug prices for its citizens and increased funding for R and D. In 2003 alone, citizens of Canada, United Kingdom and France spent about 34-59% less than what American citizens paid for the same drugs.

NYC Department for the Aging Launches NYC Caregiver Website (July 20, 2004)
The New York City Department for the Aging has launched a new website with resources and support to New York City’s informal caregivers. More than 6,000 caregivers who speak 13 different languages have been served through the NYC Caregiver Program, but the new website will reach even more of the 2 million New York City caregivers, Edwin Méndez-Santiago emphasized. The website offers information in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian with a fully translated version of the website planned for the future. Although you may not live in NYC, US citizens can get a lot of useful information regarding caregiving issues, such as paying for care, getting help, healthy living, and even legal information. Try it!

A State Policy Agenda to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (June 2004)
John E. McDonough, the executive director of Health Care for All in Massachusetts and the head researcher of this article, argued that despite the fact that many states sponsor specific health programs that help racial and ethnic minorities, health disparities have still not been a high-level issue. He and his colleagues have given state policy makers a list of policy interventions in state infrastructure and capacity such as the elderly care, insurance coverage and primary care. Also, they addressed health conditions on racial and ethnic minorities such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. This report includes a lot of useful resources about the racial and ethnic health disparities.  

The Medicare Drug War: An Army of Nearly 1,000 Lobbyists Pushes a Medicare Law that Puts Drug Company and HMO Profits Ahead of Patients and Taxpayers (June 2004)
A recent study conducted by an advocacy group Public Citizen reveals the time, money and effort that went into lobbying to pass the new Medicare Law. The report reveals the hiring of 824 individual lobbyists in 2003 alone by the pharmaceutical industry. In the same year, pharmaceutical industry spent about $108.6 million on lobbying efforts alone. Please click on the link to read more about the details that went behind passing the Medicare law.

Reactions to the New Medicare Law (June 3, 2004)
A recent report by The Kaiser Family Foundation assessed Medicare beneficiaries' opinions and feelings towards the new Medicare law. The 10 focus groups were conducted in Pittsburg, PA, Kansas City, KS, and Washington, DC. The groups were divided into recipients with income of less than $17K, income between $17K-$35K, income above $35 and disability coverage. The focus groups addressed their reactions to the temporary drug discount card as well as the one beginning in 2006. What were the seniors' reactions towards the Medicare drug discount card? 

Who, When, and How: The Current State of Race, Ethnicity, and Primary Language Data Collection in Hospitals (May 2004) 
Romana Hasnain-wynia and other researchers at the Health Research and Educational Trust show that the lack of primary data of race/ ethnicity and primary language prevents eliminating disparities and improving the quality of patient care for all. According to the author’s survey of 1,000 hospitals nationwide and results of the 2003 American Hospital Association annual survey, only 78% of hospitals reported collecting race and ethnicity data about patients. 50 % of respondents from the 22 states that have a mandate to collect such data were actually aware of the mandate. Site visits to six leading hospitals and health systems convinced the authors that despite a commitment to collecting this information, no consistent policies and practices are in place. This ignorance turns a blind eye to racial and ethnic abuse!

Democracy on Drugs (May 18, 2004)
This study about the vote on the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill denounces the immoral circumstances of this vote. The first scandal came in January 2004, when US citizens discovered the real cost of the Medicare Law: from the $395 billion planned first to $534 billion. However the democratic process worked at its worst. Representative of Michigan, Nick Smith, said he was pressured and lobbied to vote "yes" to the Medicare bill. Moreover, it appears, Congress censored for the first time in 25 years the C-SPAN camera that records what the House of Representatives is doing. Furthermore, some of the officials who negotiated for the Medicare law, such as Thomas Scully, the former government official for Medicare, are now working in industries that receive financial advantage from the new law. 

Health Care Information (May 2004)
The Kaiser Family Foundation produced a data book regarding changes in the health care market place. They pointed out the striking changes in this area: the increase of health care spending and costs, the premiums and benefits changes and the consumers place in that issue. All these information will soon be available on the Kaiser Foundation Website.

Testimony Before the House Regarding Medicare Drug Discount Card Program (April 2004)
Consumers of all ages are in dire need of relief from the high cost of prescription drugs. The discount drug card program that is scheduled to go into effect soon may offer modest relief to some low-income Medicare beneficiaries. However, Congress needs to do much more to provide meaningful discounts for Medicare beneficiaries and relief for non-beneficiaries as well.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Women’s Health Coverage and Access to Care Findings from the 2001 Kaiser Women’s Health Survey (March 2004)
Kaiser Family Foundation reported significant racial and ethnic differences in health status. The Kaiser Women’s Health Survey, a nationally representative survey of nearly 4,000 women between the ages of 18 to 64, provided the basic information. These data show differences in health status, health insurance coverage, and selected measures of access to care among African American, Latina, and white. Although the data was gathered from young and middle aged women, they will become the elderly sooner or later. Therefore, the survey can predict the future health status among elder women with different ethnicities.

Trends in Manufacture Prices of Brand Name Prescription Drugs Used by Older Americans - First Quarter 2004 Update (January-March 2004)
The annual manufacturer price of prescription drugs has increased from 2000 to 2003, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. Manufacturers raised prices on some 106 out of 197 drugs during the period from December 31, 2003 through March 31, 2004. The average annual rate of price increase rose from 6.9 % in 2003 to 7.2 % for the 12-month period ending in March 2004, while the rate of general inflation fells from 2.3 % to 2.0 %. The average annual price increase for brand name prescription drugs hurts older Americans who live on fixed incomes. Why then did AARP lobby so hard with millions of dollars for the Medicare Modernization Act that hurts older people by allowing unregulated drug prices? 

New Kaiser Family Foundation Survey Shows Seniors Confused About Medicare Rx Drug Law (February 26, 2004)
A survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows most seniors are confused about the Medicare prescription drug debate and the prescription drug law. Over 60% of US seniors followed the debate very closely but only 15% say they understand its meaning. Many seniors don't even know the law was passed. The complex nature of the new Medicare law represents a challenge to inform seniors about the new plan. For more information about this survey, please visit the Kaiser Family Foundation at www.kff.org.

Retiree Health Benefits in 2003: Employer Survey (January 14, 2004)
This survey, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates between June and September 2003 provides detailed information on retiree health programs offered by large private-sector employers. The data in this survey reflect the responses of 408 large firms (private-sector employers with 1,000 or more workers) and provides information on eligibility, benefits, premiums, and total cost in 2003, and offers insights as to what changes employers say they are likely to make in the near future. 



The Doctor Will See You Now...in Your Living Room (December 30, 2004)
This article highlighted a new program intended to care for a "rapidly growing elderly population" launched at several New York City hospitals. The programs incorporate technological advances, such as portable EKG and Doppler machines, to facilitate "complex, if routine, exams" by doctors or nurses in patients' homes. Hurray!

Governors Ask Bush Not to Cut Medicaid (December 23, 2004)
To lighten the Federal deficit, President Bush would still like to require the States to pay more for Medicare and Medicaid. The big deal is that Medicare expenditures already account for an average of 22% of the States’ budget at the expense of other crucial State responsibilities. That’s why the nation’s Governors wrote a letter on December 22, 2004, to President Bush to urge the White House not to increase the part paid by the States but to find a good answer to the growing number of elderly and the reform of the Social Security. Guess what Bush is going to say? It begins with a P…

Dying For Basic Care: For Blacks, Poor Health Care Access Cost 900,000 Lives (December 21, 2004)
More than 886,000 deaths could have been prevented from 1991 to 2000 if African Americans had received the same care as whites, according to an analysis in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The study estimates that technological improvements in medicine, including better drugs, devices and procedures, averted only 176,633 deaths during the same period. Racism continues to kill racial ethnic minorities in the USA.

Medicare Disadvantaged and the Search for the Elusive "Level Playing Field" (December 15, 2004)
Throughout its history, the Medicare program has tested various models designed to gradually integrate the participation of private health insurance organizations. Most recently, in an effort to expand the role of private insurers, the government has been paying these plans more per-enrollee compared with similar enrollees in traditional, fee-for-service Medicare. Why should US citizens continue to subsidize private business when it can be done better and for less cost in the public sector? Who benefits from such subsidies? Certainly not those using Medicare.

Bush Administration Gives Mixed View on Drug Imports (December 22, 2004)
Congress will get a government report on the possible importation of drugs from Canada. Do you remember President Bush said during the Presidential debate that he could allow the importation of drugs to decrease the cost of some medicines for individuals? But, one time again, the government offers a mixed point of view on the importation of drugs. On one hand, such a law could be feasible; consumer groups like AARP and some drugstore executives added that it will be safer than the unregulated imports; Americans will save more using generics available from Canada. On the other hand, the government warned that it will harm US pharmaceutical firms and thereby stall the development of new drugs in the United States (as if drug profits were not already huge) and the safety of the imported drugs could not be assured (have you heard about the Vioxx, Celebrex, Bextra and Aleve’s scandals?).

A 4th Painkiller Is Tied to Increased Heart Risk (December 21, 2004)

After the Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra’s scandals, a new study has found that Aleve, a popular over-the-counter painkiller made by Bayer, could increase heart problems. Federal officials are warning patients not to exceed the recommended dose of two 200-milligram pills a day or continue therapy for more than 10 days without consulting a physician.

Top Ten Drug Interactions Most Dangerous to Seniors in Long-Term Care (December 14, 2004)
Numerous studies have shown senior citizens are the most prone to dangerous drug interactions, which has prompted the establishment of a project by the American Medical Directors Association and the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists to identify the ten drug interactions most commonly associated with such reactions by residents in long-term care. The following account, developed by Karen E. Brown, pharmacy doctor, outlines the impact, the mechanism of interaction, the prevention and the management of these ten drugs.

Retirees Are Paying More for Health Benefits, Study Says (December 15, 2004)
US health care costs are the highest in the world—since they must generate profits to nearly every segment of the health system: private insurance, medical equipment, medications, private hospitals, and much more. The US government has shrunk its commitment to public support of older persons’ health. Companies now find it difficult to sustain this private system and have cut back on retiree health benefits. That’s why US retirees have seen their personal insurance premiums increase about 25 percent this year and more increases are on the way. Will US companies and their retirees demand a public and universal health system, similar to European programs, to replace the present expensive arrangements?

Families Inform Roadmap to Improve Care for Dying in Nursing Homes (December 13, 2004)
End-of-life care in nursing homes often results in unnecessary suffering due mainly to a lack of staff time, training and communication, according to a new AARP study conducted at Brown Medical School. The report lists 15 recommendations to improve care, including more staffing, increased physician presence, additional training and better reimbursement rates.

A Lump of Coal For America's Poor (December 10, 2004)
With President Bush set to make his tax cuts permanent for 2005 and push Social Security privatization, the extra money to make up the difference has to come from somewhere. Bill Vaughan of Families USA says it's likely to come from one of the largest, and most vital, government programs: Medicaid. In a season of doing good unto others, cutting taxes for millionaires and leaving severely ill seniors in nursing homes without care is an immoral choice.

Medicare Caveat (December 8, 2004)
Tommy G. Thompson declared at a press conference following his resignation as Secretary of Health and Human Services that he was really proud of the Medicare prescription drug bill that he pushed through Congress. He claimed to be disappointed that the government would not be allowed to bargain for prices with drugs companies. He added that this “wonderful law” shouldn’t impoverish the elderly or push the government debt higher. A sick joke!

U.S. Settles on Regions for Dispensing Medicare Drug Benefits (December 7, 2004)
The government announced on December 6, 2004, the geographical plan to administer the new Medicare program sharing the country in 34 regions. A lot of critics denounce the numeric inequality of Medicare participants in these regions. Leslie V. Norwalk, acting deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the boundaries had been drawn to maximize participation by private insurers in each region. In addition, the geographical boundary for preferred-provider organizations (PPO) is different than the Medicare one with 26 regions. On one side, the insurance companies agree these decisions and, on the other side, the non-profit organizations working on health issues are deeply disappointed. What is your opinion?

Health Care: The Real Crisis (December 3, 2004)
George Bush is beginning to frame his Social Security reform agenda as a way to help workers. That leaves Democrats the opportunity to reframe the debate about the best way to do so. Jonathan Tasini argues what will help workers—and American employers—is a single-payer health plan. In 2004, The United States will $1.8 trillion in health care. According to physicians for a National Health Program , a single-payer system could be financed by a 7 percent payroll tax and a 2 percent income tax and so do more for American people with less money. So why do the Republicans (and sometimes the Democrats too) expect to change the Social Security system? Maybe they need too many contributions from pharmaceutical industry for their political campaign?

Vioxx Scandal Raises Global Doubts on U.S. Drug Safety (December 1, 2004)
The recent US withdrawal of the drug, Vioxx, from the market because of the deaths it caused, increases doubts about the value and safety of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s work. Vioxx was used in more than 80 countries and its producer, Merck and Co., earned $2.5 billion dollars from the drug last year alone. Developing countries, which can’t afford to have their own drug regulation agency, have followed the FDA decisions in the past. But now they are stopping because the FDA cannot assure safety of tested drugs. Has the profit hungry drug industry captured the FDA staff positions? 

The Truth About the Drug Companies (2004)
From the flu vaccine to the latest scandal involving Vioxx, the drawbacks of the US market-based health care system couldn't be more clear. Here, the summary of Marcia Angell’s book “The truth about the drug companies: How they deceive us and what to do about it?” Besides, the graphics turn the readers’ attention to the big money that blinds politicians, and every public official, from performing their proper oversight role. Give this book for a holiday gift!

Act Now: Give Thanks for Original Medicare (November 24, 2004)
This Thanksgiving article spells out why Original Medicare is great for older persons in the US and how recent changes have benefited the corporations who stoke political candidates’ campaigns. To be read.

US: States' Tactics Aim to Reduce Drug Spending (November 21, 2004)
"My sense is that Congress is not coming back to this (high drug costs) for a while, but the problem hasn't gone away,'' said Governor Bob Wise of West Virginia. That’s why many States decided to act alone in order to curb spending on medicines for Medicaid recipients, public employees, prisoners and other residents. Some want to make better choices about testing the efficiency of drugs as well as deciding whether they are appropriate treatments. Others deal with pharmaceutical firms to obtain discounts in drug-purchasing pool and many have filed lawsuits to prove that the drug manufacturers inflate their prices. This trend concerns more and more State Governments.

The Flu Kills, but Documents Rarely List It as the Killer (November 3, 2004)
In 2002, influenza must have caused 2,500 deaths in New York City according to city health officials but it was listed as the cause of death for only two people. The problem is that flu provokes a fatal mix which leads to someone 's death. For instance, pneumonia is one of the diseases that originates from influenza. To sum up, influenza kills annually 36,000 people in the United States alone. Vulnerable people such as children and older persons are going to face influenza the epidemic this year without a vaccine due to shortages.

Study Supports Flu Shots For Elderly (November 3, 2004)
A Dutch study shows that yearly flu shots reduce significantly deaths of any cause for people aged 65 and more. People who were vaccinated every year were 28% less likely to die during the flu pandemic's season than people who received just one shot.

Novartis Drug Gains Wider Use (November 1, 2004)
A study directed by Dr. Goss, the head of Massachusetts General Hospital’s breast cancer division and a Harvard University professor, on 5,200 post menopausal women shows that Femara, a Novartis AG 's drug, reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence. The actual treatment of breast cancer, Tamoxifen, loses its efficiency after 5 years and may increase the risk of other kinds of cancer. So Femara use permits replacement of Tamoxifen after 5 years of treatment. Two-thirds of breast cancer recurrences and death happen after this period. The Food and Drug Administration approved the medicine which is now on the US market.

Waiting for Medicare: Experiences of Uninsured People with Disabilities (October 18, 2004)
While most of the 40 million Americans covered under Medicare are age 65 and older, nearly 6 million are under 65 due to severe and permanent disabilities. Unlike older Americans, who become eligible within a months around 65, disabled beneficiaries must wait two years before their coverage takes effect. Those who must wait face enormous problems. The researchers recommend that Congress eliminate the waiting period, expand Medicaid eligibility, and subsidize COBRA insurance coverage. Beneficiaries also need better information regarding their options for accessing health care and coverage.

Boomers Shift Another Culture (October 15, 2004)
"As baby boomers are getting older, they present a very different culture than the current culture of older adults" says the director of aging and adult services for the Colorado Department of Human Services. A study, revealed on October 15th 2004, points out that the strengths and needs of boomers as they prefer casino junkets to bingo and spicy food to traditional meals. Thanks to their active life, some 89% of baby boomers are around 89% thinking their quality of life as “good” or “very good”. Clydie Banks, one of the 
36, 000 US grandparents raising their grandchildren, enjoys what she’s doing. In fact, she’s the great grandmother of two great grandsons, ages 5 and 10 year old.

With Few Suppliers of Flu Shots, Shortage Was Long in Making (October 14, 2004)
At present only two major manufacturers for the United States' supply of flu vaccine, and at least a half-dozen other vaccines are made by single suppliers. That’s why the flu vaccine shortage shouldn’t be a surprise. There was already a vaccine shortage in the United States. For example, between November 2000 and May 2003, there were shortages of 8 of the 11 vaccines for childhood diseases. Actually, many American drug companies stopped their vaccine production because of the changing strains of the virus and that it was not profitable enough. Widespread public sickness does not matter to Big Pharma—just the dollars in the cash register! Perhaps it’s time for a publicly run vaccine producer.

National Institute on Aging, Industry Launch Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (October 13, 2004)
The US National Institute on Aging in conjunction with other Federal agencies as the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration and private companies has started a study to test serial magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography and other biological markers in an effort to identify emerging Alzheimer’s Disease. "This is an extraordinary pooling of talent and resources toward a common goal -- delaying or preventing Alzheimer's disease" said Richard J. Hodes, M.D., Director of the NIA.

Medicare to Reimburse for Carotid Stent Use (October 13, 2004)
The U.S. Medicare program on Tuesday said it would pay for the use of carotid stents for older and disabled patients who need them to prevent strokes. The Food and Drug administration approved quickly Guidant Corp.’s carotid artery stent in August and other companies wait for its approval.

Local Seniors in a Scramble (October 13, 2004)
"People are really upset; they think they are going to die" said the director of Long Island's Jewish Association for Services for the Aged. The flu shot vaccine worried people above all persons at high risk like the elderly. People wait for the vaccine everyday and, for instance, the Nassau County Department of Senior Citizen Affairs received 200 calls a day inquiring about the vaccine. Citizens must wait in a queue for hours just hoping that they don’t miss the flu vaccine.

New Medicare Drug Benefit may Cover Pills for Impotence (October 13, 2004)
Impotence drugs such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, and possibly a libido-enhancing drug for women, could be covered under the new Medicare prescription-drug plan. U.S. Pharmacopeia, which must help to decide before December 31, 2004 what drugs to cover, would include “impotent agents” in Medicare benefits. Other experts denounce such a choice in Medicare’s priorities. Expect a big debate about sexual health! 

Elderly could Face Shortfall (October 13, 2004)
Funding for Colorado services may not keep pace with the increased numbers of seniors. In fifteen years, the senior population is expected to double in Denver and surroundings counties. Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) wants to warn people that costs are going to increase because older persons will need more home-delivered meals, medical transport and in-home services such as assistance with bathing and cleaning, transportation. There’s still time to plan and to adopt innovative programs—will they do it?

Retirees Confronted to Medicare’s Limits (October 12, 2004)
(Article in French)
Medicare’s reforms that the Bush administration pushed through Congress doesn’t satisfy American citizens. The federal health coverage program for people over 65 and the handicapped doesn’t provide sufficient allowance for health care and medicines and its administration is very complicated. Therefore, American people choose, if they can afford it, to buy a secondary health plan that they must pay for every few months. If they knew the details of the French health system, US citizens would jump for it.

Train Headed for Canada, Cheaper Medicine (October 11, 2004)
”Medi-don’t-care” should be the new name of Medicare according to Mildred Fruhling, a customer of the RX Express. Sponsored by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), a nonpartisan consumer-advocacy group, Rx Express is a train that takes seniors and other patients to Canada where prescription drugs are less than half the price of prescription drugs in the United States. Of course, its customers are not obliged to travel to Canada to have cheaper medicines but the ride serves as a protest to the health policy of the US government. Because of this policy, many seniors must choose between medicines and necessities as food and shelter.

Medicare Overhaul Is Plagued by Difficulties (October 11, 2004)
President Bush claimed that the Medicare changes adopted last year would be "the greatest advance in health care coverage for America's seniors since the founding of Medicare.'' Nevertheless, the first step of this law, a prescription drug card, has yet to come into effect. Seniors are confused and see little benefit in the various plans. In reality, Congress changed the law to benefit and enrich the pharmaceutical companies—on the backs of the elderly. Reports of corruption, pay-offs, and favors dispensed swamp Congress with only one word: “Greed.”

After Meeting, F.D.A. Official Is Pessimistic on Winter Flu Vaccine (October 9, 2004)
A day after a team from the Food and Drug Administration met British regulators about their decision to quarantine nearly half the United States' supply of flu vaccine, the agency's acting commissioner said yesterday that he was pessimistic that the vaccination program could be salvaged for use this winter. A number of seniors have questions about whether this elimination of widespread flu prevention in 2004 will simply boost anti-viral drug sales to fight the flu when it arrives? Paranoia? Or Possibility? Will Big Pharma win another round?

Studies Raise Questions On Value of Intensive Care (October 8, 2004)
"It is clear that quality is inversely correlated with the intensity of care and that the better hospitals are using fewer resources and providing fewer hospitalizations and physician visits," said John E. Wenneberg, a co-author of a study published in the journal Health Affairs and director of Dartmouth's Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences. Two studies conducted by Dartmouth Medical School point out that elderly patients with chronic illnesses who stay in the intensive care unit longer, receive more diagnostic tests or are treated by numerous specialists do not fare better than those who receive less intensive care.

Health Care Carries Weight in Presidential Debates (October 8, 2004)
Medical care took up many minutes of the US Presidential debates. Headlines suggest that healthcare concerns US people very directly. Here is a comparison of the two major candidates on medical malpractice, Medicare and prescription drugs, health care costs, stem cell research and drug importation.

Priority List for Flu Shots Issued after Sudden Shortage Erupts Includes All 65 and Older (October 6, 2004)
In response to the sudden news of a critical shortage in the supply of flu vaccine, the US Center for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Human Services issued new recommendations concerning who should receive priority for the vaccinations this season. It concerns all children under 23 months, children under 18 on chronic aspirin therapy, all people up to 65 years-old, adults with underlying chronic medical conditions, health-care workers and pregnant women. But will there be a vaccine? 

Aging Work Force Could Worsen Nursing Shortage (October 6, 2004)
In Michigan, a third of 110,000 nurses plan to retire within 10 years according to a survey by the Michigan Center for Nursing. 17% of working registered nurses are older than 55, and about 24% of working, licensed practical nurses are older than 55. “We will have a significant shortage if we don’t change things,” said Anne Rosewarne, the president of the Michigan Health Council. At the same time, nursing schools don’t have enough capacity to train new nurses. But this is not the problem in only Michigan. The US will face serious shortages of nurses near future. In terms of keeping the quality of care, how to increase the number of nurses is the one of important issues for the elderly health.

Diabetes Often Leads to Disability in Old Age (October 5, 2004)
According to the meeting of the American Neurological Association, diabetics are more likely to have a disability. As a part of The Religious Orders Study, 922 older Catholic nuns, priests, and brothers were examined their medical conditions yearly for up to 10 years. “Persons with diabetes at a lower level of motor function declined at a faster rate compared to persons without diabetes,” Dr. Zoe Arvanitakis at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said. She added that the risk of disability occurring was 47 % greater in diabetics than in non-diabetics.

More Federal Funding Needed for Medicaid, Analysts Say (October 4, 2004)
"It is clear that closing the coverage gap for low-income families will require additional federal resources if states are to expand coverage," said the executive director of the commission. The problem for states is, on both sides, the costs of healthcare and medicines are always going up. The US Congress, which provided additional funding for 15 months, ended it on June 30, 2004. Therefore, the State part of Medicaid financing will double at least in fiscal 2005. So the poor get sick, stay sick, and may infect others. A sad story.

Medicare Savings Program, Set to Expire, Is Extended (October 4, 2004)
A program that helps low-income Medicare beneficiaries for their Medicare Part B premium has been extended beyond the Presidential elections. Now it will expire on November 20. According to the Centers for the Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the so-called QI-1 program is for the Medicare beneficiaries with assets that don’t exceed twice the supplemental security income level ($4,000 for an individual and $6,000 for a couple) and who have income of at least 120% of the federal poverty level but less than 135% of the federal poverty level. Approximately, 144,000 elderly enrolled in the QI-1 program, and it provides about $800 a year in Medicaid funds to low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

Maine and One of Its Tribes Look to Buy Canadian Drugs (October 1, 2004)
Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, is asking the federal government to find a way to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada. He emphasized that it is unfair if Maine citizens pay more expensive prices for prescription drugs than their neighbor, Canadians, pay. According to Baldacci’s plan, the state would allow the Penobscot Indian Nation to act as the wholesale distributor of Canadian drugs, generating income and jobs for the tribe. Despite the fact that the federal government doesn’t allow importing the Canadian drugs, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wisconsin have set up the websites that let their citizens connect to Canadian pharmacies in order to allow consumers to buy drugs on their own. 

Prostate Cancer has Become Most Common Non-Skin Cancer in the United States (September 22, 2004)
What is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in the USA? Prostate cancer. One in six American men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime. A little-known fact is that a man is 33% more likely to develop prostate cancer than an American woman is to get breast cancer. In 2004, US doctors will diagnose 230, 000 new prostate cancer cases. Over the next decade as baby boomer men reach the target age for the diagnosis of prostate cancer, new prostate cancer cases will likely rise to 300,000 per year.

Punching the Time Clock of Life (September 27, 2004)
Darwin’s natural selection theory has long been accepted. However, Valter Longo, an assistant professor in the USCL Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, explored a new way to look at aging that directly opposes from Darwin: it hinges on a process called “group selection” that selection happens at the group level rather than the individual. He realizes this theory was against the fundamental theories of evolution, so he has spoken with prominent evolutionary biologists about his ideas. But no one could say that his idea was wrong. “Most likely, most organisms undergo programmed longevity,” Longo said. “Life is programmed. Whether death is programmed or not is yet to be determined.” 

Time For A Checkup (September 21, 20004)
Do you know why the world richest country can barely meet the health benchmarks set by other developed countries? Do you know the reason why American’s life expectancy is lower although the U.S. spends more on health care than any country on earth? In this article, the author reveals that  relative social equality and a national health care system result in good health for citizens. In the U.S., neither condition pertains and yields the predicted low health status, particularly affecting persons of color and the poor. In this election season, Americans must consider why the U.S. doesn’t have a national health care insurance, which most socially developed nations have. More US voters should consider how the socioeconomic disparities affects on American’s health.

Disparities: For Cancer Survivors, Worse Care (September 21, 2004) 
People who survive cancer receive worse care than the general population when it comes to other diseases, the online version of the journal Cancer reported. 14,000 Medicare patients who had been treated for colon cancer were compared with that of 14,000 Medicare patients who had never had cancer. The head researcher, Dr. Craig C. Earle of the Dana Farber Cancer institute in Boston, said that the study showed that the cancer patients were less likely to receive a number of preventive measures or adequate follow-up care for other conditions. Especially older, racial and ethnic minority, and/or lower income people do not go to both an oncologist and a primary care physician. In terms of the quality of life, both the cancer and other diseases should be treated. 

AoA Awards $5.1 Million to Support Community Services for Seniors Aging in Place in 22 Cities and Counties (September 20, 2004)
The U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA), Department of Health and Human Services announced that they distribute $5,144,959 in 22 grants (16 new grants and six continuations) to help the elderly who live independently in their communities. Josefina Carbonell, Assistant secretary for Aging, said, “all of the projects will be testing innovative approaches to helping our older citizens to projects with other communities across the nation.” Living in their own community is important for the elderly in terms of the quality of their life. The institutes that will receive the grant are Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Southern Arizona, Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, Jewish Federation of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, and some other 12 institutions.

Private Plans Costing More for Medicare (September 16, 2004)
Medicare pays private health plans more than it would cost to care for the same patients in the traditional Medicare program! Members of Congress concerned that the majority of seniors in Medicare subsidize the minority of seniors in private plans. Currently, about 11.5% of Medicare beneficiaries are in health maintenance organizations and other private plans which are known as Medicare Advantage plans. In the traditional Medicare with no supplemental insurance, the elderly paid $2,631 in 2003, on average, while those in private plans spent $1,964. Will Congress address this unfair issue?

A Doctor Puts the Drug Industry under a Microscope (September 14, 2004) 
Dr. Marcia Angell, a pathologist and the former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine now holds a senior lecturership at Harvard Medical School. Based on her background, she wrote a book “The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It” (Random House). In this article, Dr. Angell answered several questions regarding how she sees the drug industries and what people should know. Drug companies’ fund “research” and get medical journals to print the positive results. To understand how the pharmaceutical firms corrupt and distort so-called scientific journals as well as implicating complicit medical doctors and their teaching institutions, read her book. You will see what is going on in the drug companies. 

Election-Year Debate Over Health Care Intensifies (September 14, 2004)
Health care is one of the big arguments in the 2004 US Presidential election. President George W. Bush emphasized more affordable health care while John Kerry proposed new federal subsidies that would allow the uninsured to join the federal employee’s health plan and consumers to buy Canadian drugs. Since these issues affect the elderly, both candidates are now trying to get more seniors’ attention. Hot air? Or real plans?

Driving Errors Seen in Early Alzheimer's Disease (September 13, 2004)
In the U.S., living without a car can be tough. However, patients with even mild Alzheimer’s were more likely to make incorrect turns, to get lost and to steer erratically or make other safety errors. Dr. Ergun Uc of the University of Iowa said that there are no criteria to predict driver’s safety in Alzheimer’s disease. Nevertheless, safety is the very important issue for patients and their families. Currently, one in ten Americans over the age 65 is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and nearly one out of two over the age 85.

Oncologists Say Medicare Won't Cover Drug Costs (September 8, 2004)
Medicare payment cuts will harm cancer patients! According to the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, more than half of clinics and doctors’ office that provide cancer-fighting chemotherapy are unable to cover the costs of some key drugs. A survey by ASCO found that 70% of medical practices will have to pay more for pamidronate, which is used to treat advanced cancers spreading to the bone, and 73% will not be able to cover the costs of the drug epoetin to treat anemia, a common side effect of chemotherapy. 

Nearly All Eligible Hospitals Are Reporting Quality of Care Data (September 2, 2004)
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that nearly all of the nation’s eligible hospitals started to report data on the quality of care they deliver. Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy G. Thompson, said “making information available on care delivered provides people with the tools necessary to make decisions on where to go for their health care.” CMS sent questionnaires to hospitals, nursing homes and home health care agencies to provide information on the care they deliver. Beginning early in 2005, the hospital quality data will be available at www.medicare.gov, or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

Pfizer Ends Drug Cards for Elderly (September 1, 2004) 
In an example of drug company arrogance, Pfizer, the America’s largest drug company, stopped its widely used discount card for the elderly. Private corporations are “accountable” to their shareholders—not an electorate—and can take whatever action it wants to balloon its “bottom line.” Pfizer claimed it had announced to 536,000 cardholders for months that it wouldn’t continue the discount program beyond August 31, and advised them to sign up for other discount cards. But several hundred thousand low-income Medicare beneficiaries are left without access to reduced prices for popular medicines such as the cholesterol drug Lipitor. With the Pfizer card, a 30-day supply of Lipitor cost $15, compared with $68 at one Internet pharmacy or $43.32 at one Canadian Website. Now, how do low-income seniors afford cholesterol drugs? Pfizer, apparently, could care less.

Phone Pals Play Vital Role for Elderly Folks Home Alone (August 26, 2004) 
In Washington County, Oregon, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) developed a telephone reassurance program for the elderly who live alone and need company. Currently, 19 volunteers with an average age of 73 are reaching out to 24 seniors with an average age of 82. Margaret Larson, 84, is one of veteran callers at RSVP. She likes this volunteer work because she is able to help others without leaving her home. Also, for the phone receivers, talking with someone is the way to socialize. Elder phone pals strongly connect each other.

New Treatments For Alzheimer's Symptoms (August 26, 2004)
About half of Alzheimer’s patients suffer from developing psychiatric and behavioral symptoms such as violent outbursts, paranoid thoughts and intense anxiety while they fight against slow erosion of memory, the major symptom of Alzheimer’s. These behavioral changes shock family members, close friends, and patients themselves. Fortunately, a number of new studies found out that so-called atypical antipsychotics, a class of drugs normally used to treat young schizophrenics, can reduce the psychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Although some serious side effects such as an increasing risk of stroke and diabetes are reported, Alzheimer’s patients and their families will enjoy benefits of new treatments.  Of course, families and caregivers must be vigilant that such medications are not used to sedate elderly and thus permit lower staffing levels at nursing homes.

Caregivers Get No Emotional Relief from Institutionalizing Relatives with Dementia (August 24, 2004) 
A University of Pittsburgh study shows that caregivers who make the difficult decision to place their relatives into institutionalized care don’t feel relief from depression and anxiety. The leading researcher, Dr. Richard Schulz, said caregivers “continue to feel distressed because of the suffering and decline of their loved one as well as having to face new challenges such as frequent trips to the long-term care facility, reduced control over the care provided to their relatives, and taking on responsibilities such as coordinating and monitoring care.” We need to understand caregivers’ emotional distress, and educate them about the nature of long-term care facilities and their impact on patient functioning.

Med Schools Put More Emphasis on Gerontology (August 22, 2004)
US Medical schools are now looking for creative ways to increase new doctors’ interest in gerontology. As the aged population increases, the demand for doctors who specialize in elderly patients will grow, too. However, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, health care professionals and physicians “tend to have a negative attitude toward older patients.” Because a doctor’s bedside manner is important in patient care, medical schools are trying to give their students opportunities to work with senior people.

Medicare Drug Muddle ( August 20, 2004 )

Receiving affordable health care is one of major human rights, isn’t it? However, American seniors are facing unnecessary confusions regarding Medicare drug benefits.  Assistance with the rising cost of prescription drugs is at the top of the wish list among Medicare recipients. But Medicare is forbidden from negotiating lower prices with drug companies, and importing cheaper drugs from Canada and other countries is also forbidden though the law is currently ignored. In addition to these, Medicare is now allowing more than 70 different discount cards to be offered without uniform coverage or discounts. How can American elderly get affordable prescription drugs?

Cholesterol Drug Helps All Diabetics, Study Finds ( August 20, 2204 )
Helen Colhous, a professor at the University College Dublin, found out that a cholesterol-lowering drug cuts the risk for heart attacks and strokes. She studied more than 2,800 diabetics who took the cholesterol drug Lipitor, and the result was that more than one-third of them were less likely to have a heart attack and about one-third of them were also less likely to die from any form of cardiovascular disease. Other experts agreed with this study and recommended that most diabetics should consider taking the cholesterol drugs regardless their cholesterol levels. 
You Can Soon Switch off Your Anxiety (August 19, 2004)
Anxiety and sleep disorders are common problems among the elderly. Rainer Reinscheid and his colleagues found out that a protein switch in the brain helps to reduce anxiety levels. They reported that the protein which they named neuropeptide S (NPS) is produced in brain cells which regulate activity in a person. Reinscheid concluded that the discovery of this transmitter system might help to understand sleep disorders and pathological states of anxiety.

E-rasing Colds: Vitamin E May Help to Fight the Common Cold (August 18, 2004) 
Vitamin E works to prevent cold and other upper respiratory infections especially for the elderly, a new study said. Elderly residents at nursing home received vitamin E supplements or a placebo every day for one year. Researchers found out that residents who took vitamin E were less likely to catch cold than those who took placebo. Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, at the Human Nutrition Department of the University of Florida , recommended that people still need a balanced healthy diet although she thinks taking a multivitamin supplement with a little vitamin E is not a bad idea. “As with anything, the key is moderation and variety,” she added.

CMS Encourages States to Give Medicaid Beneficiaries More Control over the Long-Term Care Services They Receive (August 17, 2004)
Where would you like to live if you need a long-term care? Nursing home or your own house? By law, the Medicaid program favors institutional care for elderly and disabled people who need assistance for daily living. However, Mark B. McClellan, the administrator at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, addressed in a letter to state Medicaid directors that many states actually have several approaches of using Medicaid funds to keep more elderly and disabled people out of institutions and live in their own communities. “The concept of money following the person’s own preferences improves satisfaction and may reduce Medicaid costs too,” he added.  

Voices of Senior Citizens [Report by GAA Intern] (August, 2004)
On August 6, 2004, GAA interns attended a Senior Citizens’ meeting held at Crown Gardens Community in Brooklyn, NY. Congressman Major Owens and State Senator Carl Andrews were present to address the issues of senior citizens in their community. Various topics related to aging issues were covered in the meeting, including prescription drugs, senior housing, upcoming presidential election, and more.

Mexico Probes Fake Dugs in Border Town Area Popular with Americans Seeking Cheap Prescriptions (August 12, 2004) 
U.S. official said a pharmacy sold useless tablets labeled as Zocor, a cholesterol drug, to an American citizen in Algodones, Arizona. Mexican authorities are now investigating the sale of fake or substandard medicine in a border town. For Americans, cheaper medications are preferable. So, shifting to “similar drugs” is very common. However, receiving inactive ingredient is not a laughing matter. Industry officials say that at border pharmacies sell drugs of dubious effectiveness. However, some senior people who have bought drugs from Algodones drug stores reported they haven’t had any problems at all. Instead, they insist that these cheap medicines help a lot of old Americans whose income is limited. Are Algodones stores knights on white horse or con artists?

Dangerous Drugs Provided to 21 Percent of Elderly (August 10, 2004)
One in five elderly Americans receive inappropriate prescriptions drugs, a study of 1999 insurance claims said. According to Lesley Curtis, Duke University Medical center, 162,370 patients (21%) received one or more prescription drugs which should be avoided in elderly patients or which are inappropriate for use in elderly patients. Antidepressants and doxepin- both used for treatment of depression- accounted for 23 % of claims for Beers list drugs, and 51% of these claims were for drugs with potentially harmful effects. Persons of 65 years or older are less than 15 % of the American population, but they use nearly one-third of prescription drugs.

When It Comes to Exercise a Little Bit Goes a Long Way (August 9, 2004) 
Even small exercise prevents heart disease, cancer and other illness! According to a report by Swedish researchers, older adults who exercised only once a week were 40% less likely to die during the 12 years of study period than those who did not exercise at all. Many people believe that an hour of aerobic exercises such as walking and jogging per day are good for their health. But from a functional standpoint, people only need to maintain muscle strength and power to take care of themselves. Researchers recommend that people need to expend 1,000 or more calories a week no matter days of which you spend. 

Many Lost Health Insurance from Employer, Study Says (August 3, 2004) 
From 2001 to 2003, nearly 9 million Americans lost their employer-provided health insurance. Particularly, low-income workers and Hispanics lost insurance. The cost of insurance increased by 28 % despite the fact that the economic sank. During the study period, all age groups experienced a decline in employer coverage. The insurance coverage for workers with family incomes less than twice the federal poverty level, $36,800 for a family of four, declined from 37.4 % to 32.5%. Hispanics with employer-provided insurance also dropped from 46.7 % to 39.7 %. Because of these new developments, the percentage of working-age Americans enrolled in public programs increased from 9 to 12 %. Lack of health insurance from employers affects Americans health severely!

Pharmacy Benefit Managers A Growing Force in Medicare (August 2, 2004)
Changing times have redefined the role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers in the Medicare market. Pharmacy Benefit Managers play a role equivalent to the one performed by managed care companies towards hospitals. Rising costs have led many seniors to resort to extreme measures to meet their changing health care needs. PBMs recently have been accused of changing patients' medications without confirming with physicians and patients and profiting from the transactions. Currently, Caremark and Medco Health Solutions comprise the two largest pharmacy benefit managers in the United States and are both under investigation for charges.

Medicare Will Foot the Bill for an Initial Exam at 65 (July 28, 2004)
The new Medicare Law covers a wide range of preventative services about to take into effect on January 1, 2005. New Medicare beneficiaries will now be reimbursed for initial physical examinations that include influenza and hepatitis B vaccines, mammograms, Pap smears and pelvic examinations and screening tests for prostrate cancer, colon cancer, glaucoma and osteoporosis. Medicare would also cover screening tests for cholesterol and diabetes for current beneficiaries. Congress hopes that the new changes in Medicare law would help doctors to diagnose early and recommend treatment.

Assisted Living Facility Planned for Tribe (July 28, 2004)
In Maine, Penobscot Nation are in the process of building an assisted-living facility for their elders. In the past Indian Island elders had to leave their homes and the island when they needed care. The facility will be the first such venture for assisted living so that Indian Island elders do not have to leave the reservation to get access to services. 

Cancer Drug Could Help Alzheimer’s (July 27, 2004) 
Dr. Daniel Alkon, the scientific director of the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute in Morgantown, discovered that bryostatin, a cancer drug, might prevent progression of Alzheimer’s. Researchers found that bryostatin helped mice break down proteins that leave deposits in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s. The rate of premature death among mice was low. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already approved bryostatin for some cancer trials, therefore, it could speed the approval process.

Draft Rules for Medicare Law Unveiled (July 27, 2004)
The Bush administration released a draft of the new Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit regulations about to be implemented in 2006. The 1,956 pages of documents provide insight on the inner workings on how the law is going to take into effect. Billions of federal dollars are going to be spent to implement this new law. The draft is open for public comment for 60 days. Already, many aging advocate organizations, such as Families USA (and Global Action on Aging) have been deeply critical of the manipulation of information during the Congressional debate and the exorbitant pay-offs to drug companies and employers that the this new law will permit. The release of the draft is intended to aid potential participants of the program.

Medicare: Do-over (July 26, 2004)
This article urges American citizens to exercise their voting rights and take action against the atrocities committed to pass the New Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Legislation. Recent Medicare legislation has not resolved existing issues. Instead, seniors are more confused about prescription drugs. They have to choose from more than 70 different options available; these vary from state to state. Some options available to seniors are often not beneficial if the state program offers a better one. Rising prescription drug costs are not monitored and government price controls illegal under this new law resulting in high profits for drug companies. Whose pocket is getting filled?

Conventional Wisdom (July 23, 2004)
American citizens face the daunting task of sifting through vast amounts of contradictory information to decide their vote. Corporations now contribute to both party conventions to protect their financial interests, no matter who wins. Federal contributions to both parties, a new trend in lobbying by big companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer Inc, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Metropolitan Life, Fannie Mae, Serona, Inc, Amgen, Inc, and Altria group raise some important questions as to the influence of companies and legislation they want Congress to pass-or keep. Who's in charge? Is the US election system a sham? Many may decide that voting doesn't matter when big corporate can buy the election. 

Blacks, Hispanics Develop Alzheimer's Earlier (July 21, 2004) 
Two recent studies presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's disease and Related Disorders in Philadelphia indicate Hispanic and African Americans show symptoms of Alzheimer's at an earlier age than white Americans. Researcher Dr. Christopher Clark of the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine did a study on Hispanics and James Laditka of the University of South Carolina at Columbia focused his study on African Americans. The study involved persons over the age of 55 and above.

Drug Approved For Heart Failure In Black Patients (July 20, 2004) 
(See Appended Correction)
When the NitroMed Pharmaceutical company decided to conduct a clinical trial involving only black patients, many questioned the racialist research period. The company said blacks had a higher rate of heart failure compared to the rest of the U.S. population and did not respond well to medications available in the market. The medications currently available in the market are known to have significant effects on white Americans. The trial began in 2001 involved about 1, 050 patients suffering from heart failure. BiDil was known to be so effective that the trail was halted. The drug is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Correction: July 21, 2004, Wednesday 
The headline of the Market Place column on the front page of Business Day yesterday, about a clinical trial for BiDil, a drug aimed at heart failure specifically in black patients, misstated the outcome. The trial was halted because the drug was so effective; the drug did not receive approval.

Big Pharma Is A Two-Faced Friend (July 19, 2004) 
Marcia Angell explores the two-sided nature of Big Pharma. This thought provoking article raises some important points about the veracity of pharmaceutical deals. It urges readers to question the motive behind pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer that have recently launched a programme to offer discount drugs to uninsured and low-income Americans.

Drug Reimportation Plan Saves City $2.5 Million (July 15, 2004)

In Connecticut, a deficit ridden Springfield city saved $2.5 million by reimporting prescription drugs from Canada for city employees. Springfield sets the precedent in the United States to sponsor such a program. Cities such as Montgomery, Ala, Burlington, Vt, Portland, Maine, and Worcester, Massachusetts have similar programs. FDA has provided numerous warnings regarding the safety and security of buying drugs from other countries. What is the point of having safe and secure drugs when seniors are unable to afford it?

Eight Acquitted in Drug Incentives Case (July 15, 2004)
Eight employees of TAP Pharmaceutical Products were acquitted for employing improper methods to lure physicians to use their products. The physicians were given free dinners, golf trips and numerous other benefits in exchange for prescribing prostrate cancer drug Lupron and heartburn medicine Prevacid. The verdict comes after a three month deliberation process. Makes one wonder, who is honest in the system?

Trade Pact May Undercut Inexpensive Drug Imports (July 12, 2004)
The Bush administration creates profit opportunities for pharmaceutical companies by indirectly influencing regulation of drugs in wealthy countries. The international trade agreement about to be signed between U.S and Australia would prevent the import of cheap drugs into the United States. The trade agreement also proposes to share the burden of Research and Development costs among all the wealthy countries. A direct result of this agreement would likely increase in drug costs in developed countries such as Australia that now have price controls to ensure cheap drugs for citizens. The agreement, if signed, enables the U.S government through their pharmaceutical industries to influence the types of drugs that Australian pharmacies can sell to their own citizens. The trade agreement will have indirect implications for developing countries that are able to manufacture drugs for their citizens at a comparatively cheaper price. How are these policy decisions going to impact the lives of vulnerable citizens of the world?

Ethnic Disparity Seen in Institutionalizing Elders (July 12, 2004)
A study by Dr. Dolores Gallagher-Thompson of Stanford University School of Medicine and VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California indicates an ethnic disparity in institutionalization of older persons. The study involved 264 women caregivers caring for loved ones suffering from Dementia. In comparison to White women caregivers, Hispanic women caregivers were found to delay the institutionalization process due to cultural values, according to the research. We don’t know whether financial costs of institutionalization or other reasons delayed the Hispanic caregivers.

Studies Look at Health Care in the U.S. (July 8, 2004)
Commonwealth Fund published a study that analyzed the quality of care in five countries. United States spends 14% of gross domestic product on health care in comparison to 8% spend in other countries. In spite of this expenditure, United States lags behind in delivering quality health care to its citizens. Researchers Uwe E. Reinhardt, Peter S. Hussey, and Gerard F. Anderson indicate the high expenditure is due to the high charges of U.S doctors and hospitals. What can American citizens do to make quality care affordable to all its citizens? National health care?

Hospitals In 3 Southern States Sue Over Medicare (July 7, 2004)
The Alabama Hospital Association filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Health and Human Services Department for $226.3 million. According to the lawsuit, Medicare charged twice the rate normally charged in the rest of the country for the same procedure. The lawsuit includes 78 hospitals in Alabama, 13 hospitals in Louisiana, and 6 hospitals in Mississippi. The Association cited discrepancies in the formula used for calculating reimbursements for in-patient hospital service.

Dems Cite Errors in Info on Medicare Drug Cards (July 7, 2004)
Democrats released a report that indicates that the Medicare website contains incorrect information about the new prescription drug benefit. Some of the misinformation includes the names of non-participating pharmacies, and names of pharmacies that do accept a particular card. The survey included two local and independently owned pharmacies. The misinformation has caused a lot of confusion among older adults who are already overwhelmed by the intricacies of the new drug card.

Inquiry Confirms Medicare Chief Threatened Actuary (July 7, 2004)
The Department of Health and Human Services conducted an investigation revealing that Medicare’s chief threatened to fire the actuary if actual drug benefit costs were disclosed to the Congress. Actuary Mr Foster’s estimates were not disclosed until after the legislation passed in Congress. The report describes the effort made by the Bush Administration to hide crucial information so as to facilitate the passage of the Medicare Prescription drug benefit law.

Older Women, Too, Struggle With a Dangerous Secret (July 6, 2004)
An ongoing five-year international study of the genetics of eating disorders indicates a trend in older women suffering from eating disorders. The initial two years of the study only involved women below the age of 25 suffering from eating disorders. Due to the availability and interest of older women volunteers, the study was expanded to include women over the age of 25. Eating disorders among older women go unrecognized since it is stereotypically associated with teenagers.

Soy Fails As HRT Substitute in Older Women (July 6, 2004)
A recent study led by team of researchers, Dr, Sanne Kreijkamp-Kaspers of the University Medical Center in Utrecht, and Johanna Lampa, a nutritional biochemist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, indicate ingesting soy is of no benefit to older women. The largest study so far included 202 Dutch women aged 60 and over. The older women involved did not incur any benefits normally seen among younger women when soy was consumed.

Race, Regular Exams Influence Elderly Vaccination Rates (July 1, 2004)
American Journal of Health Behavior’s recent report indicates ethnic minorities, especially African and Hispanic American older persons, are less likely to receive annual flu shots. Currently, Flu is the fifth most common cause of death among older persons. The study surveyed 30,668 older persons throughout the country via the telephone. The report cites lack of access to health care and other chronic diseases as cause for the race disparities. Global Action on Aging asks: Is racial ethnic discrimination another cause?

A New Approach To Fighting Alzheimer's (June 29, 2004)
Neurochem Inc will be conducting an efficacy trial of its new Alzheimer’s drug Alzhemed. The drug company is currently actively recruiting patients for its trial. Alzhemed tries to treat the disease process rather than the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The study is expected to recruit 950 patients over a period of 18 months, at 70 different locations in U.S. and Canada.

Hip Fractures Need Special Care (June 27, 2004)
Older persons experience a lot of hip fractures. Recovery from hip fractures is a bit complex during summer time due to the heat. As one gets older, the body does not respond to summer heat as efficiently as when one is younger. This makes the healing process from hip fractures uncomfortable during summer time. Older persons suffering from hip fractures need to take extra care during summer time to avoid fatigue and exertion.

Lemington Home for the Aged d/b/a Lemington Center The Oldest Continuously Operated African American Sponsored Long Term Care Organization for the Elderly in the United States. At risk of Closing! (June 26, 2004)
This excerpt comes from an article posted at www.lemington.org website regarding the closure of Lemington Home for the Aged, the oldest African American run nursing home. While it contains an appeal, the article details important facts about elderly African-Americans’ access to health care and caregiving.

Medicare Boosts Drug Rivalry (June 25, 2004)
The Medicare Demonstration project has opened its doors for drug companies other than Johnson and Johnson Inc. Medicare currently only covers a few drugs for its beneficiaries. Up until this point, Johnson and Johnson Inc received 20% of Medicare payments for its drug Remicade. The demonstration project offers coverage for 25 additional drugs for cancer and chronic diseases. Drug companies such as Amgen Inc and Abbott Laboratories will now be able to take part in the Medicare drug market.

Underusing Medications Because of Cost May Lead to Adverse Health Outcomes (June 25, 2004)
A recent study funded in part by the National Institute on Aging, and conducted by the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System indicate older persons are most likely to suffer from heart attacks, strokes, or angina if they happen to not take medications due to cost. The longitudinal study is one of the first nationally represented studies that included 7, 991 middle-aged and older Americans. The implications of not taking medications were observed, examined and analyzed over a period of two-three years.

Thousands to Get Coverage for Cancer Drugs Under Medicare Demo Program (June 25, 2004)
A new Medicare Demonstration Program is going to offer coverage for life-saving chemotherapy drugs for treating cancer. An expected 25,000 patients will be able to take part in this offer. A lottery conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will determine the number of patients able to receive coverage. Medicare currently does not cover newer drugs that are available only in pill form. Potential recipients can qualify if they currently have Medicare Part A and B and do not have coverage from a private plan.

Grief Knows No Bounds over Alzheimer's Course: Death of Loved One Does Not Free Caregiver from Difficult Emotions, but Support Heals (June 23, 2004)
Terri Jo "T.J" Barron lost her husband to Alzheimer's after caring for him for eight long years. She remembers the loneliness, isolation, depression, confusion experienced after his death. Such mixed emotions are quite common among caregivers of Alzheimer's especially when they feel relief as well as guilt at the same time at the loss of their loved one. Terri explains although the healing process is different for everyone, caregivers must open up and seek support to help them in their grieving process for they are not alone. 

Black-White Split in Elder Care (June 21, 2004)
Milbank Quarterly, a health policy journal, recently published a study indicating African Americans were four times more likely to reside in a low-tier nursing home. The study defined "low-tier" as facilities with higher number of Medicaid residents than private pay. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded the study. The review involved 140,000 non-hospital-based Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes. Most of the residents in such facilities do not have affordable options available to choose for their healthcare needs and accept what is available.

Vision Loss in Black Patients (June 21, 2004)
The eye drops study, headed by Dr. Eve Higginbotham, University of Maryland Medical Center, indicates African Americans at a high risk for glaucoma can benefit from preventative measures. This study, a follow up to the one conducted two years ago provides conclusive evidence about the benefits of medications for preventing Glaucoma among African Americans. The previous study had examined prescription use for prevention of Glaucoma by whites however had not indicated a strong case for African Americans.

U.S. Is Accused of Trying to Isolate U.N. Agency (June 21, 2004)
Many active around population issues accuse the United States government of alienating and hindering the activities of the United Nations by withholding funds to various programs. United States as a Member State has not paid its dues for the last two years to the United Nations Population Fund. President Bush did not make an expected payment of $34 million in 2002 and another undisclosed amount last year. The US has also denied funds to various Population Fund programs claiming that funds were used for coercive abortion efforts. Proof is lacking.

Money-Saving Medicaid Cuts Cause Panic in Miss. (June 16, 2004)
The Mississippi State Government informed older adults that they would no longer have Medicaid coverage. The shift in policy takes into effect on July 1 and will save money for the State Government. This change will affect 65,000 Mississippi older persons. State officials claim that older adults removed from Medicaid benefits will get Medicare coverage. Are there real savings? Or is Mississippi simply shifting costs to the federal government?

Buying Drugs in Bulk, It's time to negotiate (June 16, 2004)
It is common knowledge that bulk purchases can result in lower unit costs. The Department of Veterans Affairs uses this principle to buy cheaper drugs for veterans. Fifty US employers recently announced their decision to join a buying club to bargain for cheaper drugs for millions of their employees. However, Medicare cannot exercise the same buying power principle due to restrictions imposed in the new Medicare drug bill. Who benefits from such restrictions? Drug companies!

AARP Endorses Bipartisan Prescription Drug Importation Legislation (June 16, 2004)
AARP recently endorsed the bipartisan U.S. Senate bill 2328 to legally import prescription drugs from other countries. The bill sponsored by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and co-sponsored by California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, ensures that drugs imported from other countries are safe and secure for US seniors. The legislation also addresses important safety issues such as registration, inspection, tracking, and toll-free hotline among other features.

U.S. to Drop Benefit Cuts Linked to Drug Discounts (June 13, 2004)
The Bush administration recently confirmed that it would revise the federal law to count the savings from the Medicare drug discount card as income and reduce food stamp benefits for low income seniors. At this rate, low income seniors and disabled persons face a predicament to choose between food and medicine. Food Stamp officials are currently aware not to count $600 subsidy under the Medicare drug discount card as income when determining eligibility for food stamps.

Punishing the Poor (June 11, 2004)
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour recently passed a law authorizing the largest cut in Medicaid eligibility that will affect 65,000 low-income senior citizens and disabled persons. Per the new law, the maximum income eligibility has been reduced from $12,569 per year to $6,768 a year for an individual. Many of these individuals who suffer from a myriad of chronic conditions live on such low income that it will be virtually impossible for them to meet their health care expenses. Please email at globalaging@globalaging.org to let us know about your thoughts on this issue.

Politicians, Elderly Unite in Push for Prescription Drug Reimportation (June 10, 2004)
Minnesota Governor Tom Pawlenty's state sponsored websites that allow reimportation of drugs from Canada are causing a lot of debate throughout the country. Minnesota Pharmacists have set up their own website to educate consumers and compare drug prices from Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is concerned about the safety and security of drugs imported from Canada. Lots of senior advocacy groups have set up links so that older Minnesotans can get cheaper drugs from Canada. The basic issue is affordability. What is the use of drugs that a person cannot afford to buy?

Automatic Medicare Enrollment Urged for Poor Seniors (June 9, 2004)
The sign up for Medicare Prescription drug discount card for low income seniors is slow even though this group is going to benefit the most compared to other groups. Congress is urging federal health officials to auto enroll low income seniors who could benefit from the $600 subsidy. Seniors become eligible for this subsidy if their incomes are less than $12,569 for a single person and $16,862 for a couple. Currently only seven states permit auto enrollment. Many Democrats urge auto enrollment in other states as well.

Seniors Saving Big on State's Drug Plan (June 8, 2004)
Seniors in Arizona are saving big just using their State approved drug card. The Arizona CoppeRx Card launched last year by Gov. Janet Napolitano currently saved $3.2 million on drugs for 45,000 seniors and disabled persons. The program initially had an enrollment fee that has now been eliminated boosting an additional 30,000 enrollment. Please email us at globalaging@globalaging.org if you have any stories on how your local community is addressing the prescription drug needs.

Program Helps Seniors Learn, Cope With HIV (June 4, 2004)
HIV among older adults is increasing. Misconceptions about the disease process, poor diagnoses and lack of knowledge are factors that have led to an increase in HIV cases among older adults. Seniors affected by HIV is highest in South Florida. Paul Spearing of Oakland Park, a program analyst with the Senior HIV Intervention Project reports, heterosexual women over 60 as the growing at risk group for HIV. The Broward County Health Department has responded by sponsoring The Senior HIV Intervention Project that offers information and resources to seniors over the age of 50.

Older Mainers Protest Rx Prices (June 4, 2004)
The Medicare Prescription Drug discount card is creating havoc in many parts of the country. Recently, older adults in Maine made a bus trip to Canada to purchase a six-month supply resulting in a savings of $14,000. The Maine Council of Senior Citizens organized the bus trip to protest against drug prices in the United States. Senator Treat reported older Mainers do not feel the crisis as much in comparison with the rest of the country since the State has much better drug discount programs such as Maine Rx Plus. In spite of federal warnings regarding safety issues, older Mainers are determined to trek their way to Canada to retrieve cheaper drugs.

U.S. Rejects Blagojevich's Plea to Buy Drugs in Canada (June 4, 2004)
Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a petition on behalf of Illinois to conduct a pilot program to buy prescription drugs from Canada. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rejected the Governor's plea in spite of projected savings of $91 million for the state of Illinois. Drugs in Europe and Canada are much cheaper than in United States. The rationale is if legal importation of drugs from other countries is granted, drug manufacturers would be forced to lower their prices making them affordable to millions of sick Americans. However, FDA officials do not wish to import drugs from other countries due to safety and security issues. Or is protectionism the issue? At what price, can we make drugs affordable to our citizens?

Extension of Drug Benefit Program for Seniors is OK'd by R.I. Senate (June 4, 2004)
Rhode Island Senate recently passed a bill introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Roberts, chairwoman of the Health, Education and Welfare Committee, enabling many seniors to take advantage of Rhode Island Prescription Assistance for the Elderly (RIPAE) program. Initially, Medicare and private insurance companies picked up the tab for prescription drugs and the ones not covered were taken care by RIPAE. However, insurance companies changed the type of drugs that will and will not be covered eventually leading to about 5,000 seniors adopting RIPAE as their main provider costing the state more money. The recent bill will allow seniors to utilize whatever their main insurance provider would not cover ultimately saving the state money. A similar bill is pending in the House introduced by Rep. Steven Costantino, chairman of the House Finance Committee on behalf of Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty.

Wisconsin Attorney General Sues Drug Makers on Pricing (June 3, 2004)
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager adds to the list of 13 other state attorney generals filing a lawsuit against 20 drug manufacturers for violating wholesale drug pricing laws. The increasing inflation in drug prices has led to an increase in costs for health care services and drugs making it unaffordable for many. The lawsuit was filed against Pfizer Inc, Johnson and Johnson, Inc, and Bayer AG among many others. The lawsuit seeks compensation for individuals and programs affected by the price increase of up to $10,000 per violation if against senior citizens. Please email us your thoughts on violation of wholesale drug pricing laws at globalaging@globalaging.org.

'Brown bag' Gives More Complete Picture of Meds Taken by Older Adults (June 3, 2004)
Penn State Gerontology Center recently conducted a study analyzing pharmacy records and medications present in brown bags of older adults. The study involved 294 predominantly White, female low-income individuals. The participants varied in age from 65 to 91. The researchers found medications present in the brown bag was more accurate of the type of medications older adults had and were taking in comparison with pharmacy records. The researchers hope the study would enlighten doctors to check older adult's brown bag containing medications in addition to checking pharmacy records so as to be better able to check for drug interactions. This study presents a dangerous situation putting in jeopardy the lives of older adults.

Paying to Play: Health Care Companies, Campaign Contributions and Medicare Drug Discount Cards (June 1, 2004)
A recent Center for American Progress analysis shows that 73 companies approved to administer the Medicare drug discount card gave more than $5 million in hard money, soft money, and PAC contributions to President Bush and conservatives in Congress. One third of these companies were involved in fraud charges and contributed more than 60% of the total contributions to Bush. The analysis looked at the contributions of various companies to the Bush campaign since the 2000 elections. Was this discount card legislation passed for the benefit of our senior citizens or for making drug companies rich?

Not in the Cards (June 1, 2004)
Medicare Prescription drug discount card is getting a lot of attention in the media. It has resulted in articles listing the pros and cons of the benefit from different angles. All of this has confused senior citizens even more. By the time senior citizens understand and figure out the maximum benefits of the temporary discount card, it will be replaced by a new card with different features. Older adults belong to a heterogeneous population. Even though some seniors might benefit from the card, others may not due to its complexity, loopholes, eligibility requirements, lack of knowledge and so forth. Please email us at globalaging@globalaging.org and tell us about your concerns regarding the new discount card. 

The $47 Million Retiree Sellout (May 27, 2004)
The passage of the recent Medicare bill causes concern for various reasons. There were speculations that corporations would slash health benefits for their retirees if the Medicare bill was passed. A recent report by The Wall Street Journal indicates "Employers Coalition on Medicare" a group of corporations gave President Bush and RNC more than $47 million since 2000 to pass the Medicare Bill. The report show companies such as 3M, AT&T, Bank of America, Daimler Chrysler, GM, IBM, and Verizon all combined have contributed more than $17 million to the cause. These companies have been trying to cut health benefits for their retirees. Please read this article for detailed contributions of various companies. 

Studies: Drug Prices Rise Past Inflation (May 26, 2004)
According to AARP and Families USA, drug prices are going up much faster than inflation. Each group did a study on prices for brand-name prescription medicines that showed that drug prices increased three times the rate of overall inflation last year. These groups state that it will become more and more difficult for consumers to afford drugs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics contests the level of increase but recognizes that an increase occurred.

Discount-Card Plan Won't Sharply Cut Markups on Generics (May 26, 2004)
The Medicare drug discount card goes into effect on June 1. Republicans and card sponsors claim to offer vast savings on drugs for seniors. The Medicare web site lists the average price the drugs would cost. Government officials hope the competition between different card sponsors will eventually drive the cost of the drugs even lower offering more savings for seniors. Many pharmaceutical companies still have high profit margins since many of the generic drugs cost them minimal when bought wholesale. However, pharmaceutical companies assert profits are minimal when dispensing costs are taken into account. Seniors now have to do a lot of research on card sponsors to make sure they receive the maximum benefits from the new drug discount card. We would like to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please email us at globalaging@globalaging.org

Medicare Needs A Hard Look at Treatment Costs (May 26, 2004)
The recently passed Medicare prescription drug benefit bill has created quite another stir. This time the focus is on the two largely ignored provisions of the bill. One of the provisions allocates funds for the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, to conduct a cost benefit analysis of drugs and medical technology. The intention is to justify whether the costs charged for services are appropriate. The second provision limits the rights of the government to act on the findings and clarify by not paying for the interventions. As a consumer how can we effectively use this study to help better understand the coverage and make an informed choice? 

The Benefits of Mental Workouts (May 24, 2004) 
A recent study by Randy Buckner, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Washington University in St. Louis indicates mental acuity is sharper in individuals who are mentally active. MRI scans show a difference in activity levels between older and young adults. Computerized mental exercises are becoming quite a trend in retirement communities to boost resident's cognitive skills. Older adults are able to perform similar tasks as young adults; however, the time it takes to process is longer. So reach out for the newspaper and start working on those crossword puzzles.

Older Patients Less Likely to Receive Care in the ICU (May 24, 2004)
Last week GAA posted an article pointing to the ethical dilemma many have to determine at what point treatment is aggressive. A recent study released at the American Thoracic Society International Conference indicated that age is used as a rationing criterion especially in an intensive care unit (ICU). Does health rationing on the basis of age violate elder human rights? The study conducted over a five-year period included over one million Medicare beneficiaries, out of which 54.9% were in the ICU at some point or another. The study results indicate many physicians and family members assume that older adults especially aged 80 and over would prefer not to receive aggressive treatment even though it could be beneficial. The study found the older the individual was, treatments were not pursued or offered that would have been the case if the person had been younger.

The Seduction: The Shocking Story of how AARP Backed the Medicare Bill (May 21, 2004)
The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), traditionally opposed to Republican Party programs, used to support Democrats's efforts to maintain a public Medicare program. Originally, AARP, as an insurance business, opposed the creation of Medicare in the sixties, but rallied behind program afterward. The support it gave to the new Medicare law, introduced by Republicans in December 2003, shocked its members and the public since millions of seniors have lost their insurance coverage and privatization was introduced into the program. As a consequence, almost 60,000 AARP members resigned from the organization since December 2003. The anger is growing as decision making is centralized around new head Bill Novelli with scarce input from rank and file AARP members. Many feel thatthe support AARP gave to the Republicans in the Medicare reform betrayed many older members and other elderly US citizens. Will the Democrats act to save the public health Medicare program for older persons? Or join Republicans who dump them into an early grave due to lack of adequate health care? 

New Pacemaker 'Saves Lives' (May 19, 2004)
A University of Colorado research indicates a new type of pacemaker improved the quality of life of patients suffering from long-term heart failure. The study included 1,500 patients who had a less chance of hospital admission and/or death with the use of the pacemaker. Cardiac-resynchronization therapy aids to re-sychronise the contractions of the heart by concurrent stimulations of the ventricles. This is the first longitudinal study done so far that indicates that the new pacemakers help reduce hospital admissions and prolong life. For further information, the article is available in the May 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. 

Higher Co-Pays May Take Toll on Health (May 19, 2004)
A recent study publishes by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows insurers and employers increase co-payments for prescription drugs. In fact, with increasing health-care costs, they shift more of the expenses to workers. According to the study, these practices could impact on patients' health. In fact, when drugs' prices rise, people often decide to discontinue their medications. Even if it may reduce excess use of drugs, it may also create a medical gap and have serious (even fatal) consequences for people who can't afford drugs. 

Prices Keep Shifting As Seniors Evaluate Medicare Drug Card (May 19, 2004)
Changing drug prices make it difficult for US seniors to evaluate which discount-drug prescription card would be relevant. In fact, the government created a Web site to inform seniors about available discount cards in each geographical area, but the prices have increased or decreased week to week. Medicare officials say the price fluctuations should slow in few weeks and urge old people not to worry. However, this situation is a shame since it puts severe pressure upon seniors. If they sign on to a card now, they are locked into the card for a year. And drug prices may go lower. And how will the older persons with no Internet access make an informed decision? Another botched up plan that ignores older persons' human right to health!

Blood Pressure Control for Elderly Should Have Higher Priority (May 19, 2004)
A recent study published by Dr. Lloyd-Jones and other researchers from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study indicate poor treatment management of hypertension among older adults. The Framingham Heart Study is the longest epidemiological study of heart disease conducted so far. The study involved 2,234 men and 2,958 women classified in age categories such as 60 and below, 60-79 and 80 and older. Even though older adults have a higher prevalence rate for hypertension and the risks associated with it, physicians did not adequately treat them, resulting in poor management of the disease. Researchers of this study recommend the use of low dosages to control hypertension in older adults and supplement it with additional drugs if need be. However, caution needs to be used when giving multiple drugs to older adults who might be suffering from other diseases as well resulting in complications.

When Alzheimer's Steals the Mind, How Aggressively to Treat the Body? (May 18, 2004)
Health Care Technology has made great strides over the years increasing our longevity. However it has also led to debates on whether we should implement technological interventions, when the quality of life of the individual is debatable. Quality of life issues are complicated especially in older adults suffering from Alzheimer's when the patient is no longer competent enough to express their preferences and caregivers have to make the decisions for them. Explore this article, think ahead and make choices before your loved ones have to for you. 

Help for Older People With Alcohol Problems (May 18, 2004)
Alcoholism among older adults is increasing and yet to be recognized. This issue is often overlooked due to associating alcoholism as a problem of young adults. Older adults also take a number of medications and consumption of alcohol in addition creates life threatening situations. Experts recommend older adults to consume not more than one drink a day. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of hard liquor. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, provides a wide range of resources in the form of brochures, videos and other materials to educate the general public about the implications of alcohol consumption among older adults and how to help them overcome this debilitating habit.

When Retirement Leaves an Emptiness, Some Fill It With Alcohol (May 18, 2004) 
When they retire, some people become depressed: they feel lost, they have no idea what to do, they cannot move forward. In fact, they consider by retiring they are not useful at all. Of course, these feelings are wrong, but some people fill the emptiness by drinking. The loss of a spouse or a divorce may increase the risk of becoming alcoholic. According to a 2002 national survey, more than 6 million people over 55 had drunk at least five drinks on one occasion in the last 30 days. With age, the risks grow, since alcohol resistance is lower. To deal with that, seniors need a support from relatives or groups, to get rid of their problems and enjoy their retirement time. 

Study Links Diabetes and Alzheimer's (May 18, 2004)
A study by Drs. Zoe Arvanitakis, David Bennett and other researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is one of the first longitudinal studies to follow diabetic individuals for an average of six years. The study involved 824 nuns, priests, and Roman Catholic brothers. The individuals were 55 years and older at the start of the study. The researchers indicate diabetics had a 65 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The importance of longitudinal analysis is clearly evident from this study. However, caution should be noted to generalize it to the general population from such a small sample size.

Discount Drug Cards Roil Pharmacies (May 17, 2004)
Pharmacists in New York State blame the new Medicare prescription drug cards program that started on May 3. In fact they just discovered they have been registered on the Medicare Web site as accepting one or another discount card, but it is false. They now worry this misinformation can have terrible consequences for them. In fact, some of their customers may turn to another pharmacy that accepts the card which they registered for. 

Doctor Embarks on Parkinson's Research (May 17, 2004)
Dr Fitzgerald in Arkansas stumbled upon an intervention while treating one of his patients suffering from both Parkinson's and heart problems. The patient experienced an improvement using the Enhanced External Counterpulsation machine currently approved by FDA only for chest pain and congestive heart failure. Improvement of Parkinson's symptoms were noted by many of Dr Fitzgerald's patients, however, no conclusive studies have been conducted so far. Anecdotal accounts seem to indicate an improvement in the quality of life of Parkinson's patients using this machine.

Vitamins Ward Off Osteoporosis Fractures (May 13, 2004)
A large number of older adults enter nursing homes due to hip fractures. Weaker bones cause hip fractures. Researchers in Holland and the U.S indicate high levels of homocysteine increase the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures. Vitamins especially folate and B previously known to decrease homocysteine levels can help prevent early onset of Osteoporosis. Researchers indicate a standard multivitamin can reduce an older adult's homocysteine levels thereby decreasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis-related fractures.

73 Options for Medicare Plan Fuel Chaos, Not Prescriptions (May 12, 2004)
Many seniors feel confused with the upcoming Medicare discount cards, and worry about the consequence it will have on their health if they can't afford drugs anymore. The cards, going into effect on June 1, 2004, are a prelude to the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act that starts in 2006. Seniors reproach the vagueness of the reform and the lack of accurate information. Moreover, the companies that sell cards are over powerful: they are allowed to choose the covered drugs, while their customers have to keep the card at least one year. 

In the Key of What-Next (May 11, 2004)
In her weekly chronicle, Abigail Trafford presents people in their retirement years, facing every day life and going ahead. This week she focuses on a health issue, or the question of how to remain in good health while ageing? A recent study proved doing creative activities is at least as good as diet or sport. Researchers from George Washington University consider creative activities would help people feel better and prevent them from fast physical decline. This ongoing study concerns 300 men and women over 65, who entertain with music, painting or writing. It helps them interact with other people and keep their brain active. 

Drug Benefit's Side Effect: a Headache (May 9, 2004)
The new Medicare discount cards upset seniors, who do not feel comfortable using them. These cards are part of a temporary program that ends in 2006. Each company that sells a card offers discount on different drugs, but the level of reimbursement and the number of drugs reimbursed can change every week. The 41 million Americans enrolled in the Medicare program worry about the reform. This issue may have consequences on the November elections and for the designation of the 43rd president of the United States.

For seniors, Medicare's New Card isn't a Cinch (May 07, 2004)
The new Medicare discount care will be distributed soon but seniors worry about it. In fact, the opportunities provide by the cards are not clear, since each company offers one card with a specific discount on specific drugs. Seniors have to choose the best one for their case, but the choice is not as easy as it seems. In fact, the coverage can change weekly, which means that a covered drug may no longer be covered the following weeks. 

Losing a Job near Retirement Age significantly Increases Risk of Stroke (May 7, 2004)
A study by researcher William Gallo and his colleagues, from Yale, suggests late career involuntary job loss may increase the risk of stroke. The study is based on data provided by the national Health and Retirement Survey, about older persons born between 1931 and 1941. The scientists took into account other physical risks, like smoking, drinking or diabetes. However this result must be considered with caution.

Thompson Shifts on Drug Imports (May 5, 2004)
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson changes his mind regarding the importation of drugs from Canada, since he urged President Bush to legalize a possible bill for importation. In 2003 the House approved an importation bill but the Senate rejected it. Now a bipartisan group of senators is supporting a new bill to allow the importation. In fact, Canadian drugs are cheaper than US drugs, but the Food and Drug Administration opposed Canadian drugs on the grounds of safety. In reality, the drug companies don't want to lose a huge market and see their profits shrunk. 

Baby boomers, Minorities making Dope a Habit (May 5, 2004)
The increase of marijuana use among U.S. adults over the last ten years is a huge issue the government will deal with. According to a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the rate of dependant adults age 45 to 64 increased by 355 percent; that's means 0.4 percent of adults this age are dependant on the drug. These results suggest boomers bring this consumption's habit from their youth age. Prevention and intervention efforts are necessary, said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Hidden Costs of Depression for Seniors (May 4, 2004)
Time and again, numerous studies have calculated the costs associated with informal caregiving for older adults suffering from a variety of ailments. The University of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System study calculated the cost of about $9 billion a year for providing informal care to older adults suffering from depression. The services provided by caregivers were calculated at the rate of $8.23 an hour, the average hourly rate of a home health aide worker. Many caregivers are women who provide informal care full time and receive no monetary compensation. It is important to note the implications of informal care provided by full time caregivers who may have no or limited financial resources in their old age. It is imperative for the government to recognize and acknowledge the unpaid labor of caregivers who provide informal care and act on policy measures to make a difference. Please check out the May issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry for study specifics. Resources on older adults and depression are available at the U.S. National Institute on Aging website.

Not Your Father's Heart Attack Emerging Risk Factors, Research Help Clarify Who's the Next Heart Attack Waiting to Happen (May 4, 2004)
Coronary Heart Disease is the most common condition among men. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) editorial by Dr John Canto, a cardiologist at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Fla., cites a comprehensive list of the latest research on risk factors for having a heart attack among men. The editorial lists C-reactive protein, homocysteine, calcium deposits, high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol (bad and good) as possible indicators for high risk of a heart attack. It is imperative to note that this comprehensive list is used only as a guide to help take precautions to lower the risk of heart attack.

After Retirement, A Downturn (May 4, 2004)

In her weekly column, journalist Abigail Trafford presents people facing their retirement time, and the challenges linked with it. This week, she focuses on Reese Cleghorn, who is in his seventies. Retired in 2000 from his work at journalism school at the University of Maryland, he faced difficulties to find his way in his retirement process. His wife took care of him and managed to help him out of his depression. He started a new job, and informs people about the risks of depression. In fact, many people suffer from this illness, and they need support to get out of it. This is an important issue for everyone.

Medicare and Little-Known Company Open Site to Compare Drug Prices (April 29, 2004)
The Medicare discount cards will be available on June first, and Medicare officials plan to open a Web site providing drugs' price comparisons. It will inform old Americans about the prices and direct them in their choice of the more useful card. The company chosen to manage the Web site is a Californian firm, DestinationRx. However, many critics are coming up. This kind of Web site already exists, so this new one seems a waste of money. Moreover, according to some industry experts, the savings from the cards won't be as significant as expected. These discount cards are a precursor to the Medicare Part D program that begins in 2006 and will help seniors to pay for prescription drugs outright

Commission to Allow Insurance Cuts for Retired Employees (April 23, 2004)
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allowed employers to dismiss health benefits for retirees over 65 who benefit from Medicare. Employers welcomed the decision, arguing it will improve the coverage for other retirees not yet eligible for Medicare. AARP, the association of Americans over 50, criticized the policy that will reduce resources for people who need them. In fact, this additional coverage from employers was used by seniors when they faced severe illness or catastrophic costs. Now, many of them worry.

Pfizer Shareholder Vote on Controlling Drug Costs Garners 5% (April 22, 2004)
As the Canadian reimportation debate rages, approximately five percent of shareholders at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer supported a five-year proxy resolution urging the company to take steps to control the costs of its medications including Lipitor, Norvasc, Celebrex, Xalatan, Zoloft and Glucotrol. Access to pharmaceutical products is an essential component of adequate health and well-being for all Americans. Therefore, drug companies need to be more responsive on issues of price and access to drugs. 

Senators seek to Legalize Drug Imports from Canada (April 21, 2004)
Five US senators, both Republican and Democrat, will propose a bill allowing instant drug importations from Canada and Europe. The House representatives accepted the same measure last year, but then the Senate rejected it. Senator Edward Kennedy, one of the bill supporters, voted against last year. He said he worried about the safety guarantees for the importations, but this issue is resolved now. The bill would increase fees on foreign distributors of drugs, to support the FDA control on the drugs' safety. Moreover, the bill will allow only global imports. 

Bill Proposes Shift in Elder Care (April 16, 2004)
In Florida, a bill will confer the management of all the Medicaid services for elderly, like nursing homes services and home meals, to HMOs. The bill is sponsored by the governor, Jed Bush: Florida would provide a fixed dollar amount to HMOs and other private organizations, and these organizations will decide what services to provide to elderly people and in what location. This privatization of the health care program in Florida will reduce the help to old people and increase the difficulties among the less fortunate. 

Seniors Warned of Fraud (April 2004)
AARP organized a forum to inform people about the new Medicare discount cards. Starting in June 2004 in Pennsylvania, the discount drug cards program creates worries among seniors. Elderly should be warned against fraudulent card, by refusing any card from door-to-door sell or phone-call salespersons. Moreover, a card doesn't cost more than $30, which means a card for any other price is a scam. Cards will be traded by private companies, like HMO and health insurers. This really complicated program won't make life easier for seniors. Each case is different and it's complex to value the features in each card.

Gerontology Studies could Face Elimination (April 16, 2004)
The program of gerontology studies at San Francisco State University is threatened by budget reductions, and may have to stop its enrollment procedures for students and eliminate some of its professors. The current 90 students will be allowed to get their university degrees, but will be the last to do so. The cancellation of this program is a shame in the face of the increasing demands for specialists in this field. With 6,000 U.S. citizens turning 65 every day, the need for geriatrics is increasing. 

Exercise Reduces Blood Estrogens, Risk for Breast Cancer in Post Menopausal Women (April 15, 2004)
New study proved three hours of temperate exercise each week help to prevent estrogens from circulating in postmenopausal women's body, reducing the risk of cancer. Dr. Anne McTiernan, working for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle checked the differences between women who had a physical activity and women who hadn't. The active women had a lower rate of estrogen in blood. Dr. McTiernan concluded, "Exercise is an effective way for postmenopausal women to increase their chances of avoiding breast cancer." 

Meeting with the United Methodist Women Group (April 13, 2004)
On April 13, the Global Action on Aging team attended a meeting with the United Methodist Women Group in New York. On this occasion, Claire Laganne presented a statement concerning her work at GAA. Since she is in charge of the Health Section of the Web Site, Claire explained the upcoming health issues for elderly people, not only in the United States but also all over the world. It was also a great opportunity for her to meet with volunteer persons and discover their activities. 

Seniors Group Launches Pfizer Boycott (April 13, 2004)
The Minnesota Senior Federation urges a boycott of Pfizer all over the United States. The persons responsible for the federation denounce the cancellation of supplies to Canadian drugstores. They consider this action a way to prevent older Americans from buying cheaper drugs in Canada. The drug company claims it decided to cut off its supplies to 70 Canadian mail-order pharmacies arguing the drugs were not safe. The campaign against Pfizer decision includes demonstrations in New York and at the company's meeting in St. Louis. Pfizer officials rebuff the accusations: "Of course, we disagree with their analysis of the problem, although we share their concern with helping people who are having difficulty affording medications," said Pfizer spokesman Jack Cox. Eighty-four year old demonstration organizer Kate Stahl says, "We have to convince Pfizer to recognize that its bottom line includes more than huge profits."

Once Upon a Cholesterol Makeover. . . (April 9, 2004)
The drug company AstraZenaca markets to boomers by talking them into using its cholesterol-lowering, Crestor, competitor of Lipitor, Pfizer's medicine. The advertising for the drug shows every day people, trying to decrease their cholesterol level by diet or sport. The use of "real" persons is a means to catch the attention of patients. They are more receptive to the message since the ads present people like themselves, and they are more likely to use drug to reduce their cholesterol level. However, the advertisements won't be used in Europe and Asia, because of limitations on direct-to-consumer drug advertising.

Novel Drug Attacks the Cause of Some Cardiac Arrests (April 9, 2004)
Researchers at the Center for Molecular Cardiology, at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, have developed a new drug to prevent irregular heartbeats and cardiac arrest. This drug, only at experimental level, aims at improving the movement of the heart muscle. Scientists discovered that a leak in the channel providing calcium to the heart muscle prevents the heart from beating correctly and may lead to fatal stoppage. Dr. Marks and his colleagues tested the drugs on mouse and expect human tests by 2006. 

Study: Medicare Funds, Quality Not Linked (April 7, 2004)

A study lead by Dartmouth College researchers showed high spending doesn't mean better care. The study concerned 24 treatments for huge sickness, like pneumonia or heart disease. Katherine Baicker, the study author, explained the outcome by the fact specialists focus on sophisticated testing and drop basic treatments. With more demands on health care and the broad changes in the Medicare system, it's imperative to improve the employment of funds. 

Elderly Get Tips to Beat Back Depression (April 7, 2004)
The University of Washington's Health Promotion Research Center showed older adults can overcome depression by increasing social activity and having a personal analysis of their problems. After a couple of months working on that topic, researchers discovered patients' health and mind had improved. They were less hospitalized and some were even cured. 

Big Donors in Global AIDS Fight Agree to Buy Generic Medicines (April 6, 2004)
Those responsible for the AIDS-treatment programs in developing countries approved the buying of cheaper generic drugs, an issue strongly debated by the U.S.'s AIDS fund. In fact, the Bush administration hasn't decided yet if it will sell generics, arguing they may be unsafe. The Global Fund, the World Bank, UNICEF and the Clinton Foundation agree on the interest of generic drugs. Richard Holbrooke, former US ambassador to the United Nations, declared: "Everyone except the U.S. seems to think they work already."

2 Decline to Testify on Drug Cost (April 2, 2004)
Democrat representatives in the House would like a senior White House official and the former Medicare administrator to testify on the cost of the new Medicare law. In fact, the reform will cost at least a third more than the $400 billion expected and agreed by Congress. Doug Badger and Thomas A. Scully refused to be witnesses before the House Ways and Means Committee starts. This controversy seems to be a huge political imbroglio that touches many people with high responsibility jobs. 

Gene Works with Pesticides to Up Parkinson's Risk (April 1, 2004)
In the Annals of Neurology report, published in March 2004, scientists suggested that people with a variant gene are at higher risk of Parkinson's disease if they are exposed to pesticides. Led by researchers from Hôpital de la Pitié Salpétrière, in Paris, the study concerned 247 patients with Parkinson's disease and 676 without the syndrome. 

More Seniors now Against Drug-Benefit Law, Poll says (March 31, 2004)
A poll showed U.S. citizens are more and more rejecting the new Medicare law pushed by Republicans at the end of 2003: 55% of those polled are not satisfied by the new law. People feel confused and lack information, which explains the situation. Moreover the opposition is growing since costs are higher than expected, with fewer benefits for seniors. 

911 Failure Delayed Treatment as Deadly Heart Attack Struck (March 31, 2004)
Mr. Grier, 77 years old, had an heart attack and died shortly afterward. His family believes the breakdown in the city's 911 system that affected Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island is responsible of the death. In fact, Mrs. Grier said her husband wouldn't have died if she had been able to call the 911 services. 

Possible Peril Found in Menopause Cream (March 30, 2004)
Pro-Gest, a cream with natural progesterone, used by many women as an alternative to synthetic hormone therapies, may also lead to breast cancer or heart disease. People often consider these creams as safer than pills sold over the counter, but according to Dr. Anne Hermann, creams are not as secure as it seems. Research will continue to find out the real level of risk, and the dose that put women at risk. 

Actor urges Alzheimer's Caregivers to seek Support (March 29, 2004)
Alzheimer's disease put pressure on many families, since they take care of a loved one's who is losing his/her memory and ability of movement. Treatments already exist to slow the speed of the disease, but nothing has been discovered so far to cure it. 4 million people in the US suffer from it, a number expected to increase until 16 million by 2050. The Alzheimer's Association organized a fundraising gala in Washington, to earn enough money to finance research and maybe find a new drug. Many famous people, like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, attended.

More seniors crushed by HIV, AIDS (March 25, 2004)
The issue of old people with HIV/AIDS is barely discussed, but an increasing number of seniors live with the virus. In 2004 they represent 21% of the 11,145 persons living with HIV in the state of Michigan. The problem comes from society that doesn't believe seniors have a sexual life. Information regarding use of condoms and HIV protection are centered on young people, making older exempt. It's a real problem that has to be addressed: more and more elderly get the disease, like Alice Renwick, 80 years old. 

Forget Blame; Fix the System (March 25, 2004)
The Medicare program may be out of money by 2019, seven years earlier than last year expectations in part due to the changed law that privatizes Medicare. The program, that supports elderly medical expenses, will face costs due to the baby boom generations retirement. Moreover, since old people live longer, new or higher medical expenses are predictable: costs of new technologies, payments for elderly care. This problem is also political, the Democrats reproach the Republicans for their lack of accuracy when they calculated the costs.

Drug-Price Surge May Erode Savings From Medicare Card (March 24, 2004)
In the months running up to the New Prescription Drug Plan, drug companies are increasing the price of some of their drugs. Older persons use many of these drugs, such as cholesterol fighter Lescol, or medicines that treat depression or heart disease. Already high profits do not deter the drug companies' grab for even higher rates of profit at public expense. 

Mad Cow Case Raises Suspicions in Elderly Deaths (March 24, 2004)
After Rose Henry's death, her children ask for an autopsy, since they worried about their mother's physical and psychological attitudes before she died. The results showed she suffered from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is the human version of the mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Many people are now wondering whether their own relatives suffered from the same illness before they died. Since Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease symptoms are similar to Alzheimer's disease, it's difficult to make an accurate diagnosis. 

The Noisy Debate Over Hearing Aids: Why So Expensive? (March 24, 2004)
30 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, the third-most-common chronic condition in older people, but many of them are not wealthy enough to afford the $2,200 for a set of hearing aids. The Food and Drug Administration only allows few licensed specialists to dispense hearing devices. Dr. Mead Killion says this practice maintains high prices, preventing many seniors from buying hearing aids. He proposes to market a cheaper over-the-counter aid. The FDA has refused the proposal, arguing: "If anyone could sell a hearing aid, elderly people might be victimized by shoddy merchandise and fail to get treatment for serious medical conditions." But, Dr. Killion has one more chance with a last petition. 

Medicare's Health to Fail, Rapidly (March 24, 2004)
According to Medicare's trustees, the program is expected to run out of money in 15 years, the expenses being higher than the savings. The Medicare legislation that offers financial support to many private companies is one of the causes of this coming bankrupt situation. Opponents of Medicare reform said Congress and White House under evaluated spending previsions. 

Should Family Doctors Treat Serious Mental Illness? (March 24, 2004)
General physicians are more and more keen to prescribe antidepressants and antipsychotics for their patients with depression, severe behavioral problems or even elderly patients with dementia. Many psychiatrists criticize this habit, arguing that general physicians are not trained enough to recognize among various mental disorders. Moreover, the drugs can cause serious side effects, like diabetes or weight gain, which needs careful monitoring. The general physicians consider themselves smart enough to prescribe these drugs, but they are not aware drug companies may push them to sell medications.

Strokes or Sleeplessness? (March 23, 2004)
When menopause comes, many women are threatened by hot flashes and palpitations; they are sleepless and they are unable to concentrate. Some of them decide to take hormones, like estrogen pills, to get rid of these symptoms. Jane Gross, journalist, describes her own menopause experience, and how she managed it. She was afraid of pills, since some studies proved that they may be linked to cancer or heart attack. She finally concluded every woman has to decide by herself, and use pills if she can't live without them. 

A Wife Learns to See With Alzheimer's Eyes (March 23, 2004)
Jeanne Koenig Coste is a consultant for institutions treating patients with dementia. She also wrote a book, "Learning to Speak Alzheimer's," giving her own methods, called habilitation, to offer sick patients a life as pleasant as possible. Her book is based on her own experience, since thirty years ago she took care of her husband, who had Alzheimer's disease. Journalist Claudia Dreifus, from the New York Times, interviewed her.

Smoking Speeds Up Memory Loss in Old Age (March 23, 2004)
Elderly people who smoke are more likely to experience mental decline than the ones who don't, according to Dr. Lenore Launer, of the National Institute of Aging, in Maryland. Smoking affects the process of blood vessels, leading to a lack of nutrients in the brain, causing irreversible damages. "The more people smoked during their lifetimes, the quicker they appear to lose their mental faculties with age," wrote searchers. 

Poor Care plus Dementia Equals Violence: Experts (March 22, 2004)

Health workers are not trained enough to detect early symptoms of dementia, which is a huge problem, since lack of care can lead to violence. Several times a demented person killed somebody else or even shot herself. Dr. Constantine Lyketsos, a geriatric psychiatrist in Baltimore, denounced this situation: "Part of the problem is that the costs associated with treating these symptoms are high, and Medicare fee and reimbursement structures are not conducive to clinicians getting paid for managing these symptoms." A solution must be found quickly, since the number of people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias is growing.

Medicare Actuary Gives Wanted Data to Congress (March 20, 2004)
The chief actuary of Medicare, Richard S. Foster, gave documents to Congress proving federal payments to private health insurance plans will exceed the amount agreed by Congress for the new Medicare law. As the scandal developed, Mr. Foster said his boss Thomas A. Scully, who was the administrator of the Medicare program, told him not to give information that would correct the inaccurate data submitted to Congress by the Medicare Program. According to Mr. Foster, payments for doctors and hospitals will also decline in the coming years. 

Importing Drugs a Reality in U.S. (March 19, 2004)
An eleven persons' government panel is working on drugs' importation from Canada and some European countries. Consumer advocates said drug imports are already a safe practice for millions of American citizens. Opponents to importations worried about the consequences of opening the borders, saying it would prevent drug companies from developing new products. 

An Injectable Drug for Osteoporosis Gives Some Patients Hope, Despite Worries (March 16, 2004)

A new injectable drug, called Forteo, may reduce osteoporosis' symptoms and make patients' daily lives better. Made by Eli Lilly and Co, it received FDA approval in November 2002. This drug is indicated for woman with a high risk of fracture, but men can also take it. However, a controversy appeared regarding Forteo: according to late study results, the drug may increase the risk of bone cancer.

Medicare ad Campaign by Bush Legal, GAO says (March 11, 2004)
The General Accounting Office said the ad and promotional materials regarding the new Medicare law were not as partisan as some people said and concluded ad campaigns were legal. In fact, some democrats accused the Bush administration of using the advertising campaign to support president's reelection. The Bush administration also received complaints from lawmakers about drug importation from Canada .

Heart Plan may Reduce Death Risk for Elderly (March 11, 2004)
In order to reduce elderly heart patients' risk of dying, doctors have to follow a few simple guidelines. According to the study, convincing doctors to adopt standard practices for patient care will decrease the risk by 25%. Kim Eagle, from the University of Michigan , presented this study at the American College of Cardiology. 

Among Cancer Doctors, a Medicare Revolt (March 11, 2004)
Many doctors may refuse to treat cancer patients anymore in their offices, due to the federal Medicare program. Years ago, cancer patients had to be hospitalized and then received chemotherapy. This habit had uncomfortable consequences for patients, like nausea or weight loss. Then doctors were able to treat patients in their offices. Although it was much more convenient for patients, the new method of payment for cancer doctors could make it impossible for them to support the cost of this practice. Doctors would have to send ill people back to the hospital. 

Medicare Marketing Within Legal Bounds, GAO Says (March 11, 2004)
A new controversy appeared regarding the new Medicare law advertisement campaign, Democrats considering ads and brochures were "overwhelmingly political or partisan." Democrats critic the spots as an attempt to support President Bush's reelection prospects. The ads mention the provision of benefits but do not announce the additional fees Medicare will charge or the program's financing gaps. 

Reality for Boomers: Benefits Must be Cut (March 9, 2004)
Baby boomers coming to retirement will increase government spending, which implies reforms, as Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, recommended. The expenses of programs supporting care for the elderly like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, should be cut. Other solutions may be moving back the retirement age or cutting benefits for the wealthiest seniors. Moreover the problem of future retiree women needs to be resolved, since they live longer than men, but with lower benefits.

Lawmakers Grill Thompson on Canada Drugs (March 4, 2004)
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is criticized due to his ban on imported drugs from Canada. He is one of the stronger persons opposed to the measure, while two-thirds of people interviewed support the importation. Many people believed the new Medicare will help progress, but it's still not the case. In order to go ahead on that topic, Thompson has to certify the safety of imported drugs. That's not going to happen for a long time. "I cannot certify that all drugs coming into America are safe," he said.

Using New Medicare Billions, H.M.O.'s Again Court Elderly (March 9, 2004)
Medicare, the public health insurance, has consistently served older persons who have required medical treatment and ranks well with its users. However, the Bush administration wants seniors to subscribe to private health insurance through H.M.O. companies. However, remembering how H.M.O.'s abandoned them when profit levels dropped, many elderly seem reluctant to choose an H.M.O. again. Today, with the administration's financial help, the H.M.O are coming back. This story shows that some elderly have not forgotten their disappointment when Humana, United Healthcare and AvMed Health Plans let them down only a few years ago.

Medicare Nominee Avoids Senators' Queries (March 8, 2004)
Mark McClellan, chosen by President Bush to run Medicare, refuses to answer senator's questions regarding his opinion on importation of drugs from Canada, until he gets the nomination. Both Republican and Democrat senators feel upset by his silence on this key policy issue. Some people worry about McClellan study on importation drugs, arguing he will make an unbalanced report since he opposes imports. However, his abilities to run the program are not questioned. He has all the qualifications required and worked in both Republican and Democrat administration. 

Area Seniors say Canadian Mail-Order Drugs are Safe (March 8, 2004)
Importing drugs from Canada has developed into a huge business, since the Canadian drugs are half the price of the American one's. Many seniors feel confident in it; even through the government wants to talk people out of it by arguing the drugs may be unsafe. Importation of drugs into the US is illegal, since the Food and Drug Administration must approve all the drugs. The Bush administration will create a task force to study the importation, and to determine how many drugs are coming in the US by mail. 

United Methodists Offer Drug Benefits to Members (March 8, 2004)
The United Methodist Church just made available a drug benefit to its 8.3 million members by offering a free card that gives discounts for prescription drugs or contact lenses. This benefit would be available to all members, regardless to their income or what, if any, health insurance they may have. What, if any, conflicts over not for profit status of churches are still unclear. 

GOP Targets Seniors' Long-Term Care (March 8, 2004)
In order to shrink Medicaid expenses, the Senate wants to increase control over eligibility to the program, targeting at the same time long-term care for seniors with limited resources. Seniors using Medicaid for occasional medical expenses, like short stays in nursing homes, will be the first victims. The Senate wants to target people who own other assets and then don't need federal help. In order to reduce the expenses, the Senate also proposed to cancel the "spousal refusal," the right to decline to contribute toward a spouse's care.

Helping the Elderly Stay Put (March 4, 2004)
Elderly New Yorkers have faced terrible choices between paying their rent or getting home health care aides who could care for them due to Medicaid income regulations. Most older persons prefer to "age in place" rather than enter an institutionalized setting. A recent ruling may permit them to place part of their income in a special living-expense trust for the disabled. This potential boost from the New York State Department could help hundreds, if not thousands, of aging residents on fixed incomes to claim benefits under Medicaid while remaining in their homes.

Cancer Patients Brace for Medicare Changes (March 4, 2004)
The new Medicare law made major changes in drug reimbursement and both patients and doctors worry about a possible financial gap. In fact, until now, Medicare reimbursed some off-label uses of cancer drugs, but it may no longer be available, even if some patients recovered thanks to this kind of medicine. Moreover, the amount reimbursed to doctors who administer medicines in their offices may be dismissed. Then doctors will send their patients to the hospital for treatment. 

Study Aims to Improve Senior Health Care (March 3, 2004)
In order to save money and, at the same time, improve health care for seniors, a nursing home in central Iowa is testing a new health care model. The program aims at prevention in order to reduce hospital admissions. Dr. Robert Bender and his physician's assistant, working full time at the nursing home with 50 patients conducted the test. They give advice to patients, help them to understand what they have to do to remain in good health. At the end of this year, they will estimate how much money the program saved. Dr. Bender explained his project: "Can we improve how we take care of folks, decrease their suffering and at the same time cut costs?"

Vitamin B-12 Levels Linked to Bone Loss in Aging Women (March 3, 2004)

Dr. Katie Stone and her team discovered that old women with low levels of vitamin B-12 were more likely to suffer from bone loss. Vitamin B-12, found in animal products like meat, cheese or eggs, was known for its action on the nervous system. It seems that a new property was discovered. According to Dr. Steve Cummings, "A larger, randomized trial would be needed to determine whether treatment with supplemental vitamin B-12 could reduce rates of bone loss in elderly women."

U.S. to Study Importing Canada Drugs but Choice of Leader Prompts Criticism (February 26, 2004)
The Bush administration plans a study regarding the importation of drugs from Canada and have name Dr. Mark B. McClellan to direct it. This choice faces critics, since McClellan, commissioner of food and drugs, is opposed to all form of importations from Canada. How can he be objective?  For months, many US states, legislatures and citizens, particularly older persons, have advocated for imports since the drugs cost much less. 

Senators Threaten to Stall Nomination (February 25, 2004)
Mark McClellan, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, will be nominated as director of the Federal Medicare Program, but everyone does not support his nomination. Many senators, Democrats and Republicans, criticize his opposition to lower-cost medicine importation from Canada. As a matter of fact, the FDA refuses to allow importation of cheaper drugs, saying they are not safe. In reality, the FDA wants to protect the powerful U.S. drug industry and its high profits.

Health Plans Boost Benefits for Seniors (February 24, 2004)

The Bush administration is encouraging people to subscribe to private health plans rather than to Medicare. To convince senior citizens to accept private plans, they focus on all the financial advantages they offer, like higher benefits for seniors or lower fees. However other parameters must be considered: the private plans are not as flexible as Medicare regarding choice of doctors and hospitals, and patients must respect the assigned practitioners. Consequently, private health care will increase inequalities between US seniors.


Conflict Batters Medicare Bill (February 10, 2004)
Seniors, Democrats, and even some Senators who voted for the new Medicare law have stepped up their criticism since they discovered that costs will be far higher than what the Bush administration claimed.  Even more, critics believe the Bush administration handed this lavish gift to the pharmaceutical and health insurance firms. Today one-third of the US public views the Medicare bill negatively. And now a new controversy has emerged around a Republican Party ad firm getting the public contract to "Sell the New Medicare."

Centenarians' Inner Secrets Are Slowly Revealed (February 24, 2004)
The New York Times interviewed Dr Nir Barzilai, the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, on his study about longevity. For five years, Dr Barzilai investigated the genes and habits of 300 Ashkenazi Jews who lived to be an average of 100. He seems to be "looking for ways to make old age better." However, he worries that this study could make people think that genes decide everything, stopping them from living in a healthy environment. Also, if this research leads to the creation of a drug, do we really want to have an anti-aging drug? 

New Medicare Benefit Is Likely to Be a Boon For Costliest Drugs (February 24, 2004)
The new Medicare law, starting in 2006, plans to extend drug coverage to millions of American seniors. At the same time, analysts predict an increase in the use of expensive drugs until then unaffordable to many pensioners. Even if Medicare could limit the demand of some patients or recommend preferred lists of drugs, the drug companies, specialized in very expensive medications, will make huge profits.

Elderly Work up a Sweat for Exercise (February 20, 2004)
New research suggests that physical activity helps people stay healthier and independent longer. The study doesn't focus on a particular activity; just a walk or indoor activities can be helpful. Even if physical activity can be good medicine, experts recommend everyone to check with their doctor first.

Seniors Curious of Drug Cards (February 19, 2004)
In about three months, US senior citizens will be able to apply for the Medicare-endorsed drug discount card. The new Medicare law created this card to help about 10 million senior citizens without drug coverage. Seniors will have to pay a monthly premium as well as a co-pay to receive coverage for 75 percent of their drug costs. However, after the coverage limit of $2,250, the out-of-pocket expenses have to reach $3,600 before being covered again by the government. 

Pfizer Cuts Supplies to Canadian Drugstores (February 19, 2004)
Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drug manufacturer, decided to stop supplying drugs to Canadian mail-order pharmacies. Indeed, many US seniors need to purchase medicine from Canada where prices can be 30 to 75 percent lower than in the US. Pfizer's new measure shows once again that drug companies are more concerned with their US profits than making sure consumers have access to the drugs they need. The very tense relations between US drug companies and Canadian retailers could make it hard for patients in both countries to buy their life-saving prescription medications. 

US Presidential Campaign Targets Old People (February 18, 2004)
The run-up to US Presidential election involves persuading the hearts and minds of older Americans, among others. Here's an example: The US television network CBS refused to air MoveOn.org's advertisement criticizing Bush's policies on the federal deficit during the Super Bowl, while still planning to run a White House-sponsored ad praising the new Medicare bill.
MoveOn.org cried foul, and even traditionally conservative groups criticized the Medicare ad as blatant election-year propaganda. After MoveOn.org members made over 50,000 phone calls and emails, CBS agreed to pull the Medicare ad in order to remain consistent with its longstanding policy on advocacy advertising. Still, other networks, including ABC, NBC, and Fox, keep running the White House ads while silencing political opposition. If you live in the US, find out what you can do to hold the networks, the White House, and the campaigns accountable!

Fraud Kicks in Months Ahead of Medicare Drug Discount Card (February 17, 2004)
Federal officials have already discovered fraud cases related to the Medicare drug discount cards, even though enrollment for the cards does not begin until May. Investigators have caught people selling false, unapproved cards door to door to seniors and gathering personal information. Under the new Medicare law, the federally-approved discount cards are supposed to provide a small amount of relief until Medicare drug benefits go into effect in 2006. 

Parkinson's Research Focuses on Links to Genes and Toxins (February 10, 2004)
New research on Parkinson's disease indicates that interaction between genetic inclinations and chemical disorders may generate the disease. Dr. Federoff of the University of Rochester believes this discovery could help to slow the progression of the disease. Fortunately, scientists have made progress, from the discovery of dopamine in 1960 to the identification of two genes that affect protein malfunction linked to Parkinson's. 

ImClone's Cancer Drug Is Back, and U.S. Approval Is Expected (February 11, 2004)
The drug company ImClone expects to gain F.D.A. approval for its drug Erbitux, a treatment for colorectal cancer. The news comes as ImClone chief executive Waksal sits in prison and his friend Martha Stewart stands trial for sharing inside information before the F.D.A. rejected the long-awaited drug three years ago. Erbitux, when used in combination with other drugs, has shown to make a substantial difference for a small percentage of patients who don't respond to traditional chemotherapy. However, since the drugs must be used in combination, the costs are expected to be high. 

Genes Influence Memory in Families with Alzheimer's Disease (February 10, 2004)
New research on families with a high incidence of Alzheimer's disease reveals that genes influence memory performance. The study concerned 1,036 persons from 266 families living in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and revealed that memory capability may be 50 percent genetic. Scientists hope that identifying a "memory gene" may help isolate the genetic factors of Alzheimer's disease. However, the study showed that the apolipoprotein E gene, which has been linked to increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, does not have an impact on memory abilities. 

Newsletter Addresses Medicare Questions (February 10, 2004)
The Medicare Rights Center, an independent organization based in New York, provides weekly information on the new Medicare law in its newsletter, "Dear Marci." "Everybody is confused about how it's going to work," said author of the newsletter, Ms. Naomi Newman. The most frequent questions from seniors concern drug costs, home care and supplemental coverage. The new law puts many seniors under pressure, and this weekly newsletter is a great idea to help seniors figure out what's going on. 

In Search of the Anti-Aging Gene (February 10, 2004)
Biology professor Lenny Guarente has spent much of his career looking for an anti-aging gene, even as others laughed at the quest. Professor Guarente began his research in the 1990s to find a drug to prevent people from getting old, or at least slow the aging process. In 1995 he discovered a gene in yeast that regulates the aging, and later tests showed that similar genes may exist in all living beings - including humans. Such a discovery could lead to developments that would increase life expectancy by as many as 40 years.

Companies Limit Health Coverage of Many Retirees (February 3, 2004)
Many companies in the US are cutting back health benefits for retirees. Instead, some companies are offering group plans, but without company subsidies, many retirees have seen their monthly premiums soar unexpectedly. Unlike pension financing, companies are not required set aside funds to pay for health benefits for retirees, and some economists predict that companies will stop offering retiree health insurance completely in the next few decades.

The Fat of the Land (February 2, 2004)
The World Health Organization announced that worldwide obesity has increased dramatically, plaguing 300 million adults with a sort of "malnutrition of excess." To address the obesity crisis, W.H.O. is promoting a "global strategy on diet, physical activity and health" that includes advice on reducing sugar, salt and fats. However, the American food industry has pushed the Bush administration to challenge the plan, objecting especially to recommendations limiting advertising of unhealthy diets to children. Big Sugar seems to have won the administration's favor over world health experts, but officials will have to decide if money is more important than life.

Alzheimer's Research Aims to Stop a Ticking Time Bomb (February 1, 2004)
Margaret Pericak-Vance of Duke University and a team of researchers discovered a gene that may influence the progress of Alzheimer's disease. The gene, called GST01 or "Gusto," controls the brain's inflammatory response and may produce a protein that accelerates deterioration, producing symptoms earlier in life. If the discovery is confirmed, scientists should be able to create a therapy that delays the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms by as many as ten years.  

Bush's Aides Put Higher Price Tag on Medicare Law (January 30, 2004)
The Bush administration announced that the new Medicare law will cost at least $530 billion over 10 years, one-third more expensive than administration's estimates when Congress passed the bill late last year. With a ballooning $500 billion federal deficit, many lawmakers say the announcement confirmed their fears about the plan. Conservative Republicans attack the law as an example of too much social spending, while Democrats say the higher price tag reflects the huge financial payoffs to the drug industry and insurance companies.

Costs and Savings in Medicare Change on Wheelchairs (January 30, 2004)
A few months ago, soaring demand for power-wheelchairs led Medicare administrators to crack down on fraud and abuse by strictly controlling reimbursement claims for the chairs. Before the reform, Medicare recipients or wheelchair providers received 80% reimbursement for the $5,200 chairs, but health experts say Medicare is now denying reimbursement to many older and disabled people who need them. Andrew Imparato of the American Association of People with Disabilities says that, as usual, "People who have not committed fraud are penalized, and the punishment doesn't fit the crime."

The Medicare Index (January 28, 2004)
President Bush says his new Medicare law "keeps a basic commitment to the elderly." However, journalists Sherrod Brown and Stephen Doyle present some basic statistics that show "the president may have fulfilled a commitment or two, but not to the nation's elderly." This short briefing might shed some light on why the new Medicare law was passed.

Parkinson's misdiagnosed (January 28, 2004)
Recent research by Paul Hagerman of the University of  California shows that many cases of tremors and dementia in old age may be misdiagnosed. According to his study, almost 10% of patients diagnosed with atypical Parkinson's may in fact suffer from FXTAS, a recently discovered illness caused by a mutation in the X chromosome. FXTAS strikes men more often than women, since women have another X chromosome to compensate for the damaged one. While scientists still know relatively little about the disease, the recent research may at least help to prevent misdiagnosis and prescription of inappropriate drugs. 

Medicare Drug Bill is Bad News for Seniors (January 2004)
The new Medicare law is bad for seniors, but it might not be good for Republicans either as dissatisfaction with the plan grows. Seniors are angry about three major issues: the paltry drug coverage, the pressure to shift to private insurance and HMOs, and the probability that employers will suspend their own retiree drug coverage. Not only will the Medicare reforms end up costing many seniors more money than before, it also doesn't allow patients to choose their own doctor. Republicans should be forewarned that citizens may react with a penalty-vote in the next elections. In the end, the only winners left are drug companies and private insurance. 

Maryland Alzheimer's Report Makes Policy Suggestions (January 27, 2004)
Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran published a report that he hopes will lead to better protection and support for the state's 85,000 Alzheimer's victims. With the baby boom generation getting older, states will face growing numbers of Alzheimer's patients who are extremely vulnerable to abuse and manipulation. New regulations and support structures are necessary to address the financial and human costs of the illness, and prevent abuse by caregivers or relatives. 

Declining Testosterone Might Put Men at Risk for Alzheimer's High Levels could Afford Protection, study suggests (January 27, 2004)
A recent study by Susan Resnick at the National Institute on Aging showed that men with high testosterone levels may be less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's disease than men with low levels. Scientists found that Alzheimer's sufferers had blood levels of testosterone at half the levels of healthy men, and in one case, testosterone levels dropped a decade before the onset of the disease. However, doctors warn that men should not begin to take testosterone to protect against the disease, since the hormone is linked to stroke and may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

F.D.A. Begins Push to End Drug Imports (January 24, 2004)
As part of a Bush administration push to stop drug imports, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that most of the 2,000 packages of Canadian drugs in a recent federal inspection contained potentially unsafe medicines. State and local leaders dispute the findings, arguing the FDA has yet to find a single patient harmed by drugs imported from Canada. At the heart of the debate is whether the Bush administration values citizens' right to affordable essential medicines over the interests of powerful drug companies.or not. 

Home Care Becomes Option for Elderly, Disabled in La. (January 22, 2004)
Elderly and disabled people in the state of Louisiana now have the option to receive home-based care services under a new state program. The program will cost the state $19 million by the end of the fiscal year, but lawmakers say it may eventually save money by letting more able seniors receive part-time home care in place of full-time nursing home care. Seniors on Medicaid or collecting Social Security disability, with a monthly income under $552, are eligible for the program. 

Tracking Alzheimer's: New Tool Would Help Measure Plaque Deposits in Patients (January 22, 2004)
Two American scientists have discovered a new tool to detect plaque deposits in the brains of living Alzheimer's patients, a development that could lead to earlier detection and better understanding of the disease. Plaque deposits are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, but doctors previously had no way to detect them in living patients. The first trials of the procedure, in Sweden, detected plaque deposits in a patient who had just begun to show slight signs of cognitive decline.

Drug Companies Get Too Close for Med School's Comfort (January 20, 2004)
Each year, the pharmaceutical industry spends $4.8 billion on marketing new and expensive drugs directly to doctors, devoting an average of $6,000 to $11,000 on each individual doctor. Drug company representatives also commonly target medical students by sponsoring journals, holding meetings, and buying dinners. While doctors claim that the visits do not affect their medical advice, new studies show that drug companies often steer doctors toward newer, much more expensive drugs that often have no significant benefits over older generics.

Tai Chi might help elderly avoid falls (January 15, 2004 )
According to a new study led by Dr. Steven L. Wolf of the Emory University School of Medicine (Atlanta), practicing Chinese tai chi may reduce older people's chances of falling. The study of 311 elderly people, mostly women, showed that those who practiced tai chi over the course of 48 weeks were half as likely to fall as those assigned to wellness education classes. Further studies are necessary to figure how and to what extent tai chi helps.

Pfizer Moves to Try to Stop Drugs From Canada (January 14, 2004)
Drug company Pfizer wants to prevent Canadian online pharmacies from selling medications to the United States. The company sent a letter to wholesalers last week forbidding retail pharmacies from selling to "any person that you know, or have reasonable grounds for believing, will or may export Pfizer products out of Canada." Pfizer fears it will lose its profitable US market, since Canadian government price controls make imported drugs much less expensive than domestic drugs. Every year, one million American buy imported Canadian drugs, and sales across the border are increasing. 

Wis. Governor Scolds Bush on Medicare (January 10, 2004)
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle says President Bush's new Medicare law may result in higher drug prices for many Wisconsin residents. Wisconsin and other states had been able to keep drug prices, and the tax burden, low by negotiating bulk discounts with pharmacies on medications, but the federal bill bans the practice. In the end, Gov. Doyle argues, the law represents a big handout to prescription drug companies and a larger burden on tax-payers.

Quand Bush se déguise en social-démocrate (January 8, 2004)
(Article in French)
President George Bush touts his new Medicare law as a great reform, but 60% of American citizens will not benefit from the new law. Many middle-class seniors will have to pay more to keep the same level of coverage and maintain quality care. The only real beneficiaries of Bush's reforms are drug companies, which welcome new protections for high drug prices.

PCO plan in cross hairs (January 2004)
New Mexico's Private Care Option Program was created in 1999 to allow elderly to use Medicaid to fund in-home care, but the program now costs the state $70 million this year alone. Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort says the program benefits too many people, and argues that family members should provide in-home care without government subsidies. Advocates for the elderly have another explanation: the program has grown more than anticipated because the need for it was far greater than legislators realized.

Grâce à Internet, les Américains s'approvisionnent au Canada (January 8, 2004)
(Article in French)
In Canada, 140 online pharmacies sell drugs and medications to US consumers. Government-regulated Canadian drug prices are often 30% or 50% cheaper than in the US, where drug companies can choose to charge high prices for essential medicines. Many states, such as Minnesota, Illinois and Vermont, want to import Canadian drugs, despite disapproval from the US Food and Drug Administration. Recently, the FDA prevented the city of Springfield, Illinois, from buying medicines for its 3,000 city employees and retirees. 

Care for the aging poor (January 5, 2004) 
A recent Colorado Medical Services Board decision will leave 4,000 elderly, poor, legal immigrants without essential health care. The immigrants, including Hispanics, Russian-Jews, and Vietnamese, will no longer be covered for hospital visits, and their reimbursement rates for doctors will be slashed dramatically. This Denver Post editorial condemns the decision, arguing, "The true measure of a society isn't how prosperous its wealthiest citizens are but how it tends to the neediest. Surely Colorado's shoulders are big enough to carry these elders."

Fitness-seeking boomers taking exercise outdoors (January 5, 2004)
Baby boomers are looking to their future by paying attention to exercise and healthy living. But many boomers are forgoing endless hours at the gym for activities like snowshoeing and hiking that allow them to get outdoors and spend time with family. Sport and fitness companies increasingly target the needs and desires of the boomer generation, which owns more than 70% of disposal income in the United States.

Hospital admissions jump 3% as population ages (January 4, 2004)
In southeast Wisconsin, the number of patients admitted to hospitals increased by 3% over the past eleven months. An aging population, as well as the trend for older people who have lived elsewhere to come home to retire, has meant greater health care needs and higher costs. Hospitals are seeing a sharp increase in complex surgeries and sicker patients. Bill Bazan, area vice president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, says the goal remains prevention, and keeping as many people as possible from needing expensive hospital treatment. 

More sensitive test norms better predict who might develop Alzheimer's disease (January 4, 2004) 
Standard screenings to detect brain degeneration are not suitable for highly intelligent people, a new study shows. The study by Dr. Dorene Rentz, published in the January issue of Neuropsychology, shows that signs of Alzheimer's are found later in highly intelligent people; after detected, however, their decline is much faster. Dr. Rentz and her colleagues argue that IQ-adjusted norms would more effectively screen out all people at risk for brain degeneration.