Monthly Archives: May 2007

VA shortchanging mental health programs

You can see that the VA is being run by a bunch of amateurs, any decent
federal employee would have a shopping list of things that could be
ordered to spend the surplus before any cutoff deadline. A sure sign of
incompetant magaement. If it is spent I smell new office furniture and
improved administrative perks.

In Thursday’s GAO report, investigators found that the VA spent only
$53 million of the $100 million it planned to use in fiscal 2005 on
gaps in care under a mental health strategic plan. It sent $35 million
of the $100 million to a VA general fund, where the money could be
spent on a variety of programs.

“It is likely that some of these funds were not used” as intended, the
GAO said.

Investigators also said that the VA didn’t tell its hospital and health
care officials that the $35 million was available and they “were
unaware that any specific portion of their general allocation was to be
used for mental health strategic plan initiatives.”

Posted on Thu, Sep. 28, 2006

VA shortchanging mental health programs, report says

By David Goldstein
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs failed to fully spend a
promised $300 million since 2005 to fill critical gaps in mental health
services for returning troops and others, congressional investigators

The money was supposed to be used to improve awareness of the VA’s
mental health programs and provide better access to them for troops who
served in Iraq and Afghanistan, women and other veterans suffering from
serious mental illnesses.

But a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday found
that the agency underspent the money and that not all of what it did
spend went to those programs.

“Veterans expect that wounds suffered in service, be they to mind or
body, will be cared for by the nation they served,” Rep. Henry Brown
Jr., R-S.C., said during a hearing he chaired Thursday on mental health
issues. “We will exercise greater oversight on this issue now to
determine what VA is spending and how it is being spent, to ensure that
funds allocated by the American people are used as intended.”

The VA didn’t respond to requests for comment on the report.

The hearing was before the health subcommittee of the House Veterans
Affairs Committee. The GAO’s findings became yet another broadside at
the VA and the Bush administration, which veterans groups have
criticized for cutting benefits and not anticipating how the Iraq war
would stretch the capacity of programs to treat the wounded.

The Kansas City Star reported in May that the VA had dramatically
underestimated the number of troops that would return from Iraq this
year suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The GAO reached a
similar conclusion in a separate report last week.

In Thursday’s GAO report, investigators found that the VA spent only
$53 million of the $100 million it planned to use in fiscal 2005 on
gaps in care under a mental health strategic plan. It sent $35 million
of the $100 million to a VA general fund, where the money could be
spent on a variety of programs.

“It is likely that some of these funds were not used” as intended, the
GAO said.

Investigators also said that the VA didn’t tell its hospital and health
care officials that the $35 million was available and they “were
unaware that any specific portion of their general allocation was to be
used for mental health strategic plan initiatives.”

Some of the money was used to pay for routine mental health programs,
the GAO said.

Meanwhile, the $12 million remaining from the $100 million allocation
went unspent, the GAO said, because VA officials said the fiscal year
was running out.

Similarly, the GAO said that in fiscal 2006, which ends Saturday, the
VA budgeted $200 million for the strategic plan, but $42 million
remains unspent.

“Gaps in mental health services remain,” said Rep. Michael Michaud of
Maine, the ranking Democrat on the health subcommittee. “The mental
health strategic plan is good. However, without a real commitment to
funding, the plan will not become a reality.”

Besides the GAO report, the hearing dealt with the rising number of
post-traumatic stress disorder cases and traumatic brain injuries among

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., said the Walter Reed Army Medical
Center in Washington has so far treated more than 650 troops from Iraq
and Afghanistan for traumatic brain injuries – 40 percent of all the
troops from those combat zones the hospital has seen.

Col. Charles Hoge, director of psychiatry and neuroscience at the
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, said 15 percent to 17 percent
of troops who served in combat have screened positive for
post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Please don’t hide behind statistics and bureaucrat-ese,” Rep. Bob
Filner, D-Calif., told Hoge and other medical experts at the hearing.
“Let us know you have some passion for solving this issue.”

Dr. Gerald Cross, a top VA health official, replied, “I can assure you
we do have passion, and we have the passion for caring for our

For development of medical science and health research

It hardly need be emphasized that research and development plays a pivotal role
in bringing about the development of a nation. This being the case, every
nation in the world tries to serve the best interest of their people by
focusing their attention on research and development. The Union of Myanmar is
also encouraging research and development work in every sector.

The opening ceremony of the Myanmar Health Research Congress of the Ministry of
Health took place at the Medical Research Department (Lower Myanmar) in Yangon
on the morning of 3 February and Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt, also
Chairman of the National Health Committee, delivered a speech on the occasion.
The Prime Minister, in his address, said that, at a time when the Government
was expending its efforts to raise the health standard of people by laying down
the noble objective, viz, health and fitness of the entire nation, the annual
holding of the congress with full participation of researchers from all areas
of medical science would contribute a lot to the professional skills of the
researchers as well as to the national interests. Moreover, the congress will
enable the researchers to exchange experiences and to apply the findings of
their research effectively in the health care services.

In accordance with the guidance of Head of State Senior General Than Shwe,
health research departments were opened not only in the City of Yangon but also
in the Upper and the Lower Myanmar. Moreover, the Government has opened the
National Blood Research Centre, the National Poison Control Centre and the
Hepatitis B Vaccine Factory to deal with various health challenges and spent a
lot of money on health research facilities, about US$ 700,000 in the years 2001
and 2002 to say exactly. Researches on Myanmar traditional medicines are being
encouraged to be able to treat the six major diseases with traditional
medicines and production of traditional medicines are well under way.

We would like to call upon all those responsible and researchers to try to the
best of their abilities for the development of medical science and health

Join Americans for Affordable, Reliable Health Care

Join the Americans for Health Care Campaign:
Working Together for Affordable, Reliable Care

Americans for Health Care is uniting working families, small business
owners, seniors, health care workers, community leaders, and policy
makers to fight for affordable, quality health care that we can all
count on. In states across the country, we are building broad-based
coalitions of individuals and organizations who are concerned about
rising health costs in order to push for health care policies which
ensure that:

* Everyone, including the self-employed, unemployed, un- and
underinsured, and small business owners, has access to an affordable
basic health plan similar to what federal employees receive;

* Everyone, including employers, consumers, and the state, local and
federal government makes a responsible and fair contribution to
finance the health care system;

* Everyone receives high quality care that is cost efficient and
medically effective; and

* That these efforts are designed to help control the skyrocketing
cost of health care.

In New Hampshire ( and Iowa
(, we are working to make
affordable, quality health care the central issue in the upcoming
presidential election by demanding that presidential candidates
provide solutions to America’s health care needs in real — not just
rhetorical — terms.

And in other states across the country, such as Maine
(, Oregon
(, Georgia, Illinois,
Washington, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado, and California, we are laying
the groundwork for campaigns to:

* help pass legislation that increases access to quality affordable
health coverage,
* showcase good employers who provide coverage for their workers, and
shine the spotlight on bad employers who don’t; and
* develop a nationwide voting bloc of millions of Americans who
declare health care for all as their criteria for supporting specific

Join Us in the Fight For Quality, Affordable Health Care

The only way to find truly workable solutions to the health care
problem is through a broad-based effort that brings everyone to the
table – working families, small business owners, senior citizens,
health care workers, community leaders, and policy makers.

If you are a member of an organization and would like more information
about the coalition in your area, email us at
i… .

If you want to join the fight for quality, affordable health care by
becoming a “Health Care Voter,” please register with us at:

Americans for Health Care is a project of the Service Employees
International Union (SEIU) which is the nation’s largest health care
union, representing over 755,000 health care professionals.

Physicians Health Study

Is anyone familiar with how to find out information about
research done within the Physicians Health Study??

Specifically, I am interested in any regression analysis done
with regard to DHEA and Prostate disease.

What was the DHEA level of an individual who currently has
prostate cancer or BPH 5 – 10 – 15 years ago, as compared to
an individual of the same age who currently has no prostate

Does anyone know an E-mail address of someone within the
Physicians Health Study group to whom I can communicate the
above question?

Any response or comments would be appreciated.

Hello! I am currently chief resident of the pathology and laboratory
medicine program here at UTMB. Before I came to the US, I was an ob-gyne
resident at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital
in Manila. This is 1,200 bed hospital and many of our consultants are
trained in the US, UK, Australia and Japan. There are about 25 medical
schools in the Phil. which accounts for the great number of medical
graduates each year. Like everywhere else, the problem of distribution
of these health care providers also exists. I hope I have shed some light
on your inquiry. Thank you for your interest.

Cynthia B. Eleccion,M.D. University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

There’s also Dr. Herman Hedriana who’s an asst. prof at UCDavis. He is
also a OB-Gyn practicioner. He might have responded to this post already
though … I haven’t checked scf for months!

Two old announcements from a Health Department

Two announcements from the Western Australian Health Department.
In June 1988, in Western Australia the Health Department in full-page
advertisements in local papers declared: “The statistics are
frightening. Smoking will kill almost 700 women in Western Australia
this year. If present trends continue, lung cancer will soon overtake
breast cancer as the most common malignant cancer in women”. What was
frightening was not the statistics but the fact that a Health
Department should lie about them.

In 1987 the same Health Department
in its own publications had said: “Suggestions by some commentators
that lung cancer deaths in women will overtake breast cancer deaths in
the next few years look increasingly unlikely…female lung cancer
death rates have fallen for the last 2 years.(“Cancer in Western
Australia”, May 1987)It was predicted, correctly, that breast cancer
would far outweigh lung cancer for the next 14 years. (“Cancer
Projections”, 1987} One message (false) for the public, another (true)
for the professional. ( HealthDept1) ( HealthDept2) Installed 20 May

PPO Health Insurance

My family and I have PPO-type health insurance (to use the term loosely)
through Preferred Health Network (PHN). I have a question about standard
procedures for such organizations.

Last winter I had a bad case of the “flu,” and called my family physician’s
office for an appointment. (He is the preferred provider under the PHN
insurance.) The answering service referred me to another office, as my
physician was on vacation that week.

Unfortunately, the office to which I was referred is NOT a PHN participant.
PHN has refused to cover their charges, claiming that I went outside their

My question: Is this the standard practice for PPO-type health insurance
companies? What do they expect sick patients to do when their preferred
providers are on vacation — wait for them to return?

Insurance companies will do all they can do to NOT pay anyone for
anything. If they are presented with a loophole, they will be through
it in the blink of an eye. The managed care companies are the absolute
worst (HMO, PPO, Capitation). The insurance companies always push
themselves as having this great compassion for quality care for their
policy holders, but the bottom line is all that really matters to them
and they prove that point over and over again. If you keep pushing and
writing letters to your insurance company and let them know you will be
sending copies of these letters to the insurance commissioner in your
state, you will probably get re-imbursed. But you have to be willing
to really duke it out with them because they will drag you along and
hope you get tired of fooling with it.

Or ask the physician to whom you are referred, whether they are
on the list of PPO’s to which you subscribe. If not, go back to the
person who referred you and tell them to refer you to someone who
can help you through your PPO.

Don’t trust anyone, especially an answering service.

Dont look in the “big book”. More than likely, the doctors listed
there are no longer enrolled.

Wal-Mart opens walk-in health clinics

February 15, 2007 Wal-Marts open walk-in clinics

Non-emergency medical help will be available at walk-in clinics opening
today inside eight Wal-Mart stores in Alabama.

The CheckUps clinics, staffed by nurse practitioners, are scheduled to open
at 9 a.m. today in two Wal-Mart stores in Huntsville and one each in
Trussville, Gardendale, Hartselle, Athens, Bay Minette and Mobile.

The nurse practitioners, who work with local physicians, diagnose common
ailments, provide routine pediatric care, blood screenings and
immunizations, and can write prescriptions, according to a company news

A routine visit for a medical problem such as a cold or flu costs $65,
while routine child and adolescent health care ranges from $30 to $50,
according to the CheckUps Web site, which lists charges for its various
medical services.

This is a BIG step in the right direction. People with colds don’t
need doctors who spent four years in med school and then eight more in
internship and residency to write their prescriptions. And – with as
much of that routine-level care in physicians’ offices as is now
actually done by nurse practitioners anyhow – it will cost a lot less
when it’s done without the huge overhead typical in a physician’s
office (secretaries, receptionists, huge rent, huge utilities,

Trying to Improve Someone’s Diet Health

Trying to Improve Someone’s Diet Health

I’m faced with a very difficult problem: Someone I know well has recently
experienced serious health problems. (She was recently hospitalized and
frequently claims to be “ill,” even after her hospitalization.) I’m vegan,
she is not. I can see her problem from a distance, and it’s apparent that
she can’t. The problem is that she is an avid meat eater. She eats meat at
most meals, and usually in good-sized portions. When I’ve asked her why, she
simply states that she “likes” meat, so that’s what she eats. When I’ve
attempted to explain to her that I think her health problems stem from her
heavy meat eating, she scoffs at my statements and tells me to mind my own
business. She apparently simply doesn’t believe the truth of what I’m
telling her. I care for this person very much. How can I help her? Any
suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

You can’t. At least not in the way you’re thinking. As you’ve stated, she
refuses to believe the truth of what you’re saying. Forcing information or
opinions on her is only going to push her away. Even if you’re 100% sure
you’re right, you’ve got to let her live her life, make her own mistakes and
learn her own lessons. Even if that means she continues to put her own health
at risk.

But do be supportive of any positive changes she does make, encourage her
progress and make sure she knows that she’ll be your friend no matter what.

Well… to be honest, it isn’t really that obvious to me, because you
haven’t mentioned what her health problems have been. But you really
can’t change her diet for her, in any case. Why not invite her over for
more vegan meals you can share, and offer to go with her for a brisk
walk or something to get her blood moving?

I’m vego not because I dislike meat but for health reasons. I LOVE the taste
of meat and would dearly love to chomp on a bone or eat a steak etc. But
after considering the pros and cons [and one of the pros was morning
sickness!] I finally dropped the meat and haven’t gone back to it. I eat
healthier without it.

If she doesn’t want to change, she won’t no matter what information you put
in front of her. Your best bet is to support any baby steps she makes
towards eating less meat, and to make really scrumptious food when you now
she will be around LOL.

Any idea what the health problems are?
It is very difficult to say that meat in itself is a problem as many people
out there eat meat and are very healthy indeed. However in the context of an
overall diet she may find that lessening her meat intake may be an easier
and healthier option than say, eating less chocolate.

I’m amazed at how much meat is in the typical everyday diet and appalled by
it. Most people eat meat at more than one sitting which to me is ridiculous.
And the proportion of foods that have some form of meat in them is growing
as we eat more processed foods

Growth hormone deficiency impacts on psychiatric health

Growth hormone deficiency impacts on psychiatric health

Growth hormone deficient (GHD) children who are referred for growth
hormone treatment often show a poor quality of life associated with
feelings of anxiety, depression, and social isolation, says Brian
Stabler, from the University of North Carolina.

Interestingly, he notes that recent observations have found that short
children who are not referred for medical diagnosis do not experience
the same problems.

The need for psychiatric problems to be detected in GHD children is
particularly important given that patients treated with growth hormone
in childhood often report poor quality of life in adulthood, even if an
acceptable height is achieved, Stabler explains.

He examined groups of young adults treated with growth hormone during
childhood and found that many showed symptoms of previously undetected
psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, panic disorder,
and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

‘Strikingly, the incidence of a particularly disabling anxiety disorder,
social phobia, was detected in 38% of one of our groups. This disorder
occurs in approximately 13% of the general population,’ Stabler reports.

He also points out that similar outcomes had been reported in adults who
have been diagnosed with GHD later in life.

Writing in Hormone Research, Stabler concludes that the ‘spectrum of
potential disabilities tied to GHS is broader than previously thought.’

He adds that ‘potential treatment strategies may include continuation of
GH therapy as indicated, psychotropic medication, or psychosocial
support and rehabilitation.’

Kerry’s Health Plan continues

Not to beat a dead horse, but this subject is probably more important
(to me anyway) than debates about WMD or unjustified wars.

It *could* be the difference between a vote for Kerry or not.


You have stated that Kerry’s plan is modeled on that offered to federal

What was Hillary chartered to do when Bill Clinton was first elected and
why was she pulled off that task after a few short months and the whole
subject was allowed to drop?

Because it could never work and would bankrupt the country. The costs of
the war in Iraq would look like chump change.

What is Kerry proposing that is any different?

I am not closing my mind. I am seriously interested in this subject and
would strongly support a candidate that truly had a solution. So far,
Kerry has teased with a promise, IMHO, but has failed to outline a plan
that could really work.

I was talking to my elderly mother yesterday. She has always voted
republican (to the best of my knowledge) but indicated she was leaning
towards Kerry ONLY because he has promised affordable health care for

I wish I could assure her that his promise was good. I am not convinced.

Basic highlights of Kerry’s health plan.

1) All families would be allowed to buy into the same health insurance plan
that is available to members of Congress. Nobody
would be *required* to buy into the plan, but it would create an option for
families that currently do not qualify for any “group” plan.

There would be no “mandatory” federal plan, and companies and individuals would
be free to remain with existing providers.

2) President Kerry will propose a 50% tax credit (better than a deduction,
obviously) for small businesses that offer health insurance to employees. About
five million employed Americans have lost their family’s health insurance
entirely during the last four years because their employers say they can no
longer afford to pay the employer’s portion of premium costs. If taxes are
reduced by 50-cents for every dollar spent to provide health care coverage for
employees, more businesses would be able to afford to do so.

3) President Kerry will press for tax credits for certain individuals paying
for their own health insurance- including individuals 55-64 and those between

4) President Kerry will favor reducing the number of frivolous lawsuits in the
health care industry, specifically proposing a “three strikes” rule that would
prevent any attorney with a record of three frivolous malpractice lawsuits from
bringing another
suit for ten years. A panel of qualified medical specialists will examine any
unsuccessful lawsuit to determine whether it had merit, or was frivolous.

5) President Kerry will overturn the provisions of the Medicare bill that
forbid the government from negotiating those prescription drug prices paid by
Medicare funds with the major drug companies. President Kerry will allow
Americans to import drugs from Canada or other low-risk foreign countries.

6) Independent expert analyst Ken Thorpe of Emory University has calculated
that President Kerry’s plan will cost a total of $653 billion over the next ten
years. A roll back of the Bush tax cut for the top 1.4% of American families,
(those earning over $200k a year), will raise $860 billion during the same
period of time. The difference can be used to reduce the deficit or fund

7) A good portion of Kerry’s plan is proactive, rather than reactive. He
a resumption in stem cell research to help discover cures for many of the
expensive, debilitating diseases that drive up our health insurance costs. This
needs to be completely understood… the additional stem cell lines would be
available if there were *never* another abortion performed in the US. Fertility
clinics are throwing away lots of material that is not, and will never become,
any fraction of a “human being” even by the strictest definitions.