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Mike Riehls

Unwanted bug falls in love with me


Senior Scene


July 15, 2010
Last December and January a nasty bug fell in love with me and made those winter months pretty uncomfortable.

It retreated in February, March and April, and then found me again. I've been home recuperating since late June and I think I have finally persuaded the stinker to leave me forever.

I found out several important things during my illness. One is I hate being sick more than anything else. Another is that there comes a time when you have to accept help, which flies in the face of your independence cherished for so many years.

The only good thing in this whole experience was at no point was I at death's door, although there were a few times when I thought that might not be the worst thing to happen. Fortunately, I have returned to enjoying life and treasuring each day.

Writing a column again is one of those things I enjoy most. So onward and upward.

Reading is the best activity when you're ill. It makes the time fly, which otherwise crawls by on little bitsy feet.

I'm passing on interesting things I read.

For example, the recently passed health care reform bill is a very long document and some of the important things in it aren't readily available to the public

I got this information from the American Geriatrics Society, founded in 1942 as a nationwide, not-for-profit association of geriatrics health care professionals dedicated to improving the health, independence, and quality of life for all older people. The society has become a pivotal force in shaping attitudes, policies, and practices to geriatric medicine.

The organization is pleased with the new bill, saying its provisions improve elder health care now and in the future.

* One provision addresses disincentives to beginning and continuing careers in elder care in a number of ways.

* It reforms Medicare payment policies so they more equitably reimburse those who care for older adults.

* It offers geriatricians and other primary care providers a 10 percent Medicare bonus payment for designated primary care services for the next five years.

* It initiates a periodic review of physicians' services that are potentially misvalued.

* It creates a physician "value-based payment program" aimed at improving the quality of care beneficiaries receive.

* The new bill establishes an "Innovation Center" to test new payment and care delivery approaches aimed at further enhancing the quality of eldercare and improving cost-effectiveness.

* It funds demonstration projects to evaluate such promising models of care as those providing comprehensive geriatric assessments and care coordination for older patients with multiple chronic illnesses and cognitive impairment.

* The bill expands geriatrics training programs, including advanced training programs that prepare specialists to meet the needs of the most complex, frailest older patients.

* It establishes eldercare training programs for the direct-care workers and family caregivers who provide day-to-day care for millions of America's seniors.

* Other provisions improve seniors' health by eliminating Medicare beneficiaries' co-pays and deductibles for preventive care, and by establishing new programs to lower hospital readmission rates among Medicare patients.

We know older seniors, in particular, require more health care than younger folks, and the huge number of those becoming seniors in the next 20 years include many with chronic illnesses.

It's good to know there are plans dealing with the critical area of costs.

In line with this, right after passage of the bill, there was great outcry that the bill was unconstitutional in some of its provisions and that the American public was against it in overwhelming numbers.

An effort was made to pass another bill preventing the original bill from becoming law. Only 14 senators voted against it and that was that.

Reach Cain at ruthcain@comcast.net

Ruth Cain of St. Clair Shores writes on issues affecting seniors for the Grosse Pointe News.
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