Archive for Elderly

Not Your Granddaddy’s Pension

Not his pension either:

We are locked in a generational war, which will get worse before it gets better. Indeed, it may not get better for a long time. No one wants to admit this, because it’s ugly and unwelcome. Parents are supposed to care for their children, and children are supposed to care for their aging parents. For families, these collective obligations may work. But what makes sense for families doesn’t always succeed for society as a whole. The clash of generations is intensifying.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that Detroit qualifies for municipal bankruptcy. This almost certainly means that pensions and health benefits for the city’s retired workers will be trimmed. There’s a basic conflict between paying for all retirement benefits and supporting adequate current services (police, schools, parks, sanitation, roads). Detroit’s retired workers have swelled, benefits were not adequately funded and the city’s economy isn’t strong enough to do both without self-defeating tax increases.

The math is unforgiving. Detroit now has two retirees for every active worker, reports the Detroit Free Press; in 2012, that was 10,525 employees and 21,113 retirees. Satisfying retirees inevitably shortchanges their children and grandchildren. Though Detroit’s situation is extreme, it’s not unique. Pension benefits were once thought to be legally and politically impregnable. Pension cuts in Illinois (last week), Rhode Island and elsewhere have shattered this assumption. Chicago is considering reductions for its retirees.

What’s occurring at the state and local levels is an incomplete and imperfect effort to balance the interests of young and old.

This is Robert Samuelson, a writer I read with interest and respect. And he’s not wrong.

But he is incomplete. To be sure, the Welfare State (literal and metaphorical) robs from the young and gives to the old—that’s the textbook definition of Obamacare. But what were the old thinking? I first heard the expression “demographic tsunami” 20 years ago, and was familiar years before that with the concept of baby boomers retiring en masse. And that in their narcissism or misguided generational self-loathing, they refused to reproduce in numbers necessary to see to their long, self-indulgent retirement. What made them think that deals with public sector unions could include retiring before the age of 50 on 100% of their last salary?

When Social Security was passed, 65 was old (older than average life span). Now, it’s the speed limit. I loved Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny (still do), but I had to let go of them. But I would believe in the Tooth Fairy before I would have believed in these the whole preposterous notion that we could support the masses of Seasoned Citizens for decades in their Golden Years. Shame on them for thinking it, and double-shame for demanding it.

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Dispatches From the Front Lines of Socialized Medicine

Some people in Britain are outraged that the elderly are seeing their health care rationed:

Surgery for knees, hips and eyes is under pressure across the NHS, with evidence of rationing to save money, a report suggests.

Data from health analysis firm Dr Foster highlighted the effects of recent austerity, with some operations at their lowest level for several years.

While the data alone cannot shed light on whether patients’ needs are being met, a spokesman for Dr Foster said it was likely that NHS trusts were changing the thresholds at which people qualify for treatment.

This means people who would have got an operation in the past either do not qualify or may have to wait for their condition to get worse.

While others are outraged that health care for everyone else is being rationed:

Former home secretary David Blunkett has accused the government of “sleepwalking into the most gross act of injustice” over plans to switch a greater proportion of NHS funding from deprived to more prosperous areas.

Blunkett suggests the scheme being considered by NHS England, which would see more funds diverted to areas with higher numbers of elderly people, is a crude ploy to help Tory areas before the 2015 general election.

Government egregiously cutting funds and growing wait times. Government playing electoral politics with health services. Say hello to the Ghost of Health Care Future.

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The 2,815 Bedsores of Christmas

This should be a Dispatch From the Front Lines of Socialized Medicine, but I kind of liked the title.

Not how I’d choose to go:

More than 1,000 care home residents have died of thirst or while suffering severe dehydration over the past decade, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Elderly and vulnerable patients were left without enough water despite being under the supervision of trained staff in homes in England and Wales…Charities called for an urgent overhaul in social care, saying that the general public would be outraged if animals were treated in the same way…Figures obtained by this newspaper under freedom of information laws found that 1,158 care home residents suffered dehydration-related deaths between 2003 and 2012. Dehydration was named as either the underlying cause of death or a contributory factor, according to analysis of death certificates by the Office of National Statistics. Some 318 care home residents were found to have died from starvation or when severely malnourished, while 2,815 deaths were linked to bed sores. The real figures are likely to be far higher because residents who died while in hospital were not included.

An acquaintance recently disparaged Americans as “greedy” for not having a single-payer health care system. He was right: we cling bitterly to guns, religion, and life.

And beer.

PS: Again, check out our coverage of the issue over the years. Blimey!

PPS: First they came for the elderly and vulnerable…

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Justice 4 Trayvon Update

If the namesake of ObamaCare had a kid sister, would she look like Traveshia Blanks?

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Traveshia Blanks, of Fort Myers, is charged with two counts of battery on a person 65 years of age or older.

On Tuesday around 3:50 p.m., deputies responded to a report of a group of people who randomly attacked an unsuspecting victim in the area of South Pointe Boulevard.

“I was in shock. Who would expect anything from out of the blue to happen like that. There’s no reason had I done something or said something,” said the 72-year-old Fort Myers victim.

The victim stated that while he was weeding his garden, someone kicked him from behind, knocking him to the ground. The victim says he saw a teenage girl laughing at him before she walked back to join a larger group of teens.

“I didn’t hear anything. There was nobody in the area at all. It was very quiet [when] all of a sudden I felt a blow to my hip and I was on the ground. I turned around to see what happened and there was a girl standing there laughing,” he said.

Concerned citizens saw a group of suspicious teenagers walking down a nearby street and took several photographs with their cell phone, providing investigators with what would later be a crucial piece of evidence.

The investigation into the first incident continued and on Tuesday, a second victim contacted the sheriff’s office.

Harry Hurvitz, 89, told deputies that someone rang his doorbell, and he looked and saw several well-dressed teens standing outside his door and one of them appeared to be holding a cell phone or camera.

When he opened the door, one of the juveniles suddenly and without provocation slapped him in the face.

“I stepped out to see what she was pointing to and there was another girl standing here and wammmmmm,” explained Hurvitz.

The entire group then fled, laughing as they ran toward Principia Drive.

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And proof that evolution has nothing to do with the survival of the fittest:

Hurvitz says he doesn’t want the teen behind bars, saying she needs treatment instead.

He adds he’s glad it was him and not someone else.

“There are lots of old ladies here who have guns and revolvers in their possesion and will not open the door unless they are fully armed,” he said. “And they will just let loose.”

Imagine that. Weak and infirm old ladies who will defend themselves from senseless, random, racist attacks by marauding, amoral “youth”. Takes all kinds, I guess.

The namesake of ObamaCare spoke on the Trayvon Martin case; he spoke out on the Henry Gates kerfuffle. How long before he counsels young African Americans to stop the epidemic of “acting stupidly” before they get shot—by old ladies or whomever?

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Today’s ObamaCare [Bleep]-Up

But there’s still six hours to go, so this is title-holder for the time being:

UnitedHealth Group has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks, leaving many elderly patients unsure whether they need to switch plans to continue seeing their doctors, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The insurer said in October that underfunding of Medicare Advantage plans for the elderly could not be fully offset by the company’s other healthcare business.

The company also reported spending more healthcare premiums on medical claims in the third quarter, due mainly to government cuts to payments for Medicare Advantage services.

The Journal report said that doctors in at least 10 states were notified of being laid off the plans, some citing “significant changes and pressures in the healthcare environment.”

At least two state medical societies are seeking temporary restraining orders against UnitedHealth and other state attorney generals are investigating the firm.

Attorneys in Connecticut, acting on behalf of the Hartford and Fairfield County Medical Associations, filed suit Friday after UnitedHealth dropped doctors serving the popular Medicare program, The Courant reported.

Other states expressed similar anger over the changes. In Rhode Island, the state’s attorney general and health department director on Friday sent letters to UnitedHealth’s New England CEO, asking him to reinstate doctors until a full plan for such a transition could be put in place, Rhode Island Public Radio reported.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Health Department director Michael Fine told United Health that they are concerned the continuity of care will be lost in the shakeup. They also noted that UnitedHealth has not notified customers of the changes, leaving that up to doctors.

Obama is the Clausewitz of class warfare, the Sun Tzu of social tumult. Before his ruination of the insurance industry, most people were at least satisfied with their coverage. There was an uneasy truce between patient and provider, with the doctor acting as mediator. Now, the doctors are out on their rears, the companies are in chaos, patients are freaking out (elderly patients in this case, least able to handle it), and who gets the blame? Not Soviet-style bureaucracy, which wrought this cluster, but private enterprise, which tried to provide a service at a reasonable profit.

The New England Attorneys General are suing the wrong entity. The guy they want is tall and skinny, with big ears. Look for him on the 13th fairway at Andrews.

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Over the Polluted River and Through the Clearcut Woods

To grandmother’s house we go.

A Chinese law requiring family members to visit their elderly relatives went into effect Monday to howls of online ridicule, as the country’s huge population ages rapidly.

The regulation “forces” children to visit their parents, the state-run Global Times newspaper said, with concerns growing over increasing numbers of “empty nest” homes.

China’s rapid development has challenged its traditional extended family unit, and reports of elderly people being neglected or mistreated by their children have shocked the country.

More than 14 percent of China’s population, or 194 million people, are aged over 60, according to the most recent figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The growing proportion of the elderly is the result of China’s controversial one-child policy, which was launched in the late 1970s to control population growth.

Many aged live alone in “empty nest” homes, as a result of their children finding work in other areas of China.

But while Internet users generally express concern for elderly people — who are highly respected in the close-knit Chinese family unit — many took to China’s Twitter-like microblogs to criticise the new measures.

“This is simply an insult to the nation.”

Another poster said: “The government uses legislation to protect the elderly, but in reality it is just to put all the blame on to their children.

“The government should have thought of how they would address this problem when it brought in the one-child policy.”

Oh, snap!

Essentially, China’s senior citizen population would be the fifth or sixth largest nation in the world (about the size of Brazil) if they were put on an ice floe and shoved from shore (perhaps the next government idea). That’s a lot of hand knit sweaters and homemade plum jam!

I can laugh and tease, but how different is this really from banning large sodas and implementing socialized medicine? The idea of government serving the citizen is dead and buried. The mutant system that has taken its place is the exact opposite.

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Raiding the Nest Egg

One of the creepier rumors about how the government would steal more money from us was the idea that they would seize our IRAs and other retirement savings, and issue us an IOU for our golden years. They’d get the cash, we’d get a promissory note, supposedly redeemable after calling it quits.

Well, they’re too clever for that sort of chicanery.

So, this is the chicanery they propose instead:

President Obama’s budget, to be released next week, will limit how much wealthy individuals – like Mitt Romney – can keep in IRAs and other retirement accounts.

The proposal would save around $9 billion over a decade, a senior administration official said, while also bringing more fairness to the tax code.

The senior administration official said that wealthy taxpayers can currently “accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.”

That’s right. The government is going to cap how much you can put away for your retirement (at least the amount you can shield from taxation). Because the government knows how much you need.

This much:

Under the plan, a taxpayer’s tax-preferred retirement account, like an IRA, could not finance more than $205,000 per year of retirement – or right around $3 million this year.

Romney, Obama’s 2012 opponent, had an IRA several to many times that amount, leading to questions about how the former Massachusetts governor was able to squirrel away so much money in that sort of retirement account.

Again with the Romney bashing! What’s eating The Hill, and how can they feign surprise at his wealth?

Never mind the Big Brother-y attitude toward your savings, who’s getting 7% on their investments these days? That’s just crazy!

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Dispatches From the Front Lines of Socialized Medicine

We’re from the government (giggle), we’re here to help (chortle):

Lives will be put at risk unless the Government suspends the new 111 NHS advice line, doctors warned yesterday.

Patients have been left hanging on the phone for two hours or told to call back tomorrow because overstretched operators of the service were too busy to help.

The problems led to a surge in ambulance call-outs and casualty visits as the desperate dialled 999 for help instead.

In Manchester, the situation was so bad the previous provider, Mastercall, had to take over the phones just hours after the launch to sort out the mess.

A group of nurses, who were on a night out, were even drafted in to staff the phones. The service has now been shelved in the city until the end of April.

Sounds like a pervert’s fantasy come true: tipsy nurses give phone sex!

But this is a serious matter.

Deadly serious:

A new article published in the British Medical Journal analyzes how the UK’s rationing board–the National Institute on Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)–applies ”quality adjusted life years” (QALY) to end of life care decisions. QALYs involve cost-benefit analyses with “quality of life” the determining factor. (See what I mean about arcane jargon?)

From, “NICE’s End of Life Decision Making Scheme: Impact on Population Health:”

Our analysis shows that use of NICE’s end of life criteria has resulted in substantial QALY losses. We have assumed that the cost of end of life drugs is met entirely through displacement of other services or treatments in the NHS. Although we do not know whether this has been the case, as the NHS budget is under increasing strain, it seems reasonable to assume that disinvestment will be required. To put the losses into context,the £549m that we estimated has been spent on the nine end of life treatments each year is more than the £505m it cost to provide dialysis for the 21,544 patients with kidney failure in England in 2009.

What does society want? The reallocation of resources to end of life interventions maybe acceptable if society truly values QALYs gained through an extension of life when a patient has a terminal illness more highly than those gained at any other time of life. In this case it would be valid to apply weights to QALYs for end of life treatments, and the QALY loss would represent societal preferences.

Talk about eye-glazing! Talk about a bore fest! And therein lies the danger: Talk about losing the humanity of the decisions being discussed!

It’s all about “society” until it’s your ass on the line. Then it’s about individuality. Do you think the Obama family—including the old lady’s old lady—will ever have to worry about what “society” wants? Line up the blue pills and the red pills, geezers, you’re next!

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Dispatches From the Front Lines of Socialized Medicine

Have you heard about this terrible scourge afflicting British hospitals?

It’s called thirst:

Thirst is needlessly killing 33 patients a day in British hospitals, a leading Government adviser has revealed.

Patients are suffering dehydration and acute kidney injury (AKI) due to a lack of water, despite an official report highlighting the danger four years ago.

NHS Kidney Care, an arm of the Department of Health, said at least 12,000 patients a year are dying from kidney disease due to lack of fluids.

Making sure patients get regular drinks – through routine checks – could virtually wipe out the problem.

Department of Health kidney tsar Dr Donal O’Donoghue is calling for more action to prevent the deaths.

He said: “Not enough progress has been made since the problem was highlighted in a 2009 report.

“This is concerning because patients are becoming ill and dying when it is entirely preventable with good care from doctors and nurses. We have 12,000 deaths that shouldn’t be happening.”

So they’ve known for four years that people were dying of thirst in British hospitals, but they’ve done bugger-all about it. Yup, you can’t even trust government to get you a glass of water!

[And yes, this is BTL, back from vacay.]

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Dispatches From the Front Lines of Socialized Medicine

Hey, mistakes happen. And happen again. And again.

And again:

A hospital investigation has been launched after a confused patient was discharged at 3.30am without a coat in sub-zero temperatures.

Michael Atkinson, 64, was discharged from the Royal Bolton Hospital in Greater Manchester before being found by police tearful, frozen and wandering the streets more than half a mile away.

He had hurt himself after he fell while he was lost and was ‘very distressed’ by his ordeal.

He was also wearing a hospital wristband bearing the name and details of a two-year-old girl.

Nice touch!

Earlier this month, Jonathan Hastilow-Sands, a 90-year-old Alzheimer’s sufferer, was reported missing from the same hospital. He was discovered in Bristol, 175 miles away.

This week it was also revealed that an unnamed 76-year-old male patient walked more than a mile from the hospital in his pyjamas and dressing gown before he was stopped and taken in by a hairdresser.

Hospital bosses have now launched a ‘full review’ into what happened to Mr Atkinson on March 6.

That’ll help. Oh by the way, Mr. Atkinson’s problems didn’t begin with the matter of his discharge:

Mrs Atkinson said her husband had been due to be collected by an ambulance for a brain scan, following a possible second stroke, between 3.30pm and 7.30pm on March 5.

However, an ambulance did not arrive at the couple’s home until 11.40pm that night.

Mrs Atkinson said the ambulance staff did not know why they were collecting her husband and, when at the hospital, no scan was carried out.

At least they have company!

Last year hospitals were told to end the ‘obviously unacceptable’ practice of sending elderly or vulnerable patients home in the middle of the night.

Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS, ordered an urgent review of how the service is discharging hundreds of thousands of patients amid concerns some are being left to fend for themselves.

His intervention came after The Times newspaper obtained figures showing 293,000 patients at 100 hospital trusts had been sent home between 11pm and 6am in 2011.

In a related perverse story:

Film director Ken Loach has called on Londoners to save the NHS from its “sick bed” by joining a march to defend Whittington Hospital.

He said: “I have been a patient at the Whittington, including using the A&E, as well as my family. I have very good memories of the service there. It provides a fundamental service for people in our area.”

“We need to save the Whittington facilities and the NHS at the same time. The NHS is on its sick bed and unless we fight for it very hard it will no longer be there when we need it. I support the campaign to preserve the values of the NHS,” he told the Camden New Journal.

How can one person be so cruel?!

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Dispatches From the Front Lines of Socialized Medicine

It’s he-e-e-re!

Now, this was a private facility in California, not an NHS operation in Britain. But the outcome was the same: death.

And for the same reason: an abdication of responsibility. The self-described nurse on the spot refuses to perform CPR on a collapsed patient, barely breathing, because it’s against policy. She won’t even allow a passerby to try (as guided by the 911 operator). They’re just waiting for the emergency services to arrive (and as Obama has furloughed them all to score political points, that can be a very long wait indeed).

We can take care of ourselves when we’re young and fit. But all of us will be toast when our minds and our bodies go. There will be no one to care for us. No one will care about us.

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Interesting Population Stats

Interesting, horrifying…

…If the problem with socialism is, as Mrs. Thatcher says, that eventually you run out of other people’s money, much of the West has advanced to the next stage: it’s run out of other people, period. Greece is a land of ever-fewer customers and fewer workers but ever more retirees and more government. How do you grow your economy in an ever-shrinking market? The developed world, like Elisabeth, is barren. Collectively barren, I hasten to add. Individually, it’s made up of millions of fertile women, who voluntarily opt for no children at all or one designer kid at 39. In Italy, the home of the Church, the birthrate’s somewhere around 1.2, 1.3 children per couple – or about half “replacement rate.” Japan, Germany and Russia are already in net population decline. Fifty percent of Japanese women born in the Seventies are childless. Between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of Spanish women childless at the age of 30 almost doubled, from just over 30 percent to just shy of 60 percent. In Sweden, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, 20 percent of 40-year old women are childless. In a recent poll, invited to state the “ideal” number of children, 16.6 percent of Germans answered “None.” We are living in Zacharias and Elisabeth’s world – by choice.

That’s Mark Steyn writing about the population crash in Europe. I think it is just very, very sad. Beyond the economy and all that, the idea that people really don’t want to have children, not just a sampling of women, but in some instances half of all women, strikes me as terribly sad.

- Aggie

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