Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Morning Drill: June 16, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments to start your day.

'Dirty Dozen' List Reveals Foods With Most Pesticides

Apples again top the "dirty dozen" list of produce most contaminated with pesticides, while onions top the list of the "clean 15."

The rankings come from consumer advocates at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), based on pesticide tests from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA. It updates last year's list with recently released data from 2009 tests.
"Pesticides are toxic," Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst, says in a news release. "They are designed to kill things and most are not good for you. The question is, how bad are they?

Dirty Dozen: Produce With Most Pesticide

Here's the EWG's list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that had the worst overall pesticide scores:

  1.     Apples
  2.     Celery
  3.     Strawberries
  4.     Peaches
  5.     Spinach
  6.     Nectarines (imported)
  7.     Grapes (imported)
  8.     Sweet bell peppers
  9.     Potatoes
  10.     Blueberries (domestic)
  11.     Lettuce
  12.     Kale/collard greens
42,000 Medicaid participants prepare for cuts to dental care
Many of the budget cuts passed this year in the legislature will go into effect July 1st.  One of the areas taking a big hit is Medicaid and preventative dental care.

The Department of Health and Welfare had to cut $97 million dollars to balance their budget.
The cut to preventative dental care was just one way to manage, but one dentist is worried the state's plan to save money could end up costing them more in the long run, while many who rely on the service are left wondering what they'll do now.

"I was angry, honestly," said Gina Branham.

A few months ago Gina Branham received a letter saying as of July 1st, her Medicaid benefits for dental care would be cut.

"When you get something saying we're not going to help you, you worry about what's going to happen," said Branham.

Branham is not alone.  She is one of an estimated 42,000 Idahoans who will have their dental benefits taken away.  This stems from cuts lawmakers had to make to balance the health and welfare budget.

“The legislature and us, we worked together to minimize the harm that would occur to people. This was one of those cuts that was difficult, but had to be made," said Tom Shanahan, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Beginning July 1st regular, preventative dental check-ups will be stripped away for adults. Only pregnant women, those under 21 and those who have emergency cases will receive care under Medicaid.

As Number of Medicaid Patients Goes Up, Their Benefits Are About to Drop

The Obama administration injected billions of dollars into Medicaid, the nation’s low-income health program, as the recession deepened two years ago. The money runs out at the end of this month, and benefits are being cut for millions of people, even though unemployment has increased.

From New Jersey to California, state officials are bracing for the end to more than $90 billion in federal largess specifically designated for Medicaid. To hold down costs, states are cutting Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals, limiting benefits for Medicaid recipients, reducing the scope of covered services, requiring beneficiaries to pay larger co-payments and expanding the use of managed care.

As a result, costs can be expected to rise in other parts of the health care system. Cuts in Medicaid payments to doctors, for example, make it less likely that they will accept Medicaid patients and more likely that people will turn to hospital emergency rooms for care. Hospitals and other health care providers often try to make up for the loss of Medicaid revenue by increasing charges to other patients, including those with private insurance, experts say.

Neither the White House nor Congress has tried to extend the extra federal financing for Medicaid, even though the number of beneficiaries is higher now than when Congress approved the aid as part of an economic recovery package in February 2009.
The Changing Character of Medicine: Are We Headed in the Right Direction?
Vigorous work and determined dedication are minimum requirements for excellence in medicine. Being the best doctors we can be means working long hours on a daily basis, in addition to covering nights, weekends, and holidays on call. It means constant studying to keep up with the latest scientific advances. On top of that, add the tasks of running our own small business as the majority of physicians have done in the past. The work is demanding, but when we can be our own boss, and know we are providing a valuable, and valued, service, it’s well worth our time and financial risk. The honor of sharing the intimate, intensely human experiences of our patients’ lives is immeasurable.

Now pile on reams of government regulations and paper work which add to overhead costs and subtract from time with patients. Toss in threats of felony charges for billing errors and ever-shifting carrots and sticks to get us to practice the way the politicians think we should practice medicine, instead of the treatment we and our patients determine to be in their best interest. Top it off with the rising risk of litigation and malpractice premiums, and is it any wonder that more and more physicians are choosing the path of employee?
Enjoy your morning drill!

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