Letters: Some perspective on Medicare
With the recent clamor to lay bare the true cost of "Medicare for all" were it to become a reality, I am compelled to throw out some hard facts of what Medicare costs a recipient right now, what it covers, what it does not cover and some quirky things that have had not a word of discussion.
Let me give you my background: I am a practicing dentist who receives Medicare supplement and advantage plan payments from insurance companies. I am a consumer and a Medicare recipient, along with my wife. I also served on the board of a health insurance company for over 20 years and was chairman of the company for three years. I also was chair of the company's compliance committee. That's three distinct perspectives all dealing with Medicare: a payer, a payee and a consumer who pays the exact same as everybody else.
Because I am still practicing with an income, Medicare kicks in a maximum "means test" that makes my cost for Part B $470 per month for myself and the same for my wife. That's $940 per month. Then, because Medicare does not cover every cost, especially drug costs with Part D, I feel obligated to buy a Medicare supplement. Because my wife was a county employee we take the PERS supplement. That is $390 per month each, and together it is $780. So adding $780 plus $940 gives our monthly cost at $1,740. If you had kids, just add that to the bill as well that would increase your cost even more.
So if the thought is to give the same Medicare benefit to all as we have it now, then working people would have the "means test" applied and they would need a supplement or advantage add-on to get the same coverage they might get from an employer. If it would be offered for free the cost would be ... well, let's just say God help us all!
Well done story on pacemaker surgery
I want to compliment the Portland Tribune and reporter Nick Budnick on the story about Dr. Emilia Arden and the lawsuit about unnecessary pacemaker surgery. That was a superbly done piece of investigative reporting.
The article revealed a great deal of information of enormous importance to Dr. Arden's patients, colleagues and employers. It also pointed out some very problematic aspects of the relationship between medical device manufacturers and medical care providers, the exploration of which is very much in the public interest. Well done!
Explore options regarding childhood trauma
One in six people across the United States has experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences, according to a new report on acute childhood trauma released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report confirms that Americans who had experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) — such as neglect, abuse, witnessing violence at home or growing up in a family with mental health or substance abuse problems — are at a higher risk of dying of the leading causes of death, which include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, injuries and suicide.
The results of this study are alarming and disheartening, but as the CDC concludes, there are effective ways to prevent childhood trauma and mitigate its effects when it happens. One of these approaches is mentoring.
At Friends of the Children — Portland + SW Washington, we designed a program of support centered on long-term, one-on-one youth mentoring that has proven to be an effective intervention for youth experiencing the highest rates of childhood trauma; 47% of the youth in our program have experienced four or more ACEs. We provide each child with a salaried, professional mentor whom we call a "Friend," from kindergarten through graduation. Moving mentoring out of the volunteer realm ensures the quality, consistency and commitment needed to navigate trauma and build resiliency.
Youths in our program are grappling with the complex intersecting pressures of intergenerational poverty and multiple ACEs. This confluence of risk factors means they are often deemed "out of scope" by other agencies.
• 54% do not always have enough to eat at home.
• 51% have a parent with substance abuse problems.
• 44% are or have been in foster or kinship care.
• 34% have been houseless or moved more than once in one year.
The generational changes and results of our mentoring program include: 89% finish high school; 93% avoid the juvenile justice system; and 96% avoid early parenting.
With validation from the CDC, we have witnessed for 26 years the impact of providing a caring adult early in a child's life to minimize the negative impact of adverse childhood experiences ensuring a healthier and more fulfilling life for our highest priority youth.
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