Georgia Medicaid Shortfall

Georgia Medicaid is low on funds. The state needs more money to continue their Georgia Medicaid program. A LOT of money. Something on the order of $300 million.      

Georgia Medicaid

The state Department of Community Health plans to ask the state legislature for roughly $308.2 million to make up the gap for fiscal 2013, Vince Harris, the agency’s chief financial officer, told board members.
The looming deficit comes at a time when the state health agency is also facing the addition of another 600,000-plus Georgians to its Medicaid rolls starting in 2014, as part of the program’s expansion under the health care law.

Yes, that's right.

Georgia Medicaid can't pay for current care and Obamacare will force another 600,000 people on to Medicaid in 2014.

This is on top of the 1.7 million currently on Georgia Medicaid and chewing up $21 million every day in taxpayer funded benefits.

The health care program is also looking at a $90 million deficit for the current fiscal year. That accumulated in large part because the state legislature did not allocate funds for the final month of payments to three for-profit companies that manage care for primarily low-income kids and moms in Georgia Medicaid.

The state expects contract help to work for free?

Well, that is one solution. Don't pay anyone.

As long as the contractors don't have a problem with it.

But how about the projected $600 million annual Georgia Medicaid deficit forecast for 2015? Wonder what those single payer fans will say then about how well the system works when the government runs health care?


Lose Weight While You Sleep

Need to lose weight? Take a nap. According to Consumer Reports . . .

Studies suggest that it has to do with hormones calledleptin and ghrelin that reside in your fat cells and gastrointestinal tract, respectively. Lack of sleep may decrease the level of leptin, which can block feelings of satiety and encourage you to eat more. And sleep deprivation increases ghrelin, which stimulates the appetite. Seven to 8 hours of restful sleep a night is ideal to eliminate that problem.

Sounds good to me.

Can Melatonin help you sleep? Watch this video and learn.

Lawrence Epstein from Harvard Medical School weighs in.  Who can benefit from Melatonin? What is Melatonin for?

Nighty night . . .

GE Moves to China

The headquarters of the imaging division of GE Healthcare (one of the sponsors of House) is moving to Beijing, China. Just another blow to the US economy and failed attempts by Washington to address the real cause of the recession . . . unemployment

Hospital Exec Pay

The AJC thinks is it important to know how much Atlanta hospital CEO"s are paid. My response is, who cares? If you believe paying execs less will solve problems in the health care system you must be on crack.

The reporter hopes to get you on his side by telling how hospitals are laying off workers and Georgia citizens are filing bankruptcy because they can't pay their medical bills. He wants you to believe jobs would be saved and people would be able to pay their hospital bill if the CEO's weren't so greedy.

I mean really.

Let's use the recently departed (for another job, not left this earth) Michael Young, CEO of Grady, as an example. The AJC reports his pay was $834,000 for the 623 bed hospital which translates into $900 per bed as his comp.

The author would have you believe this is excessive.

For some odd reason the reporter fails to consider the $22 MILLION in uncompensated care rendered by Grady.

If Young worked for free Grady would still have over $21,000,000 in uncompensated care and that number would probably go higher considering the excellent job Young did of turning Grady around from near bankruptcy to a profitable status.

And what about that $900 per bed figure? Spread over 365 days that is less than $3 per bed per day.

Give me a break!

Twelve of the 15 acute care hospital systems in metro Atlanta are exempt from taxes on more than $2.6 billion worth of property and equipment. They also escape millions in sales taxes and income taxes.

No one has calculated lost revenue from exempting some hospitals from paying taxes. The number is thought to be substantial, however. For example, Tenet Healthcare Corp., a for-profit system of five hospitals in Georgia, paid $10.1 million last year in local, state and federal taxes.

So for-profit is better than not-for-profit?

Common public belief is just the opposite. The lame stream media would have you believe the cost of health care and health insurance would drop precipitously if health care providers would escape the profit directive.

Many tax exempt hospitals also receive millions in government grants.

And where does the government get their money?

From taxpayers.

Taxpayers such as Tenet Healthcare. So it is a cycle. For profit hospitals pay taxes that are cycled back to not-for-profit hospitals . . . less the "vigor" collected by the government for reallocating the wealth.

In exchange, these hospitals are supposed to pursue a social mission — defined loosely as providing uncompensated care, medical training, research and community outreach.

But when their CEOs have salaries rivaling corporate executives, the charitable work is obscured by an apparent pursuit of profit,

But wait.

Most of the Atlanta hospital CEO's skewered in this report work for not-for-profit hospitals. So are the pursuing profits or not?

Does the reporter even know what a profit is? Does the reporter understand that not-for-profit does not mean they cannot pay a competitive wage?

I don't think this guy has a clue.

In fiscal 2009, John Fox of Emory Healthcare made $1,671,999 to manage Emory University Hospital and five associated institutions.

Tim Stack of Piedmont Healthcare, who manages Piedmont Hospital and three others, made $1,340,974 the same year. Piedmont announced last month it will cut 464 jobs, although the hospital system made $46 million above operating expenses in fiscal 2010 and $12.5 million in the first nine months of this fiscal year.

So what?

Emory generates $1 billion in revenues and has 8400 employees. At $1.6 million Mr. Fox's pay is less than 2 tenths of a percent of gross revenues and works out to $190 per employee under his management.

If Mr. Fox worked for $0 each employee could get a $190 annual raise.

The concept of criticizing CEO pay is totally illogical. And if you didn't have someone of that caliber overseeing the daily operations how soon before it failed? What is fair pay for a billion dollar organization with 8400 employees?

If you want to solve the health care problems it is not to be found in the pay scale of the CEO, nor in a discussion of for-profit vs. not-for-profit.

Roughly 80% of health care dollars are spent on chronic conditions and 70% of those conditions can be prevented or reversed with lifestyle changes. We are an obese nation that rarely exercises other than getting up from our chair to find new batteries for the remote.

The other problem is the way health insurance is designed. Health insurance pays over 85% of the cost of health care. Too many people believe they cannot afford to visit the doctor unless they have a copay, even though most copay's are roughly 70% of the cost of the actual visit.

We don't need health insurance for the little things, we need it for the big medical expenses.

We don't buy car insurance with copay's for tires, brakes and oil changes. Why do we think we need health insurance with a doctor copay when the average person see's a doctor less than 3 times per year?

Instead of focusing on CEO pay, someone needs to take a hard look at personal responsibility and leave the folks who keep the hospital doors open alone.

I dare say most who are critical of the pay afforded to CEO's would not be able to run a successful 1 person business much less one with hundreds of employees.

Those who can, do. Those who can't are simply jealous.


SALE – Wellness Profile

Direct Labs is having a sale on their Complete Wellness Profile. Save $430! Regularly $97 (vs. retail price of $535) the sale price is $69. To obtain special pricing your lab work must be submitted through Direct Labs from July 1 to July 8, 2011.

The Complete Wellness Profile includes the following:

Fasting Required: Yes-10 to 12 hours

Specimen: Blood 

Results: 1-2 Business Days

The CWP is the #1 ordered test – year after year! Over 50 individual laboratory tests to provide a thorough Biochemical assessment of your health, and includes the basic cardiovascular tests as well as diabetes testing.

Tests Included:

Lipids: This is a group of simple blood tests that reveal important information about the types, amount and distribution of the various types of fats (lipids) in the bloodstream. Includes Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, LDL (bad) Cholesterol, Risk Ratio (good to total), and Triglycerides

Complete Blood Count(CBC's): Used as a broad screening test to check for such disorders as anemia, infection, and many other diseases. It is actually a panel of tests that examines different parts of the blood.

Fluids and Electrolytes: Includes Chloride, Potassium, Sodium, and Carbon Dioxide


Thyroid w/TSH: Includes T-3 Uptake, Total T4, (Free thyroxine index)T7, and TSH

Liver: Includes Albumin, Alkaline Phosphatase, Alanine Transaminase (ALT or SGPT), Aspartate Transaminase (AST or SGOT), Total Bilirubin, Total Protein, LDH, Total Globulin, Albumin/Globulin Ratio, and GGT

Kidney: Includes Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Creatinine, BUN/Creatinine Ratio, eGFR, and Uric Acid

Glucose (Diabetes)

Mineral and Bone: Total Iron, Calcium, and Phosphorus

​Use the link to Direct Labs and save.

Doc Info

Need to find a Georgia doctor? Rate a Medicare doctor or look up a medical term? MDSmartSearch may be what the doctor ordered.

Prescription Drugs

  • look up prescription drug prices and information
  • search by name or medical condition
  • find OTC (over the counter) medications

Physician Database

  • locate health care providers with fraud convictions
  • patient abuse
  • student loan defaults

Health Related Articles

  • health information articles
  • health care blogs
  • health care podcasts

There is a wealth of information for GA seniors at this site.

Looking for affordable health insurance in Georgia or affordable Medicare supplement plans, Georgia Insurance Shop is your leading resource.


Ambulance Charges

There are three things you MUST know if you want your Georgia health insurance plan or Medicare supplement plan to pay for ambulance charges. Otherwise, you may have to rob a bank to pay your bill.

Your health insurance policy should cover emergency medical transport fee's but there may be some "gotcha's".

First, if there is not a true medical emergency at the time, you may be stuck with the full cost of the trip. This can be anywhere from $500  to several thousand dollars.

Second, even if there is a medical emergency, if the transport company is not a par provider, your health insurance policy will still pay but you could be stuck paying a huge balance.

Third, ambulance companies are not always known for filing their charges correctly with your health insurance company. If their bill is not coded properly your claim may be denied.

Clients of Georgia Insurance Shop can always call if they have questions about ambulance charges. Affordable health insurance in Georgia as well as having an advocate to help you understand your medical bills.

6 Things That Make You Sick


6 Daily Habits That May Make You Sick

From the kitchen to the backyard, WebMD uncovers common household activities that could affect your health.


They say that home is where the heart is. But what you may not know is that it's also where 65% of colds and more than half of food-borne illnesses are contracted. The things we do around the house every day have a big impact on both our long- and short-term health.  Here are six common household activities that may be making you sick.

1. Using a Sponge

The dirtiest room in everybody's home is the kitchen, says Phillip Tierno, PhD, director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at the New York University Langone Medical Center and author of The Secret Life of Germs. "That's because we deal with dead animal carcasses on our countertops and in the sink." Raw meat can carry E. coli and salmonella, among other viruses and bacteria.

Most people clean their countertops and table after a meal with the one tool found in almost all kitchens: the sponge. In addition to sopping up liquids and other messes, the kitchen sponge commonly carries E. coliand fecal bacteria, as well as many other microbes. "It's the single dirtiest thing in your kitchen, along with a dishrag," says Tierno.

Ironically, the more you attempt to clean your countertops with a sponge, the more germs you're spreading around. "People leave [the sponge] growing and it becomes teeming with [millions of] bacteria, and that can make you sick and become a reservoir of other organisms that you cross-contaminate your countertops with, your refrigerator, and other appliances in the kitchen," Tierno explains.

Solution: Tierno suggests dipping sponges into a solution of bleach and water before wiping down surfaces. "That is the best and cheapest germicide money can buy — less than a penny to make the solution — so that you can clean your countertops, cutting boards, dishrags, or sponges after each meal preparation."

In addition, once you've used your sponge, be sure to let it air-dry. Dryness kills off organisms. Another way to keep bacteria from building up in your sponge is to microwave it for one to two minutes each week. "Put a little water in a dish and put the sponge in that," Tierno advises. "That will boil and distribute the heat evenly [throughout the sponge] and kill the bacteria."


2. Vacuuming

Conventional vacuum cleaners are intended to pick up and retain big pieces of dirt, like the dust bunnies we see floating about on our floors. But it's the tiny dust particles that pass right through the porous vacuum bags and up into the air. So, while our floors may look cleaner after running a vacuum over them, plenty of dust, which can exacerbate allergies, remains.

Pet allergens and indoor dust, which contains the highest concentrations of hazardous materials like heavy metals, lead, pesticides, and other chemicals, are found in higher concentrations in the smallest particles of the dust, explains David MacIntosh, MD. He is principal scientist at Environmental Health & Engineering (EH&E), an environmental consulting and engineering services firm based in Needham, Mass.

"The everyday habit of cleaning with a conventional vacuum cleaner results in a burst of particles in the air and then they settle back down over the course of hours," says MacIntosh.

Solution: Look for a vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Unlike those in conventional vacuums, HEPA filters are able to retain the small particles and prevent them from passing through and contaminating the air you breathe in your home.

3. Sleeping With Pillows and a Mattress

The average person sheds about 1.5 million skin cells per hour and perspires one quart every day even while doing nothing, says Tierno. The skin cells accumulate in our pillows and mattresses and dust mites grow and settle.

If that's not gross enough for you, Tierno explains that a mattress doubles in weight every 10 years because of the accumulation of human hair, bodily secretions, animal hair and dander, fungal mold and spores, bacteria, chemicals, dust, lint, fibers, dust mites, insect parts, and a variety of particulates, including dust mite feces. After five years, 10% of the weight of a pillow is dust mites. This is what you're inhaling while you sleep. 

"What you're sleeping on can exacerbate your allergies," says Tierno. 

Solution: Cover your mattress, box springs, and pillows with impervious outer covers.

"Allergy-proof coverings seal the mattress and pillow, preventing anything from getting in or out, which protects you," Tierno says. He also suggests that you wash your sheets weekly in hot water. Make sure the temperature range of the water is between 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Grilling Meat

So much for the summertime staple: Barbecuing meat creates the cancer-causing compounds polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). When fat drips from the meat onto the hot grill, catches fire, and produces smoke, PAHs form. That's what's contained in that delicious-looking charred mark we all look for on our burger. HCAs form when meat is cooked at a high temperature, which can occur during an indoor cooking process as well.


Solution: "Limiting your outdoor cooking, using tin foil, or microwaving the meat first is a sensible precaution," says Michael Thun, MD. He is emeritus vice president for epidemiology and surveillance research with the American Cancer Society.

Wrapping meat in foil with holes poked in it allows fat to drip off, but limits the amount of fat that hits the flames and comes back onto the meat, Thun tells WebMD. Some of the excess fat can also be eliminated by first microwaving meat and choosing cuts of meat that are leaner. There's some evidence that marinating meat may lower the amount of HCAs formed. 

5. Opening Your Windows

When the weather turns nice, many of us throw open our windows to breathe in the fresh spring air. But that may be an unhealthy move, considering the combination of seasonal allergies and poor air quality of many cities throughout the U.S. According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, 60% of Americans are breathing unhealthy air. And the pollution inside our homes may be worse than outdoors. The Environmental Protection Agency lists poor indoor air quality as the fourth largest environmental threat to our country. Bacteria, molds, mildew, tobacco smoke, viruses, animal dander, house dust mites, and pollen are among the most common household pollutants. 

Solution: Shut the windows and run the air conditioner. All air-conditioning systems have a filter that protects the mechanical equipment and keeps them clean of debris.

"Pollen and mold spores that have made their way indoors will be run through the air-conditioning system and taken out of the air as they go through the duct work," MacIntosh says.

But much like with the vacuum cleaner, these filters can only capture the largest particles. "The conventional filters just pick up big things, such as hair or cob webs," says MacIntosh. "Filters intended to remove the inhalable particles, which are very small, exist on the market and some are very effective."

They may also be worth the investment. A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that cleaner air might add as much as five months to a person's life.

Tierno says that air purification systems are important, particularly in a bedroom where bacteria are teeming.

6. Sitting in Front of the TV

Sitting in front of the television has become a national pastime and one of our least healthy behaviors, particularly because we often do it while snacking on food that is high in calories. 

"When you're sitting there in a trance, you can really pack on some calories," says Thun. "Today, more than one-third of the U.S. population qualifies as obese and one-third qualifies as overweight. Thirteen million Americans are morbidly obese."

Excess body weight puts us at greater risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and a host of other diseases, Thun says. "That poses a greater health risk than the toxic cleansers under our sinks."

Solution: Turn off the TV, put away the bag of chips, and go for a walk.