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Elders, Boomers, the Good and the Bad

category_bug_journal2.gif The Bad
If we didn’t know anything about rehab before, we have learned a lot in recent years from news video of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans working through the difficulties of learning to walk again with various kinds of prosthetics. They aren’t the only ones. People throughout the U.S., usually elders, go through similar training following hip and knee replacement.

This surgery has come a long way since it was introduced several decades ago and those replacements are highly successful, giving freedom of mobility to hundreds of thousands of people over the years who would otherwise be stuck in wheelchairs.

Nevertheless, it takes each patient time and effort working with rehab specialists to heal and to learn to function with those modern-miracle replacements. So I was shocked to read a story from Diane at Cab Drollery this week:

“…some private contractors for a Medicare audit [have] turned into bounty hunters eagerly savaging the bills of rehab hospitals providing services to Medicare beneficiaries. The audit was a trial run ordered by Congress and involved three states: California, Florida, and New York. In California, records show that the auditors routinely rejected bills (up to 90%) from those rehabilitation hospitals providing services to those who'd had total knee or total hip replacements. As a result, several of those hospitals have closed or are about to.” [emphasis added]

This is hard to fathom. Is the idea that after the surgeon has inserted your new knee or hip, you should pop out of bed the next morning and walk home? It gets worse. As Diane explains further, the private contractor hired for the audit, PRG-Schultz, receives a percentage of the money recouped from claim denials.

“Among the investors in PRG-Schultz is Blum Capital Partners,” writes Diane, “headed by Richard Blum of San Francisco. Blum is married to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.”

And if you believe that is a coincidence, you are naïve. Go read the rest of Diane’s post to see how you can help.

The Good
I’ve written in the past about my dissatisfaction with most boomer websites. A recent peek at the Eons home page found it featuring games, trivia and football. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but it’s nothing you can’t find anywhere else on the web and is demeaning in its assumption that elders/boomers are interested only in mild entertainment.

Boomer411 Now there is a new website, Boomer411 that, as its name suggests, aims to become the information center for people who are facing issues new to them in life’s later years. And I’m not saying that just because their blog is currently featuring Part 1 of an interview with me.

Boomer411 is a search portal that will collect from around the web and from contributors the best-of-the-best thinking that relates to boomers and elders. It will, as the founders state,

“…focus on today’s issues, challenges, and controversies in a way that provides less heat and more light.”

And

“Though the focus of this site is on Boomers, we speculate that some of the topics that will be discussed here (e.g., aging, retirement, finance, etc.) would be relevant and of interest to anyone older than 40 years, including the generation older than Boomers.”

In the interests of full disclosure, I learned of this project at the Gnomedex7 conference I attended last summer and I’m impressed with their approach to creating a site that will reflect the best thinking, discovery and reflection on matters pertinent to boomers and elders along with the practical information.

Having launched a few websites myself in the past, I know the work involved. Boomer411 is still in development, but the blog is up and running. Please do stop by, comment and bookmark it for further visits.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz explains the consequences of a hasty purchase in Mom Mom and the Rag Doll.]

Comments

Money and power certainly are a corrupting influence and the rejection of Medicare claims by the ghouls are unconscionable.
I just visited Boomer 411 and read your great interview, Ronni. I made a comment and was directed to a page instructing me to enter a code number. I don't have a clue as to what code I should enter. Maybe it's my computer settings as I just installed a new virus scan. Whatever it is, it's frustrating.

You bet, and thanks for turning us on to it.

On another matter. I note in my daily visits to my friend's nursing home that most of the residents desperatly need dental care. Sometimes this care is available, perhaps through the VA, but many put off going because there is no one to go with them.

Diane Feinstein's family was involved in some shady war contracting also. I used to respect her but think money corrupts a lot of people. It is not an excuse that many politicians use their position to give their family lucrative contracts.

Some HMOs are bad for how they reward the doctor for not treating patients. We have a lousy system for health care and it's not getting better. It will take a total overhaul which no politician will promise or probably do if they did. Always follow the money

Ronni,

It was a pleasure meeting with you at Gnomedex. Great interview.

Darlene, I just spoke to the developers about the commenting issue. They are looking into it as we speak. Sorry for the trouble.

Best,
Raj

Having worked with many post-op patients from hip and knee replacement, I can vouch for the importance of rehab before returning home. And they're denying 90% of the claims? Just another example of the horrific health care system in this country.
Read your interview and it was great, Ronni and thanks for pointing us toward that web site.

PS....in relation to what Darlene said above....I also tried to leave a comment on that Boomer site and it requested a "code." Just wanted you to know. Not able to leave a comment.

Ronni,

What a treasure you are! What you deliver through the web is resiliency, humor, wisdom, and spirit. Thank you for all of those.

My background involves enough technology that I have tried to build a suitable wiki for seniors, www.wikisenior.com. Trying to help out fellow seniors in a manner similar to yourself and Boomer411, I went the wiki route because of the flexibility of the database. The idea was to build a framework, both topical and geographic, to collect the wisdom of fellow seniors.

Love to know what you think of it.

Ronni, I too visited Boomer411 and I read your interview which was excellent as usual.
I realize a boomer website may not be as concerned with ease of reading the text but Boomer411 would benefit greatly from font size and a layout similar to your site, "Time Goes By."

Just a suggestion.

Chancy,

Thank you for your suggestion for Boomer411 improvement - regarding font size.

That is definitely something that is on the cards to change. We are just starting and we are building the site - step by step.

Will keep you posted.

Best,
Raj

I appreciate having this new site to visit. I loved the interview, as well. You make a great contribution, Ronni.

Darlene, Terri,
The comments issue on the Boomer411 blog is fixed. Please be sure to visit again and post your comments/feedback/suggestions. I apologize for the inconvenience.

But very excited about this journey.

Regards,
Guru

This method of rewarding individuals for claims denials in health care is not what the system should be about.

Patients and family must be their own advocates, unwilling to accept a denial of treatment, demanding justification for the denial if they receive one they believe to be inappropriate. Patients have to be making an effort and actively participating in their therapy, demonstrating progress, or they may have the sessions discontinued.

There have been and continue to be gradual cutbacks in rehab funding for all disciplines, not just those who work with hip and joint replacement rehab therapy. Little is ever written or read about those decreases. Most people are unaware of what rehab ins. coverage they'll have until they need it, much less what the limitations are.

I just left a comment successfully and with great ease at Boomer 411. Excellent Part 1 interview with you. Will look forward to Part 2. Site looks as though it will be an interesting place for future visits.

Raj and Guru, I visited the site again today and was able to post a comment. Thank you for fixing your site.

I was hoping to see part II of Ronni's interview but I guess it hasn't been posted yet. I will check back.

Darlene,
Thank you for checking back and leaving your comments on the blog. We appreciate it. Part two of Ronni's interview will be posted some time in the next week.

We hope you'll visit and participate often.

Regards,
Guru

The Medicare problem is stupid, too, not just immoral. Guess what happens when people go home without adequate rehab? They fall and end up in nursing homes, at costs--to Medicaid--far in excess of the rehab (happened to Mom). It's time for Medicare to take over NH costs so that they have some incentive to keep people out of NH, not put people in them.

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