Doctors, Sheriffs Unite Against Powdered Alcohol in Michigan

LANSING, MI — A powdered alcohol known as “palcohol” has been approved by the federal government, but members of Michigan’s medical and police communities said today it could spell trouble.

“We feel that powdered alcohol equals big trouble in a small packet,” said Dr. Brad Uren of the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians, and President – Elect of the Washtenaw County Medical Society.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, have introduced legislation in each chamber that would ban the sale and possession of powdered alcohol in Michigan.

“The kids are already looking forward to having this product. They talk about it coming in packets like Kool-Aid,” Jones said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The makers of Palcohol, which got federal approval in March, say it’s safer than liquid alcohol.

Allegan County Sheriff Blaine Koops

“Liquid alcohol is easier to conceal, easier to spike drinks and easier to use to binge drink. It’s much less expensive and allows someone to get drunk faster, both which appeal to the underage drinker,” reads a statement on Palcohol’s website.

The advantage of Palcohol, its makers say, is that people can carry the lightweight substance with them on outdoor activities like hikes. Airplanes could also carry the lightweight powder to save on fuel costs and it could also serve as a medical antiseptic in remote locations, makers say.

But those working to ban the product in Michigan say it would be easier for young kids to conceal and people to sneak into bars or other venues.

Allegan County Sheriff Blaine Koops, who is also part of the Michigan Sheriffs Association, said the product was dangerous.

“This is probably the most reckless and dangerous product that I’ve seen introduced in my tenure as a public safety officer. There’s no redeeming quality for this product,” Koops said.

Allegan County Sheriff Blaine Koops speaks at a press conference in support of bills that would ban powdered alcohol in Michigan.

According to Michigan Alcohol Policy, a group that promotes health and safety, Michigan would join six states that have already banned the powdered alcohol: Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. Another 23 states, including Michigan, are considering bans on the product.

In Michigan, the bills that would ban it are House Bill 4416 and Senate Bill 240.

No-Fault Insurance Bill a Shameful Grab – Mitch Albom

You never think about it until it happens to you. Then a car crashes, and your 4-year-old is on a ventilator. Your teenaged daughter is paralyzed. Your husband has permanent brain damage.

Suddenly, the issue of how you care for these loved ones is very real. And how you pay for it is bruising reality. Medical costs can burn through $1 million as if you threw it in a furnace.

For more than 40 years, thanks to a vote we, the people, took in the 1970s, Michigan has led the nation in compassion for victims of catastrophic accidents, people like Erica Coulston, who used to spring out of bed each morning as an active, vivacious 23-year-old. Then, in 2007, a car crash in which she wasn’t even driving left her “in the blink of an eye … a quadriplegic … paralysis of my legs, arms, hands and trunk muscles. … I can no longer sweat like I used to. … I have no bladder or bowel control. … I require assistance with showering, dressing, preparing meals. … I have chronic neuropathic pain …”

She said all this in a testimony this past week before our state legislators, the majority of whom were insensitive enough to keep rushing through a bill that would change Erica’s life and those of victims like her forever.

For greed.

It is shameless. And it must be stopped.

You always should be wary when lawmakers move fast. This same body that couldn’t get its act together to fix our roads — so it told US to go vote on them — has somehow greased a bill that spent one day in a Senate committee, three days in a House committee and could be voted on the floor this week — what? huh? — a bill that would cap, cut, alter and reassign the benefits that catastrophic victims rely on.

Oh. And they’re inserting a provision to make sure we, the people, can never vote on it — even though we were the ones who created this thing and upheld it twice in statewide votes.

Angry yet? You should be furious. Because this bill would take the responsibility of determining what a victim like Erica needs away from a physician and put it in the hands of an adjuster. (Warning flares!) It would make you fight for benefits challenged by insurance companies — who have lawyers on their payrolls — tying you up for months or years, and even if you win, no legal costs would be reimbursed. It would do things like limit nurses or caregivers to one per person (ever tried to lift a large man who’s paralyzed with one nurse?) and cap amounts paid at 150% of what Medicare covers, which they want you to think is generous, until you realize how Medicare woefully limits care and doesn’t even provide many services we now offer. How can you have 150% of nothing?

Why this sudden hurry? Because the relatively small fee each of us has paid per car over the years has built up a victims’ fund that creates palpable lust, like that dragon’s gold in “The Hobbit.”

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who has spent his life in politics, explained it this way to me: “The fund was created to protect the most vulnerable people in society. … Today it has about $20 billion, but the legislators can’t get to it. … The insurance companies can’t get to it, and it’s driving them crazy. And they’re doing anything they can to tear down that gate.”

This bill would do that, phasing out the entity that controls the fund and opening loopholes through which the insurance companies could refund themselves.

How do they and their government lackeys get the audacity to try this? By “covering” it with talk of costly auto insurance rates. Michigan’s are among the highest in the U.S. (That’s greatly skewed by Detroit’s rates.) And this bill would lower rates by $100 a car — BUT ONLY FOR TWO YEARS!

Will we sell our souls that cheaply?

Who’s kidding who? Whenever insurance companies want something, they threaten high rates or claim they can lower them. I ask you: When, long-term, does that ever happen? Even more to the point: When’s the last time you saw an insurance company suffering?

On the other hand, you can see car crash victims suffering every day in our state. You can see them wheeling into Erica Coulston’s chosen business, a Southfield rehab center for victims like herself — a business she can operate and which clients can come to largely because of our no-fault law.

Without it, these people could be relegated to facilities, or left alone in the house while loved ones scramble for work to pay huge medical costs.

We have to stop this. Not to be scary, but chances are one of you reading this column today will be involved in a catastrophic accident. And when the money runs out, when you’re denied claims, have to fight, when your savings are depleted and your family is beaten down, do you think these legislators are coming by to help you?

Call your representatives. First thing Monday. Tell him or her to vote no. You easily can find them at legislature.mi.gov.

Because you never think about it until it happens to you. And by then it will be too late.

Take it From a Doctor: Michigan Needs No-Fault

You never know when stepping off the curb or a drive to the store could lead to a debilitating injury.  Tell lawmakers to vote no on Senate Bill 248. 

See the entire article by WCMS President, Brad J. Uren, MD,  at the following link:

 

 

Michigan Health and Hospital Association “Thunderclap” Support GME Campaign

Please take a moment to read Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s campaign in support of GME funding:On Tuesday, April 21, the Michigan House Health Policy Committee will be hearing testimony on the critical role graduate medical education (GME) plays in ensuring access to high-quality, affordable healthcare across our state. As you know, each of the state budget proposals that have been put forth by the governor and both state chambers eliminate or reduce the state contribution toward funding GME and, instead, propose requiring hospitals to fund the program with their own tax dollars. Please know that, while this issue may seem to only affect teaching hospitals, GME is important to all hospitals and health systems, as it provides a crucial pipeline for future physicians that care for patients across Michigan.

While budget negotiations continue with key decision-makers, we must continue to raise the visibility of GME with our state legislators, the public and the media to humanize the story of GME. To do so, the MHA has developed some tools for physician residents to use not only Monday, but in the weeks and months ahead, to deliver the message to elected officials and others that #GMEmatters.

We will be executing a Thunderclap social media campaign Monday morning prior to the committee hearing, and we need the support of your hospitals and your physician residents to make it a success. If you’re not familiar with it, Thunderclap is a tool that allows an organizer to set up a social media campaign that recruits supporters and then delivers an identical message from all supporters’ social media accounts on the same day at the same time, essentially creating a GME flash flood in the social media world (and to legislators). Our Thunderclap campaign will deliver a message on Twitter and Facebook to the Michigan Legislature about the importance of GME, and we ask that you sign up to support our campaign. Please pass this information along to your physician residents, if you are part of a teaching hospital, and encourage them to participate in the Thunderclap.

We have also developed a Web page devoted to GME. This page, which is available now at www.gmematters.org and will continue to be developed over the coming days, houses tools for physician residents and others that make it fast and easy to engage in a GME discussion with their social media followers, elected officials or local newspaper. Included are one-click Tweets, a sample letter to the editor or legislator, a list of teaching hospitals and more. In addition, we are asking physician residents to share their stories about their experience as residents. Our Web page can capture written stories or video snippets, for which we’ve provided prompt questions. These stories would be featured on social media to reinforce why GME is important to maintaining access to care across Michigan and ensuring we have a strong future physician workforce.

To recap, here’s what we are asking you to do:

?        Join our Thunderclap campaign and ask your physician residents and other hospital colleagues to do the same.

?        Visit our new GME Web page – www.gmematters.org – and use the social media tools provided to Tweet and use other platforms to be part of the ongoing conversation about GME.

If you have any questions about the communications elements of this message, please don’t hesitate to rsudderth@mha.org, Ruthanne Sudderth, Senior Director, Communications and Strategic Affairs, Michigan Health & Hospital Association

Take Action to Protect Auto No-fault Today!

 
350x100_AutoNoFaultWith less than 24 hours notice, the Senate Insurance Committee yesterday voted to pass Senate Bill (SB) 248, a bill making sweeping changes to the Michigan auto no-fault system.

Specifically, SB 248 would:
  • Create an auto insurance fraud prevention authority;
  • Create an entirely new catastrophic claims system;
  • Impose a $15 per hour limit for in-home provided care regardless of the skill level required to safely care for the auto accident survivor;
  • Require a 20% co-pay (up to $200 a month) on attendant care, which would be a significant financial hardship for many families;
  • Apply a fee schedules for health care provided under the auto no-fault system, despite the fact that workers comp is not designed to address catastrophic injuries; and,
  • Do nothing to ensure rate payer relief.
Your Action is Needed Today!
As you read this alert, Senate Republicans are holding a closed door session, deciding whether to pass the bill today or not.

Your voice is critically important. Right now, without delay, please use the MSMS Engage system to send a prepared message to all Senators.


Please contact those Senators with whom you have a relationship, and/or if they represent your specific region.

 

Senate Returns to D.C. Next Week – Urge Vote on SGR Repeal Now!

The SGR fight is not yet over. On April 13, 2015, the Senate will return to session. We expect them to quickly take up the issue of HR 2, the bill that will permanently repeal the SGR formula.

The house has already passed this by an overwhelming margin. The president has indicated that he will sign it when he comes to his desk. Now we need to ask the Senate to act and fix this recurring problem.

It is very important that the Senate understands how important this bill is to Medicare beneficiaries and the physicians that serve them.

Please take a moment to contact Sen. Stabenow’s office and Sen. Peters’ offices today to let them know how important this is to you.

See the email below from the AMA grassroots network and contact your Senators today.

Senate has unfinished business in Washington, D.C. Recently the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation that would permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, but the U.S. Senate failed to act before leaving on a two-week recess. Due to this inaction, the SGR patch expired on April 1, meaning the 21 percent cut to Medicare payments is now in effect.The administration can only hold claims until April 15, which is why the Senate must act immediately upon return next week or risk the damage these cuts will cause in disruptions to physician practices and putting patients at serious risk of not getting the care they deserve.

Please contact your senators today and remind them that they have unfinished business here in Washington, D.C., and urge them to support H.R. 2 immediately when they return!

  1. Call your senators district offices using the AMA’s toll-free Grassroots Hotline: (800) 833-6354.
  2. Send an urgent email to your senators reinforcing the need for SGR repeal now.
  3. Contact key senators still undecided on this most critical issue directly through their own social media channels and share with your own Facebook friends and Twitter followers as well!

This is urgent! The current SGR patch has expired; physicians are being hit with a 21 percent cut to Medicare – your voice is needed now, more than ever!

For more information read the bill summary (PDF) and be sure to check out fixmedicarenow.org for all the latest.

For more information, please visit:

AMA Physicians’ Grassroots Network AMPAC