Most Americans can’t get Giffords’ therapy

But that may be changing…

Shot congresswoman’s staff urges HHS secretary to push accessibility

Wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is benefiting from world-class treatment in Houston that most Americans don’t have access to, and her office knows it.

Her staff on Thursday called on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to change that, asking her to apply the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a way that would make similar coverage to what Giffords receives more accessible.

Sebelius and her staff will be defining an “essential benefits” package that insurers participating in insurance exchanges will be required to provide by 2014.
Federal workers’ benefits

Giffords currently benefits from broad coverage through federal workers compensation because she was shot in the head Jan. 8 while meeting with constituents in Tucson, Ariz. The type of acute rehabilitation she receives – involving speech, occupational and physical rehab – costs about $8,000 a day, according to the Brain Injury Association of America. Post-acute rehabilitation can range in cost from $600 to $2,500 daily. The expenses leave the treatment options well out of reach for most patients whose insurers won’t pay for the services.

While some insurers cover traumatic brain injury treatment, their limits on some rehab services often leave patients stagnant at times when they could be rapidly recovering, advocates say.

The benefit to Giffords from those services have been clear in recent months, said Pia Carusone, the Arizona congresswoman’s chief of staff.

“I’ve got an up-close-and-personal understanding now of how speech and physical and occupational rehab really makes a difference, and I just can’t imagine a patient in a similar position who wouldn’t be able to receive the care because an insurance company would argue that it’s not needed,” Carusone said.

Read the full article here… >>

While it is discouraging to think about the state of how things are, still, it’s encouraging that people in positions to make a difference are actually speaking up.

If only these kinds of changes could happen without someone getting shot in the head.

Advertisements

Survey for Texans with ABI

Dear Texan(s):

The Texas Legislature directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to study the need for long-term community support and residential services for persons who have an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) (see exact text of legislation below). Acquired Brain Injury is defined as damage to the brain that occurs after birth. Congenital disorders are not included. ABI can result from an accident or other traumatic external blow to the head as well as from a non-traumatic injury, such as a stroke, heart attack, brain tumor, infection or substance abuse.

As part of this study, HHSC’s Office of Acquired Brain Injury is conducting a survey of stakeholders that is being sent to:
• People with an acquired brain injury;
• Family members;
• Caregivers;
• Service providers;
• Advocates; and
• Other stakeholders.

The survey asks for your opinion about the most important long-term community supports and residential services for people with ABI in Texas. A list of services is included in the survey. You may choose any three or add others. The report of survey results will discuss the services and supports that receive the most votes. Remember, these services are for long-term community and residential services and supports only.

Please complete this important survey and make your voice heard by state leaders. It will take only a few minutes of your time. Your needs and opinions are important.

All responses are anonymous. No personal information will be shared.

Please complete the survey by Wednesday, February 24, 2010, by clicking on the following link:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/23HWNDD

Please forward this email to anyone in Texas concerned about brain injury services and supports. The more responses we receive, the better we can represent this important issue. Thank you for your time and participation. For information about the Texas Office of Acquired Brain Injury, visit the website at:

http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/hhsc_projects/abj/index.shtml

Sincerely,

Office of Acquired Brain Injury
TEXAS HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMISSION
MC 1542
4900 NORTH LAMAR BLVD
AUSTIN TX 78751
phone: 512/487-3431
fax: 512/424-6991
email: oabi@hhsc.state.tx.us

The Paradox of Sleep

NICABM’s blog has a great post — and short video — about the importance of sleep.

What’s the big deal about not getting enough sleep? There are connections between sleep deficiency and a weakened immune system, muscle aches, headaches, nausea and, as you might know if you sometimes don’t get enough sleep, irritability.

Studies have shown that those who sleep fewer than eight hours per night are also more likely to be overweight (an inverse correlation between less sleep and weight gain). Yes, the less we sleep, the more we seem to weigh. The difference between six and eight hours of sleep will soon be measured in pounds!

Beyond that, driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. And, those who don’t get enough sleep also have higher levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.

Like I need more anxiety, depression, and stress… let alone the extra weight.

I’ve heard it said that not everyone needs to have a full 8 hours of sleep a night. But I do feel like a different person, if I get at least 8 hours — and an afternoon nap.

There seems to be a real theme emerging about sleep. Maybe it’s the summer, and how busy everyone has been. Or maybe it’s the impending drama (disaster?) of the revamped healthcare system that has everyone thinking about preventive care?

I, for one, am looking for (and developing) as many preventive measures as I can find, so I can reduce my reliance on the traditional “healthcare” system. That includes getting more sleep.