What Will Vaccine Liability Waivers Mean For The Covid-19 Inoculation

What Will Vaccine Liability Waivers Mean For The Covid-19 Inoculation. There will be issues with the new Coronavirus/Covid-19 vaccine because there were issues with every single vaccine introduced before. There are currently numerous studies and trials devoted to finding a shot that will give immunity to the recipient against the deadly and contagious Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. The company that is first to introduce a successful shot for immunity will reap big rewards in the form of profits and scientific prestige. But when there are problems with it, as there certainly will be, what recourse does the public have?

Vaccine Liability Photo
Vaccine waivers protect manufacturers from lawsuits and liability other drugs have.

On his regular podcast, respected neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein describes the risks and benefits of vaccines and a regulation known as the ‘vaccine liability waiver.’ The Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast can be heard on SoundCloud, LibSyn, Google Play, iHeartRadio, iTunes, Stitcher, Radio.com and many other places where podcasts are heard.

What Is The Vaccine Liability Waiver?

According to Dr. Goldstein, vaccine liability waivers are really what the name implies which is that vaccine makers are not generally held responsible for injuries their vaccines may cause. “This is notable because it is the only part of the healthcare industry where such protection exists,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “The companies that make these vaccines cannot be sued for monetary damages unless a person who died or was seriously injured can demonstrate that the company engaged in “willful misconduct” which is a very high legal standard to achieve.”

The Vaccine Waiver Makes Vaccines Possible

What Will Vaccine Liability Waivers Mean For The Covid-19 Inoculation? It is very likely that were it not for the ‘waiver’ there would be few if any vaccine makers in the U.S. Starting with the Salk vaccine in the 1950’s through the 1970’s and ‘80’s, lawsuits against vaccine makers increased to the point that there was only one Diphtheria Pertussis Tetanus (DPT) vaccine maker in the U.S.

In 1986 the U.S. Congress responded to the situation in the vaccine market by passing the ‘National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act’ or NCVIA. The act included a number of regulations related to informed consent and adverse event reporting but also removed many of the monetary recovery options that were putting the industry out of business.

Complexity Comes With Safeguards

Vaccines are developed, tested, and regulated the same as other drugs but more so. Vaccine development is a complex process that takes usually takes years. That is because the number of people in vaccine clinical trials are usually greater, and, those who receive vaccines are more in number than those who receive or take other prescription drugs. In addition, post-license monitoring of vaccines is closely examined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

So, while the liability waiver exists, all the other pharmaceutical safeguards are in place. Regardless of expectations, no medical treatment is completely risk free. “Vaccines are made to protect us from disease, but they can have negative side effects,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Most of these effects are pretty mild like soreness in the arm from the injection. Others can be more serious. But without these rules it is unlikely anyone in the U.S. would be researching a Covid-19 vaccine.”

What Will Vaccine Liability Waivers Mean For The Covid-19 Inoculation? Nothing in the world of medicine is without risk and the ultimate introduction of the Coronavirus vaccine is no exception. The laws and regulations strike a balance that protects the public and aids in the delivery of a vaccine sooner than later.

The Effectiveness Standard for Covid-19

The minimum requirement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any COVID-19 vaccine is that it should at least prove 50% effective when compared with a placebo — that is, a neutral saline solution. The annual flu vaccine is a success when it is 40% – 60% effective. Fifty percent is right in the same range as the flu vaccine.

About The Houston Healthcare Initiative

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America.

 

Off Label Prescriptions Removed From The Table Overly Zealous Watchdogs Interfere with Patients and their Doctors

Off Label Prescriptions Removed From The Table….

Overly Zealous Watchdogs Interfere with Patients and their Doctors

October 1, 2020 – Does a physician or the pharmacist know what is best for a patient? When the Ohio

Off Label Prescriptions Removed From The Table….  Overly Zealous Watchdogs Interfere with Patients and their Doctors   October 1, 2020 – Does a physician or the pharmacist know what is best for a patient? When the Ohio Board of Pharmacy ruled that doctors could not prescribe the off-label treatment hydroxychloroquine to treat the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic it was a chilling trespass into the rights of people in Ohio and set a dangerous precedent in the other forty nine.  Medicines to treat conditions with off-label prescribing occurs when a physician stipulates a drug that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved to treat a condition different than what a patient has. Off label prescribing is nothing new.   Unanticipated Consequences of Overly Aggressive Regulators This practice is legal and common as one in five prescriptions written today are for off-label use. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy decision was without precedent. Americans should be nervous about this instance because it puts the relationships between doctors and patients at risk and removes the judgement of physicians about how to best treat their patients, putting it into the hands of government regulators. “This overreach is a present and future danger for Americans and their doctors in the wake of the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic,” Dr. Steven Goldstein told the audience on his podcast. “This puts decision making about how best to treat a patient into the hands of someone who does not know the individual, never mind has any medical experience with them.”  The Future Beyond Covid-19 The prospect that someone other than the doctor and patient are involved in this decision making is bad practice. “Doctors are trained and educated to diagnose and treat patients”, Dr. Goldstein said. “They also have experience treating their patients and know how to evaluate scientific papers about new treatments. Pharmacists and government bureaucrats do not have this training or experience.”   In the case of hydroxychloroquine there is no randomized controlled trial to prove scientifically whether or not this drug is effective for Covid-19. It is also true that there is no other treatment that has been proven with a randomized controlled trial to be effective. “Physicians should be able to use any treatment that may be beneficial to their patient,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Interference by government boards or other non-physicians will retard the development of effective treatments and lead to additional mortality and morbidity.” The next outbreak is a certainty, it’s only a matter of time. “If pharmacists and bureaucrats are getting between doctors and patients now, we should be very worried about the future,” Dr. Goldstein concluded.  About the Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast with Dr. Steven Goldstein is an information vehicle for people who want to know all medical options for themselves and are interested in reforming the healthcare industry. To hear the podcast go to: SoundCloud, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Backtracks, LibSyn, or the website at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org. Dr. Goldstein insists that for the health and welfare of the American public, the congress must pass reforms that limit the influence of the pharmaceutical industry and its lobby.
Overly Zealous Watchdogs Interfere with Patients and their Doctors.

Board of Pharmacy ruled that doctors could not prescribe the off-label treatment hydroxychloroquine to treat the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic it was a chilling trespass into the rights of people in Ohio and set a dangerous precedent in the other forty nine.  Medicines to treat conditions with off-label prescribing occurs when a physician stipulates a drug that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved to treat a condition different than what a patient has. Off label prescribing is nothing new

Unanticipated Consequences of Overly Aggressive Regulators

This practice is legal and common as one in five prescriptions written today are for off-label use. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy decision was without precedent. Americans should be nervous about this instance because it puts the relationships between doctors and patients at risk and removes the judgement of physicians about how to best treat their patients, putting it into the hands of government regulators. “This overreach is a present and future danger for Americans and their doctors in the wake of the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic,” Dr. Steven Goldstein told the audience on his podcast. “This puts decision making about how best to treat a patient into the hands of someone who does not know the individual, never mind has any medical experience with them.”

The Future Beyond Covid-19

The prospect that someone other than the doctor and patient are involved in this decision making is bad practice. “Doctors are trained and educated to diagnose and treat patients”, Dr. Goldstein said. “They also have experience treating their patients and know how to evaluate scientific papers about new treatments. Pharmacists and government bureaucrats do not have this training or experience.

In the case of hydroxychloroquine there is no randomized controlled trial to prove scientifically whether or not this drug is effective for Covid-19. It is also true that there is no other treatment that has been proven with a randomized controlled trial to be effective. “Physicians should be able to use any treatment that may be beneficial to their patient,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Interference by government boards or other non-physicians will retard the development of effective treatments and lead to additional mortality and morbidity.” The next outbreak is a certainty, it’s only a matter of time. “If pharmacists and bureaucrats are getting between doctors and patients now, we should be very worried about the future,” Dr. Goldstein concluded.

About the Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast with Dr. Steven Goldstein is an information vehicle for people who want to know all medical options for themselves and are interested in reforming the healthcare industry. To hear the podcast go to: SoundCloud, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Backtracks, LibSyn, or the website at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org. Dr. Goldstein insists that for the health and welfare of the American public, the congress must pass reforms that limit the influence of the pharmaceutical industry and its lobby.

 

 

Federal Government Goofs Delayed Coronavirus Tests By 6-8 Weeks

The United States badly bungled coronavirus testing.
The United States badly bungled initial coronavirus testing. Federal Government Goofs Delayed Coronavirus Tests By 6-8 Weeks.

Federal Government Goofs Delayed Coronavirus Tests By 6-8 Weeks. On his regular podcast Dr. Steven Goldstein described how failures within the federal government delayed proper testing for the Coronavirus/Covid-19 virus by several weeks.  The outcome? Tracking and tracing the infection early in the process was impossible. The Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast is available on SoundCloud, iHeartRadio,LibSyn, Spotify,  iTunes, Radio.com, Stitcher, ListenNotes, Podcast Addict, or the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site.

Early Kit Troubles

Early in the testing process the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent Coronavirus/Covid-19 test kits to approximately 100 health labs across the country. Initially the FDA had done all the testing in in-house, but more cases meant that tests had to be available in more locations. There was just one, very important mistake and that was there was no way to validate the tests and its ingredients all acted the same way when used, regardless of the location.

Thirty-six of the approximately 50 tests returned results to the FDA that were ‘inconclusive’. Manufacture of new ingredients for the tests took 3 weeks. The failure to get working test kits into public-health labs came at a really bad time. Early in any outbreak, contact tracing, isolation, and individual quarantines are used to contain the spread of disease. These steps don’t work when suspected cases cannot be tested. The gap made by the bad test kits made it impossible for public-health officials to get a read on how far and fast the disease was spreading. The result, Covid-19 spread undetected for several weeks. “The government was not prepared when it came to identifying and quarantining contacts of the first patients and preventing sick patients from entering the country,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “Government bureaucracy delayed the development of laboratory tests for 6-8 weeks.”

Worse still, when an Emergency Use Application (EUA) test was sent via email and followed up with phone calls from the University of Washington Virology Lab to the FDA for approval, the applicants learned that U.S. law required a hard copy of the applications be sent with a CD or thumb drive via the U.S. Postal Service to be considered. Instead of using more advanced communications like e-mail the lab was forced to use ‘snail mail’. (The F.D.A. has since dropped the requirement to send a CD-rom or USB drive with a copy of the application).

Bureaucrats Want More Power Not Less

According to Dr. Goldstein, issues like this have more to do with the bureaucratic class maintaining its influence than protecting the public or any devotion to science. “People ensconced in government bureaucracy want to preserve their authority and it seems that they are willing to take drastic measures to preserve that power,” Dr. Goldstein said. “These people are very invested in expensive, high tech treatments. Low tech measures like contact tracing and quarantining and testing anyone entering the country could have controlled the epidemic early on.” One possible lesson from this is to remember that government takeover of any health crisis will persist long past any benefit is exhausted. Finding ways around these career government employees should be part of any proposed reform for the healthcare industry.

About the Houston Healthcare Initiative

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America. Federal Government Goofs Delayed Coronavirus Tests By 6-8 Weeks.

 

Best Selling Author Gerald Posner Discusses ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and Poisoning of America’

Gerald Posner on the podcast this week.
Gerald Posner latest work is “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America.” This book describes something we here are all very interest in which is the history of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.

In a special edition of the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast best-selling author and investigative journalist Gerald Posner discusses the sordid history of the drug business from his most recent work, ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America.’ It reads like a ‘true crime’ novel, though everything in the volume is true. ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America’ is available at Amazon, just click here: ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America.’

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on SoundCloud, iTunes, iHeartRadio, LibSyn, Spotify, and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site. In the book and podcast Posner tells a compelling story that links the history of the pharmaceutical industry from the mid-19th century to the twenty first. It is not a flattering narrative. Many of the practices that were incorporated into marketing and selling heroin and cocaine in the early 20th century were and are still used today. And like they did before, the same companies are deliberately downplaying of the risk of modern-day medicines like opioids that have led to addiction and death for so many Americans.

Interests Intersect

Mr. Posner’s work and the interests of the Houston Healthcare Initiative coincide in several important ways. “The reform of the entire healthcare industry including the pharmaceutical business is our mission,” said Dr. Steven Goldstein who founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative. “We were very flattered he took time to talk with us and the audience about this important topic and we hope that everyone who reads his new book is inspired to act.”

Profits, Then Everything Else

Marketing, sales, advertising and abuse of patent law are all used against the American public to boost sales and stock prices of drug companies. This is part of the historic heritage that links the business’ past to today. “Only by knowing its history,” Mr. Posner writes, “is it possible to fully appreciate how the battle between noble ambitions and greed is a permanent conflict.” Mr. Posner tells many stories about the people behind the industry and the some of the ethically questionable things they did and still do.

Meet the Sacklers

The mindset of these and other actors id’ed in the book can be better understood with one of many informative stories Mr. Posner relates. According to Mr. Posner, eight people in a single family ‘made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic.’ The family in question is the Sacklers, notably Arthur, who “had some clever ideas of how to disguise product promotions as ‘news’ covered in consumer press.” According to media experts, the ad made to look like news or ‘advertorial’ is a really low rung on either the paid ad or public relations ladder.

Nazis? Really?

Mr. Posner detailed this during his interview on the podcast. “In 1947, defense attorneys for Nazi doctors charged with war crimes for human experimentation at concentration camps cited the malaria experiments in a failed effort for an acquittal. He went on, “when Nazi doctors are citing clinical trials from your industry as grounds for an acquittal in their own legal trials, you have erred.”

To learn more about Gerald Posner visit his web site at https://www.posner.com/.

About Houston Healthcare Initiative And Dr. Steven Goldstein

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America.

 

 

 

Possible Remedy for the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Global Pandemic Invites Immediate Controversy

Blood Plasma
Possible Remedy for the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Global Pandemic Invites Immediate Controversy
Treatment with blood plasma from recovered patients is an accepted practice that goes back to the early 20th century.

Possible Remedy for the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Global Pandemic Invites Immediate Controversy.

On August 23, 2020 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a decision to grant blood plasma treatment for Coronavirus/Covid-19 patients with a fast-track authorization for its emergency use as a treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The next day, claims about the effectiveness of this treatment were retracted. Subsequent news coverage about this potential treatment did little to clarify blood plasmas’ usefulness or lack thereof. The idea that there could be a political motivation behind the fast track authorization for this potential treatment, other than looking for a useful therapeutic, is troubling.

Who Can Americans Believe?

On his regular ‘Houston Healthcare Initiative’ podcast, respected neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein defines how this decision triggered an outcry from scientists and doctors, who said the decision was not supported by adequate clinical evidence and criticized the FDA for what was perceived as bowing to ‘political pressure’.

Dr. Goldstein also reviews those who believed this approach was worthwhile. Generally, treatment with blood plasma from recovered patients is an accepted practice that goes back to the early 20th century. Many believe the possibility that blood plasma from recovered Coronavirus/Covid-19 patients could help people fight off the virus was worthy of further investigation.

Who is correct? Who should the American public rely on for the best information about treatment for this global health emergency?

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on: SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Listen Notes, iHeartRadio, and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site.

About Houston Healthcare Initiative And Dr. Steven Goldstein

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America. Blood plasma treatment for Covid-19 patients invites controversy.

Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry Mandates Price Disclosure

Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry Mandates Price Disclosure. Hospital prices that were historically rigged by the medical business along with the insurance industry, and kept secret from the public, will see the light of day January 1, 2021. This because on June 23, 2020 a federal judge in Washington D.C. dismissed a suit brought by the American Hospital Association (AHA) that challenged the Department of Health and Human Services rule mandating hospitals to disclose their privately negotiated prices with health insurance companies.  This ruling, and what it means for doctors, patients and the industry, is the subject of the latest edition of the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on SoundCloud, iTunes, iHeart, Spotify and on the Houston Healthcare Initiative website.

Court Ruling Allows Transparency

Hospital Price Transparency
Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry & Mandates Price Disclosure.

The court ruled that an executive order from the Trump administration requiring hospitals to disclose pricing was legal. A federal judge upheld a policy that requires hospitals and health insurers to publish their negotiated prices for health services, numbers that are typically kept secret. The policy is part of a major push by the Trump administration to improve transparency in health care. Insurers and health providers usually negotiate deals behind closed doors, and patients rarely know the cost of services until after the fact.

Healthcare Industry Public Relations Offensive

The meaning of the ruling and what will happen are different. As Dr. Goldstein told his audience, “there will be an appeal accompanied by a full court public relations press by the hospital industry to derail this effort.” Dr. Goldstein went on to say, “if the battle can be dragged out until after the presidential election, hospitals and insurance companies can hope a new administration will rescind the executive order.”

Four organizations are now urging the Department of Health and Human Services to delay implementation of the price transparency rule until after the appeals court makes a decision in the case. The American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Children’s Hospital Association made their request in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar on June 29, five days after these associations and others filed an appeal against the ruling which would implement a rule on price transparency on January first. The groups said the rule would ‘pose a burden to hospitals and health systems responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.’ Thirty-four hospital groups have already urged HHS to delay the start of the price disclosure.

In an article published in “Becker Hospital Review” AHA General Counsel Melinda Hatton said, “the proposal does nothing to help patients understand their out-of-pocket costs.” She added, “it also imposes significant burdens on hospitals at a time when resources are stretched thin and need to be devoted to patient care. Hospitals and health systems have consistently supported efforts to provide patients with information about the costs of their medical care. This is not the right way to achieve this important goal.”

About The Houston Healthcare Initiative

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America. Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry Mandates Price Disclosure.

What The Court Ruled About Hospital Price Transparency

This week on the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast, Dr. Steven Goldstein takes a deeper dive into a court decision where hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates with insurers starting this coming January 1, 2021. Plus, he will provide more insight into how hospitals decide what and how much to charge us, and man is that a story. It’s all more than a little complex. The podcast is available on all the popular podcast networks including SoundCloud, iHeart, and Spotify among others.

How Are Prices Now Assessed

Hospital prices are not based on the free market. Instead, prices are agreed on via secret agreements between hospitals and insurance companies. The truth is that pricing for medical services as paid by insurance companies are artificially set and not competitive at all. Prices are agreed to in advance by the hospital and the insurance company, not disclosed to the public. “We are led to believe that our insurance providers negotiate on behalf of their policyholders,” Dr. Goldstein told his audience. This is not the case. The court has ruled that this will no longer be permitted, that hospitals will have to reveal these negotiated rates and thus hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates .

Hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates to the public.
Hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates to the public.The court ruling that upheld a Trump Administration policy that forces hospitals to reveal their prices.

Why Hospitals Object

One reason many hospitals do not list their actual prices is that, according to them, some cases are more complicated than others. “An appendectomy may go smoothly or may be complicated by other factors such as adhesions from a previous surgery that caused scarring,” Dr. Goldstein said. “This may require additional operating room time resulting in a higher cost.  Thus hospitals claim they can only give estimates.”

Alternatively, this could be handled in one of two ways. 1). Publish the price for each procedure at what the hospital perceives as the average price. Then find ways to cut costs so that average cost is lowered resulting in increased profit for the hospital.  2). Alternatively, publish a price for operating room time by the hour that would include all the ancillary charges + publish the range of operating room times for each procedure.

How Prices Are Set Now

With the use of computer technology, hospitals are able to establish a charge for each product or service, no matter how small. “Every aspirin, every blood test, every x-ray, every bandage, every suture has a charge; Dr. Goldstein said. “Some of these charges beg credulity e.g. the $20 aspirin. All these charges are added up to give the total hospital charge. Of course, this doesn’t include multiple physician charges that are separate.” This all resulted in the Trump administration’s order that hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates to the public.

But the final charge is the “sticker price”. The insurance companies never pay this price. They have a secret, negotiated price based on the Medicare price for those services.

The Healthcare Not Received During the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Pandemic

From Heart Attacks to Cancer Screenings and Chemotherapy

During the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, people who did not have symptoms of the disease put themselves at risk as those with chronic conditions missed treatments, skipped appointments and chose not to report serious symptoms; this is the healthcare not received during the coronavirus/covid-19 pandemic. Many who lost their employer funded health insurance also missed schedules and treatments. Add to this the fear of visiting a doctor’s office or clinic with reported cases of Coronavirus/Covid-19 on the uptick, another health crisis may be on the horizon.

This was one of the issues affecting the American public discussed by Houston based neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein on his regular podcast. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on: Soundcloud, iHeart, Spotify, or iTunes. To learn more about the Houston Healthcare Initiative, go to www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Cancer Screenings Plummet

No Visitors
Patients who may need to be seen in the office are choosing not to go to the doctor for lots of reasons.

In March and April, patients were asked to postpone appointments that were not urgent. According to a white paper published by ‘Epic Health Research Network’ cancer screenings for cervix, colon, and breast cancer decreased between 86% – 94% in March, 2020. Care for heart attacks, organ transplants, high blood pressure and diabetes fell in March and remain significantly lower compared to the same time in 2019. “There is a 20% decrease in the number of interactions between patients and their oncologists during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “Anytime a screening is delayed, it means that detection and early treatment are too, plus important therapy on advanced cancer are not administered.

Some Need To Be Seen

Many physicians, like Dr. Goldstein, ramped up their telemedicine capabilities in March and see patients that way. But there are still times when a patient needs to be seen. Instances where patients have symptoms that include shortness of breath is one. This symptom could signal heart failure, asthma, pneumonia or even the Covid-19 virus. A diagnosis like that cannot be done over the phone. “Patients and their families should err on the side of caution, contact their doctor and allow their physician the opportunity to make the right decision for the best treatment,” Dr. Goldstein said.

What Concerned Patients Can Ask

For those who believe or are told they must get in to see a doctor, and there is time available in a non-emergency, Dr. Goldstein has some potential questions to pose.

  • Does everyone on staff and patients wear masks?
  • Are the number of persons allowed in the office limited?
  • Has everyone on staff been tested for COVID-19?
  • Are cleaning protocols sufficient to manage waiting rooms, offices, and labs?
  • Has the patient taken responsibility for social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing themselves?

According to Dr. Goldstein, “we have a responsibility to our patients to provide the most appropriate and effective care possible while at the same time keeping potential exposure to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 virus to a minimum.”

About Houston Healthcare Initiative And Dr. Steven Goldstein

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America.

Job Losses Equal Employer Funded Health Insurance Loss

Closed for Coronavirus

Here Are Some Resources

Even with fewer jobs lost in May than anticipated Americans now experience an unemployment rate of 13.3% or 21 million people out of work due to the coronavirus/covid-19 pandemic. On top of lost income, loss of employer provided health insurance makes the cost even higher for those who through no fault of their own find themselves in a very challenging situation. On his podcast this week, Dr. Steven Goldstein describes how job losses equal employer funded health insurance loss and some available and often free resources for those who need health insurance. To listen to the podcast go to: Soundcloud, iHeart, Spotify, or iTunes. Or click here to listen:

 

Double Loss; Job and Health Insurance

Most Americans rely on their employers to provide health insurance for them and their families and when those jobs disappear so does the coverage. “It is extremely important that people get some type of coverage when they have lost their health insurance,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “The available things to look into are COBRA, spouse insurance, faith-based cooperatives, enrollment on the insurance exchange (Obama Care), Medicaid and CHIP.”

COBRA Coverage

COBRA allows employees (and their families) who would otherwise lose their group health coverage due to certain life events to continue their same group health coverage. The former employee generally pays the full monthly rate and not the discounted one for their health insurance. Under COBRA, group health plans must also provide covered employees and their families with certain notices explaining their COBRA rights. The revised model notices provide additional information to address COBRA’s interaction with Medicare. The model notices explain that there may be advantages to enrolling in Medicare before, or instead of, electing COBRA.

State Insurance Exchange

While typically only available during certain months of the year, the state insurance exchange can open for those who experience a ‘life changing’ event. One such event is the loss of a job and employer sponsored health insurance. “You can shop for health plans through your state’s insurance marketplace,” Dr. Goldstein said. “But don’t wait around, there are 30 to 60 days to sign up after a qualifying life event before the end of that special enrollment period.”

Spouse Insurance

In households where a spouse’ employer offers health insurance; those benefits may be available. “It is easy enough to find out if a spouse’s job offers health insurance and sign on for that,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Faith Based Health Cooperatives

Faith based plans most often share expenses among members. Each member pays a monthly premium. When one of the members becomes ill or needs treatment for an injury, his or her contributions cover the expenses, in conjunction with the collective input of fellow members. “As such, the premiums are lower in comparison to those of traditional health care,” Dr. Goldstein said. “These operate with exemptions to the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care.”

Medicare

Eligibility for Medicare is based on income and the size of family. Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities in all fifty states.  In some states the program covers all low-income adults below a certain income level. “But do not assume that you do or do not qualify,” said Dr. Goldstein. “There are online resources available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with state references to help guide you.”

CHIP

CHIP stands for ‘Children’s Health Insurance Program.’ CHIP offers low-cost health coverage for children from birth through age 18. CHIP is designed for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford to buy private health coverage. This coverage comes through the Medicaid program, which is why they are frequently seen together.

Income Qualification for Medicare

A family of four with an income of $25,750.00 at the poverty level and eligible for Medicaid or CHIP coverage. For an individual the amount was $12,490.00. The amount goes up by $4,420.00 for each additional family member. “The guidelines change every year,” Goldstein said.

The Good News

There are plenty of alternatives available to individuals and families that can be used short or for the longer term that are not all based on a job with insurance. People under age 26, may even be able to join their parents’ employer-based plan. “There are places to go and affordable resources available,” Dr. Goldstein concluded. “Any type of healthcare insurance or coverage will help protect your finances later.”

About Houston Healthcare Initiative And Dr. Steven Goldstein

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America.

 

Follow-Up To Help Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus/Covid19 Patients Benefit From Telemedicine Appointments

Follow-Up To Help Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus/Covid19 Patients Benefit From Telemedicine Appointments

March 19, 2020 — Until a couple of weeks ago, the use of telemedicine was mostly for convenience. Now, it is a necessity as people work to keep their collective distances from each other. As announced previously, Houston neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein will offer his diagnostic and medical skills via virtual or ‘telemedicine’ appointments for both new and existing patients.  “As long as Houstonians are suffering from the effects of the pandemic, I will waive copayments for those who have health insurance and significantly lower fees for those without insurance,” Dr. Goldstein said. With so many working hard to prevent the increase of the virus, using an existing technology without sacrificing access to himself or staff is a beneficial service.

Looser Rules Benefit Houstonians

On Friday March 13, 2020, when Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency, he made it possible for state agencies to use telemedicine. The Texas Medical Board also allowed for the medical community to use telemedicine, including the use of phone only, to see patients.

There are many benefits as so many people are staying away from public spaces during the Coronavirus/Covid19 outbreak. Here are a few of those advantages:

  • With telehealth services, patients avoid unnecessary office or hospital visits, hopefully lowering their risk for contracting or spreading Coronavirus/Covid19.
  • Through an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act, Medicare coverage will now include three types of virtual services: Medicare telehealth visits, virtual check-ins, and e-visits.
  • Virtual check-ins allow Medicare beneficiaries to communicate from their home with a provider.
  • Those who must rely on public transportation will not have to venture outside their homes to come in contact with other people and surfaces where the virus can remain for some time.

Medical Specialties

All of the medical news is about the spread or containment of Coronavirus/Covid19. But people will still need to be seen by specialists, including neurologists like Dr. Goldstein. For those with symptoms that suggest a neurologist, Dr. Goldstein is available. Some symptoms include:

  • severe headaches,
  • seizures,
  • numbness,
  • weakness,
  • double vision,
  • dizziness,
  • passing out,
  • tingling,
  • trouble with movement,
  • memory challenges or confusion,
  • and trouble sleeping.

How To Be Seen

To be seen by Dr. Goldstein via ‘telemedicine’ call his office and make an appointment, just like always;  give the patients’ email address and then go to the App Store and download Zoom Cloud Meeting. Zoom is free. Dr. Goldstein will email a link to the patient to use during the time of the appointment. Dr. Goldstein can diagnose, order tests, and prescribe medication via the Zoom link. To make an appointment call (713) 451-5421, or (281) 481-4236.

Zoom App Information

Zoom is available for Apple, Google Play and Windows. For all the ways to download and use Zoom go to their download page here: https://zoom.us/download.

Follow Dr. Goldstein from his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Houston-Healthcare-Initiative-192537484753616/?modal=admin_todo_tour. Or his website address: https://houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

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