Category Archives: Health

A Battle that Takes Place Every Day

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Dr. Jill Biden

Lorene Nelson, Dr. Biden, Joy Foster and Tina Tchen after the call in Dr. Bidens office October 15, 2010. (by Chris Smith - HHS)

Today I had the pleasure of co-hosting a conference call with Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to emphasize the importance of early detection and regular screenings.

We were joined on the call by breast cancer survivors, advocates, and various women’s group from across the country. I was especially honored to have two breast cancer survivors, Joy Veronica Foster and Lorene Nelson, join me in my office so they could share their personal stories on the call. Listening to these women, and knowing we were joined by many others on the line was truly inspirational and heartwarming.

Chances are that anyone reading this post has been touched by breast cancer –

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the battle against breast cancer takes place every day, every hour, every 69 seconds as someone’s mother, sister, daughter, and friend loses her life to breast cancer. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but today’s conference call gave me hope. With the ongoing commitment of the Obama-Biden Administration to ensure that affordable and accessible preventive care is a reality, and the many breast cancer advocates, and survivors like Lorene and Joy who are changing lives with their work every day – I know we are moving closer to a breast cancer-free world.

-Jill

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Filed under Breast Cancer Awareness, Dr. Jill Biden, Health, Kathleen Sebelius (Sec of HHS), Women's Issues

First Lady Michelle Obama and Nurses Discuss the Affordable Care Act

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Erin Edgerton

“Real Changes that Will Benefit Americans”

First Lady Michelle Obama held a conference call with nurses from across the country today to discuss the new Patient’s Bill of Rights and other important benefits from the Affordable Care Act.  Joined by Dr. Mary Wakefield, Administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration, and six nurses from a cross-section of practices and hometowns, the First Lady emphasized what the new reforms mean for nurses and their patients.

Last week, we hit the six-month anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.  That means that we’re starting to see more of the reforms take effect, including new protections and benefits in the Patient’s Bill of Rights.

So for example, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against kids because they have a preexisting condition.  Patients can no longer be dropped by their insurance companies because they get sick.  People suffering from a serious illness like breast cancer can focus on their treatment because they no longer have to worry about hitting their lifetime limit on coverage.  And college kids and young adults just starting out on their own can now get coverage through their parents’ plan.

Now, all this means that individuals and families have more control over their health care.  But here’s the important point:  These reforms aren’t abstract theories that just make for good talking points.  These are real changes that will benefit Americans all across the country.

Encouraging access to preventive care is an important part of the Affordable Care Act and the Let’s Move! initiative, which is focused on ending the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.  As the First Lady discussed, preventing illness helps cut health care costs and keeps families healthy.

And some of the biggest new changes and benefits are the reforms that deal with preventative care, because we all know, everyone on this call, that the best way to keep families healthy and cut health care costs is to keep people from getting sick in the first place.

And, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, that’s going to be easier because many preventative services are now covered at no out-of-pocket costs.  Things like mammograms, cervical screenings, colonoscopies, childhood immunizations, prenatal and new baby care, high blood pressure treatment, all of these are included in new insurance plans with no deductable, no co-pay, no coinsurance, nothing.  These steps are crucial because they can help combat preventable conditions that can have serious health consequences later in life.

Lastly, the First Lady recognized the significant impact nurses have had throughout the reform process and asked for their help in sharing information about the new law with their peers.

But in closing, just let me say this to all of you on this line.  So many of you have played such an important role throughout this process.  From the very beginning, it’s been nurses who have sat at the table sharing your ideas, sharing your concerns and your experiences.  And as a result, all of you have helped to make this law even better.  So I want to thank you for that.  And we needed your help then and we need your help again to spread the word.

Read the full remarks

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President Obama Explains Healthcare.gov

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Macon Phillips

It’s not every day that the President takes time out of his schedule to record a video about a website. But that’s just what happened with HealthCare.gov, the new consumer-oriented website from the Department of Health and Human Services. In the video, he shows how anyone can learn about new rights and benefits available to them as a result of health reform law, and, for the first time ever, see all their insurance coverage options in one place. Check it out:

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Making useful, easy-to-use information available online is a priority for this Administration. And putting power back into the hands of Americans is a primary focus for the President. HealthCare.gov accomplishes both. So, take a moment and check it out.

And don’t forget to leave your feedback in the yellow boxes throughout the site. The team at HHS is reviewing them on a regular basis and it’s a great way to help make HealthCare.gov a better resource for all of us.

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden Promote Health Care and Preventive Services

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Katelyn Sabochik

Starting in September, insurance plans will be required to pay the entire cost of recommended, preventive services. That means that, without paying a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance, many Americans will be able to take the preventive steps needed to keep themselves and their families healthy. To help raise awareness about this important issue, The First Lady and Dr. Biden recorded this video message:

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The newly-launched HealthCare.gov not only provides information about the new rule for prevention and what services will be included, it also lets you compare hospital data and shows you a comprehensive list of the insurance options available to you, your family, or your small business.

And a little background on the importance of these new preventative care benefits.  Chronic conditions are impacting America’s men, women and children every day.  Nearly one-third of kids are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, and 12% of children have not had a doctor’s visit in the past year. About 210,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will occur among women in the United States during 2010, and an estimated 40,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year. But the good news is that, as devastating as these illnesses can be, many of these conditions are preventable.   With expanded access to preventive services, individuals can get the information they need to make the health decisions that are right for them.  Preventing illness before it starts is key to keeping America healthy but it is also an important step in reducing health care costs.   Each year chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75% of the nation’s health spending.

To learn more visit HealthCare.gov.

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Filed under Childhood Obesity, Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Health Care Reform, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden Attend Affordable Care Act Event

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden attend an event about the Affordable Care Act at George Washington University Hospital July 14, 2010 in Washington, DC. Hospital employees also attended this event, including Inger Mobley, left, Clinical Manager of the Breast Care Center. Obama pointed out new regulations in the Affordable Care Act that will require new health plans to cover the cost of preventive screenings for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

Earlier today, I joined First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to discuss how the Affordable Care Act will give millions of Americans access to preventive care through their private health insurance.

Today, too many Americans today aren’t getting the preventive health care they need. Right now, for example, 59 million adults and 11 million children depend on private health insurance that doesn’t adequately cover immunizations. And 12 percent of children haven’t visited a doctor in the last year.

The statistics are even more troubling in our minority communities. African-American mothers are 2.5 times as likely as white mothers to begin prenatal care in the 3rd trimester, or not receive it at all. And only 37 percent of Latinos were screened for colon cancer in 2007, compared to 57 percent of whites.

Our challenge is to remove the obstacles between patients getting the preventive services that they need to stay healthy. If we fail in this challenge, we all pay the price. If we succeed — we are on our way to a healthier nation. According to one study, if people got just five types of preventive services when they needed to — colorectal and breast cancer screening, flu vaccines, counseling to help them quit smoking, and regular aspirin use to prevent strokes — we could avert 100,000 deaths each year. Use of preventive services can also help bring costs down in a variety of ways. For example, people who are obese have health care costs that are 39 percent above average, and reducing obesity and the diseases related to it could lower premiums overall by 0.05 to 0.1 percent.

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Those are just a few of the reasons why President Obama has made improving access to preventive care a priority from his first day in office and why we released new rules requiring all new private health insurance plans with plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010 to cover recommended preventive services without cost-sharing when delivered by a network provider. The new rules mean that services like blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol tests, cancer screenings, routine vaccinations, and well-baby visits will be provided without a deductible, co-pay or co-insurance.

We know that eliminating these costs for regular preventive services can ensure more Americans will use these services. And we know these services can save lives.

At the announcement yesterday, we met Maggie Roberts from California. When Maggie’s son was just a toddler, he was diagnosed with cancer during a routine checkup. Because they caught it early, the cancer was successfully treated, and years later he is still cancer-free. It’s a powerful story of how important preventive care can be.

You can learn more about the new preventive benefits available under the law, and get more tips on how to stay healthy by visiting our new website, www.HealthCare.gov.

Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of Health and Human Services

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First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Let’s Move Campaign’s Childhood Obesity Guidelines

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Tuesday, May 11, 2010, in Washington, to discuss the findings of the Childhood Obesity Task Force report. In February, Mrs. Obama launched the Let's Move, a campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. (Photos ObamaFoodorama and AP/Carolyn Kaster)

AP~Women could help reduce childhood obesity by maintaining a healthy weight when they become pregnant and by breast-feeding their babies, a government panel has found.

The suggestions were among 70 recommendations in the panel’s report. First lady Michelle Obama released the findings Tuesday as part of her campaign against childhood obesity.

“For the first time, the nation will have goals, benchmarks and measureable outcomes that will help us tackle the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family and one community at a time,” Mrs. Obama said. “We want to marshal every resource – public and private sector, mayors and governors, parents and educators, business owners and health care providers, coaches and athletes – to ensure that we are providing each and every child the happy, healthy future they deserve.”

One in 3 American children is overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other illnesses. Obesity is even more prevalent among black and Hispanic children. Some public health experts say today’s children are on track to live shorter lives than their parents.

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Take a Look at Our Action Plan to Solve the Problem of Childhood Obesity

Written by Melody Barnes

Let's Move!Today, the Childhood Obesity Task Force is excited to release our action plan to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.

The report reflects input from 12 federal agencies as well as the 2,500 submissions we got from parents, teachers, doctors, nurses and others. It includes 70 recommendations for public and private sector action, as well as concrete metrics and benchmarks to measure our progress towards our goal. Very broadly, the report makes recommendations in 5 key areas:

  1. Getting children a healthy start on life, with good prenatal care for their parents; support for breastfeeding; limits on “screen time”; and quality child care settings with nutritious food and ample opportunity for young children to be physically active.
  2. Empowering parents and caregivers with simpler, more actionable messages about nutritional choices based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans; improved labels on food and menus that provide clear information to help make healthy choices for children; reduced marketing of unhealthy products to children; and improved health care services, including BMI measurement for all children.
  3. Providing healthy food in schools, through improvements in federally-supported school lunches and breakfasts; upgrading the nutritional quality of other foods sold in schools; and improving nutrition education and the overall school environment.
  4. Improving access to healthy, affordable food, by eliminating “food deserts” in urban and rural America; lowering the relative prices of healthier foods; developing or reformulating food products to be healthier; and reducing the incidence of hunger, which has been linked to obesity.
  5. Getting children more physically active, through quality physical education, recess, and other opportunities in and after school; addressing aspects of the “built environment” that make it difficult for children to walk or bike safely in their communities; and improving access to safe parks, playgrounds, and indoor and outdoor recreational facilities.

Many of our ideas can be implemented right away, at little or no cost. With the First Lady’s leadership and working in strong partnership with states, local communities, and the private sector, we look forward to moving without delay to get this plan into action. Let’s Move!

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Filed under Change, Childhood Obesity, Children, First Lady Michelle Obama, Health, Kathleen Sebelius (Sec of HHS), Secretary Arne Duncan (Sec of Education), Uncategorized

President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 05/08/10

Posted by: Audiegrl

white house gov logoWhiteHouse.gov~Health Reform Starts to Kick In~The President goes through the benefits in health insurance reform that are already kicking in for young adults, retirees, and families, and says more benefits are coming down the pike.

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Filed under Change, Health Care Reform, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized, Weekly YouTube Address