Tuesday, August 18, 2009

UBS Settlement -- We Can Help

If you are or know of someone about to be ensnared in the UBS settlement with the Justice Department, we can help. You are not necessarily destined to go to jail because of the settlement; but you need to act fast.

Call me at 513.563.1595 or e-mail me at info@paulnidich.com ASAP.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

August 12, 2009 (From NPR News Headlines)

The story has spread so fast even President Obama got asked about it at one of his town hall meetings. But no, the health care overhaul bill now working its way through Congress would not require seniors to learn how to die prematurely.

It's not, however, because people aren't saying it. The most notable spokeswoman for the cause is Elizabeth McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York. McCaughey's last brush with major public prominence came during the debate over then-President Bill Clinton's health plan, when she wrote a highly controversial critique of the proposal published in The New Republic arguing the bill would have bound everyone inside the new system.

This time McCaughey has been making the talk radio rounds arguing that the latest version of a health overhaul has the government sponsoring suicide education.

"One of the most shocking things I found in this bill, and there were many, is on Page 425, where the Congress would make it mandatory — absolutely require — that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner, how to decline nutrition, how to decline being hydrated, how to go into hospice care," McCaughey said on former Sen. Fred Thompson's radio show July 16.

That claim won her a "pants on fire" rating for its lack of truth from the nonpartisan Politifact.com Web site run by the St. Petersburg Times. But it has nonetheless spread like wildfire, being repeated not just on blogs and radio shows but by Republican members of Congress as well. Said a joint statement from House Minority leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), "this provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia if enacted into law."

The claims have been highly upsetting to groups like the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, which strongly support what the bill really does — pay health care providers to talk to Medicare patients about creating so-called advance directives, or ways to express their health care desires in writing before they become incapacitated.

In fact, says Kathy Brandt, vice president of professional leadership, consumer and caregiver services, advance directives need not be about cutting off care at all. "If you want everything to be possibly done; all medical treatment to be done for you until your last breath, that's what advance directives can do for you," Brandt says. "I think most people who are healthy adults, not facing a terminal or life-limiting conditions, would want treatment, and nothing that's in any of the health care reform bills that I've heard or seen does anything that would prohibit that."

So why have the demonstrably false claims about death gotten so much life? Harvard public opinion expert Robert Blendon says it's because seniors are very sensitive about their health care. "Seniors worry more about their health care than any other group in American life," Blendon says. "They feel more vulnerable."

Blendon says it's no accident that opponents of the health overhaul chose to single out a provision aimed at seniors to make their case, because if seniors think they have something to lose from the current health care overhaul, "[they] are really going to be very active opponents of this, because that's not what they signed up for," he says.

And seniors, unlike many younger people, are very likely paying more attention to the health care debate.

"The seniors are really going to read and listen to everything and be concerned if they think as a result of the bill their current circumstances are going to deteriorate," Blendon says.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Senate Committee Hears Testimony on Autism

From the August 7, 2009, edition of Autism Speaks e-Speaks Newsletter:

"U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, chaired a hearing Wednesday, August 5 on the state of autism research, treatments and interventions. Senator Harkin was joined by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senators heard testimony from Tom Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health; Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., chief science officer for Autism Speaks; and four parents of children with autism, Joshua Cobbs, chair of the Iowa Autism Council, Nicole Akins Boyd, vice chair of the Mississippi Autism Task Force, David Miller, board member of the Northern Virginia Community College, and Dana Halverson, co-founder of BEAT-Iowa. Click here to view the hearing on CSPAN.org."

Paul's Comment: I watched a repeat of the testimony on Tuesday night on C-SPAN. They all did a wonderful job presenting their positions on the needs of the autism community. At several points, there was some light friction between Dr. Insel and some of the others about NIMH's research agenda. It is well worth watching, but I would recommend having some tissues with you when you do.

However, while Chairperson Harkin and Ranking Republican Thad Cochran were very sympathetic and supportive, at one point they leaned towards each other and suggested that they might want to introduce a bill to end insurance discrimination against people on the autism spectrum. This was extremely disheartening, because they apparently didn't know (or remember) that the House Energy and Commerce Committee had adopted an amendment to this effect to President Obama's Health Care Reform effort last week and a similar effort in the Senate had already been effectively killed.
House Energy and Commerce Committee passed an autism insurance reform amendment to “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,” H.R. 3200, sponsored by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), Chairman of the Congressional Autism Research and Education Caucus in the House. Link to article.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Does the IRS Owe You Money?

Who couldn’t use a little extra cash this summer! The IRS may have some money for you.

If you have not filed a prior year tax return and are due a refund, you should consider filing the return to claim that refund. If you are missing a refund for a previously filed tax return, you should contact the IRS to check the status of your refund and confirm your current address.

Unclaimed Refunds

Some people may have had taxes withheld from their wages but were not required to file a tax return because they had too little income. Others may not have had any tax withheld but would be eligible for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.

· To collect this money a return must be filed with the IRS no later than three years from the due date of the return.

· If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.

· There is no penalty assessed by the IRS for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.

· Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications web page of IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

· Information about the Earned Income Tax Credit and how to claim it is also available on the IRS web site, IRS.gov.

Undeliverable Refunds

Were you expecting a refund check but didn't get it?

· Refund checks are mailed to your last known address. Checks are returned to the IRS if you move without notifying the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service.

· You may be able to update your address with the IRS on the “Where’s My Refund?” feature available on IRS.gov. You will be prompted to provide an updated address if there is an undeliverable check outstanding within the last 12 months.

· You can also ensure the IRS has your correct address by filing Form 8822, Change of Address, which is available on IRS.gov or can be ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

· If you do not have access to the Internet and think you may be missing a refund, you should first check your records or contact your tax preparer. If your refund information appears correct, call the IRS toll-free assistance line at 800-829-1040 to check the status of your refund and confirm your address.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hamilton County Commissioners Need to Hear From You!

Once again the Hamilton County Commissioners are about to deal a devastating blow to the disabilities community. Here is a letter from Cheryl Phipps, Superintendent of the Hamilton County Board of MR/DD. Please read it and take action to help.

July 31, 2009

Dear MR/DD Supporter:

On August 12, the Hamilton County Commissioners will decide the amount of the levy that will be placed on the November 3 ballot for us. We need your help in the next two weeks to convince them to choose an amount that will enable us to serve new people.

They are considering three options for the 5 year levy period, all of which are below the amount recommended by the tax levy consultants who reviewed us earlier this year. Those options are:

1) $416.8 million – our requested amount. We will be able to serve new people each year of the levy, and we will have enough money to use as match for Medicaid waivers
2) $400.2 million– an amount that will result in waiting lists. We can only serve 10 new adults each year (the need is 70) and enroll 10 people each year on waivers (the need is 100) with this amount.
3) $388.6 million ­ - a devastating amount! We will have to cut services currently provided and not be able to serve new people who need us.

Please contact the County Commissioners before August 12, tell them what MR/DD services mean to you, and urge them to vote for the $416.8 million. Their address is 138 E. Court Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202, and their e-mail addresses and phone numbers are:

David Pepper david.pepper@hamilton-co.org 946-4410
Todd Portune todd.portune@hamilton-co.org 946-4401
Greg Hartmanngreg.hartmann@hamilton-co.org 946-4405

On behalf of the 8,000 individuals we now serve and the thousands more who will need our services in the next 5 years, thank you!


Cheryl Phipps, Superintendent