How are pain patients doing in Houston, TX?

Robert Reece
Today at 7:23pm
I live in Houston Texas. Once considered the pain pill capital of America. I was happy at first when the word got out that the DEA was waging war on people Doctor shopping and coming from other states to obtain pain medication. However the result has been anything but helpful. The drug that helped me the mist has literally disappeared. I do not want to take oxycotin so i suffer through with a drug that does not take care of my pain. I.have to work hard to not take more than my prescribed dosage so I don’t run out and worst of all the Doctors now take full advantage of me increasing their office visits to $200 per month not including my prescriptions which I have to go to a mom and pop shop to fill because all of the regular pharmacies are terrified of the DEA. I am so tired of being in pain. Trying to get my medications and being treated like a junkie when I know so many people who get totally trashed on alcohol everyday but are treated better than me.

When I lived in Houston and saw Dr. Hochman, he charged $250 for every appointment, eventually opting out of Medicare so I wasn’t able to receive any reimbursement. And he charged extra if he had to fill out insurance forms or write a letter on my behalf.

Supreme Court Reverses Deportation Ruling

WASHINGTON — Turns out, you shouldn’t get deported over possession of a sock — even if that sock is hiding prescription pills. The Supreme Court reversed an appeals court decision Monday in a case brought by the Obama administration against a man who was deported over using a sock to hide four Adderall pills…

Mellouli came to the U.S. in 2004 on a student visa. He finished college, earned two master’s degrees and became a legal permanent resident…

Being a legal permanent resident doesn’t make an individual immune from deportation — that person can still be removed from the U.S. under certain circumstances, including for some drug-related crimes. As Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President Barack Obama increasingly focused on deporting criminal offenders, drug offenses put even green card holders at greater risk of removal…

Only Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented, arguing that Mellouli’s deportation was justified…

The Women Who Face More Traumatic Brain Injury Than NFL Players

Thirty years ago, Kerri Walker, now a coordinator for a domestic violence shelter in Phoenix, found herself inexplicably driving down the left side of the road into oncoming traffic. “It felt totally normal,” she said, recalling how she was oblivious to the danger. Walker escaped an accident that day, but looking back now, it was the first clue she had an undiagnosed brain injury.

At the time, Walker, 51, was in the throes of an abusive relationship, she said. She estimated that over a 2 1/2-year period, she was hit in the head around 15 times — once with a gun — and violently shaken.

“I had major headaches, and every now and then I would have these moments when I would get dizzy and disoriented,” Walker said. But she didn’t connect her symptoms to the assaults until a year later, when a doctor at Geauga Medical Center in Ohio diagnosed her with traumatic brain injury, or TBI. “When you are in a relationship with that much trauma and violence, you don’t know what’s physical or what’s emotional or mental,” she said…

On Tuesday, the Sojourner Center, one of the largest U.S. domestic violence shelters and where Walker works in Phoenix, is taking a big step to change that. The center, along with TBI experts at local hospitals and medical institutions, is launching an ambitious program dedicated to the study of TBI in women and children living with domestic violence…

Kim Gandy, president of the National Network To End Domestic Violence, said undiagnosed TBI may play a role in some women being unable to leave an abusive relationship…

Insurance company tells hospitals: we shouldn’t pay if you’re careless with patient data

In February 2014, former patients filed a class-action lawsuit against Cottage Health and inSync (the company responsible for putting Cottage records in a secure online location), complaining that from Oct. 8 through Dec. 2 of the previous year, the records of people who attended any Cottage hospital from Sept. 29, 2009 through Dec. 2, 2013 were available online, and that inSync “failed to provide any encryption or other security to prevent anyone from reading the medical records.” …

This data included patients’ names, addresses and dates of birth, and sometimes their diagnoses, lab results and any procedures performed…

Consumer group says many auto insurance rates unfair

The fact is, insurance companies take many things into consideration when setting individual rates. The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) says some of them aren’t fair to consumers and the group will lobby for reform.

CFA has seized on a new report by, illustrating how living in a particular ZIP code can affect what you pay for auto insurance. The report notes you can get vastly different quotes from the same insurance company at two addresses a relatively short distance apart but in different ZIP codes…

CFA says it has researched the cost of auto insurance and its impact on low to moderate income consumers. It concludes that in many low-income communities across the country, good drivers have access to few or no policies that cost less than $500 per year, which meets the standard of a reasonable price for basic insurance coverage…

Price optimization is another way insurance companies set rates, and it is a practice that California is also targeting. Price optimization is a technique by which insurance companies measure the shopping habits of its customers in order to set individual premiums as high as possible regardless of a customer’s risk profile…

Did you know that married people get lower rates than singles?  Because the insurance industry has decided that a driver who is married is less of a risk than one who is single.  Not only do married people get more tax deductions, they pay less for car insurance.

Healthcare still in the dark about the extent of Internet security risks

It’s bad enough that last week, Larry Ponemon of the Ponemon Institute and Rick Kam of ID Experts wrote an op-ed going so far as to suggest that these “escalating cyberattacks threaten U.S. healthcare systems. … Imagine a hostile nation-state with your psychiatric records. Or an organized crime ring with your child’s medical file. Or a disgruntled employee with your medical insurance information.”

Indeed, if you’re an American, there’s a 1 in 3 chance your health records have already been hacked – and remember that Anthem, Premera and CareFirst almost certainly are not the only health-insurance providers to have been hacked, merely the only ones to have discovered and admitted this so far.

From a thieving hacker’s perspective, stolen medical records are much more valuable than financial records. Jim Trainor, from the FBI’s cyber security division, said this about the black-market value of various types of stolen data bought and sold by identity thieves: “Credit cards can be say five dollars or more, where [protected health information] records can go from 20 say up to — we’ve even seen $60 or $70.”

And from a victim’s perspective, medical identity theft is probably the worst kind of all. In February, when the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA) released its Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft, the study reached some sobering conclusions:  In 2014, there were more than 2 million victims of medical identity theft in the United States, almost half a million more than in 2013.

What’s worse is that, compared to other forms of identity theft, victims of medical identity theft are more likely to suffer personal financial consequences as a result.

Victims of credit card or similar forms of financial fraud are not expected to pay out of pocket to resolve the problem – but victims of medical identity theft often have to. MIFA’s report said that 65% of medical identity theft victims paid more than $13,000 to fix it, including payments to legal counsel, healthcare or health insurance providers, and identity-protection services. That’s in addition to the average of 200 hours of time the typical victim had to spend on the issue.

And today, Politico published a report explaining how the healthcare industry is finally starting to address such problems: “After spending billions to install computerized documents in hospitals and networks, it now must spend billions more to make them secure.” …

This is what desperation looks like

Mon, Jun 1, 2015 2:49 am
Re: Potential non-terminal right-to-die case in the U.S.

Dear Ms. Tucker and Ms. Pastine:

I think it’s time that a right-to-die case is brought before a U.S. court involving a plaintiff suffering from a severe and incurable medical condition which is not terminal, especially now that Canada has shown us the way. I believe I am that plaintiff.

For 30 years, I have been tortured by constant, intractable pain. I have suffered even further from the medical industry’s attempts to treat it. As a former competitive gymnast, perhaps you can imagine why, at the age of 53, my body is broken and cannot be repaired — meaning the pain will only continue to get worse. Right now, I am able to take care of myself and preserve my precious independence, but I don’t know how much longer that will last.

I’m seeking legal representation to gain the right to die with what’s left of my dignity. Since I am disabled and poor, this case would have to be pro bono.

If you can’t help me, I would appreciate a response to that effect. I’ve had enough of advocacy groups and trying to find help through government agencies, so no referrals are requested. Thank you for your time in reading this email.

Johnna Stahl
Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Grace Pastine
Sent: Monday, June 1, 2015 10:42 AM

Dear Ms. Stahl,

I am very sorry to learn of you condition and the pain you are living with. The advocacy work of my organization is solely focused on Canada. At the moment, we are working to ensure that the federal Parliament will enact legislation upholding the right to die with dignity within the Supreme Court of Canada’s deadline. The court gave Parliament 12 months to do so. ‎I regret that we will be unable to help you. I wish you all the best.

Kind regards,

Grace Pastine
Litigation Director
Barrister & Solicitor
BC Civil Liberties Association

From: Kathryn L. Tucker
Sent: Mon, Jun 1, 2015 8:35 am

HI Johnna:
I am currently litigating a case in New Mexico, Morris v NM, about the right of mentally competent terminally ill patients to access aid in dying. If you have been following that case, you know we won a robust ruling under the state’s constitution in Jan 2014, and argued the appeal to defend this victory in Jan 2015; we await the ruling of the intermediate appellate court. Depending on outcome we may then see this case go to the state Supreme Court. This case is limited to mentally competent terminally ill patients. But it could create a foundation, potentially, for a case such as you propose. I would not pursue such until we see where Morris comes out.

Mon, Jun 1, 2015 4:48 pm

Too bad I live in New Mexico, huh? Perhaps if I resided in a state that didn’t already have a right-to-die law, I would have a potential case. Unfortunately, one of the reasons I moved from Texas to New Mexico two years ago was because this state already had a right-to-die law (along with a Medical Cannabis Program, which it turns out I can’t afford).

It’s hard to find a reason to go on living when you suffer from constant pain, especially when you don’t have access to medications that can help manage the condition. The war against chronic pain patients is only going to get worse, so the future for us doesn’t look too bright. I was hoping a cause like this might help, but it looks like I’m out of options. Not that either of you can do anything about that.

Good luck in court and in Canada. I sincerely thank both of you for taking the time to respond.

Unum’s final denial letter

There was never any doubt in my mind that the appeal for Unum to reinstate my LTD benefits would prove successful.  I mean, there was never any reason to delude myself into thinking that all of my arguments would make a difference to Unum, a multi-billion-dollar insurance company only interested in profits.

I received its final denial letter last week, but the letter is dated April 29, 2015, and the postage on the envelope is dated April 30, 2015.  I haven’t read the letter — why get even angrier and more upset?

But I think it’s interesting that I didn’t sign the updated Authorization and Release for the appeal until April 30, 2015, mailing it the same day.  As I mentioned in my last letter to Unum, the appeal had already been decided long before this administrative process was put into motion. Because Unum demanded an updated Functional Capacity Examination and wouldn’t pay for it, and knew that I couldn’t afford to pay for this expensive report, I am in violation of the contract and Unum wins again.  Poverty is the reason I no longer have long term disability benefits. Ironic, isn’t it?

Should I try to find an attorney to file an ERISA claim against Unum in court?  Well, there’s no such thing as an ERISA attorney who works pro bono.  Meaning, what would be the point? Unum knows I can’t afford to pay a retainer for an attorney to represent me, so it has no financial reasons — possible financial exposure or consequences — for denying my appeal.  And potential ERISA lawsuits aren’t even a valid reason for Unum, as they also provide no financial exposure or negative consequences for this corporation — our politicians and Attorneys General have seen to that.

Thinking of you, Thomas Murphy

The growing number of veteran suicides is an issue that took center stage at the VA Medical Center in Phoenix on Tuesday. It has been a hot-button issue for veterans for a while, but in Phoenix it was magnified two weeks ago by the suicide of a veteran on VA property.

“I think he’s a martyr for what he did,” veteran Brandon Coleman said of Thomas Murphy, who tragically took his life while sitting in the parking lot of the VA administrative offices in downtown Phoenix.” I believe it was a symbolic act and that he did it because he would want us to talk about it,” Coleman said.

To spur that talk, a few dozen veterans gathered outside the Phoenix VA Hospital on Tuesday to protest what they say is a lack of help for suicidal veterans.

“Thanks for nothing VA,” Murphy wrote in his suicide note. He blamed the VA for doing nothing to help him with his chronic pain and said the VA wanted to take away the pain medication he was receiving…

The latest VA study shows 22 veterans a day commit suicide. But Coleman, a VA whistleblower who worked with suicidal vets, said the study left out statistics from California, Illinois and Texas and the totals are completely false…

“If they gave the American people the real numbers – 45, 50, 60, a day – would you let your kids join the military?” Coleman said. “Absolutely it’s higher than 22,” he said. “They need to do an accurate study that includes all 50 states by someone outside of the VA…

Under comments:

Tammy Swift
The VA South bend is falsifying records to get veterans out faster by manipulating mental health records not asking veterans if they are suicidal and putting answers in there medical files that are not there’s my son recorded his visit and pulled his medical records they don’t match