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December 6, 2002     Cape Gazette
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December 6, 2002

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CAPE GAZEaq, Friday, Dee. 6 - Dee. 12, 2002 - 49 HEALTH & FITNESS Can state help businesses f'md health-care plan? By Dennis Forney Should small businesses and their employees have access to the same health-care insurance pro- gram provided to state employ- ees? Lt. Gov. John Carney said, Nov. 20, he asked Gov. Ruth Ann Min- ner to put that option back on the table as a way to address the prob- lem of soaring health-care costs for small businesses, their em- ployees and people who are self- insured. "The problem is finding a pool of people large enough to get an insurance company to write poli- cies in the range of $200 per month for individuals, $400 per month for an employee and child, and $600 per month for families. Most people feel those are reason- able health insurance rates and those are about what is paid for state employees," said Carney. He said Delaware self-insures its employees. "We have a pool of 15,000 to 30,000 employees depending on whether you in- elude school employees in that group," said Carney. Although small businesses, if they were al- lowed to participate in that pool, would pay their own premiums, the concern is the small-business pool of employers and employees may make the state rates rise. "The pool of self-employed and small business employees is most- ly older people who represent a higher risk," he said "That can make rates rise." Carney made his comments be- fore a packed house of Lewes Chamber of Commerce members at the Lighthouse Restaurant. He said finding a solution to soaring health-care costs for small busi- nesses has become a top priority. "Initiatives in the past few years have focused on providing health care for disadvantaged children and uninsured Delawareans," said Carney. "We have been looking for ways to provide a safety net for the working poor. People who are making $5 an hour can't af- ford to pay $200 a month for health insurance. We have set up some health clinics around the state for these people. The focus hasn't been on small businesses but the affordability issue has been bubbling up. Now it has been moved to the front of the agenda," said Carney. Carney is chairman of Delaware's Health Care Commis- sion and serves as chairman of the small business health insurance task force. That task force was set up as a result of House Resolution 82 during the last legislative ses- sion under the sponsorship of for- mer 37th District Rep. John Schroeder. The task force is charged with "making findings and recommen- dations regarding making avail- able an affordable, comprehensive- health-care plan for small busi- nesses, their employees and the self-employed, subject to the fol- lowing: This health-care plan should cover physician and hospital serv- Dennis Forney photo Lt. Gov. John Carney talks with Keena Reed after the Nov. 20 Lewes Chamber of Commerce meeting. ices as well as prescription drugs and medically necessary equip- ment; Dental and mental health-care coverage should be considered for inclusion in the basic plan; and While state agencies may par- take in establishing and organiz- ing the plan, once the plan is fully operational, it should not be sub- sidized by public funds. "What we're trying to figure out is how to give small business people access to the larger pool,'" said Carney. Carney said there has been talk of going to a single-payer SYStem where all of the state's people would be insured and the state would pay all bills. Such a system would be funded through a tax system much as is done in some of the more socialized countries of the world like Canada. "I know people feel that the efficiencies of a single-payer system would help with the funding but transitioning to a single-payer system would be extremely complicated," said Car- ney. "How do you structure a tax system that would be fair.'?" Carney added however that all options are being considered. The task force is charged with making its recommendations to the Gen- eral Assembly by March 31, 2003. There are, according to Carney, about 1 I0,000 self-employed peo- ple or people employed in firms of two to 125 employees in Delaware. Of the 88,000 unin- sured Delawareans, 26,000 are in the self-employed or small-busi- ness category. As part of the task force ap- proach, Carney said the commit- tee is looking at available data to understand characteristics of the uninsured and underinsured and is also looking at other states to see what they are doing. Finally, the task force is looking at so-called "out-of-the-box" solutions or un- conventional approaches such as the single-payer system. Lloyd Mills of Lewes is a member of the task force and is looldng into out- of-the-box options as his assign- ment. Mills is also part of a Lewes Chamber of Commerce subcom- mittee on health insurance headed by Gavin Braithwaite. They have gathered story after story of small businesses that are seeing their annual premiums increasing by 25 percent to 35 percent per year. Carney closed his comments by shifting gears. He also is heading up an initiative to get Delaware- ans to get more exercise and live healthier lives. "We've talked a lot about treating diseases, but we need to focus more on avoiding and preventing them. If we can become more physically active, studies tell us that we can reduce incidence of diabetes, heart dis- ease and some types of cancer." To provide input or get more in- formation, contact Carney at jear- or committee member Lloyd Mills, Delaware Small Business Health Care Coalition, at dsbhcc@dmv.eom. Anyone wanting to be on the HR82 mailing list (agendas/min- utes) should contact Doug Grami- ak at Multispeciality chiropractic clinic opens in Lewes As the population has boomed in Sussex County, so has the de- mand for alternative medicine. In an effort to meet those challenges, I have opened a multispeciality clinic. We will be providing a wide range of services in one fa- cility to give people an opportuni- ty to learn about and take advan- tage of these progressive healing programs. What does the term "multispe- ciality" mean? Chiropractic is the largest healing art in the world that does not utilize drugs or sur- gery. The practice of chiropractic is directed toward helping to re- move structural problems with the spine. Sometimes, physical trau- ma from falls, sports injuries and ear accidents can cause the spinal bones to be misaligned - called subluxation. A doctor of chiro- practic is specially trained to re- turn the misaligned spinal bones to their normal position. He or she uses a gentle, specific tech- spinal bones - vertebrae. I have personally adjusted newborn ba- bies, professional athletes and folks well into their eighth decade of life. Another service offered is mas- sage therapy. Massage therapists are well trained to identify muscle spasm, and to speed the healing of injuries. Look for the massage therapists at major sporting events: they, are the folks with a special table and a long line of people waiting to feel better. In fact, studies show that massage therapy helps promote a sense of well being in patients, improve athletic performance and improve motion and function of the mus- culoskeletal systems. So many questions persist about nutritional supplements. It seems we hear or read about "new, amazing, cutting edge" products every day. We will be able to test for spe- cific nutrient deficiencies and tell Modern technology combined with clinical knowledge and good old-fashioned care and concern has taken the guesswork out of the nutrition maze. Other diagnostic testing we per- form is for osteoporosis - called a dexa scan. This fast, accurate, specialized scan is recognized by the World Health Organization for showing how strong or weak bones are. The condition of weak, brittle bones is called osteoporosis. It is important to know how strong bones are because hip fractures can be deadly. According to the National Osteoporisis Founda- tion, "More women will die from hip fracture complications related to osteoporosis than will die from breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined." We believe osteoporosis is such a threat to good health that osteo- porosis screenings are provided at no cost in our office. If we find Dr. James McHale }o adjust the position of the you what products can help you. that a more detailed ieture Pf-5 your bone density is needed, we have established relationships with centers to provided that serv- ice. We can get a baseline bone density result, and work with you to trend the result toward healthy. The good news is osteoporosis is, in many cases, reversible and'pre- ventable. Weight-bearing exercise and calcium supplementation are ef- fective against bone loss. Even if you have never exercised before, fitness professionals are on staff for consultations to help you meet your wellness goals, and to im- prove your health states. Our satellite office at Quest Fitness Center in downtown Lewes is well equipped with new, state,of- the-art exercise equipment. We will be adding new pro- grams to our list constantly. For example, tai chi, biofeedback and nonneedle acupuncture, also re- ferred to as acutism for weight loss, smoking cessation and pain treatment will soon be available. HEALTH TOPICS Dr. James MeHale is ehlro- praetor in Lewes and direc- tor of Atlantic Regional Os- teoporosis Specialists PC., a diagnostic company. He is al- so the chairman of the clini- cal advisory beard for the In- stitute of Weight Manage- ment and Health and the de- veloper of Cal-Trans Multi- mineral. To make an ap- pointment, call 645-8084.