Don’t Let Your Guard Down in Cold Weather

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From the Dallas Police Department:

DPD is committed to strengthening the vitality of every neighborhood in the city.

During the inclement weather, many motorist have been starting the ignition system on their vehicles to warm them up and re-entering their residence.

Thieves have taken advantage of this oversight, when owners return they discover their vehicles have been stolen.

Vehicles have also been stolen while left running at convenience stores and drive up store fronts.

Please avoid leaving your vehicles started while unattended.

Photo courtesy of winnond via courtsphotos.net.

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Featured Link — 4 Paws for Ability

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This organization provides service animals for people of all ages, including children.

Here is some information from the site:

Mission Statement

4 Paws for Ability, Inc. mission is to:

  • Enrich the lives of children with disabilities by the training and placement of quality, task trained service dogs to provide increased independence for the children and assistance to their families.
  • Enrich the lives of veterans from recent conflicts who have lost the use of their limbs or their hearing while in active combat.
  • Educate the public to accept the use of service dogs in public places.
  • Assist with animal rescue when possible.
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Paying Your Dues: What to Do When You Can’t Afford to Pay Your Medical Bills

Paying Your Dues What to Do When You Can't Afford to Pay Your Medical Bills

Even for those who are healthy, medical costs can take a huge chunk out of the bank account every year. Unexpected medical expenses are a huge cause of financial stress and even financial ruin. Even if you have a great insurance plan, you may be well aware that your insurance coverage will not pay for all of your medical expenses. Treatment for a simple illness or a minor out-patient procedure may result in bills tallying hundreds of dollars or more flooding into your mailbox. Major surgery or a long-term illness may result in tens of thousands of dollars or more in medical bills. If you cannot afford to pay your medical bills all at once, you may wonder what your options are. Consider a few of the following options below if you feel that you can’t afford to pay your medical bills.

Set Up a Payment Plan

For some individuals, it may be impossible to pay the full amount of a medical bill immediately. However, you may be able to pay the expense over the course of several months with regular installment payments. You can contact the billing company or medical service provider directly to set up a payment plan that is affordable for your budget. Most will be willing to work with you on a payment plan to ensure that they receive the amount owed to them. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this is an option, and remain overwhelmed by paying massive bills all at once.

Get a Personal Loan

If you have more significant bills and individual payment plans for each of your bills will still be unaffordable for your budget, you may apply for a personal loan. This may be a secured or unsecured loan. You can use the lump sum to pay off your creditors directly, and you can make regular payments to the lender each month to reduce your debt balance. An alternative to this is to refinance your home mortgage to tap into equity.

File for Bankruptcy

While the options above may be suitable for some situations, there are instances when you simply cannot pay the bills. You may owe so much money that it would take you a decade or longer to pay the balance off. Paying the debt may put you in such a tight financial bind that you will not be able to comfortably manage your other expenses. When you believe that the other options are not beneficial or feasible, filing for bankruptcy is another option to consider. You can speak with a bankruptcy attorney about this option to decide if it is right for you.

Medical bills can impact your credit rating, so ignoring them is never the right answer. You may consider each of these options to determine what the best option is for handling your current medical bills.

AUTHOR BIO: This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, and women’s interests. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. She got advice for this article from professionals of the Cantini Law Group, a personal injury law firm in Halifax.

Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net via Sura Nualpradid

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Long-Distance Relationships: Care For Your Aging Parents From Afar

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We all want to care for our parents when they get older, but it can be difficult if you live in another city, state or even a different country. Fortunately, many elderly people are becoming more comfortable with technology and digital tools to connect and communicate. In fact, according to Pew Research, 59 percent of older adults now report using the Internet regularly and 77 percent have a cell or smartphone.

Implementing some of these tools can help you connect with and care for your parents, even if you can’t be with them physically.

Communication

The phone and email can keep you in touch with your parents. Use video chat on a service like Skype. This will give you face-to-face communication that is more personal. You can also connect several family members at once so your parents can video chat with you, your children, your siblings and anyone else at the same time. Skype is free to install on your computer, smartphone or tablet, and is easy to use so your parents won’t have any trouble when trying to call you. They can simply click the icon and then click on your face or name from the menu. Skype also offers a chat feature if you want to send quick messages instead of a text or email.

Security

One of the most common concerns for elderly parents living alone is home security. It will give you both peace of mind and make you feel better about them living alone when you’re not nearby if you make sure their home is secure. Many home security systems can be monitored through mobile devices. This might take a little teaching, but they’ll master the easy-to-use app in no time. You can also install home security cameras to monitor your parents’ home. Lorex Technology makes wireless IP camera systems that can be installed and monitored from anywhere through a password-protected service. This way you and your parents can both keep an eye on their home’s security and access the cameras without having any kind of computer or networking skills.

Safety

You may worry about your parents’ health or what might happen if they were injured and you couldn’t be there right away. Fortunately, there are services that your parents can use that will alert 911 and/or you if there is an emergency. Services like Life Alert have been around since 1987 and will send emergency response in the event of a house fire or CO2 leak, or even if they fall or injure themselves and can’t reach a telephone. According to the Life Alert site, the service takes more than two million calls every year and, in 2013, helped save more than 52,000 lives.

Useful And Easy-To-Use Apps

If your parents have a smartphone or tablet, there are some apps they can install that are simple to use and can help them with day-to-day tasks, date reminders, weather and news alerts and anything else they may need. For example, SeniorNet.org suggests the HeartWise app to track blood pressure, weight and heart rate over time. There is also Pillboxie, which sends a daily pill reminder, and EyeReader which acts as a lighted magnifying glass to read books and prescriptions.

Author Bio: Maria Springs is a writer, philanthropist, animal lover, Earth advocate and citizen of the world. She has an affinity for public radio and three-legged dogs.

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Kentucky Officials Allege Pain Medicine Maker to Blame for Abuse Epidemic

logo-oxycontin-prescription1The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal reports that officials in Kentucky have “traced the roots” of the state’s pain medicine abuse epidemic to OxyContin (oxycodone), and have been “forging ahead with a civil lawsuit that seeks to make drugmaker Purdue Pharma pay.” The suit is based on the allegation that Purdue Pharma’s “aggressive and deceptive marketing campaign misled doctors, consumers and the government about OxyContin’s addiction risk, ultimately saddling taxpayers with millions of dollars in social, health care and other costs.” University of Louisville law professor Timothy Hall “says it will be challenging for the state to trace the community’s addiction problem to the actions of a drug company, since so many other factors are involved, such as the actions and knowledge of doctors and patients.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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American Cancer Society Attributes Cancer Drop Partly to Reduced Smoking

The American Cancer Society issued a press release about its annual cancer statistics report Tuesday, and it focused on “a 22% drop in cancer mortality over two decades” that averted “more than 1.5 million cancer deaths that would have occurred if peak rates had persisted.” The society noted that “the overall cancer death rate rose during most of the 20th century, peaking in 1991. The subsequent, steady decline in the cancer death rate is the result of fewer Americans smoking, as well as advances in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.”

The report earned coverage on the NBC Nightly News, which reported, “Some encouraging news tonight from the American Cancer Society. A new report says there’s been a 22 percent drop in the death rate from cancer over the past two decades, which means one point five million cancer deaths have been averted over that time. The report credits fewer Americans smoking as well as medical advancements, but it also says we’ll see over one point six million new cancer cases in the new year and close to 600,000 deaths.”

NBC News also reported on the drop in cancer rates on its website, while Bloomberg News reported more broadly on the society’s findings and on progress in fighting cancer.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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FDA Warns Blood Pressure Kiosks May Not Show Correct Results

HealthDay reported the FDA warned that blood-pressure kiosks available in public places such as pharmacies and grocery stores may not show accurate results if the “cuff is too small or too large for your arm.” Luke Herbertson, a biomedical engineer at the FDA, said in statement, “They are easily accessible and easy to use. But it’s misleading to think that the devices are appropriate for everybody. They are not one-size-fits-all.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Court Documents Reveal Opioid Makers’ Spending on Physicians

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported that a Federal judge has “unsealed previously secret details in a lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago against five makers of opioid painkillers.” Details reveal the “amounts the companies paid to doctors to promote their drugs and how they wined and dined potential prescribers.” Exploring the pharmas’ alleged expenditures on speaker programs, Bloomberg reports that Teva “spent $6 million on speakers programs to promote its drug Fentora when it launched in 2007, according to the complaint.” Janssen “spent almost $200,000 on speakers programs in Chicago from 2009 to 2013 to promote the painkiller Nucynta ER, the lawsuit alleges.” Endo “spent almost $4 million in 2008 to promote 1,000 speaker programs across the country.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Administration to Investigate Health Insurers for Discriminatory Plans

The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration “said Monday that it would investigate prescription drug coverage and other benefits offered by health insurance companies to see if they discriminated against people with AIDS, mental illness, diabetes or other costly chronic conditions.” Officials said they had become aware of “discriminatory benefit designs” that discourage people from enrolling because of age or medical condition. In a letter to health insurers, “administration officials said that a health plan could be engaging in unlawful discrimination if its list of approved drugs excluded all medicines needed to treat a particular condition, or if it restricted access to such drugs by charging large co-payments or requiring prior authorization.” The Times notes the Affordable Care Act requires that insurers accept all applicants for coverage and cannot charge higher premiums based on a person’s pre-existing conditions.

Group sues Aetna, alleging discrimination against HIV patients. The New York Times reports that a consumer group has sued Aetna, alleging the health insurer “discriminated against patients with H.I.V. when it required them to obtain medications exclusively through its own mail-order pharmacy.” The lawsuit, filed Friday in Federal court in San Diego by Consumer Watchdog, “argues that Aetna’s policy violates the new federal health care law, which prohibits insurers from discriminating against people based on medical condition.” According to the suit, the company’s new 2015 policy also raises the out-of-pocket amount that patients must pay for their treatments. Aetna is the latest insurer to be criticized for its coverage of specialty drugs such as HIV treatments. In an effort “to limit their exposure to the rising costs, many insurers have been placing additional restrictions on the drugs or increasing the out-of-pocket amounts that patients must pay.”

The AP reports that Consumer Watchdog also “says sending the drugs through the mail puts privacy at risk because packages could end up at the wrong address or be seen by others.” Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said the policy is part of the company’s strategy to keep health plans affordable. She also said that members can opt out of the policy.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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How Small Businesses Should Approach Legal Matters

How Small Businesses Should Approach Legal Matters

Most small businesses operate on a strict budget with limited funds for auxiliary services. Your company might need more help with storage, or perhaps security is more of an important issue for you. Whatever the outsourcing, it pays to have a good place to start with how your small business should operate and to know good people and businesses who can take care of these side issues. As a small business you don’t have time to worry about every little detail about the business as you may be focused on producing goods and services and you need every hand on board. You need to make a plan for how to deal with the other things like finances, security, delivery and more. One of the most important services is how you approach legal matters. These typically include issues like non-discrimination, fair pricing, and personnel rights and responsibilities. Every corporation needs to know business law, with access to attorneys that can handle the company’s legal matters. However, when small businesses cannot afford to hire a company attorney, there are other options worth considering. These are tips every small business should know about going ahead with basic legal practices.

Hire a Part-Time Lawyer
This type of arrangement can be made by paying a lawyer a monthly retainer fee to have services available when needed. If the business deals with many kinds of legal issues, an attorney may be hired with an onsite office for a certain number of hours per month to assist with basic but important matters like ACH processors laws in the U.S. and abroad, for example. This way you always have someone on hand though you won’t have to pay them as a full time employee. It often helps if you can provide them with some goods or services in return for a discount.

Consult with a Legal Clinic
Legal clinics work much like a medical clinic. They run on a typical workday schedule by appointment, and often handle simple matters like a sales contract, a partnership agreement, or collection issues for non-payment. Fees are stated or estimated up front, unless the situation involves an extensive matter. Then billing may be handled on an hourly rate. This is great for a small business that just wants the basics. This way you can just go in whenever a question arises. The truth is many smaller businesses won’t need a lawyer around full or even part time, and knowing where to consult about these matters can really help you in your own processes.

Network with Legal Experts
By becoming a member of local business groups, like the chamber of commerce, for example, a business owner can get to know how other small companies handle their legal matters. An owner also may be introduced to attorneys or an ACH processing company who are members of the same group. Sometimes for a small fee or the cost of a business lunch, the attorney will provide legal advice or a referral to a lawyer that specializes in the area of concern. It never hurts to try a little online networking as well. Other small businesses may be able to recommend lawyers and companies who have been able to help them in the past.

Seek a Lawyer for the Board
When possible, it is a good idea to recruit a local attorney to serve as a member of the company’s board of directors. Legal questions can be raised at scheduled board meetings or special sessions if needed for advice from the attorney, or the attorney may refer the matter to a colleague with a specialization in the area of concern. Sometimes these lawyers are more concerned with community members and small businesses so it never hurts to get in good with them. If an attorney cannot serve on the board of directors, he or she may know someone else who will, and as a small business you’ll have a place to turn to whenever you have questions.

A small company’s legal affairs require professional consideration and resolution. Occasional access to legal counsel or even just knowing who to network with, is better than none at all. It is important to consult a lawyer for any matter of consequence to avoid complications down the road. Make sure you know the basics and are ready to handle the simple processes on your own.

This article is from Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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