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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

May 15, 2013


Angelina Jolie’s Genetically Modified Body

How do you feel about Angelina Jolie's decision? On Monday, The New York Times published her opinion piece called, "My Medical Choice." Angelina, the popular 37-year-old actress, chose to have a double mastectomy. After three months of medical procedures to remove her breasts and perform reconstructive surgery with implants, she wrote about her prophylactic decision.

Angelina does not have cancer. She discovered through genetic testing that she has a mutation of the BRCA gene, giving her a "65 percent risk of getting [breast cancer], on average." Her doctors further told her that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. After removing her breasts, she says her risk of breast cancer is only 5%. Ms. Jolie wants other women to have themselves tested and to know that "if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options."

Who paid for Angelina's testing, mastectomy and reconstructive surgery? Her health insurer or her personal bank account? Will other women really have her options? In the new era of government- and HMO-prescribed treatment protocols, restricted by Obamacare's "essential health benefits" and decisions issued by Obama's Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), what will the options be? Will health insurers or government pay for it just because a woman wants it? Unlikely.

That's not the end of important questions. Women must consider the costs - up to $3,000 just for the test - and the significant risks of testing and surgery. Risks can include anxiety from the test results, a lifetime of living with the knowledge, family reactions to learning about their own familial genetic risks, and complications and altered body image from the surgery. With breast removal, self-esteem and personal relationships can be at risk. And sometimes breast reconstruction doesn't go well.

Less than 1 percent of women have a BRCA mutation. About 50.8% of the 313 million Americans today are female. Using 1 percent for ease of calculation, less than 1.6 million girls/women could have a BRCA mutation. However, as reported by the National Cancer Institute, "not every woman who has a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast and/or ovarian cancer."  Then again, some women without these mutations will get breast cancer.

What does this mean for the future? Affordable genomic sequencing of one's entire DNA is coming. Once a person's genetic results are in, what body parts could individuals choose to remove or replace for prevention purposes? Or what might an insurer or the government want removed to reduce health care costs? Will you have a right to say no to the procedure? If you refuse, could coverage be denied if you get the "preventable" condition?

Angelina made a calculated decision, acting on fear understandably generated by the early death of her mother from breast cancer. Her story is interesting, but the issue of genetic testing and radical prevention strategies is so much more complex than she reveals. We would do well to step carefully and cautiously into this new genetically modifiable world.

Partnering with you for freedom,

Twila Brase, R.N., PHN
President and Co-founder


News to Know:

IRS Targets Conservative Groups  -- 55 Questions

The IRS admits targeting conservative group applications for tax-exempt status. Targeting began early in 2010, including intrusive inquiries ( 55 questions). Some applications have been on hold for more than three years ( Treasury report). The Obama administration calls it "inappropriate." That term doesn't begin to talk about what it really was. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough calls it "tyranny." Up to 16,000 more IRS agents are needed to enforce Obamacare. These agents will have access to a massive centralized database on individuals and companies called the "Health Insurance Exchange Program." Will the IRS also target those who refuse to buy health insurance? A lawsuit is possible.

Sebelius' Shakedown - Fundraising for Obamacare Implementation

They're running out of cash. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is looking for donors to Obamacare implementation. MedCity News reports that she began making calls around March 23, looking for assistance from "companies in the healthcare field and other industries as well as from healthcare providers, patient advocacy groups, churches and other charitable organizations." She wants funds for Enroll America, a group headed by former Obama staffers that is planning a nationwide campaign to push Americans into Obama's government exchanges.

Religion - The Rise of the Nones

R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, foreshadows an America where Christianity is quashed, religious influence is censored, but faith endures. People checking "none" for religious affiliation have gone from 3% in 1950 to 20% today. The Nones are heavily represented in the elite culture and are "the single most ideologically committed cohort of white Americans, rivaled only by Evangelical Protestants...Seventy-five percent of them voted for Barack Obama in 2008."  He says, "They are conscious of their power, and they feel the momentum of their growth." But he believes communities of faith have a remarkable ability to endure.

Religious Exemption Sought

The "Equitable Access to Care and Health Act" (EACH Act), authored by Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) will provide an additional religious exemption from the individual mandate. But the language in HR 1814 provides a very limited exemption, allowing only those who do not receive medical care as defined in the Act to be exempt. The exemption is nullified "for any month during a taxable year if the individual received medical health care during the taxable year." The definition of medical care excludes chiropractic care, vaccinations, etc.  Read more ...

Half of Small Businesses Think Obamacare is Bad for Them

A Gallup survey of 603 small-business owners had little good to say about Obamacare. Only 9% said the law would be good for business. 48% said it would be bad for business. 39% said it would have no impact. But that's not all. 52% of owners said it will reduce the quality of health care they and their workers receive. Only 13% think it will improve quality of care received. And 55% of owners expect to pay more for healthcare. Only 5% expect to pay less. Already 41% of owners have held off on hiring new employees. So why did 39% of owners say the law would have no impact?

Tool for Haggling Hospital Prices?

Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton health economist, is amused by all the media hype over the variation in hospital charges because it's not news. However, he offers an interesting idea for the giant spreadsheet the Medicare administration recently released. It has 63,536 rows and 12 columns with charges and payments listed for the top 100 most frequently billed cases at 3,000 hospitals. He suggests Columns A and K "might be helpful in haggling with the hospital over its detailed bill before or even after the procedure." Haggle away! As one hospital chief financial officer once said: "There is no method to this madness.

Republicans Issue Sticker Shock Report

In a report intended to shock the public, the first sentence is just one word: "Affordability." The report goes on to discuss the fact that Obama promised affordability, but potential health insurance premium increases on average could be as high as 100%, with spikes of more than 400%. They GOP Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to 17 of the nation's largest insurers. One insurer wrote back, "Overall, the findings showed that individual consumers in about 90% of all states would likely face significant premium increases."

Community Health Centers Get Higher Payments

There are about 1,128 federally-funded community health centers operating in about 8,500 sites. Under "special payment rules." these centers are paid more per Medicaid patient than private clinics are paid for Medicaid patients. State Medicaid programs and the Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) must pay a "prospectively established rate, determined for each individual health center that reflects the reasonable cost of treating enrollees" instead of the "deeply discounted rates" that health insurers pay to these centers - and to private clinics. Beginning in 2014, the ACA requires qualified health plans (QHPs) to pay the higher rate to community health centers.

Counties Can't Afford 'Unaffordable Care Act'

Minnesota counties are hiring new staff to implement the ACA, but one county Commissioner Autumn Lehrke, said during a board meeting: "We've coined it the Unaffordable Care Act' because counties can't afford to keep it staffed...It's another example of an unfunded mandate." Another public official, Jerry Vitzthum, said, "It's going to be a lot more work. And the work is difficult because of the speed with which this thing is moving." He said unanswered questions include changes in food-support and child-support cases, employee training and overtime, the health insurance exchange program and the new system's complexity.

California Exchange Granted Secrecy

Someone needs to file a lawsuit. A California law allows the California agency that oversees Obama's Exchange, called Covered California, to conceal spending for contractors that will perform most exchange duties. This leaves the public in the dark about millions and millions of dollars, who got them and how they were spent -- indefinitely. When the Associated Press asked for documents, Covered California released a few - including one for $327 million for a 5-year deal with Accenture to set up the exchange - but said all contracts are confidential and privileged. So much for transparency.

FDA Wants to Regulate Caffeine

There is nothing in your life that is not up for federal regulation. The latest target is caffeine. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a list of questions and answers titled "FDA to Investigate Added Caffeine." They cite Wrigley's new gum with caffeine, "wired" waffle and "wired" syrup. They are interested in setting a level of caffeine acceptable for children, which could include "limits on the amount of caffeine in certain products." If they get this power, expect restrictions for coffee. Read more...


Quote of the Week:


"'Charges' are the prices that a totally inebriated foreign billionaire would pay a U.S. hospital if his wife were not around to control the bloke." - Uwe Reinhardt, The New York Times, May 13, 2013.


Stat of the Week:

1500 - number of people who took exams on Saturday as part of the hiring process for the Covered California health insurance exchange call center.

Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Why Won't My Card Work

Why wonʼt my card work? A tax expert says this will be a common question on the governmentʼs Obamacare exchange. Thereʼs no family coverage. Everyone has their own plan. This means the baby could be in the governmentʼs CHIP program. Older children could be on Medicaid. Mom could get coverage with a federal premium subsidy and Dad could get employer-subsidized exchange coverage. Continue reading

Twila Brase broadcasts a daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which brings health care issues to light for the American public. Health Freedom Minute airs on the entire American Family Radio Network, with more than 150 stations nationwide in addition to Bott Radio Network with over 80 stations nationwide.

Click here to listen to this week's features.


Citizens' Council for Health Freedom
161 St. Anthony Avenue, Ste 923
St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: 651.646.8935 • Fax: 651.646.0100

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