The Affordable Care Act / Obamacare Defines Perfect Roles for Private Professional Patient Advocates

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ACAThe healthcare reform law called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – or Obamacare if you prefer the moniker (preferences seem to run about 50/50) – is being implemented over time. Of course, as most of us realize, the major portion described as the individual mandate, kicks in January 1, 2014 – only a few months from now.

No matter how you feel about the legislation for your personal situation, you owe it to yourself to become familiar with the aspects of the law that define excellent roles for health advocates, no matter what type of advocacy they practice – medical navigational, research or decision-making, medical billing, hospital bedside advocacy or others.

Last week, members of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates were privileged to spend an hour with Linda Adler, a member of the Alliance, who has studied healthcare reform long and hard, talking about the important aspects of the ACA that clients may ask about, talking about resources to help answer client questions, and then, importantly, the many opportunities the ACA creates to help advocates market our advocacy practices.

It was one of the most useful hours any of us have spent in a long time.

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Stealing Not Allowed

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plagiarismSuppose you wake up one morning, and realize as you make your way to the kitchen that someone has broken in overnight and stolen your belongings!

You never heard anything – you slept right through it. And yet, they’ve taken some of your most valued possessions.

You feel violated. You’ve lost your sense of security. It’s a disruption, it’s disturbing, it makes you feel sick….

You try to figure out exactly what is missing, what exactly they have taken, and you wonder whether you’ll ever get any of it back or even more importantly, whether you can ever feel safe in your own home again.

They’ve not only stolen your stuff, they have destroyed your peace of mind.

Very upsetting.

I’ve been fortunate.  (Knock wood) no one has ever broken into my home.  But I’ve felt that same sense of violation and it forever altered my peace of mind….


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Amy Vanderbilt, Emily Post and My Mother Are Turning Over in Their Graves

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scoldI suspect you were raised just like I was.  As a polite young lady, one who knew and followed the rules of etiquette (a là those mavens of etiquette, Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post), I was taught never to toot my own horn. Bragging about accomplishments just isn’t polite. Let someone else recognize your achievements, and if they mention them to you, just blush, and politely deflect.  Do your best not to take credit, and certainly don’t make it sound like you’re proud of what you’ve done….as in “What, this old thing?…)

(Unless, of course, you are male. Your rules may have been quite different!)

That “don’t take credit” thing has plagued women (and some men) who start and grow businesses since the dawn of entrepreneurism, and it will continue to get in the way as long as children are raised to believe they aren’t supposed to own up to their accomplishments.  It’s a demon we advocacy practice builders and owners must overcome if we want to be successful.

Going against the grain of our upbringing is a lot like intentionally coloring outside the lines – easier for some and not easy at all for others.

But today I will do just that – in part to just plain showcase my advocacy work over the past 9 years, and in part, to lead by example. If you are one of those “non-horn-tooters” – please pay attention.

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Beware Those Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing

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wolfTwo unrelated stories have crossed my path, but their bottom lines are the same.  It’s too easy to be fooled. 

Story #1:  … is based on a scathing article in this week’s Wall Street Journal about the amount of money medical device companies pay to the doctors who use their products.  The story is mostly focused on investigations from the Justice Department starting with one doctor who lived and worked in California, Dr. Aria Sabit, who insisted on using certain spinal implant products because he owns part of the distributorship company and is making money in a half dozen ways – from kickbacks to distributorship profits – over each surgery he does.

But the story-within-the-story is that Dr. Sabit is also named in 12 lawsuits over the deaths of people who died as a result of his surgeries – and who had received those implants to help them live better-quality lives. It matters little whether the fault lies with the implants or the doctor’s skill level; those patients are dead.

But there’s more to the story, of course, and unfortunately, it’s not a part of the WSJ article.

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Playing Favorites

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angelIf you’re a parent, you know you’ve been asked this question:

Which of your children is your favorite?

Of course, there’s no way to answer that question!  Because even if you have a favorite, you’d never fess up!  As a parent, you do your utmost to be fair and equitable….

(We all know who our OWN parents’ favorite child is/was. My sister was my mother’s favorite. She was sweet, and quiet, and well behaved.  And I was… well… not.)

This week I was contacted with two different requests for referrals to APHA members, which means I am expected to pick favorites….

It occurred to me that perhaps you’d like to know how I handle the “I don’t have a favorite advocate” response….

The first was a contact from the media.  A specific question that could be answered by a patient advocate or navigator, a general question that would then be highlighted in a publication… So how would I choose the best person for the reporter to contect?  Which of our 400+ members of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates would I “anoint” as the person to get some publicity?

The second was a request from a colleague – Christina deMoraes of the International Medical Tourism Chamber of Commerce was looking for an advocate to work with a patient coming from outside the US to Orlando.  Could I recommend who she should contact?

Ho-boy.  You know, in both cases (and in all the other opportunities that come along this way) it’s tough!  Because we have many members I have met and have gotten to know – and many I don’t.

Yet, I need to be fair to one and all. So here’s how I handle these kinds of cases, just so you know:

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