Road Safety, Charities, Medicare M+C Plans, Euthanasia
Don't count on the corner gas station to help you figure out if your tires are properly inflated. While most gas stations have air pumps, nearly 10 percent of them don't work, says the US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And of pumps that do work, many give inflated readings, leading motorists to believe their tires are safe when they're actually under-inflated, To make sure your tires have enough air, check the pressure regularly with a hand-held tire pressure gauge.
While you're measuring the pressure in your tires, check the tread, too. The NHTSA found that nearly 10 percent of passenger cars on the roads have at least one bald tire. Check the tread wear indicators built into the tire. If they're even with the outside of the tread, head for the nearest tire store.
If you'd prefer to donate to a health charity that doesn't fund animal research, look for the Humane Charity Seal of Approval. The new seal is given by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to charities that fund research conducted on humans only. More than 30 charities, including the Heimlich Institute, the Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry, and the Follow-Your-Heart Foundation, have received the seal. For a list of all certified charities, visit the group's Web site, www.humaneseal.org .
To make the Medicare+Choice program more attractive to HMOs, Congress has increased reimbursement to participating plans in each of the last two years. But more money hasn't led to increased access for Medicare beneficiaries, according to a General Accounting Office study. "Relatively few" plans (29 percent) used the increased funds to improve benefit packages for seniors, opting instead to increase fee schedules for doctors and hospitals (63 percent) or to set aside money for future years (12 percent), the GAO says.
Access to M+C plans offering drug coverage continues its steady decline. In 1999, for instance, two out of three beneficiaries had access to a M+C plan offering drug coverage. This year, only about half will have that luxury. Zero premium plans are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and monthly out-of-pocket expenses for members of the remaining plans have more than doubled, from $17.29 last year to $39.09 today.
Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan pathologist who championed mercy killing, has lost an appeal of his murder conviction for a patient's death in 1998. A videotape, made by Kevorkian, showed the doctor injecting his patient, who suffered from ALS, with a lethal dose of potassium chloride. Michigan successfully prosecuted him for second-degree murder.
In his appeal, Kevorkian made little reference to his argument at the trial, that mercy killing had a legal justification or excuse. Instead, he argued that his stand-by counsel didn't provide him with his constitutional right to effective representation. But the appellate court found that Kevorkian, who chose to represent himself, "cannot now assign the blame for his conviction to someone who did not act as his trial counsel."
Yvonne Wollenberg. ONLINE News Briefs.