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Commentary on life in Kentucky

By wmadministrator

What’s Your Share of Diabetes’ $218 Billion Cost?
Diabetes probably hits the bottom line of your business whether you have the disease or not. According to a new study believed to be the first of its kind, the comprehensive financial toll of diabetes in the United States was $218 billion in 2007.

That includes direct medical care costs, from insulin and pills for controlling patients’ blood sugar to amputations and hospitalizations, plus indirect costs such as lost productivity, disability and early retirement. Total U.S. health care spending by government and the public was about $2.1 trillion in 2006, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That means diabetes rings up close to 10 percent of all health care costs.

Look at your personal or company health care premiums and you can guess what diabetes costs you.

Novo Nordiisk A/S, the Danish pharma company that is the world’s top producer of insulin and diabetes pills, paid for the diabetes cost study. Sounds like the analysis confirmed Novo is in a strong line of business.

Meanwhile, as bad as diabetes is, it’s not our costliest health problem. Direct and indirect U.S. costs of our top killers – heart disease and stroke – will total about $448.5 billion this year, according to the American Heart Association.

“Diabetes has not seen a decline or even a plateauing, and the death rate from diabetes continues to rise,” said Dana Haza, senior director of the National Changing Diabetes Program, an effort Novo Nordisk began in 2005 to improve U.S. diabetes care and prevention. “The numbers just keep going higher and higher, and what we want to say is, ‘It’s time for government and businesses to focus on it,’ ” said Haza, who believes diabetes will be the country’s biggest health problem in the future, worsened by the obesity epidemic.

The good news? More and more companies have wellness programs that monitor employees, especially those with chronic illness, educate them about best practices and create a culture of health in the workplace. It’s an important way to fight back, and it pays off – in lower premiums, higher productivity and longer lives.

Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Unveils Event’s Official Artwork

The World Games 2010 Foundation unveiled the official image of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, created by internationally renowned artist LeRoy Neiman. The painting features each of the eight equestrian sports that comprise the World Equestrian Games, illustrated in Neiman’s style of brilliantly-colored, energetic imagery.

Cobalt Artworks Managing Director Ben Isaacs (left), and John Long, WEG Foundation chairman and CEO of the U.S. Equestrian Federation, are shown at the artwork unveiling press conference.

Curry, Hodsdon Join Lane Report
Allow us to introduce two new members of The Lane Report’s family. They are Business Manager Jim Curry and Associate Publisher Donna Hodsdon.

Curry comes to us from the book publishing industry, where he was in production management with RR Donnelley, the world’s largest private book publisher. He lives with his family in Winchester.

Hodsdon joins us after spending 10 years with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as small business director for the eastern half of Kentucky and the western half of West Virginia. She lives with her family in the Lexington area.

Building a Safer Health System
Last month the Kentucky Hospital Association launched the Kentucky Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, joining 19 other organizations across the country approved to use a new federal program to study why medical errors occur and how to prevent them.

Based in Louisville, it will have a multidisciplinary governing board of representatives from hospitals, physicians, nurses, consumers and the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for Kentucky. KIPSQ’s federal designation as a patient safety organization will allow health care providers in Kentucky to confidentiality report information on adverse patient events, near misses, and best practices without fear of blame.

The institute will analyze data to begin answering questions about the safety of health care in Kentucky and help providers take steps to prevent future errors. The data will also be part of a national database compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for national trending and information sharing among all PSOs throughout the country.

“Until now, there was no system like this in Kentucky. Before, Kentucky hospitals could only review problems individually within their institutions, and did not systematically collect, nor share such data because confidentiality could not be maintained,” said KHA President Mike Rust. “KHA developed a PSO to help hospitals fulfill their mission of providing the highest quality of care to their patients. Knowing when and why medical errors happen in Kentucky is the first step towards making real progress in preventing them.”
KHA is to be applauded for its leadership.

• We mixed up a name and a face for a photo published with our November technology feature, “E-mail Fatigued?” Here is a correct presentation of the two people we managed to include in one production faux paux. They are Terri Johnson, senior marketing and communications manager, Kentucky League of Cities; and Scott Gordon, director of admissions, Western Kentucky University.

• A Passing Lane item last month overlooked the fact that U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville is a member of Kentucky’s Democratic congressional delegation. Yarmuth was re-elected to a second term in November.

Nucleus, Kentucky’s Life Science and Innovation Center, is distributed as a
special publication with the December issue of the Lane Report. As a courtesy to our advertiser, The Lane Report would like to clarify that Deborah Clayton, commissioner of the Department of Commercialization and Innovation at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, sits on the Nucleus Board of Advisors in an observatory role.

A Stock Tip – Livestock That Is
There’s a warm place in our hearts here at The Lane Report for alpacas, for reasons we don’t have time to go into, so it was with interest that we read a recent missive from the Kentucky Alpaca Association citing a report that the sure-footed natives of the South American Andes are developing a rep as a good investment in this slippery financial time.

The important news, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that this year’s federal farm bill mentions alpacas by name as eligible for favorable tax treatment as livestock – for farmers who qualify as for-profit ranchers. IRS publication No. 225, The Farmer’s Tax Guide, provides guidance.

Adult alpacas stand about 36 inches at the withers and weigh 150 to 200 pounds. They don’t have horns, hooves, claws or incisors, but are intelligent, curious, predictable, seek companionship and communicate mostly by softly humming. Every 12 to 18 months, alpacas produce five to 10 pounds of luxurious fleece that’s as warm as but only a third the weight of wool. Alpaca-derived clothing is hypoallergenic, stretches, repels water, reduces odor and is wrinkle-resistant.

The WSJ article said owners report “a female of medium quality” can sell for $10,000, and one breeder quoted said she was on a five-year timeline to hit profit on her alpacas.

To learn more, visit a Kentucky alpaca farm. You can find nearly 100 commonwealth locations at kentuckyalpacaassociation.org. Nationally, there are 4,000 operations registered with the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association.

A good investment? Could be. Meanwhile, they’re pretty cute, aren’t they?