Which States Have the Healthiest Budgets?

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Posted by JR Olson | Posted in Business, Current Events | Posted on 21-09-2014

The Great Recession of 2009 not only impacted the economic well-being of the country, but also took its toll on the budgets of various states. States hardest hit by the recession include California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia. The problems shared by these states include rising Medicaid spending, underfunded state pension accounts, and the rising federal deficit.

The states that have the healthiest budgets and fiscal outlooks include South Dakota, Iowa, Tennessee, Nebraska and North Carolina, based on combined level of debt and the amount of unfunded pension liabilities. Here’s a more in-depth look at what makes these states fiscally sound relative to the other states.

South Dakota

South Dakota closed its most recent fiscal year with a budget surplus for the second consecutive year. The state exceeded projected revenues by nearly $14 million in 2013 and limited it’s spending to $10 million less than what was appropriated. Maintaining a balanced and disciplined budget is one of the priorities of the state’s current administration and that has manifested itself in lower spending and increased revenues, not only from tax receipts but also revenues from property taxes and those derived from insurance companies operating in South Dakota.

Iowa

Iowa is another state that has maintained budget surpluses in this troubling economic climate. The state is sitting on a surplus of $600-$700 million and has an additional $1 billion held in reserve accounts. The state’s philosophy of hold-the-line spending for its programs and departments allows the state to maintain basic service levels for its residents and also allows for flexibility in expanding other programs, such as a homeowner buying program for returning veterans.

Tennessee

The budget for the State of Tennessee has grown from $1.2 billion in 1970-71 to an estimated $31.1 billion for 2012-13, a growth of nearly 2,500 percent. The state budgets of the last two years have been going down, from a high of $31.73 billion in 2010-11 to $31.68 billion (a decrease of 0.15 percent) for 2011-12 and $31.1 billion estimated for 2012-13 (a decrease of 1.83 percent). Across the board budgetary reductions over the past five years (2008-2013) have resulted in savings in spending of nearly $1.5 million.

Nebraska

Nebraska has a total state budget of $7 billion and has an anticipated surplus of $81 billion planned for its upcoming budget. This turnaround for the state and its 1.8 million residents is due in part to the government reversing crippling deficits from years past and maintaining discipline in its spending priorities, as evidenced by Governor Dave Heineman’s recent line-item veto of $44.6 million from the proposed biennial budget.

North Carolina

The Great Recession caused many in North Carolina to fear drastic cuts in spending in many programs that provide support for North Carolinians. A projected surplus of $103 million over budgeted revenue forecasts by the end of June 2013 means the state faces the prospect of having more money heading into its next budget period, not less. The state is looking at revenue increases of 3.6 and 4.1 percent in 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively.

Byline

Chance Sheridan writes on Banking, Economics, Financial Regulation, Securities Litigation and other kindred topics.

The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice Allegations Made in the U.S.

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Posted by JR Olson | Posted in Health And Fitness | Posted on 21-09-2014

Medical malpractice blights the good reputation of hospitals and doctors, and patients who have been wronged often feel compelled to file a lawsuit. Patients who feel their doctor did not properly treat them can speak to an attorney to discuss their case, and determine if the doctor acted appropriately. Medical malpractice cases should not be taken lightly. Here are some of the common types of medical malpractice allegations made in the United States.

Medication Errors

Medication errors commonly happen when a patient feels they were given the wrong medication, or the wrong dosage of a prescription. Sometimes this is caused by a failure of the pharmacist to read the doctor’s handwriting. This is why many doctors now use computer systems to order medication instead of writing up a prescription.

Diagnosis Failure

Some patients will delay treatments or will receive improper treatments due to a misdiagnosis from the doctor. This claim is common for patients who have been given a cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Patients often receive a misdiagnosis or erroneous treatments as the medical staff fails to inform them of proper follow-up procedures and other things. The other reason for these lawsuits is often related to the required treatments that patients are unable to receive or afford. Several hospitals are enacting protocols to avoid having patients end up with misdiagnosis.

Negligence

This claim is filed when a patient is injured, or if they were not supervised properly. This occurs often when medical students are practicing on patients, or when a patient in the hospital does not receive appropriate monitoring.

Delayed Treatment

If a patient feels their treatment was delayed, they will file this claim. If the treatments needed are unnecessarily delayed, it can cause problems for a patient’s recovery. In 39 percent of these cases, hospitals lose the claim.

Unexpected Death

There are certain cases where death is unavoidable, which can be difficult for family members to recover from. There are some cases where a patient was given medication they were allergic to, without the doctor’s knowledge of the condition. While it can be tough to prove who was at fault for a death like this, failure for a doctor to prevent the death if possible will lead to a lawsuit.

No Consent

If a patient was given a treatment they did not authorize, they will file a no consent treatment. These cases correlate with unexpected death cases, as a patient could die from a surgery or from the anesthesia. If the patient did not consult with their family before the surgery, the family may feel they did not authorize consent for the treatment.

Lack of Credentials

While most patients trust their doctors, there are situations where a doctor may not have adequate training or the technical skill needed to properly treat that patient. Lack of proper credentials can be filed against a doctor who does not have a lot of experience or is lacking in skills needed to correctly treat the patient.

Byline

In addition to Medical Malpractice, Ralph Wright writes on Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, Intellectual Property and other associated topics.

A Look at the Effects of Smoking While Pregnant

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Posted by JR Olson | Posted in Health And Fitness | Posted on 20-09-2014

Smoking is a bad but common habit. NBC News reports that approximately 45 million Americans smoke; this accounts for 1 in 5 people. Many smokers try to quit, but quitting isn’t easy. It takes an average of 3 to 5 attempts and is more difficult for people who have depression or anxiety disorders.

Unfortunately, not even the motivation of pregnancy is enough for some people to quit: 1 in 10 pregnant women smoke. This not only puts their health in danger, it also puts the health of their unborn child in serious danger.

The Danger of Smoking While Pregnant

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the dangers of smoking during pregnancy are many. In fact, smoking even makes it harder for a woman to get pregnant.

After a child is conceived, the dangers continue. There is an increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth if a pregnant woman smokes. There could be problems with the placenta, such as separation from the womb (the placenta is where the baby gets food and oxygen during pregnancy). Premature birth is also very possible, which can lead to low birth weight, underdeveloped lungs, and even death. Smoking creates a greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (though SIDS often has no known cause, smoking increases its likelihood). Smoking can also increase the baby’s heart rate and decrease the oxygen available to the baby. There is also an increased risk of birth defects, such as cleft palates.

Though the above risks correspond with the number of cigarettes smoked each day (smoking more increases the risk), no amount of smoking is ever considered safe while pregnant. Even half a pack a day, per the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, is enough to increase the risk of a baby being born with extra, missing, or webbed fingers and toes by 30 percent.

The Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking is beneficial to a person’s health in numerous ways. Quitting decreases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and lung disorders, just to name a few. Quitting smoking will also give a parent more energy and increase life expectancy. Quitting smoking during pregnancy will increase the level of oxygen for the baby, decrease the risk of premature birth, and decrease the risk of birth defects.

Ways to Quit Smoking

According to US News, 1.3 million smokers successfully quit each year. Of those who continue smoking, 70 percent want to quit. Yet, even with this desire, quitting rates are dismal: 95 percent of those who don’t participate in a smoking cessation program fail to quit.

In addition to a program, the American Cancer Society also suggests: making a decision to quit and preparing to quit (this may involve decreasing the amount of cigarettes smoked each day); picking an actual day to quit and not smoking at all that day; dealing with withdrawal through nicotine patches, gum, and eating (for instance, munching on carrot sticks can offer a distraction); and maintaining a tobacco-free lifestyle (this may involve avoiding situations where smoking occurs, never keeping cigarettes in the house, and asking those nearby not to light up).

Smoking is a dangerous habit; it can do a great deal of damage to adults, teens, and even the unborn.  The good news is that the benefits of quitting begin almost immediately, providing yet one more reason to extinguish all cigarettes for good.

Byline

Lonnie Matheson writes on a variety of complicated issues such as Medical Malpractice, Birth Injuries, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Contracts and other topics as well.