Arsenic Levels Elevated in U.S. Wines

Denise Wilson, PhD, a professor at the University of Washington evaluated 65 red wines from California, New York, Washington and Oregon and found they all contained the heavy metal poison arsenic at levels of 10 parts per billion or greater. Lead was found in 58% of the wines. This would coincide with two studies published in the Journal of Environmental Health studies that showed that many U. S. Wines and beverages contained more than the limit of 10 parts per billion.

Dr. Wilson went on to say that individuals who consumed 1-2 glasses of wine per day using the same winery for their beverage should be aware of the arsenic levels of the water that supplies that winery. She counseled individuals to be aware of their total diet and its potential heavy metal content and try to limit products known to be high in arsenic and heavy metals. Dr. Wilson pointed out that the cumulative effect of these metals is very difficult to implicate as the cause of an illness but it undoubtedly has an effect. Scientists are far better at implicating heavy metals as the cause of illness in acute toxic exposure rather than a cumulative dosage.

The online periodical “Deadstate” in its March 21, 2015 issue at published a complete list of “wine brands that have allegedly been poisoning you with arsenic.” This is a list of inexpensive California wines cited in a class action suit initiated by the law firm of Kabatec Brown Kellner. They stated, “These wineries have long known about the serious health risks their products pose to customers. Instead of reducing the exposure to acceptable levels, the defendants recklessly engage in a pattern and practice of selling arsenic tainted wine to California consumers.”

There has been little research and publication in peer review journals of the presence of or health effects of heavy metals in our food and beverages. The degree of oversight of these products has been limited due to funding and lobbying of the industries. It’s probably time for a bit closer look at these allegations especially where they pertain to women of child bearing age and children. Arsenic has been detected in apple and grape juices, milk, bottled water, infant formula and cereal bars. Consumers deserve a closer look at these issues and transparency in the findings.

There is No Hope for Ending Medicare Fraud

South Florida is apparently a hotbed for criminal Medicare fraud. It is easy theft with crime rings accessing Medicare numbers of the elderly in Dade County and Broward and setting up durable medical equipment companies that bill our local Medicare subsidiary for equipment that doesn’t exist. Having said that, yesterday I received a Medicare Summary of Benefits letter for my mother at my home. She is almost 90 years old and my brother and I are her legal guardians and handle all her financial affairs while she resides in a skilled nursing facility in northern Palm Beach County, Florida. We moved her to this excellent campus in May of 2015 from a facility in Broward County and by submitting a change of address notice to the US Post Office, all her mail now comes to me. The official Medicare Benefits Summary stated that on September 11, 2015 a claim had been received for a wheelchair for my mom for $280 from a durable medical equipment company in Miami, Florida. The ordering physician was her former physician at her former Broward County skilled nursing facility. I thought it was strange that a bill would be submitted for a wheelchair four months after she was gone from that facility so I tried to reach the doctor. I was told that he was no longer at that facility. I next called my mom and asked her if she had received a new wheelchair in the last few months and she just did not remember if she had or not. I had no knowledge of it but the move from one facility to another accompanied by closing down her apartment in the assisted living section had been tumultuous and disorderly.

I then called the Medicare Fraud number listed on the piece of mail, 1-800- Medicare. The call was answered by an automated attendant who did not list “Fraud Report” as one of the choices so I pressed 5 for “other.” I was placed on hold for five minutes and a pleasant gentleman asked me why I was calling. I explained and he politely asked me to please hold on. Another five minutes elapsed before he got back on the line and apologized for the delay. He started asking me personal questions about my mother for security purposes such as her address, phone number, date of birth, Medicare number. He then asked me to hold on while he prepared a report and another seven minutes elapsed. He told me he would be transferring my call to a supervisory claims officer and I held on again.

It took five or more minutes before a woman got on the phone and repeated the same questions I had already been asked and answered. I tried to explain the purpose of the call and my relationship to my mother but she politely silenced me and told me that she had the original agent’s summary and knew the reason for the call. She asked me to hold on while she looked up the claim and another ten minutes elapsed. When she returned she told me that Medicare paid durable medical equipment claims monthly for up to twelve months and possibly this was a late claim for a 13th month. I then asked her what type of non-motorized wheelchair could possibly cost 12 X $280. I explained to her that all I was interested in was reporting a suspicious claim. She told me that without me forwarding her a copy of my Power of Attorney form she would not be able to reveal any claims history information to me. I told her I wasn’t asking for her to reveal any information but was just trying to report a suspicious Medicare claim. She responded that the claim had been denied and not paid so why was I making such a fuss in the first place. Having invested almost an hour trying to be a responsible citizen I gave up. If this is the type of system we as citizens put in place and tolerate then we deserve to be ripped off!