Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blizzard Edition

No snow day for me since I work from my home. But it's a complete white-out outside my window, and there's even lightning and thunder. Nobody's going anywhere today except virtually.

So here's the news.

Politico speculates that the tragedy in Arizona may help soften the health care debate. That would be most welcome. We need to be able to have a debate in this country without drawing Hitler mustaches on our President, or bulls-eyes on Congressional districts.

Still, the GOP seems determined to repeal or -- if necessary -- gut the health reform bill.

Meanwhile, the shooting in Arizona has sparked new calls for better understanding of mental health issues in the hope that attacks like this can become more predictable.

Health economists say that the seeds of health care cost containment are in the reform bill. So if we don't carelessly repeal, and instead study and expand the cost containment measures that work, we may actually begin to rein in costs.

It's flu season. Doctors are urging people to get a flu shot -- especially those with chronic illnesses and the elderly. I got mine in October!

A new Kaiser Family Foundation report says that, even while States struggled with budget deficits, health care for poor kids was maintained due to increased federal reimbursement for Medicaid.

And here's a first-hand account of the barriers for medical students who want to go into primary care, and some of the things that might help. One thing that won't help is a court ruling that medical residents are employees, subject to paying Social Security tax, rather than being classified as students.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Congress can prohibit felons from wearing body armor like bullet proof vests. What does this have to do with health care, you ask? The pundits are saying that the Court seems not to want to curtail Congress's power to regulate commerce -- the very power that underlies the health reform law. So the commentators are saying that this ruling looks good for health reform. We'll see.

Meanwhile, the California Insurance Commissioner is taking a hard look at some very large premium increases that he thinks may be excessive. We hope other states will follow.

A new study shows a connection between second-hand smoke and high blood pressure in kids. If I could quit a 3 pack a day habit after 20 years, so can you!

And here in Connecticut, the SustiNet Board has submitted its final report to the legislature. SustiNet is Connecticut's version of health reform that would work with federal reform to increase coverage to many who cannot afford alternatives. SustiNet would be a health plan for state employees, Medicaid and CHIP recipients, and ultimately municipalities and small businesses that would provide comprehensive coverage at a lower cost because the risks would be spread over a much larger pool. The obstacle is cost, although some proponents believe SustiNet would actually save the State money by doing what the State already has to do but for less money.

And that's the news on a day when the weather eclipses everything else. Brrrrr. Jennifer

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