Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Themes

More snow. Unreal. But life must go on, so here's today's news:

The House GOP has begun holding hearings on health reform. The House Ways and Means Committee heard from business owners who testified that reform will hurt jobs. The Budget Committee heard from the Medicare chief actuary, who questions some of the Obama administration's financial assumptions and projections. Expect the House to keep this up pretty consistently for the next two years. And the Obama administration countered with business owners who say health reform is great for their business, for creating jobs, and with economists who argue that health reform will save money. What's an average Joe to make of all of this? Pretty hard to take sides in a battle of the experts. I'm going to keep looking at what reform is doing for the people who call me for help. For me, that's my best guide. Here's more on the Congressional hearings from Politico.

GOP Senators have introduced the repeal bill in anticipation of forcing a vote, probably by tacking it on as an amendment to some other law that the Democrats want. Meanwhile, Democrats have introduced a malpractice reform bill. And lawmakers are targeting the Medicare spending board for elimination. This is one of the major cost-cutting measures in the health reform law. Meanwhile, Democrats are moving to eliminate the 1099 reporting provision -- something everyone pretty much agrees needs to go.

And House Speaker and GOP leader John Boehner will be giving a keynote address to the annual conference of health insurance lobbyists. What's wrong with this picture?

Meanwhile, some conservative Democrats who initially opposed health reform are coming around to supporting it as their constituents urge them to oppose repeal.

The US Court of Appeals that covers Virginia has promised a quick ruling on health reform. Oral argument will be in May.

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief Donald Berwick has been renominated by the White House. He took office under a recess appointment because the GOP refused to hold hearings on his nomination. Expect a full hearing in the Senate Finance Committee that may be more about health reform than it is about Dr. Berwick. Dr. Berwick is controversial; Republicans say he favors rationing health care -- a charge he has disputed.

Wellpoint -- which owns Anthem BCBS -- sees record profits once again. According to the Wall St. Journal, the profits are slightly down, but they exceed expectations. And why was it that they needed these premium increases?

Lawmakers in California are upset about what it costs to provide health care to prisoners. They're considering early release for prisoners with chronic illnesses. And here I never thought chronic illness would be a plus for some sufferers!

Meanwhile, the CDC says diabetes is on the rise. Considering what diabetes costs us all, this is bad news, but good incentive to continue to create wellness program and access to preventive care. Here's more.

In mental health news, two new studies. College freshman are suffering record stress levels. And abortion does NOT create a mental health threat.

And that's what I have for you today! Have a good one and stay warm and dry. Jennifer

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