Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday Themes

This is one of those weeks that seems to have an extra day in it. Here's the news:

It seems like the groundwork for a budget compromise has been laid, but compromise is a tough sell for the Tea Partiers in the House. The leadership and White House apparently have agreed to $33 billion in cuts, although they haven't agreed on exactly what to cut in order to get there. Tea Partiers are still calling for no compromise, and there's still that tricky issue of defunding health reform, environmental regulations, and Planned Parenthood. Dems still say they will block any such efforts. Senator Harkin says the Senate will not allow defunding of health reform. But Tea Partiers plan a demonstration outside the Capitol today to show GOP leadership that they are not interested in compromise. But VP Biden says a deal has been made. I guess we'll see.

Of course, this is just the 2011 budget. The 2012 budget brings a new set of issues. GOP budget chief Paul Ryan says that their proposal won't cut Social Security, but it will tackle Medicaid and Medicare.

The House GOP freshmen have decided to target AARP over its support of health reform. They claim that AARP has a conflict of interest because it sells Medicare supplemental policies. I suspect it's not really smart to try to take on AARP.

And in a new strategy to defund reform, House GOP want to subject the long-term funding authorized by the health reform law to the annual appropriations process, where they could kill the funding much more easily. Senate Dems surely would block this move.

Virginia's Attorney General says his health reform lawsuit has a 60% chance of prevailing.

Long-awaited regulations on accountable care organizations are expected to be released today. Want to know the basics about accountable care organizations or ACO's? Read FAQs here.

Under health reform, adults up to 133% of the federal poverty level will become eligible for Medicaid. In some states, like Connecticut, adults above that level already are covered, at a cost that's split evenly between the state and federal governments. Advocates are concerned that, when health reform is fully implemented, people above 133% of the federal poverty level will be moved from Medicaid to a subsidized private insurance policy through the Exchange. The concern is that this may not be as affordable for these consumers. So they support -- and I agree -- the creation of a Basic Health Program, which is another option under health reform. This Program would be federally funded. Providers oppose it because reimbursement rates under government-funded programs tend to be low.

As many as 1 in 5 people don't take prescribed medications because of the cost. This poses a severe health issue as people with chronic illnesses fail to follow doctor's orders due to cost. If you have trouble affording your meds, go to NeedyMeds, click on brand name or generic, find your medication by letter of the alphabet, and apply to get it free or at a discount.

A new initiative has been launched to encourage women to be tested for heart disease.

And that's it for this Thursday morning. Have a great day. Jennifer

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