Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday's Themes

Oh, boy, are we ever busy here at Advocacy for Patients. Let me get right to it.

The good news is that Americans' life expectancy has gotten even longer, to over 78 years old.

As for the budget, the House GOP says the next step is for the Senate to pass its own spending bill so then the House and Senate can negotiate a compromise. However, the Democrats do not appear to have a cohesive strategy. And the GOP is split between the old guard and the Tea Partiers. Can the House pass a budget that does not include "riders" for social issues like defunding health reform and Planned Parenthood? If not, is this really about deficits? Senate Democrats show strong support for Planned Parenthood.

And in a strange twist, the House GOP wants to cut the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans -- um, isn't that the opposite of budget cutting?

Senator Orrin Hatch says the health reform law is too bad to be fixed, and instead, it must be repealed. Senator Hatch is fighting for his political life, trying to appeal to the Tea Partiers, which may explain comments like this one. However, Seniors are benefiting from the law; 150,000 of them have received free wellness visits under the health reform.

Here's the fact-checker on whether health reform's Medicare savings really both preserves Medicare and helps pay for health reform.

A class action lawsuit was filed to challenge Pennsylvania's elimination of its low-income health benefits plan. And in a dispute about Medicaid rate regulations that would increase provider reimbursement so as to keep enough providers in the program, the GOP is concerned that this amounts to new mandatory spending for the states.

The wonderful Jonathan Cohn discusses the Healthy Indiana program, which conservatives claim reflects their values, but which also reflects some liberal ideals. It has a high deductible with something akin to a health savings account, but it also pays higher reimbursement rates to providers than Medicare, and it's costing the state a lot of money. This is worth a look especially in light of the possibility that Indiana Governor Daniels appears to be a contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

California Blue Shield has withdrawn its rate hike amidst criticism that it would have put the increase over 87 percent for the year. This would have been its third rate increase since last October. They -- and other insurers -- say health care utilization is lower than anticipated.

The science between the connection between health and stress. Proving what we already know, that the connection is real and powerful.

And that's this morning's news. Have a great day. Jennifer

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