Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Flight to Mars Week Day Three

Okay! I'm starting to get really excited. Two more days and I'll be on a plane to Seattle on my way to see great friends and hear great music -- I'm up for this. But first, the news.

We still don't have a budget. We started the day yesterday with what some thought was a deal to cut $33 billion, but then the GOP increased their goal to $40 billion. Here's a blow-by-blow of yesterday's negotiations. The House GOP and Senate Dems criticized each other, and the President scolded the GOP and said it's time to act like grown-ups. Speaker Boehner warned his colleagues that the Dems are likely winners if there's a shut-down. Under Senate rules for votes, unless they come up with some trick that I don't know about, a shut-down is now inevitable. The states are worried about what happens if the flow of federal dollars stops for things like unemployment. Federal agencies are bracing for the impact, as well. Note that public safety functions are exempt from shut-down, so don't worry about things like that. But if you were planning on touring the Smithsonian this week-end, I think you're out of luck. On the other hand, if you're a member of Congress, you're likely to still get your paycheck. But if you're in the military, or work for the federal government in other capacities, you may not. The NY Times says this is an ideological battle for Republicans, not one about money. There are so many stories about this that I can't find room for them all. So here's Politico's version of yesterday's negotiations.

And the 2012 budget that the GOP announced yesterday -- the one that would completely change Medicaid and Medicare, shifting the costs to us consumers -- also drew comment. The proposal is too lacking in detail for the Congressional Budget Office to "score" it and tell us what it would really save. But the CBO did say that seniors will pay much more for Medicare under the GOP plan. I'm deeply troubled by the huge tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations while essentially eliminating Medicare as we know it, essentially turning it into a voucher system. Some GOPers are worried, too, and are not jumping on this band wagon quite yet. The LA Times says this is a budget about Republican values, not about money. Even the Wall St. Journal agrees that it's about a philosophy of smaller government, not just about money. But the Wall St. Journal supports the plan, even though it recognizes that Medicare costs would rise for many Americans under the GOP plan. Here's another critique. And here's WaPo's editorial both critiquing the GOP budget and criticizing the President for not having a plan to control the costs of entitlements. Here's an interactive feature that allows you to compare the GOP budget with the President's budget for 2012. And here's a comic-video depiction. And here's an analysis of the numbers.

And providers are calling foul, as the GOP plan eliminates the reform law's premium subsidies, so not everyone would have insurance, which makes the reform package far less acceptable to providers (not to mention insurers). And since Medicare doesn't pay for nursing home care, cutting Medicaid will most likely have its greatest impact on seniors.

But finally, the Senate voted to repeal the 1099 bookkeeping problem from the health reform law, so everybody's happy about that. It now goes to the President, who will sign it.

A poll shows that Massachusetts residents are happy with their health reform plan, upon which the federal plan is based.

A new antibiotic to treat c-difficile. If you've ever had c-diff, you know how FABULOUS this is!

The wife of a man who needed a new kidney asked on Facebook -- and got a donor!

And that's a marathon news morning for you! Have a great day! Jennifer

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