Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Flight to Mars Week Day Two

Only four days to Flight to Mars. Today is the birthday of my great friend Mike McCready. Today's news is dedicated to him. But note that he's not responsible for how crappy the news is!

The GOP 2012 budget would completely remake Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid would come in the form of block grants that would give the states discretion on how to spend it. Medicare would become a system whereby you are given an insurance subsidy to buy your own insurance. Both of these would shift costs to the consumer. Happy now? This proposal will be made public today, and will also contain changes to the tax code. Ezra Klein explains what this proposal actually will do. And here's a primer on what the Medicare change would mean. He says the Medicare allotment would not cover the full cost. And Medicaid block grants will shrink over time. The author of this plan is Republican Paul Ryan. Here's his pitch in his own words. Just tell me one thing -- why are we cutting Medicaid and Medicare while lowering the top tax rate on both individuals and corporations? Dem governors oppose the Medicaid proposal.

Of course, first, we need a budget for the rest of 2011. Although it looked like there was a deal over the week-end, now House GOP are demanding more than the $33 billion in cuts that Dems could support. The White House met with leaders, but they're also readying contingency plans for a government shut-down. And the GOP is proposing a one-week extension with $12 billion in more cuts that would fund the Pentagon through the end of the fiscal year (September). Indeed, the GOP would increase the Pentagon's budget while cutting social programs. Since there's a rule that any legislation has to be public on the web for 72 hours before a vote, the deadline is really tonight -- if there's no deal, there will be a shut-down. Voters are split on who to blame. Government contractors ready for a shut-down. The GOP has its own shut-down plan. They continue to blame Democrats and the President. There's some indication that backing off of the $33 billion deal came as Republicans warned Speaker Boehner that they would not vote for a compromise.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood makes its case against defunding, establishing that it provides ob/gyn care to women -- especially poor women -- all over the United States. They have 41 Senators ready to vote against defunding -- enough to sustain a filibuster if defunding is part of any budget.

A leukemia patient who asked to work from home during treatment is fired instead. This happens all the time. If attendance is an essential function of your job and you can't get to work, you can get fired. This woman is considering a lawsuit. Nice to know, though, that her bosses wish her a speedy recovery.

Doctors make patients sign contracts to get pain meds, violating the relationship of trust. Note our wonderful Joan Crowley's story in this article.

People are still struggling to get mental health benefits, despite the parity law.

A brain study shows that drug addiction and food addiction are very similar. I could have told them that.

Long work hours may harm your health. DUH!

Here's a happy tale, a guy with cerebral palsy who may be getting his own show on the Oprah Network. And a lovely piece by a cancer doctors whose wife got cancer, and how it changed his perceptions and practices.

Some people don't need all that much sleep. I'm jealous.

And that's today's news. Happy birthday to Mike McCready! Jennifer

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