Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hump Day Headlines

My body thinks it's a day to stay in bed, but we have interns and stuff to do today, so that's not going to happen. And first, I have to give you the news:

President Obama will give a speech this afternoon in which he will lay out his plan to address the federal debt. The possibilities are many, from raising the age of eligibility to increasing premiums and charging copays. It won't be as drastic as the GOP plan, which would end Medicare and simply provide seniors with a subsidy to purchase private insurance. But I think it signals that we can expect changes to Medicare for those of us who aren't quite old enough to need it yet. The President will also include tax reform in his budget proposal, unlike the GOP, which does nothing to raise taxes. GOP Speaker Boehner says tax increases are a non-starter. It seems only the poor and middle class can be asked to sacrifice under a GOP plan. Meanwhile, the left is pretty unhappy with President Obama right now, claiming that cutting the deficit isn't as important as saving jobs. The Wall St. Journal predicts that both the right and the left will be unhappy with the President's speech today. And the Dems in the House will be offering their own plan for 2012.

Meanwhile, the details of the 2011 budget came out yesterday (see my last post) and the House GOP is having to push some to round up enough votes to pass it. You see, with all those cuts to the poor and middle class, there are some who don't think it cut enough. Here's an agency-by-agency guide to the 2011 budget cuts. The two health reform program cuts are funding to start co-ops and funding to allow people to opt-out of expensive employer-sponsored insurance and get something akin to a voucher to buy more affordable insurance on the Exchanges. The author if the second of these says he will vote against the budget deal.

There's also the fact that we're about to hit the federal debt ceiling -- we would destroy our and other economies if we fail to raise it, but several in Congress say they won't vote to raise it without even more big budget cuts.

How much more will be cut from health care, Medicare, Medicaid, community health centers, and the like, before all of this cutting is over?

Possible Presidential candidate Haley Barbour says people have to pay a greater share of their medical costs. Apparently, he hasn't talked to too many people with chronic illnesses, whose out of pocket costs are already staggering.

In other news, the White House launched an initiative yesterday to reduce hospital errors and acquired infections.

The life of kids with chronic illnesses -- a childhood of limitations, says USA Today.

Chronic illness self-management, starting with arthritis, is being taught to patients -- a great program.

Americans rate their health care highly -- but more so if they have more income. Another publication (The Hill) interprets the results of this study differently, as a negative take on the quality of health care in America.

Emergency rooms provide care of last resort for the mentally ill, who have increasingly difficult time getting care.

And in Connecticut, advocates push for a federal option to expand home care to the elderly and disabled.

A California man who's a quadriplegic is running out of money and would rather die in his home than in a nursing home. This is a very moving story.

Electronic medical records may help with patient safety and patient care, reducing costs.

And that's today's news. Have a great day. Jennifer

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