Friday, May 6, 2011

Finally Friday Edition

And not a moment too soon. Here's the news:

It appears now to be certain that the GOP is backing off of its Medicare-cutting proposal. VP Biden met with bipartisan leaders for the first talks, as some GOPers disagreed with abandoning the plan to eviscerate Medicare. But the GOP leadership realizes that they will never get the Dems to agree to a deal on the Medicare cut. Secretary Sebelius said that the Medicare cut would drain seniors' savings and, as a result, they would die sooner. And 50 Dems signed a letter to President Obama urging him to stand strong on Medicare. Instead, the GOP is proposing long-term budget cuts with triggers that would force automatic cuts, none of which would take effect until after the 2012 election. Talks will resume Tuesday. Meanwhile, some Dems want hearings on the effects of the GOP plans for Medicare and Medicaid, keeping the spotlight on a very unpopular position.

The GOP also wants to convert Medicaid to block grants. Here's a debate between experts. Democrats and advocacy groups oppose this.

And the GOP chair of the House Ways and Means Committee also said health reform repeal is dead. He says they will now focus on repealing the individual mandate. Of course, many (if not most) health reform supporters say the system can't work without the mandate.

Speaking of health reform, groups have started to develop new labels for insurance plans so consumers will have a real understanding of what they're buying so they can choose plans in an educated way. Plans have to start by breaking down the costs of maternity care, breast cancer treatment, and diabetes treatment so consumers will have a better idea up front of what will be covered and what will not. This takes effect in March 2012.

Medical societies weighed in yesterday on how to fix the Medicare reimbursement rate -- a vexing problem that's been dogging Congress for awhile now. They also want to be able to balance bill seniors for the difference between what Medicare pays and what they want to charge.

Here's an interesting opinion piece that says that we are diagnosing people who years ago would not have been considered sick, and it's driving up health care costs. So what? Instead, people should suffer with symptoms but no diagnosis or treatment? Interesting.

The continued use of mercury in dental fillings came under attack at an FDA meeting.

A Maryland doctor who treats autism with a controversial drug has had his license suspended.

Naps make you more productive. So can I go take one now?

Have a great day and a great week-end! Jennifer

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