Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday Themes

Miss me? Took a day off from blogging yesterday, but I'm back, and here's the news:

A bipartisan group of Senators known as the Gang of Six that was negotiating on the debt lost a prominent Republican, Tom Coburn. This makes a deal that would include tax increases as well as spending cuts less likely. However, the remaining five say they are still working at it. Meanwhile, the GOP tries to say reaching the debt limit doesn't necessarily mean a default on our debt. And so the lack of urgency felt by the GOP and the voters is hurting the push to raise the debt limit, which the White House says is of critical importance. Seems to me that if we even come close to defaulting on our debt, our debt rating goes down, which makes it harder for us to borrow money, which makes it harder to fund our economy, which could strain and already fragile economy -- and that sounds pretty bad to me. Indeed, Speaker Boehner has admitted that the debt ceiling will be raised, much to the chagrin of the Tea Party.

And I know this isn't directly related to health care, but the Senate has blocked a repeal of oil subsidies. So it's okay to gut Medicare and Medicaid, but when it comes to the billions we give to oil companies, that has to be protected? Really?

Some states are working on a multi-state health care compact as an alternative to health reform. It would mean that the feds would turn over responsibility (and funding) for all government-funded health care to the states to run as they wish. I'd like more details on this please.

The Administration filed its brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that not requiring people to have insurance is like leaving the uninsured on the street after a car accident. Their argument is that, under the GOP alternative would penalize people for not having insurance by withholding health care.

Meanwhile, the Administration has created new pathways to establishment of Accountable Care Organizations -- networks of health care providers that will serve all of the needs of Medicare recipients as a way of reducing cost while improving quality. If you're interested, here's a brief set of FAQs on ACOs.

And employers face an 8.5% increase in health care costs in 2012 -- a burden they will pass on to employees in the form of higher deductibles and copays.

Medical malpractice reform seems bogged down. I predict it will be revived.

States are struggling to pay for aged and disabled community programs.

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

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