Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hump Day Headlines

Ah, it's Hump Day of Birthday Week. Have an appeal hearing in the AM and a new intern starting. So better get the news gathering out of the way. Here goes:

The GOP has finally made its ransom demand for increasing the debt ceiling: $2.5 trillion in cuts. How many government employees will lose jobs? How many citizens will lose services? When you take that much money out of an ailing economy, doesn't it weaken the economy? The GOP is still working on trickle down economics, with members proposing tax CUTS when the debt is so huge and we're trying to cut the deficit. It didn't work for Reagan, it's never worked, and it won't work now. Still, GOP Speaker Boehner accepts a check from the government for more than $2000 per month for expenses -- without any kind of showing that he's spending it on legit reimbursable items. And GOP freshmen have spent big on offices. When do they tighten their belts? Think I'm being to harsh by calling it ransom? Larry Summers says the GOP is holding us hostage, so I'm in illustrious company. Americans are concerned about raising the debt limit, but also about defaulting on our debt. But in case the stalemate can't be broken, the GOP is considering a short-term increase to the debt limit. Meanwhile, the White House says the Senate jobs bill costs too much, although it agrees in principle with its aims. You just can't have it all!

Ezra Klein has a really interesting piece on health care, showing that the US spends more than most countries -- even those with government-funded insurance or health care -- and shows that the GOP plans for privitization of Medicare have been tried with Part D and shown to fail. The health reform law has a different strategy, but it's never been tried on a huge scale before. And the one thing that might fix the problem -- single payer health care -- is something we can hardly talk about in America. And there's opposition even among Dems to the health reform tools that are aimed at controlling costs in Medicare.

The feds made $40 million available to states for chronic disease prevention under health reform yesterday.

30% of employers may drop employer-sponsored health insurance in 2014 when health reform takes full effect. But many of these are the employers like McDonalds that provide limited benefit plans (called mini-meds) that provide as little as $1000 per year of coverage.

Blue Shield of California -- a brutal "nonprofit" insurer that has been criticized for massive rate increases in recent years, says it will cap earnings and pay rebates to policyholders.

The largest nurses union rallied for health care funding yesterday at the US Chamber of Commerce building. The Chamber of Commerce opposes health reform.

Death rates among African Americans are way higher than for whites. The federal government is trying to address this disparity. About time.

Here's an interview with Don Berwick, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and, in my view, one of the health care visionaries of our time. The GOP won't confirm his nomination, so he was given his job in a recess appointment that will expire soon. I sure hope we don't lose him.

And that's it for this morning. Have a great day! Jennifer

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