Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hump Day Headlines

So, let's see what goodness the news has in store for us today:

We're into the Presidential campaign, and while we do not endorse any candidates, we do take positions on health policy. Two nights ago, the GOP candidates "debated." It was more like a love-fest, and a promise from all of them to repeal health reform. We strongly oppose such repeal. So far, reform has already helped thousands of people -- kids who can stay on their parents' policies, about 20,000 on the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (a GOP idea), closing the Medicare drug benefit doughnut hole -- but the real changes happen in 2014. If we repeal the law before then, we will never see what happens to our health and our economy when people with pre-existing conditions are covered, subsidies help the middle class buy insurance, there is a minimum basic coverage, and out of pockets costs are capped. Maybe, when it's all implemented, we will find areas that need tweaking. But the status quo before the health law was passed was horrible, with premiums rising and fewer and fewer people being insured. Now, we're starting to see insurers reduce premiums (Aetna) and pay rebates (CA Blue Shield). We needed to do something, and what we did was a compromise that includes many GOP proposals, even though, in the end, they voted against it. Let's see how it plays out. If it does like in Massachusetts, where there's near 100% insureds, we will have taken an important positive step -- not the be all and end all, but better than nothing.

With the economy slipping, Washington should be looking for ways to cut the deficit while adding jobs. VP Biden's group is in heavy negotiations while the GOP in the House continue to cut basic food assistance to woman and infants. Dems are still saying there will be no cuts to Medicare. Indeed, they say that a lot. Meanwhile, GOP members demand ... you guessed it ... cuts to Medicare. VP Biden expects a deal by the end of this month. That would be good, because the Federal Reserve Chairman is warning that the failure to increase the debt limit would be very bad for the economy.

The GOP thought the Obama Administration was giving waivers from the provisions of the health reform law that increase annual benefits limits in a biased manner, to help unions and other Dem friends, so they requested a GAO report -- and the GAO says the waivers have been granted in a proper and unbiased manner.

Health savings accounts are growing even though the health reform law should be cutting back on them with medical loss ratio rules and

GOP Governors want changes in the Medicaid rules that allow them to cut their programs and, thus, cut their budgets.

Connecticut state employees are voting on budget-cutting proposals, including a shift to value-based health care. Here's a great explanation of the value-based health care program by our friend Comptroller Kevin Lembo.

I love this. A laughter club. I bet it is a great boon to health. I think I need to start one of my own.

And here's an important question: Where does a patient's responsibility for their health begin? We certainly know that better informed patients and careful medication management can reduce costs.

Most malpractice cases involve problems in hospitals, so most focus on addressing medical errors pertains to hospitals, too. It's time to focus on medical errors in the outpatient setting, as well.

Childhood diseases return as parents refuse vaccines. This could get scary.

The FDA has issued new rules on sunscreen.

Are we still arguing about public breast feeding? I guess so.

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

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