Friday, July 8, 2011

Finally Friday Edition

Short weeks are not short; they're just compressed, five days of work into four days! Well, at least it's almost the week-end. But first, the news:

I lead with a story that aches to be told. Orrin Hatch, long time Senator from Utah, said yesterday that the poor should do more to address the deficit. The rich already are doing their share, he said. It's the other 51% of us who are not paying taxes (really?) and not contributing to solving the debt crisis. It's not good enough that we pay payroll taxes, because, after all, we collect three times what we paid into Social Security (really?). I don't think any comment is needed here. This former friend of Ted Kennedy who used to pride himself on being able to forge compromises is so freaked out about the threat of a primary challenge from a Tea Partier that he's pretty much lost all perspective. And that's a polite way of saying what I'm thinking!

The President met with Congressional leaders yesterday about the debt ceiling. Although they are still far apart, they seem to agree to attempt an ambitious plan -- and most importantly, they say they all understand the need to act. The reports are that Speaker Boehner has indicated a willingness to consider closing tax loopholes to generate some revenue. He still has to sell it to his troops, many of whom oppose any compromise. Indeed, some GOP are demanding spending caps and a balanced budget amendment. The President has put entitlements on the table. The Dems are a little nervous that too much in the way of Medicare or, worse, Social Security will be given away. Some don't back President Obama on Social Security in particular. They say Social Security reform should be dealt with separately, on a different track, especially because Social Security does not contribute to the deficit in that it is paid out of its own fund. The President is meeting with Nancy Pelosi privately today, and all of the parties will meet again on Sunday. If you don't think increasing the debt ceiling is important, read this about what happens if we default on our debt.

The fabulous Jonathan Cohn reports on the landmark study I told you about yesterday that found that people are better off with Medicaid than without insurance.

The feds are going to review health insurance premium rate increases in 10 states because those states aren't doing a good enough job of protecting consumers on their own. The feds will temporarily take over the rate review process in 7 states -- Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming -- and will review small group rates in another 3 -- Pennsylvania, Iowa and Virginia.

As you know. the GOP has targeted the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) as the next piece of health reform that they would like to pick off. Interestingly, doctors are asking them to tone down the rhetoric. They are concerned that, if the issue is partisan, a fix cannot happen.

Should hospitals be run by managers or doctors? New research shows that being run by a doctor results in better patient care.

This is a really poignant piece on how difficult it can be for some patients to follow doctor's orders. How do we teach health literacy? That's definitely part of our job as advocates, and I try as best I can. But for some, the obstacles are great.

An ambitious cancer treatment program at Duke has turned out to be a disaster, ending in deaths and lawsuits.

Stem cells are being used to repair hearts. And a man got a new trachea made partly from his own stem cells. What a wonder!

Obesity rates are exploding. I need to set a better example on this, too. It's so tough when you can't eat fruits and veggies. But we all need to try. The report also says that the prevention and public health programs that are part of health reform will help to curb the problem of obesity in America.

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

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