Friday, July 1, 2011

Finally Friday Long Week-End Edition

Tired doesn't begin to describe how I'm feeling right now. Still, your trusty reporter brings you today's news:

The debt ceiling talks continue. The Dems have agreed to some cuts to Medicaid and Medicare (no specifics) and significant cuts in other spending. Now, they want to close some tax loopholes for the rich and corporations. The GOP is saying no, but the Dems think there's room for a deal. WaPo is more pessimistic, calling it a stalemate. The Senate canceled its July 4 recess so they will be back in Washington next week working on this. Top Dems are trying to paint GOP as irrational. And the GOP says the President is not displaying leadership. Bill Clinton says Dems should stand strong, and President Obama rejected an invitation to the Capitol to hear from conservatives directly, saying he already knows their position.

Health reform proponents are cautiously optimistic about the fact that a conservative judge voted in favor of the law's constitutionality, hoping that bodes well for the Supreme Court. We'll have to wait and see.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners Task Force has voted to support legislation taking insurance brokers' commissions out of the medical loss ratio calculation (the percentage of premium dollars going to health care). This is a pretty big deal, and not a good thing at all. Although we understand that brokers are important, especially to small businesses, the more expenses we take out of the administrative (non-health care) side of the equation, the higher premiums are allowed to go. The full NAIC membership still needs to vote.

And a poll shows that Americans have more trust for the Independent Payment Advisory Board in making Medicare coverage decisions than they do for Congress. The IPAB would make recommendations to Congress that would take effect automatically if Congress didn't act to stop them.

US health care costs are way higher than other countries'. Why, then, aren't health outcomes better?

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

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