Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hump Day Already? Edition

So much to do, but first, the news:

Excuse me for being pedestrian, but I'm still reeling from our Governor's veto of a bill that would have allowed for public hearings if a health insurance company raised its premium rates more than 10 percent. The reasons don't hold up under scrutiny. Very sad, very bad move.

On the other hand, we are now the first state in the nation to require paid sick leave -- up to 40 hours per year -- for service workers like waitstaff.

The NY Times opines that we must preserve Medicaid, health care for the poor and elderly in America.

Onto the debt talks, the President has summoned Congressional leaders to the White House for talks. He says he's willing to talk about Medicare and Medicaid if the GOP will talk about closing tax loopholes for the very rich. He apparently met in secret with Speaker Boehner on Sunday. He's also rejected the idea of a short-term fix which would just delay the inevitable show-down. But we're still at a stalemate -- GOP says they can't pass a bill with tax cuts and the Dems say they can't pass a bill without them. Ezra Klein says the Dems look like they're willing to compromise by putting health care on the table, but the GOP looks unbending (as they are). This is a strategy to try to blame the deadlock on the GOP, and it's working. The GOP have dug in their heels, with Speaker Boehner saying talks are a waste until the President gets reality, meaning until the President drops any and all tax tweaks -- loopholes for private jets and yachts, even. Senator McConnell simply responds by inviting the President to Capitol Hill. And GOP Senator Jeff Sessions says asking millionaires to pay their share of the deficit is "pathetic." How pathetic is that? We have two weeks to get this done; can they? Will they? It's not looking good for anybody from where I sit. Even GOP commentators are frustrated that the GOP won't accept a deal that involves huge budget cuts, cuts to Medicaid and Medicare -- everything they wanted -- all over closing a few tax loopholes.

One of the victims of the GOP is Don Berwick, a true visionary in health care, who was made head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on a recess appointment because the GOP refused to confirm him. Unless the GOP changes course -- and what chance of that is there? -- he can't stay past December. He's using every minute of his tenure to make a difference, but someone like him should not be pushed out. Still, the GOP has made no progress on their repeal and replace mantra. But states are moving slowly to set up exchanges. Here are some perspectives on what people are looking for in the exchange regulations, which are expected to be issued this week.

The CDC says colorectal cancer screenings are working to reduce the incidence of colon cancer.

Meanwhile, in Florida, there's a new law that says that pain clinics can't sell narcotics. I didn't know the clinics themselves were selling; in most states, they can prescribe, but you take your prescription to a pharmacy. Seems a little strange to me to have clinics selling drugs directly. On the other hand, I know that the backlash of this will be that it will be harder and harder for patients with chronic pain to get the help they need.

A new study suggests that doctors are too quick to use angioplasty and stenting to treat heart disease.

Be nice to your doctor; it may mean you get better care.

And on that note, I close. Have a great day! Jennifer

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