Monday, July 25, 2011


Excuse me if I am not up to my usual self today. It's been a sick few days and I'm not a whole lot better. Still, I am here with the news, as best I can:

No matter how bad off I am, it's better than how they're doing in Washington. Since they can't make a deal, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid are working on back-up plans. The Dems plan would increase the debt limit by $2.4 trillion and cut spending by $2.7 trillion without touching entitlements. This deal would not touch taxes, so it's within GOP parameters. Boehner wants a short-term deal, which would have us repeating this misery in about 6 months -- just in time to make it fodder for the 2012 election. Does he think the American people are too stupid to know he's trying to make this an election issue? The Dems refuse a short-term plan. Geithner echoes that sentiment. Boehner says President Obama is afraid of the next election, as if his party's push for a short-term solution that would bring this issue to bear right in the midst of the campaign is not politically motivated? And the GOP wants to include a balanced budget amendment -- a purely symbolic act that would require a years-long ratification process to amend the Constitution, so it would have no meaning for our debt at all. They and we all worry about how the markets are going to react. When they closed on Friday, the parties were still talking about a grand bargain. Now, we'll be lucky to avoid default. The Asian markets already are down. Hillary Clinton tried to calm them. And there's talk that the credit rating agencies may downgrade our credit even if a last minute deal is struck. A bunch of law professors say Obama should act on his own, but others disagree. It's worth noting that all of the professor quotes in that articles are liberal, and they disagree amongst themselves. The President is talking to Boehner by phone and met with Reid and Pelosi last night, but he's largely on the sidelines at the moment. Individuals are making gifts to the government to pay down the debt, although it's not being used for that purpose. And Americans are so unhappy with government that they are starting to give to third parties.

The Institute of Medicine says the federal government should track chronic disease -- mostly heart disease and lung problems. The report is here.

We're beginning to see the growth of accountable care organizations, a health reform tool designed to save money while providing coordinated care. Kaiser Permanente's CEO says he sees a way there -- but then again, he runs the biggest HMO in the country that is notorious for limiting care for people who need expertise outside of his HMO.

How to avoid ticks and other summer health problems. Mosquitos and the city.

Progress is being made on contraceptives for men.

Sallie Mae now offers tuition refund insurance in case the student gets sick -- but only a 75% refund if the illness is mental illness.

A small Kansas town opens a small medical school to try to grow doctors who will stay in that small town.

Is is safe to split pills or take old ones?

That's it for this morning. Hope your day is off to a better start than mine. Jennifer

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