Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

Two days to the move and counting. The copier and fax are working. I actually have a couple of days now to just finish up packing and then we're out of here -- and I get my house back! I can't wait, both to move in and to have everybody else move out!

But first, the news.

Get ready for round 2, says the NY Times. Congress will be getting back to work next week and are expected to continue to pursue polarized agendas. The GOP will attack labor and environmental regulations they believe hurt jobs. They also want funds spent on disasters like Hurricane Irene to be offset by spending cuts. Geez, I hope this is wrong, because I don't think any of us out here can stand more partisan gridlock in light of the problems our country faces. It appears there won't be budget fights -- at least, until November, when we see what the super-committee has or hasn't done. Some report that liberals were the most vocal group at summer Town Hall meetings. The White House is finalizing a jobs plan, with tax breaks to employers who hire and funding for training new employees. For too many people, recession has become a way of life.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that most uninsured don't understand the health reform law or what it's going to do for them. They don't know about premium tax credits, the expansion of Medicaid. Only 30% believe they will benefit from the law. A majority of Americans oppose the law (that they don't understand), but it's not along party lines. As part of the law, starting Thursday, any insurance premium increases over 10% have to be justified by the insurer. But states are all over the map in getting their Exchanges (marketplaces) up and running.

Perhaps this partly explains the under-enrollment in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). These high risk pools -- some offered by states, some by the feds -- have enrolled only 21,000 people. Why? The prices are pretty good in most states, but you have to go without insurance for 6 months to qualify. On the other hand, most people are satisfied with their employer-sponsored insurance.

Finally, what I've been waiting for. Eat more chocolate to protect your heart! It lowers the rate of heart attack and stroke. Now, that's my kind of science.

Speaking of eating, a California judge ruled that Blue Shield has to cover inpatient treatment for anorexia under mental health parity laws. We have a big case like this pending. I hope the reviewer reads this article.

Federal health care fraud prosecutions are on the rise, keeping pace with cost-saving estimates.

Doctors start thinking about how better to practice medicine. The second book they describe sounds particularly interesting. And intensive care units grow more friendly to patients' families.

Consumer Reports says that not all pharmacies provide the required information to patients.

Changes in microbiology are leading to much faster answers about outbreaks and illnesses. Scientists believe they are a step closer to understanding Lou Gehrig's disease.

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

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