Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Themes

My last blog post for the week -- I'm off to Miami to speak at the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation Florida chapter's educational seminar. So you're on your own for a couple of days -- after today's news, of course.

The supercommittee's lack of progress is starting to worry some on Capitol Hill. Not only do they have to come up with $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, but they haven't even reached agreement on the baseline -- $1.2 trillion less than what? The definition of dysfunctional. And so they are starting to show signs of life, with public meetings scheduled for next week. But it's been a month since their last public meeting -- some say for good reason. They've received 180,000 suggestions from other members of Congress, lobbyists, advocates, and the public, so there's certainly no lack of ideas or public input.

Meanwhile, employers, municipalities, trade groups are trying to come up with their own health reform ideas to try to control costs.

Mitt Romney continues to be criticized due to Massachusetts health reform, which has resulted in near universal coverage. People critique it because it has not controlled costs. But the goal of the individual mandate -- which originally was a Republican idea, coming from the Heritage Foundation, according to Newt Gingrich -- was to fix the coverage problem first and then shift to cost. With those goals in mind, the plan has been a huge success. Why isn't Romney proud?

Innovation is key to controlling health care costs, so it's great to see states like Oregon coming up with their own tweaks to federal health reform care delivery mechanisms. Not only will Oregon lead in setting up accountable care organizations (which they call coordinated care organizations), but they want to grade their performance -- leading to the question of how a health care plan should be evaluated.

It should come as no surprise to learn that poor neighborhoods contribute to poor health. Better neighborhoods lower obesity and diabetes.

Some states are starting to count assets as well as income in determining eligibility for food stamps. Hunger in America is nothing short of scandalous. What justification can there be for making it worse?

Radiation treatment after breast cancer surgery greatly lowers the risk of recurrence, according to a new study. But some women with advanced breast cancer feel left out of the national dialogue on this disease, which tends to focus on cures.

More than one in ten Americans takes an anti-depressant. Are they over-prescribed, or are we really that depressed?

The government continues to increase recoveries from Medicaid fraud.

A cure for cystic fibrosis? Scientists believe they are getting close. So great.

Turmeric for joint pain? Worth a try.

And that's it for this morning. Have a great day -- a great few days. I'll be back on Tuesday. See you then. Jennifer

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