Friday, November 4, 2011

Finally Friday Edition

Not only is it Friday, but I have power, and that is the greatest thing ever. My house is back to normal. My cat is purring. While I continue to feel awful for those who are still suffering, I confess I am enjoying the end of this episode for myself and Emily. So here, without stress, is the news:

As the supercommittee's deadline nears, interest groups are trying to get their attention in creative ways, like convincing members of Congress to try to eat on the $4.50 per day that food stamp recipients receive. Meanwhile, a group of GOP Senators told the supercommittee that revenue raisers are a "non-starter," essentially trying to veto any tax increase before it's even proposed. And in anticipation of the supercommittee's failure, some members of Congress are already talking about softening the trigger, the automatic cuts that would take effect if the supercommittee fails. Speaker Boehner says he would accept revenue raisers but not tax increases. Um, aren't they the same thing?

As part of health reform, there will be a new disclosure form that will make insurance more understandable -- a great benefit to consumers.

Although GOP presidential candidates promise health reform repeal, it wouldn't be quite as easy as they seem to say it would.

This is a very serious issue. Charter schools and voucher schools believe they are not covered by federal laws protecting students with disabilities. The Department of Justice is investigating.

Our friends at the Center for Medicare Advocacy have filed a class action lawsuit challenging the "observation only" policy under Medicare. Medicare pays for a nursing home stay only after a 3 day hospital admission. When a hospital holds a patient in observation status, there's no hospital admission and, thus, no coverage of nursing home stay. Read more on the Center for Medicare Advocacy's website, here.

Drug makers are challenging the law that restricts them from marketing drugs for what are known as off-label uses -- uses other than that for which they were FDA approved. For example, aspirin was approved as a pain reliever, an analgesic, but now it's used to prevent heart attacks. This could be great for consumers, who have terrible trouble getting insurers to pay for such off-label uses.

The ongoing saga of the Connecticut exchange board. Advocates say insurance execs dominate. The board moves on regardless. It's a bit ironic that, in reporting this story about the lack of consumer advocates on the board, the Connecticut Mirror chose not to interview a single person who actually represents consumers in insurance appeals.

The FDA, its budget under attack, claimed credit for an increase in the number of new drugs approved, defending its budget against possible cuts.

The Census Bureau is releasing a new way of measuring poverty that includes the positive effects of safety net funding. What I'd like to see is both numbers side by side so the need for safety net funding is abundantly clear.

Senators have blocked a bill that would have started to repair our infrastructure, creating jobs in the process. I just don't know how we are going to create jobs without someone spending some money. President Obama has criticized Speaker Boehner for ignoring jobs and passing another bill reconfirming "In God we trust." Meanwhile, jobless protesters occupy GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office as Congress dithers on jobs.

Fascinating new book says that people who feel less powerful will eat larger portions because they feel that is an indication of status. This makes so much sense to me.

And that's today's news. Have a great day. If you're still without power, I feel for you. If you have power, invite someone to come stay with you it you haven't already. Jennifer

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