Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hump Day Headlines

Still no power, but my dad's driveway got cleared and he has a generator, so I went there last night and had a great hot shower this morning. Still, I'm really annoyed that the powers that be aren't more on the ball of getting things up and running for the half a million people who still don't have power here in Connecticut. That said, here's the news:

The supercommittee held a hearing on 2 plans that were introduced about a year ago. At that hearing, four experts in fiscal policy -- two GOP, two Dems -- warned the supercommittee that the consequences will be dire if they fail to cut a deal. For example, Alan Simpson blames Grover Norquist for forcing GOP members of Congress to sign a pledge not to raise taxes, and blames AARP for pushing for no changes to Medicare. Pete Domenici says there must be combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. Frankly, I'm scared of the consequences if they DO cut a deal. Meanwhile, the supercommittee's secrecy disturbs some House freshmen. And Erskine Bowles floats a $2.6 trillion compromise. (Note: You may recall that Simpson and Bowles were co-chairs of a presidential task force on the budget whose recommendations failed to garner the requisite votes in Congress.) Among other things, he would raise revenue and cut health care programs. The supercommittee reportedly is weighing a Medicare voucher program, which would end Medicare as we know it and boost the futures of private insurers. More on the hearing here.

Meanwhile, Medicare has cut payments to home health agencies. As if it weren't already hard enough to get home health agencies to care for Medicare recipients. And a new report says Medicare has to do a better job of tracking hospital errors.

Governors are using their executive powers to proceed with health reform in the absence of legislation authorizing steps like the creation of an exchange. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is expected to decide next week whether it will hear any of the health reform lawsuits, which they almost certainly will do.

Two rival health care systems in Minnesota decide to try partnership instead of competition. Wonderful!

Doctors use the internet to search for medical info just like patients do! Although presumably, they understand more of what they're reading than we do -- or I'd like to think so.

And that's it for today, a slow news day. Have a great one. Jennifer

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