Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hump Day Headlines

Today, I am giving a talk with Vicki Veltri, our state's Healthcare Advocate, on insurance exchanges for a group of advocates here in Connecticut. But first, the news:

Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the challenge to the health reform law's individual mandate, take a look at the mandate in some detail before you decide what side you're on. Without the mandate, we cannot have coverage of people with pre-existing conditions because it would be too expensive without healthy people in the pool. So how important is it that we cover people with pre-existing conditions? For the chronically ill, I'd say it's about the most important thing to happen for us in ... forever. Still, half of all Americans are against the law. I still believe it's because most of them don't have a good understanding of it, but that means we are failing in the message department and we have to work harder. C-Span has asked the Supreme Court to allow the oral arguments to be televised, which I think would be a great lesson for all of America. Meanwhile, Senator Sessions is pressing for evidence that Justice Elena Kagan was part of discussions of health reform when she was Solicitor General. If Justice Kagan were to recuse herself, we'd lose for sure. And Clarence Thomas's wife has been an active opponent of health reform, but he's not recusing himself.

Why is the GOP optimistic about the supercommittee while the Dems are glum? Beats me. Supercommittee members face rising pressure from all sides. The Dems say the GOP is moving in the wrong direction on revenue, trying to cut the top tax rate for the wealthiest of the wealthy. There's no legislative language or even a consensus document emerging. Interestingly, though, the health reform law funding is not on the table. But Senator Reid is prepared to let the automatic cuts take effect, especially since they make no structural changes to Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security. The GOP is more concerned about cuts to the military, which are deep cuts. The White House is bracing for failure and all it may entail, including a stock market nose dive. Here's a detailed guide to supercommittee deadlines.

We're coming up on open enrollment season for most employer-sponsored health insurance plans. If you have choices to make, watch this first.

We've all read about the income gap lately -- how many people are in poverty, how we are becoming a nation of wealthy and poor, with fewer what we'd call "middle class." Well, here's more evidence that the middle class is shrinking.

A new report says that the deficit reduction proposals to change Medicare will end up costing consumers more. It's funny to me how the GOP can use cuts to Medicare in the health reform law to scare seniors into being against reform, but they then can propose their own cuts without any concern for seniors.

Congress has blocked a rule that would have reformed the rules on school lunches to curb obesity and promote health. Really? Kids?

The company doing the first government-approved stem cell research trials is shutting down its work due to financial issues. This is very bad news for those of us who hoped stem cell research might hold a key to a cure.

A surgery called hip impingement is not covered by a lot of insurance companies. So I found these questions about its effectiveness to be very interesting.

And that, my friends, is today's news. Have a great day! Jennifer

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