Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve Edition

One. More. Day. But first, the news.

There's a lot of commentary on the failure of the supercommittee. Conservative groups are pleased because it means the GOP stood strong on tax increases. Others say the supercommittee members had the worst week in Washington. Some say the supercommittee was doomed from the start. A Gallup poll says Americans are split on whether to blame GOP or Dems.

Politico says the Medicare genie is now out of the bottle, meaning that it's becoming politically acceptable to talk about ways to cut Medicare spending. The devil here is very much in the details. But no question that health care is on the chopping block.

The President has switched gears from the supercommittee to an extension of the payroll tax deduction. Expect your paycheck to shrink if this doesn't pass by the end of the year.

The GOP is pressing Justice Kagan to release records in an attempt to show that she was involved in planning legal strategy for health reform when she was Solicitor General. Of course, if they were to succeed in getting her off the case, they surely would win the case. An end run around the Constitution?

Really bad news. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has voted to urge the feds to include agent/broker commissions on the health care side of the medical loss ratio equation. The medical loss ratio is the percentage of premium dollars spent on health care. Plans have to spent 80% (individual) or 85% (group) of premium dollars on health care or they have to pay rebates to members. The remaining 20 or 15% represents administrative costs. Until yesterday, there was agreement that agent/broker commissions were on the administrative side. Yesterday, NAIC voted to move them to the health care side, which undermines the effort to curtail rate hikes. Bad news for consumers.

The US spends 2.5% more on health care than other countries, and we aren't getting a lot of bang for our buck.

Interesting piece -- emergency doctors warn of challenges in different payment models like medical homes. If a primary care doctor is being paid per episode rather than for each individual service, where does the ER doc come in?

A compelling story of a family's journey into long-term care for a 52 year old who suffered brain damage when he was a child.

If you're like me, the fat gene runs in the family. But that doesn't mean you can't conquer the demons.

Giving thanks helps your psychological outlook. And so, dear readers, I give thanks for YOU!

Have a great day, and a wonderful Thanksgiving. See you next week! Jennifer

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