Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday Themes

I'm speaking later today at the Northeast Regional Patient Advocate Leadership Summit, on a panel on state insurance Exchanges. But first, the news:

The supercommittee has reached a partisan impasse. The GOP won't touch taxes without a tax CUT for the wealthy as part of the deal, and the Dems can't agree to that. The President is still staying out of the discussions. There are some who are trying to find cause for optimism in the fact that the GOP would agree to any tax increases, even if in exchange for extending the Bush tax cuts. But mostly, the two sides are arguing about who's really willing to compromise and who is not. The GOP accuses the Dems of breaking off talks; the Dems say the GOP won't bend. We'll be watching closely between now and the 11/23 deadline.

Beware a false mailing from the GOP to seniors warning that President Obama is cutting Medicare. The Washignton Post gives it four Pinnochio's. Don't believe everything you read.

Hospitals in poor neighborhoods are struggling. New York is looking to see what they can do to save three hospitals in Brooklyn, all of which serve many uninsureds. Just think -- if there was an individual mandate and everybody had insurance -- expanded Medicaid, subsidies to help pay for premiums -- this wouldn't be happening.

And so today the Supreme Court may decide the course of its consideration of the health reform law. They are expected to decide what questions they will consider (for example, will they review the challenge to Medicaid expansion or just the individual mandate?) and set a briefing and oral argument schedule. Let the (very serious) games begin.

Health insurers and self-funded plans are pressing for a delay in implementing a part of health reform that requires them to use a uniform four-page summary of benefits and coverage, and consumer groups are pushing back.

Here in Connecticut, a legislative panel heard testimony of how the lengthy power outage after the October 28 snowstorm adversely affected people with disabilities. Horrendous, and no help from the state or the utilities.

The feds have restored the national practitioner databank of disciplinary charges against doctors, but they are restricting its use so none of its records can be tied to individual doctors. But then what's the point?

Hospital satisfaction rankings show where patients are happiest. Check it out -- there are surprises.

Walmart wants to become the country's largest primary care provider. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Medicine isn't really a retail business. On the other hand, making primary care more accessible is a great goal.

States are cutting mental health budgets as the demand for services increases.

Will a cancer drug hold answers for weight loss? Wouldn't that be nice? The drug shows promise in monkeys.

Is cutting salt a good thing, or does it lead to high cholesterol? I sure do wish we had a better handle on what to eat and what not to.

I want one of these. Jawbone has created a bracelet that monitors your activities and sleep, pointing out your shortcomings in an effort to inspire you to do better.

A new technique allows doctors to tell if a patient who supposedly is in a vegetative state really has a functioning brain. Fascinating, no?

And that's today's news. Have a great day! Jennifer

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