Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

I voted in today's municipal elections this morning. If it's election day where you are, please don't forget to vote. And here's the news:

The GOP members of the subcommittee have agreed to limit some tax loopholes -- such as mortgage interest on a second home -- in exchange for not only making the Bush tax cuts permanent, but extending them even further. Not exactly the art of compromise. Chuck Schumer says the supercommittee will fail, and it will be the fault of the GOP, who, he says, refuse to compromise on taxes in a meaningful way.

The Senate has cleared the way for a vote on two small pieces of the President's jobs bill -- one that eliminates withholding from government contractors, and one that stimulates hiring of veterans. Will the House give him even this small victory?

I'm confused. A new poll says Americans want government to play a larger role in healthcare. So do those who say they oppose health reform simply want it to do more? Hmmm.

In the next couple of months, patient satisfaction ratings will be considered when Medicare reimburses hospitals. So you know those surveys they ask you to fill out? Well, now they count, so take them seriously -- this is your chance to have a say.

The Census Bureau released revised numbers on poverty in America. The picture is worse for older Americans, but slightly better for the young and for African-Americans, and worse overall. The new number consider the receipt of government assistance in calculating income. 49.1 million Americans in poverty. Is this the America we want?

Seniors can get help choosing a Medicare drug plan from the Senior Health Insurance Assistance program or SHIP. To find the SHIP near you, go here and use the tool bar on the left.

Want to know more about health savings accounts? Go here.

Here's an interesting tidbit. The GOP has no problem asking us to pay a fee for universal coverage of telecom services, although they do have a problem requiring universal health insurance. What, pray tell, is the difference?

Malpractice reform is stalled on the federal level.

A federal judge yesterday ruled that tobacco companies do not have to include the new, graphic cigarette labels. It violates their free speech. The government will appeal.

In one innovative approach to reforming health care payment systems, a study looked at bundling -- paying doctors one fee to cover everything associated with a surgery, for example. Unfortunately, there are so many obstacles that, in 2-3 years of trying, not one bundled payment was made or received. However, there were some good effects -- coordinating care better, for example.

The health costs of climate change are projected to be huge. This article is worth reading -- full of revelations that I hadn't thought much about before.

While catching some cancers early can save your life, tests for cancer screening are imperfect, and false positives are a real issue. What's a layperson to do? Well, I for one am not going to stop getting mammograms.

Migraine headaches are a major problem for military personnel, prompting new studies.

Gluten free foods are getting easier to find as more people find they have Celiac disease or even a less serious gluten intolerance. However, gluten free foods may be more caloric and less nutritious, so it's not the right answer for everybody.

Ever hear of FODMAPS? They may be causing irritable bowel syndrome. If you have gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, these are foods to avoid.

Vitamin D -- critical and often ignored. I know taking supplements and trying to keep my level up has made a huge difference.

Sitting in traffic isn't just annoying; it's unhealthy. The exhaust fumes can cause cognitive issues.

Care across the border -- a comparison of ER care in Canada and the US.

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

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