And so, at last, it's Friday! Tomorrow is rest, Sunday is prep day, and Monday are scopes. But first, the news:
The GOP payroll tax cut plan is out. Despite President Obama's veto threat, it's tied to the Keystone Pipeline and rolling back environmental regulations, while paying for the tax cut with increases in Medicare premiums for the rich, shrink the size of the federal workforce, and end food stamps and unemployment for millionaires. And everybody knows it can't pass the Senate. Meanwhile, a Dem proposal, that would pay for the tax cut with a surcharge on incomes over $1 million also was rejected by the Senate. Can Congress get anything done before the end of the year? Speaker Boehner has a tough time getting the votes in the House without spending cuts. But eliminating government jobs in a jobs bill? Really? And there are Dems that support the Keystone pipeline (oil from Canada through the US). But does that belong in a jobs bill?
There's also the impending massive cut to Medicare's reimbursement rates if Congress doesn't act by the end of the year. The GOP has put together a deal to delay the cuts for 2 years by repealing unspecified portions of the health reform law and increasing Medicare premiums for high income seniors.
And then there's an extension of unemployment benefits, which also runs out at the end of the year. Protesters call on Senator Lieberman to make this happen.
Some GOPers are trying to force Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself from hearing the challenge to the health reform law, which would all but guarantee that the law is struck down. They say she worked on the legal strategy for the law when she was Solicitor General, and they've demanded documents -- calendars, notes -- so they can comb through them for support. However, Attorney General Eric Holder says this violates separation of powers, and they should be requesting those documents as part of the court case rather than through the executive branch.
The Department of Health and Human Services rolls out $1.4 million in grants for school-based health clinics. However, states have cut Community Health Center funding -- critical safety net health care for the poor and uninsured.
The President defended Secretary Sebelius's decision to limit the sale of the morning after pill so that kids can't buy it without a prescription. Meanwhile, an FDA advisory panel recommends stronger warnings of blood clots for contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin. However, they back the overall benefits of these birth control pills.
The Pentagon opposes a mental health program for the National Guard. This is so despite an increase in suicide rates among the Guard.
Don Berwick's first speech after leaving the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services takes on his opponents, blasting the phony "death panel" accusations, and noting that those who say he favors rationing are also in favor of major cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. He says Republicans are the real rationers.
Which states spend the most on health care? Here's your answer.
The great Dr. Pauline Chen tells us about a web-based campaign to raise funds for cancer prevention using social media. Fabulous.
Night shift work may raise the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
Right in the middle of a recession, Connecticut's Department of Social Services asks the feds for permission to cut Medicaid for low income adults -- because enrollment is expanding greatly. This would leave low income adults without access to health care.
And that, my friends, is the news. Look forward to a big deal post later in the day. In the meantime, have a great day! Jennifer