Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012

And here I am in the office at 6 am so I can bring you this blog every day. One of my New Year's resolutions is to stop coming to the office at 6 am. That may mean a change to this blog -- maybe I won't read 8 newspapers per day; 4 or 5 would probably do. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. For today, it's the norm -- here's the news.

Expect 2012 to be a year in which we talk alot about Medicare. With the boomers joining the ranks, we can't afford to sustain what we have, some argue. But others says we must hold the line firm.

The Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Justice is not doing a good job policing standardized testing companies to ensure that disabled test-takers have the accommodations they need.

Some states are working on getting their Exchange up and running in time to sell insurance effective January 2014. But in states that are refusing to comply with health reform, there should be a federal fall-back Exchange -- but will it be ready?

The Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan continues to be a great option for people who've gone without insurance for 6 months. It's grown to about 6000 in California alone.

10 provisions of health reform take effect in 2012. Not the really critical ones, but they may help affordability and care coordination.

California Blue Shield settled a lawsuit that requires them to pay $2 million for dropping people when they found out they were sick. A similar suit against Anthem still is pending.

When nurses catch compassion fatigue, watch out. If you've ever been in the hospital, you know that the key is a pleasant, caring nurse. But could you keep that up every day?

Smokers are paying more for health insurance. An incentive to stop smoking? We hope so.

There's a shortage of ADHD drugs. Hundreds of people are complaining to the FDA every day. Ritalin and Adderall are affected. The Drug Enforcement Agency set manufacturing quotas on these drugs to try to avoid street use, but the result is that kids don't have their meds. Along the same lines, although not mentioned in the news, Salix Phamaceuticals has stopped manufacturing brand name Colazal. They have a new, equivalent med coming out shortly that they thought would be FDA approved by now. But the FDA has held up the new drug approval, and this is leaving Crohn's and colitis patients without brand name meds.

Insured Americans share healthier habits than the uninsured. I suspect that's largely because insured Americans as a general rule are employed and/or financially sound.

Two new books are good for patients. Confessions of a Surgeon tells most of us who've been through surgery what we already know -- surgeons just do surgery, and nothing else. But the Patient's Checklist sounds really interesting -- a way to make sure you are getting appropriate and safe care. I was contacted last week to see if I'd read an advance copy and review it for you, so I'm waiting for it to arrive so I can get into it. And here's an interesting piece by a surgeon that makes me never want to go near an OR again.

New thoughts on treating anorexia nervosa.

Connecticut cans Medicaid managed care in favor of the old fee-for-service model, as other states experiment with managed care. Those states ought to look at how much money we lost to the private insurers running managed care.

Hundreds of patients linger in New York City hospitals because they have nowhere to go. They are illegal immigrants or don't have insurance or any type of support system. Of course, hospital care is the most expensive option, but Medicaid won't cover their stay in a nursing home, so hospital care is their only option.

And that's it for today. Have a great start to 2012! Jennifer

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