Friday, February 24, 2012

Finally -- Finally -- Friday Edition

Another challenging week at Advocacy for Patients. I'm glad it's almost over, although I'm not thrilled about this white stuff falling from the sky. Oh, well. It is February, after all. Let's move to the news:

One of the stupider budget cuts was a relatively small amount to fund consumer assistance programs to help consumers with health insurance issues that was not renewed in the 2012 budget -- only about $30 million. Texas is closing its program in April. Considering the state of health care in Texas, this seems pretty foolish to me, on both the state and federal levels.

Texas also has defied the federal government by excluding abortion providers from participating in the state's Medicaid program. We're not talking about Medicaid-funded abortions -- that's not happening. But we're talking about excluding a clinic that provides contraception, well-woman visits, pregnancy tests, breast cancer screenings -- and also abortions -- from providing NON-abortion services to poor women with few options. I apologize for all the Texans out there, but based on what I've learned about the State from clients, I can't figure out why anybody lives there.

The per person cost of the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan has been about double what was expected. About 50,000 people are enrolled nationwide. Each member will cost about $28,000 in 2012. Since there are no healthy people in the pool, there's no way to spread the risk, so this is the actual cost of care for a person with at least one chronic illness. I suspect my meds cost about that much.

Seven states have sued the Obama administration over its contraceptive coverage policy, alleging freedom of religion concerns. Nebraska, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Your tax dollars at work, folks. Um, guys, hasn't any of your lawyers told you that you can't sue to protect someone else's legal rights? It's called standing, and states don't have standing to sue to protect the Catholic church. This case should be dismissed. Of course, that assumes judges are not political creatures -- and that would be a very wrong assumption.

Meanwhile, the law student who wanted to testify at the contraceptive coverage hearing last week did finally give her testimony on the importance of contraception for women's health. She told about a classmate who needed birth control to treat ovarian cysts. When she no longer could afford the medication, she grew a cyst the size of a tennis ball and had to have surgery to remove her ovary. Where's the religious objection to birth control in that situation?

The federal government has awarded $26 million to Minnesota to create an insurance Exchange, a place where consumers can shop for and buy health care. But the state is split on health reform, so it's not clear what it will do with this money.

Some help for people with chronic fatigue syndrome? A push for drug repurposing -- using meds approved for something else to treat chronic fatigue. It's certainly worth a try.

There's a shift in elder care from nursing homes to managing care at home. It's because of money, but I think it's great for people to be able to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, and not to be warehoused in nursing homes. Here's a truly beautiful story of one family's journey.

A fitness program for the mentally ill -- very cool. It's giving people their lives back.

A broken heart really hurts. Not just mentally, but physically.

And that's today's news. Have a great day and a great week-end! Jennifer

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