Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hump Day Headlines

Yesterday's legislative hearing on a bill that would add consumers and small businesses to the Exchange board was rocky for a whole host of reasons. I'm glad to have that day behind me. So onward, to the news:

We have a tentative deal that extends the payroll tax, unemployment compensation and the delay of the new Medicare reimbursement rates for the next 10 months. Unemployment will be shorter than 99 weeks -- there's some disagreement about how much shorter, but it looks like 73 weeks -- more than the 59 weeks the GOP wanted, and a significant concession from the Dems. However, that 73 weeks is for the hardest hit states; in many states, unemployment will run out after 63 weeks. And there are tweaks to Medicare (not to benefits) and to federal employee pensions.

However, they keep chipping away at the health care prevention fund established under health reform. Not only is it part of this deal, but it would be cut further by President Obama's 2013 budget. Short-sighted savings that will have long-term consequences.

Scientists are repurposing drugs that are FDA approved for one use but not another, trying to gain acceptance of off-label uses that can get drugs to new markets faster than the usual process.

For those of you against the individual mandate, here's its history. It was a Republican idea! That was before the Tea Party and before Barack Obama. Now, it's a war on religion. Really?

The roar over contraceptive coverage has died down, with many Catholics satisfied with the President's compromise -- but the Bishops still unhappy. But again, the Bishops don't want anybody to have access to contraceptives -- an extreme position that is not popular with the majority of Americans. You have to see Jon Stewart's take on this brouhaha.

Still, the GOP have introduced legislation that would allow any employer to exclude coverage of any service on grounds of conscience. Not just religious employers. Not just contraception. What a disaster that would be.

UnitedHealthcare has initiated a program that would allow doctors to share a patient's medical information over the internet. Good idea? Hmmm.

A study suggests that it might be best to skip an antibiotic for a sinus infection.

Johnson & Johnson made some bad artificial hips that the FDA rejected. So what did they do? They sold them overseas. That's just appalling to me. If they weren't good enough for Americans, why are they good enough for anybody?

A patient with Wegener's granulomatosis finds out that his mom is a match for a kidney donation, so he will have a transplant. I have a friend who had a liver transplant last night and I am praying that it was a success.

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

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