Friday, April 27, 2012

Finally Friday Edition

I do so love Fridays.  But today is bittersweet.  Our Administrative Assistant, Echo Kendall, is leaving us today.  She's about to give birth to a baby boy, and will be able to spend her time with him after he's born, not working, at least for the time being.  Although we are thrilled with her replacement, Jillian Szymanski, it's always sad when someone who's been a part of this organization for a good long time leaves, even if for the best of reasons.  But we are going to have a fun day today -- a little send-off with all of our love and best wishes.  Life moves on, but love remains.  I've known Echo since she was an infant; to have been able to spend her pregnancy with her has been a great gift that means so much to me.  I can't wait to meet her son!  Echo, we love you and will miss you -- and you'd better come visit once in awhile!

Okay -- wipe away the tears now -- here are a few of today's health highlights:

Remember medical loss ratios?  That's the percentage of premium dollars that go to paying for health care.  Under health reform, insurers must spend 80 or 85 percent of premium dollars on health care.  If they don't make that target, they have to pay rebates to their insureds.  Well guess what?  Insurers are expected to refund about $1.3 billion that will be coming this summer.  Still against health reform?  Still think it does nothing to control premium prices?  I bet you'll like that check when it shows up in your mailbox!

According to a new General Accountability Office report, as many as 112 million Americans have pre-existing conditions.  So if health reform falls, those people will be locked into their current insurance -- or if they lose that, they will not be able to get insurance at all.  Still against health reform?

After yesterday's story about debt collectors planted in emergency rooms trying to get money from people before they even receive care, Congressman Pete Stark has asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to investigate. Clearly, someone needs to look into this.  I'm glad to see it being taken seriously. 

As you know, Dr. Pauline Chen's pieces are among my favorites.  Today, she asks: Does medicine encourage gay doctors?  It appears, from her anecdotes, that the answer is no -- there's blatant discrimination against gay doctors, according to her experience.  While this information is anecdotal only, it's a poignant and sad reality.  We are grateful to Dr. Chen for talking about this issue.

Health care is changing to emphasize quality of life.  Give patients real life goals like being able to work or go to dinner with friends instead of focusing only on blood sugar levels or other scientific measures that are harder for patients to connect with.  This helps patients be able to measure their progress in between doctor appointments, and engages them in a more active role, managing their own care.  This is so totally right.

And that's what grabbed me today in my perusal of the papers.  Have a great day and a great week-end!  Jennifer

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