Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Mike McCready!!!

As many of you know, Mike McCready -- Pearl Jam guitarist -- and his wife Ashley O'Connor have supported Advocacy for Patients from day one.  Thus, when one of them has a birthday, we celebrate.  But how to celebrate on a blog?  I thought about only reporting good news today, but that would have left the blog blank.  So I'm just going to plow ahead and think of all of Mike's great guitar solos while I write!

Still more about health reform and the Supreme Court.  Here's an interesting piece on the ... let's call it "tension" between President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts about the role of the Supreme Court and whether the Court would be "activist" if it struck down health reform. However, when the President said that it would be unprecedented for the Court to strike down this law, he meant that, in the past 80 years, the Court has not struck down an Act of Congress based on the Commerce Clause.  Meanwhile, one report says that hospitals would be slammed if health reform were struck down.  It's so frustrating to know that health reform is such a great thing, but so many people are so misinformed that they continue to blast it. 

Here's a woman's story -- a cautionary tale of why health reform is so critical, and why the individual mandate is good policy.  Americans struggle with the cost of medical care; even those with insurance have cut back on doctor visits and medications due to copays they can't afford -- especially under Medicare Part D. 

But it's also true that patients really don't want more health care than they really need.  I've said this many times in response to the argument that patients will suck the system dry and have all kinds of unnecessary treatments as long as it's paid for by insurance.  The truth is that, if I never had to talk to another doctor again (besides my brother) that would be okay with me.

Here's a bit of a rant.  Mitt Romney claims that President Obama would end Medicare as we know it.   But he also supports Paul Ryan's budget, which would provide seniors with a voucher that they could use to purchase health insurance on their own -- greatly shifting costs to seniors and completely ending Medicare as we know it.  Romney's claim is based on the $500 billion cut in payments to Medicare Advantage Plans over 10 years.  That cut is simply a reduction in profits to Medicare Advantage Plans and not a cut in benefits to seniors, contrary to the GOP plan, which is a drastic cut to the Medicare program.  Do the facts just not matter to people when they say things like this?

GE is stepping up its investment in personalized medicine.  It appears that it may be possible to tailor treatment to individual patients based on their genetic make-up.  So GE is working on technology to tell us more about the biological traits of a cancer or other illness so that we can identify the treatment that is most likely to work.  Fascinating.

Meanwhile, the Senate HELP Committee is urging bipartisan support for an initiative that would get life-saving treatments through the FDA approval process and to patients faster.

Finally, Connecticut has taken a huge step towards abolishing the death penalty, as the state Senate passes the repeal billThe vote came at 2:05 am, after a long night of passionate debate.

In celebration of Mike, the NY Times has another one of its medical puzzles.  Can you guess the diagnosis?  The answer will be disclosed tomorrow.

And that's it for today!  Have a great day.  Jennifer

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