Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts

I hadn't planned on spending next week interviewing candidates for our staff attorney position, but if chronic illness teaches us anything, it's that life is not predictable.  Our only choice is to roll with the punches.  So I'm rolling.

I find this to be interesting.  There's supposedly a lot of opposition to health reform, but two conservative Dems in Pennsylvania lost their party's primaries to two liberals, and the story is that it's largely due to the fact that the incumbents voted against health reform.  Early on in the polling about health reform, the questions were specific enough so that we know that a lot of people who were opposed did not think the law went far enough in the absence of single payer or a public option.  I wonder if that's still the case, so the polling against the law is not all from health reform opponents.  I'm not sure how else to explain these primary results -- and it makes sense to me, since it's quite clear that the law, in fact, does not go as far as it really should if we were trying to control costs as well as achieve near universal coverage.  The best way to keep costs down would have been to have a public option against which the commercial plans would have had to compete.  A lot of people on the left are still upset about that loss.  So is some of the opposition to health reform coming from the left?  Maybe so.

Here's another installment from the young woman undergoing a bone marrow transplant.  She's had the transplant, but she's in isolation to prevent infection because her immune system is essentially non-existent due to the chemo that preceded the transplant.  She's waiting for her brother's healthy cells to engraft in her bone marrow.  She's lost her hair and can't eat.  And she's a hero.  Everybody who fights that hard to live is a hero.  I can tell you for sure that I wouldn't do it.  After my last bout with life-threatening illness, I have never bounced back completely.  What I went through was grueling and life-altering.  I will never be the same.  And I will never do it again.  Everybody who chooses this kind of fight is more courageous than I will ever be.  I am in awe. 

The House Appropriations Committee has gone ahead and passed spending targets that change the deal they made last August.  Remember the fight over raising the debt ceiling?  Congress agreed that a super-committee would try to agree on $1.5 trillion in cuts, and if they couldn't, there were automatic triggers that would take effect in 2013.  Well, since the super-committee failed, the triggers are looming and the House GOP is unhappy with the deal they made.  So they want to change it -- and that's bound to lead to a very partisan battle this summer, with the threat of a government shut-down in October, right before the election.  Who will the voters blame for that, I wonder?  Ugh -- what a mess!

Meanwhile, the health reform law is being dragged into the fight over student loans.  Congress is debating a measure that would stop interest rates from increasing.  Speaker Boehner says he'd pay for that with health reform funding -- what he calls a "slush fund."  Yeah, because providing subsidies to help middle-income families afford health insurance is definitely a slush fund kind of expenditure.  I just don't get it.  What would the GOP do to fix the status quo in health care, with unaffordable premiums, the rise in high-deductible plans, and the number of people who can't get care due to cost?  Until they answer that question, they should not have a right to criticize the plan that's already in place.

Ever wonder how much doctors earn?  Well, here are some figures.  I suspect this is only income from their practice of medicine, without the extras for research, public speaking, and so on.  But I have to say it's less than I thought.  Interesting. 

The Connecticut House of Representatives has passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana.  I'm not sure what this is worth, though, in light of the continued federal crack-downs on medical marijuana use.  Too bad, though, that the feds are taking this position.  I'm entirely convinced that marijuana is an under-utilized weapon in the arsenal to treat chronic pain, nausea, and other symptoms.  And I don't understand the basis for prohibiting it.  But in great local news, the House also passed a bill that would add consumers to the Board of the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange and make our Healthcare Advocate, Vicki Veltri, a voting member.  About time.  Now, the Senate needs to pass it -- soon. 

That's it for today.  Have a great one.  Jennifer

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