Friday, May 4, 2012

Fabulous Friday!

Two interviews left, but I think I've found not only the next Advocacy for Patients staff attorney, but perhaps the next Executive Director -- a smart young lawyer with a chronic illness, so she "gets it," and this is her dream job.  I'm so excited.  But I have to play out the process, so I'll consider the possibility that someone else will really knock my socks off.  But first, the news:

We have some treats today.  The young blogger who's undergoing a bone marrow transplant has posted her newest installment.  This post is about what it's like to talk to family and friends about your illness.  Dr. Pauline Chen's latest essay is about a health center that closed -- and flowers.  Lovely, as always.

The health reform law requires insurers to cover kids under age 19 with pre-existing conditions.  But how has the insurance industry responded?  Some companies have left the child-only market.  Some have raised premiums for kids, which they're allowed to do until 2014.  Insurers claim that this allows parents to sign up their kids only when they get sick -- the argument they always make about covering people with pre-existing conditions in the absence of an individual mandate, which makes healthy people buy insurance to spread the cost of people who are sick.  And this is why the Supreme Court's decision on the individual mandate means everything to getting coverage of pre-existing conditions. 

The architect of Paul Ryan's Medicare plan -- converting to a voucher system -- says the plan won't work!  He explains that the failure of Medicare Advantage plans to help control cost -- indeed, they are more expensive than traditional Medicare -- demonstrates that turning things over to private insurers will not shrink costs.  He says we should implement the Exchanges created by the health reform law and see how that works before going any further down the road to privatization.  So much for the GOP's plan to "save" Medicare! 

The President is trying to build support by the health reform law, finally realizing that they failed to communicate the true benefits of the law well enough early on.  Is this just campaign rhetoric, or is the Administration really realizing that they blew the communication piece of reform?  Is it too late to change public opinion of reform, with the Supreme Court decision looming large?  I wish they'd done this two years ago, but better late than never.  The latest GOP lie about reform:  Money went to fund neutering of pets.  It's not true.  But some people will say pretty much anything for political advantage.

Oregon is getting a financial boost from the federal government for testing a novel way of paying doctors who treat Medicaid patients.  The new system will focus on care coordination, and include teams of doctors who are paid for health outcomes.  Sort of like mini-Medicare ACOs (see yesterday's post).  It's expected to reduce costs by about 2 percent.

And that's what grabs me in today's news.  I'll be back later with the result of yesterday's NY Times puzzle!  Have a great day!  Jennifer

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