Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hump Day Headlines

Another day here at Advocacy for Patients as the work piles up and my stress level shoots through the roof.  Let's see if the news makes me feel better -- or worse!

The prelude to the Supreme Court's health reform decision continues.  Here's one commentator who says the mandate is no big deal since a lot of people would ignore it anywayBoth Dems and the GOP in Washington are preparing for contingencies, although nobody seems to have a serious plan for what to do if the Court strikes down the whole law, the individual mandate, or some subset of the whole law.  Some GOPers are not anxious to replace the law if the Court strikes it downSome Dems say the law will move forward without the mandate if necessary.  But there will be huge losers if the law is struck down.  For example, California would lose about $15 billion per year in federal assistance.  This is a bad time to be pulling the rug out from under states that are struggling.  The provision requiring insurers to cover kids to age 26 has added 3.1 million young people to the market, many of whom are healthy, so adding them to the pool helps a lot with controlling costs.  But the speculation over the Court's ruling and what will happen if X or if Y is endlessHere's a piece on what will happen to women if the law is struck downHere's a piece on what will happen to Medicare beneficiaries if the law is struck down

Meanwhile, the Senate rejected a big to preserve $4.5 billion in food stamp funding.  This is for the "heat and eat" program, in which people get more in food stamps if they also receive heating assistance.  But the House is looking to cut food stamps dramatically, and the Senate also proposes cuts.  So if you're poor in America -- which increasingly means lower middle class -- you get no health care, no food stamps, no cash assistance.  Really?  We're just going to keep cutting the budget on the backs of the poor?

Health plans sold by colleges typically have been very bare bones. Some have benefit limits as low as $1500 per year.  Well, under health reform, that's changing as college plans begin to meet the standards of the rest of the industry.  Premiums -- which traditionally have been very low -- are rising as a result.  But I'm glad that people will stop being lulled into a false sense of security, thinking they have insurance when they really have nothing.

And here it is, proof of what I knew in my gut.  Charter schools enroll fewer kids with disabilities.  In my anecdotal experience, charter schools like to pretend they're private schools that don't have to follow the anti-discrimination laws.  Except even private schools have to follow the ADA.  Charter schools don't think they have to write 504 plans or IEPs.  But they're wrong -- they do.  So they just limit enrollment of kids with disabilities.  After all, the curriculum is rigorous -- I wish I could count the number of times a school told me that a kid who's sick and will miss school perhaps shouldn't be in such an environment.  We've never lost this argument, but if this story is right, then we're losing in another way -- they just won't enroll kids who need accommodations.  Where's the US Department of Education in all of this?

Anxiety disorders are diagnosed more often in women than in men.  Because more women tell their doctors how they are feeling emotionally?  Because of the stereotype of the hysterical female?  Fluctuating hormones?  Hmmm.

That's it for today.  I'm going to work on one of the many insurance appeals that are waiting to be written.  Have a great day.  Jennifer

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