Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beyond Exhaustion

A very tense couple of days as two advisory committees to the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange come to terms on selecting an essential health benefits package.  It was very hard work in many ways, but I think we came to a fair recommendation that balances comprehensiveness with affordability

For me, this meant two nights in a row with only 4 hours' sleep, and the stress, especially yesterday, really hurt me physically.  I am feeling weak and shaky.  This old, broken body doesn't respond well to this kind of ordeal any more.  I sure do wish the week-end was here.

On to the news, though.

The House of Representatives voted to repeal the health reform law.   We knew this would happen and there it is.  The Senate will never pass it, and if they did, the President would veto it.  So this is just symbolic.  For a party that harps on President Obama for not doing enough to create jobs, they sure do spend a lot of time on political theater rather than trying to fix the economy.  Not to mention the fact that they don't have a plan to replace the health reform law, meaning we'd just go back to the way things were, without the hope that things will get better in 2014.  And not to mention the cost of spending so much time on trying to repeal a law that is helping people -- by some estimates, $50 million!

Here's an interesting opinion piece about how the House GOP is voting to repeal what they claim is a cut to Medicare (it's actually a cut to payments to Medicare Advantage Plans, private insurance companies) while voting for cuts to Medicare in every budget they've proposed in the past two years.  Irony.  Unfortunately, the irony doesn't change anything.

Contrary to what many people believe, most Medicaid patients who land in an emergency room do so for urgent care, not routine medical issues.  This is a good study to have.

Meanwhile, the anti-Medicaid poster child, Rick Perry, refuses to do anything to help the poor and the sick who would be helped by the federal dollars he's rejecting, but he's happy to spend millions to make repairs and upgrades to the Governor's mansion.  The height of hypocrisy. 

Doctors are now (finally) being taught about the cost of care and how that has to play into treatment decisions.  While we don't want them withholding care due to cost, we do have to recognize that there are unnecessary costs that we're all stuck with.  I have a case now in which a family was billed an additional $40,000 for a blood test that the doctor didn't order -- but the doctor ordered a panel, and this particular, expensive test is part of that panel.  So without realizing it, and without needing the test to be done, this doctor cost this family $40,000 for something they didn't even need.  There are ways that, if doctors are more conscious of cost, they can help without compromising care.

A tragic tale of what happens when doctors miss early signs of life-threatening infection -- sepsis -- taking a young boy's life in only three days.  It's easy to figure out what went wrong, but more importantly, how do we learn from this, avoid repeats.

Have you been to a doctor who has his/her own pharmacy in their office?  I've never seen this -- and apparently, it's a goldmine for them, as they price medications higher than the cost charged by pharmacies. 

Another installment from the NY Times blogger who had a bone marrow transplant, now wondering what it means to be a cancer survivor.  Poignant.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. is on leave from his Congressional post due to treatment of a "mood disorder."  His colleagues are pressing for more information, an explanation. If he was physically ill, would they be hassling him as much?  Or is this more of the way we Americans demonstrate a bias against mental health issues?

And that's it for today.  I hope you have a great day.  Jennifer

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