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The Twelve Days of Healthcare Reform

Today’s blog will be my last for 2010, as I will be taking a break to spend the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with family and friends.

In keeping with a tradition I started two years ago, I again have taken the liberty of mangling a beloved holiday song, story, or rhyme to give a humorous (I hope!) perspective on current politics. In December, 2008, I adapted “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to convey President-elect Obama as being a not-so-jolly old elf besieged by lobbyists demanding stimulus gifts. Last year, I depicted the GOP as the Grinch trying to stop “ObamaCare” from coming.

Today, I’ve re-written the “Twelve Days of Christmas” carol so that it is the government bestowing “gifts” (based on actual provisions of the Affordable Care Act) that the new Congress may later take away. (Of course, in the real world, the ACA’s changes won’t take place over 12 days, but over many years.) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Women’s Health In The U.S. Gets An “F”

The Oregon Health and Science University has published its fifth report card since 2000. It grades and ranks the United States on 26 health-status indicators for women. In 2010, not one state received an overall “satisfactory” grade for women’s health, and just two states — Vermont and Massachusetts — received a “satisfactory-minus” grade. Overall, the nation is so far from meeting the goals set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that it receives an overall grade of “unsatisfactory.”

The national report card uses status indicators to assess women’s health:

  • Women’s access to healthcare services (medically under-served area, no abortion provider, no health insurance and first trimester prenatal care)
  • Wellness  (screening mammograms, colorectal cancer, pap smears, cholesterol)
  • Prevention (leisure time physical activity, obesity, eating five fruits and veggies/day, binge drinking, annual dental visits, smoking)
  • Key conditions (coronary heart disease death rate, lung cancer death, stroke death, breast cancer death)
  • Chronic conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, AIDS, arthritis, osteoporosis)
  • Reproductive health (chlamydia, maternal mortality, unintended pregnancies)
  • Mental health
  • Violence against women 
  • Infant mortality rate
  • Life expectancy
  • Poverty
  • High school completion
  • Wage gap
  • The score on these varied status indicators fluctuated depending upon which state a woman lives. California and New Jersey ranked highest on state health policies, while Idaho and South Dakota ranked last on policies. Read more »

    *This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

    Addressing Healthcare Spending: “Cowardice” Or Bravery?

    In assessing the “best and worst” of the recommendations from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein accuses the Commission of “cowardice” in addressing healthcare spending:

    “The plan’s healthcare savings largely consist of hoping the cost controls . . . and various demonstration projects in the new healthcare law work and expanding their power and reach. . . In the event that more savings are needed, they throw out a grab bag of liberal and conservative policies . . . but don’t really put their weight behind any. . .[their] decision to hide from the big questions here is quite disappointing . . . ”

    Pretty harsh words, considering that in other respects Klein gives the Commission high marks. But I think there is a lot more to the Commission’s recommendations on healthcare spending than meet’s (Klein’s) eyes, even though I have my own doubts about the advisability and political acceptability of many of them. Read more »

    *This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

    WikiLeaks: What It Means For Healthcare Privacy

    From the official White House statement yesterday regarding WikiLeaks disclosure of diplomatic cables:

    “By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights, but also the lives and work of the individuals. We condemn in strongest terms, the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.”

    No matter what people think of WikiLeaks disclosure of approximately 250,000 classified diplomatic cables to the Internet yesterday with the help of the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and Le Monde, the implications to electronic healthcare information security are significant.

    Day in and day out, I type huge volumes of information on my patients on a computer and my fellow physicians do the same. As a result, vast healthcare information warehouses are at the disposal of the government, insurers, and major healthcare institutions eager to become more efficient, strategic, or competitive. We are promised the information is private, confidential, and even stripped of its identifiers for group analysis. It is even protected to remain so by law. Read more »

    *This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

    Healthcare Reform Law Is Gaining Public Support

    GOP hardliners soon to be in control of the House have made repeal of the detested healthcare reform law a cornerstone of their agenda, despite the impossibility of actually being able to repeal it, politically, at least until an election or two has passed, and despite the fact that their ascent to power had more to do with the terrible economy and high unemployment than any mandate to repeal the law.

    It seems that, finally, there may be movement towards increased public support for the law. A new McClatchy poll shows a majority of Americans now in favor of the law:

    A majority of Americans want the Congress to keep the new health care law or actually expand it, despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the people to kill it, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

    The post-election survey showed that 51 percent of registered voters want to keep the law or change it to do more, while 44 percent want to change it to do less or repeal it altogether.

    Driving support for the law: Voters by margins of 2-1 or greater want to keep some of its best-known benefits, such as barring insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. One thing they don’t like: the mandate that everyone must buy insurance.

    Of course, it is the mandate that makes the whole thing hang together. And it’s hardly news that people like the individual provisions and protections found within the law. Read more »

    *This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

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