Friday, May 25, 2012


Opponent of Obamacare says she’d be dead without it.  The Washington Post has a story about a woman who voted against Obama because she didn’t think the government should tell people what to do regarding health care coverage.  Now she’s among 62,000 uninsurables set to lose coverage if the Supreme Court throws out the Affordable Care Act and says today that she’d be dead without the Affordable Care Act.

File under ‘uh oh’.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects a recession in 2013 if lawmakers fail to prevent a “fiscal cliff” of scheduled tax increases and spending cuts at the end of the year. The CBO issued a report projecting that the marginal tax rates set to rise next year and the $109 billion in automatic spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act will cause gross domestic product to contract by 1.3% in early 2013, but would reduce the deficit by $607 billion in 2012 and 2013. This is the first time the CBO has forecast a recession resulting from the scheduled tax increases and spending cuts.

$1 Trillion . . . that’s real money!  A recent study found that if the Affordable Care Act would go away, insurers would lose $1 Trillion and of course, 32 million Americans would continue to go without health care coverage.  HHS is now collecting video stories about how the reform law changes people’s lives. You may also find this story about ‘sick in America’ polling of interest.

New York Drivers raise $20K for pediatric MS.  Through a state license plate program the Department of Motor Vehicles collected $20,000 for MS over the past few years. 

American Research Superiority Demise.  The group United for Medical Research and the Information Technology and Innovation Fund have produced a report that paints a bleak picture of medical research in the United States as compared to countries like China.  The Chinese government plans to invest $309 billion in biotechnology over the next five years, twice the amount the U.S. government will spend on biomedical research over that period if current trends hold.  The report calls on Congress to invest $40 billion for FY 2013 in order to keep our edge.  [Note – the National MS Society is currently advocating for $32 billion for the NIH as are other organizations.  We would support higher investments in research should that opportunity arise.]

Taxmaggedon.  Every few months there seems to be a newly-minted word to describe the end-of-the-world scenarios regarding our Federal budget.  Here’s a Washington Post story talking about how the economy is already reacting to upcoming budget battles post-election.  At least one Post editorial writer doesn’t buy it, and argues that the ‘fiscal cliff’ is a myth.  In related news it appears that the President and the Speaker are looking at another staredown over the debt limit . . . let’s just hope the result isn’t another downgrading in our nation’s credit.
Virtual Docs.  Insurers are warming to telemedicine and the practice of ‘virtual doctors’.  Interesting story out of Minnesota. The chair of the FCC recently announced that he will advocate to release part of the spectrum for wireless medical devices which is pretty significant.

Biosimilars & Patient Safety.  The National MS Society strongly supported the biosimilars language that passed as part of the Affordable Care Act.  This article which appeared in a UK publication talks about how patient safety must be the first priority of the FDA as it reviews biosimilars.

Oral Medications.  Multiple Sclerosis currently has one oral medication available with several more in the pipeline.  In recent years there have also been more oral chemotherapy drugs but the challenge with new oral medications is getting insurance coverage for them – the Washington Post highlights the issue.

Partisanship on overdrive?  Former Democratic Indiana Senator Evan Bayh had a commentary in the Chicago Tribune bemoaning the state of partisanship in America today as he reflected on the defeat of GOP Senator Richard Lugar, noting that we are more polarized than any time since the 1890s.

Expanding Coverage worldwide.  The Los Angeles Times reports that the United States is falling further behind in the worldwide push to expand health care coverage and notes the China is on track to complete a three-year, $124-billion initiative projected to cover more than 90% of the nation's residents.

Is Congress getting dumber?  Hey, that’s someone else’s headline, not mine so of course not intending any disrespect!  The Sunlight Foundation completes a periodic assessment of Members of Congress and based on how they speak, determine the education level at which they’re communicating.  This Congress is, on average, at a 10th grade level – so for any of you with sophomore’s in high school, let them know they are now as conversant as the average Member of Congress.

Wellness Incentives.  Georgetown recently release a report about various wellness incentive programs in existence.

Think like an Investor.  There’s a very interesting interview in the New York Times about how health care costs could be restrained if we looked at health care like an investor looks at his/her investments.

Free National Park Passes.  The National Park Service is issuing free passes to people with  disabilities.  Learn more at the NPS.

Google Redistricting Map.  Google has all 2012 U.S. Congressional districts mapped out, except for Kansas because they haven’t finalized their new districts.

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