Steven J. DuBord
According to a July 10 Washington Post article, the federal government is considering a mass vaccination campaign this fall against the H1N1 flu virus. Obama administration officials announced this during a “flu summit” at the National Institute of Health’s Bethesda, Maryland, campus on July 9. About 500 health officials from around the country were in attendance.
Democrats are struggling to come up with acceptable ways to finance healthcare reform, a July 8 New York Times article reports. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, and other Democrats have expressed opposition to taxing employer-based health benefits and have told Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, to look for other options.
The American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the Catholic Health Association agreed with the Obama administration on July 6 to accept $155 billion less in reimbursement from the federal government over the next 10 years. According to the Washington Post for July 7, a hospital negotiator said, “This is our attempt to act in good faith.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control on July 1 released preliminary data for insurance coverage in America during 2008. According to the data, the percentage of Americans with private health coverage has fallen to its lowest level in 50 years. The percentage of Americans with private insurance in 2008 was 65.4 percent, a drop from 66.8 percent in 2007.
President Barack Obama on July 1 continued to push his healthcare reform plans at a town hall meeting at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia. The meeting included online participants who asked questions via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. A transcript has been posted at the White House website, and a video is available on YouTube.
On June 24, ABC TV gave President Barack Obama interview time with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, a prime-time special with both Sawyer and Charles Gibson at the White House called Questions for the President: Prescription for America, and the whole Nightline program after the local news.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is at the center of a growing controversy over the improper treatment of veterans at VA hospitals. On June 16, CNN noted that a report released in June by the VA’s Office of Inspector General showed only “about 42.5 percent of 42 VA facilities inspected without warning in May had standard operating procedures in place for the equipment being used and could demonstrate that their staffs had been trained to use the devices.” In other words, more than half of the institutions (57.5 percent) had improper procedures or training.
President Barack Obama signed legislation on June 22 granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration broad powers to regulate many aspects of tobacco product manufacturing, marketing, and sales. Known as the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the bill allows the FDA to ban candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products and to prohibit companies from labeling their products “light,” “mild,” or “low tar.” The act requires larger warning labels on tobacco product packaging, restricts the advertisement of tobacco products, and forces companies to lower the levels of nicotine in cigarettes.
Details of the various proposals for healthcare reform are beginning to emerge. House Democrats and Republicans are each formulating their own plans, while two Senate committees are taking different approaches. The Bipartisan Policy Center, a group composed of former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, Howard Baker, and Bob Dole, has proposed a plan meant to gain support from both political parties. Yet another perspective is being offered by Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), a doctor whose lifelong practice of medicine gives him unique insight.
President Obama devoted his June 13 weekly address to outlining cost savings to offset the massive price tag for his proposed healthcare reform. Supposedly an additional $313 billion can be saved during the next 10 years through "common-sense changes" to Medicare and Medicaid that will "rein in unnecessary spending, and increase efficiency and the quality of care."