During a speech directed to both houses of Congress yesterday, President Barack Obama attempted to end the discussions surrounding the healthcare reform bill by proposing legislation and encouraging an "up or down vote," also called reconciliation, to bring about final action on the bill.
"I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on healthcare reform," he said.
According to the President, the new round of legislation will include initiatives from both sides and intends to slate the previous provisions put forth by individual lawmakers. However, Obama may not have the votes to pass the legislation. If passed, the legislation would cover 31 million Americans, but would require tax increases to cover the increased costs.
Also this week, the U.S. Senate approved legislation to postpone the 21.2 percent Medicare payment reductions until the end of March. Next on the agenda Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will aim to pass the American Workers State and Business Relief Act that will cost $150 billion and include a seven-month extension on Medicare payments, racking up a bill of $7.3 billion.
In other issues involving the Senate, a white paper issued by GlaxoSmithKline contested a Senate report that alleged the company concealed safety information about its diabetes drug Avandia. A two-year investigation led by the Senate unveiled reports that the drug had the potential to cause adverse cardiovascular risks and that the company failed to make these risks public.
Additionally, the highly anticipated nine-year CREST trial results emerged, revealing that endarterectomy or stenting to treat carotid stenosis held similar rates of safety and efficacy. However, researchers found that more heart attacks were likely to occur with endarterectomy than stenting, while stroke was less prominent in the stenting group. A similar EPIC trial, evaluated the safety of the FiberNet Embolic Protection System as use for a treatment of carotid artery stenting. The results showed that use of this device was 98 percent effective and reduced rates of stroke that were even below American Heart Association standards.
While we suffer through a trillion dollar deficit and millions suffer from no insurance coverage and medical debt, we must find ways to implement cost-effective, yet beneficial procedures, treatments and government funding for patients.
As new products, prescriptions and procedures arise to help curb disease, lack of insurance, high procedural costs and medical bills continue to negatively affect care and hinder the long road to recovery for both patients, and the economy.
On these or other topics, feel free to send me questions or comments.