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health care reform

Hot Issues: Health Care Reform Debate in the Supreme Court

Over the next three days, the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments for and against the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as ACA, also called “Obamacare”). The most controversial part of ACA is the individual mandate, which would require all Americans to have health insurance starting in 2014 (with some exemptions for financial or religious reasons). Many believe the mandate is unconstitutional, but ACA could theoretically remain intact without it (although many health policy experts believe the mandate is the key to the functionality of many other pieces of the legislation). The Supreme Court will also hear arguments regarding the hundreds of other provisions included in ACA, including expansions of state Medicaid programs and tax credits for small employers.

Confused? Check out the following links to track the case.

Update: A few more resources regarding this case are listed below

*image via the Los Angeles Times


Nutrition & Health News, week of December 30th

  • Scientists  in Rotterdam funded by the U.S. have discovered a genetic process that makes the H5N1 (avian flu) virus airborne. Because the potent virus has over a 50% death rate in humans in its non-airborne form, government officials are hesitant to let the scientists publish their findings in order to “prevent the work from being replicated by terrorists, hostile governments or rogue scientists.” If released, the airborne virus could cause the most deadly flu pandemic yet. [New York Times]
  • Influential voices in health policy made their predictions on the fate of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and health care in 2012. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision in early 2012 on whether or not the individual mandate (requiring everyone to have health insurance) is constitutional. The individual mandate is believed to be the linchpin of Obamacare. [Commonhealth]
  • Last week, the FDA withdrew a proposal that would prevent antibiotics from being put in animal feed. The proposal had been sitting in Congress since 1977, waiting indefinitely for more research to be conducted. Antibiotics given to farm animals are a well-known health risk to humans because, as Mark Bittman explains, “the animals become perfect breeding grounds for bacteria to gain resistance to the drugs, and our inadequate testing procedures allow them to make their way into stores and our guts.” Apparently the FDA doesn’t think this is a problem. [New York Times]
  • The USDA released the MyPlate SuperTracker, an online tool meant to help Americans maintain healthy weight by keeping track of their diets and physical activity. The tool allows for personalized recommendations and goal-setting based on meeting the 2011 Dietary Guidelines and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines. It sounds cool – but will people actually use it? Check it out at [Obama Foodorama]

Massachusetts Health Care Reform

It’s official – the mandatory health insurance plan for Massachusetts will go into effect on July 1st. Under these new healthcare reforms, MA residents will be required to have health insurance by December 2007, or will face penalties. A list of comprehensive plans, some subsidized, will be available from the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority for the general public. This plan, while vastly increasing access to healthcare in MA (through a number of other non-profit insurance agencies) , will inevitably “force major shifts in basic household budgets for many who have gone without insurance in the past and will struggle to pay monthly premiums.” Employers worry that their employees will demand pay raises to make ends meet if they will have to pay health insurance costs of at least $250 per month. Will the plan work or will the state struggle to keep it in place? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

See more in the Sunday Telegram.

A list of new health plans is available at

Michael Moore does it again

Michael Moore’s life goal must be to create as much controversy as he can…he’s done it again this time at the Cannes Film Festival with his newest project, “Sicko,” a documentary attacking the U.S. healthcare system in favor of socialized medical systems like those in Canada, the UK, and France. Moore, like many Americans, believes that the U.S. healthcare system is in dire need of reform. He even goes so far as to travel to a Cuban hospital to show off it’s excellent healthcare system (an action that caused him to get in trouble with President Bush). Yes, the U.S. desperately needs a more equitable healthcare system, but will Moore’s documentary really make a difference? We already know what needs to be done, it’s just not happening with the current administration.

The movie won’t be released to national theaters until June 29th, but you can track the ruckus it’s created at and other news sources.

Check out a short clip from the movie on YouTube.

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