More to healthcare reform than attention-grabbing headlines

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News about healthcare reform is entirely inescapable at this point. The only way you could make it more ubiquitous would be to change the name “America's Healthy Future Act” to “Jon And Kate Plus Healthcare,” then have Angelina Jolie co-sponsor it.
 
Within this giant healthcare kerfuffle, news outlets, politicians, pundits and sideline crazies alike keep discussing the same provisions. Over and over again we hear “public option,” “employer mandates,” “Medicare cuts,” “public option,” “employer mandates,” “Medicare cuts,” etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam, in perpetuity, forever and ever.
 
So I thought I'd take a moment to highlight some of the lesser talked about provisions in the Senate Finance Committee bill. I've downloaded it, and it's been sitting on my desktop for the last week and a half, taking up 1.5 MB of disk space, and I've seldom used it for more than looking up specific language on such topics as Medicare, Medicaid and the public option. So here we go:
 
Page 46 of the bill contains a provision authorizing $30 million for a competitive grant program to support customer assistance programs in each state.
 
Not bad—$30 mil to help set up agencies that'll help regular folks understand their healthcare policies. So what kinds of agencies does the Finance Committee imagine will assume this role?
 
“Grantee organizations may include … commercial fishing organizations, ranching and farming organizations.”
 
Cool. You can get a fishing license AND info on your next HMO.
 
On page 212 of the bill, it stipulates that drug manufacturers report information that they apparently are already required to report under the Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987.
 
1987!!
 
It's taken countless hours, days and weeks of debate, but finally we're going to make those drug companies do what we theoretically made them do 22 years ago!
 
Ok, it's the end of the day, and I don't really want to sift through this giant document any more. I guess there's a reason none of this stuff makes it onto CNN. It's boring! It doesn't have nearly the headline-grabbing appeal of something like “government death panel” or “universal healthcare.”
 
But that doesn't make it any less important. I make fun, but those fishing and ranching agencies are perfectly positioned to give information and outreach to people out in remote rural areas. And getting needed services to rural seniors especially is a big deal. As the population ages in the next couple of decades, some areas of the country will see seniors comprise up to 30% of the rural population.
 
It's fantastically easy to get swept up in the sexier aspects of the debate, the ones that catch your eye and get you all riled up. But there are a whole bunch of lesser-known provisions tucked into the corners of these bills that could be of real help to everyone.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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