The nation's struggles with physician and nurse shortages are evident as health care reform takes shape. NPR reports on medical camps that try to recruit doctors to rural areas: "It was a Third World scene with an American setting. Hundreds of tired and desperate people crowded around an aid worker with a bullhorn, straining to hear the instructions and worried they might be left out. ... For the past 10 years, during late weekends in July, the fairgrounds in Wise [Va.] have been transformed into a mobile and makeshift field hospital providing free care for those in need. The 2009 Remote Area Medical (RAM) Expedition comes to the Virginia Appalachian mountains as Congress and President Obama wrestle with a health care overhaul.
"Premiums for small employers have been rising by double-digit increases for a few years, and they don't have the negotiating power of larger employers, " the Hartford (Conn.) Courant reports. This year's increases are even higher than usual, on top of an economic recession. Connecticut businesses are resorting to drastic measures to preserve employee's coverage, or are forced to drop it all together. "Some small businesses are switching to new plans that shift more medical costs to employees, often requiring them to pay a larger portion of premiums. Some business owners are leaving the group insurance market and buying cheaper individual policies for themselves and sometimes employees if health problems don't disqualify them, " the Courant reports.
Various news outlets examined the state of the administration's health reform push. Roll Call reports that the Administration's alliances with major health organizations may not be as strong as previously thought. "An analysis of these groups' positions suggests few are completely on board and several may oppose the president in the end. Obama and his aides do not explicitly say health providers like hospitals and drugmakers back the president's proposals. But it would take a careful reading of comments out of the White House to understand this." Members of the administration have said that doctors, nurses, hospitals, drug companies, AARP and other groups are supportive.
Researchers at the Peninsula Medical School have received a grant of over Â 39, 000 from the charity Deafness Research UK, to investigate the role of brain tumours causing deafness in children and adults and the development of therapies using in vitro models. These tumours and a variety of other tumours are caused by mutations affecting a protein called merlin, which in turn cause cancers in a range of cell types including Schwann cells in the nervous system. Schwann cells produce the sheaths that surround and insulate neurons. Although the tumours are benign, they are frequent. They can be inherited and come in numbers. The sheer number of them can overwhelm a patient, often leading to deafness and eventually to death.
Abortion coverage could become the next "sticking point" in debates over health reform between the House leadership and conservative Democrats, the Los Angeles Times reports. During most of the battle over a health care overhaul, abortion-related issues have taken a "back seat" to clashes between House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats over the cost of the House bill ( HR 3200 ). However, reproductive health issues are increasingly coming into play, with some other conservative Democrats threatening to withdraw support for the bill if coverage of abortion services is not explicitly excluded from receiving federal funding.
Various states weigh in about health care reform with particular concerns about financial difficulties and different reform models. Massachusetts looks to its own experience to offer advice. The Boston Globe reports: "If you want to know how the proposed overhaul of the US healthcare system may play out nationally, talk to top executives at the biggest medical and life sciences companies in Massachusetts. As the heads of leading hospitals, insurers, and biotechnology companies, they have dealt with the complexities of near-universal healthcare since 2006, when Massachusetts became the first state to mandate insurance coverage." As the debate over health reform continues in Washington, the executives offer warnings that two Obama administration goals - expanding insurance coverage and controlling spending - are potentially incompatible.