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Specter Gets Rowdy Earful At Forum, Other Lawmakers Change Tactics To Hear Constituents

More than 1, 000 people showed up at a Pennsylvania community college auditorium that seated only 250 to tell Sen. Arlen Specter what they thought of the plan to reform health care in America, and much of it was negative and "seething with frustration, " The New York Times reports. "Like many of the dozens of such meetings held by members of Congress over the last few weeks, this one was punctuated with rowdy moments, and interviews with many of those who showed up made it clear just how much underlying dissent motivated them. Many said the Obama administration's plans for a new health care system were just another example of a federal government that had again gone too far, just as it had, they said, with the economic stimulus, the auto industry bailout and the cap-and-trade program.

Extended Medicare Safety Net Bill, Australia

With the Health Insurance Amendment (Extended Medicare Safety Net) Bill 2009 to be considered by the Senate this week, the AMA today calls on the Government to make public the safety net economic modelling that underpins a policy that will make vital medical services more expensive for working Australians. Under the Bill, patients would pay more for private obstetric services and assisted reproductive technologies (ART), better known as IVF. AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said that the Government had made some concessions following lobbying by the medical profession, but the changes do not go far enough to ease the financial burden on families.

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Investments To Stretch Health Care Dollars

Because of the costs, many Americans are thinking twice before seeking health care or filling a prescription. Even people with health insurance are paying more as premiums rise and employers pay less of the bill. The August issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers tips to save money by working closely with care providers, being informed about insurance, price shopping for prescriptions, avoiding hospital stays when possible, and taking steps to stay well. Money-saving ideas include: With providers: -- Ask in advance about fees, including an estimate of the total expenses for your care. Check with the insurance company about what's covered.

Myths About Health Care Reform Further Snarl Debate, Bioethicists Say

The ongoing debate surrounding the effort to reform the U.S. health-care system has stirred charges that the proposed changes would pose significant threats to patient choice, but a group of the nation's leading bioethics scholars refutes those claims and says that allowing the status quo to continue would be unethical. "I worry that in the heat of debate about arguably the most important domestic public policy issue of the past 40 years, we will lose the chance to pass comprehensive health reform because of some well-placed ads and rumors, " said Eric M. Meslin, Ph.D., a member of the Association of Bioethics Program Directors and director of the Indiana University Center for Bioethics.

Controversy Follows Advance Care Planning Consultations

Amid continuing controversy, advance care planning consultations on end-of-life care are losing favor. NPR reports: "The story has spread so fast even President Obama got asked about it at one of his town hall meetings. But no, the health care overhaul bill now working its way through Congress would not require seniors to learn how to die prematurely. ... The claims have been highly upsetting to groups like the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, which strongly support what the bill really does - pay health care providers to talk to Medicare patients about creating so-called advance directives, or ways to express their health care desires in writing before they become incapacitated.

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Anger At Town Halls Continues, Sides Trade Barbs

Lawmakers home for August recess ran into still more anger at town halls over the proposed health care overhaul. The New York Times : "The queries hurled at legislators from the Atlantic Seaboard to the nation's midsection reflected deep-seated fears, a general suspicion of government and, in some cases, a lack of knowledge on the part of the questioners. At the White House, President Obama's chief spokesman, Robert Gibbs, was asked again on Wednesday if, perhaps, the administration had not done a good enough job explaining and selling the proposed health care overhaul. Mr. Gibbs suggested that the media bore some of the blame, for doing too many 'X said this, Y said this' stories, without rooting out, and pointing out, unambiguous falsehoods" (Stout, 8/12).

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