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Commonly Used Medications May Produce Cognitive Impairment In Older Adults

Many drugs commonly prescribed to older adults for a variety of common medical conditions including allergies, hypertension, asthma, and cardiovascular disease appear to negatively affect the aging brain causing immediate but possibly reversible cognitive impairment, including delirium, in older adults according to a clinical review now available online in the Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging, a peer reviewed, open access publication. Drugs, such as diphenhydramine, which have an anticholinergic effect, are important medical therapies available by prescription and also are sold over the counter under various brand names such as Benadryl®

Nancy-Ann DeParle: Congress Very Much On Track

Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, predicted in an interview with Kaiser Health News that a comprehensive health care reform bill would reach President Obama by Thanksgiving, and that she hasn't given "a moment's thought" to accepting a scaled-back package. She said the congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care are "all very much on a track to do exactly what the president has asked them to do and to mark up bills that are very similar to the plan he articulated during the campaign." Asked whether the president would sign a bill that relied mainly on new taxes to pay for an overhaul, she replied, "No.

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A Selection Of Viewpoints And Perspectives

A Red State Booster Shot - The Washington Post Those in the red states still smarting over Barack Obama's election victory can perhaps take solace in this: The Democrats' No. 1 domestic policy initiative, universal health care, is likely to help red America at the expense of blue (Alec MacGillis, 5/31). Better Health Care: Balancing Better Options - Politico I have developed a proposal that helps to unlock access to affordable health coverage by requiring insurance companies in every state to offer a low-cost health insurance policy to every person, regardless of his or her health or what job he or she has (Sen. Judd Gregg, 6/1). The Wisdom Of Mandates - The Boston Globe For all the fiscal problems the Commonwealth now faces, its three-year-old universal health insurance reform cannot be blamed for driving up state government costs uncontrollably (Editorial, 5/31).

With Health Reform Uncertain, Maryland Hospitals Consolidate

"Facing difficult economic times and the uncertainties of national health care reform, some Maryland hospitals are choosing to be swallowed up by larger medical systems, with an unusual string of mergers over the past 16 months and more likely on the way, " The Baltimore Sun reports. The consolidations could offer benefits to all those involved. Small hospitals gain "the hope of safe harbor from whatever financial storms are on the horizon, hospital chains "get footholds in new areas, where they can build market share and increase the number of patients they serve, " and patients may "gain access to large networks of top-notch doctors, even if the patients live many miles from a major medical institution.

GM Files For Bankruptcy, Union Health Plan Changes

The United Auto Workers' benefits plan is expected to receive a nearly 20 percent ownership stake in General Motors as a result of the automaker's bankruptcy filing today and proposed restructuring, the Washington Post reports (Whoriskey, 6/1). The bankruptcy will cause drastic changes in UAW retirees health benefits, Time reports. The GM stock awarded to the VEBA, or Voluntary Employees Benefit Association, is near worthless, and the those who depend on the benefits are uneasy, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger told Time. GM's VEBA has $9.4 billion in assets, only enough for three years of the 377, 000 retirees' benefits. "In less than four years, blue-collar retirees have gone from modest co-pay and deductibles to footing 25 percent of the their bill for health.

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Lawmakers Examining Nonprofit Hospitals' Tax Breaks

Nonprofit hospitals will lobby Congress to keep hands off their charitable status - which grants large tax exemptions, costing the government revenue - as lawmakers plan a health care overhaul, the New York Times reports. The leading senators of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, are considering a requirement that hospitals must provide a set amount of free care to benefit from the tax perks. "A formulaic, one-size-fits-all charity care standard will hamstring hospitals' efforts to respond to the unique needs of their communities, " according to an American Hospital Association bulletin described in the Times (Pear, 6/1).

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