Blog | Monday, November 23, 2009

QD: News Every Day--health reform legislation takes small step forward

ACP Internist's daily digest of news and events continues with updates on the health care reform vote and H1N1 influenza, as well as the USPSTF's breast cancer screening recommendations.

Health care reform
The Senate voted 60-39 Saturday to open debate on health care reform legislation after the Thanksgiving holidays. As expected, the vote was along party lines, with 58 Democratic senators and two independents supporting debate and 39 Republicans opposing (one Republican senator was not present for the vote). But the bill's inclusion of a government-run option threatens the Democratic caucus, today's Washington Post reported. Key Democrats such as Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas have said they will not vote for the bill if it includes a public option, while others, such as Sherrod Brown of Ohio, staunchly support the bill as (or nearly as) written.

Debate on the bill is expected to begin on Monday, Nov. 30, and continue through December. (New York Times, Washington Post)

H1N1 influenza
The CDC reported Friday that spread of H1N1 influenza seems to have slowed in the U.S. recently, with 43 states now having widespread activity compared with 46 states a week ago and 48 states at the beginning of the month. However, "it's still much greater than we would ever see at this time of year," Anne Schuchat, FACP, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, pointed out at a news conference. Dr. Schuchat also reported on the improved availability of the H1N1 vaccine--"11 million doses more than we were at a week ago"--and urged people to practice basic infection control measures such as handwashing, especially as the holiday travel season begins. (

In case you missed it ...
Coverage of the USPSTF's new guidelines on breast cancer screening, published in the Nov. 17 Annals of Internal Medicine, continues. The Washington Post features a related Q&A with Kay Dickersin, PhD, director of the U.S. Cochrane Center and the Center for Clinical Trials at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and herself a breast cancer survivor, while the New York Times looks at the Task Force members' reaction to the "maelstrom" that followed the guidelines' release. Meanwhile, USA Today interviewed several major insurers and found that as of now, none plan to stop covering mammograms based on the new guidelines. (Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today)