How the Senate Bill Would Change Healthcare
President Obama said that today's Senate passage of a health bill means Congress is "incredibly close to making health insurance reform a reality in this country," the Associated Press reports. "Our challenge, then, is to finish the job," he said.
The last hurdle is a high one, though, U.S. News's Rick Newman writes. Like most of the deliberations so far, the House-Senate negotiations will probably be rancorous and tense, with familiar standoffs over the cost of healthcare reform, new fees and taxes, the virtues of a public option, abortion coverage, and pet projects that were rolled into the bill even though they have nothing to do with healthcare. One reason the final negotiations will be so daunting is that both bills contain hundreds of provisions that would impose new rules on insurers, healthcare providers, employers and patients, while also setting up numerous pilot programs to experiment with ways to provide better, cheaper care. Newman lists a few provisions of the Senate bill that would affect consumers the most, with a summary of how the House bill compares. Read more.
Scientists Are Changing the Definition of "Old Age"
If there were a pill that could add two decades to your life, would you swallow it? Not if you're like most people to whom scientist Matt Kaeberlein poses the question—they see it as an invitation to purgatory. But when the University of Washington longevity researcher dangles the prospect that those extra years would be spent spry and hale, not enfeebled and ill, people listen up, U.S. News's Lindsay Lyon writes.
Researchers like Kaeberlein are learning that the aging process—not only how long we live but how well—is remarkably elastic and can be manipulated. The lives of lab animals have been dramatically stretched in several ways—by tweaking their genes, feeding them drugs, changing their diets—that seem to make them age more slowly while prolonging good health.
In theory, these strategies all do the same thing: fool the body into reacting as it would to a harsh environment, going into survival mode. The question is whether such techniques also can be made to work—safely—in humans. Read more.
Help Your Kids Have a Happy Holiday Despite Recession
Parents may be wondering how to give their children a wonderful holiday when the kids too often think that the occasion is defined by presents. One third of kids ages 8 to 17 say they are more stressed out now than they were a year ago, according to a poll on kids and stress released last month by the American Psychological Association. And 30 percent of the children polled worry about their family's financial situation, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute writes.
"Disappointment is one of those life lessons we all need to learn," says Mary Alvord, a psychologist in Rockville, Md. To make the point that Christmas isn't a guaranteed lootfest without sounding stingy, try a phrase like this: "This year, like any other year, you might not get everything you want. We know that's hard, but you just have to be realistic. We do the best we can." And if you can't give you kids the Uggs or the Wii, think about what wonderfulness you can give, Shute writes. Read more.