Health Buzz: White House Draws Attention to Health Bills' Overlap

But big differences remain--such as where the money will come from to pay for the reforms.

Video: Health Insurance Basics

Video: Health Insurance Basics


White House Draws Attention to Health Bills' Overlap

While the Senate version of healthcare reform passed without a public option (it is included in the House bill), a White House spokesman says that on key elements the bills are nearly identical, Reuters reports. On Sunday during NBC's Meet the Press, Robert Gibbs said the president sees much overlap between the two versions. But the bills vary in their approach to funding the reform measures. For example, the House bill taxes individuals who make more than $500,000, while the Senate version taxes certain costly plans, according to Reuters.

[Read How the Senate Bill Would Change Healthcare and Why Health Reform Will Be a Danger to Passive Patients.]

A Sore-Throat Bug That Carries a Deadly Punch

Have you ever called the doctor's office hoping for a quick antibiotic fix for your sore throat, only to be told you'll need a strep test first? Strep can cause rheumatic fever, which is why your doctor wants to launch a quick antibiotic assault—if it is strep that's causing your sore throat, that is. If it's a virus, antibiotics won't help, and taking them only contributes to antibiotic resistance.

So if the strep test is negative, your doctor will send you packing, U.S. News contributor and physician Ford Vox writes. But one doctor, writing in a recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, says this simple strategy, backed by infectious disease specialists and public-health experts, is no longer viable for adolescents and young adults. Robert Centor, an internist and a dean at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, thinks our tight focus on what's best for strep has allowed the resurgence of a deadlier bug that the strep test misses altogether. It is euphoniously named Fusobacterium necrophorum. Read more.

[Read 7 Tips on Fighting Off a Cold and Diagnosing Strep Key to Curbing Rheumatic Heart Disease.]

The First Boomer's Heart Battle

Kathleen Casey Kirschling was born on New Year's Day, 1946, in a hospital a hundred miles away from the celebration in Manhattan's Times Square. If she had been born a second later than a second past midnight, she probably would have missed winning the title as the first of the nearly 80 million American baby boomers born over the next 18 years. As the flag-bearer for such an influential demographic bulge, Kirschling has seen her recent milestones turned into media events, with articles covering her 60th birthday, her trip to sign up for Social Security, and, undoubtedly, her upcoming 2011 enrollment in Medicare. For an entire generation of people, she serves as the reminder that, yes, even they are aging.

As it happens, Kirschling is also attempting to buck one large and worrisome trend among baby boomers. A 2007 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2000 they had more hospitalizations for heart disease than the 45-to-54-year-olds born 10 to 20 years before them. By 2030, when all boomers reach 65 and the Medicare population has doubled from what it is now, "high-risk baby boomers will place incredible demands on the already strained U.S. healthcare system," the authors wrote. At Kirschling's 45th high school reunion in October, five classmates spoke to her about their open-heart surgeries. Read more.

[Slide Show: 6 Reasons Most Americans Are at Risk for Heart Disease.] [Read: Concerned About Your Cholesterol? 10 Ways to Lower LDL and Raise HDL.]

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