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Republicans inherit doc-fix problem

Medicare recipients played a big role in swinging Tuesday’s elections in favor of Republicans, according to exit polls.
People 65 and older comprised 23 percent of voters. CNN analyzed exit polls and determined that most voted for Republicans – 58 percent in this election compared to 49 percent two years ago.
It would be interesting to know how many of these voters have had conversations with their physicians about the “doc-fix” problem.
Political pundits have pointed to the massive health care reform law as a primary reason for voter shift to Republicans, but these pundits have not even mentioned the unfinished business with Medicare.
When Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, they repeatedly failed to permanently address cutbacks in Medicare reimbursements tied to a sustainable growth rate formula. This formula will cause a 25 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians.
Congress over the past year kept delaying action by granting temporary reprieves. Some doctors stopped taking Medicare or warned patients that they might have to take this action.
The last reprieve is about to expire.
What will the Republican-controlled House of Representatives do about Medicare?

SBA offering higher loan amounts

The Small Business Administration this month began offering bigger loans.
The larger amounts are possible because of the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act. The maximum amount for some loans has increased from $2 million to $5 million.
The microloan limits have also been increased from $35,000 to $50,000.
For more specific details about the changes visit:
www.sba.gov/idc/groups/public/documents/sba_homepage/news_release_10-59.pdf

Bicyclists going against traffic

As someone who rides a bicycle on a weekly basis, I think it’s wonderful that Memphis is finally becoming a more bicycle friendly city.
The new trails are great, and I hope to see bike lanes on city streets soon. But I don’t think we in Memphis know enough about bike safety. I’m talking about adults here.
Case in point: When about to make a right-hand turn this morning, I encountered a bicyclist going the wrong way against traffic.
This occurred at a corner where a wall blocked visibility. Luckily, the bicyclist turned the corner seconds before I did, and I was driving slowly enough to avoid a collision. The bicyclist was not even wearing a helmet, but I doubt a helmet would have given much protection had a head-on collision occurred.
I Googled for bicycle safety rules this morning and came across a website with some great safety tips. Check out bicyclesafe.com for tips on “How to Not Get Hit by Cars.”

Women-owned businesses to get contracts

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced this week that it had begun a four-month process to set up a program to help women-owned firms secure more government contracts.
Contracts should become available to the firms early next year, the agency said.
The firms must be 51 percent owned by women. The SBA has identified 83 industries where women are under-represented in federal procurements.
Businesses can self-certify for this program on the Online Representation and Certification Application website: orca.bpn.gov.

To learn more about the program, visit:

www.sba.gov/idc/groups/public/documents/sba_homepage/news_release_10-55.pdf

TennCare requests will heat up phone lines

The number of people in Tennessee’s program, TennCare, is about to increase. TennCare is opening enrollment to new applicants beginning Monday evening. People can call 1-866-358-3230 between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to request an application.
To be eligible, applicants must have enough unpaid medical bills to meet a “spend down” threshold to qualify for the coverage. The line will be open on following weekdays until 2,500 interested people call to request applications.
Tennessee is not the only state adding to the rolls of its public insurance program.
States reported an 8.8 percent increase in Medicaid spending during 2010, according a report released this week by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
State directors of Medicaid programs attributed the increase in spending to more families becoming eligible because of joblessness.
For details about the TennCare , visit: www.state.tn.us/tenncare/

Dansette

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