The Takeaway: Perry/Romney Badminton Continues; Gov’t Shutdown Looms; Prostate Patients on Medicare Do Worse

Not Flip-Flopping! Oh, goodness-accusations of ‘flip-flopping’ (that infamous insult from presidential campaigns of yore) featured prominently in last night’s GOP debate in Florida, as presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rick Perry accused each other of being inconsistent on Social Security, gun rights and health care. The debate-which included seven other GOP candidates and focused on character and credibility as much as political issues-gave birth to another clash (surprise, surprise) between Romney and Perry over Social Security. The two men quibbled over whether Perry had actually called the program ‘unconstitutional’ (Romney says he did, Perry says he didn’t). And Perry called out Romney for removing a line from the paperback edition of his book that advocated expanding Massachusetts’ health reform program to the rest of the country (Romney said this is untrue).

“It’s like badminton,” said Perry.

Yes-like an incredibly tedious but potentially very important game of badminton. Sigh … Can we get a straight answer on plans for Social Security from anybody, please? Anybody? 

Meanwhile, In Washington …The federal government is again lurching toward a possible shutdown, with the Democratic-controlled Senate expected to reject a government funding bill passed this morning by the Republican-controlled House. The bill is needed to temporarily fund the federal government once the new fiscal year begins next week, and to provide more money to FEMA, which is struggling fiscally after this year’s succession of tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and wildfires. Democrats, of course, blame the Republicans:

“We’re watching the ‘tea-party’-shutdown movie for the third time this year,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.). “The American people are fed up with the strategy of shutting down our government and threatening to do it time and again over issues large and small.”

But Republicans insist that FEMA funding must be paid for by cutting other spending, particularly green energy programs-a plan which Democrats find (to put it mildly) disagreeable. So that leave us … where?

Prostate Patients on Medicare Fare Worse: A new study found that American men who have surgery for prostate cancer seem to do better if they have private insurance rather than public coverage through Medicare or Medicaid. This isn’t the first study to find differences in surgery outcomes between privately and publicly insured patients (previous studies looked at colorectal study, neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery, just to name a few). “At the end of the day,” said researcher Dr. Quoc-Dien Trinh, “it is hard to decipher the root causes of this effect, but it is very real and has significance as we approach changes to the healthcare system in the coming years.”

Friday Quick Hits: A new study says it actually takes a lot longer to lose weight than ‘experts’ routinely tell dieters it takes (in other words, you can forget one pound a week every week) … Advice on age-proofing your resume … Pesticides used to kill bedbugs are making some people ill …Women over 65 are at greater risk of dying from breast cancer than younger women-and it may have nothing to do with the disease itself … Hospitals face drug shortages and price gouging … And why do legislators want to do away with tax incentives that encourage people to save for retirement?

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