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20% of Americans lacked health insurance in last two years: MedCity Morning Read, Dec. 17, 2009

Nearly one in five Americans lacked health insurance at one point since January 2008, a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control revealed.

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Highlights of the important and the interesting from the world of health care:

One in five lacked insurance: Nearly one in five Americans lacked health insurance at one point since January 2008, a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed. That equates to 58.4 million of our fellow Americans. Perhaps more disturbingly, a whopping 11 percent of Americans went more than an entire year without health insurance. Why does that matter? Because, according to one estimate, 45,000 Americans die every year due to a lack of health insurance. Depressingly, the only Congressional health bill that would really “bend the cost curve” and provide Americans with a health system that actually, uh, makes sense was unceremoniously shot down yesterday. Says the bill’s sponsor, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders:

“The only way I will know that you’re going to have real cost containment and comprehensive universal health care is a Medicare-for-all, single-payer bill – and that’s certainly not going to pass. If you don’t have that, then at least you have to provide real competition for the private insurance companies through a public option.”  

Is “major cancer breakthrough” really that major? You’ll wake up to many articles this morning proclaiming that scientists have made a major breakthrough in cracking the genetic codes for skin and lung cancer. But David Freedman, writing at Fast Company, explains why these misleading articles should be taken with several shakers of salt:

Sure, some really fine science took place here, and some day we may get something from it. But it’s fundamental research that is of little or no foreseeable relevance to your or my prospects for getting lung or skin cancer, or for having much luck with treatment if we do.

Public support for health reform sagging: A new Washington Post – ABC News poll shows that the number of Americans who support the proposed federal health care overhaul is declining, and likewise, the number who oppose it is rising. And it’s exacting a toll President Obama’s approval ratings. Only 44 percent of Americans support health overhaul, compared with 51 percent who are against it. A month ago, the poll found 48 percent of people supported overhaul and 49 percent were against it. And Obama’s approval ratings are down to 50 percent from 56 percent a month earlier. Separately, a Gallup/USA Today poll shows that 48 percent of Americans would urge their representatives to vote against the overhaul, while 46 percent are in favor.

About the only good news for Democrats is that Americans still trust the president more than Republicans in Congress to handle the economy, health care and energy policy, although those margins, too, have been slipping, according to the Post. For Republicans the lesson here seems to be that the longer they can drag out the health battle, even if some form of legislation eventually passes, the better their chances of shaving down Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in next year’s mid-term elections.

VCs expect industry to downsize: Venture capitalists widely agree that their industry will shrink in the next five years, they just differ on the size of the downturn, according to the annual industry survey from the National Venture Capital Association. A whopping 90 percent of the survey’s 325 respondents said the number of the firms in the industry would shrink. As for the amount of “shrinkage,” the most popular answer was a range of 16 percent to 30 percent.  But in an example of the “It-can’t-happen-to-us” mentality, 63 percent said the number of investment professional at their firms would remain the same.

On a positive note, more than half believe venture investment will increase in 2010, though perhaps that’s just because investment this year was so weak.