Cheery Health News From Miss Diagnosis

Health reform developments continue to roll in at press-defying speeds. The Senate bill's public option may be on its death bed, as Democrats consider replacing it with a Medicare buy-in option for people 55 or older and expansion of Medicaid from 133 percent to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

Another option on the table is allowing the government to contract with insurers to set up coverage for uninsured people, similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Additionally, the Senate rejected Sen. Bill Nelson's amendment, which was nearly identical to the House bill's Stupak amendments and would have further restricted abortion services.

Drug makers, however, are still on the docket, with an amendment under consideration that would allow pharmacies and and drug wholesalers to purchase FDA-approved generic prescription drugs from certain foreign countries instead of Big Pharma. Guess who doesn't want to see that amendment pass?

Not to be outdone, H1N1 jostles for a place on the front page. A new study published by the Public Library of Science estimates that illness, hospitalization and death from the fall and winter H1N1 season will NOT exceed that of regular seasonal flu.

However, the prevalence of death and severe illness will be primarily experienced by young adults and young children rather than the elderly. The authors warn that their estimates depend upon an assumption regarding the total rate of infection, and that severity could increase if the virus mutates or if stress on the health care system leads to suboptimal treatment of severe cases.

Another study from NYU and the NIH found severe airway damage upon autopsy of H1N1 victims as well as an increased risk of death for young people, obese people or those with chronic underlying conditions such as asthma.