Daily Rounds: Cutting Health; Sexuality Questions; Legal Pot; Duchess Discharged

Patrick Budget Cuts Deal Blow To Rates Paid To Health Care Providers (State House News Service, via Wicked Local) “The bulk of Gov. Deval Patrick’s emergency budget cuts hit providers of care to Medicaid recipients, with over half of the spending reductions being taken from rates paid to MassHealth providers. Managed care organizations, nursing homes and fee-for-service providers saw the pot of money available for payments slashed by over $128 million on Tuesday. On Wednesday, state health officials interviewed by the News Service said the cuts should not impact patient access to care. “Nobody is getting paid less than they did in 2012,” Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby said, noting the savings are achieved by reducing increases in the reimbursement rates baked into the fiscal 2013 budget. While Patrick’s hand was forced by tax receipts that fell short of budget needs, some providers worry that a trend of turning to Medicaid rates to solve the state’s budget troubles could lead to patient access problems in the future if rates are not increased in the coming years.”

Answers About Female Sexuality, Part Two (The New York Times) — “Q. At 71 obviously my vagina is neither as tightly constructed nor as sensitive as in younger days. Until my current relationship with a slightly older partner having a narrow penis, this was never an issue; unfortunately, I am finding this a turnoff more and more, losing interest in him as a partner. I can barely feel him inside me! Is there any recommended position that might enhance my/our experience? — Ryn Writer, Due South A. Certainly changes associated with aging bodies, including vaginas and penises, can present challenges in the realm of sexuality. To enhance your sensation during sex, you may try to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by contracting them (the Kegel exercise) several times a day on your own and then do the same around your partner’s penis as he moves in and out of the vagina. For positioning, you may also place your legs straight, close together and parallel instead of widely apart while you are in the “missionary” or side-lying position. Last, use just enough water-based (rather than an oil- or silicone-based) lubricant to facilitate comfortable entry, but not so much that it eliminates pleasurable skin-against-skin friction.”

Smokers Celebrate As Washington Legalizes Marijuana (The Boston Herald) — “The crowds of happy people lighting joints under Seattle’s Space Needle early Thursday morning with nary a police officer in sight bespoke the new reality: Marijuana is legal under Washington state law. Hundreds gathered at Seattle Center for a New Year’s Eve-style countdown to 12 a.m., when the legalization measure passed by voters last month took effect. When the clock struck, they cheered and sparked up in unison. A few dozen people gathered on a sidewalk outside the north Seattle headquarters of the annual Hempfest celebration and did the same, offering joints to reporters and blowing smoke into television news cameras. “I feel like a kid in a candy store!” shouted Hempfest volunteer Darby Hageman. “It’s all becoming real now!”

Catherine leaves Hospital After Acute Morning Sickness Treatment (CNN) — “Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, left hospital Thursday morning, three days after being admitted for acute morning sickness. She emerged from the hospital accompanied by her husband Prince William and was driven away by a waiting car. A St. James’s Palace spokesman said: “The Duchess of Cambridge has been discharged from the King Edward VII Hospital and will now head to Kensington Palace for a period of rest.‬ “Their Royal Highnesses would like to thank the staff at the hospital for the care and treatment The Duchess has received.” News of her pregnancy was announced Monday when Catherine was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital with hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition which involves nausea and vomiting more severe than the typical morning sickness many women suffer during early pregnancy.”

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