First Edition: June 20, 2012
Today's headlines include reports that the Veterans' Administration will increase its mental health staffing.
Kaiser Health News: Q & A: Can I Be Denied Coverage For My Daughter Who Is Returning To College?
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers this question from a reader. Watch the video (4/19).
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Growth In Health Costs Limited As Americans Avoid Hospital Stays
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jay Hancock reports: "Americans continued to seek moderate amounts of medical care in the first quarter, helping insurer UnitedHealth Group beat profit expectations amid signs of continued restraint in health-care spending" (Hancock, 4/19). Check out what else is on the blog.
Los Angeles Times: House Passes 20% Tax Cut For Businesses
Despite a veto threat from President Obama, the Republican-led House approved a 20% election-year tax cut for most companies intended to entice them to pick up the pace of hiring and, thus, boost the economy. Democrats, though, said the 20% tax-cut measure comes as Republicans work to revamp Medicare and slash domestic programs, including the Meals on Wheels program for seniors (Mascaro and Lee, 4/19).
Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Analysis: A Romney Pick For Top U.S. Court? Frontrunners Emerge
As a candidate, Romney has pledged to nominate judges in the mold of the Supreme Court's four most conservative justices, and he has said the court should overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 opinion that said women have a right to an abortion. … Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general under President George W. Bush and is now a lawyer in private practice, is the favorite of many conservatives. Clement argued last month for the Supreme Court to strike down Obama's 2010 healthcare law (Ingram, 4/19).
NPR's SHOTS blog: Doctors Group Tells Patients To Go For Cheaper, High-Value Treatments
The American College of Physicians is urging patients with newly diagnosed diabetes and back pain not to opt for the latest-and-supposedly-greatest. It's part of a new campaign to steer patients (and their doctors) to what the College of Physicians calls "high value care," and away from expensive tests and treatments that aren't any better — and often are worse. ... Instead of highly touted diabetes brands such as Actos, Januvia and Avandia, the College of Physicians says, patients with type 2 diabetes should start out on a tried-and-true generic (Knox, 4/19).
The New York Times: Veterans Dept. Will Increase Mental Health Staffing
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Thursday that it plans to hire about 1,600 additional psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health clinicians in an effort to reduce long wait times for services at many veterans medical centers (Dao, 4/19).
USA Today: Veterans Affairs To Get 10% Hike In Mental Health Workers
The agency treats 1.3 million veterans for mental health problems, including nearly 400,000 who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are 10,000 new patients with post-traumatic stress disorder checking in at hospitals every three months, according to VA data (Zoroya, 4/19).
The Wall Street Journal: UnitedHealth's Net Rises As Membership Climbs
The Minnetonka, Minn., company, the largest-managed care firm by revenue and membership, raised its full-year earnings forecast while backing its revenue guidance. UnitedHealth, which added more than one million new members in the first quarter, also raised its full-year membership forecast (Kamp, 4/19).
Politico: Study: ACA Would Increase Continuous Coverage
The study concludes that provisions in the Affordable Care Act — such as allowing adults under age 26 to remain on their parents' insurance, expanding Medicaid, creating insurance exchanges and reforming the insurance market — can increase continuous insurance coverage among Americans. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act will "mean that people who lose their health benefits will be able to turn to a range of affordable insurance options that will enable them to gain insurance immediately rather than enduring months or years without coverage," the researchers wrote (Smith, 4/19).
The Texas Tribune/New York Times: In Tough Times, Three Planned Parenthood Branches Fight Back By Merging
Texas Planned Parenthood advocates have been outspoken about the hits they have taken from state lawmakers in the last year — including major cuts to family-planning financing, a new abortion sonogram law and being kicked out of a Medicaid health program for poor women (Ramshaw, 4/19).
Los Angeles Times: Nebraska Approves Prenatal Care For Illegal Immigrants
Nebraska legislators handed the governor a political defeat by overriding his veto of a bill that forced conservatives to choose among conflicting priorities, such as care for the unborn, illegal immigrants and even fiscal austerity. On the final day of the state’s legislative session Wednesday, lawmakers in the single-chamber, nonpartisan house overrode the governor’s veto of a prenatal health bill for illegal immigrants in a narrow 30-16 vote with three present but not voting (Muskal, 4/19).
The Washington Post: If Thompson Doesn’t Sell Chartered, It Will Likely Lose DC Health-Care Contract
Wayne Turnage, director of the District’s Department of Health Care Finance, told a D.C. Council committee that as long as D.C. Chartered Health Plan remains in Thompson’s hands, it should not expect to continue managing the health care of low-income city residents after its contract expires in May 2013 (DeBonis, 4/19).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: SC Health Agency Says Worker Stole Personal Information ON 228,000 Medicaid Patients
Authorities say personal information was stolen from more than 228,000 Medicaid patients in South Carolina. Anthony Keck is the state’s Health and Human Services director. He says information such as Medicaid ID numbers, names and addresses were taken by an employee. Keck says the employee compiled the data over several months and then sent it to his private email account (4/19).
Los Angeles Times: UCLA Doctor Sues Regents, Alleging Bias
A UCLA physician has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the UC Board of Regents, alleging that he was routinely publicly humiliated and once was depicted as a gorilla being sodomized in a slide show presentation during a resident graduation event. In a 40-page complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday, Dr. Christian Head, a head and neck surgeon, accused the university of failing to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation (Branson-Potts, 4/20).
The Wall Street Journal: Police, Pill Mills And Privacy
Politicians, law-enforcement officials and physicians in Kentucky are locking horns over a proposed bill to crack down on the abuse of prescription drugs, in a debate that pits patient privacy against efforts to curb the nation's expanding epidemic of addiction to painkillers. … The Republican-controlled Senate is considering a vote as early as Friday on a bill that would restrict ownership of pain clinics to licensed physicians and give law enforcement easier access to the state's prescription-drug database, which tracks writers and recipients of prescriptions, as well as where the drugs are dispensed (Martin, 4/19).
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