First Edition: February 6, 2012
Today's headlines include reports about the continuing fall out from the Obama administration's birth control rule and the latest on the Komen foundation's efforts to bounce back from the Planned Parenthood funding flap.
Kaiser Health News: Hospitals Mine Their Patients' Records In Search Of Customers
Kaiser Health News' staff writer Phil Galewitz, working in collaboration with USA Today, reports: "Hospitals say they are promoting needed services, such as cancer screenings and cholesterol tests, but they often use the data to target patients with private health insurance, which typically pay higher rates than government coverage. At an industry conference last year, Provena Health marketing executive Lisa Lagger said such efforts had helped attract higher-paying patients, including those covered by 'profitable Blue Cross and less Medicare'" (Galewitz, 2/5).
Kaiser Health News tracked weekend health policy news developments, including reports about how the Susan G. Komen Foundation is seeking to restore public trust after Planned Parenthood funding dust up (2/4) and the efforts being advanced by the Catholic church in response to the Obama administration's birth control coverage rule (2/5).
The Wall Street Journal: Check Hospital Tab
Some Medicare beneficiaries who visit the hospital are getting surprised by big bills because their stays weren't considered inpatient services. The issue arises when a Medicare beneficiary who comes to a hospital is placed in a status called "observation care." This is supposed to mean that patient is being watched while doctors decide if she can be discharged, or if she is ill enough to be admitted as a true inpatient. Observation is typically supposed to last 48 hours or less (Mathews, 2/5).
Los Angeles Times: Birth-Control Fight Unlikely To Hurt Obama, His Strategists Say
Even as angry Catholic leaders vow to fight a new federal requirement that most employers include contraceptives in their health insurance coverage, the Obama administration believes any political damage will be limited because it's on the side of women's rights (Hennessey and Parsons, 2/6).
Politico: Kathleen Sebelius Defends Contraception Rule
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius argued Monday that a new rule which requires many religious employers to cover birth control in employee health plans respects those with "deeply held beliefs opposing the use of birth control" (Mak, 2/6).
Los Angeles Times: Catholics Plan Counter Attack On New Contraception Coverage
The Catholic Church reacted strongly Friday to a White House defense of new rules that will force many religious employers to provide contraception to their workers in government-mandated health insurance plans (Landsberg, 2/4).
NPR: The 'Morning After' Pill: How It Works And Who Uses It
Access to emergency contraception has swirled at the center of a recent flurry of debate over insurance coverage. It's a pill women can take if their birth control fails or they forget to use it (Neighmond, 2/6).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Surprises In Komen-Planned Parenthood Dustup: How Cancer Screening Is Done And Who Pays For It
To many people, breast cancer screening means a mammogram. But for millions of poor, mostly young women who visit Planned Parenthood, it is usually just a physical exam by the only health professional they may ever see. Those clinical breast exams are controversial — government advisers don’t endorse them. Yet for some, this simple exam has helped spot breast cancer. And Susan G. Komen for the Cure isn’t the only group paying Planned Parenthood to do them — the government does, too. Komen actually funds relatively few (2/4).
Politico: Planned Parenthood Gets Image Boost On Komen Win
Planned Parenthood has been under siege for a year, but in three days it managed to recast its controversial image thanks to a fight with Susan G. Komen. ... "I hope that there are members of Congress who will re-think their attacks not only on Planned Parenthood and on women's health, but really think about the importance of providing preventive care for women in America, and particularly those women who have nowhere else to turn," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told reporters Friday. ... It's not clear what effects the Komen fight will have on Planned Parenthood funding going forward – the lawmaker whose investigation spurred the Komen move, Rep. Cliff Stearns, has showed no sign of backing down. And conservative presidential candidates like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have both teed off on the reversal (Palmer and Bravender, 2/4).
The Washington Post: Susan G. Komen Foundation Takes Steps To Rebuild Trust After PR Fiasco
Executives of the embattled Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation held conference calls with affiliates Saturday to discuss a new strategy for working with supporters, a first step in rebuilding trust after last week’s public relations fiasco surrounding Komen's off-then-on-again decision to fund Planned Parenthood. ... The overall tone was positive, but there were "lots of tough and candid questions" from executive directors and local board members, said (a Komen) official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal communications (Sun and Kliff, 2/4).
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