Today’s Headlines – June 4, 2012

Good Monday morning! Here are your headlines:

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Looming Court Ruling Worries Some With Health Woes
PCIP is a temporary government program set up to run until 2014, when the Obama healthcare law is due to take full effect and prevent insurance companies from the common practice of denying people coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions. About 60,000 Americans already are receiving medical coverage through the program, according to the Obama administration (Morgan, 6/3). Also, Reuters has a related factbox.

The Washington Post: Agency Taps Two Contractors In Fight Against Fraud
Under pressure to reduce fraud, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services is turning to local contractors to manage a two-pronged approach to rooting out sham claims (Censer, 6/3).

For more headlines …

The Associated Press/Washington Post: In Fight To Repeal Medical Device Tax, GOP Takes Offensive On Jobs And Obama Health Care Law
For Republicans, it’s an irresistible trifecta: A bill that gives them an election-season chance to say they’re fighting to protect jobs and cut taxes, even as it erodes financing for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul they despise. So though it is destined to die in the Democratic-run Senate, GOP leaders plan to push legislation through the House this week to repeal an excise tax on the makers of medical devices sold in the U.S. sales (6/4).

The Wall Street Journal: Big Changes In College Health Plans
Some colleges are dropping student health-insurance plans for the coming academic year and others are telling students to expect sharp premium increases because of a provision in the federal health law requiring plans to beef up coverage (Radnofsky, 6/3).

Los Angeles Times: Health Insurers Owe Rebates To Many California Policyholders
Anthem Blue Cross owes some California policyholders nearly $40 million in rebates and nonprofit rival Blue Shield of California owes about $11 million under a requirement of the federal healthcare law (Terhune, 6/2).

The New York Times: Pain Pills Add Cost And Delays To Job Injuries
Workplace insurers spend an estimated $1.4 billion annually on narcotic painkillers, or opioids. But they are also finding that the medications, if used too early in treatment, too frequently or for too long, can drive up associated disability payouts and medical expenses by delaying an employee’s return to work. Workers who received high doses of opioid painkillers to treat injuries like back strain stayed out of work three times longer than those with similar injuries who took lower doses, a 2008 study of claims by the California Workers Compensation Institute found (Meier, 6/2).

Los Angeles Times: California Health Insurance Exchange Awards Operational Contract
California’s new health insurance exchange awarded a contract worth nearly $360 million to create a website and enrollment system to help Californians shop for health coverage and determine whether they are eligible for subsidies under the federal healthcare law starting late next year (Terhune, 6/1).

The Washington Post: New Tactic In War On Obesity: Attack Portion Size
This past week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) tried a new tactic: He proposed limiting sugary drinks sold by restaurants, cinemas, street vendors and stadiums in his city to 16 ounces. (Grocery stores would be exempt.) … The move intensified the debate over how far government should go to steer individual behavior in the name of health and drew immediate scorn from the $75 billion-per-year soft drink industry (Vastag and Aizenman, 6/2).

The New York Times: Soda Industry Maps Strategy To Defeat Bloomberg Plan To Ban Super-Size Drinks
the industry was blindsided this week when Mr. Bloomberg introduced a totally new tactic in his campaign: an outright ban on sales of large-size sweetened beverages at virtually all of the city’s restaurants, street carts and theaters.  Now the industry’s army of lobbyists and researchers, who have proven adept at combating other government regulatory efforts, find themselves unexpectedly scrambling to find the right counterattack to this new front in a growing national debate over the health of their products (Grynbaum, 6/2).

Politico: Massachusetts Bogged Down With Health Care Challenge
Gov. Deval Patrick wants Massachusetts to “crack the code” on health care costs, a punchy slogan he uses when he’s promoting nationally the Bay State’s cost-containment efforts. But transforming his ambition into policy has produced some messy sausage-making in his state Legislature. Key stakeholders aren’t sure whether the springtime rush to craft a state approach to health care costs will create a national model — much the way Massachusetts’s 2006 coverage expansion signed by Gov. Mitt Romney helped create a framework for President Barack Obama’s 2010 national health law. In fact, some are wondering whether the cost-savings effort will even work in Massachusetts (Cheney and Millman, 6/3).

Los Angeles Times: California Health Insurance Exchange Awards Operational Contract
California’s new health insurance exchange awarded a contract worth nearly $360 million to create a website and enrollment system to help Californians shop for health coverage and determine whether they are eligible for subsidies under the federal healthcare law starting late next year (Terhune, 6/1).

Los Angeles Times: Traditional Dentistry Wary Of Dental Therapists
(Crystal Ann) Baker, who treats low-income patients in St. Paul, Minn., is among the nation’s first dental therapists — an innovative and controversial health position intended to fill socioeconomic and geographic gaps in dental care. With nearly 17 million children nationwide lacking dental care and health reform expected to increase demand, California and other states are exploring similar models to expand the dental workforce, setting the stage for a series of battles with dentist organizations that warn that patient safety is at stake (Gorman, 6/3).

The Washington Post: Va. Health Dept. Releases Proposal Of Regulations For Abortion Clinics
The Virginia Health Department has released its proposed regulations governing abortion clinics — rules that opponents say could put the clinics out of business. Emergency regulations have been in effect since Jan. 1. The state Board of Health will vote on the permanent regulations June 15. The proposed regulations are similar to the emergency regulations, which are considered some of the toughest in the country. They regulate the size of exam rooms and hallways and the number of parking spaces; and address requirements for inspections, medical procedures and record-keeping (6/2).