First Edition: January 16, 2013

Published on January 16, 2013 at 11:20 AM · No Comments

Today's headlines include reports examining how mental health issues play a role in efforts to curb gun violence and expand gun control efforts.  

Kaiser Health News: Slowly Dying Patients, An Audit And A Hospice's Undoing
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Randy Dotinga writes: "Across the country, hospices with generous admissions policies may find themselves on life support too. Medicare, which heavily funds hospice programs, is cracking down on the industry's growing habit of embracing those whose deaths aren't imminent. It's not clear how many hospice programs are being investigated. But there's definitely an increased level of scrutiny, said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization" (Dotinga, 1/16). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Study: Seniors Look For Star Ratings On Medicare Advantage Plans
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Ankita Rao reports: "America's seniors are benefiting from a star rating system that ranks the quality of Medicare Advantage plans, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association" (Rao, 1/16). Check out what else is on the blog.

The New York Times: For 'Party Of Business,' Allegiances Are Shifting
Big business is so fearful of economic peril if Congress does not allow the government to keep borrowing -; to pay creditors, contractors, program beneficiaries and many others -; that it is nearly united in skepticism of, or outright opposition to, House Republicans' demand that Mr. Obama first agree to equal spending cuts in benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid (Calmes, 1/15).

Politico: AARP's Barry Rand: Mend, Don't End Entitlements
The head of the AARP on Tuesday acknowledged changes must be made to programs like Medicare and Social Security, but said cuts to those entitlements aren't a solution to the nation's fiscal woes (Glueck, 1/15).

USA Today: New Website Part Of Push For Uninsured To Get Coverage
The federal government Wednesday kicks off an effort to raise awareness about the most controversial part of the health care law -; the requirement that the uninsured buy health care insurance. Wednesday morning, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to relaunch its website to try to draw in the millions of uninsured people needed to make the health care law work when open enrollment in state and federal health care exchanges begins in October (Kennedy, 1/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: US Appeals Judge's Ruling Allowing Religious Publisher To Reject Contraceptive Coverage
The Obama administration is appealing a judge's order that is temporarily preventing the government from forcing a Christian publishing company to provide its employees with certain contraceptives under the new health care law (1/15).

Politico: Biomedical Science At Stake With Sequestration
From his perch at the National Institutes of Health's sprawling campus in Bethesda, Md., Director Francis Collins is eyeing the impending sequestration cuts warily. If lawmakers don't find a way to blunt the across-the-board cuts, the government's premier medical research center will lose 6.4 percent of its budget -; a cut Collins calls a "profound and devastating blow" for medical research at a time of unprecedented scientific discovery (Cunningham, 1/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Pension Funding Gap Widens For Big Cities
Major U.S. cities emerged from the financial crisis with increasingly underfunded pension and retiree health-care plans, according to a study released Tuesday. Cities employing nearly half of U.S. municipal workers saw their pension and retiree health-care funding levels fall from 79% in fiscal year 2007 to 74% in fiscal year 2009, using the latest available data, according to the Pew Center on the States (Ackerman, 1/15).

The Washington Post: Obama To Announce Most Expansive Gun-Control Agenda In Generations
In addition to background checks and restrictions on military-style guns and ammunition magazines, Obama is expected to propose mental health and school safety initiatives such as more federal funding for police officers in schools, according to lawmakers and interest group leaders whom White House officials briefed on the plans (Rucker, 1/15).

Los Angeles Times: New York State Adopts Toughest Gun Laws In U.S.
The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act, gives New York the toughest gun laws in the nation and touches on the mental health issues that both pro-gun and anti-gun activists say should be part of any new legislation. Among its key provisions is one requiring the revocation or suspension of gun licenses held by people who are deemed a danger to society by mental health workers. The bill would require mental health workers to report such patients to authorities (Susman, 1/15).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Experts Say Proposed NY Gun Law Could Hinder Mental Health Treatment Of Dangerous People
Mental health experts say a new tougher New York state gun control law might interfere with treatment of potentially dangerous people and even discourage them from seeking help (1/15).

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