First Edition: May 31, 2012

Today's headlines include reports about various health-related measures currently on the move in Congress.

Kaiser Health News: Oregon's $2 Billion Medicaid Bet
Oregon Public Broadcasting's Kristian Foden-Vencil, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat and a former emergency room doctor, has convinced the federal government that he has a way to make Medicaid treatment better, and cheaper, by completely changing the way the sickest people in Oregon get health care" (Foden-Vencil, 5/30). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Psychiatric Patients Languish In Emergency Rooms
Colorado Public Radio's Eric Whitney, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Last fall Kathy Partridge got a phone call from a local emergency room, telling her that her daughter, Jessie Glasscock, was there -- and was OK. Glasscock had gone missing overnight.  She was away at college, and had a history of manic episodes. Police had found her in a dumpster and brought her to the ER for her own safety.  It was a huge relief for her mother – but she was completely surprised by what happened next" (Whitney, 5/31). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Poll: 42% Of Women Take Action In Contraception Debates; Online One-Stop Shop For Navigating Patient Data Laws; Health Savings Account Membership Up 18 Percent
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Mary Agnes Carey reports on new poll findings: "More than four in 10 women have taken action, such as donating money or trying to change a friend's opinion, in response to recent controversies over women's reproductive health issues, according to a new survey" (Carey, 5/31).

Also on the blog, Shefali S. Kulkarni writes about a new one-stop shop for navigating patient data laws: "As more patient information goes digital, health providers, insurers and government officials are having a tougher time navigating the patchwork of state and federal laws that dictate what information can be shared without violating patient confidentiality" (Kulkarni, 5/30). 

In addition, Jay Hancock reports on health savings account membership: "HSA membership rose from 11.4 million in January 2011 to 13.5 million in January 2012, with most of the growth occurring in plans offered by large employers, according to an annual census by America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry lobby. Since 2008 HSA membership has more than doubled" (Hancock, 5/30). Check out what else is on the blog.

The Washington Post: Medical Device Tax Repeal Bill Gains Some Ground
Makers of medical devices are gaining some momentum in a vigorous campaign to persuade Congress to scrap a tax imposed on their industry by the 2010 health-care law. A bill to void the tax sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) will be marked up in the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday. Republican House leaders say a floor vote could be scheduled as soon as next week (Aizenman, 5/30).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: House To Vote On Whether To Make Abortions Based On Gender Of Fetus Illegal
Legislation coming up for a House vote would make it a federal crime to carry out an abortion based on the gender of the fetus. The measure takes aim at the aborting of female fetuses, a practice more common to countries such India and China, where there is a strong preference for sons, but which is also thought to take place in this country (5/30).

Politico: Bill Against Sex-Selective Abortion Comes To Vote
A vote Thursday on a bill to outlaw sex-selective abortion is the latest step in an awkward dance between the House Republican leadership and the large faction of passionate abortion opponents in the caucus. Anti-abortion bills percolate constantly in committee, but leadership has not been pushing to get them to the floor as they attempt to stay focused on an economic message, say sources close to anti-abortion Republican members. But for this bill, anti-abortion advocates say sponsor Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) got a vote scheduled as a concession when he agreed not to try to attach the measure to the Violence Against Women Act, which has been bogging down Republicans on a divisive social issue (Feder, 5/30).

The New York Times: Planned Parenthood Ads To Target Romney
In the course of the Republican primary campaign, Mitt Romney took pains to convince socially conservative activists that he believes in them, understands their passions and would be an advocate for their causes in the Oval Office. Now, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund is unveiling one of its biggest-ever political advertising campaigns aimed at using Mr. Romney's own words to undermine his support among women -; a critical voter group among whom he already trails President Obama (Shear, 5/30).

Los Angeles Times: Popular Medicare Drug Program Targeted In Utah GOP Primary Battle
As veteran Republican lawmakers are forced to defend their support for any government program in the face of tea-party-backed primary challenges, even Medicare, the popular insurance program for the elderly and disabled, is becoming campaign fodder in the intra-party GOP war (Levey, 5/30).

Los Angeles Times: Medi-Cal Works For Most Enrollees, Survey Finds
As California gears up for a major expansion of its publicly funded health program for the poor, a statewide survey released Thursday shows that Medi-Cal enrollees have more trouble finding doctors and use the emergency room more frequently than people with other health coverage (Gorman, 5/31).

The New York Times: Rhode Island: Deal May Avert Bankruptcy
A tentative deal between the city of Providence and its workers and retirees will prevent the city from going into bankruptcy, Mayor Angel Taveras said Wednesday. Mr. Taveras announced that retirees, current safety officials and current municipal workers agreed to a 10-year suspension of cost-of-living increases for most pensions -; and limitations thereafter -; and the migration of their health care plans onto Medicare. He had said the city would run out of money in June if it did not lower its pension obligations and increase voluntary contributions from the city's tax-exempt institutions; the city has since secured deals on increased payments with universities and hospitals (Bidgood, 5/30).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: States Crack Down On Prescription-Drug "Doctor Shopping"
State databases such as one used in Kentucky are designed to address the first problem -- to alert prescribers that someone may be abusing drugs or diverting them for illegal sale. Forty-three states now have databases to keep track of who is getting prescriptions for powerful pain relievers such as oxycodone, Vicodin and Opana (Wisniewski, 5/30).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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