Viewpoints: Contraceptive Controversy; Revising Mental Health Definitions

The New York Times: Birth Control And Reproductive Rights
It was good news that the Obama administration withstood pressure from Roman Catholic bishops and social conservatives to deny contraceptive coverage for millions of American women who work for religiously affiliated employers. Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary, rejected broad exemptions from a new rule requiring all health plans to cover birth control, without a deductible or co-payment (1/29). 

The Washington Post: Obama's Breach Of Faith Over Contraceptive Ruling
One of Barack Obama's great attractions as a presidential candidate was his sensitivity to the feelings and intellectual concerns of religious believers. That is why it is so remarkable that he utterly botched the admittedly difficult question of how contraceptive services should be treated under the new health care law (E.J. Dionne Jr., 1/29).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Right Decision On Birth Control
The Obama administration has reached a sensible but controversial decision on health insurance coverage for contraceptives. … This policy does not require anyone to use birth control. In addition, courts have already rejected claims by Catholic organizations that requiring contraceptive coverage in employee health plans violates their religious freedom (1/29).

The New York Times: Not Diseases, But Categories Of Suffering
You've got to feel sorry for the American Psychiatric Association, at least for a moment. Its members proposed a change to the definition of autism in the fifth edition of their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, one that would eliminate the separate category of Asperger syndrome in 2013. And the next thing they knew, a prominent psychiatrist was quoted in a front-page article in this paper saying the result would be fewer diagnoses, which would mean fewer troubled children eligible for services like special education and disability payments (Gary Greenberg, 1/29).

Los Angeles Times: Prescription With Side Effects
It sounds like a great idea when you first hear it: Medicare is making its claims files available to insurers, employers and consumer groups so they can prepare report cards on individual doctors. The files will reveal such things as how many times doctors perform particular procedures as well as how often their patients develop preventable complications. Medicare itself will maintain a website to allow patients to compare doctors, and says it intends to one day include on the site patient satisfaction surveys for individual doctors (Katherine Schlaerth, 1/30). 

The Wall Street Journal: Scoring Last Week's RomneyCare Debate
Rick Santorum went for the jugular in Thursday night's Republican presidential debate, exposing Mitt Romney's weak and contradictory defense of his Massachusetts health-reform law (Grace-Marie Turner, 1/29). 

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Seniors Need Congress To Act
There is a unique opportunity right now to use projected spending for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to eliminate the flawed formula and protect access to care for seniors and military families. As these wars wind down, projected spending that won't be used becomes available to pay for eliminating the fatally flawed Medicare physician payment formula to ensure access to care for seniors and military — without adding to the nation's deficit…. Decisive congressional action is needed now to eliminate the flawed Medicare payment formula that threatens Medicare's promise for current and future generations (Dr. Patrice A. Harris, 1/27).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: NIH Funds Help Lead To Medical Advances
We all want to reduce the deficit. But let's not jeopardize the next generation of cures, and further stress the economic health of our communities today, by cutting funding for medical research. Please encourage our representatives to oppose cuts to NIH funding (Dr. John J. Raymond, 1/28).

Arizona Republic: Results Of AHCCCS Cuts Are Troubling
Nearly a year ago, our elected state leaders made decisions to decrease the number of people covered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and decrease the level of reimbursement to providers who care for people covered by AHCCCS. ... I believe we are now beginning to see the "early returns" from the AHCCCS decisions. ... During the fourth quarter of 2011, charity care in Arizona's Banner Health hospitals and by other providers -- that is care for people from whom there will be no reimbursement sought due to a lack of financial resources -- amounted to a jaw-dropping $103 million and an astounding increase of $52 million compared with the same time period in 2010, when it was $51 million (Peter S. Fine, 1/29).

Des Moines Register: Iowa Needs To Establish Health Insurance Exchange
This legislative session is crucial for the future of health care in our state. ... I don’t know why Iowa, which has so much insurance expertise, doesn't step forward and show the nation how to make it easier and less expensive for citizens to purchase health insurance. One should also wonder why, given his goal of making Iowa the nation's healthiest state, the governor is silent on this issue (State Sen. Jack Hatch, 1/28).

Des Moines Register: Bill Would Set Up Mental Health Services By Region
After months of meetings on the redesign of the Mental Health and Developmental Disability plan, we finally have a bill. Thursday morning the bill was distributed to Legislators and the public at the Capitol. The bill pulls together the recommendations from seven work groups and more than 100 people consisting of state legislators, county supervisors, providers, consumers, and family members. We spent months identifying what we believed would be the best system, regardless of cost. The governor and the Department of Human Services are determining the costs of the proposed changes to the mental health services (State Sen. Pat Ward, 1/28).

Denver Post: Is State Flu Shot Mandate Even Necessary?
When we first read about a proposal to require almost every hospital and nursing home employee in Colorado to get influenza vaccinations, our libertarian sensibilities kicked in. What about people who have medical conditions or those who oppose vaccinations on religious grounds? How about the notion that this imposes additional cost on the facilities? Is this really a problem that necessitates increased governmental regulation? (1/28)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Paula Deen, Diabetes, And Marketing A Fantasy
(T)he media storm surrounding the news of (Paula Deen's) illness is exactly the sort of publicity bonanza the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk must have dreamed of when it hired Deen to be the spokeswoman for its new marketing campaign. It's Deen's job, along with her sons, to help us see "diabetes in a new light," according to the company's website. As if one soft-focus slogan weren't enough, there's a kicker: "Live a life that's delicious."  It sounds like so much fun; almost makes you want to sign up for Type 2 diabetes (Karen Stabiner, 1/30). 

The Seattle Times: Surplus Profits Should Be Factored Into Insurance-Rate Decisions
Senate Bill 5247, sponsored by state Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, would empower the insurance commissioner to take into account a category of retained profit when approving rate increases. We believe the state should have that authority…. In the hands of a vindictive insurance commissioner, such a power could be dangerous to the companies' health. (Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike) Kreidler is not that sort of insurance commissioner (1/27).

Denver Post: Who You Calling Elite?
Understanding current events can be difficult. For instance, our statehouse Republicans, like their colleagues throughout the country, clearly want to preserve my freedom to die of some chronic disease. Thus they want to see the Affordable Care Act repealed before it goes into full effect. But Republicans in our House of Representatives couldn't content themselves with a resolution in favor of more death and suffering among the economically challenged. No, they had to pass a resolution calling for a national convention to propose a constitutional amendment to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Ed Quillen, 1/29).

iWatch: Another Family's Tragic Tale Of Unaffordable Health Care
"It shouldn't be this way," read the subject line of an email I received Friday morning from a conservative friend and fellow Southerner. "People shouldn’t have to beg for money to pay for medical care." ... Hundreds of thousands of families file for bankruptcy and lose their homes every year nationwide because of medical debt. Many of those people actually have what they thought was adequate insurance, but find that they still have to pay far more out of their own pockets to cover thousands of dollars in bills than their budgets will allow (Wendell Potter, 1/30).

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