Healthcare News May 1, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Abortion-rights opponents see setbacks in 3 states

    Monday was a bad day for abortion-rights opponents.

    The controversial “personhood” movement was dealt a fresh loss in the courts, this time in Oklahoma. The state supreme court said in a unanimous ruling that a personhood proposal there is “clearly unconstitutional.”

    Personhood advocates want to amend state constitutions to say that life begins at fertilization, which could jeopardize access to contraception and in vitro fertilization. The Oklahoma court’s decision follows a ruling last year in which a Nevada judge threw a personhood amendment off the state’s 2012 ballot.

    Healthwatch has the story on the Oklahoma ruling.

    Planned Parenthood successfully messes with Texas: Planned Parenthood clinics in the Lone Star State are safe from cuts to their public funding, for now. A federal judge issued an injunction Monday to stop the organization from being excluded from the state’s Women’s Health Program because it provides abortions. The preliminary decision came after eight Planned Parenthood clinics that do not provide abortions sued because the law at issue, passed in 2011, would have cut their funding as well.

    The clinics argued that discrimination against them by the state amounted to infringement on their right to freely associate.

  • Oklahoma court tosses ‘personhood’ amendment

    The Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously tossed out a proposed “personhood” amendment Monday, yet another setback for the controversial movement that has divided abortion-rights opponents.

    The personhood movement supports amending state constitutions to say that life begins at the moment of fertilization — a definition that would likely impede women’s access to contraception and in vitro fertilization.

    The personhood proposal in Oklahoma is “clearly unconstitutional,” the state supreme court said in a unanimous ruling Monday. Abortion-rights supporters hailed the decision.

    “This amendment would have run roughshod over the fundamental, constitutionally protected reproductive rights of all Oklahoma women,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the legal challenge in Oklahoma.

  • Doctors: Proposal on Medicare overpayments would impose burden

    A proposed rule aimed at reducing Medicare overpayments to doctors is onerous and needs another look, medical groups are telling federal regulators.

    Revisions are needed to “significantly reduce administrative burdens for physicians” under the rule, said Dr. Steven Stack, chairman-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA), in a statement Monday.

    The rule comes as part of the implementation of the 2010 healthcare law, and would require doctors who receive Medicare overpayments to report and return them within 60 days.

    Stack stated that similar initiatives at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “are already in place, and conflicting requirements will make it difficult for physicians to know which guidelines to follow.”

    His message comes two weeks after the AMA and more 100 other groups sent a letter to the Medicare agency pushing back against the rule. 

  • Federal judge halts Texas law against Planned Parenthood

    “For many women, we are the only doctor’s visit they will have this
    year,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.

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