Healthcare News May 23, 2013

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Senate panel weighs DC abortion bill

    A House Judiciary subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday on legislation to ban late-term abortions in the District of Columbia. The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), has declared his intent to revise the bill to apply nationwide in light of the recent murder conviction of abortion provider Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell was recently convicted of killing three infants born alive after failed abortions. 

    Franks’s plan to extend his bill’s reach comes as many conservative lawmakers use Gosnell’s trial to indict late-term abortions, or procedures performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion-rights opponents claim fetuses can feel pain at this stage, a premise that is disputed. Abortion-rights supporters point to recent court decisions knocking down 20-week bans because they prohibit abortions before fetal viability, which occurs at about 24 weeks.

    Franks said Wednesday that his bill will have a “good chance” of coming to the House floor, but leaders could advance it under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority for passage. Franks’s D.C.-only measure failed to pass the House under suspension last year. Abortion-rights groups claimed the vote as a victory. 

    TBI bill: Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced legislation Wednesday intended to help prevent concussions in youth sports that can result in traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The bill would permit federal regulators to make safety recommendations and new rules for sports equipment manufacturers. It would also empower the Federal Trade Commission to crack down down on false claims in the marketing of sports protective gear.

    “We need to make sure that protective sports equipment is sold based on the latest science, not false or deceptive claims,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “Parents and coaches must be able to have confidence in the sports safety equipment they buy for their children and the protection it claims to offer.” 

  • Sebelius touts ObamaCare benefits for graduates

    Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged college graduates Wednesday to remember the insurance benefits available to them through ObamaCare.

    In a blog post on Healthcare.gov, Sebelius cited several popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including its requirement that family plans cover children until age 26.

    “Because of the Affordable Care Act, you’ll be able to begin this next chapter of your life with the peace of mind and security health insurance provides,” Sebelius wrote. 

  • HHS: Health IT use rising sharply

    Substantial numbers of doctors and hospitals are now using electronic health records (EHRs) to provide better coordinated care, federal health officials reported Wednesday.

    The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department said that EHR use by doctors rose from 17 percent to more than 50 percent between 2008 and this year.

    The rise was even more dramatic among hospitals, from 9 percent up to more than 80 percent using EHRs. 

  • Trend toward part-time work, cuts in health coverage predate ObamaCare

    Employers have been cutting back employees’ hours and access to health insurance since before President Obama’s healthcare law passed, according to new research released Wednesday.

    The findings are potentially significant as the healthcare law is about to take full effect. The law’s critics say employers will cut workers’ hours to avoid offering healthcare benefits.

    But the trend toward part-time work predates the Affordable Care Act, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI).

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