Healthcare News October 2, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Suit over birth-control mandate dismissed

    A federal judge in Missouri has dismissed one challenge to the Obama administration’s divisive birth-control coverage mandate. Frank O’Brien, a Catholic CEO based in St. Louis, argued that following the policy and covering a range of birth-control methods for female employees would violate his religious beliefs. In a ruling late Friday, U.S. District Judge Carole Jackson backed the Obama administration, rejecting that “requiring indirect financial support of a practice, from which [the] plaintiff himself abstains according to his religious principles, constitutes a substantial burden on … religious exercise.”

    O’Brien runs a company, O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC, that processes ceramic materials. His suit was one of more than 24 currently pending against the administration policy, part of the 2010 federal healthcare overhaul. Most suits are from Catholic businesses and schools that not only object to the use of birth control but consider some forms of it equal to abortion. Protestant plaintiffs tend to be motivated by the latter view.

    Under the mandate, churches and houses of worship are exempt,
    and religiously affiliated institutions don’t have to pay for the
    birth-control coverage through their own plans — their employees will
    get contraception directly from the insurance company, still without a

    States have also sued the Department of Health
    and Human Services over the policy. In July, a federal judge dismissed a
    lawsuit from Texas, Ohio, Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Michigan
    and Nebraska, ruling that they did not have standing to sue over because
    the mandate does not go into full effect until next year. But in a
    separate July decision, a federal court sided with a plaintiff, issuing a
    temporary injunction that allowed one Colorado-based company not to
    comply with the mandate on the grounds of religious expression.

  • Obama, Sebelius: Healthcare law is fighting breast cancer

    President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius marked Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Monday by touting healthcare reform and its benefits for women.

    Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for U.S. women, and the healthcare law mandates that most insurance plans cover mammograms for free.

    Noting this, Sebelius credited the Affordable Care Act with bringing on “a new day for women’s health and the fight against breast cancer.” 

  • Planned Parenthood launches anti-Romney blitz in Colorado

    Planned Parenthood’s political wing is targeting Mitt Romney in Colorado ahead of Wednesday’s first presidential debate.

    Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) and Planned Parenthood Votes (PPVotes) are planning a slew of anti-Romney messaging efforts with a special focus on Denver, the location for the domestic-policy debate.

    The groups have been actively involved in this year’s presidential race, endorsing President Obama and running ads against Romney, who has promised to end Planned Parenthood’s public funding. 

  • Medicare launches pay-for-performance efforts under health law

    If a hospital follows protocol, it is more likely to receive some of an estimated $850 million this year. 

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