MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Health insurance providers may have to offer prescription contraception at no up-front cost to women if Health & Human Services secretary Katherine Sebelius accepts the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine.
"Women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to receive delayed or no prenatal care and to smoke, consume alcohol, be depressed, and experience domestic violence during pregnancy," the panel wrote. "Unintended pregnancy also increases the risk of babies being born preterm or at a low birth weight, both of which raise their chances of health and developmental problems," it noted.
Although the report calls for a handful of measures to improve women’s health, the recommendations on birth-control may have the most impact. The Guttmacher Institute estimated that 98 percent of sexually active women use contraception at some point, NPR reported, and the cost of birth control is frequently cited as a cause of inconsistent use or opting for a less effective birth control method.
The IOM report calls for a seven additional preventative care services to be offered to women with no cost-sharing:
"This report provides a road map for improving the health and well-being of women," IOM committee chair Linda Rosenstock, dean of the school of public health at UCLA, said in a press release. "The eight services we identified are necessary to support women’s optimal health and well-being. Each recommendation stands on a foundation of evidence supporting its effectiveness."
Challengers to the IOM’s recommendations include members of the conservative Family Research Council likened the measure to a federal mandate to cover abortions, since some emergency birth control methods can destroy a blastocyst before or after it implants in the womb, NPR reported.
The Gang of Six’s deficit-cutting plan calls for Congress to manage Medicare
The so-called Gang of Six’s debt-reduction plan calls for Congress to keep a watch on health care spending and to take action if Medicare costs grow too fast in measures that are similar to the much-maligned Independent Payment Advisory Board mandated in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, Healthwatch reported.
Like the IPAB, the Gang of Six’s proposal requires that Congress and the president take charge and recommend Medicare provider cuts if federal health care spending grows faster than GDP plus 1 percent per Medicare user.
Obesity epidemic reaches alarming rates
One in five people in every state in the U.S. is obese, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, representing a sharp increase since the turn of the century.
In 2000 no state had an obesity rate that topped 30 percent, a feat that 12 states have reached 11 years later. Not a single U.S. state has an obesity rate below 20 percent today and 36 states have rates of at least 25 percent, according to the report.
The problem is particularly pronounced in the south. The states that have reached or topped 30 percent obesity are Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia, Healthwatch reported.
Missouri governor’s challenge to health law’s insurance mandate draws 20 other states
President Barack Obama’s health care law, which was found within constitutional bounds in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals last month, faces a new round of challengers comprised of 20 states backing Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder’s attack on the reform’s individual insurance mandate.
Officials from 20 states filed a brief this week asking the federal appeals court to reinstate a lawsuit filed by Kinder and six Missouri state residents against the insurance law. Kinder filed the lawsuit last July and it was thrown out of court by U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel three months ago, Bloomberg reported.
Onset Tech. puts hospital pagers into smartphones
Health care providers may be able to toss their pagers thanks to a smartphone app developed by Onset Technology, an emergency communications company based in Waltham, Mass.
The OnPage app is a two-way paging service with global coverage that can be directly downloaded to smartphones. The company provides monthly subscriptions at a per-user fee, the Boston Business Journal reported.