Healthcare Friday

"Although the HHS brochure contains instances in which HHS presented abbreviated information and a positive view of [the law] that is not universally shared, nothing in the brochure constitutes communications that are purely partisan, self-aggrandizing, or covert," GAO said. 

The conclusions did nothing to deter GOP leaders on the House Ways and Means Committee, who shot the verdict to reporters under the banner: "Independent Government Audit Finds Fault with Obama Administration’s Misleading Health Care Mailer." 

Among the findings the Republicans highlighted, GAO said the brochure made "some overstatements," like the suggestion that the law increases the number of primary care doctors, when in fact it "only provides incentives for such increases."

Senate stem cell hearing scheduled: Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinDemocrats are all talk when it comes to DC statehood The Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday MORE (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Appropriations health subpanel, has scheduled a hearing next Thursday to examine the recent court-ordered moratorium on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, will testify (among others). 

Speaking of… A federal appeals court on Thursday lifted the ban temporarily, allowing embryonic research to continue while the court considers the initial prohibition, The New York Times reports.  

Thursday's decision, the Times writes, "could save research mice from being euthanized, cells in petri dishes from starving and scores of scientists from a suspension of paychecks, according to arguments the Obama administration made in the case."

Both sides have until Sept. 20 to file arguments, the court ruled, according to the Times.

As if promoting prevention weren't complicated enough… A new study out of Dartmouth finds little connection between the availability of medical providers and the frequency with which patients seek care.  

"There is no simple relationship between the supply of physicians and access to primary care," the report says. "In some regions, the overall supply of primary care physicians was low, yet a relatively high proportion of beneficiaries had at least one annual visit, while in other regions with a higher supply of primary care physicians, fewer beneficiaries had a primary care visit."

Hospitals pushing to broaden eligibility for health information technology (HIT) incentive payments: The American Hospital Association (AHA) on Thursday urged its members to pressure lawmakers to expand eligibility under a program offering providers incentives to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) and other medical technologies. AHA wants the rules to include individual hospitals operating within multi-campus systems — facilities currently ineligible for those payments.

"This portion of the rule does not reflect congressional intent to treat hospitals equitably for purposes of federal incentives," the AHA wrote in an advocacy alert, "nor does it recognize the costs of implementing EHRs across different institutions within a single hospital system."

Not helping those health spending numbers… Less than a third of American adults eat more than one fruit a day, and even fewer eat more than two vegetables daily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday.

Both figures — based on hundreds of thousands of phone interviews conducted last year — fall far short of administration goals, which aim to have at least three-quarters of Americans consume at least two fruit servings daily, and half of Americans eat at least three servings of vegetables.

"None of the 50 states met these objectives," CDC reported.