OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Bishops discuss HHS mandate, face backlash

A coalition of progressive Catholic groups responded with a letter arguing that "the use of contraception is a moral decision" to be left up to individuals. "Our views on many important issues often diverge with the views of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States," it read. "Unfortunately, the bishops attempt to portray their views as representative of ours in public discourse."

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Jon O'Brien, president of advocacy group Catholics for Choice, decried the tone of the meeting in Atlanta. His group notes that according to polls, a vast majority of Catholic women use and support birth control.

"The bishops’ discussion of religious freedom in Atlanta was a travesty, consisting of patting themselves on the back about their campaign to have the right impose their beliefs on the entire American population," O'Brien said in a statement. He added that the bishops' discussion included "false assertions" about the 2010 healthcare law that "went unchallenged." This may have referred to one comment from the archbishop of Lincoln, Fabian Bruskewitz, about the possibility that Muslims had been exempted from part of the Affordable Care Act.

Read more on the assembly and the response from progressive groups.

Following the money: Senate Republicans are demanding to know why President Obama's acting budget director permitted health officials to sign a $20 million public relations contract to promote the healthcare law. The contract has received widespread criticism from Republicans in Congress since news of the effort broke on May 21. The campaign was mandated by the Affordable Care Act to promote, in part, the law's preventive benefits.

On Thursday, Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asking why the preventive-health funds were permitted for that use. The letter also criticized Obama for refusing to use the prevention fund to pay for a recent extension of a reduced interest rates on federal student loans.

"If the [prevention fund] is a high priority for President Obama, then using it to keep student loan interest rates down should be more important than a public relations campaign," the senators wrote.
 
Read more at Healthwatch.

Here we go again: Senate Republicans are floating a bill meant to ban sex-selective abortions after an identical measure was defeated in the GOP-controlled House. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced S. 3290 on Wednesday. The bill's 25 GOP co-sponsors include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The bill is likely dead on arrival, as Democrats control the upper chamber.

Though research on the issue of sex-selective abortion is sparse, the issue has become a cause célèbre for groups that oppose abortion rights. Activists on the right allege that some immigrants in the United States abort girls out of a cultural preference for sons. The vast majority of abortions occur before fetal gender can be determined.

Vitter's bill, like the one from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) in the House, would impose fines or imprisonment on doctors who perform abortions they know are motivated in part by the fetus's gender. The bill also would require medical professionals to tell law enforcement if they suspect an abortion has been performed for that reason.

Healthwatch has the story.


State by state

Missouri is getting more Medicaid money for home healthcare.

The Medicaid rolls are growing especially fast in Minnesota.


Reading list

The Huffington Post has the story of a Tennessee family whose son was only 3 when he met the lifetime limit on the family's insurance plan.

The Greek healthcare system is crumbling amind the country's financial crisis, Reuters reports.

People didn't get important preventive screenings before the healthcare law, according to U.S. News.