Morning CheckUp: October 7, 2011

Republican senators raise concerns over contraception: Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and 26 of their Senate colleagues “have written to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to press her on the constitutional concerns associated with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) implementation of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommendations for preventive health services mandates.” The senators are taking issue with “the lack of due consideration given by [Sebelius] and your Department to the adverse impact that IOM’s recommendations would have on our core constitutional value of religious liberty.” [Insurance News]

Rep. Johnson offers bill to slow ACA implementation: Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), has introduced legislation to “freeze the implementation of the health reform law, to establish a commission to evaluate its impact on the delivery of health care to current Medicare recipients, job creation, current health insurance coverage, participation in State exchanges, and the Federal deficit.” [Insurance News]

IOM’s essential benefits report focuses on affordability: The Institute of Medecine released a 297-page report laying out criteria and methods the Department of Health and Human Services should use in developing the essential benefits package that will be offered by insurance companies in the new exchanges. One of the outside experts asked by the panel to review the report said in an interview that its emphasis on affordability could mean less robust benefits. [Kaiser Health News]

Recommends establishing a premium target: Defining a premium target became a “central tenet” of the committee because, the committee concluded, if cost is not taken into account, the essential health-benefits package will become increasingly unaffordable for both individuals and small businesses. If that happens, the overriding purpose of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—enabling people to buy insurance—will not be achieved. [Modern Healthcare]

Community health centers feeling the pinch: “The budget deal between the White House and Republicans cut $600 million, or half the regular 2011 appropriation for the health centers. To lessen the pain, the administration filled in for those missing dollars with money slated to staff and build new centers. As a result, the expansion dollars for this year became much more limited.” [Kaiser Health News]

Paul Ryan predicts health reform will cause death spiral: Paul Ryan said on Thursday he expects the Supreme Court to strike down the individual mandate and said that the law will send health care costs into a “death spiral” as a result. [CBS News]

Maternity care to be covered in California: Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation ensuring maternity services are covered by health insurers and that new mothers can no longer lose their health insurance as a result of taking maternity leave. [The Hill]