Morning CheckUp: February 17, 2012

Religious groups conflate contraception with abortion: “Adding to their passionate opposition to the rule that employees of religiously affiliated institutions must receive insurance coverage for birth control, Roman Catholic bishops and some evangelical groups have asserted that it also requires coverage of some forms of abortion.” [NYT]

Santorum distances himself from ‘aspirin comment’: Speaking to reporters after a speech in Michigan, Santorum said the comment by the main donor behind his “super PAC,” Foster Friess was in “bad taste.” Freiss said yesterday that aspirin used to be an acceptable method for contraception. [AP]

White House pushes tax credit for small businesses: “The White House hopes more small-business owners would take advantage of its expanded $14 billion healthcare tax credit plan outlined in President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal by better publicizing the incentives and simplifying the application process.” [Modern Healthcare]

Docs frustrated about SGR: “The good news for the nation’s doctors — and the millions of Medicare patients they care for — is that assuming everything goes as planned, the 27.4 percent cut in reimbursements that would have taken effect March 1 won’t. The bad news? The fix included in the deal to extend the payroll tax holiday isn’t permanent. It only extends to the end of the year. And then, if Congress doesn’t act again, the cut it is expected to be will be in the neighborhood of 32 percent.” [NPR]

Medical coding rule postponed: “The Obama administration says it will delay the implementation of a controversial new medical-coding standard known as ICD-10. The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement it will “initiate a process to postpone the date” by which providers will have to comply with the new medical coding set.” [WSJ]

McDonnell having second thoughts on ultrasound bill? “Virginia Governor McDonnell signaled his intent to sign one of the most despicable bills in the country that would force women to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound against her will in order to obtain an abortion. Or in other words, a bill authorizing state-sanctioned rape. But after speaking with Jeff Caldwell, McDonnell’s press secretary, it seems the Governor is not so eager to go on the record with his previously-held position.” [RH Reality Check]

The cost of underage drinking: “An analysis by researchers at the Mayo Clinic estimates hospitalization charges alone for incidents related to underage drinking at $755 million in 2008. That covers an estimated 39,619 admissions for conditions such as alcohol intoxication, withdrawal, abuse and dependence, and alcohol-induced mood problems.” [WSJ]