Morning CheckUp: August 9, 2011

GOP doesn’t want to talk about contraception: “Republicans who swept to power last year vowing to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law have been nearly silent about new rules that will force health insurance companies to cover birth control and other women’s health services without co-pays.” [Politico]

Gingrich and Pelosi call for open super committee hearing: “Two former House Speakers with widely disparate ideological views both agree that transparency is critical when it comes to the debt limit law’s yet-to-be-appointed joint committee. Republican Newt Gingrich, now a presidential candidate, and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are both calling for open hearings when the committee works to find ways to cut the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. The newly passed law state that the committee “may” hold public hearings, but it is not mandated.” [Inside Health Policy]

Debt cuts could undermine community health centers: “Health care experts Monday warned that the nation’s debt crisis could lead to budget cuts that could cripple the nation’s $11 billion plan to expand primary health care.” According to a new report, for every $1 million in federal funding cuts, health centers lose the capacity to serve 8,297 patients. [Press Democrat]

Community health centers were critical in MA’s expansion: A new report released yesterday “found that the number of patients treated at the health centers rose 31 percent from 2005 to 2009. During the same period, the percent of uninsured patients at the clinics declined from 35.5 percent to about 20 percent.” [Kaiser Health News]

Even Chris Christie likes them: “These really are the safety nets for folks who need to access health care and have no other way of doing it,” Christie said of federally qualified health centers. Last year, however, Christie rejected $7.4 million line item for women’s health and family planning centers which led to the closing of six of 58 such facilities in the state. [Philly Inquirer]

Medicare to expand care-coordination program: “After five years of testing the idea, Medicare officials said Monday that they believe that doctors who coordinate care and keep their patients out of the hospital can help reduce the nation’s health care costs” and will extend the program by two more years. [NYT]

Santorum really doesn’t like health reform: During a stop in Iowa yesterday, Santorum said “President Obama’s health care law is ‘the reason that I’m running for office…I believe Obamacare will rob America of its soul.” It will lead to “freedom in American being forfeited.” [San Francisco Chronicle]

The abortion Romney doesn’t talk about: During his failed 1994 campaign to the Senate, Romney had told the story of “a close relative had died many years earlier in a botched illegal abortion, shaping Romney’s stance in favor of safe and legal access to abortion for all women. But in the many years since that revelation, even as Romney flipped his position and became an ardent opponent of legal abortion, the details of his young relative’s story, including even her name, have never been reported.” [Justin Elliot]

State legislators concerned about CLASS: The National Conference of Insurance Legislators is worried that “the U.S. Health and Human Services Department eventually will have to raise premiums for the CLASS program significantly, driving people away from buying long-term-care insurance.” [Sam Baker]

Consensus in the abortion debate: “Self-described “pro-choice” and “pro-life” Americans agree about nine major areas of abortion policy, while disagreeing on eight others.” [Gallup]

Insurers sue Louisiana: “Aetna Inc. and Coventry Health Care Inc. have challenged a decision by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to deny their subsidiaries a share of a $2.2 billion Medicaid privatization program.” [Times Picayune]

Early morning smokers more prone to cancer: “In two studies published today online in the journal Cancer, Joshua Muscat and colleagues found that smokers who have their first cigarette 30 to 60 minutes after waking up have a small increase in their chances of getting cancer than people who wait longer.” [WSJ]

Bike sharing programs save lives: A new study finds that bike sharing programs result in more lives saved from the extra exercise than lives lost due to bike accidents and exposure to air pollution. [Boston Globe]