Morning CheckUp: February 15, 2012

Senate to vote on GOP contraception substitute: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Tuesday that he’ll let the Senate vote on a proposal to reverse the White House’s controversial birth-control mandate. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), would let employers opt out of any coverage mandates they find immoral.” [The Hill]

Catholic leaders will fight Obama’s contraception modification: “The top U.S. Catholic bishop vowed legislative and court challenges Tuesday to a compromise by President Barack Obama to his healthcare mandate that now exempts religiously affiliated institutions from paying directly for birth control for their workers, instead making insurance companies responsible. Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an interview with The Associated Press that he trusted Obama wasn’t anti-religious and intended to make good on his pledge to work with religious groups to fine-tune the mandate.” [AP]

Lawmakers close to SGR deal: “Federal lawmakers on Tuesday evening inched closer to an agreement on a short-term solution to Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula for physicians. If Congress does not act by Feb. 29, doctors who participate in the federal healthcare program will face a 27.4% cut in their Medicare reimbursement.” [Modern Healthcare]

Health industry critical of Obama’s budget: “Tom Nickels, senior vice president of federal relations at the American Hospital Association, said providers, who already are dealing with payment cuts through regulatory and legislative changes, must also face nearly $130 billion in cuts over 10 years when sequestration kicks in next year. “It ignores the reality that we’re all already being cut 2%,” Nickels told Modern Healthcare. “And now they’ve cut on top of that.” [Modern Healthcare]


Alaska takes step towards exchanges: “Alaska has opposed the federal health law so adamantly that it is the only state that chose not to even apply for a $1 million grant the federal government was passing out to states to plan a health insurance exchange. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be an online marketplace to buy insurance in Alaska.” [Kaiser Health News]

Iowa advances ultrasound bill: “A doctor would be required to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion and give the woman an opportunity to view images of her fetus under legislation heard Tuesday in a House subcommittee. The bill, House File 2033, will be advanced to the Human Resources Committee.” [Des Moines Register]

Lee seeks to ban abortions in DC: “Sen. Mike Lee has introduced legislation that would ban abortions in the District of Columbia for women who have been pregnant longer than 20 weeks. The bill, introduced Monday, would add D.C. to a list of five conservative states that have a similar threshold, the point some doctors say an unborn child has developed the ability to feel pain.” [Salt Lake Tribune]