Morning CheckUp: January 3, 2012

Health stocks saw mixed results in 2012: “Healthcare provider and supplier stocks produced mix results in 2011 at a time when the broader market produced a modest return of 5.53% as measured by the Dow Jones industrial average.” [Modern Healthcare]

Hospital system refuses to hire smokers: “Geisinger Health System in central Pennsylvania announced this week that it will test all new job applicants for nicotine use beginning in February, and those who test positive will not be hired. Then, beginning in 2013, the Geisinger’s health insurance arm will charge a higher premium for current employees who acknowledge that they smoke or chew tobacco.” [Post Gazette]

Roberts defends colleagues on recusal: “Chief Justice John Roberts defended the ethics of Supreme Court justices, using his year-end report to respond to partisan calls for Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan to sit out the pending case over President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul.” [WSJ]

Ohio AG advances personhood amendment: “The Ohio Attorney General approved a ballot initiative over the weekend that could ban all abortions in Ohio, as well as contraception, fertility treatments, health care for pregnant women and other basic health care.” [RH Reality Check]


Kansas anti-abortion foes gear up for 2012: “Anti-abortion leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature said they plan to strengthen legal protections for physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals who don’t want to participate in abortions or dispense abortion-inducing drugs. They hope to prevent even indirect taxpayer support for abortions and to add new requirements to a law spelling out what information doctors must provide to women seeking abortions.” [San Francisco Examiner]

California adds patients to insurance rolls: “Despite a slow start, California’s push to extend health coverage to those with preexisting medical conditions — a three-year stopgap effort until federal healthcare reform fully kicks in — has enrolled more than 6,000 patients. California now ranks second only to Pennsylvania with the highest number of enrollees in the temporary federally funded insurance plan.” [LA Times]

MA health insurers are controlling costs: “Massachusetts insurers, taking a tougher line in bargaining with health care providers under pressure from financially strained customers and government regulators, have held payment increases to the lowest level in years.” [Boston Globe]

Consumer health assistance program to lose funding: “Texas is among the 35 states that received health reform grants to build consumer assistance programs more than a year ago. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 set aside nearly $30 million to fund the program in 2010, which states have used to handle questions about how to obtain affordable health coverage or appeal denied insurance claims….When the House and Senate failed to pass a budget last year, operating instead on a short-term fix that continued all existing appropriated programs, the consumer assistance program was shut out.” [Sarah Kliff]