ITEM: The New York Times for October 6 reported: "More than one-third of all Americans will soon receive better insurance coverage for mental health treatments because of a new law that, for the first time, requires equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses. The requirement, included in the economic bailout bill that President Bush signed on Friday, is the result of 12 years of passionate advocacy by friends and relatives of people with mental illness and addiction disorders. They described the new law as a milestone in the quest for civil rights, an effort to end insurance discrimination and to reduce the stigma of mental illness."
Seven months after instituting the only state child universal healthcare program in the country, Hawaii is dropping the plan. According to an AP article, the state could no longer afford the plan though it only enrolled about 2,000 of the state's estimated 3,500 to 16,000 uninsured children.
A federal appeals court recently upheld a San Francisco ruling requiring employers to either offer healthcare coverage to their employees or fund a citywide healthcare program. The stipulation applies to private businesses that employ 20 or more workers and nonprofit organizations with 50 or more. Of the yearly $200 million cost of the city's two-year-old program, 80 percent is drawn from state and local taxes, and a patient fee based on income. The ruling requires San Francisco businesses to help pay the remainder of the bill for the city's uninsured.
The Bush administration plans to enforce a regulation that will prevent healthcare workers who object to abortion from being forced to perform abortion-related services that violate their beliefs. Under the rule, federal officials can deny funding to hundreds of thousands of health care providers if they do not allow employees to opt out from providing care that violates their personal, moral or religious beliefs.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, has made available online a new tool for comparing how well thousands of American hospitals do in keeping very sick patients alive. The new tool, available on the Website entitled “Hospital Compare,” while not intended to be the sole means by which consumers should judge the quality of care available at U.S. hospitals, nevertheless gives patients an extra tool to measure the competency of their local hospital.
A Rand Corporation report indicates that 18.5 percent of current and former U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans recently surveyed reported symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson, who served in the Bush administration’s first term, recently joined the board of directors of Florida-based Applied Digital. Applied Digital is the owner of VeriChip, the company that specializes in making implantable radio frequency identification chips (RFID) for both people and pets.
For more than a quarter century, Washington has waged a high-profile "war" on cancer at a cost to taxpayers of some $30 billion. Figures recently reported in The New England Journal of Medicine indicate how the battle is progressing: Between 1970 and 1994 (the latest available figures), the cancer rate increased by six percent. Similarly, in 1995 the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reported that when frequency of the disease during the period 1975-79 was compared with that for 1987-91, the incidence among males was up 18.6 percent, and that for females increased by 12.4 percent.