Policy & practice : Want more health reform news? Subscribe to our podcast – search 'Policy & Practice' in the iTunes store


Abortion Rate Holds Steady

The number and rate of abortions performed in the United States remained about the same from 2007 to 2008, according to the latest abortion surveillance data collected by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data, published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, showed that in 2008 more than 825,500 abortions were reported to CDC. This resulted in an abortion rate of 16 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years, the same as in 2007. This rate is consistent with the recent leveling off of the abortion rate after years of steady declines, the CDC researchers wrote. However, the abortion ratio, which calculates the number of abortions compared to live births, increased slightly between 2007 and 2008. The 2008 abortion ratio was 234 abortions per 1,000 live births, a 1% increase over 2007. The CDC figures also showed a 17% increase in the number of nonsurgical abortions performed between 2007 and 2008. In 2008, of the abortions performed at 8 weeks gestation or earlier, 22% were nonsurgical.

Psoriasis TX During Pregnancy

Topical treatments such as petroleum jelly should be the first-line treatment of psoriasis in pregnant women, according to recommendations from the National Psoriasis Foundation's (NPF's) medical board. The expert panel recommended that physicians turn to moisturizers and emollients as the first treatments since they have no adverse effects. After that, they suggested the use of low- to moderate-dose topical steroids. If necessary, high-potency topical steroids may be used, but only in the second and third trimesters, the board wrote. As a second-line treatment, physicians may recommend light therapy using narrowband ultraviolet light B (UVB). Broadband UVB can also be used if narrowband is not available. The NPF medical board said TNF inhibitors, as well as the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine, can be used in the second and third trimesters, but with caution.

Infertility Tax Credit Proposed

Federal legislation would create a tax credit to help infertile couples pay for treatment, including in vitro fertilization. H.R. 3522, the Family Act of 2011, is modeled after a tax credit currently available to offset adoption expenses, and could be used for out-of-pocket expenses associated with infertility treatment as well as for treatments to preserve fertility for cancer patients. “Without this credit, access to all the advances of modern medicine and the ability to bear children, despite physical impediments, become, for average Americans, a luxury defined by the size of their wallets or the digits in their zip code,” the bill's sponsor, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), said in a statement. “That's not right, not fair, or just.” Similar legislation (S. 965) was introduced in the Senate last May. Under both bills, the proposed tax credit would cover 50% of all applicable medical expenses, but total payments through the credit would be capped at $13,360 for a lifetime. The credit would be available to married couples filing jointly with adjusted gross incomes of less than $222,520.

AMA Criticizes Pregnancy Centers

The American Medical Association House of Delegates at its interim meeting adopted a resolution calling on pregnancy counseling centers to be truthful regarding the services they offer. The resolution was sponsored by the California delegation, which said that many “crisis pregnancy centers” operate “with the intent of discouraging women with unwanted pregnancies from seeking abortion.” The centers are often deceptive and have no qualified clinical staff; women who visit them may experience delays in getting true medical services, said the delegation. The House said that any center should be clear on it website or in its advertising as to which services it does or does not provide. Delegates also said that any organization that was providing medical services should abide by licensing requirements and have appropriate qualified licensed personnel.

Keep Circumcision Legal

Reacting to ballot initiatives in California, that state's delegation to the AMA House asked that body approve a resolution opposing any attempts to make circumcision illegal. The resolution said that the medical indications “are compelling enough” and that most laws exclude the prohibition of specific procedures that physicians are qualified to perform, based on their clinical judgment. The AMA House passed the resolution without much debate.

AMA: Let's Talk About Guns

The AMA board approved a California-delegation resolution asking the full AMA to oppose restrictions on physicians discussing firearm safety with their patients, such as in a new Florida law. There, violators could face suspension or revocation of their license or fines of up to $10,000, according to the resolution. In September, a federal judge upheld a motion from physicians to enjoin the law, but the state said it would appeal. There is concern that these types of laws could proliferate, especially because they appear to have the backing of the National Rifle Association.

Next Article: