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Some Abortion Materials Misleading

Some state-mandated abortion-specific informed consent materials include inaccurate or biased information, according to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. The researchers analyzed written materials from 22 states and found that while most of the materials were consistent with scientific findings, some content related to breast cancer, psychological impact, and fetal pain was wrong or misleading. For example, five of the six states that have developed written materials that relate to abortion and breast cancer have falsely asserted a possible link; only one state reported that abortion does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer as determined by the National Cancer Institute in 2003. “Rather than creating new barriers for women seeking an abortion, policy makers should instead focus on helping women avoid unintended pregnancies in the first place,” Guttmacher Institute president Sharon L. Camp said in a statement.

$9 BPublic Price Tag for Teen Births

The public cost of births to teenage mothers was more than $9 billion in 2004, according to an estimate of costs to federal, state, and local governments for all births to women aged 19 years and younger prepared by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The estimate includes increases in public sector health care costs for the baby, increased child welfare payments and other public assistance, increased costs to state prisons for the children of teen mothers, and lost revenue because of lower taxes paid by parents and the children over their adult lifetimes.

Insurer Faces $144 M in Damages

The insurer Amerigroup Illinois, along with its parent company Amerigroup Corporation, could face $144 million in damages because of charges that the company discriminated against pregnant women and others with chronic illnesses in its enrollment policies. The former head of government relations for Amerigroup Illinois filed the lawsuit alleging that from 2000 to 2004, Amerigroup avoided enrolling pregnant women and others with chronic health conditions in a Medicaid managed care plan in Illinois but continued to accept state and federal health funds for the program. A federal jury found Amerigroup Illinois and Amerigroup Corporation liable for $48 million in damages. That amount will be tripled—to $144 million—under the federal False Claims Act and the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act. Amerigroup chairman and CEO Jeffrey L. McWaters said in a statement that the company “vigorously” disagrees with the verdict and will appeal the decision.

WIC Canned-Tuna Rule Challenged

Environmental advocates are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop providing canned tuna as part of the food package of the Women, Infants, and Children program. GotMercury.org, a project of the Turtle Island Restoration Network, wrote a letter to USDA urging officials there to stop offering canned tuna to breast-feeding women because of the risks of exposure to mercury through tuna consumption. Although USDA's proposed rule eliminates canned albacore (marketed as solid or “white”) tuna from the WIC food basket because albacore generally has higher levels of mercury, it retains other (chunk or “light”) canned tuna. GotMercury.org opposes this because there are no federal standards defining what can be sold as light tuna. Instead, the group wants to see alternative fish products with lower mercury content offered as part of the WIC food packages, including canned wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines. “No one needs pollution on their plate when there are healthier alternatives,” Eli Saddler, a public health analyst for GotMercury.org said in a statement. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration currently advise that pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children, and women who may become pregnant eat up to 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. The advisory recommends that women and young children avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish due to high levels of mercury.

Telehealth Licensure Studied

Officials at the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) are tackling the issue of licensure for physicians engaged in telehealth and those involved in the multistate practice of medicine. FSMB recently received a grant from the federal government to test different ways to reduce licensure barriers and better share information across jurisdictions. “With telehealth playing an increasingly important role in meeting the needs of underserved patient populations, the ability of physicians to be able to quickly obtain licensure in multiple jurisdictions has never been more important,” Dr. James N. Thompson, FSMB president and CEO, said in a statement.

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