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Looking For The Inventor Of The Individual Mandate

Every week, reporter Jessica Marcy selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The Atlantic: Did A Conservative Think Tank Really Invent The Individual Mandate?
In the course of defending the health care bill he passed in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney told Newt Gingrich that he got the idea for the individual mandate — a rule dictating that everyone must buy health insurance or pay a penalty — from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington, D.C. think tank. Is it really responsible for creating the policy that is now so anathema to conservatives? (Conor Friedersdorf, 10/21).

Time: Mammograms Only Occasionally Save Lives, Analysis Finds
Some doctors and public-health experts have stirred controversy in recent years by arguing that aggressive breast-cancer screening does more harm than good. Many health professionals disagree, but perhaps the most compelling critics of the less-is-more philosophy are the many breast cancer survivors who claim that a routine mammogram saved their lives. These survivor anecdotes — which often turn up in the media — may be causing the public to overestimate the true value of mammograms, a new study suggests. In an analysis published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers at Dartmouth estimate that only about 1 in 8 women whose breast cancer was identified during a routine mammogram actually owe their lives to the screening (Anne Harding, 10/25).

The Daily Beast: Will Mississippi Ban IVF?
In September, Mississippi’s Supreme Court ruled that a ballot initiative to amend the state’s constitution to define embryos as persons could go forward in November. Since then, Dr. Randall Hines, one of four physicians in the state who perform in vitro fertilization, has been fielding panicked calls from women with fertility problems. … The personhood movement believes that by legally changing the definition of what a person is, it can undermine Roe v. Wade and outlaw abortion. But should any state actually pass a personhood amendment, it would impact IVF as well. That is not accidental (Michelle Goldberg, 10/24).

Mother Jones: Then They Came For Your Birth Control
The “personhood” amendment on the Mississippi ballot next week doesn’t just ban all abortions—an issue that my colleague Tim Murphy has covered quite well. It would also likely outlaw several types of birth control and possibly make all forms of hormonal contraception illegal in the state. Mississippi anti-abortion activists wants to define personhood as starting when a sperm fertilizes an egg. In that case, it would likely make intrauterine devices (IUDs), which can prevent pregnancy by blocking the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, illegal. (IUDs can also prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg in the first place, and IUDs with hormones also operate much like regular old birth control pills, but that doesn’t seem to matter to anti-abortion activists.) (Kate Sheppard, 10/25).

Governing: Georgia Overhauls Its Mental Health System
Georgia has been given its biggest mental health-care challenge in history. Under the settlement, the state must relocate 9,000 individuals with mental illness and 750 with developmental disabilities out of hospitals and into communities. The new model will include treatment teams in the field, government-supported housing and employment, wellness centers and peer-support programs, where people in the process of recovery can offer guidance and encouragement to one another (Russell Nichols, October, 2011).