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Perry’s Personal Health Policies; 5 State Medicaid Strategies; Medical Illiteracy

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

Time: Gov. Rick Perry’s Weird Science
When defending his 2007 attempt to make human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations mandatory for young girls in Texas, (Gov. Rick Perry) pointed out that both of his parents were cancer survivors and proclaimed, “I hate cancer.” When asked to justify continued spending on abstinence-only education, despite the fact that it didn’t seem to be budging Texas’ high rates of teen pregnancy, he said, “I can tell you from my own life that abstinence works.” And finally, feeling recovered from his own lower-back surgery, which included a highly experimental stem-cell treatment, Perry went into overdrive, awarding $7.5 million to adult stem cell research and recommending that Texas become the first state to house a stem cell treatment facility. … The governor’s health- and medicine-related record makes it difficult to predict how he would respond to health issues to which he had no personal connection (Meredith Melnick, 8/31).

Governing: What Experts Think Of Five Medicaid-Savings Strategies
June 30 was D Day — “D” as in the day the enhanced federal contribution to state Medicaid programs disappeared. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) had boosted the federal share of total Medicaid costs by 6.2 percent, easing the pressure on states struggling to pay for Medicaid programs swollen by the Great Recession. Its expiration punches a huge hole in state revenues. … As a result, states must do something to constrain health-care spending in general and Medicaid in particular. Medicaid accounts for 15.7 percent of state general fund spending. But cutting Medicaid spending is notoriously tricky. … That’s led states to turn to other tactics. … From the most common to the innovative, here are five approaches states are trying, along with assessments of their prospects for success (John Buntin, 8/31).

Governing: The Price Of Medical Illiteracy
A patient is released from the hospital after surgery. Yet too often, that patient comes back, sometimes in serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. The patient didn’t understand the post-operative directions he’d been given. That’s when the system starts to unravel. This is the sort of thing Dr. Andrew Morris-Singer sees all too often as a general practitioner at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The patient may not have been told how to take the medication prescribed or what other medications to avoid when taking it. If the patient did receive such instructions, there’s a 50-50 chance that he didn’t understand those instructions, either about possible negative interactions with other drugs or why the drug had even been prescribed in the first place. That’s just one example of the type of thing that can go badly wrong because of a breakdown in — or a complete absence of — communication and comprehension between provider and patient (Jonathan Walters, 8/31).

American Medical News: Mayo, Cleveland Clinics Seek Affiliations With Doctors Nationwide
Two powerful competitors are declaring their intentions to affiliate with outside physician practices: Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. They and other large, brand-name health systems have affiliated with local hospitals in recent years as one way to expand their reach and names. Despite their prominence, Mayo and Cleveland separately are seeking physician practices because they don’t want to be left behind as hospitals and physicians furiously ally as health system reform rolls out (Victoria Stagg Elliott, 8/29).

Mother Jones: Are Virginia’s New Abortion Rules the Worst Yet?
On Friday evening, Virginia’s Department of Health issued a strict new set of rules for abortion clinics — and women’s health advocates fear that facilities that can’t comply could be shuttered. The regulations require Virginia’s 22 clinics to meet strict new physical standards; pre-op rooms, for example, must measure at least 80 square feet, and operating rooms must measure 250 square feet. Hallways must be at least five feet wide. The requirements are based on the state’s 2010 guidelines for new outpatient surgical facilities. Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told Mother Jones on Monday that the new rules may actually be the most strict regulations in the United States (Kate Sheppard, 8/30).