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Today’s Headlines – Sept. 1, 2011

Good Morning! Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including California lawmakers shelving their effort to pass a bill to regulate health insurance rates and Florida’s aggressive efforts to shut down “pill mill” clinics.

Los Angeles Times: Bill To Regulate California Health Insurance Rates Is Shelved
A bill that would allow California officials to regulate health insurance rates for millions of consumers has died in the Legislature after forceful lobbying campaigns by insurers, healthcare providers and other groups. Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) said he is pulling his measure, AB52, because he could not muster a majority of votes in the state Senate, the final stop in a months-long effort to increase state regulators’ authority over health insurance premiums (Helfand, 9/1).

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New York Times: Florida Shutting ‘Pill Mill’ Clinics
Florida has long been the nation’s center of the illegal sale of prescription drugs: Doctors here bought 89 percent of all the Oxycodone sold in the country last year. At its peak, so many out-of-staters flocked to Florida to buy drugs at more than 1,000 pain clinics that the state earned the nickname “Oxy Express.” But with the help of tougher laws, officials have moved aggressively this year to shut down so-called pill mills and disrupt the pipeline that moves the drugs north. In the past year, more than 400 clinics were either shut down or closed their doors (Alvarez, 8/31).

The New York Times: F.T.C. Criticizes Agreements That Delay Generic Drugs
Some drug makers are using an indirect method to delay competition from low-cost generic products by promising not to introduce their own generic versions if a potential competitor delays its entry into the market, the Federal Trade Commission said in a report on Wednesday (Wilson, 8/31).

NPR: Obama Takes Tougher Stance On Abortion Protesters
The Obama Justice Department has been taking a more aggressive approach against people who block access to abortion clinics, using a 1994 law to bring cases in greater numbers than its predecessor. The numbers are most stark when it comes to civil lawsuits, which seek to create buffer zones around clinic entrances for people who have blocked access in the past. Under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act, the Justice Department’s civil rights division has filed eight civil cases since the start of the Obama administration. That’s a big increase over the George W. Bush years, when one case was filed in eight years (Johnson, 9/1).

The New York Times: F.D.A. Affirms Safety Of Breast Implants
After two days of discussion and testimony about silicone breast implants, a top government health official said he had heard nothing to shake his faith in the safety of the widely used implants. The official, Dr. William Maisel, chief scientist for the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices, said silicone breast implants were safe (Harris, 8/31).

Chicago Tribune: Quinn Announces State Funding For Health Centers
Gov. Pat Quinn continued his ribbon-cutting spree today, announcing the state will spend $30.5 million to build and renovate 14 health centers across the state that provide care for low-income patients (Garcia, 8/31).

Los Angeles Times: Three Businesses Ordered To Leave VA’s West Los Angeles Campus
The federal Department of Veterans Affairs is ordering a bus company, a car rental firm and a laundry service to leave its sprawling West Los Angeles campus after complaints from critics that the agency puts commercial interests ahead of caring for thousands of homeless veterans (Groves, 9/1).

Chicago Tribune: Health Advocates Launch Anti-Soda Campaign
More than half of Americans drink too many sugary drinks and the problem is worst among minorities, the poor and the young, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Agriculture shot down a pilot proposal to ban soda from New York food stamp purchases. The department felt the program, proposed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would be too complicated to enforce (9/1).

The Washington Post: Boys Drink More Sugary Beverages Than Girls, Federal Survey Shows
On any given day, about half of the all Americans ages 2 and older consume drinks containing sugar, according to an analysis of data by the federal government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2008. Who are the biggest consumers? Well, it should come as no surprise that it’s teenagers and young adults, with boys between the ages of 2 and 19 drinking the most. About 70 percent of them drink these sugar-laden beverages on any given day, according to the analysis (Stein, 8/31).

USA Today: Sugary Drinks Add 300 Calories A Day To Youths’ Diets
Teens who drink soda, energy drinks and other sugary beverages are guzzling about 327 calories a day from them, which is equal to about 2½ cans of cola, new government data show (Hellmich, 8/31).

Chicago Tribune: Charting Changes To Illinois Workers’ Compensation
Each year in Illinois, roughly 200,000 work-related accidents occur, according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Employers pay for workers’ compensation benefits through insurance policies or self-insurance, but they have long complained about the high costs of treating employees. In June, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law amendments to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act that reduce workers’ compensation costs. Several provisions take effect on Thursday or later (Sachdev, 9/1).

Chicago Tribune: Paralyzed Football Player Fears For Health Under New State Medicaid Plan
From the time he was paralyzed in a high school football game in 2000, Rasul “Rocky” Clark has received his medical care at Ingalls Health System in Harvey. … But now, Clark will have to leave the hospital he has depended on since he was hurt, he said. Clark, 27, is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of chronically ill individuals forced to find new doctors because of changes in the state Medicaid program (8/31).