HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, March 30, 2007

Keroack Resigns

Well, I cannot say that I was overly impressed with his appointment in the first place - so perhaps this shouldn't be a big surprise.   The Associated Press reports,

The head of the federal office responsible for providing women with access to contraceptives and counseling to prevent pregnancy resigned unexpectedly yesterday after Medicaid officials took action against him in Massachusetts.

The Health and Human Services Department provided no details about the nature of the Massachusetts action that led to Dr. Eric Keroack's resignation.

Five months ago, Keroack was chosen by President Bush to oversee the department's Office of Population Affairs and its $283 million annual budget. The pick angered Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights groups that viewed him as opposed to birth control and comprehensive sex education. Keroack had worked for an organization that opposes contraception.

"Yesterday, Dr. Eric Keroack alerted us to an action taken against him by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Office of Medicaid. As a result of this action I accepted his resignation," Dr. John Agwunobi, assistant secretary for health, said in a statement last evening.   . . . reports that his immediate successor will be Evelyn Kappeler, Acting Deputy Director for Population Affairs.

March 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

U.S. News Rankings

Professor Paul Caron at TaxProf posts the latest U.S. News rankings.  I know that we aren't supposed to care but when your administration cares, you have to at least give then a look.

March 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Prospect for National Health Reform

Professor Elizabeth Weeks alerts me to a post she wrote concerning recent informative comments by Ned Spurgeon, at Utah (and currently visiting as a distinguished chair at McGeorge) on California health reform, in the context of the Massachusetts and possible national reform plans at Jurisdynamics.

Definitely worth the read!

March 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Long Term Care Insurance Problems

The New York Times reports today on problems faced by the elderly receiving insurance coverage for long-term health care - insurance coverage that they had paid for over many years.  I know that some people oppose government regulation but this article suggests strongly that stronger controls are needed on these policies.

Tens of thousands of elderly Americans have received life-prolonging care as a result of their long-term-care policies. With more than eight million customers, such insurance is one of the many products that companies are pitching to older Americans reaching retirement.

Yet thousands of policyholders say they have received only excuses about why insurers will not pay. Interviews by The New York Times and confidential depositions indicate that some long-term-care insurers have developed procedures that make it difficult — if not impossible — for policyholders to get paid. A review of more than 400 of the thousands of grievances and lawsuits filed in recent years shows elderly policyholders confronting unnecessary delays and overwhelming bureaucracies. In California alone, nearly one in every four long-term-care claims was denied in 2005, according to the state (my emphasis).

“The bottom line is that insurance companies make money when they don’t pay claims,” said Mary Beth Senkewicz, who resigned last year as a senior executive at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “They’ll do anything to avoid paying, because if they wait long enough, they know the policyholders will die.”

In 2003, a subsidiary of Conseco, Bankers Life and Casualty, sent an 85-year-old woman suffering from dementia the wrong form to fill out, according to a lawsuit, then denied her claim because of improper paperwork. Last year, according to another pending suit, the insurer Penn Treaty American decided that a 92-year-old man had so improved that he should leave his nursing home despite his forgetfulness, anxiety and doctor’s orders to seek continued care. Another suit contended that a company owned by the John Hancock Insurance Company had tried to rescind the coverage of a 72-year-old man when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years after buying the policy.

Firedoglake reports further on these developments and whether such behavior by insurance companies meets the definition of "bad faith."  Long term care policies are extremely expensive and are supposed to provide peace of mind to elderly individuals who fear being unable to afford nursing home care and fear being a burden to relatives.  Grrr - this was not a great way to start off my day - then, of course, I had to read the New York Times article about increased behavioral problems of children who attend daycare -- grrrr again!!

March 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Yikes - Part-Sheep and Part-Human

CBS news (link with video) is reporting on a new animal: 

A bio-ethical debate is raging at a Nevada university, where scientists have created the world's first sheep with half-human organs.

University of Nevada Professor Esmail Zanjani has spent seven years perfecting the technique, which involves injecting adult human cells into sheep fetuses.  This caused the animals to be born 15-percent human.

Scientists say this development will make it easier to use animal organs when people need transplants. . . .  But the development is likely to revive criticisms about scientists playing God.   Some fear the possibility of silent viruses -- harmless in animals -- being introduced into the human race.

I am bit surprised that this is occurring - it doesn't seem to be the best idea to me.  Time to re-think organ donation policies again.  Thanks to Matthew Yglesias for the link - the comments at his place are pretty funny or would be if this weren't just a bit scary. 

March 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)