RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 02/15/2016

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Scalia Death Puts Health Care Cases in Limbo
Schencker & Rubenfire, MH
The Supreme Court justices are considering a number of important healthcare cases focusing on topics including abortion and the ACA's contraception mandate. The court is also weighing a case about data sharing with potential implications for insurers and state healthcare reform efforts and an another case with the potential to reduce—or increase—the number of False Claims Act suits brought against healthcare providers and other companies.

Whither Abortion, ACA after Scalia's Death
Eisenberg, et al., Politico
Justice Antonin Scalia’s death could change the course of history on the contentious social and legal issues pending before the Supreme Court this term, especially in closely divided cases where he was expected to serve as a lynchpin of a conservative majority.

The Court's Biggest Abortion Case in Years
Kliff & Crockett, Vox
The unexpected death of justice Antonin Scalia comes less than a month before the Supreme Court hears its biggest abortion case in a decade. On March 2, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstadt, a challenge to a Texas law that has closed about half of the state's abortion clinics since 2013.

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With coverage in every zip code, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies know that all healthcare is local. We’re committed to helping your state tackle the most important healthcare issues in your community. Learn more about what’s happening in your state.

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Confounding Surge in Medicare Advantage Sign-Ups
Robert Pear, NYT
Five years into Medicare spending cuts that were supposed to devastate private Medicare options for older Americans, enrollment in private insurance plans through Medicare has shot up by more than 50 percent, confounding experts and partisans alike and providing possible lessons for the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges.

Sen. Warren on Medical Marijuana & Opioids
C. Ingraham, Wonkblog
Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to explore the use of medical marijuana as an alternative to the powerful opioid painkillers that kill thousands of people each year. In a letter to CDC chief Tom Friedan, the Massachusetts Democrat also asks the agency to look into “the impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths.”

New Cancer Center Model Thriving
Eric T. Rosenthal, MedPageToday
The news earlier this week that Miami Cancer Institute (MCI), one of the new hybrid academic-community cancer centers, had joined Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Cancer Alliance, was only the latest evidence that this emerging model for delivering oncology care won't just be a flash in the pan.

How Can Providers Prepare for Disasters?
Sheri Fink, New York Times
Despite repeated calls for change, however, and billions of dollars in disaster-related costs for health care providers, federal rules do not require that critical medical institutions make even minimal preparations for major emergencies, from hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes to bioterrorist attacks and infectious epidemics such as Ebola and Zika.

Little Help Available for Caregivers
Susan Ladika, Managed Care
As the population ages, the caregiving situation is expected to become more acute. The prime age for caregivers is 45 to 64, according to AARP. Right now, there are seven people in that age group for every person age 80 or older. By 2030, there are projected to be only four potential caregivers for every person age 80 or older.

Colombia's Claim of No Birth Defects Linked to Zika
D. Thompson, HD
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stated last Saturday that there's no evidence Zika has caused any cases of microcephaly in his country, though 3,177 pregnant women have been diagnosed with the virus. CDC researchers are fanning out across Central and South America to gather data on the crisis that has been centered in Brazil, and will independently check Santos' claim, said Dr. Edward McCabe, senior vice president and medical director of the March of Dimes.

Med Schools Fail to Accommodate Disabilities
Lisa Rapaport, Reuters
Most U.S. medical schools fail to accommodate students with disabilities, a study shows. The researchers analyzed policies covering admission eligibility and what assistance to give people who have difficulties with hearing, vision or mobility.

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