RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 04/13/2016

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Mixed Reaction for SCOTUS Birth Control Query
Greg Stohr, Bloomberg
The U.S. Supreme Court got a mixed reaction from the Obama administration and religious groups to its unusual proposal to resolve a clash over employee insurance coverage for contraceptives. In a court filing Tuesday, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said the government had already gone far enough to accommodate religious groups’ objections to providing coverage for some forms of birth control. He said the alternative proposal suggested by the court last month, while feasible, would "impose real costs."

Doctors Often Overestimate New Drugs
Dennis Thompson, HealthDay
Use of the word "breakthrough" in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's expedited approval process could mislead doctors about the new drugs' actual benefits, researchers warn. The U.S. Congress in 2012 gave FDA the power to designate a drug as a "breakthrough therapy" if preliminary clinical evidence suggests an advantage over existing medications.

Painkiller Critics Take Aim at Hospital Procedures
Matthew Perrone, AP
Critics of how prescription painkillers are administered in the U.S. are calling on health officials to phase out hospital procedures and questionnaires used to manage pain. They say the current system inadvertently encourages the overprescribing of addictive drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin, fueling an epidemic of overdoses tied to the opioid medications.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies are committed to addressing the nation’s growing opioid crisis community by community, nationwide. Learn more about the BCBS commitment.

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Time Running Out for Mental Health Bill
Caitlin Owens, Morning Consult
The Senate is steamrolling into the annual appropriations process without yet addressing mental health, one of the year’s most popular legislative efforts. That’s partly because behind the scenes, there is still widespread disagreement over whether a mental health bill should be Democrats’ big opportunity to force votes on gun control.

WHO: Better Mental Health Care Boosts Economy
Marissa Horn, USAT
Improving mental health care can have a huge economic payoff, according to a study released Tuesday. The World Health Organization findings suggest every U.S. dollar invested in mental health treatment can quadruple returns in work productivity. However, most countries are investing far below what is needed for those suffering from common mental disorders, the study notes.

Intermountain Saves with Behavior Health Focus
Neil Versel, MedCity
Leaders at Intermountain Healthcare believe that health systems can’t manage population health without addressing lifestyle issues. So, that’s exactly what the Salt Lake City-based organization is doing by integrating behavioral health into primary care. Intermountain now pays attention to the entire continuum of care, particularly for those with multiple chronic conditions. “Our clinical programs are focused on what we call health pathways,” said Intermountain Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President for Clinical Operations Kim Henrichsen.

Calif. Junks $179 Million Medi-Cal IT System
Russ Mitchell, California HL
Combine years of delay, ever-changing rules and requirements, state and federal red tape and a once-mighty company now in deep financial trouble. What do you get? In California’s case, a $179 million computer modernization project that has to be junked.

Fat? Your Doctor Can't Help
Kimberly Leonard, U.S. News & World Report
While doctors are getting better at informing their patients when their body mass index is too high, they often do not tell them how to lose weight, even though a range of options – including medication, gym memberships, a nutrition program like Weight Watchers, or referral to a weight-loss specialist or surgeon – are available.

Silicon Valley Billionaire Launches Cancer Initiative
Melissa Healy, LAT
Fueled by a $250-million commitment of funds by Napster cofounder Sean Parker, researchers from more than 40 laboratories and six of the nation's leading cancer research centers have entered into a first-of-its-kind collaboration to accelerate the development of cancer immunotherapies.

Nestle Develops Foods to Treat Diseases
John Revill, Wall Street Journal
In a corner of a technical research university campus in Lausanne, Nestlé SA scientists are untangling genetic profiles to develop medical foods—one of the company’s big hopes for sales growth. These aren’t the high-energy protein bars that people buy over the counter before a workout. Instead, the Swiss food company is tapping into an estimated $15 billion market for prescription-based powders and drinks intended to meet specific nutritional requirements to treat diseases.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies around the country are undertaking initiatives to help patients, families, health professionals and communities address the opioid epidemic. These programs are reducing the misuse of opioids while ensuring those who need access to pain medication can get it, when they need it. Learn more about the BCBS commitment to fight substance use disorder and help prevent opioid addiction.

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