Manhattan US District Court Judge Paul A. Crotty is fighting against a tactic proposed by an organization called Medical Justice, whose result would be to limit the ability of consumers to place critical, on-line reviews for services they’ve received but were unhappy with.
Medical Justice advises medical professionals to force their patients to sign over their copyright interests on any online reviews they may write. Therefore, if the patient criticizes the health care professional on an online review site, the doctor will have the ability to threaten a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
Judge Crotty’s decision to disallow this practice stems from a dispute between Robert Lee, a disgruntled former patient of dentist Stacy Makhnevich.
Lee claimed that Makhnevich charged him over $4,000 for a filling a cavity, and then refused to give Lee the records that he needed to file an insurance claim. Unhappy with that service, Lee described his experience with Makhnevich on Yelp and DoctorBases. In response to the critical posts Makhnevich claimed that she and her dental practice owned the copyright to Lee’s reviews.
The dentist demanded that the Web sites remove Lee’s posts and also demanded from Lee $100 per day that the posts remained up.
Public Citizen, and advocacy group for consumers, represented Lee in a suit against Makhnevich. Judge Crotty ruled last year that the copyright agreement Makhnevich had with Lee was invalid for a long list of reasons, one of those being that such an agreement is unethical. Furthermore, Cotty argued, even if somehow Makhnevich did own Lee’s reviews, Lee would still retain a “fair use” right to post them on websites like Yelp.
According to the original Obama healthcare coverage proposal, women’s health issues, including full coverage for birth control, is included. However, over the past 15 months since the new health law went into effect, who has to pay for the coverage of contraceptive care has come under fire from religious institutions who believe they should not have to be forced to pay for a service that they believe in immoral.
In August 2011 the Obama administration proposal required insurance providers to fully cover birth control for women, following the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences. In January 2012 the Roman Catholic Church asked for an exemption, saying that as providers of insurance to their employees they felt that they should not have to pay for services they believe are immoral, such as birth control. At first the Obama administration rejected the Church’s sensitivities, but after an uproar from Church leaders and Republicans the administration came up with a compromise proposal in February, 2012. The compromise however still left many questions open, including how insurance coverage would be provided by self-insured religious institutions.
The new proposal states that those religious institutions that are against the use of birth control will not be forced to pay for it. Instead insurance companies will pay, using the money they will save due to fewer births.
Deputy Director of the federal office in charge of health insurance, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure explained,
“Under the proposed rule, insurance companies — not churches or other religious organizations — will cover contraceptive services. No nonprofit religious institution will be forced to pay for or provide contraceptive coverage and churches and houses of worship are specifically exempt.”
She added, “Nonprofit religious organizations like universities, hospitals or charities with religious objections won’t have to arrange, contract or pay for coverage of these services for their employees or students.”
The latest compromise proposal which President Obama announced on Friday would expand the number of institutions that could be included in the exemption. Not only churches and other religious organizations would be exempt, but also some hospitals, universities and social service organizations which are merely affiliated with religious institutions will be included in the exemption.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius said the compromise would “respect religious concerns” while still providing free contraceptive coverage.
The Washington based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a group representing employers in eight lawsuits against the Obama healthcare proposal is not happy with the compromise.
“Today’s proposed rule does nothing to protect the religious freedom of millions of Americans,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Fund.
If you were milling around the Capitol on Tuesday, you just might have caught a glimpse of the 3D mammography bus touring Washington D.C. Near the steps of the Capitol, the large pink bus stopped right by Capitol Hill to show off one of the most important breakthroughs that breast cancer detection has seen in the last 30 years.
3D mammography is fast becoming available to women around the country, as it’s showing amazing results for breast cancer screening and for detecting breast cancer. Hologic, a company that specializes in screening, diagnosing and imaging tools for women’s health, is leading the tour and showing the 3D mammography tools to health professionals around the country. Their technology was already approved by the FDA last year and is available in the Washington area at the moment with Washington Radiology. Unfortunately, it’s not yet covered by insurance and is only available at an extra cost to patients.
As Edward Lipsit, MD, the President of Washington Radiology Associates explained,
“It’s resulting in increased breast cancer detection rates, decrease in the need to call patients back for additional imaging.”
Dr. Lipsit adds, “We’ve performed nearly 25,000 examinations at 6 clinical sites and at present we are the largest provider of 3D mammography in the world.”
The van was on display for the day so that members of Congress, staff members and health professionals could see first-hand how the 3D mammogram works and could meet with physicians using 3D mammograms for breast cancer screening and detection purposes.
Hologic’s 3D mammogram bus is heading to New York next to be on display near the New York Stock Exchange.