Consumer Health Digest #12-22

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 28, 2012

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

Insurance reform law (PPACA) upheld. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by a 5-4 vote. The most contentious issue was whether the U.S. Government has a right to force people who can afford health insurance to either buy it or pay a penalty. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts ruled that the Government has a right to do so under its authority to tax. Beginning in 2014, those who do not comply with the mandate must make a "shared responsibility" payment along with their taxes. The full text of the Supreme Court decision is posted to Casewatch. The Commonwealth Fund has posted an excellent summary of PPACA's provision.

Superb book covers battle for national health insurance. Stuart Altman, Ph.D., who has assisted five presidents in their efforts to design an equitable national health insurance program, has produced an inside account of the events that led to PPACA's passage. He notes that "nearly every major interest group favors universal coverage and health system reform, but, if the plan deviates from their preferred approach, they would rather retain the status quo." The book explains how Obama succeeded and how the main opponents of the law habitually misrepresent its contents and probable effects. The book—Power Politics and Universal Health Care: The Inside Story of a Century-Long Battle—is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the political struggle that lies ahead.

Toftness device article expanded. Chirobase has expanded its article about the Toftness Radiation Detector, a device whose inventor, chiropractor Irwing N. Toftness, claimed that (a) energy with a frequency of 69.5 gigahertz emanates from compressed spinal nerves and (b) the device could focus the radiation to detect disturbances that could be corrected by spinal adjustments. In 1984, in response to 20 years of FDA efforts, a federal court banned interstate distribution of the devices and ordered the Dr. Toftness and the Toftness Post-Graduate School of Chiropractic to order chiropractors who still possessed a device to return it. However, a few chiropractors still use them. [Barrett S. The Toftness Radiation Detector is a bogus device. Chirobase, June 29, 2012]

Consumer dental site launched. The American Dental Association has launched Mouth Healthy, a site with extensive information for consumers. It includes topics related to each stage of life, basic nutrition information, and a directory of ADA Seal products.

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