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June 30, 2014
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Hendricks Regional Health is extending its reach farther west via a collaboration with Putnam County Hospital in Greencastle. On July 10, the two hospitals will open a new obstetrics clinic, called Partners in Care, to provide prenatal care for low-income pregnant women. The clinic will be staffed by a Hendricks Regional Health nurse midwife, and two physicians from the Hendricks Regional Health Medical Group. Patients of Partners in Care will receive prenatal services at Putnam County Hospital, while deliveries will take place at Hendricks Regional Health in Danville. The idea of starting a clinic was boosted by a needs assessment conducted by DePauw University in Greencastle, which confirmed a shortage of prenatal care in Putnam County.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that closely held corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of Obamacare’s requirement that they cover contraceptives for women at no charge. According to the Associated Press, the justices' 5-4 decision is the first time the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies' health insurance plans. Contraception is among a range of preventive services that must be provided at no extra charge under the health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010 and the Supreme Court upheld two years later. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, which stressed that the ruling applies only to corporations that are under the control of just a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence hired Carmel psychiatrist Dr. John Wernert to take over the state's Family and Social Services Administration and tapped former FSSA Secretary Michael Gargano to oversee Pence’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0. Wernert is the medical director of medical management at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis and was the medical director for behavioral health integration for the Franciscan Alliance health system. He'll replace outgoing Secretary Debra Minott, who unexpectedly announced her resignation in June; neither Pence nor Minott have explained her sudden departure. Gargano, who led the agency until Pence took office last January, is returning in the new role overseeing Pence's insurance expansion plan. The Pence administration is in the middle of pitching the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Indiana's proposal to use the state-run Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to expand Medicaid. If the application is approved, residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level would be allowed to enroll in a hybrid-health savings account plan. The state estimates that more than 457,000 low-income residents could enroll in the program by 2020.

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. received European backing for a biosimilar version of Lantus insulin, a mega-blockbuster made by France-based Sanofi that has never faced generic competition. According to Bloomberg News, Lilly’s Abasria insulin was recommended by the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use for the treatment of diabetes. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, usually follows the panel’s recommendation. Lantus, which garnered $7.8 billion in sales for Paris-based Sanofi in 2013, loses patent protection in Europe in May next year. The U.S. patent on Lantus expires in February, but generic competition there may be delayed after Sanofi in January said it was suing Indianapolis-based Lilly over its plans to introduce a version in the U.S. Sales of the drug in Europe were less than 15 percent of the total in 2013, because the price of the drug is far lower than in the United States, which accounted for almost two-thirds of total Lantus sales, said Mark Clark, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in London. That may limit the erosion of Lantus sales in Europe, he said. Lilly is also trying to introduce a brand-name drug that would compete with Lantus. Last month, it released study results suggesting its once-a-day insulin injection, Peglispro, was better than Lantus in controlling patients’ blood sugar. Lilly has said it will file for U.S. approval to sell that drug in the first quarter of next year.

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