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KHN First Edition: December 15, 2015

KHN

First Edition

Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: Rising Obesity Puts Strain On Nursing Homes
Kaiser Health News staff writer Sarah Varney reports: "The percentage of those entering American nursing homes who are moderate and severely obese — with a body mass index of 35 or greater — has risen sharply, to nearly 25 percent in 2010 from 14.7 percent in 2000, according to a recent study, and many signs suggest the upward trend is continuing. But as demand from severely obese patients surges, nursing home administrators say they cannot afford to care for them." (Varney, 12/15)

The New York Times: As Health Care Act Insurance Deadline Nears, ‘Unprecedented Demand’
Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia have done the best among 20 cities competing to sign up people for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, while Dallas, Denver and Las Vegas are lagging, the White House said Monday ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to enroll for coverage that takes effect on Jan. 1. A surge of callers temporarily overwhelmed the government’s capacity to enroll consumers on Monday, prompting officials to record telephone numbers so they could return calls later to arrange for coverage. (Pear, 12/14)

USA Today: Late Rush Before Open Enrollment Deadline Jams Federal Phone Lines
Consumers anxious to beat the midnight Tuesday deadline to enroll on the federal insurance exchange overwhelmed call center lines Monday, federal officials said. Some people were being asked to leave their names so they could be called back after the deadline to be enrolled. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said they would still be able to have coverage effective Jan. 1 if they left their contact information before the deadline. (O'Donnell, 12/14)

NPR: Obamacare Sign-Ups Could Get A Bump As Higher Penalties Kick In
Tuesday is the last day to choose a health plan under the Affordable Care Act if you want insurance coverage to begin by Jan. 1. And officials who have spent the last two years using the carrot of persuasion to get people to buy insurance through the state or federal exchanges say the time has come for the stick. That stick is a hefty fine. (Kodjak, 12/15)

The Associated Press: Bargainers Resolving Last Hurdles To Spending, Tax Deal
Lobbyists say bargainers had tentatively agreed to postpone the launch of a tax on high-value health insurance plans from 2018 to 2020. There may also be a two-year pause in the existing 2.3 percent medical device tax and a one-year suspension of a levy currently imposed on health insurers, which the companies generally pass on to customers as higher premiums. (Fram, 12/15)

The New York Times: McConnell Takes Credit For Resuscitating The Senate
Mr. McConnell can tick off the bills he sees as victories — a budget, a long-sought solution to a perennial problem with Medicare doctor fees, the first changes to Social Security in decades, a cybersecurity bill, a reconciliation measure undercutting the health care law, Keystone XL oil pipeline approval, the Iran nuclear review law and, most recently, major transportation and education bills. He admits he could not have compiled those achievements without significant help from an unlikely quarter — the Senate Democrats he so frustrated in his position as minority leader. (Hulse, 12/14)

The Associated Press: Fact Check: Rubio’s Single-Handed ‘Obamacare’ Win Questioned
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he’s the only Republican running for president who’s actually notched a win against President Barack Obama’s health care law, widely loathed on the political right. But other Republicans who quietly worked to outwit the Obama administration say Rubio is taking credit for a victory he didn’t deliver alone. (Alonso-Zaldivar and Sergio Bustos, 12/15)

The Associated Press: Rep. Boustany Announces Run For Louisiana US Senate Seat
Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany launched his campaign Monday for Louisiana’s U.S. Senate seat, a race that appears likely to become jam-packed with GOP contenders. ... "We deserve a senator who will take on big challenges like fixing our broken health care system," the cardiovascular surgeon said in a statement. (Deslatte, 12/14)

The Associated Press: Mental Health Care Would Curb Violence, Some At Hearing Say
A gun club owner and a gun dealer are among those telling a congressman Monday that closing loopholes in federal background checks and increasing mental health help would reduce gun violence. California U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, chairman of House Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, held the hearing less than two weeks after 14 people were fatally shot in San Bernardino. (Thompson, 12/14)

The Washington Post: Hoping To Curb The Prescription Opioid Epidemic, CDC Proposes New Guidelines For Doctors
The government on Monday urged primary-care physicians who prescribe opioids for pain relief to rein in their use of the drugs, proposing new guidelines that call for a more conservative approach than the one that has led to a crippling epidemic of addiction to the powerful narcotics. Just a few days after a new report showed a surge of drug-related overdoses in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested in draft recommendations that physicians tackle chronic pain with other methods. (Bernstein, 12/14)

NPR: A New Study Raises Old Questions About Antidepressants And Autism
Taking antidepressants during the second or third trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder, according to a study of Canadian mothers and children published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. But scientists not involved in the research say the results are hard to interpret and don't settle the long-running debate about whether expectant mothers with depression should take antidepressants. (Hamilton, 12/14)

The Washington Post: Maryland Pharmacists Can Sell Naloxone Without A Prescription
Maryland pharmacists will no longer require that people have a prescription to obtain a drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued an order Monday authorizing pharmacists to dispense naloxone to thousands of individuals who have been trained and certified through the state’s Overdose Response Program. (Hicks, 12/14)

The Associated Press: Disposal Of Fetal Tissue Debated In Court, Ohio Statehouse
A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked Ohio officials from taking legal action against Planned Parenthood to enforce fetal tissue disposal rules, and Republican state lawmakers proposed new regulations for such disposal. The actions at the Ohio Statehouse and Columbus federal court comes after state Attorney General Mike DeWine’s investigation into Planned Parenthood facilities. (Sanner, 12/14)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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