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KHN First Edition: December 23, 2015


First Edition

Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Hands Off That Frozen Pizza! Docs Advise Customers As They Shop
Kaiser Health News staff writer Anna Gorman writes: "Hospitals and health clinics around the country are increasing their efforts to promote exercise and healthy eating. They’re offering yoga and cooking classes, sponsoring farmers’ markets and writing prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables. ... St. Joseph Hoag Health’s recent campaign is called “Shop with Your Doc” and is based at Ralphs supermarkets throughout Orange County. Grocery stores are an ideal place to teach people that they can become healthier by making small dietary changes and eating in moderation, said Vanessa Rosales, community affairs manager for Ralphs & Food 4 Less." (Gorman, 12/23)

The Wall Street Journal: Users Hit 8.2 Million
Some 71% of the site’s enrollees—around 5.8 million—had coverage renewed, and 29%—or about 2.4 million—had been first-time buyers, HHS said. Federal officials have seen a flurry of activity around a Dec. 15 deadline to buy or switch existing coverage that would take effect Jan. 1, and offered a two-day extension to accommodate the late crush on the site. (Radnofsky, 12/22)

USA Today: Enrollment Up About One Third Over Last Year
More than 8.2 million consumers signed up for health coverage through or had their coverage automatically renewed, as millions more selected plans through state-based market places, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday. It's about a one-third improvement from this time last year, when about 6.4 million had signed up for coverage or been automatically renewed. handles the enrollment for 38 states. (O'Donnell, 12/23)

The Associated Press: Report: More Young Adults Signing Up For Obama Health Law
Midway through sign-up season, more young adults are getting coverage through President Barack Obama's health care law. The number of new customers is also trending higher, officials said Tuesday in an upbeat report. Outside analysts who reviewed the administration's update said it reflects encouraging progress, but that may not dispel questions about the long-term future of the health insurance markets created under Obama's 2010 overhaul. (12/22)

The New York Times: Hillary Clinton Proposes Doubling Spending On Alzheimer’s Research
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday proposed a $2 billion-a-year investment in Alzheimer’s research, more than double the amount in the recently passed appropriations bill, to combat the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. The plan, which would be paid for by changes in the tax code, emerged out of conversations with voters who regularly ask Mrs. Clinton about Alzheimer’s at town-hall-style events in Iowa and New Hampshire. (Chozick, 12/22)

The Washington Post: Why Clinton’s Wildly Ambitious $20 Billion Plan To Cure Alzheimer’s By 2025 Matters
Hillary Clinton, who was campaigning in Iowa, said her plan would provide $2 billion in guaranteed annual funds by closing tax loopholes to “prevent, effectively treat and make a cure possible." That level is four times the current funding. Although she did not offer specifics on where the money would come from, two advisers provided more details on why Clinton is making the disease a priority. (Eunjung Cha, 12/22)

USA Today: Clinton To Call For Alzheimer's Cure, Increase Spending To $2 Billion Annually
From 2000 to 2013, Alzheimer’s deaths increased 71%, while heart disease fatalities dropped 14%. Unlike cancer and heart attacks, there is no known cure. “Alzheimer’s is the red-haired stepchild among the top diseases threatening the aging and our health care system,” said Alzheimer’s pioneer Rudolph Tanzi, the neurology professor who discovered many of the genes, including the first ones, leading to Alzheimer's. (Przybyla, 12/22)

The Washington Post's Fact Checker: Rubio’s Inaccurate Claim That He ‘Inserted’ A Provision Restricting Obamacare ‘Bailout’ Funds
Presidential candidate Marco Rubio has claimed that he inserted key language in the budget bill. In reality, in the sausage making of the law, Rubio didn’t make the sausage that has wounded the law. He had wanted to make a different sausage. But through deft marketing, he managed to slap his name on this one. So far, with the exception of a careful report in the Associated Press, much of the media have gotten this story wrong. (Kessler, 12/23)

The Associated Press: HHS To Review Federal Oversight Of Fetal Tissue Research
At the request of Republican senators, the inspector general's office of the Department of Health and Human Services has launched a review of how federal officials oversee fetal tissue research — a subject in the spotlight since the release of undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who initiated the request, said Tuesday that the audit would cover all fetal tissue research supported by HHS grants and would examine how the agency enforced compliance with relevant federal laws. (12/22)

Reuters: U.S. Lawmakers Call For Action To Protect Drug-Exposed Newborns
Two senior U.S. senators are calling for swift federal action to help protect thousands of infants born each year to mothers who used opioids during pregnancy. Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, is calling for oversight hearings, in part to understand why a longstanding federal law directing states to safeguard the newborns is not being enforced. Sen. Charles Schumer, of New York, wants the Obama Administration to put “an emergency surge” of funds toward addressing the growing number of drug-dependent newborns. (12/22)

The Associated Press: Bribery Probe Nets $12M And More Than 2 Dozen Doctors
An ongoing federal investigation of a New Jersey medical laboratory has netted guilty pleas from more than two dozen doctors, the latest Tuesday from a physician who admitted taking cash bribes from lab employees. ... Prosecutors say the bribes were part of a long-running scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory. They say the company bribed doctors to refer patients and perform unnecessary tests, reaping millions of dollars. (12/22)

NPR: FDA Approval Could Turn A Free Drug For A Rare Disease Pricey
Catalyst Pharmaceuticals, which makes Firdapse, has applied for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under an orphan drug designation. That would give the company exclusive rights to market the drug for seven years. That should be good news for Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome patients. But the reality isn't so clear. That's because, for the last 20 years, many LEMS patients have received the same drug — known as 3,4-diaminopyridine, or 3,4-DAP — free of charge from Jacobus Pharmaceutical. (Kodjak, 12/23)

The New York Times: A Patient Is Sued, And His Mental Health Diagnosis Becomes Public
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal patient privacy law known as Hipaa, allows health providers to sue patients over unpaid debts, but requires that they disclose only the minimum information necessary to pursue them. Still, the law has many loopholes. One is that Hipaa covers only providers who submit data electronically. (Ornstein, 12/23)

USA Today: Burden Of Lung Cancer Pushes Kentucky's Cancer Rates To Nation's Highest
About 10,000 Kentuckians a year are taken by cancer in a state where the disease consistently kills at the highest rate in the nation. Experts say the biggest culprit is lung cancer, which strikes and kills Kentuckians at rates 50% higher than the national average. But Kentucky’s death rates also rank in the Top 10 nationally for breast, colorectal and cervical cancers. (Ungar, 12/22)

Reuters: Tennessee Woman Pleads Not Guilty To Murder Charge For Abortion Attempt
A Tennessee woman accused of using a coat hanger to try to abort her 24-week-old fetus pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted first-degree murder in a Nashville-area court on Tuesday, a sheriff's official said. Anna Yocca, 31, was indicted earlier this month for attempting to abort the fetus in a bathtub filled with water in September. (12/22)

The Associated Press: Utah Can Block Planned Parenthood Funds While Suit Proceeds
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Utah can cut off federal funds to the state’s Planned Parenthood organization, a move the Republican governor ordered after the release of secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group. The ruling from U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups reversed an earlier decision temporarily ordering the money to keep flowing to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. (Price, 12/22)

The Associated Press: Michigan Schools Try Out Gold Standard Of Concussion Tests
Sixty-two Michigan high schools are participating in a unique pilot program that does baseline testing of athletes in football and other sports to help with concussion diagnosis. Baseline testing — a combination of memory, reaction time, attention and stress assessments — is done in major pro sports because it is considered an objective and individualized tool. The NCAA recommends baseline testing of all college athletes. While all states have laws that address preventing concussions in youth sports, many are weak and none require baseline testing. (Schneider, 12/23)

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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