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KHN First Edition: December 24, 2015

KHN

First Edition

Thursday, December 24, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

NOTE TO READERS: KHN's First Edition will not be published Dec. 25 through Jan. 1. Look for it again in your inbox Jan. 4. Here's today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: Medicare Payment Changes Lead More Men To Get Screening Colonoscopies
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "Men are getting more screening colonoscopies since the health law reduced how much Medicare beneficiaries pay out of pocket for the preventive tests, a recent study found. The change, however, didn’t affect women’s rates. The study, published in the December issue of Health Affairs, compared rates of screening for colorectal cancer among people age 66 to 75 before and after the health law passed in 2010. Starting in 2011, that law waived the Medicare Part B deductible (which totals $147 annually in 2015) and eliminated the requirement that beneficiaries pay 20 percent of the cost for screening colonoscopies." (Andrews, 12/24)

The Associated Press: New York Expands Health Insurance Enrollment For Pregnancy
New York has established pregnancy as an event allowing enrollment for insurance through the state health exchange at any time. The law approved by the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo adds pregnancy to events that permit signing up for health coverage outside normal enrollment periods. Others include birth, marriage, divorce and obtaining citizenship. (12/23)

The Wall Street Journal: New Health Programs For Elderly Poor Make Rocky Start
A federal experiment to curb health spending and improve care for disabled and elderly poor people is off to a rocky start, with enrollment falling short of expectations as patients prove reluctant to switch to the new programs. The struggles experienced by the pilot plans, which aim to streamline care for people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, come despite a growing national urgency about caring for the aging impoverished. (Kamp and Levitz, 12/23)

The Washington Post: After Their Return, Some Peace Corps Volunteers Find Byzantine Health System Neglects Them
The Peace Corps says its top priorities are the health, safety and the security of its volunteers. But a new internal report acknowledges that some volunteers who come home sick or injured have been waiting years — even decades — for adequate medical care and have fallen deeply through the cracks of a federal insurance bureaucracy. The report, by a task force set up by the agency in March, is a particularly candid assessment by top Peace Corps officials of government failure to provide top-notch health-care access to thousands of young people who serve in far-flung developing countries. (Rein, 12/23)

Los Angeles Times: AG Kamala Harris Announces Rollout Of More Secure Prescription Drug Database
California health care providers will soon be using a faster and more secure database aimed at combating drug abuse. State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and the California Department of Consumer Affairs announced Tuesday that providers who log in with secure Web browsers starting Jan. 8 will be using the new version of the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, known as CURES 2.0. The system is designed to prevent overdoses and illegal sales of prescription drugs. (Goldenstein, 12/23)

The New York Times: Patients Fear Spike In Price Of Old Drugs
A showdown between two companies fighting over a drug for a rare neuromuscular disease powerfully illustrates the growing tension in the United States over the rising prices of drugs. The issue has drawn increased scrutiny from policy makers and prompted rising public outrage, much of it directed at Martin Shkreli, who has become a symbol for pharmaceutical price gouging. Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company he formerly headed, and others have been harshly criticized for abruptly raising the prices of medicines after acquiring them — without having taken the risks involved in research and development. (Tavernise, 12/22)

NPR: Pill Prices Are Hiked Up All The Time In The Low-Income World
The price of drugs is making headlines this year. But aggressive pricing tactics are not new — and those affected most are the poorest in developing countries, says Judit Rius Sanjuan, an international law specialist and U.S. manager and legal policy adviser for Doctors Without Borders' Access Campaign. (Shaikh-Lesko, 12/23)

The Associated Press: Nasdaq To Delist Company Run By Drug Price Gouger Shkreli
One of the biotech companies run by Martin Shkreli, the reviled drug price-gouger charged with securities fraud last week, was informed Wednesday that its stock will be delisted by Nasdaq because of Shkreli's arrest and other issues. Meanwhile, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc. also is dealing with the abrupt resignation of its accounting firm and a void left by its firing of Shkreli. (12/23)

The Associated Press: Physical Therapy Practice Agrees To $710K Settlement With US
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says an outpatient physical therapy practice has reached a $710,000 settlement to resolve claims that it billed Medicare for services performed without required supervision. Old Towne Physical Therapy LP, which owns three clinics in Delaware, reached the settlement with the U.S. to resolve allegations of health care fraud under the False Claims Act, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney. (12/23)

The Associated Press: Nearly 376,000 Virginians Enroll In Plans Under Health Law
Federal health officials say nearly 376,000 Virginians have signed up for 2016 coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 375,891 Virginia residents signed up or renewed coverage on the federal marketplace from Nov. 1 through Dec. 19. Nationally, more than 8.2 million people enrolled in Virginia and the 37 other states that are using the HealthCare.gov website and call center. (12/24)

The Associated Press: Ky. Settles Lawsuit With OxyContin Maker For $24 Million
The maker of OxyContin will pay Kentucky $24 million over the next eight years as part of the settlement of a long-running lawsuit that accused the company of misleading the public about the addictiveness of the powerful prescription drug. The state first filed the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma in 2007. The Connecticut-based company has had FDA approval since 1995 to market OxyContin, a type of opioid that can relieve pain and has similar qualities to the illegal drug heroin. (Beam, 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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