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KHN First Edition: January 26, 2016


First Edition

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Consumers Cut Costs By Combining Limited Coverage Health Plans, Despite Penalty Risks
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "Under the health law, most people are required to have insurance that meets minimum standards or pay a fine. Limited benefit policies such as short-term, critical illness, accident, dental and vision plans don’t qualify. In 2016, the penalty is $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater. ... Faced with sky-high premiums and high deductibles for traditional plans, it’s not surprising that some people are looking at other options, experts say." (Andrews, 1/26)

Kaiser Health News: A Closer Look At The Senate’s Investigation Of Tainted Medical Scopes
Kaiser Health News' Chad Terhune reports: "A Senate investigation recently found that 16 hospitals around the U.S. failed to file mandatory paperwork with the federal government after patients at their hospitals became infected or died from the use of tainted medical scopes. [Terhune] spoke with Madeline Brand on KCRW’s Press Play about the investigation and steps the scope maker is taking to stop the infections." (Terhune, 1/25)

The Associated Press: Congressional Agency Reduces Health Law Sign-Up Predictions
Fewer people than expected are purchasing health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law, a report confirmed on Monday. The Congressional Budget Office study said that 13 million people are likely to purchase policies through the Affordable Care Act this year, down about 8 million from estimates the agency made early last year. That's based on updated enrollment figures through last month. (1/25)

Los Angeles Times: Enrollment Growth In Obamacare Health Insurance Slower Than Expected
Reflecting slower than anticipated enrollment growth in health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has lowered its estimate of how many people will get coverage through the law in 2016. The lower enrollment number brings the budget office closer in line with the Obama administration, which scaled back its own enrollment targets for 2016, citing the difficulty of reaching new consumers who have not so far taken advantage of the marketplaces. (Levey, 1/25)

The New York Times: 2 Abortion Foes Behind Planned Parenthood Videos Are Indicted
A grand jury here that was investigating accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization. Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress — an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue — had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs. (Fernandez, 1/25)

The Wall Street Journal: Jury Indicts Two Antiabortion Activists Linked To Planned Parenthood Videos
A Texas grand jury looking into alleged misconduct by Planned Parenthood Federation of America cleared the group and instead indicted two antiabortion activists who made covert videos of the organization. ... The move represented a surprise twist in the case, which was spurred by undercover videos of Planned Parenthood made in April by Mr. Daleiden, founder of the antiabortion group the Center for Medical Progress, and Ms. Merritt. Abortion opponents said the videos showed Planned Parenthood illegally profiting from fetal tissue and changing abortion procedures to obtain better specimens. The health group said it broke no laws, that the videos were edited to be misleading and that the clinics legally received money to cover the cost of procuring, storing and transporting tissue. (Frosch and Armour, 1/26)

The Washington Post: Creator Of Anti-Planned Parenthood Videos Faces Felony Charge
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, however, that the inspector general of the state’s Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas attorney general’s office would continue to investigate Planned Parenthood’s actions. “Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation,” Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.” (Paquette, 1/25)

The Associated Press: New Governor Hasn't Made Decisions On Jindal-Era Lawsuits
Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal became embroiled in three high-profile lawsuits involving issues targeted by conservatives during his failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination: Planned Parenthood, Common Core and same-sex marriage. His Democratic successor, Gov. John Bel Edwards, however, appears to be in no rush to wade into the controversies. ... Jindal's health department cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in the state after videos were released by an anti-abortion group claiming Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue. The organization denied the allegation and said the videos were misleading. (1/25)

Reuters: U.S. Judge OKs Class Action In Arkansas Planned Parenthood Lawsuit
A U.S. judge granted Planned Parenthood class action status on Monday for its challenge to Arkansas' ban on Medicaid funding to the health care provider over videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group. The approval by U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker strengthens Planned Parenthood's bid to reverse the state's decision in August to halt funding after the videos surfaced in July, claiming to show the nonprofit group's officials negotiating the sale of fetal body parts for profit. (Barnes, 1/25)

Reuters: Experience Vs. Judgment: Clinton, Sanders Vie For Pivotal Iowa Vote
With Iowa kicking off the 2016 election season in one week, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton tried to erase doubts about her judgment raised by rival Bernie Sanders on Monday while digging deep into her years of governing experience. At a CNN town hall meeting, Sanders argued that his own judgment, not Clinton's experience, is the most crucial quality for the next commander-in-chief. ... Sanders also defended his call for raising taxes to fund a "Medicare-for-all" program. (1/26)

The New York Times: In Iowa Forum, Democrats Promote Themes For Final Stretch To Caucuses
Democrats made their final arguments to Iowans on Monday night, with Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont offering contrasting views about whose vision would best move the country forward. ... Taking questions from an audience of mostly undecided voters, Mr. Sanders defended his plan for universal health care and made the case that his agenda to fight income inequality was not “pie in the sky,” as Mrs. Clinton has described it on the campaign trail. ... Mrs. Clinton also tried to take back the progressive mantle that Mr. Sanders has latched on to, reminding voters that she was fighting for universal health care decades ago and that she has scars from fights against drug companies and the health insurance industry. (Rappeport, 1/26)

Politico: 5 Takeaways From The Democratic Forum
Judging by the force of his answers, [Bernie] Sanders has zeroed in on two issues that could prove to be his downfall in the Democratic primary: gun control and his dismissal of Planned Parenthood as part of the “establishment." was on Planned Parenthood that he made his most impassioned plea, after Democrats have lambasted him for labeling the organization — as well as NARAL and the Human Rights Campaign — as the “establishment” following their endorsements of Clinton. ... It wasn’t nearly enough -- NARAL sent out a press release before the end of the evening describing him as a “an ally, not a champion." (Debenedetti, 1/26)

The Washington Post: The Five Words That Could Come Back To Haunt Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders uttered a handful of words that are likely to hang over his campaign -- and he probably doesn't mind it at all. "Yes, we will raise taxes," Sanders said during the CNN Democratic forum in Iowa on Monday night. ... Sanders has staked his entire candidacy on his willingness to bluntly declare that he will not only raise taxes on the wealthy, but his universal health-care plan requires increased taxes that would be offset by cost savings by eliminating monthly premiums and annual deductibles. (Phillip, 1/25)

The Associated Press: Sanders Hands Iowa Crowd The Mic In A Push To Get Personal
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders got personal with supporters in Iowa Monday in the final days before the state's lead-off caucuses. Alden, Iowa resident Carrie Aldrich teared up as she told Sanders about the hardships of living with a disability on less than $10,000 a year. Others discussed a spike in the cost of prescription drugs or the problems they face when an insurer doesn't cover their medication. Sanders thanked the group and touted his pledges to expand Social Security and create a single-payer style health care system. (1/25)

The Washington Post: Booming Health Care Costs And Growing Deficits Create Budget Headache For Republicans
Congressional Republicans have promised to include deep spending cuts in their upcoming budget proposals and new data showing rising federal health care costs and a looming deficit increase will likely add to conservatives hunger for big funding reductions. Federal health care costs are expected to jump to $936 billion in 2016, outpacing the $882 billion projected spending on Social Security, according to a report released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office. (Snell, 1/25)

Reuters: Senator Markey Places Hold On Obama's Nominee To Lead FDA
Democratic U.S. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts said on Monday he placed a hold on President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration until the agency agrees to reform its process for approving opioid painkillers. Markey wants opioid-approval matters to be reviewed by an FDA advisory committee and believes the committee should consider the risk of addiction and abuse during the approval process. He also wants the agency to rescind approval of OxyContin for children and convene an advisory panel to guide that process. (Clarke and Berkrot, 1/25)

The Washington Post: Another Senator Holds Up FDA Nominee, This Time Over Opioid Crisis
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said Monday that he has placed a hold on the confirmation of former Duke University researcher and cardiologist Robert Califf, President Obama's nominee to head the FDA, until the agency agrees to several measures related to the use of opioid painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. "Expert after expert has warned about the readl world dangers of abuse of and dependence on these new supercharged opioid painkillers, but the FDA has willfully blinded itself to the warning signs," Markey said in a statement Monday. (Dennis, 1/25)

NPR: Insurers Hire Social Workers To Tackle The Opioid Epidemic
For many people struggling with opioid use, a key to success in recovery is having support. Some are getting that support from an unlikely place: their health insurer. ... Insurers typically cover some inpatient substance use treatment and detox, says CeltiCare's president and CEO Jay Gonzalez, but those are only short-term solutions. After a patient is discharged, relapse — and readmission — are likely without follow-up support. That's why CeltiCare assigns social workers to some of the people it insures. (Becker, 1/25)

The Associated Press: Lawmakers Reschedule Hearing To Question Martin Shkreli
House lawmakers have rescheduled a hearing to question former pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, reviled for hiking the price of a lifesaving drug, due to the weekend blizzard that has paralyzed travel on the East Coast. Staffers for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said the hearing, which had been set for Tuesday, will take place Thursday Feb. 4 instead. (Perrone, 1/25)

The Wall Street Journal: Centene Discloses Search For Hard Drives Containing Member Data
Health insurer Centene Corp. said on Monday that six hard drives containing sensitive information of about 950,000 members are “unaccounted for,” leading the company to launch an internal search. The Medicaid-focused insurer said that while it doesn’t believe this information has been used inappropriately, it is disclosing the search “out of abundance of caution.” (Minaya, 1/25)

Reuters: Glaxo Evaluating Possibility Of Using Vaccine Technology For Zika
GlaxoSmithKline Plc is concluding feasibility studies evaluating whether its vaccine technology is suitable for the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil, a spokeswoman told Reuters. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which typically causes mild fevers and rashes, although about 80 percent of those infected show no symptoms. "We're concluding our feasibility studies as quickly as we can to see if our vaccine technology platforms might be suitable for working on Zika," Glaxo spokeswoman Anna Padula said in an email. (Grover and Penumudi, 1/25)

USA Today: Women Advised To Avoid Pregnancy As Zika Virus Spreads
The virus has affected as many as 1.3 million in Brazil, reports the Associated Press, where Olympics venues in Rio de Janeiro will undergo daily inspections to prevent the virus from spreading at this summer's games. South American governments including Brazil and Colombia are asking also women to avoid pregnancy, according to AP. In El Salvador, authorities have asked women to not get pregnant until 2018. (Hafner, 1/25)

The New York Times: As Population Ages, Where Are The Geriatricians?
Geriatrics is one of the few medical specialties in the United States that is contracting even as the need increases, ranking at the bottom of the list of specialties that internal medicine residents choose to pursue. According to projections based on census data, by the year 2030, roughly 31 million Americans will be older than 75, the largest such population in American history. There are about 7,000 geriatricians in practice today in the United States. The American Geriatrics Society estimates that to meet the demand, medical schools would have to train at least 6,250 additional geriatricians between now and 2030, or about 450 more a year than the current rate. (Hafner, 1/25)

NPR: What's Your Type? With Diabetes, It Can Be Unclear
A drop in the number of newly-diagnosed diabetes cases is good public health news. But for the Type 1 diabetes community it's a source of frustration, because the numbers hide their story. While it's certainly the right direction for the more common Type 2 diabetes, the findings don't apply to Type 1, a different condition that appears to be on the rise and that is not caused by obesity or lifestyle factors. (Tucker, 1/25)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2016 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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