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KHN First Edition: May 3, 2016


First Edition

Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Shortages Of Essential Emergency Care Drugs Increase, Study Finds
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "At some hospitals, posters on the wall in the emergency department list the drugs that are in short supply or unavailable, along with recommended alternatives. The low-tech visual aid can save time with critically ill patients, allowing doctors to focus on caring for them rather than doing research on the fly, said Dr. Jesse Pines, a professor of emergency medicine and director of the Office for Clinical Practice Innovation at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, who has studied the problems with shortages. The need for such workarounds probably won’t end anytime soon." (Andrews, 5/3)

Kaiser Health News: Medicare Pays Bonuses To 231 Hospitals With Lower Quality Because Of Cheaper Costs
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau reports: "The federal government paid bonuses to 231 hospitals with subpar quality because their patients tend to be less expensive for Medicare, new research shows. The bonuses are small, generally a fraction of a percent of their Medicare payments. Nonetheless, rewarding hospitals of mediocre quality was hardly the stated goal when the Affordable Care Act created financial incentives to encourage better medical care from hospitals, doctors and other health care providers." (Rau, 5/2)

Kaiser Health News: Opioid Epidemic Fueling Hospitalizations, Hospital Costs
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "Every day, headlines detail the casualties of the nation’s surge in heroin and prescription painkiller abuse: the funerals, the broken families and the patients cycling in and out of treatment. Now, a new study sheds light on another repercussion -- how this public health problem is adding to the nation’s ballooning health care costs and who’s shouldering that burden. The research comes as policymakers grapple with how to curb the increased abuse of these drugs, known as opioids. State legislators in New York, Connecticut, Alaska and Pennsylvania have tried to take action by adding new resources to boost prevention and treatment. In addition, President Barack Obama laid out strategies last month intended to improve how the health system deals with addiction." (Luthra, 5/2)

Kaiser Health News: For Hospitals, Prestige Leads To Profits
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "When it comes to hospitals, which benefit most from high health care prices? It may sound counter-intuitive, but a group of not-for-profit hospitals appear to be among those doing the best business. At least, that’s the idea in a study published Monday in Health Affairs. It analyzes how hospitals make money and ranks the nation’s 10 most profitable ones -- those making hundreds of millions of dollars through their inpatient and outpatient care. Seven were nonprofits, including the top four." (Luthra, 5/2)

The Associated Press: Study: 7 Of 10 Most Profitable US Hospitals Are Nonprofits
Seven of the 10 most profitable U.S. hospitals are nonprofits, according to new research, including one in Urbana, Illinois, where hospital tax exemptions are headed for a contentious court battle that soon could determine whether medical facilities are paying their fair share of taxes. The "Top 10" list accompanies a study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs. (5/2)

The Washington Post: These Hospitals Make The Most Money Off Patients — And They’re Mostly Nonprofits
Seven of the top 10 most profitable hospitals in the United States are nonprofit facilities that each netted more than $150 million from caring for patients in 2013, according to a study published Monday. Topping the list is Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wisc., which earned $302.5 million in profit from patient care services that year, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Washington and Lee University. Other nonprofits in the top 10 include the Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., which took in nearly $225 million, and the University of Pennsylvania's hospital in Philadelphia, which earned $184.5 million. (Sun, 5/2)

Reuters: Tenet Sees Competitors Picking Up UnitedHealth Exchange Business
Tenet Healthcare Corp, the third-largest U.S. for-profit hospital operator, expects other insurers to step in and absorb UnitedHealth Group Inc's share of the exchange market when the largest U.S. health insurance provider exits that business, company executives said on Monday. UnitedHealth, one of the biggest sellers of plans on the exchanges, last month said it would exit the Obamacare individual insurance market in most states next year, citing losses from the program. (Kelly, 5/2)

The Wall Street Journal: Tenet Healthcare Hurt By Lawsuit Costs, Helped By Decline In Uninsured
Tenet Healthcare Corp. swung to an unexpected first-quarter loss as the hospital operator increased a reserve for a potential resolution of a whistleblower lawsuit that alleges the company’s Georgia hospitals took part in a kickback scheme. However, shares rose 4.6% to $33.10 in recent after-hours trading as per-share earnings, excluding certain one-time items, were mostly above expectations and revenue topped estimates. (Stynes, 5/2)

The New York Times: South Dakota Wrongly Puts Thousands In Nursing Homes, Government Says
When patients in South Dakota seek help for serious but manageable disabilities such as severe diabetes, blindness or mental illness, the answer is often the same: With few alternatives available, they end up in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, whether they need such care or not. In a scathing rebuke of the state’s health care system, the Justice Department said on Monday that thousands of patients were being held unnecessarily in sterile, highly restrictive group homes. That is discrimination, it said, making South Dakota the latest target of a federal effort to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities and mental illnesses, outlined in a Supreme Court decision 17 years ago. (Apuzzo, 5/2)

The Associated Press: DOJ: South Dakota Long-Term Care System Violates Federal Law
Gov. Dennis Daugaard's administration is reviewing the results of the investigation. The head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said people with disabilities deserve privacy, autonomy and dignity. South Dakota's long-term care system fails to give those individuals the choice to live in their own homes or communities, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement. (5/2)

USA Today: Social Service Shortfalls Hinder Health, Boost Medical Spending
States that spend more money on social services and public health programs relative to medical care have much healthier residents than states that don’t, a study out today by a prominent public health researcher found. The study comes as the Obama administration prepares to fund its own research to support the idea that higher social service spending can improve health and lower health care costs. (O'Donnell, 5/2)

The Associated Press: Snyder Expects Expanded Medicaid Coverage In Flint Next Week
An additional 15,000 children and pregnant women grappling with Flint's lead-contaminated water crisis should become eligible for government health insurance starting next week, once the funding receives final legislative approval, Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday. The expanded health coverage will apply to people under 21 who used Flint's water system from April 2014, when the city switched its water source, until the time it is deemed safe again. It also will cover women who were pregnant or become pregnant between early March and the safety declaration. They would remain eligible until age 21 or, if pregnant, until two months after their child is born. (5/2)

The New York Times: Doctor, Warned To Be Silent On Abortions, Files Civil Rights Complaint
A doctor who performs abortions at a hospital in Washington filed a federal civil rights complaint on Monday, charging that the hospital had violated the law by forbidding her, out of concerns for security, to speak publicly in defense of abortion and its role in health care. The doctor, Diane J. Horvath-Cosper, 37, an obstetrician and gynecologist, has in recent years emerged as a public advocate, urging abortion providers not to shrink before threats. (Eckholm, 5/2)

The Wall Street Journal: The Dermatologist, VC And Accountant Tapped For Valeant’s Board
The three newcomers Valeant Pharmaceuticals International has selected for its board include an investor in small life-sciences companies, an executive at one of Canada’s biggest banks, and a dermatologist who has made television appearances including on “The Today Show” and “The Dr. Oz Show.” Valeant said Friday it was nominating the three – Argeris Karabelas, Russel Robertson and Amy Wechsler – for election to its board at its June 14 annual meeting. The Canadian drug company has been overhauling its board and executive leadership as it tries to move past concerns over its business practices and accounting that have plagued it since last year. Monday, its new CEO, Joseph Papa, started at Valeant, board member Bill Ackman said on CNBC. (Rapoport, 5/2)

The Wall Street Journal: Judge Allows More Evidence In Patent Dispute After Gilead Says Merck Attorney Lied
A federal judge has allowed Gilead Sciences Inc. to submit additional evidence in a drug-patent dispute with Merck & Co., after Gilead claimed a former Merck patent attorney lied under oath in the case. In March, a federal jury in San Jose, Calif., ordered Gilead to pay Merck $200 million after finding that two U.S. patents held by Merck and its partner, Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc., were valid and infringed by Gilead’s multibillion-dollar hepatitis C drugs, Sovaldi and Harvoni. The trial arose from Gilead’s 2013 lawsuit seeking a judgment that the Merck patents were invalid. (Loftus, 5/2)

The Associated Press: St. Louis Jury Awards $55M In Johnson & Johnson Cancer Suit
A jury in St. Louis has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $55 million to a South Dakota woman who claimed the company’s talcum powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer. Court records show the jury returned the verdict in favor of plaintiff Gloria Ristesund on Monday. It comes after a St. Louis jury in February awarded $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who sued Johnson & Johnson over ovarian cancer she said was caused by using its baby powder and other products containing talcum. (5/3)

USA Today: Former Shkreli Firm Responsible For 5,000% Drug Hike Sued
The drug company previously headed by Martin Shkreli was sued Monday for allegedly breaching a contract that let it sell Daraprim, the medication whose price the company marked up 5,000%, sparking nationwide criticism. New York City-based Turing Pharmaceuticals neglected to provide and certify accurate pricing data for the drug and failed to assume responsibility for Medicaid rebate liability linked to the medication's sales, the federal lawsuit filed in New York by Impax Laboratories charged. (McCoy, 5/2)

The Associated Press: FDA Effort Aims To Curb Smoking In LGBT Community
The Food and Drug Administration's latest anti-smoking campaign takes aim at young adults in the LGBT community, who officials say are nearly twice as likely to use tobacco as their peers. The $35.7 million effort targets the estimated 40 percent of 2 million LGBT young adults in the U.S. who occasionally smoke. Dubbed "This Free Life," the campaign will begin running print, digital and outdoor advertising in 12 markets this week. The ads use the slogan "Freedom to be, Tobacco-Free," and are aimed at adults ages 18 to 24. (5/2)

The Washington Post: Migraines Were Destroying My Life. Here’s What Finally Cured Me.
My normal headache seemed to have matured into a migraine the way a baby crocodile grows into a human-snatching beast. From that day on I no longer had regular headaches. I now suffered from migraines. Migraines affect more than 29 million Americans and are more common among women than men. According to the Office of Women’s Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, most sufferers are between the ages of 15 and 55, have a family history of migraines or disabling headaches, and often have such symptoms as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. (Gokun Silver, 5/2)

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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