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KHN First Edition: May 2, 2016


First Edition

Monday, May 02, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Hospital Discharge: It’s One Of The Most Dangerous Periods For Patients
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau reports: "Within two weeks of Joyce Oyler’s discharge from the hospital, sores developed in her mouth and throat, and blood began seeping from her nose and bowels. Her daughter traced the source to the medicine bottles in Oyler’s home in St. Joseph, Missouri. One drug that keeps heart patients like Oyler from retaining fluids was missing. In its place was a toxic drug with a similar name but different purpose, primarily to treat cancer and severe arthritis. The label said to take it daily. ... Oyler’s death occurred at one of the most dangerous junctures in medical care: when patients leave the hospital. Bad coordination often plagues patients’ transitions to the care of home health agencies, as well as to nursing homes and other professionals charged with helping them recuperate, studies show." (Rau, 5/2)

The New York Times: First U.S. Death Tied To Zika Is Reported In Puerto Rico
A Puerto Rican man died from complications of the Zika virus earlier this year, the first reported death attributed to the disease in the United States. The victim, a man in his 70s, died in February from internal bleeding as a result of a rare immune reaction to an earlier Zika infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Puerto Rico now has 683 confirmed Zika infections in its outbreak, which began in December; 89 are in pregnant women, according to Dr. Ana Ríus, the territory’s health secretary. (McNeil and Victor, 4/29)

The Associated Press: Puerto Rico Reports 1st US Zika-Related Death Amid Outbreak
Officials said the unidentified man recovered from initial Zika symptoms, but then developed a condition in which antibodies that formed in reaction to the Zika infection started attacking blood platelet cells. He died after suffering internal bleeding. [Health Secretary Ana] Rius said the man died less than 24 hours after seeking help at a health center. She said three other cases of the condition known as severe thrombocytopenia have been reported in Puerto Rico, and that those patients recovered successfully. (4/29)

The Associated Press: Congress Heads Out With No Resolution On Zika, Puerto Rico
Congress accomplished relatively little in a short work period, missing deadlines on the budget and on helping Puerto Rico with its financial crisis as lawmakers began a weeklong break. They left behind few clues about how they would address must-do items such as finding money to counter the Zika virus and a second, even scarier July 1 deadline for averting a fiscal disaster in cash-strapped Puerto Rico. Democrats called upon House leaders to modify this spring's three-weeks on, one-week off legislative schedule to keep working. (4/30)

Politico: Obamacare's November Surprise
The last thing Democrats want to contend with just a week before the 2016 presidential election is an outcry over double-digit insurance hikes as millions of Americans begin signing up for Obamacare. But that looks increasingly likely as health plans socked by Obamacare losses look to regain their financial footing by raising rates. ... In some ways, the turmoil is not surprising: Under the health law, plans are unable to choose who to insure, or how much to charge them based on their medical history. ... The timing, though, is bad news for Democrats. Proposed rate hikes are just starting to dribble out, setting up a battle over health insurance costs in a tumultuous presidential election year that will decide the fate of Obamacare. (Demko, 5/2)

The Washington Post: Clinton Challenges Indiana Abortion Law At Campaign Stop
Just hours after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against a new Indiana abortion law, Hillary Clinton stumped miles away from the state capitol and filed a sort of amicus brief. “I will defend a woman's right to make her own health-care decisions,” Clinton said to a few hundred supporters packed into a sweltering recreation center. “I’ll tell ya, I’ll defend Planned Parenthood against these attacks. And I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.” (Weigel, 5/1)

The New York Times: Fraying At The Edges
It began with what she saw in the bathroom mirror. On a dull morning, Geri Taylor padded into the shiny bathroom of her Manhattan apartment. She casually checked her reflection in the mirror, doing her daily inventory. Immediately, she stiffened with fright. Huh? What? She didn’t recognize herself. ... But to not recognize her own face! To Ms. Taylor, this was the “drop-dead moment” when she had to accept a terrible truth. She wasn’t just seeing the twitches of aging but the early fumes of the disease. (N. R. Kleinfield, 5/1)

The Associated Press: New York Governor: Give Medicaid To Inmates Before Release
New York's governor is seeking federal approval to extend Medicaid coverage to inmates who face serious health challenges immediately before they're released from prison. Andrew Cuomo's office announced Friday that the state is the first in the nation to make such a request. The Democratic governor says that too many inmates leave prison with serious mental health and addiction challenges and that helping them get the care they need improves their chances of successfully re-entering society. (4/29)

The Wall Street Journal: Valeant’s CEO Was Key Force On Pricing
In early 2015, when Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.’s top brass met to set prices on a soon-to-be-acquired cardiac drug, some executives suggested slow, staggered price increases. Chief Executive Michael Pearson disagreed. To reach Valeant’s internal profit targets, Mr. Pearson lobbied for a single, sharp increase. ... The day it completed its February 2015 purchase of the drug, called Nitropress, Valeant tripled the cost. The exchange, recounted in a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, shows in greater detail than was previously known how Valeant and its now-outgoing CEO Mr. Pearson pursued quick, aggressive price increases on acquired drugs in recent years—a strategy that sparked widespread backlash and landed Mr. Pearson in front of a Senate investigative panel last week. (McNish and Hoffman, 5/1)

The New York Times: Valeant’s New Skipper Is On The Same Tack
When a deeply troubled company replaces its chief executive, it makes sense to expect the new C.E.O. to bring a fresh take to its operations. A clean sweep, so to speak. But if shareholders in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International envisage a vastly different approach by Joseph C. Papa, the company’s incoming chief executive, they may be disappointed. That’s because in the almost 10 years that Mr. Papa headed Perrigo, a maker and distributor of over-the-counter and generic prescription drugs, the company pursued a series of strategies that were very Valeant-esque. (Morgenson, 4/29)

The Wall Street Journal: Valeant Files Overdue Annual Report, Shakes Up Its Board
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. filed its long-delayed annual report and further reshaped its board Friday, defusing the danger of a debt default and positioning the company for a fresh start after months of concern over its accounting and business practices. But the Canadian drugmaker also disclosed new and broadened regulatory investigations—in addition to the Securities and Exchange Commission probe it already faces—indicating it isn’t out of the woods yet. (Rapoport and McNish, 4/29)

The Associated Press: Valeant Files Overdue Financial Report, Ending Debt Default
Valeant Pharmaceuticals resolved its default on some of its $30 billion in debt by finally filing its long-overdue U.S. financial report for 2015 on Friday. The badly tarnished Canadian drugmaker also announced a slate of mostly new nominees for elections to its board in June. The moves briefly nudged up Valeant's battered shares, but they quickly headed south amid a broader market sell-off and the realization that the former Wall Street darling's future is still in question. (4/29)

The Washington Post: There’s A New Sheriff In Town In Silicon Valley — The FDA
Helmy Eltoukhy’s company is on a roll. The start-up is a leading contender in the crowded field of firms working on “liquid biopsy” tests that aim to be able to tell in a single blood draw whether a person has cancer. Venture investors are backing Guardant Health to the tune of nearly $200 million. Leading medical centers are testing its technology. And earlier this month, it presented promising data on how well its screening tool, which works by scanning for tiny DNA fragments shed by dying tumor cells, worked on an initial group of 10,000 patients with late-stage cancers. Just one thing is holding the company back: Guardant Health has yet to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration. (Cha, 4/28)

The Associated Press: First Drug For Delusions In Parkinson’s Patients Approved
Federal health officials have approved an experimental drug to treat psychotic delusions and behaviors that often afflict patients with Parkinson’s disease, the debilitating movement disorder. The drug from Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc. is the first drug for the condition, which affects approximately half of Parkinson’s patients. An estimated 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year, making it the second-most common neurodegenerative disease in the U.S. (4/29)

The Wall Street Journal: Acadia Gets FDA OK For Drug Treating Parkinson’s-Related Psychosis
Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc. has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for Nuplazid, which the FDA said is the first drug it has approved to treat psychosis associated with Parkinson’s disease. Acadia said it plans to launch the drug in June. The biotech company’s shares surged in March after an advisory panel voted 12-2 in favor of approval. In after-hours trading Friday, the stock rose 10 cents to $32.40. (Beckerman, 4/29)

The New York Times: A Potent Side Effect To The Flint Water Crisis: Mental Health Problems
Health care workers are scrambling to help the people here cope with what many fear will be chronic consequences of the city’s water contamination crisis: profound stress, worry, depression and guilt. Uncertainty about their own health and the health of their children, the open-ended nature of the crisis, and raw anger over government’s role in both causing the lead contamination and trying to remedy it, are all taking their toll on Flint’s residents. (Goodnough and Atkinson, 4/30)

The Associated Press: 2 Reservation Hospitals Agree To Quality-Of-Care Changes
Two government-run hospitals on Native American reservations in South Dakota will keep receiving crucial federal funding after agreeing to undertake significant measures to improve the quality of care provided to patients. The Indian Health Service, which administers the hospitals on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations, announced Sunday that it reached last-chance remediation agreements with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Saturday. (5/1)

The Wall Street Journal: Horizon’s Omnia Health Plan Divides N.J. Hospitals
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey sees its newest coverage plan as a potentially transformative product, just what the health-care system needs to reward successful medical treatment and keep costs down by moving away from the traditional fee-for-service model. But the Omnia Health Plan, along with its payment model, has triggered three lawsuits, five hearings in Trenton, a dozen bills proposed by legislators and a costly public-relations war. (Haddon, 5/1)

NPR: Tighter Alcohol Curbs For All Help Reduce Teen Motor Vehicle Deaths
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death for teenagers in the United States, and alcohol is involved in 1 out of 4 of those crashes. The stronger a state's restrictions on alcohol overall, the lower the teen death toll, a study finds. Policies aimed at the general population were more effective than those targeting teens, the study found. They included regulations that limit the hours alcohol can be sold and the density of alcohol outlets in a particular area, as well as taxes on alcohol sales. (Du, 4/30)

NPR: What's Good For The Heart Is Good For The Brain
Hoping to keep your mental edge as you get older? Look after your heart, a recent analysis suggests, and your brain will benefit, too. A research team led by Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami, analyzed a subset of data from the Northern Manhattan Study, a large, ongoing study of risk factors for stroke among whites, blacks and Hispanics living in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. (Neighmond, 5/2)

The Associated Press: Nursing Homes Starting To Offer More Individualized Menus
On a recent Thursday, the staff at Sunny Vista Living Center in Colorado Springs bustled in the kitchen. The phone rang with a last minute order as Chris Willard tended to a large pot of Thai-style soup with fresh ginger, vegetables and thin-sliced beef. It was a special meal for a woman of Asian descent who didn't like any of the dozen choices on the menu. ... Sunny Vista is part of a slow but growing trend among the nation's 15,600 nursing homes to abandon rigid menus and strict meal times in favor of a more individualized approach toward food. Advocates pushing for the change say it has taken more than three decades to get to this point. (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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