In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
The FDA issued a big recall of frozen foods this week. Here’s what you need to know about the nasty bug that’s causing all the problems. (Lydia Zuraw, 5/5)
A nonprofit patient safety group devised nationally standardized measures to help pregnant women gauge hospitals on quality of maternity care. (Shefali Luthra, 5/5)
In June, California will become the fifth state to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with prescriptions from their doctors, but getting those prescriptions will require serious effort. (Emily Bazar, 5/5)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Catch Me If You Can?'" by J.C. Duffy.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
ANOTHER VIEW ON PROFITABLE NONPROFITS
A lesson in math:
Nonprofits need to make more
Money than they spend.
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Summaries Of The News:
The insurance provider is weighing changes to its 2017 business that could include leaving some Affordable Care Act marketplaces and raising premiums. Humana reports that profits fell 46 percent, in part due to costs related to its merger with Aetna.
The Associated Press: Change Is In The Works For Humana ACA Exchange Participation
Humana became the latest health insurer to serve notice that it might leave some Affordable Care Act exchanges next year, creating more uncertainty for customers ahead of this fall's enrollment window and presidential campaign, during which the law is sure to remain a hot debate topic. The insurer, which is being acquired by rival Aetna, said Wednesday that it expects to make a number of changes to its business for 2017, and that may include leaving some markets both on and off the exchanges or changing prices. Humana Inc. sold coverage in 15 states this year. (5/4)
The Arizona Republic: Humana Weighs Exit From Health-Insurance Marketplaces In Some States
Humana Inc. may become the latest health-insurance company to exit Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges in some states next year as it seeks to curb financial losses. (Alltucker, 5/4)
The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurers Struggle To Offset New Costs
Insurers have begun to propose big premium increases for coverage next year under the 2010 health law, as some struggle to make money in a market where their costs have soared. The companies also have detailed the challenges in their Affordable Care Act business in a round of earnings releases, the most recent of which came on Wednesday when Humana Inc. said it made a slim profit on individual plans in the first quarter, not including some administrative costs, but still expects a loss for the full year. The Louisville, Ky.-based insurer created a special reserve fund at the end of last year to account for some expected losses on its individual plans in 2016. (Radnofsky and Wilde Mathews, 5/4)
The Wall Street Journal: Humana Profit Falls 46%, Hurt By Costs From Aetna Merger
Humana Inc. on Wednesday reported its profit tumbled 46% in the first quarter of the year, hurt by costs related to the Aetna Inc. merger and a rise in a key measure of the company’s medical costs. Still, results for the health insurer, which in July agreed to be acquired by rival Aetna, topped expectations. Chief Financial Officer Brian Kane said the company is encouraged by early indicators in its Medicare and health-care services businesses “but remain cautious while our health-care exchange experience continues to develop.” (Steele, 5/4)
The Democratic front-runner has positioned herself as a champion of the health law, but Democrats -- who some say have been roused by Sen. Bernie Sanders' call for Medicare for all -- want bigger changes.
The Associated Press: Fired Up By Sanders, Democrats Shift Left On Health Care
With the Obama administration counting down its final year, many Democrats are finding less to like about the president's health care law, unsure about its place among their party's achievements. Sen. Bernie Sanders' call for "Medicare for all" seems to have rekindled aspirations for bigger changes beyond "Obamacare." That poses a challenge for Hillary Clinton, who has argued that the health care law is working and the nation should build on it, not start over. (5/5)
It was the president's first visit to Flint, Michigan, since the extent of the water crisis became known. Some residents voiced their exasperation for what they see as the government's failures, even as Obama assured people he "will not rest" until the city has safe drinking water.
The New York Times: ‘I’ve Got Your Back,’ Obama Tells Flint Residents
President Obama vowed federal support for the beleaguered residents of this city on Wednesday and said government officials at all levels should have prevented Flint’s water supply from being contaminated with lead. In his first visit to the city since the water crisis began, Mr. Obama received updates from local officials and residents, made a show of drinking filtered tap water, and told a crowd of about 1,000 people at a high school that they deserved more from their leaders. (Shear and Bosman, 5/4)
The Washington Post: Obama Tries To Reassure Flint Residents That Their City Can Survive Water Crisis
President Obama arrived here Wednesday to check in on a disadvantaged city that has been denied a most elemental government service — safe drinking water — but his visit turned into an outpouring of emotion from a community aggrieved by years of neglect from its elected officials. The president’s day in a city that has become a national symbol of disenfranchisement was intended to bolster confidence over a public health crisis related to toxic levels of lead contamination in Flint’s tap water. Obama drank from a glass filled with filtered Flint water to drive home his message that recovery efforts, slow off the mark, were finally making gains. (Nakamura, 5/4)
The Associated Press: Flint Official Takes Deal, Pledges To Cooperate In Probe
A Flint municipal official struck a deal with prosecutors Wednesday, pledging cooperation in exchange for reduced charges as authorities continue investigating lead contamination of the impoverished Michigan city's drinking water supply. Utilities administrator Mike Glasgow entered a plea to one count of willful neglect of duty, a misdemeanor, in exchange for dismissal of a felony charge of tampering with evidence. The state attorney general's office said the deal will take effect in one year. (5/4)
MLive: All The Governor's Men
A year ago, Gov. Rick Snyder was stoking rumors of a presidential bid as a metrics-driven Republican whose ability to run government like a business transformed a troubled state. But the leadership style so lauded a year ago — the emphasis on problem-solving over politics, the laser-like focus on the bottom line, the reliance on emergency financial managers to whip troubled cities into shape — has proven to be his undoing. Now, he is viewed as the person ultimately responsible for one of the nation's biggest public-health disasters in memory — the lead contamination of a water system serving 100,000 people, and a possible link between the water system and an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease that killed 12 people. (Mack, Fonger and Counts, 5/3)
It's something they need to prepare for in case of devastation, Gov. Rick Scott will say when he visits Capitol Hill next week to request lawmakers drop the "political grandstanding" and take action on Zika funding.
The Miami Herald: Florida Gov. Rick Scott Heads To Congress To Ask For Zika Funds
Florida Gov. Rick Scott plans to drop by Capitol Hill next week to push for emergency funds to combat the Zika virus. Without asking for a specific amount of money, Scott will request that lawmakers treat the Zika threat like they would a hurricane: something to be prepared for in case of devastation. His trip is planned for May 11-12. (Mazzei, 5/4)
The Hill: Florida's GOP Governor Urges Congress To Approve Zika Funding
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) will meet with GOP leaders in Congress next week, urging them to drop the “political grandstanding” and quickly approve funds to fight the Zika virus. ... The governor did not say how much money his state needed to prepare for the outbreak, but pointed out that more than 100 cases have already been reported in Florida. Scott is the latest Florida Republican to call on GOP leaders to end their months-long fight with the White House over how much money to spend fighting Zika. (Ferris, 5/4)