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KHN First Edition: May 20, 2016


First Edition

Friday, May 20, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: People With HIV Are Less Likely To Get Cancer Treatment
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "We’ve made great progress treating people who are infected with HIV, but if they get cancer they’re less likely to get the care they need, a recent study found. Researchers examined treatment for a variety of cancers, including upper gastrointestinal tract, colorectal, prostate, lung, head and neck, cervix, breast, anal and two blood cancers. With the exception of anal cancer, treatment rates differed significantly between HIV-infected people and those who weren’t infected, according to the study." (Andrews, 5/20)

Kaiser Health News: Study Of Birth Defects, Folic Acid In Foods Finds More Questions Than Answers
Barbara Feder Ostrov, for Kaiser Health News, reports: "Adding folic acid to foods like cereal and bread — long considered one of the most successful public health interventions to prevent birth defects — may be a less effective strategy than once thought, according to a provocative new study from Stanford University. In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required folic acid, a B-vitamin, to be added to cereal grain products to prevent neural tube defects, which can cause spina bifida, anencephaly, cleft palate and other devastating congenital abnormalities. Major food manufacturers were already adding the vitamin supplement to foods voluntarily two years earlier. The Stanford researchers examined 1.3 million births and pregnancies over two decades in eight central California counties, and they were surprised by what they found." (Feder Ostrov, 5/20)

The New York Times: Oklahoma Passes Bill That Would Subject Abortion Doctors To Felony Charges
The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would effectively ban abortions by subjecting doctors who perform them to felony charges and revoking their medical licenses — the first legislation of its kind. In a year in which states have tried to outlaw abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, to ban the main surgical method used in the second trimester and to shut down abortion clinics with onerous regulations, Oklahoma’s bill is the most far-reaching. (Eckholm, 5/19)

The Associated Press: Oklahoma Lawmakers OK Bill Criminalizing Performing Abortion
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, an anti-abortion Republican, has until Wednesday to sign the bill into law or veto it. Spokesman Michael McNutt said she also could also allow the bill to become law "without approval" after the five-day period has elapsed. He also said she will withhold comment until her staff has time to review it. [Republican Sen. Nathan] Dahm made it clear that he hopes his bill could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade. "Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it's a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception," said Dahm, R-Broken Arrow. (5/19)

Los Angeles Times: Oklahoma Lawmakers Pass Bill Essentially Banning Abortions
"They are being inundated with calls from women asking whether they can get the abortion care they need,” said Kelly Baden, director of state advocacy for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, whose attorneys are representing the clinics. “For Oklahoma legislators to put women in this position -- it's unfathomable and cruel." The measure was sponsored by Republican state Sen. Nathan Dahm, a software engineer and son of missionaries who has said he hopes it will help overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide. (Hennessy-Fiske, 5/19)

USA Today: Okla. Lawmakers OK Bill To Make Performing Abortion A Felony
State Sen. Ervin Yen, a physician who voted against the bill, called it “insane” and said he's certain the bill would face a court challenge. "I'm Republican. I'm Catholic. I'm pro-life," Yen told USA TODAY after the vote. "But I think it is silly for us to pass bills in Oklahoma that can't go anywhere. It's a constitutional problem." Michael McConnell, a Stanford law professor and former federal judge appointed by George W. Bush, also expressed skepticism. "No constitutional argument is available to support this bill under current precedent, and it is exceedingly unlikely that a majority of the Supreme Court would vote to overrule that precedent," McConnell told USA TODAY. (Bacon, 5/19)

Los Angeles Times: Most Obamacare Enrollees Are Satisfied With Coverage, But Worries Over Costs Are Rising
Most Americans enrolled in health plans through the Affordable Care Act are happy with their coverage, despite persistent attacks on the health law by Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump. But consumers are increasingly concerned about their monthly premiums and deductibles, reflecting rising anxiety among all Americans about their medical and insurance bills, a new national survey found. Nearly 6 in 10 working-age Americans who have a health plan through one of the marketplaces created by the law said they are satisfied with their monthly premiums, and just over half say they are satisfied with their deductibles. (Levey, 5/19)

The Associated Press: Virginia Health Care: Pay By The Month, Get Unlimited Visits
In January, Dr. Maura McLaughlin started a new type of primary care practice in central Virginia. Instead of getting payments from insurance companies for each appointment, her patients pay her directly, and get unlimited visits for a fixed monthly fee. McLaughlin has joined a tiny but growing movement of doctors nationally — there are only a handful in Virginia — who have begun to provide subscription-like service to patients, a model known as direct primary care. (5/19)

NPR: Health Departments Cut Programs While Awaiting Zika Funding
While Congress fidgets over whether and how to pay for the fight against the Zika virus, state and local health departments are scrambling and slimming down. That's because these front-line public health agencies have already seen their budgets chopped because of the debate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April cut $44 million from its fund that helps state and local governments prepare for public health emergencies. It was part of the $589 million the White House moved from other programs – mostly money allocated for domestic and international responses to the Ebola virus – to combat Zika as it awaited action on Capitol Hill. (Kodjak, 5/19)

Reuters: U.S. Bill Proposed To Reform Native American Health Agency
Two Republican Senators introduced a bill on Thursday aimed at improving the Indian Health Service, the embattled federal agency that provides healthcare to Native Americans on reservations. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who introduced the legislation with Senator John Thune of South Dakota, said in a statement that it was "an important first step" toward ensuring tribal members receive proper healthcare. (Dwyer, 5/19)

The New York Times: F.D.A. Delays Rule On Generic Drug Labels
The Food and Drug Administration has decided to put off until 2017 a decision about whether to require generic drug makers to take more responsibility for warning patients about the risks of their products. The development dismayed consumer groups and representatives for trial lawyers, who had urged the agency to close a legal loophole that prevents patients harmed by generic drugs from suing manufacturers. (Thomas, 5/19)

Reuters: Valeant Gets Notice Of Default From Bondholders
Beleaguered Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc said it received a notice of default from bondholders for the delay in filing its first-quarter report. The company said it can avert default by filing the report by July 18. Last week, Valeant had said it expected to file the report with U.S. and Canadian regulators on or before June 10, ahead of a July 31 deadline. (Grover, 5/19)

USA Today: Quashed Report Warned Of Prison Health Crisis
A government report, blocked from publication a decade ago, presciently warned of an advancing, double-barreled health crisis of mental illness and substance abuse that has currently swamped the nation’s vast prison systems. The 2006 document, prepared by then-Surgeon General Richard Carmona, urged government and community leaders to formulate a treatment strategy for thousands of sick and addicted inmates that also would assist them after release or risk worsening public health care burdens. (Johnson, 5/19)

The Associated Press: 9 Deaths, No Charges Raise Questions About Oversight Agency
Little more than names and incident numbers appear on a Long Island medical examiner's list of nine developmentally disabled people who died in state care since 2013, but this much is known for sure: All the deaths came under a cloud of abuse or neglect allegations, and none resulted in criminal charges. The one-page list titled "Abuse and Neglect with Death Involved" surfaced as part of a Freedom of Information request by an advocate who called it only the latest example of how New York's oversight agency for the disabled in state care, the Justice Center, is not doing enough to pursue suspicious cases. (5/19)

The Washington Post: Scientists Discover Five Genes That Impact Nose Shape. Will Designer Babies Be Far Behind?
In the futuristic movie “Gattaca,” those in the ruling class are genetically engineered to be a physically perfect version of their parents. They are as thin and tall as models, with perfect cheekbones, square jaws and thick, glossy hair. Think of stars Uma Thurman and Jude Law. When the movie came out in 1997, this idea of “designer babies” was still far-fetched. DNA analysis was still in its early stages and the world was still years away from sequencing the first human genome, much less a particular gene’s function. But in the more than 20 years that have passed, our understanding of our own DNA and how it works has exploded, and scientists have discovered a great number of genes that control our physical appearance. (Cha, 5/19)

NPR: Does Swaddling A Baby Really Boost Risk Of SIDS?
People have been wrapping their babies like burritos since before there were burritos. My husband described the skillful nurses where I gave birth as "swaddling ninjas," and by my estimation he had at least his brown belt by the time we left. But people have also been worrying about their babies dying in their sleep for millennia. Today, about 3,500 sleep-related infant deaths occur each year, including 1,500 from sudden infant death syndrome. It's only in recent years that researchers have explored whether the two are connected: Could the age-old practice of swaddling increase the risk of SIDS? (Haelle, 5/19)

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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