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KHN First Edition: May 24, 2016


First Edition

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Majority Of Texans And Floridians Want Medicaid Expansion, Survey Shows
Houston Public Radio's Carrie Feibel, in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Americans who live in the two biggest states that haven’t expanded Medicaid have more complaints about health care costs and quality, according to a new survey released by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute in Houston. They’d also like their states to expand Medicaid. The survey, conducted by marketing research firm Nielsen, assessed attitudes about the health care system, and possible solutions, in five populous states: Texas, California, Florida, New York and Ohio." (Feibel, 5/24)

Kaiser Health News: For Substance Abusers, Recovery-Oriented Care May Show The Way To A Productive Life
Taylor Sisk, for Kaiser Health News, reports: "Every movement needs a champion, and in the largely rural counties of western North Carolina, Richie Tannerhill is a champion of the recovery-oriented care movement for people with mental health and substance abuse issues. Recovery-oriented care is founded on the belief that people with behavioral health problems need guideposts to help them find their own routes back to a productive life -- that medication compliance and symptom control aren’t ultimate treatment goals. Advocates of this approach, which involves community-based supports to help people reintegrate into their communities, fear it could be undermined by the omnibus mental health bill sponsored in Congress by Rep. Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican and clinical child psychologist." (Sisk, 5/24)

Kaiser Health News: A Rocky Road To Recovery
Taylor Sisk, for Kaiser Health News, reports: "Both of Richie Tannerhill’s parents had mental health and substance abuse disorders. His dad was sentenced to an extended prison term, and Tannerhill said he was “passed around from friend to friend, family member to family member.” By the age of 4, he’d lived in five states. His first arrest came when he was in third grade and got caught breaking into a school. He was dealing drugs at 12, and by 14 had sampled pills, mushrooms, cocaine and LSD. At 15, he landed in the behavioral health unit of a hospital in Kailua, Hawaii, and a year later, a Nebraska prison, charged with breaking into two restaurants." (Sisk, 5/24)

Kaiser Health News: A Doctor Yearns For A Return To The Time When Physicians Were ‘Artisans’
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "In his recent book, “The Finest Traditions of My Calling,” Dr. Abraham Nussbaum, 41, makes the case that doctors and patients alike are being shortchanged by current medical practices that emphasize population-based standards of care rather than individual patient needs and experiences. Nussbaum, a psychiatrist, is the chief education officer at Denver Health Medical Center and practices on the adult inpatient psychiatric unit there. I recently spoke with him and this is an edited transcript of our conversation." (Andrews, 5/24)

Reuters: Doubts Mount Over Merger Of Health Insurers Anthem, Cigna
Wall Street expressed growing doubts about a pending $54 billion merger of U.S. health insurers Anthem Inc and Cigna Corp on Monday as news of management squabbles added to concerns over its review by antitrust regulators. Cigna shares closed down 4 percent at $126.15, well below Anthem's original $188 per share offer of cash and stock announced last July. Anthem shares fell 1.8 percent to $133.18. (5/24)

The Associated Press: Law Mandates Coverage For Vasectomies, Other Birth Control
Vermont is poised to become the first state to require public and private health insurance to cover vasectomies without copays and deductibles under a bill Democratic Gov. Shumlin signed into law Monday. The legislation inserts into state law mandates from the federal Affordable Care Act but goes beyond them to include additional birth control methods, such as vasectomies. (5/23)

The Associated Press: South Dakota Indian Hospital Threatened With Funds Cutoff
The U.S. government on Monday threatened to cut off Medicare and Medicaid funding to a government-run hospital in Rapid City — the third South Dakota hospital serving Native Americans that's been found to have serious deficiencies in recent months. Inspectors with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers the government's health care programs for the needy, disabled and elderly, found problems at Sioux San Hospital in Rapid City during an unannounced survey earlier this month. The hospital is run by Indian Health Service, which provides health care to tribal members through a network of hospitals on and off reservations as part of the U.S. government's treaty obligations to Native American tribes. (5/23)

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Election, Court Challenge And Zika Ignite Abortion Debate Across Americas
The debate over abortion, a focus of incessant controversy in the Americas, is heating up north and south as the region faces the election of a new U.S. president, a ruling by the highest U.S. court and the risk of the Zika virus in dozens of nations. Abortion plays a role in every U.S. election and this one, to choose a successor to President Barack Obama in November, is no exception. (Wulfhorst, 5/23)

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Looming U.S. Abortion Ruling Could Be 'Dangerous,' Says Top Attorney
As a Supreme Court decision on abortion rights is highly anticipated in the United States, few are as uniquely positioned to assess its impact as reproductive rights attorney Kathryn Kolbert, who argued the last major abortion case before the high court. In that 1992 challenge, the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion survived, but the Supreme Court allowed for such state regulations as waiting periods. The decision was written by Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, who have retired, and Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Wulfhorst, 5/23)

The Associated Press: Some Self-Induced Abortions Result In Criminal Cases
Across the nation, abortion-rights activists are closely following Monday’s appeals court hearing involving an Indiana woman convicted of killing the premature infant she delivered after ingesting abortion-inducing drugs. Lawyers for 35-year-old Purvi Patel will ask the Indiana Court of Appeals court to throw out the convictions that led to her 20-year prison sentence. Patel’s case is one of more than a dozen recent cases cited by abortion-rights supporters in which women were arrested or convicted in connection with self-induced abortion. The issue is a volatile one, in part because many anti-abortion leaders say they do not favor prosecutions of women for their own abortions, even as they urge crackdowns on doctors who provide them. (Crary, 5/23)

Reuters: Judge Halts Ohio Law That Blocked Funds For Planned Parenthood
A federal judge in Cincinnati temporarily blocked the implementation of a state law that would have effectively de-funded 28 Ohio Planned Parenthood clinics, in a ruling on Monday. U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett granted a two-week stay halting the diversion of federal funding in a ruling on a May 11 lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Southwest Ohio. The Ohio law signed in February by Republican Governor John Kasich stripped $1.3 million in federal taxpayer funds from any healthcare organization that provides abortion services. The law was scheduled to go into effect on Monday. (5/23)

The Associated Press: Judge: Noise Ordinance Can't Be Used Vs. Abortion Protests
Law enforcement authorities cannot use a noise provision in the Maine Civil Rights Act to restrict anti-abortion protesters outside a clinic in Portland, a federal judge ruled Monday. U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen ruled in favor of a Lewiston pastor who said his rights were violated and that he was targeted because of his views. The Rev. Andrew March sued after the attorney general used the state law to prevent a church member from getting too close to the Planned Parenthood clinic. (5/23)

The Associated Press: Kicking The Habit: Adult Smoking Rate In US Is Falling Fast
The nation seems to be kicking its smoking habit faster than ever before. The rate of smoking among adults in the U.S. fell to 15 percent last year thanks to the biggest one-year decline in more than 20 years, according to a new government report. The rate fell 2 percentage points from 2014, when about 17 percent of adults in a large national survey said they had recently smoked. The smoking rate has been falling for decades, but it usually drops only 1 point or less in a year. (5/24)

Reuters: U.S. E-Cigarette Use Stalls As Health Concerns Grow: Reuters/Ipsos Poll
Use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices has stalled in the United States as more Americans question their safety, according to a new online Reuters/Ipsos poll. About 10 percent of the 9,766 adults surveyed between April 19 and May 16 use the devices, the same percentage as in a similar Reuters/Ipsos poll in May, 2015. This year, however, a growing percentage of participants expressed negative attitudes toward e-cigarettes. Forty-seven percent of respondents said vaping was not healthier than smoking conventional cigarettes compared with 38 percent who felt that way a year ago. (Mincer, 5/24)

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: Where People Drink The Most Booze And Do The Most Drugs
Americans in different parts of the country are known to vary significantly in their consumption of particular foods — be it spicy chili, cream-cheese covered bagels or collard greens. Recent federal government data shows that the country is equally diverse in its consumption of intoxicating substances. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration annually surveys Americans age 12 and older about whether they use opioid painkillers for non-medical reasons or consume any marijuana, alcohol or cocaine. States are ranked into quintiles based on what proportion of their population uses each substance, thereby creating a “top 10 list” for all four. (Humphreys, 5/23)

USA Today: Senators Want To Know How Athletes Will Be Protected From Zika
Led by Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray, a coalition of 11 Senators sent a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee on Monday requesting information on how the committee will protect athletes from the Zika virus at the Rio Olympics in August. Signed by 10 Democrats and one independent senator, the letter to USOC chairman Larry Probst asks “what steps the USOC is taking to assist and protect our athletes against the spread of the Zika virus.” (Axon, 5/23)

The Associated Press: Senate-USOC Exchange Concerns, Plans About Zika Virus In Rio
The letter cited recent information from the Centers for Disease Control showing a link between the disease and a birth defect, microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with undersized brains and skulls. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun responded by outlining steps the federation has taken, including the forming of an infectious disease advisory group with doctors who are available to answer athletes’ questions about the virus. Blackmun said the USOC has created a medical emergency response plan to “provide pre-identified medical management strategies for any illness or injury in Rio.” (Pells, 5/23)

The Associated Press: As Zika Spreads, Florida Town A Study In Bug-Borne Illness
A summer flu seemed to be sweeping through Rachel Heid’s riverfront neighborhood. Pale and shaky, she left work with a fever. Neighbors had the same symptoms, and a contractor at her home felt so sick he went to the hospital. Heid thought the neighborhood children were passing a bug around their circle. She never suspected a virus carried by bugs hovering around their birdbaths and tarp-covered boats — until health officials left pamphlets at their houses asking for blood samples if they recently suffered from fevers and joint or muscle pain. (Kay, 5/24)

NPR: Building An Antibiotic To Kill Bad Microbes While Sparing Good Ones
Antibiotics can save lives, but sometimes they can work too well. Most antibiotics can't tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. That means the medicines kill helpful bacteria in your gut while they're obliterating the bacteria making you sick. The helpful bacteria make up what's known as your microbiome. Damaging the microbiome can cause a number of health problems, including making people more vulnerable to infections from other bacteria such as Clostridium difficile, which can cause debilitating diarrhea and be difficult to treat. (Sofia, 5/23)

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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