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KHN First Edition: June 1, 2016


First Edition

Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: UnitedHealth To Exit California’s Obamacare Market
Kaiser Health News staff writer Chad Terhune reports: "UnitedHealth Group Inc. is leaving California’s insurance exchange at the end of this year, state officials confirmed Tuesday. The nation’s largest health insurer announced in April it was dropping out of all but a handful of 34 health insurance marketplaces it participated in. But the company had not discussed its plans in California. UnitedHealth's pullout also affects individual policies sold outside the Covered California exchange, which will remain in effect until the end of December." (Terhune, 5/31)

Kaiser Health News: Lights Out: Some Children’s Hospitals Take Steps To Ensure A Good Night’s Sleep
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "At home, parents try to keep their children on a regular sleep schedule, with the evening bedtime transition marked by rituals like reading stories, flipping on night-lights and getting tucked in with favorite stuffed animals. But that difference between night and day blurs in hospitals -- making it more difficult for young patients to rest when they need it the most. Between the fluorescent lights, the chatter of on-duty doctors and nurses, and being roused for things like baths and vitals checks, getting eight hours of shut-eye is challenging. So now, with research increasingly highlighting the link between sleep and good health, children’s hospitals are rethinking just how they work at night." (Luthra, 6/1)

Kaiser Health News: How And Where To Dump Your Leftover Drugs — Responsibly
Kaiser Health News' Emily Bazar writes: "Opioids like Vicodin and Percocet are commonly prescribed to dull pain after medical procedures and to treat chronic pain. They also commonly languish in medicine cabinets, sometimes for years, making easy pickings for someone with an addiction. The consequences can be deadly: More than 165,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids between 1999 and 2014, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ... What are consumers to do the rest of the year if they want a safe alternative to flushing unwanted drugs down the toilet or tossing them into the garbage? Drugs that are flushed can taint our rivers, lakes and water supplies. Drugs in the trash also may harm the environment, and can be found by children, pets — and even adults looking for a high." (Bazar, 6/1)

The Wall Street Journal: UnitedHealth To Exit Key ACA Market
UnitedHealth Group Inc. told brokers that it has filed paperwork to offer plans in just six states’ health-law marketplaces next year, providing the most complete picture so far of its previously announced widespread withdrawal. The biggest U.S. health insurer said in April that it would pull out of all but a handful of the 34 states where it was selling the Affordable Care Act exchange plans, in the wake of mounting losses in that business. Since then, the insurer’s 2017 exchange decisions have been emerging piecemeal as various state regulators disclosed that UnitedHealth wouldn’t be in their exchanges next year. (Wilde Mathews, 5/31)

Los Angeles Times: UnitedHealth To Stop Selling Obamacare Coverage In California
United’s move will have almost no effect on Covered California, as the insurer has only about 1,200 members this year, accounting for less than one tenth of 1% of the marketplace’s 1.4 million consumers. United’s current customers will continue to have coverage through the end of this year. But they will have to select new coverage for 2017 during the open enrollment period this fall. “We will learn in July whether any new plans will join Covered California or if any of our existing plans will expand their coverage areas, as they did in 2016,” said Covered California spokesman James Scullary. (Levey, 5/31)

The New York Times: American Death Rate Rises For First Time In A Decade
The death rate in the United States rose last year for the first time in a decade, preliminary federal data show, a rare increase that was driven in part by more people dying from drug overdoses, suicide and Alzheimer’s disease. The death rate from heart disease, long in decline, edged up slightly. Death rates — measured as the number of deaths per 100,000 people — have been declining for years, an effect of improvements in health, disease management and medical technology. (Tavernise, 6/1)

The Washington Post: Reversing Long-Term Trend, Death Rate For Americans Ticks Upward
The long decline in Americans' death rates has reversed course, according to preliminary 2015 numbers for all causes of mortality as compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many factors are implicated in the turnaround, including a rise in deaths from firearms, drug overdoses, accidental injuries, suicides, Alzheimer's disease, hypertension and stroke. In a report released Wednesday, the CDC looked at changes in death rates per 100,000 people between 2014 and 2015, adjusting the findings to reflect an aging population as the baby boomers head into their retirement years. (Achenbach, 6/1)

The Wall Street Journal: Nurses Seek Democratic Showdown
The 185,000-strong National Nurses United is the scrubs-wearing symbol of a split in the Democratic Party that threatens to inflict damage at the presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia. While Hillary Clinton tries to bring the nomination battle to a close and unite the party before the general election showdown with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, the nurses are having none of it. They are looking for a fight. ... The nurses aren’t deterred by delegate math showing Mrs. Clinton with an all-but-insurmountable lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders. Nor are they much interested in smoothing over rifts. With at least 150 nurses set to attend the convention as pro-Sanders delegates, they will travel to Philadelphia for one last effort to land him the nomination. (Nicholas, 5/31)

The Washington Post: In Tough Reelection Fight, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s First TV Ads Focus On Efforts To Combat Heroin Epidemic
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), running for reelection in one of the most important contests in the battle for the Senate majority, is going up with his first TV ads of 2016, three commercials that seek to highlight his record fighting Ohio's severe prescription drug and heroin addiction problems. The commercials, shared with The Washington Post and slated to hit the airwaves Wednesday, are in line with a broader Senate Republican strategy to talk mostly about local issues this year, in order to create some distance from the top of the ticket. Senate GOP officials have instructed Republican senators to run as though they are running for sheriff. Many dodged and diverted when recently asked whether they would campaign with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. (Sullivan, 5/31)

The New York Times: Valeant’s Former C.E.O. To Receive $9 Million Severance
J. Michael Pearson, the former chief executive of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International who departed in early May during a series of investigations into the company’s business practices, will receive a $9 million severance payment and continue working as a consultant through 2017, Valeant said Tuesday. The company, as well as a major investor, William A. Ackman, have taken steps to distance themselves from Mr. Pearson and signal that the company was making a fresh start. But under the agreement, Mr. Pearson will also receive more than $83,000 a month through the end of this year and $15,000 monthly in 2017, plus expenses and health insurance benefits, to help the company make the transition to a new chief executive and handle the host of legal investigations. (Thomas, 5/31)

The Associated Press: Poll: People Unsure About Ability To Pay For Long-Term Care
Demand for long-term care is expected to increase as the nation ages, but the majority of Americans 40 and older lack confidence in their ability to pay for it. The annual cost of long-term care expenses range from $17,680 for adult day care to more than $92,000 for a private room in a nursing home, according to Genworth Financial. Yet an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey finds that a third of Americans 40 and older have done no planning for their own-long term care needs, such as setting aside money to pay for a home aide or to help with daily activities or a room in a nursing home. (6/1)

The Associated Press: UN: Sex Transmission Of Zika More Common Than First Thought
The U.N. health agency says sexual transmission of Zika is more common than first thought. It is updating its advice to women who have been in areas hit by the virus, telling them to wait even longer to conceive. The World Health Organization said Tuesday that couples or women planning pregnancy who live in or are returning from Zika-hit areas “are strongly recommended to wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive” to ensure the virus has cleared their bodies. Previously, WHO recommended a four-week minimum period before trying to conceive in such circumstances. (5/31)

The Associated Press: Feds: Woman Repeatedly Dislocated Shoulder To Get Pain Pills
A woman accused of purposely and repeatedly dislocated her shoulder so she could get painkillers pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud charges. Kari Richards, of Latrobe, pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh to health care fraud and obtaining controlled substances by fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7 following completion of a presentencing report. Federal prosecutors alleged last June that Richards defrauded Highmark Inc.'s Community Blue health insurance plan by traveling to more than 100 hospitals in 11 states to obtain prescriptions for shoulder dislocations she was causing herself. Authorities said that during a 16-month period, Richards sought treatment at hospitals more than 300 times. (5/31)

NPR: A Transplanted Uterus Offers Hope, But Procedure Stirs Debate
Lindsey McFarland was born without a uterus. So she and her husband Blake created their family by adopting three boys. But they always dreamed that she could somehow become pregnant and give birth to a baby. "We just wanted that experience," Lindsey says. "We wanted that connection." She longed to feel a baby kick and develop inside her. She wanted the thrill of discovering the gender during a routine sonogram. She even wanted to go through morning sickness and labor. "All of that," says the 26-year-old from Lubbock, Texas. "I wanted to experience all of that." (Stein, 6/1)

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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