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KHN First Edition: June 14, 2016


First Edition

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Gaps In Women’s Health Care May Derail Zika Prevention In Texas, Florida
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "Mosquitoes bearing Zika — a virus that can cause birth defects when contracted by pregnant women — are expected to reach the United States as soon as this summer, with Florida and Texas likely to be among the hardest-hit states. But in both, support for women’s health care, along with family planning resources, has been dramatically scaled back, in part because of funding restrictions placed on women’s clinics that, in addition to other services, provide abortions. Also, both states declined to expand Medicaid. Those decisions, many advocates say, are putting a squeeze on the health care system’s ability to educate women about Zika’s risks and minimize its impact." (Luthra, 6/14)

Kaiser Health News: If Zika Concerns Might Derail A Trip, Consider ‘Cancel-For-Any-Reason’ Plans
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "A typical travel insurance policy won’t reimburse you for trip expenses if you cancel because you’re afraid of traveling to a country where there have been reports of an outbreak of a disease such as the Zika virus. But if you purchased a “cancel-for-any-reason” policy, your claim is more likely to be approved, said Megan Freedman, executive director of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, a trade group. Like standard trip cancellation policies, these policies provide financial protection for unreimbursed expenses if you have to cancel your trip before it starts or interrupt it once you’re there. These policies also allow you to cancel for any reason, including pregnancy, a particular concern with the Zika virus. They typically cost a bit more than a standard policy. If you cancel, you’ll generally be reimbursed for about 75 percent of your prepaid expenses." (Andrews, 6/14)

Kaiser Health News: By Sharing Painkillers, Friends And Family Members Can Fuel Opioid Epidemic: Study
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "As lawmakers grapple with how best to combat the nation’s prescription painkiller abuse crisis, a recent survey is shedding light on how patients who get these medications -- drugs such as OxyContin, methadone or Vicodin -- sometimes share or mishandle them. According to findings detailed in a research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, about one in five people who were prescribed the highly addictive drugs reported having shared their meds with a friend, often to help the other person manage pain. Most people with a prescription either had or expected to have extra pills left after finishing treatment. And almost 50 percent didn’t know how to safely get rid of the drugs left over after their treatment was complete, or how to store them while going through treatment." (Luthra, 6/13)

The Washington Post: Orlando Shooting: Why The White House HIPAA Waiver Is Important For Gay Rights
In following the news Sunday of the devastating shooting at an Orlando nightclub you may have heard that the White House took some kind of action related to HIPAA. What, you probably wondered, does this have to do with the shooting? HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Passed in 1996, it is one of the most important laws in our country protecting our privacy. It restricts health-care providers from sharing medical information with anyone but the patient unless they explicitly give permission. Under normal circumstances, this puts all the power in the hands of individuals and makes a lot of sense. But in a time of crisis, HIPPA can be a hindrance. That's because if a person is incapacitated and can't make his or her wishes known, the law allows doctors, hospitals and other health-care groups to provide information only to a spouse or next of kin. But what if a person doesn't have a spouse or relative close by? The issue is especially important for the gay community, which was the target of the attack on Sunday. (Cha, 6/13)

The Wall Street Journal: CMS Proposes Requiring Medicare Hospitals To Adopt New Antibiotic Controls
Concerned about the growing threat of bacteria immune to antibiotics, U.S. federal health officials proposed rules that would require hospitals to closely manage the use of antibiotics or be ejected from Medicare. The proposal, released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services late Monday, would require U.S. hospitals to adopt strategies to curb overuse of antibiotics, a problem widely cited by public health officials as a factor in the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs. The rule would be the first to make so-called antibiotic stewardship programs mandatory for hospitals to get paid by Medicare, which spent $250.3 billion on hospital care in 2014. (Evans, 6/13)

The Washington Post: Maryland Health Co-Op Sues Over ‘Flawed’ Obamacare Requirement
A nonprofit health-care cooperative in Maryland is suing the federal government to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars to a larger insurer under what the group described as a “dangerously flawed” program of the Affordable Care Act. Evergreen Health on Monday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Maryland claiming that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has unfairly required it to fork over $22 million to CareFirst, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate operating in the Mid-Atlantic region. (Hicks, 6/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Maryland’s Health Co-op Sues Over Health Law’s Risk-Adjustment Formula
Maryland’s health cooperative filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the federal government from requiring it to pay more than $22 million in fees for a program designed to cover insurance company shortfalls. The lawsuit by Evergreen Health Cooperative Inc. is the latest twist in the saga of health insurance co-ops set up under the Affordable Care Act to compete against larger, established insurers. The co-ops were supposed to help keep premiums down by injecting competition into the industry. (Armour, 6/13)

Los Angeles Times: Fighting Obamacare, Many Red States Find Fewer Tools To Fight Opioid Addiction Epidemic
Even as they race to control a spiraling heroin and prescription opioid crisis, doctors, public health officials and community leaders in many states are struggling to get care to addiction patients because of persistent opposition to the Affordable Care Act from local political leaders. As a result, thousands of poor patients are languishing on waiting lists for recovery programs or are unable to get medicine to combat addiction because they can’t afford prescriptions, according to health officials nationwide. Most states expanded their Medicaid programs through the health law, often called Obamacare, giving poor adults in those states health insurance and a way to pay for addiction treatment. (Levey, 6/13)

The Washington Post: Nearly Six In 10 Americans Have Leftover Narcotics At Home
Nearly 60 percent of Americans have leftover narcotics in their homes, and 20 percent have shared those with another person, according to a survey published Monday that provides more evidence of how opiates find their way into the hands of people other than patients with doctors' prescriptions. The survey of 1,032 people, which was published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, shows that nearly three-quarters said they provided the opiates to someone else to help that individual manage pain. Another 17 percent said they did it because the other person could not afford medication or didn't have insurance. (Bernstein, 6/13)

The Washington Post: Woman Found Guilty For Role In Husband’s Opioid Scheme
Roxanne Granberry had a separate bank account from her husband and sometimes a separate home. But a jury in an Alexandria federal court decided that the couple should go to prison together for illegally buying and selling prescription painkillers. William Granberry, who pleaded guilty in February, would print false prescriptions for the opioid oxycodone. Friends and relatives would then collect the pills at pharmacies in the D.C. area for sale on the black market. Over eight years, prosecutors estimate that the group sold about 130,000 pills for around $25 apiece, netting a profit of $3.25 million. (Weiner, 6/13)

The Associated Press: Cuomo Prioritizes Heroin Plan, Cancer As Session Winds Down
New York state lawmakers plan to adjourn for the year later this week — but Gov. Andrew Cuomo is giving them a to-do list first. The Democratic governor wrote to lawmakers Monday with a list of six priorities for the final push before adjournment. The first three items are a plan to address the rise in heroin and opioid addiction, increased access to breast cancer screenings and governmental ethics reforms. (6/13)

The Associated Press: New York Poised To Expand Access To Breast Cancer Screening
New York is poised to expand access to breast cancer screening under an agreement reached by top state lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who made combating the cancer a priority after the successful cancer treatment of his girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee. Under the deal, the state would order hospitals to expand hours when mammograms are offered and require insurance companies to eliminate deductibles and co-pays for the screening and some other diagnostic tests. Lawmakers are expected to formally approve the proposal this week. Cuomo listed the item as one of his top priorities for the final days of the 2016 session, which is expected to end later this week. (Klepper, 6/13)

The Associated Press: Teva Stops Selling Migraine Patch After Reports Of Burns
Teva Pharmaceutical said Monday that it will stop selling its migraine patch treatment Zecuity after users reported burns and scars where it was applied. The company advised that anyone who has its patch should not use it. Zecuity is a disposable battery-powered patch that is worn on the upper arm or thigh once for four hours to ease migraine headaches. The patch delivers medicine through the skin. (6/13)

NPR: Here's Really Where Zika Mosquitoes Are Likely In The U.S.
A few months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a startling map that showed the parts of the U.S. that could harbor mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika. Many readers, including myself, thought, "Zika could come to my town! It could come to Connecticut! To Ohio and Indiana! Or to northern California! Oh goodness!" The map made it look like a vast swath of the country was at risk for Zika, including New England and the Upper Midwest. Well, not quite. (Doucleff, 6/13)

The Washington Post: Is Your Child’s Pediatrician Better Than A Smartphone? No? Get A New Pediatrician.
There’s no doubt that technology is changing the face of medicine. Today, surgeons can perform minimally invasive procedures with the assistance of a robot or replace missing limbs with bionic ones. Radiologists can read imaging studies from halfway around the world. There are specialists providing remote services to patients with strokes, women with high-risk pregnancies and critically ill neonates. Mental-health professionals are now able to offer life-changing care to patients who would otherwise be unable to access these services. And pediatricians in their offices can look into aching ears while the child remains in his or her living room . . . sort of. All of this is a far cry from the Norman Rockwell image of a doctor from decades ago. But while there was an undeniable charm to the physician with the black leather bag, modern technology has improved medical care in ways we never dreamed possible. When used inappropriately, though, it can cause substantial harm. (Hayes, 6/13)

NPR: Millennials May Be Losing Their Grip
Millennials, the thoroughbreds of texting, may lag behind previous generations when it comes to old-fashioned hand strength. In a study of Americans ages 20-34, occupational therapists found that men younger than 30 have significantly weaker hand grips than their counterparts in 1985 did. The same was true of women ages 20-24, according to the study published online by the Journal of Hand Therapy a few months back. The findings suggest that it's time to update what constitutes normal hand strength. The norms are used to assess the severity of injuries and how well people are recovering. (Jacewicz, 6/13)

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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