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KHN First Edition: June 30, 2015

KHN

First Edition

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

The Wall Street Journal's Pharmalot: FDA Is Sued By Advocacy Groups That Want Gilead Hepatitis C Trial Data
File this under ‘Show me the data.’ A pair of public health advocacy organizations has filed a lawsuit against the FDA, claiming the agency failed to release clinical trial data for Gilead Sciences’ hepatitis C treatments on a timely basis. And the move is only the latest installment in an ongoing drama in which researchers and patient advocates have tussled with drug makers and regulators over access to such information. (Silverman, 6/29)

The New York Times: Court Lets Some Charities Avoid Rules On Birth Control Coverage
The Supreme Court issued an order on Monday that allows certain nonprofit religious groups to avoid compliance with federal rules concerning insurance coverage of contraceptives for women. The order bars the Obama administration from enforcing the rules against the religious groups and church officials until the court decides whether to hear an appeal they filed this year. (Pear,6/29)

NPR: Supreme Court Places A Stay On Abortion Law In Texas
The Supreme Court has placed a stay on a lower court's ruling that upheld new abortion standards in Texas, to give opponents of a controversial 2013 law time to take their case to the nation's highest court. The stay is temporary: If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, the stay will be lifted and the law will take effect. If the justices agree to hear the case, the stay would remain in effect until a ruling is issued. (Chappell, 6/29)

The New York Times: Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics To Remain Open
The case concerns two parts of a state law that imposes strict requirements on abortion providers. One requires all abortion clinics in the state to meet the standards for “ambulatory surgical centers,” including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. (Liptak and Fernandez, 6/29)

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Blocks Texas Abortion Law From Taking Effect
On Monday, abortion rights activists and providers heaved a sigh of relief that what they deem to be politically motivated and dangerous intrusions into women’s lives have been put on hold. Texas officials vowed to keep fighting a decision by the highest court that Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton said “just put Texas women in harm’s way. (6/29)

The Washington Post: Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Texas Abortion Law
The court did not offer a reason for its 5-to-4 decision, and the law’s ultimate fate remains unclear. The court’s reliably conservative justices — Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — dissented and would have let the law take effect. (Somashekhar, 6/29)

The Associated Post: Texas Abortion Providers Study Whether Clinics Could Reopen
Both sides agree the two-paragraph order blocks a requirement that would mandate abortion facilities be constructed like surgical centers. It was the final major component of the 2013 law set to take effect. Abortion providers also said they were analyzing whether the order goes further and temporarily wipes out an additional requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals. (6/30)

The Washington Post: The Workplace Perks That Are In — And Out
In its latest annual survey of what's in and what's out in the world of employee perks, the Society of Human Resource Management found that wellness benefits are only increasing in prevalence. For years, companies have been doing things like offering smoking cessation programs and rewarding employees with discounts for taking health assessments. But Evren Esen, director of survey programs for SHRM, said this year's data show that a greater range of benefits are quickly "becoming more integrated into the organizational fabric of companies." (McGregor, 6/29)

The Wall Street Journal's CFO Journal: Pressure To Cut Employee Benefits Threatens Labor Peace
In all, major employers have about 400,000 union workers whose contracts are up for negotiation this year. They include the Detroit auto makers, whose workforces have a combined 140,000 members of the United Auto Workers; a group of railroad operators including CSX Corp., with 142,000 union employees; and telecom companies like Verizon Communications Inc., which is in talks with about 40,000 wireline workers. Most labor talks involve some head-butting over benefits. But what’s different this time, corporate finance chiefs say, are a looming “Cadillac tax” on health-care plans and pension burdens that are dragging down profits. At New York-based Verizon, executives want to “redesign and reshape” health plans in a bid to cut overall cost, said Fran Shammo, chief financial officer. (Monga and Johnson, 6/30)

The New York Times: U.S. Chamber Works Globally To Fight Antismoking Measures
When it came time to defend the tobacco industry, a man named Taras Kachka spoke up. He argued that several “fantastic tobacco companies” had bought up Soviet-era factories and modernized them, and now they were exporting tobacco to many other countries. It was in Ukraine’s national interest, he said, to support investors in the country, even though they do not sell tobacco to Australia. Mr. Kachka was not a tobacco lobbyist or farmer or factory owner. He was the head of a Ukrainian affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America’s largest trade group. (Hakim, 6/30)

NPR: Medical School Hopefuls Grapple With Overhauled Entrance Exam
It's T minus four days until exam day, and Travis Driscoll is practically living at his desk. "Each day, I'm easily here for five hours," he says. "I haven't done much of anything else but studying for the last two months." Driscoll is one of 13,000 medical school applicants across the U.S. taking the new Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT. He's got stacks of science books on his desk to help him prepare, and a rainbow of biochemistry charts pasted to the walls: glycolysis, citric acid cycle, electron transport chain, mitosis, meiosis and DNA replication. (Dembosky, 6/29)

USA Today: ER Visits For Dental Problems On The Rise
What started as a toothache from a lost filling became a raging infection that landed Christopher Smith in the University of Louisville Hospital emergency room, then in intensive care on a ventilator and feeding tube. "It came on so quickly and violently. I was terrified," said Smith, 41, of Jeffersonville, Ind., who lacked dental insurance and hadn't been to a dentist for years before the problem arose this month. "I had no idea it could get this serious this quickly." (Ungar,6/29)

Los Angeles Times: California Legislature Passes Mandatory Vaccination Bill
Gov. Jerry Brown must now decide whether to sign into law a bill that would require mandatory vaccinations for nearly all California schoolchildren. The measure, spawned by an outbreak of measles at Disneyland that ultimately infected more than 150 people, cleared its final legislative hurdle Monday in the state Senate. Brown has not said publicly whether he would sign it. (Mason, 6/29)

The Associated Press: Experts: California Vaccine Bill Would Prevent New Outbreaks
If California's strict school vaccine bill becomes law, experts believe it could help prevent another outbreak like the one that occurred at Disneyland. The bill was introduced after a measles outbreak traced to the theme park in December infected over 100 people in the U.S. and Mexico. It would likely be successful in increasing immunization rates and stopping the spread of disease, pediatric doctors said Monday after the Senate sent the legislation to the governor. (6/20)

The Wall Street Journal: California Vaccination Bill Passes, Heads To Governor
The California Senate on Monday passed a much-debated bill to restrict vaccine exemptions, putting one of the country’s strongest state-level efforts to clamp down on unvaccinated students in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown. Senate Bill 277, spurred by a measles outbreak that began last year at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., allows for medical exemptions but doesn’t permit parents to cite personal beliefs to avoid vaccines for children attending school. (Porter, 6/29)

The Associated Press: NY Health Care Providers To Share $7.3 Billion For Overhaul
New York officials say $7.3 billion is going to 25 networks of health care providers statewide to help overhaul the delivery of care and cut unneeded hospital visits. Meanwhile, state health officials say average spending for the state's Medicaid patients has declined to $8,233 annually while enrollments rose by 500,000 to nearly one-third of the state's 19 million people. (6/29)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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