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KHN First Edition: June 28, 2016


First Edition

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Restrictions In Texas Anti-Abortion Law
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Rovner reports: "The Supreme Court struck down key aspects of a Texas abortion law Monday, casting doubt on similar laws in nearly two dozen states. At issue in the court’s decision were two specific provisions of a sweeping law to restrict abortions passed by the Texas legislature in 2013. The provisions before the court required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles from the abortion clinic and required abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety standards as “ambulatory surgical centers” that perform much more complicated procedures." (Rovner, 6/27)

Kaiser Health News: States Offer Privacy Protections To Young Adults On Their Parents' Health Plan
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews reports: "The health law opened the door for millions of young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26. But there’s a downside to remaining on the family plan. Chances are that mom or dad, as policyholder, will get a notice from the insurer every time the grown-up kid gets medical care, a breach of privacy that many young people may find unwelcome. With this in mind, in recent years a handful of states have adopted laws or regulations that make it easier for dependents to keep medical communications confidential." (Andrews, 6/28)

Kaiser Health News: Doctors Wrestle With Mixed Messages When Deciding Whether To Prescribe Painkillers
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "Steve Diaz, an emergency medicine doctor at Augusta’s MaineGeneral Health, says he knows what patients want when they come to him in pain. Drugs. And preferably strong ones. ... And with abuse of prescription painkillers like OxyContin, methadone and Percocet soaring, the instinct, public health experts say, should be to say no. ... But [a] federal policy — a provision of the 2010 federal health law linking hospital payments to patient satisfaction surveys — may be complicating efforts to curb opioid prescribing as part of the nation’s effort to address the painkiller abuse epidemic." (Luthra, 6/28)

Kaiser Health News: End-Of-Life Care Better For Patients With Cancer, Dementia: Study Finds
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "A new study offers surprising findings about end-of-life care -- specifically, physicians tend to be more likely to accommodate the advanced-care wishes of patients with cancer or dementia than renal disease, congestive heart failure, pulmonary disease or frailty. “There’s been a lot of focus on end-of-life care for cancer,” said Melissa Wachterman, the study’s principal author and a physician at the VA Boston Healthcare System and the Boston-based Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “But most people don’t die of cancer. And the quality of end-of-life care for those dying of other conditions … is not as good.” The research was published online Sunday in JAMA Internal Medicine." (Luthra, 6/27)

California Healthline: Old Motels Get New Life Helping Homeless Heal
David Gorn, for California Healthline, reports: "Just up the freeway from Disneyland, in the Orange County city of Buena Park, Paul Leon stood outside the beat-up remnant of a seedy motel. Above him, a faded pink sign advertised the Coral Motel, whose rooms back in its prime cost 35 bucks a night. “This particular motel was going to be taken back by the city of Buena Park, because of the drugs, alcohol, prostitution,” Leon explained. But Leon, CEO of the Irvine-based Illumination Foundation, a homeless services nonprofit, had a different idea. He proposed turning the motel lobby into a triage center and converting the rooms into clean recovery facilities for homeless people recently discharged from the hospital. And that’s what he did." (Gorn, 6/28)

The New York Times: Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions
The Supreme Court on Monday reaffirmed and strengthened constitutional protections for abortion rights, striking down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have drastically reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state, leaving them only in the largest metropolitan areas. The 5-to-3 decision was the court’s most sweeping statement on abortion since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, which reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade. (Liptak, 6/27)

The Washington Post: Supreme Court Rules Against Texas And For Science In Abortion Case
As the Texas case made its way through the federal courts over the years, numerous misunderstandings and pure fiction about the health risks of abortion entered the debate. Among them were claims that the procedure is fraught with complications, causes cancer, leads to reduced fertility and results in depression, or even suicide. One of the most critical questions the Supreme Court had to address was whether courts need to consider scientific evidence supporting the laws. A lower court said they do not. But there was a lot for the justices to look at in the medical literature. (Cha, 6/27)

The Wall Street Journal: SCOTUS Abortion Ruling: Highlights From The Majority And Dissenting Opinions
Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the opinion, was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented. [Here] are excerpts from the majority opinion, the concurring opinion by Justice Ginsburg and dissenting opinions by Justices Alito and Thomas. (Gershman and Palazzolo, 6/27)

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Strengthens Right To Abortion, Strikes Down Texas Restrictions On Clinics
Until Monday, it was unclear whether Kennedy, a moderate conservative, would tilt in favor of state regulation or the right to abortion. In 2007, Kennedy led conservatives in upholding a ban on “partial-birth” abortions and worried liberals by suggesting in his opinion that many women come to “regret” their decision. Kennedy also cast the crucial fifth vote in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey in 1992, when the justices upheld the right to abortion established in Roe vs. Wade, but gave states more leeway to regulate the procedure as long as they did not impose an “undue burden” on women’s rights. (Savage, 6/27)

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Rejects Texas Abortion Law As ‘Undue Burden’
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said on Monday: “The decision erodes states’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women, and subjects more innocent life to being lost.” He added that “Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.” President Barack Obama, whose administration argued against the law, said: “These restrictions harm women’s health and place an unconstitutional obstacle in the path of a woman’s reproductive freedom.” (Bravin, 6/27)

Reuters: Abortion Providers Aim To Reopen Some Closed Texas Clinics
Abortion providers in Texas reacted with surprise and elation on Monday to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to throw out the state's restrictive abortion law and said they aimed to reopen some clinics shut down since the measure was passed in 2013. Since the law was passed by a Republican-led legislature and signed by a Republican governor, the number of abortion clinics in Texas, the second-most-populous U.S. state with about 27 million people, has fallen from 41 to 19. (Herskovitz, 6/28)

The Associated Press: Texas May Not Restore Lost Abortion Clinics Despite Ruling
Even with those mandates now gone, Planned Parenthood and others providers are not yet making promises about breaking ground on new facilities in Texas. And any openings, they cautioned, could take years, meaning that women in rural Texas counties are still likely to face hours-long drives to abortion clinics for the foreseeable future. Buildings need to be leased. Staffs need to be hired. Clinics must still obtain state licenses and funds for medical equipment must be raised. Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled Legislature is all but certain to remain hostile to abortion providers that try to expand. (6/28)

The New York Times: Opinion Transforms Texas’ Abortion Landscape
The Supreme Court’s ruling Monday tossing out two of the main elements of Texas’ 2013 law regulating abortion, one of the most stringent in the country, has transformed the environment for abortion in the state. Ten abortion clinics that had been in danger of being forced to close — about half those still in existence — will be allowed to continue operating. The reopening of clinics that already shut their doors became a possibility. (Fernandez and Goodnough, 6/27)

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Scrambles Front Line Of Access Fight
Abortion rights activists heralded the Supreme Court’s decision Monday as one of the most important opinions in decades, and one they would use to try to roll back hundreds of state abortion restrictions that have proliferated since 2010. Nancy Northup, head of the Center for Reproductive Rights that brought the Texas case, described the opinion as a “game-changer” in her organization’s efforts to challenge state laws. “This is going to be hugely important not just in the admitting privileges cases, but in all of the laws that have been passed in the last five years,” she said outside the court. (Radnofsky, 6/27)

The New York Times: Abortion Ruling Could Create Waves Of Legal Challenges
From Texas to Alabama to Wisconsin, more than a dozen Republican-run states in recent years have passed laws requiring that abortion clinics have hospital-grade facilities or use doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Now, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling ... will quickly reverberate across the country. (Eckholm, 6/27)

The Associated Press: Supreme Court Ruling Imperils Abortion Laws In Many States
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which led the legal challenge, similar admitting-privilege requirements are in effect in Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee, and are on hold in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. The hospital-like outpatient surgery standards are in place in Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and are on hold in Tennessee, according to the center. Monday's ruling is likely to remove an ongoing threat to the only abortion clinic still operating in Mississippi. (6/28)

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Ruling Is Likely To Change The Landscape Of 'Abortion Desert'
About half the women in the South live in counties without abortion clinics, as do 53% of women in the Midwest, compared with 38% nationwide, according to the most recent study by the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for reproductive rights. Since the Texas law passed, many women without clinics nearby or whose clinics had long waits have paid to travel to have abortions in neighboring states. Advocates said there’s a pressing need to reopen clinics that serve women in remote western cities such as Lubbock, Midland and San Angelo. (Hennessy-Fiske, 6/27)

The New York Times: Supreme Court’s Abortion Decision Reverberates In Presidential Campaign
The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down parts of a restrictive abortion law in Texas rippled through the presidential campaign after its release on Monday, with Democrats and Republicans looking to rally voters with reminders that the future of the court was at stake in November. The next president looks to have at least one and potentially several vacancies to fill in the next four years, and Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump have both warned that the fate of laws on immigration, guns and abortion will probably be determined by who gets to fill those openings. (Rappeport, 6/27)

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling Divides Officials Along Party Lines
The Supreme Court’s ruling invalidating a Texas law regulating abortion clinics split Washington along party lines, much as the issue divides the nation. Democrats said the 5-3 ruling protected women’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. Republicans said that the decision would weaken standards of care and make it harder for states to protect their citizens. (Hughes, 6/27)

Politico: Supreme Court's Abortion Ruling Will Have Nationwide Impact
The decision’s political ramifications are significant. It will galvanize both sides of the divisive abortion debate as the presidential campaign builds toward the national party conventions, and intensify the political focus on the Supreme Court’s vacancy, which has been frozen in the Senate. The Whole Women’s Health decision is sure to be cited as the two sides in the debate remind voters that the next president will almost certainly name several justices to the bench, providing a rare opportunity to cement the court’s political stance for years to come. (Haberkorn, 6/27)

The New York Times: Senate To Take Up House Bill On Zika Funding, Barbs And All
The House is not in session this week, providing lawmakers a timeout after last week’s tumultuous Democratic sit-in. But senators will be in town, and they have a fight of their own coming over a spending package to address the Zika public health threat. The military construction and veterans’ spending bill forced through by House Republicans with no debate early Thursday morning contains $1.1 billion for Zika preparation and prevention — but it also contains some poison-pill provisions that are likely to drive off any Democratic support, notably one restricting the use of the money by Planned Parenthood. (Hulse, 6/27)

The Associated Press: Congressional Dysfunction Likely To Stall Zika Funding Bill
President Barack Obama's $1.9 billion emergency request to combat a potential public health crisis from the Zika virus is more than 4 months old, but congressional dysfunction appears likely to scuttle a scaled-back version of the president's request, raising the prospect that Congress may leave on a seven-week vacation next month without addressing Zika. (6/28)

Politico: Congress' Zika Fail Could Bite GOP In Election
The [Zika] stalemate carries real political risk: In 2014, Republicans blasted the Obama administration and Democrats’ response to Ebola, contributing to a public perception in the midterm election of feckless Democratic rule. Republicans gained control of the Senate that year — but now find their playbook is being used against them. Republicans “taught us with Ebola,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “A public health crisis? Take it seriously. I don’t believe they’ve taken it seriously at all.” (Everett and Haberkorn, 6/28)

The Wall Street Journal: After Orlando Shooting, Many Confront A Long, Painful Recovery
As the viewings, funerals and candlelight vigils taper off after the June 12 massacre that killed 49 and wounded 53, the reality is setting in that many people will be struggling—emotionally, physically and, often, financially—for a long time to come. “It’s not over by far—this doesn’t end today, tomorrow, weeks, months or years from now,” said Donna Wyche, the manager for mental health for Orange County, home to Orlando. “It’s not something where you go, ‘Ok, now it’s over, we just move on.’ ” (Levitz, 6/27)

USA Today: Louisiana, The U.S. Incarceration Capital, Prepares For Expanded Medicaid
Here in the state that imprisons more of its citizens per capita than any other, the long-awaited July 1 launch of expanded Medicaid coverage will give those leaving prison a chance to at least continue what many describe as spotty treatment for the conditions that plagued them while behind bars. These include Dolfinette Martin, who has been out of prison for four years with no health coverage or medications to control her bipolar disorder, and Maryam Henderson-Uloho, who spent more than 12 years in prison, and who says she and other inmates seldom sought medical treatment because prison officials would write them up for "malingering" when they did. (O'Donnell, 6/27)

Los Angeles Times: Patients Pay A Higher Share Of Hospital Bills, Study Finds
Patients, even those with employer-sponsored health plans, may face another condition after they are discharged from a hospital stay: acute sticker shock. Out-of-pocket hospitalization costs rose 37% from 2009 to 2013, with the average patient paying more than $1,000 per hospital visit, according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan. The survey took place before many of the Obamacare provisions were in place, including the health insurance marketplaces. (Channick, 6/27)

Reuters: Illinois Insurance Regulator Approves Aetna Purchase Of Humana
The Illinois Department of Insurance has approved Aetna Inc's proposed $34 billion acquisition of Humana Inc provided it is approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to an order dated June 23 posted on the department's website. Aetna announced the deal last summer and it is under review by the Justice Department, which is looking at competition concerns around its combined Medicare Advantage business for older people and the disabled. (Humer, 6/27)

The New York Times: AstraZeneca Pushes To Protect Crestor From Generic Competition
No more than a few hundred American children have a rare disease characterized by ultrahigh levels of bad cholesterol. Yet to the giant drug maker AstraZeneca, this small group could be worth billions of dollars. The company is making a bold attempt to fend off impending generic competition to its best-selling drug, the anti-cholesterol pill Crestor, by getting it approved to treat the rare disease. (Pollack, 6/27)

USA Today/The Tennessean: USDA Chief Tom Vilsack Targets Rural Opioid Problem
The chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will meet with state and local leaders in the Tennessee-Virginia border region this week as federal agencies look for local partners to combat opioid abuse in hard-hit rural areas across the nation. "There is no silver bullet. I wish there were," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in an interview with The Tennessean. "If there was, we’d obviously be focused on it.” (Fletcher, 6/27)

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