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KHN First Edition: July 19, 2016

KHN

First Edition

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Sometimes Tiny Is Just The Right Size: ‘Microhospitals’ Filling Some ER Needs
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews reports: "Eyeing fast-growing urban and suburban markets where demand for health care services is outstripping supply, some health care systems are opening tiny, full-service hospitals with comprehensive emergency services but often fewer than a dozen inpatient beds. These “microhospitals” provide residents quicker access to emergency care, and they may also offer outpatient surgery, primary care and other services. They are generally affiliated with larger health care systems, which can use the smaller facility to expand in an area without incurring the cost of a full-scale hospital."

Kaiser Health News: Soda Taxes: Gaining Steam Or Getting Steamrolled?
Kaiser Health News reporter Anna Gorman writes: "A sip of soda will become more expensive next year in Philadelphia, which recently became the second city in the United States to pass a tax on sugary beverages — after Berkeley voters passed one in 2014. The Philadelphia measure, approved by the City Council in June, could lend momentum to efforts by public health advocates to get similar taxes enacted elsewhere around the nation."

The New York Times: New Utah Zika Case Baffles Health Officials
In another puzzling twist to the Zika epidemic, the Utah Department of Health on Monday reported the diagnosis of a new case of the virus that did not appear to have been contracted through either of the known sources of transmission: a mosquito bite or sexual contact. The patient, who has fully recovered, was a “family contact” who helped care for an older man who had become infected with the virus after traveling abroad. (Tavernise, 7/18)

The Washington Post: Elderly Zika Patient In Utah May Have Infected A Family Contact
An elderly Utah man who died after contracting Zika from travel abroad may have spread the virus to a family contact who did not leave the country, raising troubling questions about a possible new route of transmission of the mosquito-borne virus, state and federal officials said Monday. Officials said they are investigating how the second person became infected. One possibility is close contact between the critically ill patient and the caregiver, who has since recovered. (Sun and Dennis, 7/18)

NPR: A Case Of Zika Apparently Spread From A Patient To A Family Caregiver
Health officials stressed to reporters in a press briefing that mosquitoes remain the main way that Zika spreads. And there is no evidence at this point that the virus can be spread from one person to another "by sneezing or coughing, routine touching, kissing, hugging or sharing utensils," Dr. Satish Pillai, the CDC's incident manager, told reporters. (Stein, 7/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Public-Health Officials Across U.S. Race To Build Defenses Against Zika Virus
With summer in full swing, public-health and mosquito-control officials are pulling out the stops to stop the Zika virus taking root and spreading in the continental U.S. The mosquitoes that are able to spread the virus are flourishing this summer in Key West, Fla., just as they did six years ago during an outbreak of dengue—another disease they can transmit, said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. “We’re on high alert,” he said. (McKay and McWhirter, 7/18)

The New York Times: Zika Data From the Lab, and Right to the Web
Of the hundreds of monkeys in the University of Wisconsin’s primate center, a few — including rhesus macaque 827577 — are now famous, at least among scientists tracking the Zika virus. Since February, a team led by David H. O’Connor, the chairman of the center’s global infectious diseases department, has been conducting a unique experiment in scientific transparency. The tactic may presage the evolution of new ways to respond to fast-moving epidemics. (McNeil, 7/18)

The New York Times: Confronting A Lingering Question About Zika: How It Enters The Womb
As scientists learn more about how the Zika virus can cause brain damage in a developing fetus, a major question has remained: How does a virus that infects a pregnant mother through a mosquito bite on her skin get into her womb? It is not a simple question. Most viruses that infect a pregnant woman cannot cross from her bloodstream through the placenta, the organ that forms to nourish and protect the fetus as it grows and develops. (Belluck, 7/19)

The New York Times' The Upshot: Obama On Obamacare’s Flaws: An Assessment
President Obama has published an essay on Obamacare in The Journal of the American Medical Association. While it hit a lot of the Affordable Care Act’s high points, it was also pretty frank that the health law has some weaknesses that need to be fixed. Margot Sanger-Katz and Reed Abelson, two New York Times reporters who have been covering Obamacare, discuss the policy changes that the president wants. (Abelson and Sanger-Katz, 7/19)

The Hill: GOP House Leaders Tout Health, Poverty Solutions
Republican House leaders say their congressional agenda will soothe national anxiety by improving healthcare and poverty. “Today, people are anxious,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) said on Saturday in the GOP’s weekly address. “We are all anxious. We’re on edge." (Hensch, 7/16)

The Washington Post: FDA: Electroshock Has Risks But Is Useful To Combat Severe Depression
After years of consideration, the Food and Drug Administration has determined that for carefully selected patients with profound depression, the benefits of electroconvulsive therapy, long demonized, outweigh the risks of possible memory loss caused by its use. Citing evidence from 60 randomized trials of ECT, once known as electroshock therapy, the FDA acknowledged the risk but said that there is now enough evidence to ease access to the therapy for certain people. (Hurley, 7/18

Modern Healthcare: Competition For New Docs Pushing Pay Higher
But just because a physician is in a high-paying specialty doesn't mean they're getting big pay increases. Orthopedic surgeons, practicing in a field where margins may come under pressure from the CMS' move to bundled payments for knee and hip implants, saw only a 0.3% average pay increase over the previous year, according to the [23rd annual Physician Compensation Survey]. (Conn, 7/16)

The Wall Street Journal: Companies Try New Ways To Attract Patients To Drug Trials
Drug companies are testing new ways to get more people to participate in clinical trials for promising medicines. Some companies sift through laboratory-test records to identify people with certain diseases who might qualify for drug trials. Other firms monitor how patients discuss their diseases in online forums to develop effective recruitment approaches. (Rockoff, 7/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Starbucks Widens Workers’ Health-Insurance Options
Starbucks Corp. on Monday became one of the most high-profile employers to switch its employees to a private health insurance exchange. Instead of the one health insurer and three medical coverage levels they have now, U.S. employees from Chief Executive Howard Schultz to store baristas working at least 20 hours a week will be able to choose from among up to six national and regional carriers, and five levels of medical plan starting in October. (Jargon and Wilde Mathews, 7/18)

Los Angeles Times: CalPERS Posts Worst Year Since 2009, With Slim Returns
California’s largest public pension fund made a return of less than 1% in its most recent fiscal year, the fund’s worst performance since 2009. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System said Monday that its rate of return for the year ended June 30 was just 0.61%. What’s more, Ted Eliopoulos, the pension fund’s chief investment officer, said the poor year has pushed CalPERS’ long-term returns below expected levels. (Koren, 7/18)

The Washington Post: United Nations Chief: Progress In Fighting AIDS Is ‘Inadequate — And Fragile’
On Monday, the opening day of the world's largest AIDS conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon struck a somber tone, saying that the gains that have been made in the global fight against the virus are "inadequate — and fragile." Ban's remarks are striking given the optimism that has prevailed about the disease in recent years thanks to new drugs that have helped those infected have life expectancies similar to those of people who are not infected and stopped many others from getting infected in the first place. (Cha, 7/18)

NPR: Fighting HIV In Two High-Risk Groups: Sex Workers And Truck Drivers
She's a sex worker. She's clutching a glass of beer. She's drunk and can barely stand up. ... The woman is one of the many sex workers in the city of Beira in Mozambique — and one of the targets of a new pilot program set up by Doctors Without Borders to prevent the spread of HIV. The initiative focuses on sex workers and another group at high risk of infection — truck drivers. (Beaubien, 7/18)

NPR: A New Generation Learns How To Live With HIV
Chisanga's story is part of a project by the Children's Radio Foundation, launched to coincide with Monday's opening of the 21st International AIDS Conference 2016 in Durban, South Africa. Michal Rahfaldt, the head of the Children's Radio Foundation, says for teenagers today HIV is different than it was 20, 15 or even 10 years ago. (Beaubien, 7/18)

The Associated Press: Having Stomach Troubles? Try Swallowing An Origami Robot
Has your child swallowed a small battery? In the future, a tiny robot made from pig gut could capture it and expel it. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are designing an ingestible robot that could be used to patch wounds, deliver medicine or dislodge a foreign object. They call their experiment an “origami robot” because the accordion-shaped gadget gets folded up and frozen into an ice capsule. (O'Brien, 7/19)

Reuters: Novartis, World's Top Drugmaker, Plays Down Brexit Threat
Switzerland's Novartis, the world's biggest maker of prescription drugs, will continue to invest in Britain, despite the country's decision to leave the European Union, its chief executive said on Tuesday. Joe Jimenez also told reporters he expected the European Medicines Agency (EMA), currently based in London, to continue its work on approving new medicines in an "orderly" fashion, even though it is likely to have to move to a new location. (Revill, 7/19)

The Wall Street Journal: Novartis Says Profit Could Dip As It Boosts Investment In Heart Drug Entresto
Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG cut its profit guidance for the year as it ramps up investment in its new heart-failure drug to offset falling sales of cancer blockbuster Gleevec. Joe Jimenez, chief executive, said he had made a “hard decision” to boost investment in Entresto by an additional $200 million this year, a move that could cost the company 1-2% of core operating income. (Roland, 7/19)

The Associated Press: Health Care Offer Withdrawn As Taj Mahal Strike Continues
An Atlantic City casino owned by billionaire Carl Icahn withdrew an offer to restore health insurance for its striking workers Monday after the union refused to put the measure up for a vote 18 days into a walkout. The Trump Taj Mahal had given striking Local 54 of Unite-HERE workers until Monday to vote on its offer, but union president Bob McDevitt said that the offer was "essentially half" of what workers at other casinos received. (7/18)

NPR: Got Dense Breasts? That Can Depend On Who Is Reading The Mammogram
If you're a woman who gets screening mammograms, you may have received a letter telling you that your scan was clear, but that you have dense breasts, a risk factor for breast cancer. About half of U.S. states require providers to notify women if they fall into that category. But what you may not know is that gauging breast density isn't a clear-cut process. Researchers reporting in Annals of Internal Medicine Monday found that density assessments varied widely from one radiologist to another. That means you shouldn't let one finding freak you out too much, nor should you assume something's wrong if your reported density changes from year to year. (Hobson, 7/18)

The New York Times: A Hunger Crisis In The L.G.B.T. Community
A new report on hunger found that more than one in four L.B.G.T. adults could not afford to feed themselves or their families at least once in the past year. By comparison, only one in six heterosexual adults reported a similar crisis. Certain subgroups in the L.G.B.T. community are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity, including minorities, women, the unmarried, bisexuals, those without college degrees, younger people and those who have children in the home. (Rabin, 7/18)

NPR: Twin Sisters Try To Get Pregnant With Ovaries They Froze In 2012
Not only do the sisters hope their reimplanted ovaries will help them get pregnant, they are also hoping the procedure will reverse their menopause. "I'm really excited," Sarah [Gardner] says. "It will be really nice to not have another hot flash." The approach was originally developed for women who are being treated for cancer and hope to preserve their fertility, but don't have time to freeze their eggs. Some cancer treatments can destroy fertility. (Stein, 7/19)

The Washington Post: How Alzheimer’s Turned A Daughter Into Her Mom’s Mom
As her mother’s memories began to fade, [Loretta] Veney fashioned a new role for herself as a memory-keeper, leading her to write and self-publish “Being My Mom’s Mom: A Journey Through Dementia From a Daughter’s Perspective.” ... “When I started looking for information to help me understand more about dementia,” she says, “I found that there weren’t a lot of books that were written from an adult child’s perspective, and there were definitely not any written by African Americans. So I thought maybe I could write down my experience, the things I’d learned, the things that I did wrong, and make it a little easier for someone else.” (Hartke, 7/18)

The New York Times: An App To Deconstruct Your Food
Ever wondered how long you’d have to swim to burn off the calories in an organic peanut butter cup? Or how far the strawberries or burger on your plate traveled to get there? For answers, ask the Sage Project, one of the latest of the food technology companies helping consumers navigate nutrition. While a number of food apps count calories and track eating habits, Sage goes beyond the food label to give customers additional information about additives and preservatives, how much sugar has been adding during processing or how far a food has traveled. (Strom, 7/18)

NPR: Does Subsidizing Crops We're Told To Eat Less Of Fatten Us Up?
We — the U.S. taxpayers — help subsidize farmers by paying part of the premiums on their crop insurance. This helps ensure that farmers don't go belly up, and it also protects against food shortages. But are there unintended consequences? For instance, do subsidies encourage the production — and perhaps overconsumption — of things that we're told to eat less of? Think high fructose corn syrup or perhaps meat produced from livestock raised on subsidized grains. (Aubrey, 7/18)

The Associated Press: Family Files Lawsuit Against Hospital And City In Death
The family of a Florida woman who died outside a hospital after she was forcibly removed by police has filed a federal lawsuit against those who forced her exit. Frances Scott, who is the personal representative of the estate of Barbara Dawson, filed it against Calhoun Liberty Hospital, including two of its former employees, the City of Blountstown and former Blountstown Police officer. (Reedy, 7/18)

The Associated Press: Air Pollution Reduction Settlement Reached For 6 Refineries
Federal officials say the settlement will improve air quality for people and the environment because the installed equipment will reduce pollutants, including an estimated 47,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Leaks, flares and excess emissions from the refineries emit dangerous air pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, and seriously harm the environment, the officials said. (Le, 7/18)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family
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