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KHN First Edition: July 18, 2016


First Edition

Monday, July 18, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Note to readers: We would love to hear your thoughts on our newsletters. Click here to take a short survey to tell us what you think. Here are today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: Emotional Healing After A Flood Can Take Just As Long As Rebuilding
West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Kara Lofton, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: "Most of the front door of Rachel Taylor's little yellow house in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, is pasted with paw prints where her dog struggled to get inside during the flood last month. He was too big to carry through the rising waters. Across the street, nestled between two battered houses, an empty lot is marked by a cross with an array of flowers and photos — a small memorial for a family washed away by the torrent. ... But once the full extent of the damage set in, Taylor says, she developed severe nausea and carsickness to the point of not being able to drive. A number of people, she says, have chalked up her symptoms to nerves. "You know, the stress level. You don't realize your body is just having a response to this." (Lofton, 7/18)

Kaiser Health News: Fraud Concerns Emerge As Compounding Drug Sales Skyrocket
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "Government spending on “compounded” drugs that are handmade by retail pharmacists has skyrocketed, drawing the attention of federal investigators who are raising fraud and overbilling concerns. Spending on these medications in Medicare’s Part D program, for example, rose 56 percent last year, with some of the costliest products, including topical pain creams, priced at hundreds or thousands of dollars per tube. The federal workers’ compensation program has also seen a recent spike in spending. The spending jump, along with a sharp increase in the number of patients getting the compounded drugs “may indicate an emerging fraud trend,” said Miriam Anderson, who helped oversee a June report on the Medicare spending by the inspector general’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services." (Appleby, 7/18)

Kaiser Health News: Montana Medicaid Expansion By-The-Numbers
Montana Public Radio's Eric Whitney, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: "Backers of Montana’s seven-month-old Medicaid expansion say they’re pleased with the first set of financial data released this week. State figures say enrollment as of July is nearly double initial projections, at 47,399 of the 25,000 who were expected to enroll by now. And there’s still room to grow: 59,000 Montanans are estimated to be eligible for Medicaid expansion, according to state officials. (Whitney, 7/18)

The New York Times: Insurers, Pushing For Higher Rates, Challenge Key Component Of Health Law
For several years, the Obama administration has urged state insurance regulators to use tools provided by the Affordable Care Act to hold down health care premiums. Now federal officials will have a chance to practice what they preach as they confront big increases proposed in several states where they are responsible for reviewing rates. ederal officials defer to the insurance commissioners in 46 states deemed to have “effective rate review” programs. But in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, the federal government is in charge of reviewing rates. (Pear, 7/16)

The Associated Press: With Millions Covered,' Repeal And Replace' Gets Riskier
Cleveland, we have a problem. As Republicans gather to anoint their presidential ticket, Donald Trump's plan for replacing "Obamacare" appears to be anything but solid. A nonpartisan analysis recently found it would make 18 million people uninsured. Uncompromising opposition to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul has been a winning issue for Republicans, helping them gain control of Congress. Capturing the White House would finally let them make good on "repeal and replace." (7/18)

The New York Times: How Mike Pence Became A Conservative Hero: Unwavering Opposition To Abortion
One by one, Republican women of the Indiana state legislature rose to describe, in anguished terms, why they could not support an anti-abortion measure hurtling toward passage. They hated abortion, they said, but this bill went too far. It would have prohibited a woman from aborting a fetus because it had a disability, such as Down syndrome. ...Indiana’s governor, Mike Pence, waved off the objections of his fellow Republicans: He signed the legislation into law a few weeks later, enacting what advocates and foes agree was a sweeping and unusual set of restrictions on abortion that went further than any other state in the country and openly clashed with legal precedent. (Davey and Barbaro, 7/16)

The Washington Post: Mike Pence Has Made No Secret About His Views On Abortion. Will This Help Or Hurt Trump?
Donald Trump just announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his VP running mate. If the name sounds familiar, even if you haven't been paying attention to the days of speculation about the pick, it's probably because of Pence's work regarding women's reproductive rights. The Republican first made national headlines on this subject in 2011 when, as a representative to Congress from his state's 2nd District, he sought to defund Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions. Until that time, the women's health organization had made it through numerous GOP Congresses and never become such a big target. (Cha, 7/15)

The Washington Post: Trump Has A Problem With Female Voters. Pence Could Make It Even Worse.
Donald Trump has already had problems making inroads with female, gay and minority voters. His vice-presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, could make things even worse. Pence, the Republican governor of Indiana, has endorsed conservative legislation on abortion, gay rights and immigration both in his home state and while in Congress, where he was consistently ranked as one of the most right-leaning members of the House. He attempted to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding, supported a measure that made English the nation’s official language and signed one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws earlier this year. (Zezima, 7/16)

The New York Times: Twist In Zika Outbreak: New York Case Shows Women Can Spread It To Men
The first case of female-to-male sexual transmission of the Zika virus has been documented in New York City, raising the prospect that the disease could spread more widely beyond the countries where it is already endemic and largely transmitted by mosquitoes. For months, there has been growing concern about the dangers of sexual transmission, but until now the virus has been thought to pass only from men to women or between two men. (Santora, 7/15)

The Washington Post: First Case Of Zika Spread Through Female-To-Male Sex In NYC
A week after the couple had sex, the man developed fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. He went to the same doctor who had diagnosed Zika infection in the woman. The doctor suspected sexual transmission of the virus and alerted the health department. The man, who also is in his 20s, had not traveled outside the country during the year before his illness, did not have other recent sexual partners and had not been bitten by a mosquito in the week before he got sick. Blood and urine samples were collected from the man, who tested positive for the virus in his urine. (Sun, 715)

NPR: First Case Reported Of A Woman Infecting A Man With Zika Through Sex
Based on this case, the CDC is revising its recommendations for how people can protect themselves from getting infected with the Zika virus through sexual contact. Currently the CDC recommends that pregnant women whose male sexual partner has traveled or lived in a place where Zika is spreading use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, or refrain from sex during the pregnancy. The CDC now recommends that pregnant women whose sexual partners are female take the same precautions. (Stein, 7/15)

The Washington Post: A Cure For AIDS Is No Longer Unthinkable
Not many years ago, the idea of defeating the resilient virus that causes AIDS was far-fetched. But as 18,000 people gather this coming week in Durban, South Africa, for the 21st International AIDS Conference, the prospect of a cure is plausible enough that it is attracting increasing amounts of money, scientific research and attention. Discussion of a cure will lead off the conference, which comes little more than a month after the United Nations committed to action to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, despite formidable obstacles. Leaders of the global battle against HIV have described 2016 as a pivotal year in their effort. (Bernstein, 7/16)

The New York Times: Makers Of Humira And Enbrel Using New Drug Patents To Delay Generic Versions
The best-selling drugs Humira and Enbrel have a lot in common. They both use biotechnology to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases. And they come with giant price tags approaching $50,000 a year. Now the two companies behind the competing drugs have found common ground in keeping those prices so high: They are deploying new patents to prevent patients and insurers from getting two essentially generic versions of the drugs for less money. (Pollack, 7/15)

NPR: Wellness Programs Take Aim At Workplace Stress
Stress has long been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a number of mental health problems. And a recent poll finds that a substantial number of working adults say stress is a critical health issue they face at work. The poll was conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. So what are employers doing about it? Fifty-one percent of the people in our poll said their workplace has a formal wellness or health improvement program. (Neighmond, 7/18)

The New York Times: New York Public Hospitals Use Emojis To Reach Young People About Sex
The birds and the bees are no longer confined to uncomfortable living-room conversations. They will start popping up as emojis in teenagers’ Facebook feeds on Monday. Eggplant and peach emojis will appear with the words: “Need to talk to someone about ‘it’?” A monkey emoji with its hands over its mouth will offer advice on how to get confidential access to emergency contraception. The social media posts are part of a campaign by NYC Health & Hospitals to reach young people ages 12 to 21 and encourage them to seek confidential care for sexual and reproductive health, like testing for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, at one of the 20 YouthHealth centers across the five boroughs. (Schmidt, 7/17)

The Washington Post: In Quest For New Prince George’s Hospital, New Management Seen As A Must
The state officials weighing an effort by Prince George’s County to launch a new regional medical center have one common concern: Dimensions Healthcare System, the long-troubled nonprofit that has operated hospitals in the county for decades. Early this year, when Gov. Larry Hogan (R) balked at giving millions of dollars to keep existing county hospitals afloat while the new one is built, he wanted assurances that Dimensions would not play a role in running the new medical center. (Hernández, 7/17)

The Washington Post: Pokemon Go Leading To A ‘Population-Level’ Surge In Fitness Tracker Step Counts
Until last week, MacKenzie Olsberg’s nightly commute home from her office in Chicago involved taking a train to a bus and walking a short distance to her home. Now, she skips the bus portion and walks the last mile and a half. All because of Pokémon Go. ... The founders of Cardiogram, an app for Apple Watch that analyzes heart rate data, looked at heart rate and exercise information from 35,000 Cardiogram Apple Watch users, and saw an increase in users’ overall exercise the weekend after Pokémon Go launched. The exercise increase was across the board — the app makers have no way of knowing who was actually using Pokémon Go. On the day of the launch, about 45 percent of users were exercising 30 or more minutes. Two days later, on a Saturday, that number rose to 50 percent. The next day, it hit 53 percent. (Silver, 7/15)

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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