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KHN First Edition: July 29, 2016


First Edition

Friday, July 29, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Coming soon: We will be launching a Weekly Roundup that highlights original KHN articles from the past week. Adjust your settings here if you would like to receive it.

Kaiser Health News: Seniors Who Live Alone Likeliest To Rate Their Health Highly: Study
Kaiser Health News staff writer Rachel Bluth reports: "People over 65 who live alone were more likely to describe their health as excellent or very good than were seniors who live with others, according to a study exploring connections between older Americans’ health status and their living arrangements. Conversely, older people living with others — whether related or unrelated to them — were significantly less likely to call their health as excellent or very good, researchers reported recently in the Journal of Applied Gerontology. That may be because when seniors encounter serious health problems and mounting physical difficulties, they often stop living by themselves and choose to live with others for support, they speculated." (Bluth, 7/29)

Kaiser Health News: 30 Percent Of Children’s Readmissions To Hospitals May Be Preventable: Study
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "One of the key indicators of the quality of a hospital’s care is how frequently its patients are readmitted within a month after being discharged. A study this month examined readmission rates for pediatric patients and found that nearly 30 percent of them may have been preventable. The study, published online by the journal Pediatrics, reviewed the medical records and conducted interviews with clinicians and parents of 305 children who were readmitted within 30 days to Boston Children’s Hospital between December 2012 and February 2013. It excluded planned readmissions such as those for chemotherapy. Overall, 6.5 percent of patients were readmitted during the study period." (Andrews, 7/29)

California Healthline: Court Decision Leaves Undocumented Immigrants' Health Care Options In Limbo
California Healthline staff writer Ana B. Ibarra reports: "Erica Torres is one of the estimated 1.4 million Californians who live without health insurance largely because they are undocumented. She was hopeful when President Barack Obama expanded deportation-relief programs for undocumented immigrants — a controversial move that would have put government-subsidized health care within her reach. But last month’s Supreme Court decision suspending Obama’s order has derailed that aspiration, leaving Torres’ future — and her health insurance options — in limbo." (Ibarra, 7/28)

California Healthline: Can I Afford To Keep My Doctor?
California Healthline staff writer Emily Bazar reports: "For most of my adult life, I’ve picked my health insurance based on one simple standard: Does my beloved primary care physician participate in the plan? I’m lucky. My generous job-based coverage has allowed me to make that choice without straining my finances. But that luck isn’t universal, and as Covered California consumers face steep rate hikes next year, some will be forced to make a difficult choice: pay a higher price to keep their plans — and doctors — or switch plans to save money but risk losing their doctors." (Bazar, 7/29)

The Associated Press: FDA: No Miami-Area Blood Donations During Zika Investigation
Federal authorities have told blood centers in two Florida counties to suspend collections amid investigations into four mysterious cases of Zika infection that may be the first spread by mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland. Blood centers in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas were asked to immediately stop collecting blood until they can screen each unit of blood for the Zika virus with authorized tests, according to a statement on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. (7/28)

NPR: Fearing Zika, FDA Asks 2 Florida Counties To Halt Blood Donations
The move came after investigators ruled out travel as the cause of four cases of Zika virus in those counties. Florida health officials announced the cases last week. The people hadn't traveled to places where Zika is endemic and don't appear to have contracted it through sex, leaving a possibility that they got the virus from being bitten by infected mosquitoes in the U.S. (Bichell, 7/28)

The Washington Post: FDA Temporarily Halts Blood Donation In Two Florida Counties Over Zika Fears
The FDA is also recommending that nearby counties also put these precautions in place as soon as possible to maintain the safety of the blood supply. For blood-collection establishments outside of this region, FDA is recommending that donors who have traveled to Miami-Dade and Broward Counties during the previous four weeks defer on donating blood. The FDA alerted the Florida's surgeon general and the major blood-collection industry organization Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, the FDA also reached out to blood-collection establishments in Florida, starting with the state’s largest blood collectors, according to Tara Goodin, an FDA spokeswoman. (Sun, 7/28)

The Associated Press: F.D.A. Says 2 Florida Counties With Zika Cases Should Suspend Blood Donations
The F.D.A. had previously advised blood banks to refuse donations from people who had recently traveled to foreign countries with Zika outbreaks. The main supplier of blood in Florida, OneBlood, announced last week that it would start testing donated blood for the Zika virus on Monday. OneBlood officials have said they will halt blood collections in ZIP codes where local transmission of Zika is confirmed and bring in blood from unaffected areas to maintain local supplies. Some blood banks in Texas and Hawaii have begun testing donations for the Zika virus, and others plan to do so soon. (7/28)

The Associated Press: Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Released In Cayman Islands
The first wave of genetically modified mosquitoes were released Wednesday in the Cayman Islands as part of a new effort to control the insect that spreads Zika and other viruses, officials in the British Island territory said. Genetically altered male mosquitoes, which don't bite but are expected to mate with females to produce offspring that die before reaching adulthood, were released in the West Bay area of Grand Cayman Island, according to a joint statement from the Cayman Islands Mosquito Research and Control Unit and British biotech firm Oxitec. (7/28)

NPR: Doctors Need A New Skill Set For This Opioid Abuse Treatment
In a big hotel conference room near New York's Times Square, six doctors huddle around a greasy piece of raw pork. They watch as addiction medicine specialist Michael Frost delicately marks the meat, incises it and implants four match-sized rods. "If you can do it well on the pork, you can easily do it on the person," Frost tells his audience. Frost consults for Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, the company behind the newly FDA-approved treatment Probuphine, and is teaching doctors how to use it. They are learning to implant it in pork so they can later implant it in patients' arms. (Shakerdge, 7/28)

The Washington Post: Major Global Partnership To Speed Antibiotic Development Launched
U.S. and British officials announced an ambitious collaboration Thursday designed to accelerate the discovery and development of new antibiotics in the fight against one of the modern era’s greatest health threats: antibiotic resistance. CARB-X, for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator, will create one of the world’s largest public-private partnerships focused on preclinical discovery and development of new antimicrobial products. (Sun, 7/28)

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. To Form International Partnership To Fight ‘Superbugs’
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expected to invest $250 million over the next five years to the public-private initiative, which will be known as CARB-X, for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator. The venture, which has grown out of a 2015 Obama administration initiative, will focus on providing monetary help to small companies and laboratories that are in the earliest stages of developing new drugs, vaccines or medical devices to combat such microbes. (Burton, 7/28)

The Washington Post: Studying Heart Disease In Astronauts Yields Clues But Not Conclusive Evidence
When James Irwin suffered his first heart attack at age 43 — just two years after walking on the moon — NASA doctors dismissed any connection with his trip to space, during which he had experienced short spells of irregular heart rhythm. "They noted that pre-flight testing had shown Mr. Irwin to be prone to slight uneven heartbeats on occasion after exercise," according to the New York Times. But then Irwin died of a heart attack in 1991, when he was just 61. A year earlier, fellow Apollo astronaut Ron Evans died of a heart attack in his sleep at age 56. And Neil Armstrong died after complications from cardiovascular surgery in 2012. He was 82. (Kaplan, 7/28)

The New York Times: Study Asks If Moon Astronauts Got Increased Heart Risks
Only 24 people have ever gone to deep space, or to the area beyond the Earth’s magnetic shield. These are the Apollo astronauts who flew to the moon, the last of whom did so in 1972. Today, dreams of deep space exploration are surfacing again. Government space programs and private corporations alike have their eyes set on returning to the moon for longer visits and venturing beyond, to Mars, in the coming decades. Michael Delp, a professor of human sciences at Florida State University, said researchers need to better understand and study the effects of deep space travel on the human body. (Yin, 7/28)

The Wall Street Journal: Bristol-Myers Results Boosted By Cancer Drugs
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said its second-quarter revenue rose 17% and it raised its earnings forecast for the year as the company’s bet on cancer immunotherapies continues to pay off while other drugs show gains. The drugmaker was the first to bring to market an immunotherapy, which aims to fight cancer by unshackling the body’s immune system. Sales of its newest immunotherapy, Opdivo, rose to $840 million in the quarter, up $718 million from a year earlier and accounting for much of Bristol’s revenue gains in the quarter. (Rockoff and Stynes, 7/28)

The Wall Street Journal: Sanofi Profit Down As Diabetes Drug Sales Slip
French drugmaker Sanofi SA on Friday reported a fall in second-quarter net profit, hurt by dwindling U.S. diabetes drug sales and adverse currency moves but said it still expected to meet its profit target this year. The Paris-based drugmaker said net profit declined by 11% to €1.16 billion ($1.29 billion) for the three months through June from €1.3 billion a year earlier. (Bisserbe, 7/29)

NPR: Can Dogs Help Sniff Out Low Blood Sugar In Diabetes?
For people with diabetes who take insulin, the risk of losing consciousness from low blood sugar is a constant fear. Devices called continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) can alert wearers to dropping levels, but not everyone has access to them. And even among those who do, some prefer a furrier and friendlier alert option: A service dog with special training to alert owners when their blood sugar reaches dangerously low levels. (Tucker, 7/29)

NPR: Gun Violence And Mental Health Laws, 50 Years After Texas Tower Sniper
For some people, the attack on police officers by a gunman in Dallas this summer brought to mind another attack by a sniper in Austin 50 years ago – on Aug. 1, 1966. That's when student Charles Whitman stuck his rifle over the edge of the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin and started shooting. Ultimately, he killed 16 people — and wounded more than 30 others. For decades, people have struggled to figure out why. There have been theories about abuse, a brain tumor and, of course, mental illness. (Silverman, 7/29)

NPR: After Hinckley, States Tightened Use Of The Insanity Plea
The insanity ruling that sent President Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin, John Hinckley Jr., to a government psychiatric hospital rather than prison was handed down 34 years ago, but its repercussions still affect hundreds, if not thousands, of people who commit a crime and also have mental illness. These consequences and the insanity defense itself were forced into the national spotlight again on Wednesday, when a federal judge said Hinckley would be released to live with his elderly mother in Williamsburg, Va. (Jacewicz, 7/28)

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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