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KHN First Edition: August 4, 2016

KHN

First Edition

Thursday, August 04, 2016
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Kaiser Health News: Campaign For Universal Health Care In Colorado Seeks Bernie Sanders' Help
Colorado Public Radio's John Daley, in partnership with KHN and NPR, report: "Backers of ColoradoCare — the state ballot initiative that would establish universal health care in Colorado — think they have the perfect job for former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. With the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia behind him, Sanders "comes to Colorado and campaigns for single-payer — and we win," said T.R. Reid, one of the architects of ColoradoCare. The initiative aims to provide every resident of Colorado with affordable health insurance. Sanders made universal coverage one of the cornerstones of his presidential bid." (Daley, 8/4)

The Washington Post: Obama Administration Is Rapidly Running Out Of Money To Fight Zika
Money set aside to fight the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus is running low, and some funds could run out by the end of August, according to a letter to House Democrats from Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services shifted $374 million from other programs to fight Zika in the U.S., with $222 million allocated to the Centers for Disease Control. The funds have rapidly been depleted during the summer mosquito season. The National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority are both expected to run out of funds by the end of the month, and other funds will be depleted by the end of the year, Burwell said. (Snell, 8/3)

The Associated Press: As Zika Fears Escalate, Lawmakers Point Fingers From Afar
As the Zika virus escalates into a public health crisis, members of Congress remain entrenched politically, with Republicans and Democrats pointing fingers over the failure to act as the number of mosquito-transmitted cases in the U.S. grows. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell warned lawmakers on Wednesday that her budget for fighting Zika is running out quickly. Without more money fast, she said, the “nation’s ability to effectively respond to Zika will be impaired.” Yet lawmakers left Washington in mid-July for a seven-week recess without approving any of the $1.9 billion President Barack Obama requested in February to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus. (Lardner, 8/4)

Reuters: U.S. Health Researchers Test Zika Vaccine As Funds Run Low
U.S. government researchers said on Wednesday they have begun their first clinical trial of a Zika vaccine while the Obama administration told lawmakers funds to fight the virus would run out in the coming weeks due to congressional inaction. U.S. concerns over Zika, which is spreading rapidly in the Americas and has hit Brazil the hardest, have risen since Florida authorities last week reported the first signs of local transmission in the continental United States in a Miami neighborhood. (Dunham, 8/3)

The Washington Post: NIH To Begin Testing Zika Vaccine In Humans
As the Zika virus continues its spread, infecting people in more than 50 countries and threatening fetal development in pregnant women, scientists have been racing to develop an effective vaccine for the disease. Federal researchers on Wednesday announced a milestone in that effort: their first clinical trial in humans. The trial will involve at least 80 healthy volunteers between ages 18 and 35 at three locations around the United States, including at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda. (Dennis, 8/3)

The New York Times: 33 U.S. Service Members Have Contracted Zika, Pentagon Says
More than 30 active-duty American service members — including a pregnant woman — have contracted the mosquito-borne Zika virus in countries where the disease has been identified, Pentagon officials said on Wednesday. Maj. Ben Sakrisson, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Defense Department has been tracking Zika in servicemen and women abroad since January, and that the number had reached 33 this month. (Cooper, 8/3)

The Washington Post: Military Members Test Positive For Zika
At least 33 U.S. troops, including a pregnant woman, have tested positive for the Zika virus, U.S. military spokesmen said Wednesday. Ten of those troops are men who answer to the Southern Command, the Pentagon subsidiary with oversight of troops in Latin America and the Caribbean. Southcom spokesman Jose Ruiz said the 10 were infected in five locations — Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Martinique. They serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. (Rosenberg, 8/3)

The Wall Street Journal: In Zika-Outbreak Area In Miami, Residents Take Various Precautions
In the city’s Wynwood neighborhood, the center of the current Zika outbreak, business owners opened their doors on Wednesday to another humid day in the spotlight, as local officials declared the area “open for business” and anxious pregnant women across the city worried about their risk. Jessica Ardente, 36 years old, walked her dog Wednesday morning in Margaret Pace Park, a sliver of green along the Intercoastal Waterway at the edge of the area where state and federal health officials believe mosquitoes have transmitted the virus. Ms. Ardente is in her first trimester of pregnancy and lives in Edgewood at the edge of the affected zone. She donned mosquito repellent, long pants and long-sleeved shirts to walk her dog, a routine she hasn’t changed, she said. (Evans, 8/3)

The New York Times: Florida’s $82 Billion Tourism Industry Braces For Zika
After enduring the years of ups and downs that came with being a part of Wynwood’s transformation from a struggling warehouse district into Miami’s hot new neighborhood, the restaurateur Ivette Naranjo thought the worst was behind her. Her Cafeina Wynwood Lounge hosted large events for HBO, Absolut and Audi, where up to 600 hipsters could drink and dance to a DJ spinning vinyl in the garden. On weekends, an even mix of locals and tourists sipped cocktails with names like Hot Passion and critiqued the art in the adjacent gallery. Then came Zika. (Schwartz, 8/3)

The Washington Post: CDC Director: Sporadic Zika Cases Possible For Months, Maybe Year, In Florida
On Aug. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged pregnant women to avoid visiting a South Florida neighborhood where mosquito-borne cases of the Zika virus have emerged. It was the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States because of the outbreak of an infectious disease. The travel advisory is for a one-mile-square area that includes Wynwood, one of Miami's trendiest neighborhoods, which has a diverse mix of high-end art galleries, blocks of intricate murals and warehouse graffiti, and aging bungalows. (Sun, 8/3)

Los Angeles Times: A Rush To Get Health Coverage Makes Louisiana A Powerful Obamacare Symbol
Patients burst into tears at this city’s glistening new charity hospital when they learned they could get Medicaid health insurance. In Baton Rouge, state officials had to bring in extra workers to process the flood of applications for coverage. And at the call center for one of Louisiana’s private Medicaid plans, operators recorded their busiest day on record. The outpouring began in June, when Louisiana became the 31st state to offer expanded Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act, effectively guaranteeing health insurance to its residents for the first time. (Levey, 8/4)

The Wall Street Journal: Humana’s Earnings Exceed Expectations
Humana Inc. reported better-than-anticipated earnings despite losses related to its Affordable Care Act insurance plans. Chief Financial Officer Brian Kane said the company was seeing “consistently strong operational execution across our core businesses, though challenges in our individual commercial business remain.” (Wilde Mathews and Steele, 8/3)

The Washington Post: Aetna Is Notifying Some Doctors About Their Drug-Dispensing Habits
Many experts say the prescription painkiller epidemic started when physicians began over-prescribing powerful opioid medications, a well-meaning attempt to more aggressively treat patients' pain. With addiction to those pills at crisis levels, they argue, a good part of the solution would be for doctors to rein in use of the drugs. The giant health insurer Aetna is now actively encouraging change. Using the vast amount of data it collects from insurance claims by pharmacies, it has begun contacting doctors whose prescribing habits are far outside the norm. (Bernstein, 8/3)

The Associated Press: Officials: Flint Water Efforts Remain After Declaration Ends
Federal, state and local officials said Wednesday that they will remain committed to fixing Flint's drinking water system after a federal emergency declaration over the city's lead crisis expires this month. The declaration ends Aug 14, after which the state will bear the full cost of bottled water, filters and other water supplies being given to residents in the wake of tests that showed elevated levels of lead in the blood of some local children. But officials said federal resources, health programs and monitoring efforts will remain in place. (8/3)

NPR: Does A Psychopath Who Kills Get To Use The Insanity Defense?
In December 2012, Jerrod Murray decided he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. So the freshman at East Central University in Ada, Okla., offered another freshman, Generro Sanchez, $20 for a ride to Wal-Mart. After climbing into Sanchez's truck, Murray made the freshman drive into the remote countryside at gunpoint. Then Murray shot and killed Sanchez, leaving his body in a ditch. States go decades without updating their definition of insanity. When they do change their definitions, it's often in reaction to an unpopular verdict in a high-profile case. (Jacewicz, 8/3)

The Washington Post: Risk Factors For Heart Disease Increase Before Menopause
Risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and stroke increase more quickly than expected in the years preceding menopause, according to new research, and the risk factors seem to be more prominent in black women. Metabolic syndrome describes a constellation of risk of factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease, including a large waist, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure and high blood sugar when fasting. It has been known that metabolic syndrome is more common in women post-menopause, but it wasn't clear when the symptoms start to kick in. (Beachum, 8/3)

The Washington Post: Sickle Cell Trait May Not Increase The Risk Of Death
People who carry a gene for sickle cell disease might not have an elevated mortality risk, according to a study released today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Sickle cell disease occurs in 1 out of every 365 black people born in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They carry two copies of a gene for sickle cell disease. Those who carry only one copy of the gene are said to have sickle cell trait. About 1 in 13 black Americans have sickle cell trait. An earlier study found that sickle cell trait may lead to an increased risk of sudden death, but the new study comes to a different conclusion. (Beachum, 8/3)

Los Angeles Times: Amish Kids Help Scientists Understand Why Farm Life Reduces The Risk Of Asthma
The old-fashioned ways of the Amish are helping researchers make new discoveries about the origins of asthma. By studying the blood, genes and environmental dust of 30 Amish children from traditional farming families in Indiana, scientists were able to zero in on the innate immune system as a key player in thwarting asthma and the allergic reactions that can trigger it. Their findings appear in Thursday’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. (Kaplan, 8/3)

The New York Times: Barnyard Dust Offers A Clue To Stopping Asthma In Children
Scientists say they may have found a sort of magic ingredient to prevent asthma in children: microbes from farm animals, carried into the home in dust. The results of their research, published on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, were so convincing that they raised the possibility of developing a spray to do the same thing for children who do not have regular contact with cows and horses. (Kolata, 8/4)

The Washington Post: A Molecule Called ‘Sandman’ Could Help Solve The ‘Mystery Of Sleep’
Sleep just doesn't make sense. ... "If evolution had managed to invent an animal that doesn’t need to sleep ... the selective advantage for it would be immense," [Gero] Miesenböck said. "The fact that no such animal exists indicates that sleep is really vital, but we don't know why." But Miesenböck is part of team of sleep researchers who believe they are inching closer to to an answer. In a paper published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, they describe a cluster of two dozen brain cells in fruit flies that operate as a homeostatic sleep switch, turning on when the body needs rest and off again when it's time to wake up. (Kaplan, 8/3)

The Washington Post: Watch Out, Ladies: Your Period-Tracking App Could Be Leaking Personal Data
For years, millions of women have used mobile apps to help track their menstrual cycles and get a better handle on their fertility. But now, it turns out, some of those apps may have been leaking this intimate information. Glow, one of the most popular apps in this market, had a major flaw that could let anyone who knew a user’s email address access that person's data, according to a recent investigation by Consumer Reports. That’s a big deal because Glow prompts users to reveal a lot, including the last time they had sex (and in what position), how many drinks they’ve had each day and, of course, when Aunt Flo is in town. (son, 8/3)

USA Today/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Abortion Groups Could Get $1.8 Million
Taxpayers could have to pay $1.8 million to attorneys for Planned Parenthood and another abortion provider after courts determined a 2013 law is unconstitutional. The demand for fees sets up the possibility of Republican officials having to shift taxpayer dollars to one of their biggest political opponents. GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel will likely fight having to pay at least some of the fees, his spokesman said Wednesday. (Marley and Stein, 8/3)

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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