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From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Can I Afford To Keep My Doctor?

Covered California says most consumers can avoid double-digit premium hikes next year if they shop around. But will enrollees be willing to switch plans if it means having to change doctors? (Emily Bazar, 8/4)

3. Political Cartoon: 'A Frank Appraisal'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'A Frank Appraisal'" by Hilary Price.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Could Bernie’s muscle
Push Coloradans to vote
For single-payer?

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

Summaries Of The News:

Administration News

4. Funds For Zika Could Be Depleted By End Of August, Administration Warns

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell sends a letter to lawmakers detailing how the money has been spent, while calling for additional resources. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats continue to point fingers over who is to blame for the funding impasse.

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)

Roll Call: Zika Funding Gone By The End Of September, HHS Says
“The department is committed to using scarce federal dollars aggressively and prudently, especially in light of Congress’ inaction to provide any additional resources and the uncertainty around whether Congress will provide resources in the future,” [Burwell] said, referring to the partisan gridlock that has so far prevented lawmakers from sending the Zika spending legislation to the White House. (McCrimmon, 8/3)

The Associated Press: Administration Warns Congress: Zika Money Running Out
Republicans have been downplaying the urgency of the issue, questioning why the administration has not spent more than $350 million already on hand, including money redirected from the Ebola fight. Burwell's letter gives a detailed accounting. The Centers for Disease Control has $222 million available for domestic response including front-line assistance to states and localities. Of that, nearly $100 million will have been provided by week's end, and resources will be virtually exhausted by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, the letter says. (Werner, 8/3)

Politico Pro: Burwell: HHS Has Met Florida's Funding Request
The Obama administration says it has filled the entirety of Florida’s request for help fighting the Zika virus, even as Sen. Marco Rubio asks the White House to do more for his state. HHS has sent more than $8 million to help Florida respond to the Zika virus. Fifteen Floridians have gotten the virus through local mosquitoes, but more than 300 residents have gotten Zika through travel or sexual transmission. (Haberkorn, 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)

Politico: Rubio: Trump ‘Hopefully’ Will Pay Attention To Zika
Sen. Marco Rubio called on both political parties in Washington to do more to fight the Zika virus, but he was almost mum Wednesday when asked about why his party’s presidential nominee has essentially said nothing about the disease now that it’s spreading in Miami and throughout Florida. ... When questioned more about why he wouldn’t discuss Trump’s position on Zika, Rubio noted he hadn’t either mentioned the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. But Clinton since March made it a priority issue and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, took the time at a campaign stop in Daytona Beach to call out Trump for not talking about the disease. (Caputo, 8/3)

CNN: Trump Punts To Florida Governor On Zika
Donald Trump campaigned in two Florida cities Wednesday without addressing growing public health concerns over an outbreak of locally borne Zika infections in the state. And when pressed by a local reporter for his plan to combat the virus, which two days earlier prompted the Centers for Disease Control to warn people from traveling to a Miami neighborhood, Trump demurred. He simply saying that the state's Republican governor is doing a "fantastic job" and "seems to have it under control." (Diamond, 8/3)

5. Zika Vaccine Now Being Tested On Humans

Officials previously thought it would be at this stage in September, but researchers beat that prediction.

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)

Reuters: U.S. Health Researchers Test Zika Vaccine As Funds Run Low
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health federal research agency, said its early-stage clinical trial will involve at least 80 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 35 at three study sites. It said the trial will evaluate the experimental DNA-based vaccine's safety and ability to elicit an immune system response. (Dunham, 8/3)

Stat: US Researchers Now Testing Zika Vaccines In Human Subjects
With the DNA vaccine, a piece of genetic code is injected into the arm. The DNA produces proteins that can galvanize the immune system to identify and attack the virus if it tries to infect a person in the future. DNA vaccines are a new focus in vaccine development, but none has been approved for use by US regulators so far. In some ways, they are easier to develop and could come with fewer risks than vaccines made from inactivated forms of the virus, Fauci said. (Joseph, 8/3)

6. Pentagon Confirms 33 Zika Infections Among Active-Duty Service Members Since January

The number includes one pregnant woman. Meanwhile, New York's attorney general cracks down on Zika scams, chastising anyone who is exploiting people's fears "just to make a buck."

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)