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KHN First Edition: August 8, 2016


First Edition

Monday, August 08, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: California Doctors And Hospitals Tussle Over Role Of Nurse-Midwives
Kaiser Health News staff writer Anna Gorman reports: "A California bill that would allow certified nurse-midwives to practice independently is pitting the state’s doctors against its hospitals, even though both sides support the main goal of the legislation. The California Hospital Association and the California Medical Association, which represents doctors, agree that nurse-midwives have the training and qualifications to practice without physician supervision.But they differ sharply over whether hospitals should be able to employ midwives directly — a dispute the certified nurse-midwives fear could derail the proposed law." (Gorman, 8/8)

Kaiser Health News: Doctors Need A New Skill Set For This Opioid Abuse Treatment
Side Effects Public Media's Karen Shakerdge, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: "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, 8/8)

The New York Times: New Medicare Law To Notify Patients Of Loophole In Nursing Home Coverage
In November, after a bad fall, 85-year-old Elizabeth Cannon was taken to a hospital outside Philadelphia for six and a half days of “observation,” followed by nearly five months at a nearby nursing home for rehabilitation and skilled nursing care. The cost: more than $40,000.The hospital insisted that Ms. Cannon had never been formally admitted there as an inpatient, so under federal rules, Medicare would not pay for her nursing home stay. The money would have to come from her pocket.The experience of Ms. Cannon and thousands like her inspired a new Medicare law — in force as of Saturday — that requires hospitals to notify patients that they may incur huge out-of-pocket costs if they stay more than 24 hours without being formally admitted. (Pear, 8/6)

Los Angeles Times: Obama's Health Secretary Wants To Make Patients Healthier By Transforming How Doctors And Hospitals Get Paid
Largely out of the spotlight, Obama administration officials have labored on an equally sweeping project to transform the way America’s doctors, hospitals and other medical providers deliver care. The foundation of this effort involves scrapping the way medicine has traditionally been paid for – a system akin to auto repair in which each service a doctor or hospital provides is billed separately, no matter how well it is performed and what the long-term outcome is.In place of that, the Obama administration is trying to build a system that pays doctors, hospitals and others based on how their patients recover and how much their care costs. (Levey, 8/5)

The Wall Street Journal: A New Medicare Charge Is Coming: Here’s How To Lessen The Blow
For high-income Americans covered by Medicare, now is the time to make tax moves to minimize an increase in premium surcharges. These surcharges apply because Congress has decided the top 5% or so of Medicare recipients should contribute more for their coverage than lower earners. Last year, about 3 million Americans owed extra premiums for Part B coverage for medical services, such as doctors, and about 2 million owed them for Part D coverage for drugs. (Saunders, 8/5)

Politico: How Pence's Slow Walk On Needle Exchange Helped Propel Indiana's Health Crisis
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a pledge last month, along with most of the nation’s governors, to combat the opioid crisis, calling it “one of the deadliest drug epidemics in our nation’s history.” But when confronted with a spiraling HIV outbreak in his home state as a result of opioid addicts sharing contaminated needles, Pence dragged his feet before agreeing to lift a ban on programs that distribute sterile needles. (Demko, 8/7)

The New York Times: Mike Pence’s Response To H.I.V. Outbreak: Prayer, Then A Change Of Heart
On the evening of March 24, 2015, Sheriff Dan McClain got an unexpected voice mail: “This is Gov. Mike Pence calling. I would welcome the opportunity to get your counsel on what’s going on in Scott County.”What was going on was unprecedented in Indiana and rare in the United States: H.I.V. was spreading with terrifying speed among intravenous drug users in this rural community near the Kentucky border. Local, state and federal health officials were urging the governor to allow clean needles to be distributed to slow the outbreak. (Twohey, 8/7)

Reuters: U.S. Closer To Testing Engineered Mosquitoes That Could Fight Zika
U.S. health regulators have cleared the way for a trial of genetically modified mosquitoes in Florida that can reduce mosquito populations, potentially offering a new tool to fight the local spread of Zika and other viruses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that a field trial testing Intrexon Corp's genetically engineered mosquitoes would not have a significant impact on the environment. The announcement came as Florida officials grapple with the first cases of local Zika transmission in the continental United States. (Steenhuysen, Grover and Stein, 8/5)

Reuters: Florida Governor Criticizes Washington For Lagging In Zika Fight
Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott on Sunday accused the federal government of lagging in providing assistance to combat the spread of the Zika virus in a Miami-area neighborhood, the site of the first U.S. transmission of the virus.Scott was speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" about the neighborhood of Wynwood, where crews began aerial spraying on Thursday to kill virus-carrying mosquitoes. Zika can cause microcephaly, a rare but devastating birth defect. (Skinner, 8/7)

NPR: Puerto Rican OB-GYNs Offer Free Birth Control To Fight Zika
In Puerto Rico the local association of obstetricians and gynecologists has launched a new attack on Zika. Because Zika primarily is a problem for pregnant women, the doctors are trying to reduce the number of pregnant women by offering free contraception across the island to any woman who wants it. "We have had ... historical barriers to contraception in Puerto Rico for a long long time," says Dr. Nabal Bracero, the driving force behind the initiative and the head of the local chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Beaubien, 8/6)

The New York Times: Did Obama’s Bill Fix Veterans’ Health Care? Still Waiting.
When President Obama signed a sweeping $15 billion bill to end delays at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals two years ago, lawmakers standing with him applauded the legislation as a bold response that would finally break the logjam. It has not quite worked out that way. Although veterans say they have seen improvement under the bill, it has often fallen short of expectations. (Philipps, 8/5)

The Associated Press: Delaware Says Medicaid Now Covers Mosquito Repellent
Delaware officials say Medicaid recipients can now get benefit coverage for over-the-counter mosquito repellents. Officials say the move is intended to help protect against the Zika virus. Over-the-counter insect repellents generally are not covered by Medicaid. But the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently allowed states to cover mosquito repellents for Medicaid recipients when prescribed by an authorized health professional. (8/6)

Politico: Anti-Abortion Advocates Seek Fresh Ammunition To Justify Restrictions
Seeking to arm themselves with new ammunition after losing a major Supreme Court battle, the anti-abortion movement is calling for a national database for abortion statistics and increased state reporting — moves likely to raise patient privacy concerns. The high court’s June decision in favor of Texas abortion providers in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is expected to have a chilling effect on state abortion restrictions, which had closed clinics in Texas and other parts of the country. (Haberkorn and Pradhan, 8/8)

USA Today: Half Of Americans Now Know An Opioid Addict
Nearly half of all Americans know someone addicted to prescription painkillers. State lawmakers have responded forcefully, passing dozens of laws to tackle the problem. Unfortunately, there has been little evidence that the laws work. In fact, in the most comprehensive study to date, we found that they have given little relief to especially vulnerable patients. (Jill Horwitz and Ellen Meara, 8/7)

The New York Times: ‘This Is Your Brain On Drugs,’ Tweaked For Today’s Parents
For a generation of commercial-watching adolescents, it was an indelible image: an egg, sizzling in a frying pan, representing “your brain on drugs.” It was a straightforward message, and the ad’s final line — “Any questions?” — asked as the egg white clouded and cooked, was strictly rhetorical. Three decades later, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (the group formerly known as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America) is bringing the frying pan out of retirement and firing up the stove again. But this time questions are the point. (White, 8/7)

The New York Times: Immunotherapy Drug Opdivo Fails Clinical Trial To Expand Use
The hot new field of immunotherapy got a shock on Friday when a best-selling new drug failed as an initial treatment for lung cancer in a clinical trial.Bristol-Myers Squibb said Friday that the drug, Opdivo, had not slowed the progression of advanced lung cancer in the clinical trial, which compared it with conventional chemotherapy. That is likely to crimp the overall sales of the drug by a significant amount. (Pollack, 8/5)

The New York Times: Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Hubris Cost It $21 Billion
Bristol-Myers Squibb has suffered a $21 billion self-inflicted wound. The amount is the value that investors wiped off the pharmaceutical company on Friday morning after its trial to greatly broaden the use of one of its most promising cancer drugs failed. It was an unnecessarily risky move for Bristol, whose immunotherapy has been outselling Merck’s. The stumble will allow its more cautious rival to clean up. (Cyran, 8/5)

The Wall Street Journal: AbbVie Files Patent Suit Over Amgen’s Copy Of Humira
Drugmaker AbbVie Inc. has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against rival Amgen Inc., seeking to block sales of a lower-priced replica of AbbVie’s top-selling drug, Humira. The lawsuit, filed late Thursday in federal court in Delaware, alleges Amgen’s copy of the biotech drug Humira violates many of AbbVie’s patents on the anti-inflammatory treatment. The suit asks the court to keep the copy off the market if it gains approval by the Food and Drug Administration. (Rockoff, 8/5)

NPR: Medications Are Seldom Tested For Safety In Pregnancy
The CDC estimates that 70 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. take at least one prescription drug — whether it's for something like colitis or diabetes, or just allergies. And a lot of them are stuck in the same spot as Mottola, wondering if the drugs they need might do any harm, says Maggie Little, a bioethicist at Georgetown University. "There's actually shockingly little that we know about how to treat illness during pregnancy," she says. (Bichell, 8/8)

The Wall Street Journal: NIH Closes In-House Pharmacy Faulted For Sterility Processes
The National Institutes of Health said it is permanently closing one of two pharmacies that were the subjects of critical reports over their sterility processes a year ago after inspections by the Food and Drug Administration. Both drug-production facilities are located in the NIH Clinical Center, the NIH’s renowned hospital that largely treats patients who are entered in clinical studies there. (Burton, 8/5)

NPR: Four States Don't Allow The Insanity Defense At All
On the evening of March 8, 2016, 30-year-old Kyle Odom was arrested in Washington, D.C., for throwing objects over the White House fence. He'd traveled from Idaho, where authorities suspected him of shooting and wounding Idaho pastor Tim Remington in a church parking lot days earlier. Shortly after his arrest, an Idaho television station released a 30-page manifesto believed to have been sent by Odom. In the letter, the writer claims his life was ruined by "an intelligent species of amphibian-humanoid from Mars" using humans as sex slaves. The manifesto included drawings of the aliens and a claim that President Obama and Remington were aware of or involved in the Martians' plot. (Jacewicz, 8/5)

Los Angeles Times: Will The Next Generation Of Cellphone Service Pose Health Risks?
Concerns about the potential harmful effects of radiofrequency radiation have dogged mobile technology since the first brick-sized cellphones hit the market in the 1980s. Industry and federal officials have largely dismissed those fears, saying the radiation exposure is minimal and that the devices are safe. ... But the launch of super-fast 5G technology over the next several years will dramatically increase the number of transmitters sending signals to cellphones and a host of new Internet-enabled devices, including smart appliances and autonomous vehicles. (Puzzanghera, 8/8)

The Washington Post: Smoking Rates Are Dropping For Racial And Ethnic Groups — Except One
Cigarette smoking among U.S. adults continues to slide among almost all racial and ethnic groups, but big disparities remain, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among whites and blacks, a quarter still light up. By contrast, barely one in 10 Asians uses cigarettes, while nearly four in 10 Native Americans and Alaska Natives do so. (Kelly, 8/5)

The Washington Post: Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer May Pose A Risk For Black Men
Black men treated with hormone therapy for prostate cancer may have a higher risk of death than white men undergoing the same therapy, according to a new study. But the deaths aren’t actually caused by prostate cancer. Androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT, is a hormone treatment that shrinks prostate tumors. Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that black men undergoing the therapy had a 77 percent higher risk of death than non-black men. (Beachum, 8/5)

USA Today/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Pharmacist Charged With $1 Million Fraud
A Janesville pharmacist billed the federal government about $1 million for fraudulent prescriptions over several years, a federal indictment charges. Mark Johnson, 55, was arrested at his office Friday morning without incident, according to U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil of Wisconsin's Western District in Madison.  Johnson faces 46 felony counts, including fraud, identity theft and lying during a health care audit. (Vielmetti, 8/5)

The Washington Post: Doctors Group: UNC Using Live Animals In Emergency Training
A doctors group has filed a complaint against the emergency medicine training program at the UNC School of Medicine, saying the program violates federal law by using live animals. The complaint, filed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says the program instructs trainees to cut into various parts of a pig to insert needles and tubes, and to spread the ribs to access the heart. After the training session, the animals are killed. (8/5)

The Washington Post: Man Fatally Shot By Loudoun Deputy Was In Mental-Health Crisis, Family Says
A man fatally shot by a Loudoun County sheriff’s deputy Friday morning was experiencing a mental-health crisis, his family said Saturday. Johannes Melvin Wood, 58, was shot and killed by a deputy who had responded to a call at Wood’s residence in Aldie after Wood refused to drop two knives he was holding, police said. Deputies had visited the home a day earlier when Wood called 911 because he was hearing voices and felt afraid, Gary Byler, the family’s attorney, said in an interview Saturday. (Schmelzer, 8/6)

The Washington Post: A Dentist Lost A Barbed Tool During A Root Canal. It Was Later Found In Her Patient’S Stomach.
Janus Pawlowicz was having root canal surgery at an Illinois dental clinic when his dentist told him that she had dropped an instrument somewhere and couldn’t find it. A couple of days later, Pawlowicz’s stomach began hurting, and he started feeling nauseous. He went to his doctor, who ordered an X-ray. And there it was: The nearly 2-inch-long barbed broach, a razor-sharp metal file used during root canals, was lodged in the middle of Pawlowicz’s stomach. (Guerra, 8/5)

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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