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KHN First Edition: August 9, 2016


First Edition

Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Elderly Hospital Patients Arrive Sick, Often Leave Disabled
Kaiser Health News staff writer Anna Gorman reports: "Many elderly patients deteriorate mentally or physically in the hospital, even if they recover from the original illness or injury that brought them there. About one-third of patients over 70 years old and more than half of patients over 85 leave the hospital more disabled than when they arrived, research shows. As a result, many seniors are unable to care for themselves after discharge and need assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing or even walking. “The older you are, the worse the hospital is for you,” said Ken Covinsky, a physician and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco division of geriatrics. (Gorman, 8/9)

Kaiser Health News: 1965: The Year That Brought Civil Rights To The Nation’S Hospitals
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "In his new book, David Barton Smith takes us back to the mid-1960s, when a small band of civil rights activists-cum-government bureaucrats toiled to get the nascent Medicare program up and running. In the process, they profoundly changed the way health care is delivered in this country. It stands in marked contrast to the political turmoil over health care of recent years. “In four months they transformed the nation’s hospitals from our most racially and economically segregated institutions to our most integrated,” Smith writes in “The Power to Heal: Civil Rights, Medicare, and the Struggle to Transform America’s Health Care System.” (Andrews, 8/9)

Kaiser Health News: Syncing Up Drug Refills: A Way To Get Patients To Take Their Medicine
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "You have your red pill and your green pill. There’s the one you take at breakfast, the one you take before bed and the one you have to take six hours after eating. All told, it is a lot to keep track of. And remembering the refills, all of which often happen at different times of the month, gets so complicated that sometimes you forget — and simply go without. For the quarter of Americans with multiple ailments, this scenario is very familiar. It is also part of the reason, experts suggest, close to half of people with chronic conditions don’t take their medications as directed by their doctors. This noncompliance costs the health care system hundreds of billions of dollars." (Luthra, 8/8)

Kaiser Health News: In Later Years, Disabilities End Blacks’ Active Lives Sooner Than Whites’
Kaiser Health News staff writer Rachel Bluth reports: "Black Americans age 65 and older enjoy shorter active lives than whites do and more of their late years are swallowed up by disabilities and unmet needs, researchers have found. The disparity is widest for elderly black women, a group that has seen no gains since the early 1980s in either the number of remaining years of active life — meaning old age free of disabilities — or the percentage of remaining life expected to be active, according to a study published Monday in Health Affairs." (Bluth, 8/8)

Kaiser Health News: ‘Lost In Translation:’ Hospitals’ Language Service Capacity Doesn’t Always Match Need 
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, for KHN, reports: "Luis Ascanio, 61, works as a medical interpreter at La Clinica del Pueblo, a D.C.-based clinic geared toward providing health care to the surrounding Latino community. Fluent in Spanish and French, he helps doctors talk with patients with limited English skills about health care issues that range from highly technical to deeply emotional. ... But according to an analysis published Monday in Health Affairs, more than a third of the nation’s hospitals in 2013 did not offer patients similar language assistance." (Heredia Rodriguez, 8/8)

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Is Helping More Poor Patients Get To The Doctor Even As Political Battles Continue
Even as the Affordable Care Act remains a political flash point, new research shows it is dramatically improving poor patients’ access to medical care in states that have used the law to expand their Medicaid safety net. After just two years of expanded coverage, patients in expansion states are going to the doctor more frequently and having less trouble paying for it. At the same time, the experience in those states suggests better access will ultimately improve patients’ health, as patients get more regular checkups and seek care for chronic illnesses such diabetes and heart disease. (Levey, 8/8)

The Wall Street Journal: Investigators Study New Zika Case In Palm Beach County
The first Zika outbreak in the continental U.S. has spread to a third Florida county, the governor said on Monday, as health officials launched an investigation into a new case. But officials believe active transmission of the virus remains confined to the square-mile Wynwood neighborhood of Miami where the outbreak was first identified. Gov. Rick Scott said state Department of Health officials are investigating how an individual in Palm Beach County became the state’s 17th person believed to be infected without exposure from travel outside the U.S. to areas where Zika is circulating. (Evans, 8/8)

The Washington Post: Why The Zika Travel Warning In Florida Is So Narrow. And What It Means For Rest Of U.S.
A one-square-mile area north of downtown Miami, marked by three streets and a highway, is a Zika hot zone that public health officials say pregnant women should avoid. Many people don't understand how those boundaries were picked as part of an unprecedented travel advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And they want to know why the advisory isn’t broader. “We’ve been asked, ‘Why not all of Miami?’” CDC Director Tom Frieden said during a visit there last week. The answer, at least for now: "There’s no evidence that there’s any Zika spreading anywhere else in Miami.” (Sun, 8/8)

The New York Times: A 500-Square-Foot Area In Miami Is Ground Zero For The Zika Virus
Around July 4, a patient entered an emergency room in Miami-Dade County with a fever, a rash and joint pain — three of the four classic symptoms of the Zika virus. By this point, there had already been about 1,600 other Zika cases in the continental United States, but it soon became clear that this one was different. All the other patients had either traveled to Latin America or the Caribbean, where Zika had been raging for months — or they had sex or close contact with someone who had been there. Not this patient. (Belluck, 8/8)

The Wall Street Journal: Zika Weighs On Businesses In A Miami Neighborhood
Michael Perez, owner of Gallery 212 in the heart of Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, decided to shut down his gallery last week after health officials announced days earlier that the area was home to the continental U.S.’s first known cases of Zika virus transmitted by mosquitoes. “It’s pretty scary for me as a business owner,” he said, sitting in his contemporary gallery in front of a glass mosaic recreation of a Claude Monet painting. Nearby, repellent sat on a desk, and a large fan hummed to drive away insects. Foot traffic had dropped; Mr. Perez worried about contracting the illness himself and later decamped to Tampa, where he remained as of Monday. (McWhirter and Evans, 8/8)

Reuters: Cool Temperatures, Few Mosquitoes Make Games Zika-Free, So Far
So far, at the Olympics many feared would be the Zika Games, so good. With as many as one million people expected to attend the spectacle, half of them foreigners, Rio de Janeiro has not turned out to be the Zika hothouse some athletes and visitors feared as the virus wreaked havoc in Brazil earlier this year. Despite some hot days, swings back to cooler temperatures in Brazil's winter mean that the population of the mosquito responsible for spreading the virus has dwindled. (8/8)

The Wall Street Journal: Medicare Requires Some Heart Patients To See A Second Doctor
Medicare has started to require some heart patients to consult a second doctor before receiving a recently approved medical device in an effort to ensure patients get the treatment they believe is most suited to them. The new device, called the Watchman, is for patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke and affects more than 2.7 million people in the U.S. Medicare’s new rule isn’t about a second opinion, but rather about ensuring that patients’ own opinions and values are taken fully into account when weighing risks and benefits to reach a treatment decision. (Winslow, 8/8)

The New York Times: Minorities Suffer From Unequal Pain Treatment
Roslyn Lewis was at work at a dollar store here in Tuscaloosa, pushing a heavy cart of dog food, when something popped in her back: an explosion of pain. At the emergency room the next day, doctors gave her Motrin and sent her home. Her employer paid for a nerve block that helped temporarily, numbing her lower back, but she could not afford more injections or physical therapy. ... The experience of African-Americans, like Ms. Lewis, and other minorities illustrates a problem as persistent as it is complex: Minorities tend to receive less treatment for pain than whites, and suffer more disability as a result. (Goodnough, 8/8)

NPR/ProPublica: Federal Officials Seek To Stop Social Media Abuse Of Nursing Home Residents
Federal health regulators have announced plans to crack down on nursing home employees who take demeaning photographs and videos of residents and post them on social media.The move follows a series of ProPublica reports that have documented abuses in nursing homes and assisted living centers using social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. These include photos and videos of residents who were naked, covered in feces or even deceased. They also include images of abuse. (Ornstein and Huseman, 8/8)

The Wall Street Journal: A Better Safety Net For Young Doctors
In hospitals, summer is the season when newly minted medical school graduates start their first year of residency, taking on patient care with little hands-on experience. For patients, that means a visit from a doctor who might look young and untested. To make sure residents ask for help from a senior doctor, more hospitals are developing formal “escalation-of-care” policies with clear guidelines on when it’s time to call one. Residents may fail to ask for help due to overconfidence, lack of knowledge or fear of seeming incompetent, studies show. (Landro, 8/8)

The New York Times: An Alternative Form Of Mental Health Care Gains A Foothold
Some of the voices inside Caroline White’s head have been a lifelong comfort, as protective as a favorite aunt. It was the others — “you’re nothing, they’re out to get you, to kill you” — that led her down a rabbit hole of failed treatments and over a decade of hospitalizations, therapy and medications, all aimed at silencing those internal threats. At a support group here for so-called voice-hearers, however, she tried something radically different. She allowed other members of the group to address the voice, directly: What is it you want? (Carey, 8/8)

The New York Times: 4 Lesbians Sue Over New Jersey Rules On Fertility Treatment
The Krupas, along with two other women, are suing the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, claiming the mandate discriminates against their sexual orientation — essentially forcing infertile homosexual women to pay for costly procedures to try to become pregnant. ... The state mandate requires most major insurance companies to cover medically necessary treatments for infertile clients. It defines infertility as the inability to impregnate another person, the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth or the inability to conceive after one or two years of unprotected sex, depending on the woman’s age. (Jula, 8/8)

NPR: Cupping Gets Its Close-Up In Rio Olympics
Swimmer Michael Phelps won Olympic gold again Sunday while covered in red — red spots, roughly medal-size, all over his shoulders and back. The marks were the result of an ancient Eastern medicinal therapy known as cupping that is achieving new popularity among some athletes in the United States, including numerous Olympians. Cupping typically involves treating muscle pain and other ailments with cups that apply suction to skin. Cupping is often combined with other forms of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and massage. (Beans, 8/8)

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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