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KHN First Edition: August 10, 2016


First Edition

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Refugees’ Needs In U.S. Change As World’s Conflicts Shift
Kaiser Health News staff writer Sarah Varney reports: "Syrian and Iraqi refugees have been arriving in Buffalo with decidedly different medical and mental health needs than the previous waves of refugees from Myanmar, Bhutan, Sudan and Somalia, say local resettlement agencies and primary care physicians. Refugees from poor countries can languish for decades in refugee camps without access to medical care, and they often arrive in the U.S. with tuberculosis, malaria and childhood malnutrition. But many Syrians and Iraqis grew up in what were once middle-income countries with modern, if fragmented and imperfect, health care systems in their larger urban centers. Once engineers, teachers and other professionals, they are more likely to have diabetes and hypertension than TB or malaria. When they arrive in their adopted homeland, they suffer not from diseases of poverty, but from fresh memories of war." (Varney, 8/10)

Kaiser Health News: Fighting HIV In Miami, One Dirty Needle At A Time
Miami Herald's Amy Driscoll, in partnership with KHN, reports: "The doctor on a mission met the homeless heroin addict who lived under a tree last year at Jackson Health System’s special immunology clinic when both men were struggling to overcome the odds. Jose De Lemos, infected with HIV and hepatitis C from a shared needle, had gone without treatment for almost a year. He’d dropped 80 pounds, suffered from night sweats and a rash on his leg and chest. Even walking hurt. He was in no mood for conversation with a well-meaning doc." (Driscoll, 8/10)

Kaiser Health News: Assisted Living Residents With Dementia Prone To Abusing Others, Study Finds
Kaiser Health News staff writer Rachel Bluth reports: "Assisted living residents who abuse other residents or staff are likely to have dementia or severe mental illness, afflictions that pose unappreciated risks in facilities occupied by vulnerable elderly adults, a new study reported. That abuse can include physical, verbal and sexual incidents, according to a study published online last month in the Journal of Applied Gerontology. Other studies have examined resident aggression in nursing homes, but the authors said few have explored the problem in assisted living." (Bluth, 8/10)

Reuters: Clinton Urges Congress To Reconvene, Pass Zika Bill
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged federal lawmakers currently on summer recess back into session to pass a crucial funding bill to combat the Zika virus as she visited a health clinic at the heart of a local outbreak in Miami on Tuesday. Lawmakers should pass the $1.1 billion bipartisan bill for the mosquito-borne virus, Clinton said, or come up with a new compromise. The funding comes as Florida grapples with at least 21 cases of locally transmitted Zika. (8/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Texas Health Officials Report State’s First Zika-Related Death
Texas health officials reported the state’s first Zika-related death Tuesday, after an infant who died recently in Harris County was determined to have microcephaly, a birth defect linked to the virus. Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services said the infant’s mother contracted the disease while traveling in Latin America during her pregnancy, and the baby acquired the infection while in the womb. Test results confirmed the baby’s condition and link to Zika, health officials said. (Frosch, 8/9)

The Associated Press: Infant's Death Is First Zika-Related Fatality In Texas
Texas reported its first Zika-related death Tuesday after a baby girl whose mother traveled to El Salvador while pregnant died shortly after birth in a suburban Houston hospital. The girl, who died a few weeks ago, had microcephaly linked to the Zika virus, said Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health. (8/9)

The Washington Post: Zika Linked To Infant’s Death In Texas
Several other cases of babies with microcephaly have been documented in the United States in recent months — and some women with Zika have chosen to have abortions after ultrasounds showed a high likelihood of serious complications — but the Texas case appears to be the only one in which a microcephalic infant died shortly after birth. (Dennis, 8/9)

The Washington Post: Americans Are Still Not Worried About Zika, Poll Finds
Zika’s first mosquito-borne transmission in the United States has not sparked alarm for the vast majority of Americans, who do not fear infection by the disease, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Sixty-five percent of Americans say they are “not too” or “not at all" worried about being infected with Zika or about having an immediate family member become infected, which is hardly changed from 67 percent in June. Just over one-third of the public, 35 percent, is at least somewhat worried, though only 12 percent say they are “very worried” about infection. (Guskin and Clement, 8/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Pregnant Zika Victim Alerted Officials To Florida Outbreak
The woman who set off the Zika scare in Florida doesn’t have a clear connection to the neighborhood where the outbreak is believed to be concentrated. She hasn’t traveled to a country where Zika is circulating and she hasn’t had sex with anyone likely to be infected. These confounding facts are also laced with potential danger. The woman in her early 20s is pregnant. The woman is one of 21 cases health officials are grappling with in their efforts to understand and contain the first known mosquito-borne Zika outbreak in the continental U.S., according to an internal report on the investigation for health officials reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. (McKay and Evans, 8/10)

The New York Times: Zika Cases Rise In Miami, And Officials Try To Soothe Fears
As the number of locally acquired Zika cases in Miami climbed a notch on Tuesday, county officials held an emergency meeting to blunt concerns about an epidemic and to underscore that local infections remain well contained. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida said Tuesday that four more people had been identified as likely to have acquired the Zika virus from local mosquitoes in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, the only place in the continental United States with active transmission. That brings the number of locally acquired cases in Florida to 21. On Monday, officials announced a Zika case in West Palm Beach, and they are investigating how the person, who recently traveled to Miami, was infected. (Alvarez, 8/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Florida Reports Four New Zika Cases, Likely Contracted Locally
Florida health authorities have found four more people who likely contracted Zika through mosquito bites in the Miami neighborhood where an outbreak began, Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday.The new cases bring to 21 the total number of people in Florida who health authorities believe became infected without traveling to areas outside the U.S. where the virus is circulating. (Kamp, 8/9)

The New York Times: New York Health Dept. Expands Zika-Testing Guidelines
In an effort to detect any local transmission of the Zika virus, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said on Tuesday that it had expanded the guidelines on who should be tested for the disease to include anyone with its most-common symptoms. Previously officials said only those who had traveled to a Zika-affected region or their sexual partners should be tested. The move comes on the heels of the first confirmed cases of local transmission by mosquitoes in Florida — a number that continues to rise. (Santora, 8/9)

The Associated Press: Beyond 'Obamacare': State Initiatives Refocus Health Debate
Moving beyond "Obamacare," political activists are looking to state ballot questions to refocus the nation's long-running debate over government's role in health care. This fall, California voters will decide whether to lower some prescription drug prices, while Coloradans will vote on a state version of a "single-payer" government-run health system, similar to what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed in his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. (8/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Big Driver Of Medicare Spending: Doctors Doing More Tests In Their Offices
A Wall Street Journal analysis of recently released Medicare billing data showed that four of the top 10 fastest-growing Medicare services from 2012 to 2014 involved new devices. Medicare’s tab for those four services rose by $123.5 million from 2012 to 2014, to $135 million, the data show. In each case, a small cadre of doctors adopted the services much faster than their peers. Less than 10% of doctors accounted for more than half the rise in spending for each service, the Journal found. The Journal studied only services performed throughout that period with at least $5 million in 2014 payments. (Weaver and Jones, 8/9)

NPR: Olympic Athletes Still Use Some Rx Drugs As A Path To 'Legal Doping'
When tennis star Maria Sharapova admitted in March to having taken the heart drug meldonium, the public got a rare glimpse of a common practice that's often called "legal doping." It involves taking a legal prescription drug that may improve performance, but hasn't been banned by anti-doping authorities. And lots of athletes competing in the Rio Olympics will be taking advantage of this loophole, doping experts say. (Hamilton, 8/10)

The Associated Press: NY Auditors Find Medicaid Payments For Dead Patients
New York auditors say the state's Medicaid system made up to $12.1 million in inappropriate payments last year, including $2.3 million in managed care payments for dead patients. Auditors say other payments went for recipients dropped from long-term care coverage. About $2.1 million was recovered during the auditors' field work. (8/10)

The Associated Press: Valeant's Rosy Forecast And Promised Changes, Fire Up Shares
Drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals, a fast-growing Wall Street darling until its price-hiking business strategy made it a symbol of pharmaceutical company greed, said it's undergoing a restructuring as its new CEO attempts to return the debt-laden company to growth and respectability — without big price increases. "We have begun the process to stabilize, turn around and transform Valeant" into a new company over the next several years, Joseph C. Papa, who became chief executive three months ago, said during a conference call to discuss a money-losing second-quarter with results far below Wall Street expectations. (8/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Some Hope, But No Cure For Valeant
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International managed to please its shareholders Tuesday morning. But the company hasn’t put its tumultuous past entirely to rest. Valeant reported second-quarter sales of $2.4 billion and adjusted earnings of $1.40 a share. Both fell short of analyst expectations for the third consecutive quarter. Still, the stock rallied sharply after Valeant reaffirmed its full-year guidance for sales and adjusted profitability metrics and announced a new sale of one of its drugs to raise cash. (Grant, 8/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Valeant Posts A Loss, Says It Will Retool
Just a year after its stock rocketed to an all-time high, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. looks like an entirely different company. About $80 billion of the Canadian drugmaker’s market value has been erased, as has its business model of acquiring drugs and raising their prices. Its former chief executive, Michael Pearson, has departed in favor of Joseph Papa. And on Tuesday as it posted another quarterly loss, the company took steps to transform itself further, saying it would reorganize and sell some noncore assets to reduce its debt load as it works to retrench itself as a conventional pharmaceutical firm. (Steele, 8/9)

The Wall Street Journal: L.I. Pharmacist Found Guilty Of Distributing Black-Market HIV Drugs
A Long Island pharmacist and his company were convicted of charges related to illegally distributing black-market HIV medication, the state attorney general’s office said on Tuesday. A Suffolk County jury on Monday found Ira Gross, 63 years old, guilty of grand larceny, criminal diversion of prescription medication and conspiracy, among other charges. His firm, Chaparral Services Ltd., which prosecutors called a shell company, was found guilty of money laundering and commercial bribing. (Ramey, 8/9)

The Washington Post: Hypertension Is Now More Common In Poor And Middle-Income Countries Than Rich Ones
Middle- and lower-income countries now have a higher rate of hypertension than high-income countries. Worldwide, the prevalence of hypertension is at a record high, according to a new study in the journal Circulation. From 2000 to 2010, the rate of hypertension in middle- and lower-income countries increased by nearly eight percentage points. For higher-income countries in that same time period, it decreased by nearly three percentage points. (Beachum, 8/9)

NPR: Young Inventors Work On Secret Proteins To Thwart Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
Three college-age scientists think they know how to solve a huge problem facing medicine. They think they've found a way to overcome antibiotic resistance. Many of the most powerful antibiotics have lost their efficacy against dangerous bacteria, so finding new antibiotics is a priority. It's too soon to say for sure if the young researchers are right, but if gumption and enthusiasm count for anything, they stand a fighting chance. (Palca, 8/9)

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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