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KHN First Edition: August 17, 2016


First Edition

Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Medical Providers Try Uber, Lyft For Patients With Few Transportation Options
Zhai Yun Tan, for Kaiser Health News, reports: "For people without access to private transportation, getting to medical appointments can be a challenge, especially if they have chronic conditions that require frequent appointments. Some hospitals and medical providers think that the hot-new technology in town — ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft — can address this problem by making the trips easier and, in some cases, it is even covered by Medicaid and other insurance plans. Partnerships between ride-hailing companies and hospitals are emerging around the country. While the efforts are still small, some hospitals and medical transportation providers think the potential for growth is large. (Tan, 8/17)

California Healthline: Sacramento Court Helps Kids By Healing Parents’ Addictions
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold reports: "Parents who receive addiction treatment are much more likely to get their kids back, but four in five parents fail to complete their treatment regimen. The Early Intervention Family Drug Court in Sacramento aims to change that by helping parents complete treatment before their children enter the foster care system. If they fail, they’ll be sent next door to a formal family drug court, where their children are taken away and given attorneys of their own. But before that, the parents get this opportunity to enter recovery, through a mix of support, medication-assisted treatment and tough love." (Gold, 8/17)

The Associated Press: Insurers Continue To Abandon ACA Exchanges, Limiting Choice
Aetna will abandon Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges next year in more than two-thirds of the counties where it now sells the coverage, the latest in a string of defections by big insurers that will limit customer choice in many markets. Dwindling insurer participation is becoming a concern, especially for rural markets, in part because competition is supposed to help control insurance price hikes, and many carriers have already announced plans to seek increases of around 10 percent or more for 2017. (8/16)

USA Today: Aetna's Exit Deals Blow To Obamacare, Patients
Health insurer Aetna announced late Monday that it is dropping Obamacare insurance in 69% of the counties and 11 of 15 states where it currently offers plans. ... Here's what that means for patients, insurers, the ACA and the company's fight with the government over its effort to acquire Humana. (Bomey, 8/16)

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Setback Becomes Campaign Fodder
The decision by the nation’s third-largest health insurer to pull out of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges in nearly a dozen states is a double whammy to President Barack Obama’s signature health law, increasing financial strains on the program while dragging the debate over its merits into the presidential campaign. Republicans opposed to the law immediately pointed to  Aetna Inc.’s decision, which followed similar moves by other major insurers, as evidence that the law isn’t working as intended and sought to rally voters. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign labeled the Aetna move a sign that “this broken law…is slowly imploding under its regulatory red tape.” (Armour and Wilde Mathews, 8/16)

The Wall Street Journal: To Sanders, Aetna’s Pull-Back From Affordable Care Act Markets Shows Need For Overhaul
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who mounted a strong challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Tuesday that news that a major health insurer was pulling back its participation in the Affordable Care Act exchanges affirms the need for his single-payer, government-run program. He promised to introduce legislation creating “Medicare for all” again next year. This week, Aetna Inc. said it will withdraw from 11 of the 15 states where it currently offers plans, the latest major national insurer to sharply pull back its participation. (Meckler, 8/16)

The Wall Street Journal: Fed Survey: Obamacare Causing Companies To Cut Jobs
Many companies are cutting jobs in response to rising health care costs spurred by the Affordable Care Act, according to a new survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Roughly one-fifth of service sector and manufacturing company executives said they are reducing the number of workers in response to provisions in the healthcare law, according to the Empire State Manufacturing Survey and the Business Leaders Survey. The New York fed surveyed about 100 executives in the manufacturing sector and roughly 150 executives in the services sector located in New York State, Northern New Jersey and Fairfield County, Connecticut earlier this month. (Monga, 8/16)

The Wall Street Journal: SEC Pursues Companies For Restricting Whistleblowers
The Securities and Exchange Commission continued its boosting of whistleblowers on Tuesday, penalizing another company for restricting the rights of outgoing employees. Insurance provider Health Net Inc., the SEC said, violated securities law by taking away the ability to file applications for whistleblower awards from departing employees who wanted to receive severance payments. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Health Net agreed to pay a $340,000 penalty, the SEC said. Representatives for the company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. (Rubenfeld, 8/16)

Los Angeles Times: Health Net Tried To Block Employee Whistleblowers, SEC Says
For years, insurance provider Health Net Inc. used illegal severance agreements to try to keep departing employees from talking to state and federal officials about company violations, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday. The Woodland Hills company agreed to pay a $340,000 penalty to settle the SEC’s allegations. It also agreed to contact former employees who had signed the severance agreements between Aug.12, 2011, and Oct. 22, 2015, and inform them that they were not prohibited from blowing the whistle about potential securities violations. (sen, 8/16)

The Washington Post: The Abortion Rights Movement Is Bolder Than It’s Been In Years. That’s Cecile Richards’s Plan.
On the morning of one of the most important days in her career, Cecile Richards waited anxiously in her office at Planned Parenthood headquarters in Manhattan, texting furiously with friends across the country. A few minutes past 10 a.m., a message from her daughter flashed across the screen. A single word: Yay! “That was when I knew we’d won,” Richards says, recalling the moment when she learned of the decision in the biggest abortion-related case to come before the Supreme Court in more than two decades. In a 5-to-3 vote, the justices had ruled that Texas’s restrictions on abortion clinics placed an “undue burden” on women seeking to end their pregnancies. (Gibson, 8/16)

The Washington Post: Michael Bromberg, Leading Health-Insurance Lobbyist, Dies At 78
Michael Bromberg, a leading health-care lobbyist who battled the Clinton White House over health-care reform and for more than four decades played an influential if rarely acknowledged role behind the scenes of Washington policymaking, died Aug. 12 at his home in Manhattan. He was 78.The cause was leukemia, said a daughter, Melissa Fass. Mr. Bromberg, whom The Washington Post once called the “dean of Washington health lobbyists,” was known for being tough but resolutely pragmatic. He cultivated friends in both major political parties over dinners at his then home in the city’s Kalorama neighborhood. (Smith, 8/16)

The New York Times: Osteoporosis, A Disease With Few Treatment Options, May Soon Have One More
A large clinical trial of a new osteoporosis drug found that it stimulates bone growth and prevents fractures at least as well as the only other such drug on the market. The new drug, expected to win approval from federal regulators, would offer another much-needed treatment for some of the 10 million Americans, 80 percent of them women, who have a disease that weakens bones and often leads to years of pain, disability and early death. Experts agree that new drugs are urgently needed for this debilitating disease. (Kolata, 8/16)

The Washington Post: New Virtual Reality Fitness Apps Aim To Make Exercise Less Tedious
This year, high-end virtual reality headsets such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have finally hit the market, putting immersive multimedia in the hands of consumers. While the industry has focused primarily on gaming and entertainment, a handful of start-ups are choosing a different route: fitness and medical applications of VR. This month, the Virtual Reality LA Summer Expo 2016 boasted more than 6,000 attendees who crowded the halls of the downtown Los Angeles Convention Center throughout the two-day convention. (Kim, 8/16)

The Wall Street Journal: Medicating Children With ADHD Keeps Them Safer
While some bumps and scares are inevitable for active guys like him, serious misadventures with long-lasting repercussions are often par for the course for a subset of them—those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. But a new article suggests that early medication can significantly cut the odds of bad things happening later. ... Indeed, accidents are the most common cause of death in individuals with ADHD, with one 2015 study of over 710,000 Danish children finding that 10- to 12-year-olds with ADHD were far more likely to be injured than other children their age. Drug treatment made a big difference, however, nearly halving the number of emergency room visits by children with ADHD. (Pinker, 8/16)

The Associated Press: Kentucky AG Sues Johnson & Johnson Over Vaginal Implants
The Kentucky Attorney General announced Tuesday that he’s seeking thousands of dollars in damages for each patient in the state who got a vaginal mesh implant made by Johnson and Johnson and its medical device unit, accusing the companies of conducting a deceptive marketing campaign. Attorney General Andy Beshear is accusing the company of concealing and mispresenting to doctors and patients many of the associated risks. The plastic mesh is used to treat pelvic organ prolapse, a condition involving the shifting of organs such as the bladder, bowel and uterus, often after childbirth, a hysterectomy or menopause. (8/16)

The Associated Press: Court Bars Feds From Prosecuting Medical Pot Cases
A federal appeals court on Tuesday banned the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana cases if no state laws were broken. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the federal agency to show that 10 pending cases in California and Washington state violated medical marijuana laws in those states before continuing with prosecutions. (8/16)

The Associated Press: Owners Of Diagnostic Firms That Falsified Reports Get Prison
The married owners of two mobile diagnostic testing companies who knowingly produced thousands of fraudulent medical test reports have received lengthy prison terms. Federal prosecutors say Nita Patel received a 6 ½-year sentence Tuesday, while Kirtish Patel was sentenced to more than eight years. They must pay more than $4.8 million in restitution.The Rockaway couple pleaded guilty in November to health care fraud related to their Parsippany, New Jersey-based companies, Biosound Medical Services and Heart Solution PC. (8/16)

The Washington Post: Man Dies After Being Shot By Fairfax Deputy In Confrontation Outside Hospital
Sheriff’s deputies normally guard the jail in Fairfax County, but when a call crackled over the radio Monday night about a man wielding a weapon at an INOVA Fairfax Hospital bus stop, a veteran deputy nearby hurried to the scene, police said. The 29-year-old man had struck a security guard with a metal sign post and appeared to be in the throes of a mental health episode, so the deputy tried to calm him, police said. (Jouvenal and Hedgpeth, 8/16)

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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