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KHN First Edition: September 26, 2016


First Edition

Monday, September 26, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: It’s In The Water: The Debate Over Fluoridation Lives On
Zhai Yun Tan, for Kaiser Health News, reports: "Many people take for granted the addition of fluoride into public drinking water systems that aims to prevent tooth decay. It’s a seven-decade-old public health effort. But it’s not nearly as universally accepted as one might think. At least seven cities or towns across the country debated it just this summer." (Tan, 9/26)

Kaiser Health News: Election Buzz: A Look At Brain Science As 5 States Vote On Legalizing Pot
WBUR's Martha Bebinger, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: "Five states — California, Arizona, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts — are voting this fall on whether marijuana should be legal for recreational use. That has sparked questions about what we know — and don’t know — about marijuana’s effect on the brain. Research is scarce. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug. That classification puts up barriers to conducting research on it." (Bebinger, 9/26)

California Healthline: Tobacco Tax Ballot Measure Would Fund Health Care For California’s Poor
At first blush, the tobacco tax measure on California’s November ballot looks pretty straightforward. Proposition 56 would raise the price of a pack of cigarettes by $2 and tax e-cigarettes for the first time. Proponents say the higher price would prevent kids from smoking and lower health care spending because people won’t suffer as much from tobacco-related illness.What’s not spelled out is how exactly money raised through the measure would be spent. (Bartolone, 9/23)

The Washington Post's Fact Checker: Trump’s Claim That Obama Is Trying To ‘Delay’ Obamacare Enrollment Until After The Election
This is one of Trump’s go-to lines about premium increases under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. He warns of premium increases of 40, 50, 60 percent — and alleges that the Obama administration is trying to delay open enrollment, scheduled for Nov. 1, until after the election because the drastic rate hikes will be “election-defying.” Are his claims accurate? (Lee, 9/26)

The Wall Street Journal: The Revolution In EMS Care
There’s a revolution taking place in emergency medical services, and for many, it could be life changing. From the increasingly sophisticated equipment they carry and the new lifesaving techniques they use, to the changing roles they play in some communities—providing preventive care and monitoring patients at home—ambulance crews today are hardly recognizable from their origins as “horizontal taxicabs.” (Landro, 9/25)

The Wall Street Journal: Medical Record Mix-Ups A Common Problem, Study Finds
A patient in cardiac arrest was mistakenly not resuscitated because clinicians confused him with a patient who had a do-not-resuscitate order on file. Another patient was given an okay to undergo surgery based on a different patient’s records and was found dead in his hospital room the next day. Such patient-identification mix-ups are common and can have deadly consequences, according to a report from the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit research group that studies patient safety. (Beck, 9/25)

USA Today/Cincinnati Enquirer: Some Insurers Thwart Efforts To Use Medication Treatment For Addiction
Krista Sizemore's brain was crying out for heroin. But she knew she was pregnant. She knew her baby needed her to stay safe. She knew what could happen if she used again. ... But when Sizemore tried to get help from a top addiction doctor in Northern Kentucky, the insurance blocked the first attempt. ... During a nationwide epidemic in which one American dies every 19 minutes from opioid or heroin overdose, addiction doctors say insurance barriers to medication that can save lives are instead putting them at risk for death. (DeMio and O'Donnell, 9/25)

NPR: Carfentanil Overdoses Put Strain On Cincinnati
Jamie Landrum has been a police officer for two years in District 3 on the west side of the Cincinnati. In late August, the city was hit by 174 overdoses in six days. Landrum says officers were scarce. "We were literally going from one heroin overdose, and then being on that one, and hearing someone come over [the radio] and say, 'I have no more officers left,' " Landrum says. Three more people overdosed soon after that. (Harper, 9/25)

The Washington Post: ‘Heartbreaking’ Video Captures Toddler Trying To Wake Mother After Apparent Overdose
The terrified toddler in the pink pajamas prods, pulls and cries, but she is powerless to wake her mother. The 36-year-old mother, identified by news outlets as Mandy McGowen, lies unconscious in the toy aisle of a Lawrence, Mass., Family Dollar store, after an apparent drug overdose, police said. Even for law enforcement veterans such as Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick, the dramatic video shot by a store employee Sunday is hard to watch. (Holley, 9/24)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Approves Amgen’s Biosimilar Version Of Humira
U.S. regulators approved Amgen Inc.’s copy of the AbbVie Inc.’s anti-inflammatory treatment, Humira, which was the second-biggest selling drug in 2015. Amgen’s drug, known as Amjevita, is only the fourth so-called biosimilar—which are copies of complex biotech medicines—approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Biosimilars were authorized as part of the federal health-care overhaul to reduce spending on such biotech drugs, much like generics have cut the costs of pills. (Minaya, 9/23)

NPR: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Drug: Did FDA Make The Right Call?
When 15-year-old Billy Ellsworth stepped up to the microphone at a Food and Drug Administration public meeting in April, he had no way to know he was part of a historic shift in how the government considers the desires of patients and their advocates in evaluating new drugs. Ellsworth has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a muscle-wasting disease, that mainly affects boys. And he was taking an experimental drug that the FDA was trying to decide whether to approve. (Harris, 9/24)

The New York Times: The Doctor Is In. In Your House, That Is. 
Remember when doctors made house calls? While only a relative handful of doctors still offer them, there is growing evidence that comprehensive home medical care could be a viable alternative to the attendant woes and soaring expenses of institutional health services, particularly for those in late retirement. (Wasik, 9/23)

The New York Times: As Their Numbers Grow, Home Care Aides Are Stuck At $10.11
The analysts at P.H.I., a nonprofit research and consulting group, sift through federal data each year to see how the nation’s swelling corps of home care workers is faring. That’s how we know that the aides who care for disabled people and older adults in their homes — helping them bathe and dress, preparing their meals, doing laundry and housekeeping — earned a national median of $10.21 an hour in 2005, adjusted for inflation. (Span, 9/23)

The New York Times: Whistle-Blower Suit Accuses Visiting Nurse Service Of Fraud
The Visiting Nurse Service of New York, one of the largest nonprofit home health care agencies in the United States, likes to highlight a lineage going back to its founder, Lillian Wald, who began nursing the poorest immigrant New Yorkers in their homes in 1893. Whatever its outcome, a federal whistle-blower lawsuit served on the agency on Thursday showcases how far today’s billion-dollar entity has come from its early days, when Ms. Wald’s visiting nurses charged a dime, or nothing at all, for their services. (Bernstein, 9/23)

The Wall Street Journal: New Nuclear-Imaging Tests Show Promise In Locating Cancer
Cancer cells remain elusive and tough to locate, but a new crop of nuclear-imaging tests promises to lead to more accurate prognosis and treatment.  The tests use imaging agents that combine radioactive isotopes with targeted molecules that can spot cancer at the cellular level. The ability to accurately locate the cancers helps physicians make better and earlier diagnoses—and may eventually make possible targeted nuclear-medicine therapies that identify and kill cancer cells, but not the surrounding healthy cells. (Or, 9/25)

The New York Times: What Obese Patients Should Say To Doctors
The 37-year-old woman began to weep as she told her story to Dr. Michael L. Parks. Her job required her to be on her feet all day, Dr. Parks recalled, and she was in constant pain from knee arthritis. She had seen an orthopedic surgeon, hoping to discuss knee replacement, but he dismissed her complaints, telling her she was too fat and should just go on a diet. (Kolata, 9/25)

NPR: Could A Cheap, Simple Medication Head Off A Heart Attack?
When Harry Selker was working as a cardiologist in the 1970s, clot-busting drugs were showing great promise against heart attacks. But their life-saving properties were very time sensitive. "If you give it within the first hour it has a 47 percent reduction of mortality; if you wait another hour, it has a 28 percent reduction; another hour, 23 percent. And people were taking about 90 minutes to make that decision," he recalls. "So they were losing the opportunity to save patients' lives." (Rath, 9/23)

NPR: Concussions May Increase The Risk Of PTSD
There's growing evidence that a physical injury to the brain can make people susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies of troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have found that service members who suffer a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury are far more likely to develop PTSD, a condition that can cause flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety for years after a traumatic event. (Hamilton, 9/26)

The Washington Post: Hey, Siri, Am I Drunk?
Are you sober enough to drive? The familiar way to test levels of blood alcohol (without actually drawing blood) is with breathalyzers. They are used by police trying to identify drunk drivers and in ignition-locking devices designed to prevent intoxicated people from starting a car. But breath analysis can be distorted by such factors as ambient humidity and the use of mouthwash. Research has shown that sweat might provide a more reliably accurate medium. (Szokan, 9/23)

The Washington Post: Some Cities Are Taking Another Look At LED Lighting After AMA Warning
If people are sleepless in Seattle, it may not be only because they have broken hearts. The American Medical Association issued a warning in June that high-intensity LED streetlights — such as those in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and elsewhere — emit unseen blue light that can disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. (Ollove, 9/25)

Los Angeles Times: Got Kidney Stones? Try Riding A Roller Coaster To Dislodge Them
Just ask any one of the 300,000 Americans who, in any given year, develop kidney stones: What if the excruciating pain of passing one of those little devils could be prevented by strapping yourself into a make-believe runaway mine train, throwing your hands in the air and enduring G-forces as high as 2.5 for about three minutes? Would you do it? (Healy, 9/26)

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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