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KHN First Edition: October 4, 2016


First Edition

Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: When Pretend Play Is Real For Alzheimer’s Patients
Kaiser Health News staff writer Anna Gorman reports: "Nursing homes and other senior facilities nationwide are using a controversial technique called doll therapy to ease anxiety among their residents with dementia. Senior care providers and experts say the dolls are an alternative to medication and help draw in elderly people who are no longer able to participate in many activities. ... Caregivers aren’t trying to make their charges believe the dolls are real infants, and they don’t want to infantilize the seniors, Drew said. They are just “trying to meet them where they are and communicate with them in a way that makes sense to them.” (Gorman,10/4)

Kaiser Health News: Health Law Targets Women’s Preventive Services, But It Offers Help To Men, Too
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "The drafters of the health law paid special attention to women’s preventive health needs, creating additional recommendations targeted specifically at them. This was done in part to address recognized gaps in women’s services, especially in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, said Adam Sonfield, senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy organization." (Andrews, 10/4)

Politico: Obamacare’s Millennial Problem
The 18- to 34-year-olds who helped elect Barack Obama could consign his signature domestic policy achievement to failure. That’s because not enough millennials have signed up for Obamacare to make it work well. Despite repeated outreach — including entreaties from all manner of celebrities, including NBA stars and Obama himself — young people make up less than 30 percent of Obamacare customers. The White House had set a goal of 40 percent in that age bracket to sustain a healthy marketplace because millennials tend to be healthier and, therefore, balance the costs of sicker, older customers. (Pradhan and Demko, 10/4)

The Washington Post: Maryland’s ACA Health Co-Op Will Switch To For-Profit To Save Itself
Evergreen Health, Maryland’s version of the innovative nonprofit insurers created under the Affordable Care Act, decided Monday to become a for-profit company to avoid the possibility of a shutdown, according to its chief executive. If the switch is approved as expected by federal and state officials, Evergreen’s unprecedented move will leave standing only five of the 23 co-ops, or Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, which started nearly three years ago. (Goldstein, 10/3)

The Associated Press: Trump Angers With Suggestion That Vets With PTSD Are Weak
Donald Trump is drawing scorn from veterans' groups after he suggested that soldiers who suffer from mental health issues might not be as strong as those who don't.Trump was speaking at an event organized by the Retired American Warriors political action committee Monday when he was asked about his commitment to faith-based programs aimed at preventing suicides and helping soldiers suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other issues. (10/3)

The Washington Post: Trump Suggests Military Members With Mental Health Issues Aren’t ‘Strong’ And ‘Can’t Handle It’
"When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat, they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over. And you're strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can't handle it," the Republican presidential nominee told an audience of military veterans at an event in Northern Virginia on Monday morning. "And they see horror stories, they see events that you couldn’t see in a movie — nobody would believe it." Mental health advocates have been trying for decades to destigmatize depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other issues in hopes of empowering people to not be afraid to seek medical help. The stigma surrounding mental health has been especially difficult to fight in the military, where many service members think that they should handle these issues on their own and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Suicide has become an epidemic among veterans, and more than 20 end their lives each day. (Sullivan and Johnson, 10/3)

Politico: Trump Appears To Suggest Veterans With PTSD Are Not 'Strong'
The real estate mogul called for more assistance with veterans’ mental health, noting that “it’s one of the things that I think is least addressed” but also “one of the things that I hear the most about when I go around and talk to the veterans.” “So we’re gonna have a very, very robust — very, very robust — level of performance having to do with mental health. We are losing so many great people that can be taken care of if they had proper care,” Trump continued. (McCaskill, 10/3)

Los Angeles Times: Biden Says Trump 'Completely Uninformed' On Mental Health Of Combat Vets. Veteran Calls Trump 'Thoughtful'
Vice President Joe Biden called Donald Trump “completely uninformed” about war veterans' mental health on Monday after Trump told a military group that they were strong but others “can’t handle” post-combat stress. Biden’s comments came as the Trump campaign said the Republican nominee’s remarks in Virginia on Monday morning were taken out of context by critics. (Finnegan, 10/3)

USA Today: Trump PTSD Comments Spark Emotional Debate
Critics took exception to Trump's portrayal of the victims of PTSD as being people who "can't handle" the things they saw in war, in contrast to the room of veterans he was addressing, who are "strong" and who "can handle it." (Cummings, 10/3)

Politico: Not Your Father's GOP: Ayotte Campaign Hands Out Condoms
Forget bumper stickers. Kelly Ayotte’s latest campaign swag is condoms. The New Hampshire Republican’s campaign is distributing free condoms to publicize her plan to get birth control sold over the counter and to push back against Democratic arguments that she opposes Planned Parenthood and contraception. “As part of Kelly’s commitment to making birth control available over the counter, please take a free condom,” said a poster spotted at the University of New Hampshire campaign table over the weekend. “Use Condom Sense!” (Haberkorn, 10/3)

Los Angeles Times: With $1.1 Billion In New Funding, U.S. Health Officials Outline Plan For Fighting Zika
The nation’s top health officials on Monday laid out their plans for spending $1.1 billion in newly appropriated federal funds to combat the threat posed by the Zika virus. At the same time, they vented frustration at Congress for taking so long to make the money available as the virus spread to more than 25,000 people in U.S. states and territories, including 3,600 on the mainland. (Healy, 10/3)

The Washington Post: Despite New Zika Funds, States Might Not Get Any For Months
Newly approved Zika funding isn't likely to reach states and localities for several more months because of the federal goverment's budgeting process, health officials said Monday. After months of partisan feuding, Congress last week approved a budget bill that includes $1.1 billion to fight the Zika crisis. That's just over half the total emergency money that President Obama requested in February. Although local and state health officials have been eagerly awaiting assistance, funds aren't likely to be flowing right away. (Sun, 10/3)

The Associated Press: Survey: Doctors' Political Views May Affect Patient Care
Politics in the exam room? A new study suggests patient care may vary depending on whether the doctor is a Democrat or a Republican — at least when it comes to some hot-button health issues like firearm safety. Health care has long drawn partisan political fights, like state laws surrounding abortion, or Florida's law restricting doctors from discussing guns with patients. But there's been little research on the doctor-patient side of those controversies. Can physicians leave their own political ideology at the door during something as simple as a checkup? (10/3)

The Washington Post: Democratic And Republican Doctors Treat Patients Differently
Participants were asked to evaluate nine hypothetical scenarios they might face with patients. With each vignette, they were asked to evaluate how concerned they’d be about the issue and how likely they’d be to engage in a list of potential treatment options. The scenarios covered everything from a patient who had regular sexual contact with sex workers to one who commutes to work by motorcycle but doesn’t wear a helmet. The responses showed clear differences between providers identified independently as Democrats or Republicans when it came to politically charged issues. For example, Republicans were most concerned about scenarios that included multiple prior abortions and marijuana use. Democrats were most concerned about firearm access and patients who had sexual relationships with sex workers. (Blakemore, 10/3)

The Wall Street Journal: House Committee Taps Mylan For More Information On EpiPen Price Figures
A U.S. House committee sent a letter to Mylan NV demanding a fuller explanation of why the company omitted key information that it used to calculate the profit figure for the lifesaving EpiPen drug that its chief executive provided during a congressional hearing last month. ... House committee leaders, in a letter to Ms. Bresch dated Sept. 30 and released Monday, said her testimony “omitted key tax assumptions that affect the company’s profit per pack.” They said the omission ”raises questions.” (Loftus, 10/3)

The Washington Post: The Worrisome Reason Why Cancer Patients Aren’t Using This Lifesaving Medicine
A surprising number of older cancer patients are delaying use of lifesaving leukemia drugs for months after they're diagnosed, likely because of the high initial cost under Medicare, according to a new study. The rare chronic myeloid leukemia has become a kind of aspirational gold standard among treatable cancers, with a variety of drugs that allow patients to live near-normal lifespans, including the blockbuster drug Gleevec. (Johnson, 10/4)

NPR: Medicare Encourages People To Try Dialysis At Home
About half a million Americans need dialysis, which cleans toxins from the body when the kidneys can't anymore. It can cost more than $50,000 a year, and takes hours each week at a dialysis center. To meet the need, roughly 7,000 kidney dialysis centers have opened across the country. Patients go several times a week and spend half a day undergoing the life-sustaining procedure. Medicare is now taking steps to make it easier for people to do their own dialysis at home. (Whitney, 10/4)

The Associated Press: Could Drug Checking Have Prevented Prince's Overdose Death?
As the investigation into Prince's death homes in on the source of the fatal fentanyl, some observers are suggesting that the United States explore a lifesaving strategy used in Europe: services that check addicts' drug supplies to see if they are safe. In Spain, the Netherlands and a handful of other countries, users voluntarily turn in drug samples for chemical analysis and are alerted if dangerous additives are found. The pragmatic approach saves lives, proponents say. (10/4)

The Associated Press: Hospital Chain To Pay $513 Million To Settle Kickback Claims
Texas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. and two of its Atlanta subsidiaries have agreed to pay more than $513 million to resolve criminal and civil claims accusing the chain of paying kickbacks to steer pregnant Medicaid patients to their hospitals. Under a settlement announced Monday, the Tenet subsidiaries that previously operated Atlanta Medical Center and North Fulton Medical Center agreed to plead guilty in federal court to conspiracy to defraud the government, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. (10/3)

The Wall Street Journal: Tenet Healthcare To Pay $514 Million To Settle Kickback Allegations
Under the settlement, which must be approved by a court, two Tenet subsidiaries will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate federal kickback laws, the company said. The agreement settles a criminal investigation and civil litigation regarding allegations that four Tenet hospitals paid kickbacks for referrals of low-income patients from an operator of prenatal clinics. (Evans, 10/3)

The Wall Street Journal: Long Island’s Nassau University Medical Center Opens New Primary-Care Unit
Long Island’s Nassau University Medical Center is ready to open a new $19 million primary-care unit Tuesday as it looks to trim unnecessary visits to its bursting emergency room. The public hospital in the Nassau County community of East Meadow, N.Y., has about 100,000 emergency-room visits every year. Officials say the primary-care center, with its 55 treatment rooms, could cut emergency-room visits by 25%. (de Avila, 10/3)

The Washington Post: Transgender Boy’s Mom Sues Hospital, Saying He ‘Went Into Spiral’ After Staff Called Him A Girl
Just shy of his 15th birthday and the promise of testosterone treatments to help make him a man, Kyler Prescott was dead. Overcome with anxiety and depression, the Southern California teen committed suicide in May 2015, his mother said. In the weeks before his death, Kyler had been treated for “suicidal ideation,” Katharine Prescott said: She had taken him to the emergency room at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, which has a Gender Management Clinic to treat children with gender dysphoria and other related issues. (Bever, 10/3)

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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