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KHN First Edition: October 5, 2016


First Edition

Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Pricey New Treatment Roils Issues Of How To Treat Prostate Cancer
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "Men hoping to avoid some side effects of prostate cancer treatment are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a procedure whose long-term effects are unknown and insurers, including Medicare, won’t pay for. Proponents say high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) can have fewer negative side effects than surgery or radiation, while giving some patients another option between actively watching their cancer and those more aggressive steps. Critics, however, say the procedure is being oversold, leading some patients to get a treatment they don’t need." (Appleby, 10/5)

Kaiser Health News: Can We Conquer All Diseases By The End Of The Century?
Kaiser Health News staff writer Anna Gorman reports: "The goal is lofty and expansive: to cure, prevent or manage all known diseases by the end of the century. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, announced last month that they planned to invest $3 billion over 10 years to begin tackling everything from Alzheimer’s disease to the Zika virus. ... To learn more about Chan Zuckerberg Science, we talked to Cori Bargmann, a neurobiologist and professor at The Rockefeller University, who was named president of the organization." (Gorman, 10/5)

California Healthline: Covered California Resolves Pregnancy Snafu
California Healthline staff writer Emily Bazar reports: "Covered California has fixed its computer system to prevent pregnant women in a certain income range from being transferred into Medi-Cal without their knowledge or consent.The fix comes nearly a year after the problem began.Between October 2015 and May of this year, about 2,000 pregnant women were automatically dropped from their Covered California plans and placed into Medi-Cal, even though they had the right to stay with the state insurance exchange." (Bazar, 10/5)

Kaiser Health News: Would California’s Proposed Tobacco Tax Hike Reduce Smoking?
KQED's April Dembosky, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: "Each time over the past decade or so that New York state increased its tobacco tax — now at $4.35 per pack of cigarettes — calls to the state’s Quitline spiked. And as high as the state tobacco tax went, in New York City, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg hiked the tax even more. “I was so angry with him, I could hardly afford it,” says Elizabeth Lane, a Harlem resident who paid $12 a pack. “I had to beg, borrow and steal to get money to buy cigarettes.” (Dembosky, 10/5)

The Associated Press: Millions Leaving Government Insurance Money On The Table?
Millions of Americans who bought individual health insurance outside the Affordable Care Act's public exchanges may be leaving money on the table if they skip those marketplaces again in picking 2017 coverage, a new report says. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 2.5 million people who bought so-called off-exchange coverage for this year might have income levels that qualify them for tax credits to help pay the premium. (10/4)

USA Today: About 2.5 Million People Missing Out On Obamacare Tax Credits
About 2.5 million people are missing out on tax credits to lower the cost of their insurance, because they are buying health insurance plans off the federal and state health care exchanges, federal regulators said Tuesday. Those earning between 100 and 400% of the federal poverty level —  up to $100,000 for a family of four — are eligible for tax credits that lower the cost of their insurance premiums. People who make less than 100% of the poverty level were supposed to be eligible for Medicaid under Obamacare, but nearly 20 states have opted against expanding the program. (O'Donnell, 10/4)

The Associated Press: US Government OKs Dismantling Kentucky Health Exchange
Federal officials have approved Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's plan to dismantle the state health exchange. The exchange, known as kynect, was launched in 2013 and has been a way for Kentucky residents to shop for health insurance or enroll in Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. After Nov. 1, people in Kentucky will use the federal health exchange to find coverage. (10/4)

Politico: Hillary Clinton Cleans Up Bill's Comments On Obamacare
Hillary Clinton sought to clean up after her husband who on Monday night referred to Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, as a “crazy system.” “I think he made it clear what he was saying,” Clinton told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, when asked about her husband's remarks. “With respect to the Affordable Care Act, I’ve been saying that we need to fix what’s broken and keep what works.” (Griffiths, 10/4)

The Associated Press: After Riff, Bill Clinton Reaffirms Health-Care Law Support
Bill Clinton tried to avoid muddling his message again as he campaigned for his wife in battleground Ohio a day after he described President Barack Obama's health care law and the resulting insurance markets as "the craziest thing in the world." This time, Bill Clinton only briefly mentioned health care in multiple appearances Tuesday in eastern Ohio, clearly stating his support for the law and arguing that more still must be done to expand access to insurance. (10/4)

Politico: Bill Clinton Firmly Declares His Support For Obamacare
Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday evening firmly declared his support for the Affordable Care Act, after causing a dust-up by referring to some of the effects of President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement as “the craziest thing in the world." “I want to say this one thing about the healthcare law, because that’s another thing they’ve been trying to tangle in — I supported the Affordable Care Act. I support it today,” he said while campaigning for his wife in Steubenville, Ohio on Tuesday. (Saba, 10/4)

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Seize On Bill Clinton’s Comments On Health System
Republicans on Tuesday jumped on Bill Clinton’s reference to some of the gaps in the U.S. health system as an acknowledgment of shortcomings in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The former president and husband of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was speaking in Flint, Mich., on Monday, when he noted that while the current system works fine for lower-income people, and while 25 million more people now have health coverage, other people are seeing their premiums doubled and coverage cut in half. (Armour, 10/4)

Los Angeles Times: Donald Trump's PTSD Comments Are 'Ignorant' And 'Harmful,' Hillary Clinton Says
Hillary Clinton sharply criticized Donald Trump for his comments on military veterans and post-tramautic stress, which have drawn criticism for his suggestion that "strong" veterans don't have to worry about the disorder."Donald Trump's comments are not just ignorant, they're harmful," she said, raising concerns that such remarks increase the stigma surrounding mental health. (Megerian, 10/4)

The Washington Post: Democrats Pounce On Trump’s Comments About The Military And PTSD
Democrats on Tuesday seized on comments Donald Trump made suggesting that military members and veterans with mental health issues are not “strong” and “can’t handle it,” remarks they said render him out of touch and unfit to be commander in chief. The Republican presidential nominee, speaking to a group of veterans in Virginia on Monday, said that some troops see things in combat that “a lot of folks in the room” have seen many times. “And you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it,” Trump said. (Zezima, 10/4)

Politico: Pence Exaggerates Clinton And Kaine’s Obamacare Position
Both Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine support building on the Affordable Care Act but neither supports a government-run single-payer health care system. Single-payer was actually a contentious subject between Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary, because the latter made single-payer a central piece of his platform while Clinton said such a plan was not realistic. (Pradhan, 10/4)

The Washington Post: How Do Pence And Kaine Agree On Abortion?
The question came at the very end of the debate: How have you grappled with your faith and public life? Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, spoke about being opposed to the death penalty but allowing it to go forward in his state. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, his Republican rival, discussed his opposition to abortion — which has been one of the defining issues of his political career. (Zezima, 10/4)

The Wall Street Journal: Phoenix VA Hospital Continues To Err In Patient Care, Watchdog Says
The Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix continued to commit scheduling errors leading to delays and lack of care, more than two years after a major scandal involving patient wait times, according to the department’s watchdog. Employees at the Phoenix VA Health Care System during 2015 improperly canceled or delayed hundreds of specialty-care consults, many times because they simply didn’t know proper scheduling procedures or failed to contact patients, oversights that could have led to the death of at least one patient, according to a report released Tuesday by the department’s Office of Inspector General. (Kesling, 10/4)

The New York Times: Flint Hit With Bacterial Illness As Residents Shun City Water
Residents of Flint, Mich., affected by the contaminated-water crisis have added a new complication to their lives: an outbreak of shigellosis, a bacterial illness that is easily transmitted when people do not wash their hands. Health department officials in Genesee County, where Flint is the largest city, said there has been an increase in the gastrointestinal illness, which can lead to severe diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps and stools containing blood and mucus, according to a statement issued last month. (Hauser, 10/4)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Warns On Hepatitis C Drugs
The Food and Drug Administration is warning about the risk of reactivation of hepatitis B among patients who have had that disease and who are taking some prominent and expensive newer medicines for hepatitis C. The federal agency said it is requiring a so-called black-box warning in the labels for at least nine brand-name direct-acting antiviral drugs, including Sovaldi and Harvoni from Gilead Sciences Inc., Viekira Pak from AbbVie Inc. and Zepatier from Merck & Co. (Burton, 10/4)

The Wall Street Journal: AstraZeneca’s Blood-Thinning Drug Fails A Trial, Dealing Blow To Drugmaker
AstraZeneca PLC cut its sales target for prescription blood-thinning medicine Brilinta after it failed to show a benefit over standard treatment in peripheral artery disease in a large clinical trial. The U.K.-based drugmaker said Tuesday that Brilinta was no better than generic blood-thinner clopidogrel at reducing heart problems in people with peripheral artery disease, a condition in which a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood flow to the leg muscles. (Roland, 10/4)

The Wall Street Journal: Antitobacco Groups Sue FDA To Require Graphic Warning Labels On Cigarette Packs
Antitobacco groups on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to push the agency to try again to require graphic warning labels on cigarettes. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, urges the court to force the FDA to abide by the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Under the law, the agency was required to issue rules by late 2011 for color graphics on cigarettes that depict the harms of smoking. (Mickle, 10/4)

The Wall Street Journal: Group Calls For More Steps To Curb Use Of Antibiotics In Livestock
U.S. food regulators need to take further steps to curb antibiotics use in livestock to maintain the drugs’ ability to defend human health, according to an advocacy group. By early next year, animal drugmakers have agreed to abide by U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines to stop using antibiotics used in human medicine to help livestock and poultry gain weight faster. Some antibiotics had been used for that purpose on farms for decades, alongside treating and preventing disease. (Bunge, 10/4)

The Associated Press: Minnesota Nurses, Allina Health Ready To Negotiate Again
The union that represents thousands of nurses who are on strike in Minnesota said Tuesday it is ready to return to the bargaining table after rejecting Allina Health’s latest contract offer. Minnesota Nurses Association spokesman Rick Fuentes said no date has been set to resume negotiations, but that he anticipates it will be soon. (10/4)

The Washington Post: Assisted Suicide Legislation Faces Key Vote In D.C. Council
Legislation that would allow doctors to help terminally ill District residents end their lives will face a crucial Wednesday vote before the D.C. Council. Advocates for physician-assisted suicide are hopeful that the nation’s capital will be the next jurisdiction where patients facing agonizing deaths will have the option to legally end their lives, and the first since California’s governor signed similar legislation exactly one year ago. (Nirappil, 10/4)

The Associated Press: Woman Who Opted For RV Trip Over Cancer Treatment Dies At 91
A Michigan woman who decided to take a cross-country RV trip instead of undergoing cancer treatment has died at the age of 91. More than 400,000 people have followed Norma Jean Bauerschmidt’s journey with her son and daughter-in-law on her “Driving Miss Norma” Facebook page. Her final stop was San Juan Island, Washington, located in the northwest corner of the United States. (10/4)

The Washington Post: She Needed Treatment To Save Her Life. Instead, She Chose To Live It.
In 2015, Norma Bauerschmidt sat in a doctor's office. Her husband, Leo, had recently died. And Bauerschmidt, of Michigan, was now facing a medical issue of her own; doctors had discovered a large mass, according to a Facebook post. Her daughter-in-law, Ramie Liddle, said in a phone interview that the diagnosis was uterine cancer. But as Bauerschmidt sat in the office, ostensibly to go over the possible course of treatment — surgery, chemotherapy, those kinds of procedures — she told the doctor that she would have none of it. (Larimer, 10/4)

The Washington Post: This 8-Year-Old Is Free Of Cancer — For Now — After A ‘Breakthrough’ Treatment
By the time 8-year-old Ava Christianson got to the National Institutes of Health this summer, she had lost several grueling rounds to leukemia and was bracing for the next one. Intensive chemotherapy, which cures up to 90 percent of children with the most common type of leukemia, hadn’t kept her cancer from coming back. Neither had a painful bone-marrow transplant nor an experimental treatment. Her careworn father cried in the shower to hide his anguish. Her mother couldn’t help but wonder, “Why is this happening to our child?” (McGinley, 10/4)

The Associated Press: Broken Federal System Threatens Elderly Patients’ Safety
A common event that can force someone out of a nursing home involves disputes over money, particularly the finer details of two government health insurance programs for the elderly, Medicare and Medicaid. This difference between the two, consumer advocates say, can give nursing home operators an incentive to discharge patients when the more generous Medicare benefit expires. (Eisenberg, 10/4)

The Associated Press: Why Do People End U

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