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KHN First Edition: October 7, 2016


First Edition

Friday, October 07, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Got Zika? For Pregnant Women, Lab Constraints Mean It’s Often Hard To Know
Shefali Luthra reports: "Houston-based Legacy Community Health Services, a federally qualified health center, is trying hard to fight the Zika virus. It’s screening pregnant women and following federal guidelines to test people at risk.But despite best efforts, there’s a problem, says Legacy’s chief medical officer, Dr. Ann Barnes. Women who could be infected usually have to wait as long as a month to know if their pregnancy is at risk. That’s the turnaround time from the state public health lab, where blood samples are sent for testing." (Luthra, 10/7)

California Healthline: Everything You Wanted To Know About Your Health Plan (But Were Afraid To Ask)
Ana B. Ibarra reports: "It can be well worth the effort to go up against your health plan if it denies you treatment you think you need. That’s just one of the many lessons consumers can glean by using a new online tool unveiled today by the Department of Managed Health Care. It shows that last year, nearly two-thirds of Anthem Blue Cross enrollees who filed an appeal with the department to challenge a denial of-care ended up getting the medical services they requested." (Ibarra, 10/6)

Kaiser Health News: Rehab For Addiction Usually Lasts 28 Days. But Why?
WITF's Ben Allen reports: "A month’s stay is typical for people who go to an inpatient facility to treat drug or alcohol addiction. But why? “As far as I know, there’s nothing magical about 28 days,” said Kimberly Johnson, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMHSA, the federal agency that studies treatment services." (Allen, 10/7)

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Is No Disaster. California Is Proving Why
Even as turmoil in insurance markets nationwide fuels renewed election-year attacks on the Affordable Care Act, California is emerging as a clear illustration of what the law can achieve. The state has recorded some of the nation’s most dramatic gains in health coverage since 2013 while building a competitive insurance marketplace that offers consumers enhanced protections from high medical bills. (Levey, 10/7)

The Wall Street Journal: Molina Outperforms Rivals In ACA Marketplaces
When Elizabeth Wolfe switched her insurance to Molina Healthcare Inc. earlier this year, her coverage changed dramatically. She had to stop going to her old doctors because they didn’t accept Molina. Her new health-maintenance-organization plan didn’t include some of the highest-profile hospitals in the Los Angeles area, where she lives. Losing her old doctors and switching to a no-frills clinic “was a big concern, but when we had to make the first premium payment, we got over that quickly,” she says. (Wilde Mathews, 10/6)

The Associated Press: Delawareans Facing Higher Premiums Under Affordable Care Act
Delawareans are again facing steep price increases for health insurance next year under the Affordable Care Act. Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart has approved an average rate increase of 32.5 percent in the individual market for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, which has the vast majority of the individual market share in Delaware. That follows an average premium increase of 22.4 percent for individual Highmark plans this year. (Chase, 10/6)

The Washington Post: Veterans Affairs Will Begin Covering IVF And Adoption Costs For Wounded Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs will begin covering costs for in vitro fertilization and adoptions for combat-wounded veterans struggling with infertility because of their injuries, giving thousands of young veteran families fresh hope at starting a family, advocates say. President Obama signed a bill last week that allows the agency to pay the costs for the next two years from existing VA health-care funds. The provision was authored by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who said she is also pushing to fund the services permanently. (Wax-Thibodeaux, 10/6)

Los Angeles Times: Los Angeles County Now Plans To Require Hospitals To Report Superbug Infections
Los Angeles County plans to require hospitals to begin reporting when patients are infected with a certain superbug so lethal that it can kill half its victims, health officials said Thursday. Unlike two dozen other states, California has not required hospitals to report when patients are sickened with the lethal bacteria, which federal officials warn is one of the nation’s most urgent health threats. (sen, 10/6)

The Associated Press: NY Auditors Cite Progress Limiting Medicaid Drug Payments
New York's comptroller says state health officials have installed measures to block Medicaid payments to pharmacies providing narcotics and other controlled substances that exceed legal limits. Following up on a February 2015 audit report, the comptroller's office says the health department has since instituted controls that resulted in denying about $3.3 million in claims through July. (10/7)

Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. Lawmakers To Investigate Funding Of WHO Cancer Agency
Officials from the U.S. government's health research agency are to be questioned by a congressional committee about why taxpayers are funding a World Health Organization cancer agency facing criticism over how it classifies carcinogens. An aide to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform told Reuters that National Institutes of Health officials have agreed to give an in-person briefing to the committee after questions were raised by lawmakers over its grants to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a semi-autonomous part of the WHO based in Lyon, France. (Kelland, 10/6)

NPR: Beyond Mammograms, Screening Choices Are Far From Clear
Mammography can prevent deaths from breast cancer, but it's not a perfect test. It misses some cancers, especially in women with dense breast tissue, and flags abnormalities for follow-up tests that turn out to be benign, among other issues. So there's a lot of interest in additional tests that might make screening more accurate in women who have dense breasts. (Hobson, 10/7)

The Associated Press: California Tightens Rule On Popular Pesticide, Citing Health
California will tighten rules on how much farmers can use a common pesticide listed by the nation's most productive agricultural state as a chemical known to cause cancer, regulators said Thursday. The change doesn't ban the pesticide Telone but creates a uniform rule for its application each year. The rule is drawing criticism from farmers who call it a key way to fight pests and fear the crackdown could lead to rising food prices. (10/6)

NPR: What Makes Teenagers Impulsive May Also Help Them Learn
The teenage brain has been characterized as a risk-taking machine, looking for quick rewards and thrills instead of acting responsibly. But these behaviors could actually make teens better than adults at certain kinds of learning. "In neuroscience, we tend to think that if healthy brains act in a certain way, there should be a reason for it," says Juliet Davidow, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University in the Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab and the lead author of the study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Neuron. (Ross, 10/6)

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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