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KHN First Edition: October 12, 2016


First Edition

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Hospitals Say They’re Being Slammed By Drug Price Hikes
Sydney Lupkin reports: "Hospitals are getting slammed by drug price hikes that often have nothing to do with improving patient health, a new report has found. Inpatient drug spending increased by 23.4 percent annually from 2013 to 2015, compared with 9.9 percent annual increases on retail drug spending during the same period, according to a new report by National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, which was commissioned by the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals. Spending was driven by increases in drug unit prices rather than an increase in the volume of drugs used, they found." (Lupkin, 10/11)

Kaiser Health News: How Tiny Are Benefits From Many Tests And Pills? Researchers Paint A Picture
Jay Hancock reports: "Mammograms are said to cut the risk of dying from breast cancer by as much as 20 percent, which sounds like an invincible argument for regular screening. Two Maryland researchers want people to question that kind of thinking. They want patients to reexamine the usefulness of cancer exams, cholesterol tests, osteoporosis pills, MRI scans and many other routinely prescribed procedures and medicines." (Hancock, 10/12)

Kaiser Health News: 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 last week 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, 10/12)

The Associated Press: Hospital Industry Says It, Too, Is Slammed By Drug Costs
Hospitals, too, are getting slammed by sharp price increases in prescription drugs, and the industry is urging the next president and Congress to take up the issue. Consumer groups and insurers were already complaining loudly about drug costs. Now hospitals are turning up the volume as well, leaving the pharmaceutical industry more politically isolated. (10/11)

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Trump’s Claim About Canadians Traveling To The United States For Medical Care
During the health-care policy portion of the debate, Trump attacked Hillary Clinton’s health-care plan and said it would end up in a “disaster, somewhat similar to Canada.” He called the Canadian health-care system “catastrophic,” and said that in “many cases,” Canadians are coming to the United States to receive operations because their system is so slow. We checked out whether this was accurate. (Lee, 10/11)

The Wall Street Journal: Employers Shift Higher Health-Care Costs To Workers
Open enrollment season is under way, and when workers get their health-plan information, many of them can expect higher out-of-pocket costs. As employers cope with rising health costs, some are shifting more of the burden onto their workers, often in the form of health insurance plans that carry high deductibles. To help rein in expenses, businesses also will ask their employees to take part in cost-cutting drug programs and use new services that provide Skype-like video consultations with doctors, according to several studies tracking employer health care. (Silverman, 10/11)

The Associated Press: Justices Won't Hear Dispute Over Access To Health Records
The Supreme Court won't hear a dispute between West Virginia health officials and a patient advocacy group over access to medical records. The justices on Tuesday let stand a state court ruling that said federal laws protecting health record privacy don't prevent Legal Aid of West Virginia from reviewing patient files at the state's two psychiatric hospitals. (10/11)

Politico: Two Years Later, Few Hobby Lobby Copycats Emerge
Obamacare supporters warned two years ago that if the Supreme Court allowed the owners of Hobby Lobby craft stores to eliminate birth control coverage because of their religious beliefs, others would rush to follow — and not just to eliminate contraceptives, but also, potentially, treatments like blood transfusions and vaccines. Those fears haven’t been borne out. (Haberkorn, 10/11)

The New York Times: W.H.O. Urges Tax On Sugary Drinks To Fight Obesity
The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged countries to impose a tax on sugary drinks to battle the growing obesity epidemic and presented new data on the beneficial health effects of such a tax. A tax on sugary beverages raising their price 20 percent would result in a proportionate reduction in their consumption, the agency said. That would advance the fight against obesity, which has more than doubled since 1980. About half a billion adults were obese in 2014, roughly 11 percent of men and 15 percent of women. (Tavernise, 10/11)

Los Angeles Times: World Health Officials Want Super-Size Tax On Soda And Sugary Drinks, But Are Countries Ready To Swallow That?
The World Health Organization is backing a controversial remedy to reverse the global rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes — a 20% to 50% soda tax. The recommended tax should not be limited to soda, the WHO said Tuesday. It should apply to all sugar-sweetened beverages, a category that includes sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit punch, sweetened iced tea, vitamin waters and lemonade. (Kaplan, 10/11)

The Wall Street Journal: IBM Offering U.S. Employees Watson Technology To Identify Cancer Treatments
Navigating the labyrinth of cancer treatments can be so disorienting for patients that International Business Machines Corp. is enlisting its powerful supercomputer Watson to help. The computing giant today says it will offer its Watson artificial intelligence software to its U.S. employees to help them identify appropriate treatments and options for clinical trials. The benefit will be available beginning early next year to employees and their families who are covered under several of the company’s insurance plans. (Silverman, 10/11)

The Washington Post: Cautionary Tale Of 4-Year-Old Autistic Boy Rushed To ER After Treatment With Supplements
If you search for the words “autism” and “treatment” online, you'll find all kinds of suggestions outside of accepted medical practice for how to try to minimize or even cure the symptoms. Some of those ideas can be dangerous. Doctors recently described what happened to a 4-year-old boy who showed up in the emergency room after having been sick for three weeks. He was throwing up, had lost his appetite, was constipated and extremely thirsty, and had lost more than 6.5 pounds in two weeks. (Cha, 10/11)

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Care REITs Back Off Nursing
Senior housing, medical-office buildings and hospitals all have generated big gains for commercial-real-estate investors in recent years, but skilled-nursing facilities have gotten short shrift. A revenue squeeze stemming from a change in medical billing practices suggests that corner of the health-care sector could continue to face pressure. (Fung, 10/11)

The Washington Post: Anti-Tobacco Bills Advance In District, Would Raise Age To Buy Cigarettes To 21
The D.C. Council on Tuesday advanced a package of anti-tobacco bills that would increase the minimum age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21 and restrict the public use of tobacco products. The bills would extend the same restrictions against cigarette smoking in restaurants, schools and public buildings to electronic cigarettes. It would also ban chewing tobacco at sport facilities, including Nationals Park. (Nirappil, 10/11)

NPR: Colorado Ponders Ethics Of Vote To Legalize Aid-In-Dying
Last spring everything changed for Denver resident Matt Larson. "One day I was fine," says Larson. "The next I was being rushed by ambulance to Denver Health following two very massive and violent seizures. "The force of the seizures, from the sheer shaking, fractured and dislocated his shoulders and snapped two bones in his back. Soon his providers had life-altering test results. "They came back and shut the door and said 'you have mass on your brain,' which was tough to hear," says Larson. (Daley, 10/11)

The Associated Press: NY Agency Has No Record Of Required Referrals Of Abuse Cases
New York's oversight agency for the disabled has no record of forwarding abuse or neglect reports to the state Medicaid inspector general, a legally required step that's a key part of cracking down on problem facilities. Such reports are vital to protecting the more than 120,000 disabled people in state care because the inspector general's office has the power to cut off Medicaid funding to troubled facilities to force them to change their ways. (10/12)

The Associated Press: Abortion Doctor Charged With Manslaughter In Woman’s Death
A doctor accused of botching a woman’s abortion has been charged with manslaughter in her death, which came hours after she left his New York City office seeming disoriented, prosecutors said Tuesday. Dr. Robert Rho pleaded not guilty in the 30-year-old woman’s death. His lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, called the death tragic, but not criminal. (10/11)

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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