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KHN First Edition: October 13, 2016


First Edition

Thursday, October 13, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Exercise, Even In Small Doses, Offers Tremendous Benefits For Senior Citizens
Judith Graham reports: "Retaining the ability to get up and about easily — to walk across a parking lot, climb a set of stairs, rise from a chair and maintain balance — is an under-appreciated component of good health in later life. When mobility is compromised, older adults are more likely to lose their independence, become isolated, feel depressed, live in nursing homes and die earlier than people who don’t have difficulty moving around." (Graham, 10/13)

Politico: Democratic Governor: Obamacare 'No Longer Affordable' For Many
Gov. Mark Dayton's criticism comes as his state faces massive rate hikes and shrinking competition in its Obamacare insurance marketplace next year. Dayton's comments also come almost a week after Donald Trump and Republicans seized on former president Bill Clinton's remarks lamenting Obamacare's affordability problems. (Pradhan, 10/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Humana Sees Potential Fallout From Lower Medicare Star-Rating Report
Humana Inc. on Wednesday indicated that a downgrade in a key Medicare quality measure could lower its federal reimbursements, but the insurer said the poor grade wasn’t a fair indication of how its business is faring. The company boosted its per share earnings guidance for its September quarter and current year. Still, shares in the company tumbled 5% on Thursday to close at $168.44. (Steele, 10/12)

The Wall Street Journal: These Health Insurance Mergers Aren’t Alike
Investors have taken a dim view of two big pending health insurance mergers. But the two deals are starting to diverge, which could give investors an opportunity. More than a year ago, four of the five largest private insurers agreed to mergers, which would consolidate the industry into three giants. The euphoria, which drove share prices to new heights, was short-lived. The Justice Department sued to block the two deals—between Aetna and Humana and Anthem and Cigna. (Grant, 10/12)

The Washington Post: Henry Waxman Isn’t Done Fighting With Drug Companies
Henry Waxman spent four decades in Congress relentlessly going after drug companies for what he charged was their profit-padding. The California Democrat left Capitol Hill in 2015, but he hasn’t given up battling big pharma. Waxman is now working as a lobbyist for hospitals and medical clinics to protect a drug discount program, known as 340B, that he helped create 24 years ago. He is urging federal regulators to resist calls by the drug industry’s leading trade group to put new restrictions on the program, which was designed to help hospitals better treat poor patients by requiring drug makers to offer medicines at a steep discount. (Ho, 10/12)

The Associated Press: Obama Cites Hispanic Gains In Health, Education At Reception
President Barack Obama is recounting progress he says Hispanics have made over the course of his presidency and that he’s optimistic about future gains despite some of the rhetoric heard during election season. Obama is speaking to hundreds of people attending a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month at the White House. He says that during his presidency 4 million Hispanics have gained health insurance coverage. (10/12)

The New York Times: Zenefits, A Rocket That Fell To Earth, Tries To Launch Again
Trying to turn around a failing technology company is almost always a futile task — just ask Marissa Mayer at Yahoo or whoever it is who now runs BlackBerry. But the challenge becomes even more daunting if your company is afflicted by something deeper than a mere implosion of its business. If the company you’re rebuilding has been racked by questions about its ethics and culture, and if on some fundamental level it became derelict in its integrity, well, good luck trying to get that turkey to fly. (Manjoo, 10/12)

NPR: A Key Tool Of Medical Research May Be Tainted By Corporate Interests
When doctors want to help untangle confusing and sometimes contradictory findings in the scientific literature, they often turn to specially crafted summary studies. These are considered the gold standard for evidence. But one of the leading advocates for this practice is now raising alarm about them, because they are increasingly being tainted by commercial interests. (Harris, 10/12)

The Associated Press: DEA Opts Against Ban On Plant Some Call Opioid Alternative
The Drug Enforcement Administration has reversed a plan to temporarily ban a plant that some users suggest could be an alternative to powerful and addictive opioid painkillers. In a notice set to be published Thursday in the Federal Register Thursday, the agency said it was withdrawing its plan to add two psychoactive components of the plant, known as kratom, to the list of the most dangerous drugs. (Caldwell, 10/12)

NPR: Kratom Spared DEA Schedule I Status — For Now
It's been a wild ride for kratom lately. Since Aug. 31, when the Drug Enforcement Administration announced its intention to classify the plant as a Schedule I substance, a group of kratom vendors filed a lawsuit against the government to block the move, angry advocates took to social media in protest and scientists questioned whether they would be able to continue kratom research. Now, the DEA is withdrawing its notice of intent to put kratom in the most restrictive category of controlled substances, with drugs like LSD and heroin. (Silverman, 10/12)

Los Angeles Times: Majority Of Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer After Screening Mammograms Get Unnecessary Treatment, Study Finds
More than half of breast cancers newly diagnosed in the United States are likely cases of mistaken identity that subject women to needless anxiety, treatment and expense, researchers reported Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study also found that the value of mammograms as a life-saving tool has been significantly overstated. Instead, the introduction of more effective treatments should get most of the credit for improving survival rates among women diagnosed with breast cancer, the researchers concluded. (Healy, 10/12)

Los Angeles Times: Cosmic Radiation May Leave Astronauts With Long-Term Cases Of ‘Space Brain,’ Study Says
This is your brain in space — and it does not look pretty. Scientists studying the effects of radiation in rodents say that astronauts’ exposure to galactic cosmic rays could face a host of cognitive problems, including chronic dementia. The UC Irvine-led study, published in Scientific Reports, adds to a growing body of research on the harmful effects humans may reckon with as they venture out longer and deeper into space, whether on trips to Mars or potentially beyond. (Khan, 10/12)

The New York Times: How Exercise May Turn White Fat Into Brown
Exercise may aid in weight control and help to fend off diabetes by improving the ability of fat cells to burn calories, a new study reports. It may do this in part by boosting levels of a hormone called irisin, which is produced during exercise and which may help to turn ordinary white fat into much more metabolically active brown fat, the findings suggest. (Reynolds, 10/12)

The Associated Press: Judge Affirms Delaware Has Reformed Mental Health System
A federal judge has released the state of Delaware from a 2011 settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, affirming that the state has reformed its public mental health system. Local news organizations report that U.S. District Court judge Leonard P. Stark signed the order Tuesday after the DOJ and the state filed a motion to dismiss the settlement agreement. (10/12)

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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