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KHN First Edition: July 8, 2015


First Edition

Wednesday, July 08, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Birth Control Coverage Saves Women Significant Money
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Rovner reports: "Women are saving a lot of money as a result of a health law requirement that insurance cover most forms of prescription contraceptives with no additional out-of-pocket costs, according to a study released Tuesday. But the amount of those savings and the speed with which those savings occurred surprised researchers. The study, in the July issue of the policy journal Health Affairs, found that the average birth control pill user saved $255 in the year after the requirement took effect. The average user of an intrauterine device (IUD) saved $248. Those savings represented a significant percentage of average out-of-pocket costs." (Rovner, 7/7)

Kaiser Health News: Lacking Votes, Calif. Assembly Shelves Aid-In-Dying Bill
KQED's Lisa Aliferis, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Backers of a bill that would have allowed terminally ill Californians to get lethal prescriptions to end their lives shelved the legislation Tuesday morning because they lacked the votes to move it out of a key committee. The End of Life Option Act, had already cleared the state Senate, but faced opposition in the Assembly Health Committee." (Aliferis, 7/7)

Kaiser Health News: Want A Good Laugh? Head To The Hospital
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Susan Jaffe writes: "Every month, a group of older adults goes to Washington, D.C.’s Sibley Memorial Hospital, but they don’t see a doctor or get tests. They’re not sick. They come just for laughs. They gather in a room next to the hospital cafeteria for the 'Laugh Cafe,' one of the activities offered to local seniors, including the 7,300 members of Sibley’s Senior Association. The price of admission is one joke, recited out loud. ... Sibley is one of several hospitals in the Washington area — along with others across the country — offering social activities and other benefits to help seniors stay healthy and out of the hospital, while encouraging them to visit." (Jaffe, 7/8)

The New York Times: Republicans Aim To Hamper Obama’s Policies With Spending Bills
From environmental and work force regulations to health care and contraception, congressional Republicans are using spending bills to try to dismantle President Obama’s policies, setting up a fiscal feud this fall that could lead to a government shutdown. ... The House and Senate appropriations committees are churning out annual spending bills, dropping the bipartisanship that has long characterized the committees. ... In the House, one bill prohibits any federal money from being spent on the Affordable Care Act. Funds for the enforcement of new labor rules would be drastically reduced. The main federal family planning program, Title X, would be eliminated. ... Other bills would block the Food and Drug Administration from reviewing e-cigarette marketing .... A “conscience” rider would let employers in the District of Columbia refuse health insurance coverage for any service on moral grounds, and hire and fire based on women’s use of health services. (Weisman, 7/7)

The New York Times: After Health Care Act, Sharp Drop In Spending On Birth Control
Out-of-pocket spending on most major birth control methods fell sharply in the months after the Affordable Care Act began requiring insurance plans to cover contraception at no cost to women, a new study has found. Spending on the pill, the most popular form of prescription birth control, dropped by about half in the first six months of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, before the mandate took effect. (Tavernise, 7/7)

USA Today: Colo. Won't Fund Birth-Control Initiative Despite Success
A much-heralded Colorado effort credited with significantly reducing teen pregnancy and abortion rates is searching for new funding after GOP lawmakers declined to provide taxpayer dollars to keep it going. Started in 2009 with an anonymous private grant, the state-run Colorado Family Planning Initiative gave free or reduced-price IUDs or implantable birth control to more than 30,000 women. During the period from 2009 to 2013, births to teen mothers dropped by 40% and abortions dropped 35%, the state says. Armed with a national award for excellence, state health officials asked lawmakers this spring to provide $5 million to keep it going but were rebuffed. (Bowerman and Hughes, 7/7)

Los Angeles Times: Heroin Use And Addiction Are Surging In The U.S., CDC Report Says
Heroin use surged over the past decade, and the wave of addiction and overdose is closely related to the nation’s ongoing prescription drug epidemic, federal health officials said Tuesday. A new report says that 2.6 out of every 1,000 U.S. residents 12 and older used heroin in the years 2011 to 2013. That’s a 63% increase in the rate of heroin use since the years 2002 to 2004. (Girion, 7/7)

The Washington Post: Heroin Deaths Have Quadrupled In The Past Decade
Primed by widespread use of prescription opioid pain-killers, heroin addiction and the rate of fatal overdoses have increased rapidly over the past decade, touching parts of society that previously were relatively unscathed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. The death rate from overdoses nearly quadrupled to 2.7 per 100,000 people between 2002 and 2013, CDC Director Tom Frieden said during a telephone news conference Tuesday. (Bernstein, 7/7)

NPR: Heroin Use Surges, Especially Among Women And Whites
Health officials, confronted with a shocking increase in heroin abuse, are developing a clearer picture of who is becoming addicted to this drug and why. The results may surprise you. The biggest surge is among groups that have historically lower rates of heroin abuse: women and white (non-Hispanic) Americans. They tend to be 18-25 years old, with household incomes below $20,000. (Harris, 7/7)

USA Today: Heroin Use Surges, Addicting More Women And Middle-Class
Heroin use is reaching into new communities — addicting more women and middle-class users — as people hooked on prescription painkillers transition to cheaper illegal drugs, a new report shows. The rate of heroin use doubled among women over a decade, according to the study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which compared data from the three-year period between 2002 to 2004 with data from 2011 to 2014. (Szabo, 7/7)

Los Angeles Times: California Aid-In-Dying Bill Shelved For The Year
Stalled by the deep personal beliefs of many lawmakers, a proposal that would allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients in California was sidelined Tuesday. The measure passed the state Senate last month. But on Tuesday, the authors concluded that it did not have enough support to pass the Assembly Health Committee and withdrew it from a scheduled hearing. ... But some opposition to the bill on the committee came from their own party. Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) said the proposal conflicted with beliefs developed when he worked in ambulances as an emergency medical technician. (McGreevy, 7/7)

The Wall Street Journal: California Assisted-Suicide Bill Stalls Under Pressure
A bill that would have made California one of a handful of states to legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill patients was put on hold Tuesday after pressure from a coalition of secular and religious groups. The legislation received a boost in May, when the California Medical Association became the first state medical association to change its position on the issue and dropped its opposition. The state Senate passed the bill in June. ... The measure was opposed by secular and religious groups, including the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles. (Audi and Lazo, 7/7)

The Associated Press: Right-To-Die Advocates Call California Loss A Brief Setback
California dealt the national right-to-die movement a huge blow when legislation allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs stalled, but advocates aren't conceding defeat. ... Lawmakers and aid-in-dying advocates vowed Tuesday they would continue to fight on behalf of the bill and would begin work on placing an initiative on the 2016 ballot as a back-up option. California is seen as one of the best shots at expanding the thin ranks of right-to-die states that includes Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont. (Nirappil, 7/8)

The New York Times: CVS Health Quits U.S. Chamber Over Stance On Smoking
The CVS Health Corporation said on Tuesday that it would resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after revelations that the chamber and its foreign affiliates were undertaking a global lobbying campaign against antismoking laws. CVS, which last year stopped selling tobacco products in its stores, said the lobbying activity ran counter to its mission to improve public health. (Hakim, 7/7)

The Washington Post: CVS Health Leaves U.S. Chamber Of Commerce
CVS, which became the first major drug store to remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from all of its stores last year, said it was "surprised" by reports that the Chamber had lobbied foreign governments to ease restrictions on tobacco sales. "CVS Health’s purpose is to help people on their path to better health, and we fundamentally believe tobacco use is in direct conflict with this purpose," CVS spokesman David Palombi said in a statement. (Bogage, 7/7)

The Wall Street Journal: CVS Health Leaves U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Over Smoking Stance
CVS Health Corp. is quitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, citing conflicting stances with the powerful lobbying group regarding smoking. The second-largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., the Rhode Island pharmacy stopped selling cigarettes and tobacco products last year as it positions itself as a wide-ranging health-care provider rather than a traditional pharmacy dispensing drugs. (Armental, 7/7)

The Associated Press: CVS Leaving US Chamber Of Commerce In Tobacco Tiff
CVS Health is leaving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saying the trade group's position on tobacco products is incompatible with CVS' focus on health. The Chamber of Commerce said its position on tobacco products is being misinterpreted and it's unfortunate that a company is leaving the organization over the issue. (7/7)

The Washington Post: Should You Have To Be 21 To Buy Cigarettes? Most Americans Say Yes.
Three out of every four U.S. adults — including nearly 7 of 10 smokers — favor raising the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21, according to findings released Tuesday by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, the minimum legal age for tobacco use is 18 in most states, 19 in four states — Alaska, Alabama, New Jersey and Utah — and 21 in various municipalities across the country, from Needham, Mass., to New York City. Hawaii is the only state that prohibits the purchase of tobacco products to anyone under 21. (Dennis, 7/7)

The New York Times: F.D.A. Approves Heart Drug Entresto Said To Cut Death Risk By 20%
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a new heart failure drug from Novartis that has been shown to reduce death and hospitalizations from the condition. Excitement has been growing for the drug, known as Entresto, since the results of a large clinical trial were announced nearly a year ago showing a 20 percent reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular causes or hospitalization for worsening heart failure. ... Novartis said Entresto would cost about $12.50 a day, or about $4,500 for a year, with two tablets taken daily. (Pollack, 7/7)

The Associated Press: FDA Approves New Heart Failure Pill From Novartis
Government regulators have approved a new pill from Novartis to treat heart failure, a deadly chronic disease that affects millions of U.S. patients. The Food and Drug Administration approved the combination drug, Entresto, based on studies showing it reduced rates of heart-related death and hospitalization compared with older drugs. More than 5 million Americans and more than 25 million people worldwide have heart failure, a disease that causes the heart to gradually lose its pumping power. (7/7)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Approves Novartis’s Heart Failure Drug
The Food and Drug Administration approved a promising new heart-failure drug from Novartis AG that cardiologists say could potentially improve the lives of millions of patients with the condition. The drug, called Entresto, was studied in a clinical trial of more than 8,000 adults and—in a rare development—reduced the rate of cardiovascular death and hospitalization compared to a standard generic therapy, enalapril. (Burton and Loftus, 7/7)

Los Angeles Times: Family Questions Death Of Son Jailed With Mentally Unsound Cellmate
The family of a 19-year-old robbery suspect who is believed to have been killed by his cellmate in a San Bernardino County jail is asking why a young man with developmental disabilities was being housed with an accused murderer who was showing signs of mental incompetence. Rashad Davis of Pomona died of blunt force injuries in May after he was found unresponsive on the floor of a cell he shared with Jeremiah Ajani Bell, 22, at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. Bell was in jail, charged with beating a man to death with a baseball bat in what police described as a hate crime. Authorities said Bell had been looking to attack anyone who wasn't black. (Esquivel, 7/8)

The Wall Street Journal: Cancer Nonprofit Investigated By Tennessee Secretary Of State’s Office
The Tennessee secretary of state’s office is investigating a cancer nonprofit with family ties to four other charities that were sued in May by the federal government on allegations they bilked donors of $187 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. The group being investigated, the American Association for Cancer Support Inc., of Knoxville, is headed by Jula Connatser, wife of Lance Connatser, the former stepson of James Reynolds Sr. Mr. Reynolds was named by the Federal Trade Commission, 50 states and the District of Columbia in their May 18 complaint as a family patriarch overseeing a web of four sham charities based in Knoxville. (McWhirter, 7/7)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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