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KHN First Edition: October 26, 2016


First Edition

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Terminally Ill Patients Don’t Use Aid-In-Dying Laws To Relieve Pain
Liz Szabo reports: "Supporters of “death with dignity” have succeeded in legalizing medical aid-in-dying in five states by convincing voters, lawmakers and courts that terminally ill patients have the right to die without suffering intractable pain in their final days or weeks.When Gov. Jerry Brown signed California’s law in 2015, he said: “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain” and that it would be a “comfort to consider the options afforded by this bill.” (Szabo, 10/26)

Kaiser Health News: Colorado Wrestles With Ethics Of Aid-In-Dying As Vote Looms
Colorado Public Radio's John Daley reports: "Last spring, everything changed for Matt Larson. “One day I was fine. The next I was being rushed by ambulance to Denver Health following two very massive and violent seizures,” said Larson. The force of the seizures, from the sheer shaking, fractured and dislocated his shoulders and snapped two bones in his back. Soon, his doctors had life-altering test results to share with him. “They came back and shut the door and said ‘you have mass on your brain,’ which was tough to hear,” said Larson, who lives in Denver." (Daley, 10/26)

Kaiser Health News: States See Peer-Recovery Coaches As A Way To Break The Addiction Epidemic
Shefali Luthra reports: "Dustin French, 29, had four drug overdoses in the span of a year. “I was dead on arrival to the hospital,” he said of his last heroin overdose, which happened in April. “I woke up … and I didn’t feel like myself. I could tell this time I was really dead.” Now, he says, he’s 100 days clean. He lives with his girlfriend. And he has three sons: an 8-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old. He credits his turnaround to a relationship he launched in the emergency department with a “peer recovery specialist” — someone who had herself struggled with addiction." (Luthra, 10/26)

The New York Times: Seizing On Rising Costs, Trump Says Health Law Is ‘Over’
Donald J. Trump, desperate for a winning political issue in the final two weeks of the presidential race, fiercely attacked Hillary Clinton on Tuesday over sharp premium increases that will hit some Americans covered under the Affordable Care Act. “The rates are going through the sky,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Sanford, Fla., referring to double-digit increases in battleground states like North Carolina and Iowa. (Healy and Goodnough, 10/25)

The Associated Press: Trump, GOP Look To 'Obamacare' Report As Comeback Lifeline
Suddenly armed with fresh political ammunition, Donald Trump and anxious Republicans across the nation seized on spiking health care costs Tuesday in a final-days effort to spark election momentum. The Republican presidential nominee, trekking across must-win Florida, insisted "Obamacare is just blowing up" after the government projected sharp cost increases for President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Democrat Hillary Clinton, fighting to block Trump in the same battleground state, has vowed to preserve insurance for the millions of Americans covered under the law, but her team described the cost surge as a "big concern." (10/25)

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Coverage Confusion As Trump Attacks ‘Horrible’ Obamacare
David Feder, Trump Doral’s general manager, said after Mr. Trump’s event that the resort provides health insurance coverage to nearly all of the resort’s 1,200 employees. “There really isn’t a need for the vast majority of our employees to purchase Obamacare,” Mr. Feder said. Mr. Feder said he was not certain what Mr. Trump meant when he said the Affordable Care Act was causing problems for Trump employees. “I wouldn’t say he’s incorrect,” Mr. Feder said. “I would tell you that the only employees I know who may purchase Obamacare are typically part-timers. Again, they’re not full-time employees, so they wouldn’t be eligible for the benefits, and typically in corporate America that’s the way it is.” (Epstein, 10/25)

Politico: Trump, GOP Rediscover Familiar Campaign Foe: Obamacare
Spiking premiums aren’t exactly an October surprise, and their impact this election cycle is hardly a foregone conclusion. News about larger premium increases for 2017 has been dribbling out for months, ahead of the start of the law’s fourth enrollment season, which begins Nov. 1. And most Americans will be unaffected by the big rate increases: Less than 10 percent of Americans purchase coverage through the individual market, and millions of people receive Obamacare subsidies to lower their monthly premiums. (Demko and Pradhan, 10/25)

The Washington Post: Trump, Clinton Spar Over Obamacare; Campaign Ends Big-Ticket Fundraisers
At three events across Florida, Trump claimed that the Affordable Care Act was “blowing up” and vowed he would introduce legislation on his first day in office to replace it. “Repealing Obamacare and stopping Hillary’s health-care takeover is one of the single most important reasons that we must win on Nov. 8,” Trump declared at a rally here. He decried the “politicians who rammed this monster down our throats and said: “Hillary Clinton wants to keep it. She wants to spend a fortune on it. ... She wants to double-down on Obamacare and make it even more expensive and worse.” (Sullivan, Gold and Wagner, 10/25)

The Washington Post: Parsing Donald Trump’s Confused, Confusing Explanation Of Why He Doesn’t ‘Use’ Obamacare
In February, Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity that his employees “don't have to worry about Obamacare.” Why? “I treat them really good with health care,” he said. “It's a very important thing.” This makes more sense than saying that all of his employees are having “tremendous problems.” Obamacare is not an insurance program; it is a federal policy that encourages universal health-care coverage by providing a system (the federal or state exchanges) for individuals to get insurance if they are unemployed or their employers don't provide coverage — and by taxing individuals who forgo coverage. To ensure affordability, the government subsidizes those who enroll under one of the exchanges, assuming they're at a certain income level. If Trump's employees were having these tremendous problems with Obamacare, it would mean that they were not receiving coverage through Trump, which he'd said they do. (Bump, 10/25)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Candidates Seize On Premium Increases In Affordable Care Act
Sharp premium increases for coverage under the Affordable Care Act are giving Republican candidates from the top of the ticket down a shared cudgel in the home stretch of the campaign. In recent weeks, many state regulators have been publishing steep increases from market leaders for insurance sold through, which offers plans for people in three dozen states who don’t have coverage through an employer or government program such as Medicare. (Radnofsky and Epstein, 10/25)

The Washington Post: Obamacare Premium Hikes Could Be Good News For Republicans. But Just How Good?
It was ostensibly the news that Senate and House Republicans had been waiting for: Two weeks before Election Day, we get word that the average premium for Obamacare health plans sold through — the one Republicans have been railing against for six years now — is going to spike by roughly 25 percent, as much as triple 2016 rates. And congressional Republicans were ready. The day the premiums for the Affordable Care Act were announced, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was out with an ad lambasting his opponent for supporting the law. (Phillips, 10/25)

Politico: Clinton: Health Care Costs Would 'Skyrocket' Under Trump
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday conceded that many Americans are seeing their premiums go up under Obamacare. But the Democratic nominee cautioned against scrapping the Affordable Care Act, and said health care costs would "skyrocket" under a President Trump. (Griffiths, 10/25)

The Associated Press: Q&A: New Sign-Up Season; New Woes For Obama Health Law
President Barack Obama is leaving the White House in a few months, but the troubles of his signature health care law continue to make headlines. With premiums rising by double digits and many consumers scrambling to replace coverage because their insurer bailed out, the 2017 sign-up season that starts Nov. 1 looks challenging. Obama says it's just "growing pains" but critics see the threat of market collapse, a death spiral. Here are some questions and answers for consumers ahead of the law's fourth open enrollment season. (10/26)

The Washington Post: Why Employees Feel So Pinched By Health-Care Costs
The growth in employees’ share of health-care premiums and deductibles has slowed over the past decade, but their incomes have lagged behind, according to a new study. The slower increase in premiums reflects a nationwide trend in health expenses. But the shift hasn’t felt like a reprieve to many people because the growth of deductibles hasn’t abated as much and their incomes haven’t kept up. (Johnson, 10/26)

The Associated Press: Universal Health Care Experiment A Tough Sell In Colorado
The closing days of the push to make Colorado the nation's first state with universal health care are showing why supporters face such steep odds. Most voters have already received ballots in the mail and endured a long campaign to explain the measure, but huge questions remained at a meeting this week in suburban Denver to examine the proposal: How much is this really going to cost? Who would decide what my health care would look like? And what if it all ends in failure? (10/25)

NPR: Guiding The Chan Zuckerberg $3B Effort To Cure All Diseases
Cori Bargmann's new job description includes "to help cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century." That's quite a lofty goal. Bargmann is a neuroscientist and president of science for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the joint venture of pediatrician Priscilla Chan and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. The couple pledged $3 billion to solve major medical problems by helping scientists and engineers collaborate long term, over 25, 50, even 80 years. (10/25)

Los Angeles Times: Too Many Mothers Stop Breastfeeding Too Soon, And Task Force Says Doctors Should Change That
Too many mothers stop breastfeeding their babies too soon, and a panel of experts says doctors, nurses and other health professionals should do more to change that. In light of the “convincing evidence that breastfeeding provides substantial health benefits for children,” primary care providers should discuss breastfeeding with women when they are pregnant, when they are in the hospital to give birth, and after they have gone home with their newborns, according to new guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (Kaplan, 10/25)

NPR: Lunasin Put To The Test For Lou Gehrig's Disease
Researchers have launched an innovative medical experiment that's designed to provide quick answers while meeting the needs of patients, rather than drug companies. Traditional studies can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and can take many years. But patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease don't have the time to wait. This progressive muscle-wasting disease is usually fatal within a few years. (Harris, 10/25)

The Washington Post: The Startling Rise In Oral Cancer In Men, And What It Says About Our Changing Sexual Habits
Oral cancer is on the rise in American men, with health insurance claims for the condition jumping 61 percent from 2011 to 2015, according to a new analysis. The most dramatic increases were in throat cancer and tongue cancer, and the data show that claims were nearly three times as common in men as in women during that same period with a split of 74 percent to 26 percent. The startling numbers — published in a report on Tuesday by FAIR Health an independent nonprofit — are based on a database of more than 21 billion privately billed medical and dental claims. They illustrate both the cascading effect of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the United States and our changing sexual practices. (Cha, 10/25)

Los Angeles Times: STD Rates In California Are The Highest They've Been In 25 Years
National health officials sounded the alarm last week about a troubling rise in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis rates, with cases reaching an all-time high in 2015. Now health officials say the picture is even worse in California, where sexually transmitted disease rates are higher than the national average and climbing even faster. “Cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are going up in California at a concerning rate,” Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health, said Tuesday. “This is the second year in a row that we have seen increases in all three diseases.” (Karlamangla, 10/25)

Los Angeles Times: Hospital Agrees To Pay $450,000 To L.A. To Settle Homeless Patient Dumping Lawsuit
Two years after it dumped a homeless woman on skid row with no identification and wearing only paper pajamas, a Hawaiian Gardens hospital has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Los Angeles, the city attorney’s office announced. City Atty. Mike Feuer sued Gardens Regional Hospital & Medical Center last year after the woman, identified in the suit as Jane Roe to protect her privacy, was dropped off by a hospital van in 2014. She was found wandering the streets and eventually ended up in front of Union Rescue Mission. (Serna, 10/25)

The Washington Post: Heading A Soccer Ball Causes Instant Brain Changes, Study Finds
Routine heading of a soccer ball can cause damage to brain structure and function, according to a new study from the United Kingdom that is the first to detect direct neurological changes by impacts too minor to cause a concussion. The research, published this week in EBioMedicine, studied brain changes among amateur players, ages 19 to 25, who headed machine-projected soccer balls at speeds modeling a typical practice. Though the results seen were temporary, they trigger questions about possible cumulative damage done over time. (Nutt, 10/25)

The Washington Post: Canadian Woman Killed Eight Nursing Home Patients In Her Care, Police Say
For seven years, Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer worked as a nurse in southwestern Ontario, moving between long-term care facilities to tend to the elderly and vulnerable. ... It’s a job that sees death often, one that ushers ailing minds and failing bodies through their final months. Which could explain why nobody noticed when at least eight residents in Wettlaufer’s care died during that seven year period. They were all in their later years, between ages 75 and 96. (Mettler, 10/26)

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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