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KHN First Edition: December 1, 2016


First Edition

Thursday, December 01, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Health Law’s Test Kitchen For Payment Reforms Could Offer Tool For GOP Ideas
Julie Appleby reports: "Joint replacements. Cardiac care. Chemotherapy. What do those things have to do with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act? Economists and policymakers think the U.S. may be overpaying for such services, which helps drive up health care expenses for everyone. And the health law has a program that includes testing new ways to pay for care — including in those three areas — that might result in better quality and lower costs." (Appleby, 12/1)

Kaiser Health News: Some GOP Voters Skittish On Full Repeal, Poll Finds
Jordan Rau reports: "With their party gaining control of both the White House and Congress, some Republican voters are growing hesitant about outright abolition of the Affordable Care Act and instead favoring a more circumspect approach of scaling it back, according to a poll released Thursday." (Rau, 12/1)

Kaiser Health News: Slowing Down Hospital Discharge Requires Fast Action
Judith Graham reports: "The old man slept quietly as his daughter sat by his hospital bed. Suddenly, an aide walked in and announced that a move was imminent. “Your time here is up,” Bonnie Miller Rubin remembers the aide explaining. “He’s going to a nursing home.” It was 9 p.m., and Rubin’s 91-year-old father had been asleep for several hours. “I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Rubin recalled. (Graham, 12/1)

The New York Times: House Overwhelmingly Approves Sweeping Health Measure
The House overwhelmingly passed a far-reaching measure on Wednesday to increase funding for research into cancer and other diseases, address weaknesses in the nation’s mental health systems and help combat the prescription drug addictions that have bedeviled nearly every state. The bill, known as the 21st Century Cures Act, also makes regulatory changes for drugs and medical devices, which critics argue lower standards to potentially perilous levels. (Steinhauer and Tavernise, 11/30)

The Associated Press: House OKs Bill Bolstering Medical Research, Drug Approvals
The compromise, which envisions spending $6.3 billion over the next decade, was condemned by consumer groups and some Democrats as a present to drugmakers that promised only paltry spending increases for underfunded federal programs. But their objections were overwhelmed by an alliance among Republicans, many Democrats and the White House for a 996-page measure that bore wins for both parties. (11/30)

The Wall Street Journal: House Passes Health Bill To Speed Drug Approvals, Boost Biomedical Research
The measure also wraps in separate legislation that contains an extensive program to promote treatment of mental illness and would provide $1 billion to prevent and treat the national scourge of opioid addiction. These provisions helped to rally lawmakers from both sides of the aisle around the bill, which passed 392-26. The bill, with a price tag totaling $6.3 billion, also includes $4.8 billion for the National Institutes of Health over 10 years and $500 million for the new programs within the FDA. (Burton, 11/30)

The Washington Post: Bill Expediting New Medical Treatments Passes House
Patient groups and drug and medical device companies have been pushing for the legislation for more than a year. Riding a rare wave of bipartisan support in the House, the legislation is expected to be taken up by the Senate early next week. Supporters say the bill will foster innovation and save the lives of Americans with diseases for which there is currently no hope. “We are on the cusp of ­something special — a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform how we treat disease,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) on Wednesday during a House debate on the bill. He co-authored the legislation with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.). “With this vote, we are taking a giant leap on the path to cures.” (Johnson, 11/30)

Los Angeles Times: House Approves Sprawling Bill That Would Expand Medical Research
The legislation has also generated concerns among many consumer advocates, who have warned that provisions that would speed federal regulatory review of new drugs and medical devices could expose patients to new risks. “While many harmful provisions have been improved or removed … there are still many provisions in the renegotiated bill that remain problematic for public health,” Public Citizen noted in a statement. Several leading liberal lawmakers have also blasted the legislation for including what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this week called “corporate giveaways that will make drug companies even richer.” (Levey, 11/30)

Politico: GOP May Stall Obamacare Replacement For Years
Prepare for the Obamacare cliff. Congressional Republicans are setting up their own, self-imposed deadline to make good on their vow to replace the Affordable Care Act. With buy-in from Donald Trump’s transition team, GOP leaders on both sides of the Capitol are coalescing around a plan to vote to repeal the law in early 2017 — but delay the effective date for that repeal for as long as three years. (Bade and Everett, 12/1)

The Wall Street Journal: Getting Obamacare Replacement Through Senate Will Be A Test
Republicans on Capitol Hill are grappling with the likelihood that they will need Democratic support to pass parts of any plan replacing the Affordable Care Act, setting up a complex legislative battle over the law’s future. President-elect Donald Trump is expected in his first days in office to take executive action voiding parts of the health law that the administration has discretion to change. Soon after that, lawmakers likely would start on their efforts to repeal and replace the law. (Armour, son and Radnofsky, 11/30)

The Washington Post: Getting Rid Of Obamacare May Take Longer Than Trump Plans
President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans promised during the campaign to quickly repeal and replace President Obama’s signature health-care law if they controlled Washington. Now GOP lawmakers are predicting it could take years to fulfill that pledge. Republican leaders in the House and Senate on Tuesday began emphasizing that even if Congress moves quickly on a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it will take time to ease people out of its programs and replace it with their long-promised alternative. (Snell, 11/30)

Los Angeles Times: Trump Promised To Repeal Obamacare, But It Turns Out Americans Like Most Of It, A Poll Finds
Despite sharp partisan differences over the Affordable Care Act, Democrats and Republicans, including voters who backed President-elect Donald Trump, strongly support most of the law’s key provisions, a new national poll indicates. And although most Trump voters still favor repealing the law, often called Obamacare, an increasing share of Americans overall oppose that approach, according to the poll, which was conducted in mid-November, following Trump’s election. (Levey, 12/1)

The Associated Press: Poll: Only About 1 In 4 Wants Trump To Repeal Health Law
A new poll has found that only about 1 in 4 Americans wants President-elect Donald Trump to entirely repeal his predecessor's health care law that extended coverage to millions. The post-election survey released Thursday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation also found hints of a pragmatic shift among some Republican foes of "Obamacare." (12/1)

The New York Times: Democrats See Medicare As Winning Wedge Issue
Republicans are talking about messing with Medicare again, and Democrats couldn’t be more enthusiastic. After an election that has thrown them back on their heels, they are grasping at the politics of Medicare as a path to potential revival in 2018. “We say to our Republicans that want to privatize Medicare, go try it, make our day,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming Democratic leader, mustering his best Clint Eastwood/Ronald Reagan impersonation. (Huse, 11/30)

The Associated Press: Lawsuits Challenge Abortion Restrictions In 3 States
Taking the offensive after Election Day setbacks, Planned Parenthood and its allies filed lawsuits Wednesday in North Carolina, Missouri and Alaska challenging laws that they view as unconstitutional restrictions on abortion. "We are going to fight back state by state and law by law until every person has the right to pursue the life they want, including the right to decide to end a pregnancy," said Planned Parenthood's chief medical officer, Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley. (11/30)

NPR: Abortion-Rights Groups Challenge Laws In Three States
There's no shortage of speculation about how the incoming Trump administration, whose appointees so far are staunch abortion opponents, might crack down on access to the procedure. But reproductive rights groups say the big picture is getting lost: Women in large parts of the country already have limited access to abortion, due to hundreds of Republican-backed laws passed by state legislatures over the past half-decade. (Ludden, 11/30)

The New York Times: Mike Pence And ‘Conversion Therapy’: A History
Since Gov. Mike Pence was chosen as Donald J. Trump’s running mate in July, he has faced complaints from groups critical of his record on gay and transgender rights, who said he has long been an opponent of the gains made by the L.G.B.T. community in recent years. Mr. Pence has been particularly dogged by accusations that he is a supporter of “conversion therapy,” the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. (Stack, 11/30)

The New York Times: Hallucinogen Eases Depression In Cancer Patients, Studies Find
On a summer morning in 2013, Octavian Mihai entered a softly lit room furnished with a small statue of Buddha, a box of tissues and a single red rose. From an earthenware chalice, he swallowed a capsule of psilocybin, an ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. ... Psilocybin has been illegal in the United States for more than 40 years. But Mr. Mihai, who had just finished treatment for Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was participating in a study looking at whether the drug can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients. (Hoffman, 12/1)

Los Angeles Times: Ingredient In Magic Mushrooms Is Shown To Ease Anxiety And Depression In Cancer Patients In One Dose
“This drug saved my life and changed my life,” said Dinah Bazer, a Brooklyn, N.Y., woman who was administered a single dose of psilocybin at a New York treatment center in 2011. In the wake of treatment for ovarian cancer, Bazer said, her anxiety at the prospect of its return was “eating her alive.” Under the influence of a single high dose of psilocybin, Bazer said Wednesday, she became “volcanically angry” as she visualized her cancer as a dark mass bearing down on her. With an epithet, she then saw herself throwing it off. (Healy, 11/30)

The Washington Post: Three Cancer Patients Explain How A Psychedelic Drug Eased Their Fears
Two studies published Thursday found that a single dose of psilocybin reduced negative feelings for months at a time while increasing optimism, feelings of connection with other people, and mystical and spiritual experiences. The findings, which appeared in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, are from clinical trials at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and New York University Langone Medical Center. (McGinley, 12/1)

The Washington Post: Human Embryo Experiment Shows Progress Toward ‘Three-Parent’ Babies
The era of “three-parent babies” (a hyperventilated term for mitochondrial replacement therapy, as we'll explain) is getting incrementally closer — but the path forward remains bumpy. A report published Wednesday in the journal Nature describes a successful, though not flawless, proof-of-concept laboratory experiment. The researchers swapped nuclear material in human eggs to create healthy embryos lacking disease-carrying mitochondrial DNA. (Achenbach, 11/30)

The Washington Post: Over 2,000 Scientists Urge Trump To Respect ‘Scientific Integrity And Independence’
Call it the opening shot in a brewing war over scientific integrity in the future Trump administration. More than 2,300 scientists, including 22 Nobel Prize winners, have issued an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump and the 115th Congress, urging them to “adhere to high standards of scientific integrity and independence in responding to current and emerging public health and environmental health threats.” (Eilperin and Mooney, 11/30)

NPR: Allen Institute Release Glowing Human Stem Cells To Researchers
A nonprofit research group is giving scientists a new way to study the secret lives of human cells. On Wednesday, the Allen Institute for Cell Science provided access to a collection of living stem cells that have been genetically altered to make internal structures like the nucleus and mitochondria glow. (Hamilton, 11/30)

The Washington Post: Obama Says Marijuana Should Be Treated Like ‘Cigarettes Or Alcohol’
In an “exit interview” with Rolling Stone magazine, President Obama said that marijuana use should be treated as a public-health issue similar to tobacco or alcohol and called the current patchwork of state and federal laws regarding the drug “untenable.” “Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse,” Obama said. “And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.” (Ingraham, 11/30)

The New York Times: U.S. Will Ban Smoking In Public Housing Nationwide
Smoking will be prohibited in public housing residences nationwide under a federal rule announced on Wednesday. Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the rule would take effect early next year, but that public housing agencies would have a year and a half to put smoke-free policies in place. The rule will affect more than 1.2 million households, the officials said, although some 200,000 homes already come under smoking bans adopted voluntarily by hundreds of public housing agencies around the country. (Navarro, 11/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Philip Morris CEO: Cigarette Production Could End Someday
Philip Morris International Inc.’s chief executive on Wednesday said the tobacco giant could walk away from selling traditional cigarettes altogether someday, as the company launches its heat-not-burn product in the U.K. “There will come a moment in time where I would say we have sufficient adoption of these alternative products…and sufficient awareness to start envisaging together with government a phaseout period for cigarettes, and I hope this time will come soon,” Andre Calantzopoulos said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Radio 4. (Chaudhuri, 11/30)

The Associated Press: Regulators: Illinois Doctor’s Pill Mill Supplied 11 States
Illinois regulators have yanked a suburban Chicago doctor’s license for running a cash-only pill mill and prescribing vast amounts of fentanyl and other addictive painkillers to patients in 11 states. Illinois is sharing information about Dr. Paul C. Madison with Indiana, where he has an office. Michigan barred Madison from practicing last year. (Johnson, 11/30)

The New York Times: Insomniacs Are Helped By Online Therapy, Study Finds
The same digital screens that have helped nurture a generation of insomniacs can also help restore regular sleep, researchers reported on Wednesday. In a new study, more than half of chronic insomniacs who used an automated online therapy program reported improvement within weeks and were sleeping normally a year later. (Carey, 11/30)

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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