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KHN First Edition: December 6, 2016

KHN

First Edition

Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Signed Out Of Prison But Not Signed Up For Insurance, Inmates Fall Prey To Ills
Jay Hancock and Beth Schwartzapfel report: "Before he went to prison, Ernest killed his 2-year-old daughter in the grip of a psychotic delusion. When the Indiana Department of Correction released him in 2015, he was terrified something awful might happen again. He had to see a doctor. He had only a month’s worth of pills to control his delusions and mania. He was desperate for insurance coverage. But the state failed to enroll him in Medicaid, although under the Affordable Care Act Indiana had expanded the health insurance program, making most ex-inmates eligible. Left to navigate an unwieldy bureaucracy on his own, he came within days of running out of the pills that ground him in reality." (Hancock and Schwartzapfel, 12/6)

Kaiser Health News: Insurers’ Flawed Directories Leave Patients Scrambling For In-Network Doctors
Jay Hancock reports: "As consumers review their coverage and shop for 2017 insurance through the federal health law’s online marketplaces during the annual open enrollment period, many of the directories they are using are outdated and inaccurate. Some doctors in the directories are not accepting new patients and some are not participating in the network, say experts, brokers and consumers. Still other physicians in the directories, who are listed as “in-plan,” charge patients thousands of dollars extra per year in “concierge fees” to join their practices." (Hancock, 12/5)

Kaiser Health News: Doctors And Hospitals Say ‘Show Me The Money’ Before Treating Patients
Michelle Andrews reports: "Tai Boxley needs a hysterectomy. The 34-year-old single mother has uterine prolapse, a condition that occurs when the muscles and ligaments supporting the uterus weaken, causing severe pain, bleeding and urine leakage. Boxley and her 13-year-old son have health insurance through her job as an administrative assistant in Tulsa, Okla. But the plan has a deductible of $5,000 apiece, and Boxley’s doctor said he won’t do the surgery until she prepays her share of the cost. His office estimates that will be as much as $2,500. Boxley is worried that the hospital may demand its cut as well before the surgery can be performed." (Andrews, 12/6)

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid Coverage For Addiction Treatment Varies Dramatically
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez reports: "When Ashley Hurteau, 32, was arrested in 2015, she faced a list of charges for crimes she committed to finance a drug craving she had struggled with for more than a decade. “I wasn’t using it to get high,” she said. “I was using it to survive.” Homeless, uninsured and addicted to heroin, Hurteau, a New Hampshire resident, had tried and failed to get help. Services came at a price she couldn’t afford." (Heredia Rodriguez, 12/6)

Kaiser Health News: Seniors Increasingly Getting High, Study Shows
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez reports: "Baby boomers are getting high in increasing numbers, reflecting growing acceptance of the drug as treatment for various medical conditions, according to a study published Monday in the journal Addiction. The findings reveal overall use among the 50-and-older study group increased “significantly” from 2006 to 2013. Marijuana users peaked between ages 50 to 64, then declined among the 65-and-over crowd. (Heredia Rodriquez, 12/6)

The New York Times: Life In Obamacare’s Dead Zone
“I tried to get Obamacare,” [Janet] Foy recalls. “I called the number, and when the woman told me what it would cost me, I just about dropped the phone. She told me I’d needed to make at least $12,000 a year for there to be any help to make it something I might be able to afford. Which still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, even now, that having no money meant I got no help when I really needed it.” She also learned that she could not expect any help from Medicaid, which in her home state remained available only if you fit the criteria sometimes known by the shorthand “poor and” — poor and pregnant, poor and disabled. As a single childless woman, she could forget about it. (Verzemnieks, 12/6)

Politico: Freedom Caucus Opposes GOP's Obamacare Replacement Plan
The Republican congressman who made his name as the instigator of John Boehner’s ouster last year was set to take the reins of the House Freedom Caucus on Monday night. And first up on Rep. Mark Meadows’ to-do list: Torpedoing GOP leadership’s tentative plans to take as long as three years to replace Obamacare. (Bade, 12/5)

The Associated Press: Appeals Court Agrees To Delay GOP Lawsuit Over Health Law
A federal appeals court has agreed to delay consideration of a lawsuit from Republican lawmakers over the Obama health care law. President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress plan to repeal and replace the law. The three-judge panel in Washington on Monday gave both sides in the case until Feb. 21 to clarify their positions. House Republicans say a change in policy under the new administration could render the case moot. (12/5)

The Associated Press: Bill Speeding Federal Drug Approvals Clears Senate Hurdle
A bipartisan bill to speed government drug approvals and bolster biomedical research cleared its last procedural hurdle in the Senate on Monday in an emotional moment for outgoing Vice President Joe Biden. The overwhelming 85-13 vote put the measure on track for final legislative approval by the Senate as early as Tuesday. President Barack Obama has promised to sign the measure, one of the last for the president and the 114th Congress, whose leaders hope to adjourn by week's end after a two-year session that has seen them clash frequently with the president. (12/5)

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Clears Path For Bill To Speed FDA Drug Approvals
The Senate Monday cleared the final hurdle to passage of broad legislation aimed at boosting federal funds for biomedical research and speeding up government approval of drug and medical-devices, a goal pursued by the pharmaceutical industry over the objections of some consumer advocates. The 85-13 vote cuts through the last remaining procedural obstacle before passage in the Senate, expected by Wednesday. (Hughes and Burton, 12/5)

The Wall Street Journal: Aetna And Humana Defend Merger, As Antitrust Trial Begins
The Justice Department and proposed merger partners Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. presented a judge Monday with starkly different visions of how the transaction would affect the marketplace, kicking off a second antitrust trial with major implications for the health insurance landscape. Opening statements launched the government’s second current court battle against consolidation among health insurers. (Kendall, 12/5)

The Washington Post: Justice Dept. Lawyer Argues That Aetna-Humana Deal Would Violate Antitrust Law
A Justice Department attorney told a federal judge on Monday that health insurer Aetna’s planned acquisition of Humana would break antitrust law by reducing competition in Medicare Advantage and Affordable Care Act exchange businesses, kicking off a trial expected to last weeks. The department filed a lawsuit in July asking the court to stop Aetna’s $34 billion deal for Humana, arguing it would lead to higher prices for seniors and disabled people on Medicare and for people who use the individual insurance program created under the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare. (Bartz, 12/5)

Reuters: U.S. Attorneys Argue Aetna-Humana Deal Violates Antitrust Law
A U.S. Justice Department attorney told a federal judge on Monday that health insurer Aetna Inc's planned acquisition of Humana Inc would break antitrust law by reducing competition in Medicare Advantage and Obamacare exchange businesses, kicking off a trial expected to last weeks. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit in July asking the court to stop Aetna's $34 billion deal for Humana, arguing it would lead to higher prices for seniors and the disabled on Medicare and for people who use the individual insurance program created under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. (Bartz and Humer, 12/5)

NPR: CRISPR In Court: Legal Battle Over Patent Rights Set To Begin
The high-stakes fight over who invented a technology that could revolutionize medicine and agriculture heads to a courtroom Tuesday. A gene-editing technology called CRISPR-cas9 could be worth billions of dollars. But it's not clear who owns the idea. U.S. patent judges will hear oral arguments to help untangle this issue, which has far more at stake than your garden-variety patent dispute. (Harris, 12/5)

Los Angeles Times: Superbug Infections Must Be Listed On Death Certificate Under Proposed Bill
State Sen. Jerry Hill introduced a bill Monday that would require doctors to record antibiotic-resistant infections on death certificates if they played a role in the death. Currently many deaths from infections acquired in hospitals and nursing homes are not publicly recorded, leaving health officials to guess at their toll. “Today we have to estimate the number of deaths from infections and we have no idea if that is accurate,” said Hill (D-San Mateo). “We’re shooting in the dark.” (sen, 12/5)

Reuters: California Bill Would Require Reporting Of 'Superbug' Infections, Deaths
A California state senator introduced a bill on Monday that would mandate reporting of antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths and require doctors to record the infections on death certificates when they are a cause of death. The legislation also aims to establish the nation’s most comprehensive statewide surveillance system to track infections and deaths from drug-resistant pathogens. Data from death certificates would be used to help compile an annual state report on superbug infections and related deaths. (12/5)

The Washington Post: Forget Those Occasional Cigarettes: There Is No Safe Smoking Level
There's bad news for people who think it's safe to smoke a few cigarettes a day or even a week: They face a substantially higher risk of earlier death compared with people who don't smoke, according to a study published Monday. The National Cancer Institute study found that people who consistently smoked an average of less than one cigarette per day over their lifetimes had a 64 percent higher risk of earlier death. Those who smoked one to 10 cigarettes a day had an 87 percent greater risk. (McGinley, 12/5)

NPR: Drowsy Driving Kills: Crash Rate Spikes With Each Hour Of Lost Sleep
Traffic safety officials regularly warn us of the risks of driving while drunk or distracted. But Americans still need to wake up to the dangers of getting behind the wheel when sleepy, according to a recent study of crash rates. A report released Tuesday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that drivers who sleep only five or six hours in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to crash as drivers who get seven hours of sleep or more. (Aubrey, 12/6)

The New York Times: Many Kids’ Headphones Carry Risk Of Hearing Loss, Study Finds
These days, even 3-year-olds wear headphones, and as the holidays approach, retailers are well stocked with brands that claim to be “safe for young ears” or to deliver “100 percent safe listening.” The devices limit the volume at which sound can be played; parents rely on them to prevent children from blasting, say, Rihanna at hazardous levels that could lead to hearing loss. (Saint Louis, 12/6)

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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