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KHN First Edition: July 14, 2015


First Edition

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Do Cell Phones Belong In The Operating Room?
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "Next time you’re on the operating table and you have one last look around as the anesthesiologist approaches, don’t be too sure that that person in scrubs looking at a smartphone is pulling up vital health data. He or she might be texting a friend, or ordering a new carpet. Cellphone use is not generally restricted in the operating room, but some experts say the time for rules has come. In interviews, many described co-workers’ texting friends and relatives from the surgical suite. Some spoke of colleagues who hide a phone in a drawer and check it when they think no one is watching." (Luthra, 7/14)

Kaiser Health News: N.Y. Law Offers Model For Helping Consumers Avoid Surprise Out-Of-Network Charges
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "It’s a situation that occurs all too often: Someone goes to the emergency room and doesn’t learn until he gets a hefty bill that one of the doctors who treated him wasn’t in his insurance network. Or a diligent consumer checks before scheduling surgery to make sure that the hospital she plans to use and the doctors that will perform it are all in network. Then she learns later that an assistant surgeon who she didn’t know and who wasn’t in her network scrubbed in on her operation." (Andrews, 7/14)

The Washington Post: Need A New Knee? Heart Valve? Back Surgery? This Web Site Could Help You Find The Top Surgeons Near You.
Now a nonprofit consumers group has come out with a free surgeon rating tool that allows consumers to type in a Zip code and search for the top-performing surgeons in 14 types of major surgery. They include: heart valve and bypass surgery, total knee and hip replacement, gastric (stomach), hernia, and spine fusion surgery. The ratings are based on an analysis of federal government records of more than 4 million surgeries performed by more than 50,000 doctors. Using star ratings (5 stars being the best), the group identified surgeons who have better-than-average performances based on three criteria: • Death rates • Other bad outcomes, such as infections, falls or other complications that resulted in longer hospital stays or re-admissions. (Sun, 7/14)

USA Today: 'Surgeon Scorecard' Measures Docs By Complications
Surgeons around the country are now scored against their peers in a new statistic developed by a non-profit news organization that goes beyond hospital-level data, providing a never-before-available tool for consumers and generating debate and some angst in the surgical community. (Penzenstadler, 7/14)

The New York Times: Obama Wants More State Laws To Make Retirement Saving Easier
A handful of states have passed laws that require certain employers to automatically open retirement plans for employees when they are hired instead of waiting for workers to decide to do so on their own, and about 20 more are considering such laws. Mr. Obama said he wanted to encourage more of these laws to be passed. The president spoke during the sixth White House conference on aging, an event that takes place roughly once a decade. Mr. Obama noted that the conference was particularly well timed because it was being held almost 50 years after legislation was passed creating the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which provide health care to the elderly and the poor. (Harris,7/13)

The Washington Post: Scott Walker Vows To ‘Fight And Win’ With A Conservative Message For 2016
In a 33-minute speech, delivered extemporaneously, Walker had a sharp and ideological pitch focused on his victories over liberals in this blue-leaning state on issues including abortion, school vouchers and voter-ID requirements. ... In a 33-minute speech, delivered extemporaneously, Walker had a sharp and ideological pitch focused on his victories over liberals in this blue-leaning state on issues including abortion, school vouchers and voter-ID requirements. (Johnson, 7/13)

The Associated Press: Where They Stand: Scott Walker On Issues Of 2016 Campaign
Where two-term Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker stands on various issues that will be debated in the Republican presidential campaign, a race he's joining. ... Walker, the son of a Baptist minister, opposes abortion rights, including in cases of rape and incest. As governor, he signed into law a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion. He's also set to sign a bill into law that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. ... Walker proposed, just six weeks after taking office in 2011, that public employees except for police and firefighters pay more for pension and health care benefits, and only be allowed to bargain collectively over base wage increases no greater than inflation. (7/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Hillary Takes Aim At Republicans In Policy Speech
That satisfied some centrist Democrats. Jonathan Cowan, president of Third Way, a think tank that has tangled with the party’s populist activists, was pleased that Mrs. Clinton didn’t call for a single-payer health-care system, where the government replaces private insurance companies, or a $15 federal minimum wage. (Meckler, 7/13)

NPR: Waiting To Pick Your Baby's Name Raises The Risk For Medical Mistakes
Some parents pick out a name for their child as soon as the pregnancy test turns positive. For others, the choice of a name is a game-time decision, taking minutes, hours or even a day or two after birth. My own baby went unnamed for about 20 minutes as my husband and I tried to figure out which of our top choices best fit her screamy little face. Hospitals, however, have to put an identification bracelet on the baby ASAP. Most resort to generic names based on the mom's last name, like Babygirl Hobson. And once the infant is in the system with that name, it's often locked in until discharge, even after the parents pick a permanent one. (Hobson, 7/13)

Politico: 'How Many Sick Kids Does It Take For Us To Act?'
According to a POLITICO investigation, the Obama administration and Congress have all but squandered an opportunity to give the anemic Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the safety of 80 percent of the nation’s food supply, a level of oversight the public long assumed it already had. On paper, the law that Congress passed in late 2010 — known as the Food Safety Modernization Act — was bigger than anything since Teddy Roosevelt cleaned up the meatpacking industry. The law mandated more inspections and much tougher anti-contamination standards for everything from peaches to imported pesto sauce, and it placed more emphasis on preventing outbreaks than on chasing them down after people become sick. But almost five years later, not one of the sweeping new rules has been implemented and funding is more than $276 million behind where it needs to be. (Evich, 7/14)

Los Angeles Times: California Regains Control Over Healthcare At Folsom Prison
The state has regained full control of one of its prisons for the first time since 2006, when a federal court stripped California of control over its sprawling inmate healthcare system. J. Clark Kelso, the overseer of prison medical care and spending, returned responsibility for the health of some 2,400 inmates at Folsom State Prison to California’s corrections department on Monday. (St. John, 7/13)

The Associated Press: California Begins To Regain Control Of Prison Health Care
California on Monday began regaining responsibility for its prison health care system after nearly a decade of federal control and billions of dollars in improvements. A court-appointed receiver returned medical care at Folsom State Prison to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the first of many steps toward ending a long-running lawsuit. (7/13)

The Associated Press: AP-NORC Poll: Many Californians Unaware Of Caregiver Program
Christine McCormack quit her job as a restaurant manager two years ago to care for her 88-year-old mother-in-law. While it doesn’t make up for all of her lost income, she’s getting some financial help through an innovative program that allows many of California’s low-income senior citizens and disabled residents to remain in their home. ... A poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that less than one-third of Californians age 40 and over have heard of the program, which dates back to the 1950s. (Freking, 7/14)

The Associated Press: 400 Employees Of Novant Health To Lose Their Jobs
Novant Health Inc. says it plans to lay off up to 400 employees across the Winston-Salem-based system as part of a reorganization that began last fall. Multiple media outlets report that Novant is recruiting for 1,000 open positions. After deciding which employees can be transferred to new positions, Novant officials say about 400 people will lose their jobs. (7/13)

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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