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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

5. Political Cartoon: 'Iced Out'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Iced Out'" by Hilary Price.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

HOSPITALS DON’T ALWAYS OFFER THE BEST ADVICE

Looking for help in
Choosing a nursing home? Be
Careful who you ask.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

6. Going Beyond Talking Points On Uninsured: Repeal Will Affect Employer-Sponsored Care, Too

The Affordable Care Act mandates certain consumer protections — such as banning lifetime coverage caps — that affect all people with insurance, not just those on the exchanges, and could be stripped if Republicans dismantle the law. Meanwhile, some of the counties that supported Donald Trump will be hit hardest if the law is repealed.

Los Angeles Times: If You Have Employer-Provided Health Insurance, An Obamacare Repeal Would Affect You Too
One of the first things Tracy Trovato did — once she overcame the shock of learning her 42-year-old, marathon-training husband had leukemia — was look through their health insurance documents.She dug up one paper that said the plan would pay no more than $1 million for medical services in a lifetime. The Chicago woman and her husband, Carlo, called their insurance company in a panic. (Schencker, 12/19)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Counties Would See Big Impact From Obamacare Repeal
When he campaigned for president, Donald Trump made repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act a signature issue. Polling suggests that such a move would have the biggest impacts on communities that gave Mr. Trump some of his highest levels of support, potentially complicating the politics of a repeal effort. More than 20 million Americans now depend on the ACA, also known as Obamacare, for health insurance. Data from Gallup indicate that a lot of those people live in counties that favored Mr. Trump. (Chinni, 12/19)

In other health law news —

Kaiser Health News: New Special Enrollment Rules Will Shift Paperwork Burden To Consumers
People who want to sign up for a policy on healthcare.gov after the annual open enrollment period ends Jan. 31 may have to produce a paper trail proving that they qualify for a “special enrollment period” before their coverage can begin, according to details of a pilot program described last week by federal officials. But the verification measures, long sought by insurance companies, may deter the very consumers the marketplace needs to attract: healthy people who may not bother signing up if doing so is a hassle. (Andrews, 12/20)

St. Louis Public Radio: For St. Louisans With Pre-Existing Conditions, Fate Of The Affordable Care Act Is Personal
Three in 10 Missouri adults could have difficulty purchasing their own health insurance if the Affordable Care Act the next Congress fully repeals the Affordable Care Act. That’s because one of the act’s main provisions requires insurance companies to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions — a definition that once included pregnant women, cancer patients in remission and people with such common medical issues as obesity.  (Bouscaren, 12/19)

Columbus Dispatch: Kasich Urged To Fight Obamacare Repeal 
Warning that nearly 1 million Ohioans could lose health coverage, advocates for the poor and disabled urged Gov. John Kasich to oppose a plan by congressional Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump to repeal Obamacare unless they have a replacement. (Candisky, 12/20)

Politico Pro: POLITICO Pro Q&A: Lee, Of Covered California, Plots Out Marketplace's Future Without Obamacare 
Lee, who runs what is arguably the most successful Obamacare state exchange, has spent a lot of time thinking about what would happen to California’s insurance market if the health care law is repealed. With Republican lawmakers on the verge of making that happen, Covered California’s executive director says he’s encouraged by their discussions about replacing coverage for the millions who’d lose insurance without Obamacare. Lee says there are lessons that even the incoming Trump administration can learn from California’s Obamacare experience, and he hopes to provide at least some input to Republicans shaping an Obamacare replacement package. (Colliver, 12/19)

Quality

7. Female Doctors' Patients Live Longer, But They're Still Paid 8% Less Than Male Colleagues

A new study finds that patients tend to do better with a female doctor. While the researchers weren't exactly sure why, they say the improved quality of care, if the techniques women use are broadly accepted as industry standards, could save 32,000 lives a year.

The Associated Press: Does A Doctor's Gender Affect Your Chance Of Survival?
What if your doctor's gender could influence your chance of surviving a visit to the hospital? A big study of older patients hospitalized for common illnesses raises that provocative possibility — and also lots of questions. Patients who got most of their care from women doctors were more likely to leave the hospital alive than those treated by men. (Tanner, 12/19)

Kaiser Health News: Women Doctors May Be Better For Patients’ Health
When a patient goes to the best hospital, he or she usually hopes for a doctor who is knowledgeable and experienced. Something else to wish for? A woman physician. That’s because female doctors may on average be better than their male counterparts at treating patients in the hospital and keeping them healthy long-term, according to findings published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. (Luthra, 12/19)

Modern Healthcare: Female Doctors' Patients May Have Lower Death And Readmission Rates 
An estimated 32,000 fewer patients would die every year “if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians,” the authors, a group of Harvard researchers, wrote in the study. Patients treated by women had mortality rates of 11.07%, compared with 11.49% for those seen by men. Readmission rates were 15.02% among those seen by women, compared with 15.57% for male physicians. (Whitman, 12/19)

USA Today: Don't Want To Die Before Your Time? Get A Female Doctor
The researchers estimated that if male physicians could achieve the same results as their female colleagues, they would save an extra 32,000 lives among Medicare patients alone each year --  a feat that would rival wiping out motor vehicle accident deaths nationwide. Previous studies have found that female physicians are more likely to follow practice guidelines based on scientific evidence. They also spend more time with patients, talk with them in more reassuring and positive ways and ask more questions about their emotional and social well-being. (Painter, 12/19)

The Fiscal Times: Why Picking A Female Doctor Could Save Your Life 
"The association was consistent across a variety of conditions and across patients’ severity of illness,” report authors wrote. “Taken together with previous evidence suggesting that male and female physicians may practice differently, our findings indicate that potential differences in practice patterns between male and female physicians may have important clinical implications for patient outcomes.” (Braverman, 12/19)

The Washington Post: Women Really Are Better Doctors, Study Suggests
Vineet Arora, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, praised the research but was cautious to read too much into the main result, pointing out that it was important to remember the effect might stem from multiple factors. “It could be something the doctor is doing. It could be something about how the patient is reacting to the doctor,” Arora said. “It’s really hard to say. It's probably multi-factorial.” What the study drove home for Arora, who works as a hospitalist, is that women are certainly not worse doctors than men — and they should be compensated equitably. (Johnson, 12/19)

The Wall Street Journal: Female Doctors’ Hospital Patients May Have An Edge
The study, published Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine, explored possible reasons for the gap, including the chance that male doctors cared for more severely ill patients, and where doctors worked. Research suggests doctors practice differently across regions of the U.S. and studies show that hospital quality varies. But nothing explained the difference, raising questions about what might be the cause. An answer is important, because it may identify ways that some doctors get better results—ways that can be copied by other doctors to improve care overall, health-care quality researchers said. (Evans, 12/19)