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KHN First Edition: January 11, 2017

KHN

First Edition

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Even In Trump Country, Rural Hospitals Brace For Damage From Health Law’s Repeal
Shefali Luthra reports: "Judy Keller, 69, has always relied on Highlands Hospital for medical care, just as her parents did before her. ... “This hospital all my life has been here,” said Keller, now retired. “[It] helps a lot of people who don’t have adequate health care coverage — and I don’t know what they would do without it.” Aside from providing health care to a largely poor population, it provides hundreds of jobs in a town that locals say never recovered after industries such as coal mining and glass manufacturing disappeared. But in the wake of this fall’s presidential election, Highlands — like many other rural hospitals — will likely face new financial challenges that will intensify longstanding struggles, experts say." (Luthra, 1/11)

Kaiser Health News: Obama’s Health Care Legacy: A Landmark Becomes A Question Mark
Sarah Varney reports: "When President Barack Obama signed his landmark health care bill on March 23, 2010, he achieved what presidents and members of Congress had long tried and failed to do — to provide near-universal health insurance to Americans. Democrats were jubilant. Those in Obama’s inner circle, like Bob Kocher, a special adviser to the president on health care policy and one of the law’s architects, celebrated the victory at the White House. “It was a moment of total joy,” Kocher recalled. “We felt like we’d accomplished something hard and amazing and important that would go down in history as being an important step forward in American health care.” (Varney, 1/10)

Kaiser Health News: Fewer Americans Paid Obamacare Tax Penalty In 2016
Phil Galewitz reports: "About 6.5 million Americans paid an average penalty of $470 for not having health insurance in 2015 — 20 percent fewer than the year before, according to data released Tuesday by the IRS. The IRS collected $3 billion, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a letter to members of Congress. (Galewitz, 1/10)

California Healthline: Merger May Revitalize California’s Flagging Effort To Pool Medical Records
Chad Terhune reports: "After a sluggish start, the Cal INDEX medical database has agreed to a merger that would create one of the largest repositories of patient records in the country. The nonprofit California Integrated Data Exchange, launched by insurers Blue Shield of California and Anthem Inc. with much fanfare in 2014, announced Tuesday that it intends to merge with the Inland Empire Health Information Exchange. Together, they would have insurance claims and medical records of 16.7 million people." (Terhune, 1/10)

The New York Times: Trump Tells Congress To Repeal And Replace Health Care Law ‘Very Quickly’
President-elect Donald J. Trump demanded on Tuesday that Congress immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass another health law quickly. His remarks put Republicans in the nearly impossible position of having only weeks to replace a health law that took nearly two years to pass. “We have to get to business,” Mr. Trump told The New York Times in a telephone interview. “Obamacare has been a catastrophic event.” (Haberman and Pear, 1/10)

The Washington Post: Trump, Hill GOP Fret About Fallout From Repealing Obamacare So Quickly
After years of promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a growing number of Republicans are balking at the prospect of doing so quickly without a firm plan to replace it. As the Senate begins voting Wednesday on a path to eliminate the landmark health-care bill, some Republicans are worried about the political fallout and uncertainty of starting to roll back Obamacare without knowing how the process will end.President-elect Donald J. Trump was among the Republicans expressing concern Tuesday. (Snell, Sullivan and Goldstein, 1/10)

Politico: How The GOP Plans To Repeal Obamacare
The Republican Party’s quest to kill Obamacare is about to get real. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how it will go down in the coming days and weeks — assuming they don’t manage to mess it up or get cold feet. (Weyl, 1/11)

Politico: Trump’s Obamacare Remedy Spurs More Confusion
Republicans on Capitol Hill are in disarray about how to repeal Obamacare and President-elect Donald Trump’s call on Tuesday to enact a replacement “very quickly” did nothing to clear up the turmoil. Trump told The New York Times that he wants a repeal to happen within days and “the replace will be very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter.” The statement took lawmakers on Capitol Hill by surprise. (Haberkorn and Cancryn, 1/10)

NPR: Trump Promises On Health Insurance Appealed To Family Struggling With Cost
Abra and Matt Schultz, both 32, recently built a house in a middle class neighborhood in Pottsville, Pa. Matt works as a carpenter foreman for a construction company. He and Abra, his wife, are right in Trump's wheelhouse — Republicans in Republican Schuylkill County. The couple spent December trying to decide whether to buy health insurance or skip it for 2017. They voted for Trump because they were fed up with how much they are paying for health insurance. (Allen, 1/10)

The Associated Press: Obama Health Law Posts Solid Sign-Ups Despite GOP Repeal Vow
Congress may be moving to repeal "Obamacare," but millions of people are still signing up. The administration said Tuesday that 11.5 million enrolled nationwide through Dec. 24, ahead of last year's pace. Administration officials said about 290,000 more people have signed up than at the same time last year, evidence that the Affordable Care Act is on sound footing despite rising premiums, dwindling choice and healthy people holding back from getting coverage. (1/10)

USA Today: Administration Releases Last Big Obamacare Sign-Up Report Amid Hill Fight
More than 11.5 million people were signed up for Affordable Care Act plans on the federal and state insurance exchanges as of Dec. 24, federal officials said Tuesday. “Nationwide demand for health coverage is higher than ever, as Americans prove again that marketplace coverage is vital to them and their families,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. (O'Donnell, 1/10)

Los Angeles Times: Millions Sign Up For Obamacare As Trump And GOP Lawmakers Scramble For A Way To Roll It Back
As of Dec. 24, more than 11.5 million people had enrolled in a health plan through one of the insurance marketplaces created by the law, including HealthCare.gov and Covered California, federal data released Tuesday show. That is nearly 300,000 more sign-ups than at the same point a year earlier, signaling strength in the marketplaces despite GOP criticism and uncertainty about whether Republicans will scrap them. (Levey, 1/10)

The New York Times: Anti-Vaccine Activist Says Trump Wants Him To Lead Panel On Immunization Safety
A prominent anti-vaccine crusader said on Tuesday that President-elect Donald J. Trump had asked him to lead a new government commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity — a possibility that spread alarm among medical experts that Mr. Trump could be giving credence to debunked conspiracy theories about the dangers of immunizations. The vaccine skeptic, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, said that Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly embraced discredited links between vaccines and autism, had asked him to lead the commission during a meeting with the president-elect at Trump Tower on Tuesday. (Shear, Haberman and Belluck, 1/10)

The Washington Post: Vaccine Skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. Says Trump Asked Him To Lead Commission On ‘Vaccine Safety’
If Trump follows through, the stunning move would push up against established science, medicine and the government’s position on the issue. It comes after Trump — who has long been critical of vaccines — met at Trump Tower with Kennedy, who has spearheaded efforts to roll back child vaccination laws. “The President-elect enjoyed his discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a range of issues and appreciates his thoughts and ideas,” Trump transition spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement. “The President-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a commission on autism, which affects so many families; however no decisions have been made at this time. (Phillip, Sun and Bernstein, 1/10)

The Washington Post: The Truth About Vaccines, Autism And Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Conspiracy Theory
First things first: Vaccines do not cause autism. So say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with dozens of studies published in prestigious, peer-reviewed journals. The scientific consensus on vaccines and autism is thorough and solid: There is no evidence of a connection. This is not new news. But it bears repeating now that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says President-elect Donald Trump wants him to chair a new commission on vaccine safety. (Kaplan, 1/10)

The Associated Press: Trump's HHS Pick Faces Calls For Probe Of Stock Trades
President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to be the nation's top health official is facing calls for investigation of whether his stock picks were guided by insider knowledge gleaned as a senior member of Congress. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., was chosen by Trump in part because of his plan to repeal "Obamacare," and his confirmation hearings are expected to be a spirited debate about the future of federal health insurance programs. (1/11)

The Associated Press: Veterans Care Still 'High Risk' As Trump Mulls VA Head
Veterans health care remains a "high risk" issue threatening the federal budget and quality of care for former service members, auditors say in a forthcoming report. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office will place the Veteran Affairs Department's health system once again on its "high risk" list when it's released next month. (1/11)

Los Angeles Times: Heroin Resurgence An 'Unintended Consequence' Of Attempt To Curb OxyContin Abuse, Study Finds
In an attempt to stem abuse of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma spent a decade and several hundred million dollars developing a version of the painkiller that was more difficult to snort, smoke or inject. Since those “abuse-deterrent” pills debuted six years ago, misuse of OxyContin has fallen and the company has touted them as proof of its efforts to end the opioid epidemic. (Ryan, 1/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Christie Wants To Combat State’s Drug Crisis During Final Year In Office
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pledged Tuesday to use his final year in office to aggressively combat drug addiction, calling it a crisis that is “ripping the very fabric of our state apart. ”Mr. Christie, a Republican who is entering his final year of his second and final term in office, dedicated the majority of his 73-minute state-of-the-state address to outlining his plan for expanding drug prevention and treatment. (King, 1/10)

The Wall Street Journal: ‘Take Your Medicine’ Is Big Pharma’s Best Prescription
It may be time for big pharma to revisit an old, familiar problem: helping patients adhere to prescription drug regimens. Last year was a relatively fallow one for new drug approvals while attempted price increases on drugs already on the market attracted unwanted attention from politicians and regulators. But improving patients’ ability to stick with doctor’s orders marks an area of opportunity for drug companies to generate growth. (Grant,1/10)

The Washington Post: National Cancer Institute And Drug Companies Aim To Speed Up Clinical Trials
The National Cancer Institute launched an effort Wednesday to speed up clinical trials by getting researchers quicker access to the drugs they want to test. The NCI initiative creates a virtual “formulary” — a kind of clearinghouse — that initially will include 15 different medications donated by six manufacturers. The formulary will allow the institute to act as an intermediary between the drug companies and scientists at 69 NCI-designated cancer centers and to streamline the process by which researchers get the therapies. (McGinley, 1/11)

NPR: Women Still Need Folic Acid Supplements To Prevent Birth Defects
If you can get pregnant, you should be popping at least one pill a day: a folic acid supplement to lower the risk of a type of serious birth defect in any future offspring. So says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which Tuesday reiterated its 2009 recommendation that all women who can conceive take 400 to 800 micrograms daily of the B vitamin in case their diet isn't providing enough of it. (Hobson, 1/10)

The New York Times: Heartburn Drugs In Pregnancy Tied To Asthma In Babies
Taking heartburn medicines during pregnancy may increase the risk for asthma in the baby, a review of studies has found. The analysis, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, combined data from eight studies that included more than 1.6 million patients. Follow-up ranged from five to 14 years. (Bakalar, 1/10)

The Washington Post: Smoking Costs The World Economy $1 Trillion Per Year, World Health Organization Says
Smoking and its side effects cost the world's economies more than $1 trillion and kill about 6 million people each year — with deaths expected to rise by more than a third by 2030, according to a new report from the World Health Organization and the National Cancer Institute. Those losses exceed annual global revenue from tobacco taxes, estimated to be $269 billion in 2013-14, according to the report released Tuesday. Of that, less than $1 billion was invested in tobacco control. (Wang, 1/10)

USA Today: Groups Unite To Create Roadmap For Replacing Lead Pipes That Poison Water
Nearly two dozen environmental, health, consumer and water utility groups are uniting to help communities replace old lead pipes that are the primary culprit behind the lead contamination of millions of Americans' drinking water. The Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative won’t change out the pipes itself. But starting this week, it will provide communities with advice and tools to speed up pipe replacement. (Ungar, 1/10)

The Washington Post: Gun Violence In PG-13 Movies Soars. Are ‘Superhero’ Movies To Blame?
In the climatic battle scene in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," basically everyone has a gun. ... The omnipresent guns in the latest Star Wars movie also reflect a trend in Hollywood over the past 30 years toward increasing gun violence in superhero/fantasy/comic book-type action flicks aimed at children and teens — a shift that has created confusion about what differentiates a PG-13 movie such as "Rogue One" from an R-rated film. (Cha, 1/11)

The Washington Post: After 40 Years, U.S. Court Ends Supervision Of D.C.’s Care For Mentally Disabled Citizens
A federal judge Tuesday ended 40 years of court supervision of the District’s care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, concluding what city leaders called the longest-standing U.S. class-action lawsuit of its kind. U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle’s order ended a legal odyssey for 479 surviving class members and a larger group of thousands of the city’s most vulnerable residents, many of whom over the years experienced abuse, neglect or whitewashed death investigations after they died while wards of the city. (Hsu, 1/10)


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