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KHN First Edition: January 13, 2017

KHN

First Edition

Friday, January 13, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: As Obamacare Repeal Heats Up, Newly Insured North Carolinians Fret
WFAE's Michael Tomsic reports: "Darlene Hawes lost her health insurance about a year after her husband died in 2012. Hawes, 55, is from Charlotte, N.C. She ended up going without insurance for a few years, but in 2015 she bought coverage on HealthCare.gov, the Affordable Care Act marketplace, with the help of a big subsidy. “I was born with heart trouble and I also had, in 2003, open-heart surgery,” she said. “I had breast-cancer surgery. I have a lot of medical conditions, so I needed insurance badly.” After the results of the 2016 election, she was scared she’d lose her insurance immediately." (Tomsic, 1/13)

California Healthline: California Aims To Boost Worker Safety, One Nail Salon At A Time
Jenny Gold reports: "What stands out upon entering Mai Dang’s nail salon, located on a busy street in Berkeley, Calif., is what’s missing — the stinging smell of nail products. That wasn’t always the case. For a decade, Dang suffered from the effects of the chemicals she used at work every day. “When you do nails, workers get itchy skin and watery eyes,” said Dang, 40. She also used to have frequent headaches, and one of her workers developed asthma. So when she heard about an opportunity to improve the safety at her salon, she signed up." (Gold, 1/13)

California Healthline: A Dying Man’s Wish To Save Others Hits Hospital Ethics Hurdle
Side Effects Public Media's Karen Shakerdge reports: "At 44 years old, Dave Adox was facing the end of his two year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He needed a ventilator to breathe and couldn’t move any part of his body, except his eyes. Once he started to struggle with his eyes — his only way to communicate — Adox decided it was time to die." (Shakerdge, 1/13)

The Washington Post: Anxious Lawmakers To GOP Leaders: What’s The Plan To Replace Obamacare?
House Republican leaders attempted to quell concerns of a skittish rank and file before a key vote Friday to begin unwinding the Affordable Care Act. The assurances came after lawmakers across the GOP’s ideological divides sounded anxious notes this week about advancing legislation that would repeal Obamacare without firm plans for its replacement. “We just want more specifics,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Wednesday. “We need to know what we’re going to replace it with.” Meadows said he was personally undecided on his vote Friday and that other caucus members were leaning toward no. (DeBonis, 1/12)

Politico: House Liberty Caucus Opposes Budget To Trigger Obamacare Repeal
The House Liberty Caucus, a collection of libertarian-minded lawmakers, is urging the House to reject the Senate-passed budget resolution meant to clear the way for the repeal of Obamacare. “This may be the worst budget ever seriously considered by Congress,” said caucus Executive Director Matt Weibel, in a statement announcing the recommendation. “It never balances, and it grows the national debt by more than $9 trillion over the next decade—to nearly $30 trillion—dwarfing debt increases proposed by even the most far-left budgets.” (Cheney, 1/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Face Hurdles To Health-Law Pledge
President-elect Donald Trump and GOP leaders on Capitol Hill pledged this week to move swiftly to not only repeal but also replace the Affordable Care Act. It will be a difficult promise to keep. Republicans’ legislative maneuvering to repeal and replace the health law involves two party leaders, four congressional committees, dozens of GOP proposals groomed over six years, one unpredictable president-elect and a vice president-elect emerging as a clear center of power on policy for the incoming administration. (son and Radnofsky, 1/12)

The Associated Press: GOP Leaders Look To Early Health Care Bill, Details Vague
Under mounting pressure from Donald Trump and rank-and-file Republicans, congressional leaders are talking increasingly about chiseling an early bill that dismantles President Barack Obama's health care law and begins to supplant it with their own vision of how the nation's $3 trillion-a-year medical system should work. Yet even as Republicans said they will pursue their paramount 2017 goal aggressively, leaders left plenty of wiggle room Thursday about exactly what they will do. (1/12)

Politico: GOP Governors Fight Their Own Party On Obamacare
Republican governors who reaped the benefits of Obamacare now find themselves in an untenable position — fighting GOP lawmakers in Washington to protect their states’ health coverage. This rift between state and federal GOP officials is the real battle on Obamacare at a time when Democrats have only marginal power in Congress. The voices of even a handful of Republican governors intent on protecting those at risk of losing coverage could help shape an Obamacare replacement and soften the impact on the millions who depend on the law. (Pradhan, 1/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Health Care’s Bipartisan Problem: The Sick Are Expensive And Someone Has To Pay
Congress has begun the work of replacing the Affordable Care Act, and that means lawmakers will soon face the thorny dilemma that confronts every effort to overhaul health insurance: Sick people are expensive to cover, and someone has to pay. ... If policyholders don’t pick up the tab, who will? Letting insurers refuse to sell to individuals with what the industry calls a “pre-existing condition”—in essence, forcing some of the sick to pay for themselves—is something both parties appear to have ruled out. Insurers could charge those patients more or taxpayers could pick up the extra costs, two ideas that are politically fraught. (Wilde Mathews and Radnofsky, 1/12)

The Washington Post: The GOP Wants To Repeal Obamacare In A Fast-Paced ‘Rescue Mission’ — But In A Step-By-Step Process.
Republicans are heading toward a bitter fight over two competing cornerstones of modern conservative ethos: the read-the-bill, take-our-time, Schoolhouse Rock mantra that fueled this decade’s tea party revolution, and their utter hatred for the Affordable Care Act. Back in 2009, as Democrats slogged through the final stages of passing the massive health-care law, Republicans took then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement that Congress would “have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” as an admission that discussion and scrutiny had intentionally been thwarted. They vowed never again to allow laws of such enormous import to pass under such circumstances. (Kane, 1/12)

Politico: 7 Times Republicans Said Reconciliation Was Wrong For Health Care Laws
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is old enough to remember when reconciliation was the wrong tool for rewriting the rules of American health care. It was 2010, and Republicans were furious that Democrats were passing Obamacare (née “the Affordable Care Act”) via reconciliation — a budget maneuver that allowed them to pass much of the law through the Senate with 59 votes and sidestep a GOP filibuster. That March, 41 Republicans, 23 of whom are still in office today, sent a letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to chide the then-majority for using reconciliation to pass parts of the law. (Jackson, 1/12)

The Associated Press: Trump's HHS Pick Will Sell Off Stock To Avoid Conflicts
President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to be the nation's top health official will sell off stock holdings to avoid potential conflicts of interest, according to government documents released Thursday. Rep. Tom Price's ethics agreement and financial disclosure were posted online by the Office of Government Ethics. ... If confirmed by the Senate, Price said he would divest himself of stock in more than 40 companies. He'll also resign a position with the American Medical Association, as well as a managing role in a business partnership. (1/12)

Reuters: U.S. Congressional Committee Demands Answers On WHO Cancer Agency
The chairman of a U.S. congressional committee investigating taxpayer funding of a World Health Organization cancer agency has asked U.S. health officials to release crucial documents. In a letter seen by Reuters and sent on Thursday to the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz questioned whether the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was trying to "avoid public scrutiny" by asking its experts not to disclose requested information. (Huffstutter and Lewis, 1/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Cigna Drops Coverage Of Mylan’s EpiPen In Favor Of Cheaper Generic
A top U.S. health insurer has dropped its coverage of Mylan NV’s brand-name EpiPen and switched to the half-priced version Mylan launched in response to public outrage over its sharp price increases on the lifesaving drug. Cigna Corp. swapped its coverage of the $600 EpiPen for Mylan’s $300 version, according to a document on Cigna’s website outlining its prescription drug coverage changes for 2017. (Steele and Walker, 1/12)

Reuters: U.S. Judge Blocks Rule On Financial Assistance For Dialysis Patients
A U.S. judge on Thursday put on hold a new federal rule that dialysis providers have said would prevent dialysis patients from using charitable assistance to buy private health insurance. U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Sherman, Texas stopped the rule from taking effect Friday as planned. The decision is a victory for dialysis providers Fresenius Medical Care, DaVita Inc and U.S. Renal Care Inc, which filed a lawsuit to block the rule last week. (Pierson, 1/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Judge Blocks Rule That Could Limit Premium Assistance For Dialysis Patients
The order puts the fate of the rule into question, because the incoming Trump administration’s stance on it isn’t clear. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said officials there were “disappointed the court temporarily stayed implementation of this important rule while scheduling further proceedings to consider the parties’ positions.” A spokesman for DaVita said the ruling was “good news for the thousands of patients who would be harmed by the implementation of the rule.” (Wilde Mathews, 1/12)

The Washington Post: This Drug Dealer’s Heroin Was So Powerful That It Led To 26 Overdoses In A Single Day
The man responsible for more than two dozen heroin overdoses — which all occurred in one day in a state deemed the ground zero for the opioid epidemic — faces up to 20 years in federal prison. Bruce Lamar Griggs, 22, pleaded guilty on Monday to distribution of heroin, about six months after 26 people overdosed in Huntington, a city in the southwest corner of West Virginia. The 911 calls came within hours of one another, the majority of which concerned overdoses in and around one apartment complex. (Guerra, 1/12)

The Washington Post: Rural Americans Are More Likely To Die From The Top 5 Causes Of Death
Rural Americans are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer and the three other leading causes of death than their urban counterparts, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those five top causes of death — heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke — accounted for 62 percent of the total 1.6 million deaths in the United States in 2014. Among rural Americans, more than 70,000 of the deaths were potentially preventable, the study found, including 25,000 from heart disease and 19,000 from cancer. (Sun, 1/12)

The Washington Post: Scientists Don't Have A Decade To Find A Zika Vaccine. They Need Volunteers Now.
They are three women who have spent months getting an experimental vaccine in the name of science. On each date of a strict timetable, they’ve headed to windowless exam rooms in Bethesda, Md., Baltimore and Atlanta and stuck out their arms, to get an injection or to have blood drawn. Or both. How their bodies react will determine whether this clinical trial — one of the first — proceeds to the next stage in a long and complicated process. (Sun, 1/12)

The Associated Press: US Agrees To Pay Billions To Marines Affected By Toxic Water
After years of wait, veterans who had been exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina may now be able to receive a portion of government disability benefits totaling more than $2 billion. Beginning in March, the cash payouts from the Department of Veterans Affairs may supplement VA health care already being provided to eligible veterans stationed at the Marine base for at least 30 days cumulative between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987. Veterans will have to submit evidence of their diagnosis and service information. (Yen, 1/13)

Los Angeles Times: Experts Have Only A Hazy Idea Of Marijuana’s Myriad Health Effects, And Federal Laws Are To Blame
More than 22 million Americans use some form of marijuana each month, and it’s now approved for medicinal or recreational use in 28 states plus the District of Columbia. Nationwide, legal sales of the drug reached an estimated $7.1 billion last year. Yet for all its ubiquity, a comprehensive new report says the precise health effects of marijuana on those who use it remain something of a mystery — and the federal government continues to erect major barriers to research that would provide much-needed answers. (Healy, 1/12)

NPR: Marijuana's Health Effects Scrutinized By Top Scientists
So far, more than half of all U.S. states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and eight (plus the District of Columbia) have legalized the drug for recreational use. Varieties of cannabis available today are more potent than ever and come in many forms, including oils and leaves that can be vaped, and lots of edibles, from brownies and cookies to candies — even cannabis gummy bears. (Neighmond, 1/12)

USA Today:  Nutella, Bacon And Other Foods You Love That Are Linked To Cancer
With reports that a key ingredient in Nutella may cause cancer, you’re probably wondering: is anything safe to eat? The answer is yes, but you’re not going to like it. The way many Americans and people around the world eat, is literally killing them, according to a new CuriosityStream documentary on the life-saving value of eating a natural diet. (Bowerman, 1/12)

The New York Times: Parents View New Peanut Guidelines With Guilt And Skepticism
When Nicole Lepke’s son was born, she listened to her pediatrician and kept peanuts away until the age of 2, but the toddler still developed a severe peanut allergy when he finally tried them. Now, 12 years later, health experts have reversed their advice on peanuts, urging parents to begin feeding foods containing peanut powder or extract during infancy in hopes of reducing a child’s risk for allergy. (Rabin and Peachman, 1/12)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2017 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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