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KHN First Edition: January 20, 2017


First Edition

Friday, January 20, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Trump’s Nominee For Agriculture Has Key Health Role
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez reports: "Amid the cacophony of confirmation hearings for Cabinet nominees, President-elect Donald Trump reportedly has settled on former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to fill the final Cabinet-department vacancy: secretary of Agriculture. Although consumers may simply think of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) as responsible for overseeing the farming industry, it also plays a key role in promoting health. The department is influential in maintaining the nation’s health in four key areas." (Heredia Rodriguez, 1/20)

The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Presidency: A Look At His Proposed Policy Shifts
Mr. Trump takes office grasping a lightning rod of American domestic policy—health care. His party has already begun on the repeal, and potential replacement, of Barack Obama ’s signature health-care law, but the task of reworking a sweeping social program six years into its lifespan is proving messy. Republicans, including Mr. Trump, have put forward various ideas to serve as alternatives to the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which extended insurance to millions of Americans but also triggered criticism over rising premiums for some users and insurer withdrawals from the individual market. The party has yet to unify behind a single plan, and it remains unclear how much influence will be exerted by Mr. Trump and his administration and how much they will leave to four congressional committees and other groups of interested lawmakers to hash out in the House and Senate. (1/20)

NPR: Rep. Tom Price And His Health Care Portfolio
Georgia Republican Tom Price, who is President-elect Trump's choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services, is suddenly drowning in questions over the investments he has made while serving in the House of Representatives. The issue: Did Price use his position to influence the stock prices of companies he had invested in? Or, alternatively, did he buy shares in companies ahead of actions in Congress that might boost their value? (Kodjak, 1/19)

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Anti-Abortion Effort Gathers Steam Ahead Of Trump Presidency, Research Finds
While abortion rights advocates look ahead to the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump with trepidation, obstacles to women seeking to end unwanted pregnancies already are gathering intensity, research showed on Thursday. Fifty new abortion restrictions were passed last year in 18 of the 50 U.S. states, where legislators introduced more than 400 measures aimed at limiting abortion access, according to The Century Foundation, a U.S.-based public policy research group. The study found that 32 states tried to ban all or some abortions. (Wulfhorst, 1/19)

NPR: At Planned Parenthood Clinic In Virginia, Practitioners Worry For Their Patients
From her desk in Roanoke, Va., Patrice Campbell books appointments for the 15 Planned Parenthood clinics across the region. Right after the election, she noticed a huge increase in calls, many of them asking for the same thing. "We've seen where a lot of patients — I would say maybe 50 to 70 percent of patients — [are] eager to get in for long-term contraceptives," Campbell says. "So their focus is, I need to get an IUD before Jan. 20 because an IUD can last for five, even 10 years." Jan. 20, of course, is Inauguration Day. (Shapiro, 1/19)

USA Today: EpiPen Competitor Will Be Out In February, Free To 200M People
Five months after the CEO of Mylan faced an irate House panel over price increases for its EpiPen auto injectors, a former competitor will be back next month — at a far higher list price, the company announced Thursday. Kaleo, the maker of the Auvi-Q, says the price paid by consumers with commercial insurance will still be far lower for its reintroduced epinephrine auto injector than any of its brand name or generic competitors. (O'Donnell, 1/19)

Reuters: Anthem Extends Cigna Deal Closing Date Ahead Of Court Ruling
Anthem Inc on Thursday said it extended the deadline for its acquisition of Cigna Corp by three months as it awaits a federal court ruling on the U.S. government's lawsuit to block the deal. Anthem, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plans in 14 states, is trying to buy smaller rival Cigna. The government sued seven months ago to stop the deal, saying it was anti-competitive. (Humer, 1/19)

USA Today: Anthem To Change Opioid Treatment Policy Under Deal With NY Regulators
Anthem, the nation's second-largest insurance company, has ended its policy of pre-authorizations for drugs to treat opioid use disorder following an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, his office said Thursday. The agreement, which affects Anthem plans across the United States and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield customers in New York, followed an investigation into Empire's practices in New York. (O'Donnell and DeMio, 1/19)

The Associated Press: House GOP Plans To Push Direct Primary Care Plan
Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates will be pushing legislation again this session to promote direct primary care agreements, in which patients pay a fee for unlimited primary care. Del. Steven Landes outlined Republicans’ health care priorities in a speech on the House floor Thursday. (1/19)

The Associated Press: Report: NYPD Mental Health Training Needs Better Utilization
The New York Police Department has trained more than 5,000 police officers on how to handle mental health crisis calls but doesn't have a way to dispatch those officers when the calls come in, according to a report published Thursday. (1/19)

NPR: FDA Issues New Seafood Advice For Moms-To-Be. Not Everyone Is Thrilled
For many pregnant women, understanding what seafood is safe and healthy, and what should be avoided because of mercury concerns comes with a lot of hand-wringing. In part, that's because the federal government's advice on the matter, first issued in 2004, has long been criticized as unclear. That guidance has included advice on how much seafood to eat, and which species pregnant and nursing women should avoid over concerns about mercury contamination. (Leschin-Hoar, 1/19)

The Associated Press: Can Breakfast Help Keep Us Thin? Nutrition Science Is Tricky
Cereal makers have happily encouraged the belief that eating breakfast can help keep us thin and bring other benefits, partly by paying for studies that seem to support the idea. So, does that mean breakfast is bad for you? Not that either. What it does show is how difficult it can be to sort the hype from reliable dietary advice when studies are funded by the makers of Froot Loops, nutrition science is often inconclusive, and gray areas can be spun for marketing. (1/19)

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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