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KHN First Edition: July 20, 2015


First Edition

Monday, July 20, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Surprise! That Urgent Care Center May Send You A Big Bill (Just Like The ER)
Sallyann Johnson considers herself a pretty savvy health care consumer. When she fell and injured her hands and wrists, she didn’t head for an expensive emergency room, choosing an urgent care clinic near her Milwaukee home instead. Before seeking treatment, she asked the key question: Did the center accept her insurance? Yes, Johnson was assured, both on the phone and then again when she arrived at the clinic. (Appleby, 7/20)

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Law Helps Sickest Americans — Depending On Their State
Every year, thousands of people like Blanca Guerra call the National Cancer Information Center, desperate to find some kind of health insurance. Guerra rang recently from her home in Arizona, seeking help for her older brother, who had just been diagnosed with advanced stage colorectal cancer. A few years ago, the call center would have had few solutions. (Levey, 7/19)

The Associated Press: Medicaid Enrollment Surges, Stirs Worry About State Budgets
More than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have seen enrollments surge way beyond projections, raising concerns that the added costs will strain their budgets when federal aid is scaled back starting in two years. ... In Kentucky, for example, enrollments during the 2014 fiscal year were more than double the number projected, with almost 311,000 newly eligible residents signing up. That's greater than what was initially predicted through 2021. As a result, the state revised its Medicaid cost estimate from $33 million to $74 million for the 2017 fiscal year. By 2021, those costs could climb to a projected $363 million. (Cassidy, 7/19)

The Associated Press: Maryland Medicaid Expansion Much Higher Than Forecast
Maryland is one of more than a dozen states where new Medicaid enrollees under President Barack Obama’s health care law have surpassed initial projects, though state analysts say Maryland is actually spending less on its Medicaid population because federal health care reform is covering 100,000 people who used to get health care paid entirely by the state. (Witte, 7/19)

The Associated Press: Tribes Push To End Affordable Care Act Coverage Requirement
Representatives of several Indian tribes say they support legislation introduced by congressional Republicans this week that would exempt tribes nationwide from being classified as large employers under the federal Affordable Care Act — a designation that requires tribes to pay higher insurance costs or face federal penalties. Supporters say requiring tribes to provide group insurance for tribal employees serves to shift the costs of implementing the Affordable Care Act from the federal government to the tribes. People who register for individual coverage under the act may qualify for federal tax credits, but that option's not available to those who work for designated large employers. (7/17)

The Associated Press: SPIN METER: Sketchy Claims For High-Tech Health Fraud Buster
Medicare says its computerized fraud prevention system worked like a cybercharm last year, identifying $454 million in problematic payments and generating a financial return for the taxpayer of $10 for every dollar spent. But you can't take that to the bank: Most of the savings claimed by the Obama administration are unlikely to be realized, the Health and Human Services inspector general's office said in its own recent analysis. (7/20)

The New York Times: Hillary Clinton Lambastes Republicans In Arkansas Homecoming
Mr. Beebe, the popular Democratic governor who left office last year due to term limits, called the 2014 midterm elections “a huge sea change” and said Mrs. Clinton’s speech “revitalizes a lot of folks.” Despite the turn away from Democratic candidates in Arkansas, voters here have embraced some of the party’s policies including a minimum wage increase and a private-option health insurance program. “I am well aware that here in Arkansas last year was a hard one for Democrats,” Mrs. Clinton said. “But don’t forget, voters did come out and pass an increase in the minimum wage, Arkansas voters know pay checks need to grow.” (Chozick, 7/19)

Politico: Hillary: I'm 'Examining' Obamacare's Cadillac Tax
In her highly anticipated speech on the economy Monday, Hillary Clinton was heavy on rhetoric and short on specifics, promising to reveal her actual policy proposals in the weeks ahead. But this week, she also dropped a not-so-subtle hint about a big one. In a questionnaire for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which endorsed her this week, Clinton noted that the so-called “Cadillac tax” levied under Obamacare is one area she is “examining.” (Vinik, 7/19)

The Associated Press: Jeb Bush: Arrogance And Incompetence Accepted In DC
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who pursued an aggressive agenda when he was Florida’s governor for eight years, returns to the state capital on Monday where he plans to outline his top domestic priorities if elected. ... It’s not surprising that Bush would begin rolling out a series of policies even as the field for president continues to grow. Before he ran for president he constantly urged other Republicans to offer up alternatives to Democratic-backed ideas like President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul instead of just opposing them. (Fineout, 7/20)

The Associated Press: VA Problems Mount As Missteps Continue
The Department of Veterans Affairs faces a serious numbers problem — multiple in fact. It can't count how many veterans died while waiting to sign up for health care. It says some VA hospitals may have to close if the agency can't get $2.5 billion. And a year after scandal rocked the department, congressional Republicans want to know why the number of employees fired is so low. (7/17)

USA Today: Theranos Gets Nod From FDA For Possible In-Home Testing
A few weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration granted approval to Theranos' innovative finger-prick method, which requires mere drops of blood as opposed to vials to run complex tests. The agency also specifically gave its blessing to Theranos' test for the herpes simplex 1 virus. But on Thursday, the FDA gave Holmes yet another thumbs up that could radically expand the company's business potential. By granting Theranos the right to conduct that herpes test outside of a lab - a so-called CLIA waiver - the FDA is giving the Palo Alto-based startup the green light to offer consumers even greater flexibility and itself a broader revenue stream. (della Cava, 7/17)

The Wall Street Journal CIO Journal: Health Care Software Maker Intermedix Names Jack Hemmert CIO In Analytics Push
Jack Hemmert has been hired as the first CIO of Intermedix Corp., which provides sales management and analytics software for health-care providers, corporations and government agencies. Mr. Hemmert, formerly CIO of Verisk Health, reports to CEO Joel Portice. Mr. Hemmert will work to expand the company’s technology and data analytics initiatives. He will establish IT culture and practices centered around Agile software development, with an emphasis on collaboration with business partners to accelerate growth. (Boulton, 7/17)

NPR: Siren Song Of Tech Lures New Doctors Away From Medicine
Just a stone's throw from UCSF Medical Center, a small group of entrepreneurs at Rock Health, a business accelerator program that is now a venture firm, were thinking about how to shake up the health care process with technology. These startups were developing new wearable devices and mobile apps to help patients take more control of their own health. The timing was right to bring new ideas to the sector. By 2012, hospitals around the country were rapidly moving away from paper-based medical records to electronic systems, a first step to moving health care into the digital age. Angelotti graduated the following year, but she didn't apply for any residency programs. Instead, she went to work at Rock Health as a researcher and writer and later joined the medical review site Iodine, one of an exploding number of digital health startups in San Francisco.

The Wall Street Journal: Pregnant Women Get More Ultrasounds, Without Clear Medical Need
In 2014, usage in the U.S. of the most common fetal-ultrasound procedures averaged 5.2 per delivery, up 92% from 2004, according to an analysis of data compiled for The Wall Street Journal by FAIR Health Inc., a nonprofit aggregator of insurance claims. Some women report getting scans at every doctor visit during pregnancy. But medical experts are now warning that frequent scans in low-risk pregnancies aren’t medically justified. A joint statement in May 2014 from several medical societies, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, calls for one or two ultrasounds in low-risk, complication-free pregnancies. (Helliker, 7/17)

NPR: Alzheimer's Drugs In The Works Might Help Other Diseases, Too
Efforts to find a treatment for Alzheimer's disease have been disappointing so far. But there's a new generation of drugs in the works that researchers think might help not only Alzheimer's patients, but also people with Parkinson's disease and other brain disorders. Previous efforts to treat Alzheimer's have focused on a single target — usually the protein called beta-amyloid, says Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer's Association. "The one-target approach is probably not going to be the answer," Carrillo says. (Hamilton, 7/19)

The Washington Post: Saliva Seen As Possible Diagnostic Tool For Alzheimer’s Disease
Your spit might just reveal whether you’re a likely candidate for developing Alzheimer’s disease. That at least is the hope of Canadian researchers whose study suggests that analyzing certain chemical compounds in saliva could provide a cheap, noninvasive way to learn whether the brain has begun to undergo the changes that culminate in loss of memory and cognitive function. (Kunkle, 7/19)

The Associated Press: California Universities Battle Over Alzheimer’s Research
One university’s effort to poach a star faculty member at another Southern California university has devolved into a legal battle that some fear may impede Alzheimer’s disease research. The University of California, San Diego, has filed a lawsuit over last month’s defection of Alzheimer’s disease expert Paul Aisen and other employees to the University of Southern California, which has worked to bolster its reputation in medicine and sciences and has offered lucrative compensation packages to public university faculty. (7/19)

Los Angeles Times: UCLA Health System Data Breach Affects 4.5 Million Patients
Marking another high-profile data breach, hackers broke into UCLA Health System's computer network and may have accessed sensitive information on as many as 4.5 million patients, hospital officials said. This cyberattack at UCLA comes on the heels of a major breach of federal employee records and a massive hack at health insurance giant Anthem Inc. affecting 80 million Americans this year. (Terhune, 7/17)

NPR: UCLA Health Says 4.5M May Be Affected In Data Breach
UCLA Health says it was a victim of a criminal cyberattack that affected as many as 4.5 million people. UCLA Health, in a statement Friday, said attackers accessed parts of the computer network that contain personal and medical information, but there is no evidence they "actually accessed or acquired any individual's personal or medical information." The statement said UCLA Health is working with the FBI and has hired private computer forensic experts to help in the investigation. (Calamur, 7/17)

The Associated Press: Major Cyberattack Targets UCLA Hospital System
The FBI said in a statement that the agency was looking into the nature and scope of the cyberattack, as well as the person or group responsible. University of California President Janet Napolitano ordered an outside cybersecurity group to assess the computer security system throughout the UC system and look for potential vulnerabilities. (7/17)

USA Today: Hack At UCLA Health Could Involve 4.5M People
However, there is "no evidence at this time that the cyber attacker actually accessed or acquired any individual's personal or medical information," said UCLA Health, a medical system that includes four hospitals and over 150 offices in southern California. That seems unlikely, said Stephen Newman, CTO of Damballa, an Atlanta-based computer security company. "Though UCLA Health says there was no evidence that personal and medical information was taken, time will tell for sure," he said. "Once criminals have unfettered access to a network, they have many ways to remove data." Health care networks are juicy targets for hackers, said Gavin Reid, vice president of threat intelligence for Lancope, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based company. (Weise, 7/19)

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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