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KHN First Edition: February 22, 2017

KHN

First Edition

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: A New Diagnosis: ‘Post-Election Stress Disorder’
Jenny Gold reports: "Wally Pfingsten has always been a news junkie. But since President Donald Trump was elected, he’s been so anxious about the political tumult that even just having the TV news on in the background at home is unbearable. “It’s been crippling,” said the 35-year-old San Mateo, Calif., resident and political moderate who has supported both Democratic and Republican candidates in the past. “I feel angry, really, really angry, far more angry than I expected to be.” (Gold, 2/22)

Kaiser Health News: GOP Fix To Insurance Markets Could Spike Premiums For Older Customers
Jordan Rau and Julie Appleby report: "Dale Marsh has not been enamored with his health insurance since the Affordable Care Act took effect. Premiums for Marsh, 53, and his wife, Tammy, rose, their deductibles grew, and they gave up access to their regular doctors to keep costs down. This year, facing monthly premiums of $1,131 — a 47 percent increase from four years before — they decided to go without coverage. “It’s useless insurance,” said Marsh, who owns a software company with Tammy, 52, in Graford, Texas. “We’re praying for the best, that neither one of us need insurance, that we don’t have to go the hospital." Yet, a new premium spike may be in store for those in their 50s and 60s." (Rau and Appleby, 2/22)

California Healthline: A Safety-Net Medical Center Wrestles With What ‘Repeal’ Might Mean
Anna Gorman reports: "Little surprises Lynda Sutherland, who has been a licensed vocational nurse for 35 years at San Mateo Medical Center. But in the past few years, Sutherland said, she’s been surprised by what’s missing: the patients who used to return again and again to the public hospital for the same ailments. “They’re just not coming back,” she said." (Gorman, 2/22)

The Associated Press: Health Law Created Winners And Losers When Buying Insurance
Michael Schwarz is a self-employed business owner who buys his own health insurance. Subsidized coverage through "Obamacare" offers protection from life's unpredictable changes and freedom to pursue his vocation, he says. Brett Dorsch is also self-employed and buys his own health insurance. But he gets no financial break from the Affordable Care Act. "To me, it's just been a big lie," Dorsch says, forcing him to pay more for less coverage. (2/22)

The New York Times: At Town Halls, Doses Of Fury And A Bottle Of Tums
Representative Marsha Blackburn may have expected to draw a friendly crowd by scheduling a town hall-style meeting in a Tennessee community that had voted overwhelmingly for President Trump, but she instead faced a hurricane-strength blast of disapproval on Tuesday. Ms. Blackburn, an eight-term Republican, was sharply questioned about a wide range of issues that have unsettled Mr. Trump’s first month in office, including health care, the environment, education and the president’s links to Russia. (Gabriel, Kaplan, Alvarez and Huetteman, 2/21)

The Associated Press: GOP Members Of Congress Meet With Protests At Town Halls
A month into Trump's presidency, protests continue over his immigration policies, Cabinet selections and the GOP's push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, without all the specifics on how to replace it. At the town halls, protesters are probing their lawmakers to see if they will veer from some of Trump's more controversial decisions, and if they will promise coverage for those currently served by the Affordable Care Act. Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to address the town halls. "The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!" he tweeted. (2/21)

The Associated Press: US Senate Leader: Winners Make Policy, Losers Go Home
Nearly 1,000 people jeered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he drove to a speech Tuesday where he told local business leaders that "winners make policy and the losers go home." ... Several people stood and booed as McConnell finished his remarks, including answering a few questions about the Affordable Care Act and regulations on the financial industry imposed by the legislation known as Dodd-Frank. McConnell was largely unfazed by those he called "the people outside," saying he was "proud" of them for expressing their views. (2/21)

Politico: This Time, Grassley Hears Pro-Obamacare Voices
What a difference eight years makes. More than 100 Iowans on Tuesday packed into a small farm town community center by 7:45 a.m. to urge Sen. Chuck Grassley not to repeal Obamacare, and to air their opposition to President Donald Trump’s agenda, his Cabinet nominees and his Supreme Court pick. (Haberkorn, 2/21)

Politico: GOP Lessons From The Latest Round Of Brutal Town Halls
An overflow crowd here was eager to take on Rep. Dave Brat, the conservative Republican who just weeks earlier needled liberal protesters in his district and groused about all the women “in my grill” over GOP plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. But with a plain-spoken approach — and a format that didn't revolve around live-fire questions from the combative crowd — Brat offered his colleagues a potential blueprint for defusing tense constituent town halls that have bedeviled his Republican colleagues as they’ve been swarmed by protesters. (Cheney, 2/21)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Seeks Delay In Lawsuit Over Health-Law Subsidies
The Trump administration and House Republicans on Tuesday asked a court for a further delay in a lawsuit over certain Affordable Care Act subsidies, a move that may help assuage insurers debating whether to participate in the health law’s 2018 exchanges. In May, a federal district court judge ruled that the government was improperly reimbursing insurers to help them cover discounts they were required to give some low-income consumers, potentially a major blow to the insurers. (Hackman, 2/21)

The Associated Press: 'It Saved My Life': Talk Of Obamacare Repeal Worries Addicts
While the Affordable Care Act has brought health coverage to millions of Americans, the effects have been profound, even lifesaving, for some of those caught up in the nation's opioid-addiction crisis. In Kentucky, which has been ravaged worse than almost any other state by fentanyl, heroin and other drugs, Tyler Witten went into rehab at Medicaid's expense after the state expanded the program under a provision of the act. Until then, he had been addicted to painkillers for more than a decade. "It saved my life," he said. (2/22)

The Associated Press: State Lawmakers Channel Grief Into Fight Against Opioids
In statehouses across the country, lawmakers with loved ones who fell victim to drugs are leading the fight against the nation's deadly opioid-abuse crisis, drawing on tragic personal experience to attack the problem. A Minnesota state senator whose daughter died of a heroin overdose in a Burger King parking lot — a friend hid the needles instead of calling for help — spearheaded a law that grants immunity to 911 callers. In Wisconsin, a state representative has introduced more than a dozen opioid-related bills in the years since his daughter went from painkillers to heroin to prison. A Pennsylvania lawmaker whose son is a recovering heroin addict championed a state law that expanded availability of an antidote that can reverse an overdose. (2/21)

The Associated Press: Lawmakers Urge VA To Explain Rising Cases Of Drug Theft
The heads of two congressional committees said Tuesday they want the Department of Veterans Affairs to better explain its efforts to stem drug theft and loss in light of rising cases of missing prescriptions and other unauthorized use at VA hospitals. Rep. Phil Roe, who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said his panel had scheduled a hearing for Monday. The Associated Press reported last Monday on government data showing a sharp increase since 2009 in opioid theft and drugs that had simply disappeared at the VA. (Yen , 2/21)

USA Today: New Patient Group Focuses On Drug Prices Amid Bipartisan Concern
A new patient advocacy group launches Wednesday that distinguishes itself by focusing only on drug prices and eschewing money from the pharmaceutical industry at a time when drug makers are pouring millions into a campaign fighting efforts to regulate them. The formation of Patients for Affordable Drugs (PFAD) comes as local officials and members of Congress are decrying the latest huge drug price hikes, this time by drugmaker Kaléo for its version of the overdose antidote naloxone. (O'Donnell and Shesgreen, 2/22)

The New York Times: Judge Blocks Medicaid Cuts To Planned Parenthood In Texas
A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked Texas from cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, ruling the state had presented no credible evidence to support claims the organization violated medical or ethical standards related to abortion procedures.The ruling, a preliminary injunction issued by Sam Sparks, a United States District Court judge in the Western District of Texas, means that, for now, 30 health centers that serve about 12,500 Medicaid patients can continue to receive funding from the medical program that serves the poor. The case is set to go to trial, where the judge can rule on its merits. (Mele, 2/21)

The Associated Press: Judge Blocks Texas Cutting Medicaid To Planned Parenthood
An injunction issued by U.S. District Sam Sparks of Austin comes after he delayed making decision in January and essentially bought Planned Parenthood an extra month in the state’s Medicaid program. ... Sparks’ decision preserves what Planned Parenthood says are cancer screenings, birth control access and other health services for nearly 11,000 low-income women at 30 clinics. Texas originally intended to boot Planned Parenthood in January but Sparks told the state to wait pending his ruling. Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Louisiana have also had similar efforts blocked. (Weber, 2/21)

The Associated Press: McAuliffe Vetoes Bill Cutting Abortion Clinics' Funding
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a bill that would have restricted funding for Planned Parenthood clinics. The Democrat vetoed the measure Tuesday during an event outside the executive mansion. He vetoed the same measure last year and said Tuesday it would harm tens of thousands of Virginians who rely on Planned Parenthood. (2/21)

The Associated Press: Experts: Science Behind 'Abortion Reversal' Is Flawed
Lawmakers in several states are considering requirements for doctors to inform women seeking medical abortions about an unproven procedure called "abortion reversal." Doctors' groups oppose the bills because of flawed science and ethical concerns. There is no evidence the procedure works and little information about its safety. The procedure involves shots of the hormone progesterone given if a woman changes her mind after the first step of a medical abortion. (2/22)

The Washington Post: U.S. Life Expectancy Will Soon Be On Par With Mexico’s And The Czech Republic’s
Life expectancy at birth will continue to climb substantially for residents of industrialized nations — but not in the United States, where minimal gains will soon put life spans on par with those in Mexico and the Czech Republic, according to an extensive analysis released Tuesday. South Korean women and Hungarian men are projected to make the largest overall gains (with South Koreans second among males). There is a better-than-even chance that South Korean women will live to an average of 90 years old by 2030, which would be the first time a population will break the 90-year barrier, according to the research published in The Lancet. (Bernstein, 2/21)

The Wall Street Journal: Karen Pence’s Advocacy For Art Therapy Stirs Controversy
As Vice President Mike Pence visited Europe to reassure world leaders, his wife, Karen Pence, pursued her own issue: promoting art therapy. At first blush, it might seem Mrs. Pence’s support for art therapy would win public backing akin to the broad support Barbara and Laura Bush received for their promotion of literacy, instead of the divisive type of response Tipper Gore got for her campaign against offensive music lyrics. But the Donald Trump era is no ordinary time. (Barnes, 2/21)

NPR: Testosterone Has Mixed Results On Older Men's Health
Many men over 65 with low testosterone levels say their sense of well-being, not to mention sexual function, isn't what it used to be. That's why some doctors prescribe testosterone replacement. But the effectiveness of testosterone has been controversial. Studies of the risks and benefits have been mixed, and the Food and Drug Administration beefed up its warnings about cardiac side effects of testosterone supplementation in 2015. (Neighmond, 2/21)

NPR: Testosterone Patients Not Told About Anemia
There's a lesson about one of the testosterone studies released this week that has nothing to do with testosterone: The study on how testosterone affects anemia was designed with an ethical lapse that nobody noticed until the study was complete. That's surprising because it was designed and carried out by a couple of dozen of well-regarded scientists. Their protocols were reviewed by 12 university institutional review boards, whose job is to evaluate the ethics of an experiment. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and the trial was overseen by a watchdog data safety and monitoring board. But all of those safety features fell short this time. (Harris, 2/21)

The Wall Street Journal: Bidder Says Los Angeles-Area Hospital Didn’t Need To Close
A health-care firm that offered to buy Gardens Regional Hospital and Medical Center Inc., a Los Angeles-area hospital that cared for low-income residents before shutting down, told a bankruptcy judge that its purchase efforts were unfairly ignored. In court papers, Le Summit Healthcare LLC officials told Bankruptcy Judge Ernest Robles that they are still willing to operate the nonprofit hospital while they obtain the new licensing and permits to restart its operations. They say Gardens Regional Hospital’s lawyers closed the 137-bed hospital unnecessarily. (Stech, 2/21)

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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