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KHN First Edition: July 24, 2015


First Edition

Friday, July 24, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Consumers’ Satisfaction With Coverage Linked To Out-Of-Pocket Expenses
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "How much money people have to fork over when they go to the doctor can make a big difference in how satisfied they are with their health plan, a recent study suggests. “It looks like it’s boiling down to costs,” says Paul Fronstin, director of the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s health research and education program and the author of the report." (Andrews, 7/24)

Kaiser Health News: Having A Baby? Big Differences Noted In Hospital Quality Across Mass.
WBUR's Martha Bebinger, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "When women prepare to give birth, their choice of a hospital is usually dependent on how close it is to their home, where their doctors practice or where their insurance coverage sends them. What they might not realize is that there are often big differences in quality. In Massachusetts, with a little effort, the 70,000 women who give birth each year can check on those measures that set hospitals apart on a tool developed by Boston public radio station WBUR." (Bebinger, 7/24)

Los Angeles Times: Anthem Clinches Deal To Buy Rival Cigna For $54 Billion
Anthem Inc. has agreed to acquire rival Cigna Corp. for $54 billion, creating the health insurance industry's biggest company by enrollment. The agreement announced Friday caps weeks of frenzied dealmaking in the healthcare sector. Aetna Inc. reached a $37-billion deal for Humana Inc. this month. And Woodland Hills insurer Health Net Inc. agreed to be acquired by Medicaid insurer Centene Corp. for $6.8 billion. (Terhune, 7/24)

The New York Times: Anthem To Buy Cigna In Deal Valued At $54.2 Billion
The deal would shrink the number of major health insurers in the United States and comes just weeks after Aetna agreed to acquire Humana, the smallest of the big five insurers, for $37 billion in cash and stock. A combined Anthem-Cigna would have estimated revenue of about $115 billion and serve more than 53 million people with medical coverage. (Bray, 7/24)

The Wall Street Journal: Anthem Agrees To Buy Cigna For $48 Billion
Anthem Inc. agreed to buy Cigna Corp. for more than $48 billion in a transaction that, along with a previously proposed combination of rivals, could reshape the U.S. health industry. ... The tie-up of Anthem and Cigna would accelerate the rapid-fire reconfiguration at the top of the U.S. managed-care industry. The biggest companies are seeking more cost efficiency and scale as the health-care landscape changes because of the Affordable Care Act and other factors. ... Of the five largest health insurers, only UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest by revenue, is sitting out the merger wave, at least so far. (Mattioli, Wilde Mathews and Dulaney, 7/24)

The Wall Street Journal: Fund Boss’s Gamble On Health Law Pays Off Big
Glenview Capital Management LLC made a bold decision when President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul was rolling out: Bet on it. The result has been one of the most successful hedge-fund wagers in recent years. New York-based Glenview has realized and paper gains of more than $3.2 billion since it started making investments in hospitals and insurers four years ago, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of securities filings. (Benoit, 7/23)

Los Angeles Times: On The Record: Special Agent Glenn Ferry Fights Medicare Fraud
Glenn Ferry has busted pastors, organized crime figures and fake nurses in nearly three decades fighting Medicare fraud. He's special agent in charge of the Los Angeles regional office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general. His territory spans Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. (Terhune, 7/23)

The Wall Street Journal: Planned Parenthood Federal Funds Challenged By Surreptitious Videos
Videos of Planned Parenthood staffers discussing how they gather fetal tissue during abortions for use in medical research are stirring antiabortion activists’ hopes of converting the controversy into a ban on federal funding for the organization. Cutting off federal funds for Planned Parenthood has emerged as one of the short-term moves that activists believe is most achievable in the wake of the release of two videos in the past two weeks. (Radnofsky and son, 7/23)

Politico: GOP States Push Planned Parenthood Probes
At least eight Republican-led states are starting investigations or trying to stop funding Planned Parenthood — and they may be able to get results more easily than the outraged Republicans in Congress or on the GOP presidential campaign trail. The red states may be better placed to slash funds than Congress, where Senate Democrats can likely block GOP efforts to defund the organization, which gets millions in state and federal financing each year for providing health care services ranging from breast cancer screening to birth control, often for low-income women. (Haberkorn, 7/24)

Politico: Hillary Clinton Comes Out In Defense Of Planned Parenthood
Hillary Clinton on Thursday came out in defense of Planned Parenthood for the first time since the organization got swept up in a scandal involving videos that allege it sells fetal tissue. “Planned Parenthood has apologized for the insensitivity of the employee who was taped, and they will continue to answer questions for Congress and others,” Clinton said during a campaign stop in South Carolina. (Karni, 7/23)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Jeb Bush Learns Perils Of Medicare Overhaul Proposal
Jeb Bush learned Thursday that it’s still politically treacherous to talk about entitlement reform, even though an overhaul of Social Security and Medicare has become widely accepted in Republican circles. At a forum Wednesday in Manchester, N.H., organized by Americans for Prosperity, a leading conservative group, Mr. Bush said he wanted to “phase out” Medicare in its current form for the entitlement program’s future beneficiaries, while protecting it for people receiving benefits now. (Reinhard, 7/23)

USA Today: Bush, After 'Phase Out' Comment, Says Medicare Needs Reform
Jeb Bush, under fire from Democrats for saying he would “phase out” Medicare, said Thursday the program has to be reformed because of unsustainable costs in the long run. “It’s an actuarially unsound health care system,” Bush told the crowd at a town hall in New Hampshire, adding that “$50 trillion dollars of debt has been accrued and if we do nothing, that’s the burden that we’re going to place on your children and grandchildren.” (Jackson, 7/23)

NPR: In Helping Those With Disabilities, ADA Improves Access For All
When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law 25 years ago, "everybody was thinking about the iconic person in a wheelchair," says civil rights lawyer Sid Wolinsky. Or that the ADA — which bans discrimination based on disability — was for someone who is deaf, or blind. But take a tour of New York City with Wolinsky — and the places he sued there — and you will see how the ADA has helped not just people with those significant disabilities, but also people with minor disabilities, and people with no disability at all. (Shapiro, 7/24)

Los Angeles Times: Legislator Vows To Seek More Healthcare Coverage For Immigrants
Healthcare advocates in California this year successfully pushed for medical coverage for kids who are in the country illegally. But they say they're not satisfied. At a news conference Thursday, state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) outlined his efforts to further expand coverage to Californians who entered the country illegally. (Karlamangla, 7/23)

The Associated Press: California Judge To Rule On Right-To-Die Lawsuit
A single mom given only months to live and other California right-to-die advocates are hoping a court will do what the Legislature did not: allow doctors to prescribe fatal medication for terminally ill people who want it. A San Diego Superior Court judge is expected Friday to hear a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the state by Christy O'Donnell, two other terminally ill Californians and a San Diego doctor seeking such a right. The plaintiffs are backed by Compassion and Choices, an advocacy group that has supported legislative efforts and similar lawsuits in various states. (7/24)

The New York Times: Costly To Treat, Hepatitis C Gains Quietly In U.S.
Zach Wayman says he first contracted hepatitis C several years ago by sharing needles with other heroin addicts. He went into rehab and was successfully treated for the virus. But he relapsed into addiction and reinfected himself, testing positive for hepatitis C again this spring. (Goodnough, 7/23)

The Associated Press: From Highways To Health Care, Challenges Confront Governors
Money to repair highways, rising health care costs and controversies surrounding attempts to combat global warming are among topics the nation's governors plan to tackle when they gather this week in West Virginia. The National Governors Association summer meeting, which runs Thursday through Saturday at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, comes as states find themselves grappling with an array of issues that defy easy answers. Those include long-range funding for infrastructure upgrades, the effects of prolonged drought, and adequately funding public schools and colleges. (7/23)

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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