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KHN First Edition: April 11, 2017


First Edition

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: GOP Bills To Replace Obamacare Do Not Tinker With Lawmakers’ Coverage
Michelle Andrews reports: "Under the Affordable Care Act, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate and their office staffs who want employer coverage generally have to buy it on the health insurance exchange. Before the law passed in 2010, they were eligible to be covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or FEHB. (People working for congressional committees who are not on a member’s office staff may still be covered under FEHB.)" (Andrews, 4/11)

California Healthline: California Presses Forward In Fight To Regulate Pharma
KQED's Carrie Feibel reports: "In November, California voters defeated a ballot proposal that would have given state government more control over drug prices. It was a victory for pharmaceutical companies, which spent more than $100 million campaigning against the measure. Now the industry is fighting new efforts by state lawmakers to impose regulations. Drugmakers are watching Senate Bill 17, in particular. Instead of direct price controls, it calls for price transparency. Drug companies would have to announce large price hikes and give detailed justifications to explain why the prices are going up." (Feibel, 4/11)

The New York Times: Trump Administration To Pay Health Law Subsidies Disputed By House
The Trump administration says it is willing to continue paying subsidies to health insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act even though House Republicans say the payments are illegal because Congress never authorized them. The statement sends a small but potentially significant signal to insurers, encouraging them to stay in the market. (Pear, 4/10)

The Washington Post: This Is How Obamacare Might Actually Explode
Even if Republicans can't find a way to repeal Obamacare, they may still have a way to deliver on President Trump's promise that the law will “explode” — all via the power of uncertainty. The administration and Congress could keep insurers guessing over whether it will continue federal payments that lower deductibles and copays for millions of Americans next year. Without that certainty, insurers facing deadlines may decide not to sell plans on the marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act — or be forced to raise their premiums significantly. (Johnson, 4/11)

USA Today: Republicans Avoid Town Halls After Health Care Votes
Reps. Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania appear to be the only swing-district Republicans who voted for their party’s bill to replace Obamacare who will directly face constituents over the April recess, according to a USA TODAY analysis of scheduled town halls compiled by Fourteen Republicans from competitive congressional districts sit on the three congressional committees that voted last month for their party’s controversial health care plan before GOP leaders pulled the bill from the House floor because it lacked support to pass. (Przybyla, 4/10)

The Associated Press: Conservative Group's Health Care Ads Target GOP Moderates
The conservative Club for Growth is launching TV spots pressuring moderate Republican lawmakers to support the party's languishing health care overhaul drive, officials of the group said Monday in the latest salvo in the GOP civil war that derailed the House measure. The ads press moderates to back a revised version of the measure that the Trump administration offered last week in talks with conservative legislators. (4/10)

The New York Times: Patients Prescribed Shelter And Medication Are Wary Of Trump Cuts
For eight months, Jamal Brown’s body shook, so violently that he lost consciousness and ended up in the hospital more than 30 times. Though only in his 30s, his face drooped, his arms and legs often felt numb, and he was overcome with the anxiety of being a homeless drug addict trying to get clean in Camden, N.J. Then, last July, as he lay in a hospital bed after his third stroke, a representative of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers came to his bedside and suggested a different kind of treatment for his illnesses: a federal housing voucher. (Alcindor, 4/10)

The Washington Post: The Federal Panel That Opposed Prostate Cancer Screening Just Changed Its Mind
An influential federal task force has dropped its controversial opposition to routine screening for prostate cancer and now says that men between the ages of 55 and 69 should discuss the test’s potential benefits and harms with their doctors and make decisions based on their own “values and preferences.” “The decision about whether to be screened for prostate cancer should be an individual one,” the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said in a draft recommendation issued Tuesday. (McGinley, 4/11)

The Wall Street Journal: Thyroid Cancer Rates Raise New Concerns
Two new studies show that the high incidence of thyroid cancer may be more dangerous than previously thought. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last month raises new questions about why thyroid cancer cases are on the rise. Data from a separate study points to flame retardants as a possible culprit. The research could cause a shift of doctors’ and researchers’ long-held beliefs that the fast-growing rate of thyroid cancer cases is solely due to unnecessary diagnoses involving small tumors that don’t lead to death. (Reddy, 4/10)

The Washington Post: Physician Recommendations About Breast Cancer Screening Vary, Survey Finds
Primary-care physicians and gynecologists continue recommending breast cancer screening for younger and older women despite changes to breast cancer screening guidelines, a study published Monday found. Trust in different guidelines and a physician's specialization affect their screening recommendations, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine. (Naqvi, 4/10)

Los Angeles Times: Your Fitness Tracker Can Count Your Steps, But It's Not That Good At Monitoring Your Heart Rate
Using that nifty fitness monitor to keep track of your heart rate while you exercise? If you exercise while remaining still, it may work pretty well. If you move while exercising, not so much. A study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine put four wearable fitness trackers to the test — both against one another and against the kind of electrocardiography monitor you’d probably encounter while taking a stress test in an doctor’s office. (Healy, 4/10)

NPR: Sending Firetrucks For Medical Calls
Let's say you think you're having a stroke and you call 911 for an ambulance. In a lot of cities across the country there's a good chance that a firetruck — with a full fire crew including a paramedic — will race to your door. But that doesn't mean they can deliver the emergency care you might need. (Eng, 4/11)

Reuters: Progress Uneven As Global Child Death Rates Fall
Deaths among children and adolescents became less common between 1990 and 2015, but not all countries benefited equally from the improvements, according to a new analysis. Countries with low social and economic statuses shoulder a much larger child and adolescent mortality burden than do countries with better income, education and fertility levels, researchers found. (4/10)

The New York Times: Tackling Weight Loss And Diabetes With Video Chats
About a year and a half ago, Robin Collier and her husband, Wayne, were like millions of other Americans: overweight and living with Type 2 diabetes. Despite multiple diets, the couple could not seem to lose much weight. Then Ms. Collier’s doctor told her she was going to need daily insulin shots to control her diabetes. That was the motivation she needed. “I made up my mind right then and there,” said Ms. Collier, 62, an administrator at an accounting firm in Lafayette, Ind. “I said to myself, ‘I’m not going on insulin. I’m too young to have this disease.’” (O'Connor, 4/11)

NPR: Brain Area May Reveal When We Dream
Most of us have about five dreams each night, though we're not likely to remember any of them. But a team of researchers has found a pattern of brain activity that seems to reveal not only when the brain is generating a dream but something about the content of that dream. "When subjects were having [dream] experiences during sleep, there was a region in the back of the brain that tended to be very active, as if this region was a little bit more awake," says Francesca Siclari, a researcher at the Center for Research and Investigation in Sleep at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland. (Hamilton, 4/10)

The New York Times: Why Are So Many People Popping Vitamin D?
There was no reason for the patients to receive vitamin D tests. They did not have osteoporosis; their bones were not cracking from a lack of the vitamin. They did not have diseases that interfere with vitamin D absorption. Yet in a recent sample of 800,000 patients in Maine, nearly one in five had had at least one test for blood levels of the vitamin over a three-year period. (Kolata, 4/10)

The Associated Press: Jury Returns $454M Fraud Verdict In Hospital Gown Lawsuit
Kimberly-Clark and its spinoff medical technology firm Halyard Health have been hit with $454 million in compensatory and punitive damages, after a federal jury found the companies misled California buyers about the impermeability of their MicroCool surgical gowns. Jurors in Los Angeles returned the verdict Friday in a class-action lawsuit brought by more than 400 hospitals and health centers in California. (4/10)

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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