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KHN First Edition: April 13, 2017


First Edition

Thursday, April 13, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: In Remote Idaho, A Tiny Facility Lights The Way For Stressed Rural Hospitals
Anna Gorman reports: "Just before dusk on an evening in early March, Mimi Rosenkrance set to work on her spacious cattle ranch to vaccinate a calf. But the mother cow quickly decided that just wasn’t going to happen. She charged, all 1,000 pounds of her, knocking Rosenkrance over and repeatedly stomping on her. “That cow was trying to push me to China,” Rosenkrance recalls. Dizzy and nauseated, with bruises spreading on both her legs and around her eye, Rosenkrance, 58, nearly passed out. Her son called 911 and an ambulance staffed by volunteers drove her to Lost Rivers Medical Center, a tiny, brick hospital nestled on the snowy hills above this remote town in central Idaho." (Gorman, 4/13)

Kaiser Health News: As Some Holdout States Revisit Medicaid Expansion, New Data Show It Pays Off
Shefali Luthra reports: "Although the GOP-controlled Congress is pledging its continued interest — despite stalls and snags — to dismantle Obamacare, some “red state” legislatures are changing course and showing a newfound interest in embracing the health law’s Medicaid expansion. And a study out Wednesday in Health Affairs adds to these discussions, percolating in places such as Kansas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Maine. Thirty-one states plus the District of Columbia already opted to pursue the expansion, which provided federal funding to broaden eligibility to include most low-income adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,000 for an individual)." (Luthra, 4/12)

California Healthline: State Lawmakers Seek $2M To Boost Valley Fever Research, Monitoring
New state legislation that would allocate $2 million to support valley fever research and monitoring is the most recent effort to increase awareness of the fungal disease, which is typically mild but can be very dangerous in some cases. The bill, authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), would take the money from the state’s General Fund and allot it to an already existing valley fever fund operated by the state’s Department of Public Health. The fund supports research for a vaccine to protect against valley fever. The new money would be used to buy research equipment, develop a tracking method and conduct community outreach, according to the text of the legislation. (Ibarra, 4/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Threatens To Withhold Payments To Insurers To Press Democrats On Health Bill
Nearly three weeks after Republican infighting sank an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump dug back into the battle on Wednesday, threatening to withhold payments to insurers to force Democrats to the negotiating table. In an interview in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said he was still considering what to do about the payments approved by his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama, which some Republicans contend are unconstitutional. Their abrupt disappearance could trigger an insurance meltdown that causes the collapse of the 2010 health law, forcing lawmakers to return to a bruising debate over its future. (Bender, Radnofsky and Nicholas, 4/12)

Politico: Trump Dangles Obamacare Payments To Force Dems To The Table
Democrats are adamant that they won’t negotiate on subsidies, which lower medical costs for nearly 7 million Obamacare customers. “Failing to make these payments would be a direct effort by the administration to further undermine the health care system in this country, putting care for millions of Americans at risk,” said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "President Trump has an obligation to drop his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and instead work with Democrats to strengthen it.” (Diamond and Dawsey, 4/12)

USA Today: Freedom Caucus Leader Brat Predicts Health Care Passage Within Weeks
Rep. Dave Brat, one of the conservative Freedom Caucus leaders whose resistance helped undermine the Republican health care proposal last month, says White House and congressional negotiators are close to a compromise that he predicts will pass the House in the next three weeks. “Within a few weeks, I think D.C. is going to be a little bit shocked,” he said in an interview with Capital Download. “We’re going to get to yes.” (Page, 4/12)

The Associated Press: Conservative Group's Health Ads Slam Top GOP Lawmakers
The conservative Club for Growth is targeting powerful committee chairmen and other top Republicans, part of an aggressive ad campaign to rally support for the GOP's struggling health care overhaul effort. The television and digital ads, unveiled earlier this week, pressure Republicans to a back a revised version of the GOP health care bill that Speaker Paul Ryan abruptly withdrew last month because it lacked the votes. (4/13)

Politico: Coffman Pummeled At Town Hall For Backing GOP Obamacare Replacement
During a roughly two-hour town hall here on the outskirts of Denver Wednesday night, nearly every other constituent brought up health care. But not a single one did it to thank Rep. Mike Coffman for backing the beleaguered House GOP Obamacare replacement. Instead, dozens of local inhabitants in this swingiest of swing districts — both Democrats and Republicans — pummeled the Colorado Republican for supporting legislation they believe would harm their community. (Bade, 4/13)

The Associated Press: Iowa Voters Credit GOP Lawmaker For Opposing Health Bill
Rebuffing President Donald Trump and Republican leaders on the GOP health care bill seemed like a major political misstep for Iowa Rep. David Young, who quickly was punished by a political action committee linked to Speaker Paul Ryan. Nearly three weeks later, voters in Young's southwestern Iowa district — Republicans and Democrats — say the GOP congressman made the right move. (4/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Prescription-Drug Shortages Help Push Up Prices Of Similar Drugs
Prescription-drug supply shortages have hurt U.S. medical care in recent years. According to new research, they’ve also caused another side effect—drug-price increases. A shortage of the bladder-cancer drug BCG in 2014 and 2015 led to sharp price increases for a less effective alternative treatment, mitomycin, according to research published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine. (Loftus, 4/12)

The Washington Post: Self-Funded Team Led By An ER Doctor Wins ‘Star Trek’-Inspired Competition
A seven-member, self-funded team consisting of four siblings won the international X Prize tricorder consumer medical competition — yes, inspired by the “Star Trek” gizmo — besting 312 entrants from 38 countries, many with corporate and government backing. Final Frontier Medical Devices, led by Basil Harris, a suburban Philadelphia emergency room doctor, won the $2.6 million top prize. The open competition, launched in 2012, challenged applicants to produce a lightweight, affordable health kit that diagnoses and interprets 13 health conditions and continuously monitors five health vitals. (Heller, 4/13)

The Washington Post: From Physician To Felon: A Doctor Warns How Easy It Is To Be Bribed
From the time she was 8 years old, Michele Martinho wanted to be a doctor. The daughter of immigrants, she focused single-mindedly on that goal, shaping her education and extracurricular activities toward gaining admission to medical school and then finding a medical residency. ... On Tuesday, she spoke to a small audience at the Georgetown University School of Medicine as both a physician and a felon, her world upended by an aspect of medical practice for which she received no training despite all those years of education. (Bernstein, 4/12)

The Associated Press: Running Behind: Marathons May Delay Medical Care For Others
Marathons can be risky for hearts, but not necessarily those of the runners. It takes longer for nearby residents to get to a hospital for emergency heart care on the day of a race and they’re less likely to survive, a U.S. study finds. Any event that draws a crowd and causes traffic detours — parades, ball games, concerts, fairs — may cause similar problems, researchers warn. (Marchione, 4/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Marathons Can Be Dangerous For The Elderly—Who Aren’t Even Running
The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found ambulances took 4.4 minutes longer, on average, to get elderly patients to the hospital before noon on marathon day during the 11 largest U.S. marathons, compared with travel times in the weeks before and after the races. Ambulances didn’t experience similar delays on the evenings of marathon days, when roads typically reopen. (Evans, 4/12)

The Associated Press: Trans Fats Ban Linked With Fewer NY Heart Attacks & Strokes
Local bans on artery-clogging trans fats in restaurant foods led to fewer heart attacks and strokes in several New York counties, a new study suggests. The study hints at the potential for widespread health benefits from an upcoming nationwide ban, the authors and other experts say. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015 gave the food industry until next year to eliminate artificial trans fats from American products. (Tanner, 4/12)

The Washington Post: Md. Legislative Leaders In Stand-Off Over Special Session On Medical Marijuana
Advocates who want to diversify and expand Maryland’s medical marijuana industry are calling on the General Assembly to hold a one-day special session to get the job done. But the top politicians in Annapolis are again at odds on the issue, imperiling the chances for a deal. Democratic lawmakers agree that the state should approve five new minority growers to join the 15 mostly white-owned companies already pre-approved to open cultivation sites. (Nirappil, 4/12)

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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