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KHN First Edition: July 29, 2015


First Edition

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Big Push: Hospitals Turn To ‘Laborists’ For Safer Deliveries
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "When the only hospital in this southern Delaware town saw two of its four obstetricians move away, it knew it had to do something to ensure women in labor could always get immediate medical help. But recruiting doctors to the land of chicken farms and corn fields proved difficult. So in late 2013, Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital shifted from using on-call doctors who came in as needed to a new model of maternity care that’s catching on nationally: It hired OB hospitalists, also called laborists, who are always at the hospital to handle births and obstetrical and gynecological emergencies." (Galewitz, 7/29)

The Associated Press: Health Care Spending To Accelerate, US Report Says
The nation's respite from accelerating health care costs appears to be over. Spending on health care will outpace the nation's overall economic growth over the next decade, the government forecast on Tuesday, underscoring a coming challenge for the next president, not to mention taxpayers, businesses and individual Americans. A combination of expanded insurance coverage under President Barack Obama's law, an aging population, and rising demand, will be squeezing society's ability to pay. (7/28)

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Health-Spending Growth Jumped To 5.5% In 2014
Growth in national health spending, which had dropped to historic lows in recent years, has snapped back and is set to continue at a faster pace over the next decade, federal actuaries said Tuesday. The return to bigger growth is a result of expanded insurance coverage under the 2010 health law, a revived economy and crunchtime as Medicare’s baby-boom beneficiaries enter their 70s. (Radnofsky, 7/28)

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: By 2024, Health Spending Will Be Nearly A Fifth Of The Economy
There are several major factors behind the accelerated growth over the next decade, economist Sean P. Keehan said at a press briefing Tuesday morning. More people have gained health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the aging of the Baby Boomer generation and stronger economic growth will all contribute to the long-term trend, he said. Prescription drug spending has also increased markedly, largely due to the debut of expensive hepatitis C drugs over the last two years, Keehan said. (Johnson, 7/28)

USA Today: Health Spending Projected To Grow Modestly, But Faster
Overall, health spending is expected to rise to $5.4 trillion by 2024, surpassing growth in the Gross Domestic Product, which is expected to average 4.7%. That means health spending will account for about a fifth of the U.S. economy in 2024 — 19.6% to be exact, up from 17.4% in 2013. Chapin White, a senior policy research with the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, non-partisan research organization, says that's not necessarily going to happen -- and, in fact, none of the projections are assured. "There's a lot of uncertainty around these projections," he says, adding that what ultimately happens depends a lot on decisions and policies yet to be made. (Unger, 7/28)

Politico: Health Care Spending Again Accelerating
Health care spending is rising at a faster clip than at any time since the Great Recession, with costs ticking up by 5.5 percent in 2014, CMS announced Tuesday. Over the next decade, health care costs are expected to rise by 5.8 percent annually, according to the agency’s latest projections. The growth in spending is being driven by the coverage expansion provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the continuing economic recovery and a population that’s steadily aging. (Demko, 7/28)

NPR: Happy 50th Birthday, Medicare. Your Patients Are Getting Healthier
Here's a bit of good news for Medicare, the popular government program that's turning 50 this week. Older Americans on Medicare are spending less time in the hospital; they're living longer; and the cost of a typical hospital stay has actually come down over the past 15 years, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Harris, 7?28)

USA Today: 'Jaw-Dropping': Medicare Deaths, Hospitalizations AND Costs Reduced
The U.S. health care system has scored a medical hat trick, reducing deaths, hospitalizations and costs, a new study shows. Mortality rates among Medicare patients fell 16% from 1999 to 2013. That’s equal to more than 300,000 fewer deaths a year in 2013 than in 1999, said cardiologist Harlan Krumholz, lead author of a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. (Szabo, 7/28)

The Associated Press: Then & Now: Medicare And Medicaid Turn 50
When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law on July 30, 1965, Americans 65 and older were the age group least likely to have health insurance. "No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine," Johnson said at the signing ceremony. "No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and their aunts." (7/29)

USA Today: Obamacare Reduces Uninsured Rates, Improves Access To Care, Study Finds
Since the Affordable Care Act took effect, fewer Americans lack health insurance or have trouble getting the care and medicines they need, a study released Tuesday says. The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says the number of Americans who reported being uninsured dropped 7.9 percentage points by the first quarter of this year. Minorities saw the biggest reductions — with uninsured rates among Latinos, for example, dropping by 11.9 percentage points. (Ungar, 7/28)

The Associated Press: Gilead Beats Street 2Q Forecasts On Surge In Sales, Profit
Blockbuster hepatitis C medicine Harvoni propelled Gilead Sciences Inc.’s second-quarter profit up 23 percent as total revenue for the biotech drugmaker jumped 26 percent and it raised its 2015 sales forecast for the second time. Its shares jumped in after-hours trading. Harvoni and a second hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, together posted sales about $500 million above expectations and HIV medicine sales were higher-than-expected across all products, noted Edward Jones analyst Ashtyn Evans. (Johnson, 7/28)

The Associated Press: What's In Emergency Bill To Fund Veterans Affairs Department
A three-month highway spending bill scheduled for a vote Wednesday in the House includes nearly $3.4 billion to fill a budget hole that the Department of Veterans Affairs claims would force it to close hospitals and clinics nationwide. Lawmakers from both parties said the spending was needed even as they complained about the VA's failure to anticipate the problem. An amendment sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, would allow VA to use $3.35 billion from the new Veterans Choice program to pay for private health care for veterans from May 1 to Oct. 1. (7/28)

Politico: GOP Introduces Legislation To Defund Planned Parenthood
Senate Republicans — including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — have introduced legislation to cut off all federal funds to Planned Parenthood, the abortion rights group at the center of a political firestorm over alleged fetal tissues sales. A “working group” led by GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Rand Paul of Kentucky drafted the legislation, which is expected to be voted on in the Senate next week. More than 20 other Republicans have signed on as cosponsors, including Majority Whip John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz, both of Texas. Cruz and Paul are both vying for the Republican presidential nomination. (Bresnahan and Palmer, 7/28)

The Washington Post: GOP Leaders Want Women Leading Anti-Planned Parenthood Efforts
Congressional Republicans are launching a new effort to end federal support for Planned Parenthood amid questions over its handling of fetal tissue, and it appears GOP leaders are looking to women to lead that fight. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) will lead a working group tasked with developing a legislative response to the spate of recently released undercover video of Planned Parenthood executives, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday. And House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday that House leaders are looking closely at legislation by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), a veteran antiabortion advocate, that would block funding to the group unless it stops performing abortions. (DeBonis, 7/28)

Politico: Carson, Cruz And Paul Rally Against Planned Parenthood
Sen. Ted Cruz called on the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into the people who appear in undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue donation. Cruz was speaking at an anti-abortion rally organized by Students for Life of America on Tuesday, just after activists released their third undercover video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal body parts in graphic detail. (Collins, 7/28)

The Associated Press: Appeals Court: Kansas Abortion Opponent Must Stand Trial
A Kansas abortion opponent must stand trial over a letter she sent to a Wichita doctor saying someone might place an explosive under the doctor’s car, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned late Tuesday a lower court’s summary decision that anti-abortion activist Angel Dillard’s letter was constitutionally protected speech. (Hegeman, 7/29)

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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