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KHN First Edition: July 30, 2015


First Edition

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: No Easy Feat: Promoting The PrEP Pill For HIV Prevention Among Latinos
Kaiser Health News staff writer Anna Gorman reports: "Late on a Friday night at The New Jalisco Bar downtown, a drag show featuring dancers dressed in sequined leotards and feathered headdresses had drawn a crowd — most of them gay Latino men. Inside the bar and out, three health workers chatted with customers, casually asking questions: Do you know about the HIV prevention pill? Would you consider taking it? A few men said they had never heard of it. Others simply said it wasn’t for them." (Gorman, 7/30)

Los Angeles Times: How Medicare Fulfilled A President's Half-Century-Old Promise
Half a century after President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare and Medicaid with a pledge that seniors no longer would “be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine,” the promise has been largely fulfilled. The two entitlements – one for the elderly and one for low-income Americans - have kept generations of seniors in their homes and extended life-saving insurance protections to poor children and families. The share of uninsured seniors, which was 48% in 1962, is now less than 2%. (Levey, 7/29)

The Associated Press: APNewsBreak: Gov't Finds Health Law Co-Ops Awash In Red Ink
Democrats fed up with the health insurance industry used President Barack Obama's overhaul to create nonprofit co-ops that would compete against entrenched corporations. Taxpayers put up $2.4 billion in loans to get the co-ops going. But a government audit out Thursday finds that co-ops are awash in red ink and many have fallen short of sign-up goals. (7/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Anthem Results Top Expectations
The company said it now expects medical enrollment to grow by 750,000 to 950,000 this year, up 50,000 from its previous range. Anthem has benefited from enrollment growth and improved medical cost performance lately. In the latest quarter, medical enrollment grew 3.4% from a year earlier to about 38.5 million as of June 30. Enrollment in its commercial and specialty business edged up 0.8% from a year earlier to 29.8 million members, while members in its government business grew 13.1% to 8.8 million. (Dulaney and Wilde Mathews, 7/29)

The Associated Press: Insurer Anthem Hikes 2015 Forecast, 2Q Earnings Climb
Anthem has pumped up its 2015 forecast again after earnings jumped more than 17 percent in its most recent quarter, helped by a surge in government money. The Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier now expects 2015 adjusted earnings to top $10 per share, which is up from an upgraded forecast in April to greater than $9.90 per share. (7/29)

USA Today: Anthem Q2 Income Rises 18%, Beats Estimates
Health insurance provider Anthem said Wednesday its second quarter net income rose 18% to $859.1 million as health care costs and medical enrollment by new members surged. After adjusting for some items, earnings per share totaled $3.10, beating analysts’ estimate of $2.74. (Yu, 7/29)

The New York Times: Nearing Recess, House And Senate Put Off Difficult Battles Until Fall
Congress will slide toward its August recess this week by doing what every high school student dreams of: putting off the hardest projects until later. ... In many ways, the last few months have been quite productive under Republican control, particularly when viewed through the lens of sheer expectations. ... After years of patches, lawmakers finally established a new formula for paying doctors under Medicare. ... Mr. Boehner, who has grown grudgingly accustomed to the chaff tossed up by the right, has found ways to work with just enough Democrats to lead the way on things like fixes to the Medicare payment system and some funding measures. (Steinhauer, 7/29)

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Republicans Tout Bill To Cut Federal Funds To Planned Parenthood
Antiabortion Republican senators touted a bill Wednesday that would cut government funds to Planned Parenthood, intensifying the furor over a hidden-camera video depicting technicians at a Planned Parenthood facility gathering fetal tissue for use in research. The bill, which the Senate is expected to vote on before members disperse for the August recess, would bar federal funds for Planned Parenthood, which reported federal and state grants and reimbursements of around $528.4 million last year for providing services such as contraception, breast exams and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. (Stanley-Becker and Radnofsky, 7/29)

Politico: How Planned Parenthood Could Shut Down The Government
Calling next week’s Senate roll call to defund Planned Parenthood a “legislative show vote,” GOP firebrand Ted Cruz said Republicans should do everything they can to eliminate federal money for the group — even if it means a government shutdown fight this fall. He’s not alone. On Wednesday afternoon, 18 House Republicans told leadership that they “cannot and will not support any funding resolution … that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood.” Meanwhile, GOP social conservatives like Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama said they’d consider supporting an effort to attach a spending rider that would eliminate Planned Parenthood’s $528 million in annual government funding to must-pass spending legislation this fall. (Everett, 7/29)

The Washington Post: Meet The Three GOP Women Leading The Charge To Defund Planned Parenthood
Either way, there's a renewed push in Congress to take away some or all of the $500 million in federal funds that goes to Planned Parenthood -- none of which, we should note, is legally allowed to pay for abortions. GOP leaders are smartly letting women in Congress lead the way. Male lawmakers dominate both the party's congressional contingent and the two bills introduced this week to defund the organizaton, but anti-abortion-rights advocates are hoping these three Republican women become the movement's faces. (Phillips, 7/30)

NPR: Planned Parenthood Controversy Proves Complicated For Democrats
The latest in a series of undercover sting videos features a woman who says she worked for a company that harvested organs from fetuses aborted at Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood leaders say the videos are heavily edited and that they're not making money from facilitating fetal tissue donation for medical research. But the controversy over the videos is becoming a campaign issue — for both Democrats and Republicans. (McCammon, 7/29)

The Washington Post: For Democrats, There’s No Right Answer On Planned Parenthood
The surprise of today's Republican press conference on Planned Parenthood came when one of the freshman class's stars praised Hillary Clinton. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa.) described how undercover videos had found the family planning group's executives coldly discussing the sale of fetal body parts, and said that even Democrats were recoiling. "The American people, Republicans and Democrats alike, are horrified by the utter lack of compassion showed by Planned Parenthood for these women and their babies," said Ernst. "In fact, now, Hillary Clinton is calling these Planned Parenthood images disturbing, and I agree.” (Weigel, 7/29)

Politico: Clinton’s Planned Parenthood Ties Run Deep
Hillary Clinton is friends with Planned Parenthood’s president and took a rare pause from her duties as secretary of state to keynote a Planned Parenthood gala, while her family foundation has worked with the group to promote birth control. So when Planned Parenthood found itself in the middle of a major scandal last week when anti-abortion activists released graphic undercover videos of executives discussing the alleged sale of aborted fetal tissue, Clinton’s support for the group was not so much a choice as a foregone conclusion — Planned Parenthood’s problem was Clinton’s problem, too. (Karni and Palmer, 7/30)

The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood Seeks Fed Study Of Fetal Tissue Research
Under fire for its role in providing fetal tissue for research, Planned Parenthood asked the government's top health scientists Wednesday to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine. Planned Parenthood's request to the National Institutes of Health came as Senate Republicans pressed their fight to bar the organization from receiving federal aid. Likely opposition from at least one GOP senator highlighted the long odds the GOP will face in a Senate showdown vote expected early next week. (Fram, 7/29)

The Associated Press: Florida Governor Orders Inspections Of Planned Parenthoods
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is ordering state health officials to inspect Planned Parenthood offices to ensure they are obeying the law when performing abortions. The announcement came after the release of videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group showed Planned Parenthood officials describing their procedures for providing tissue from aborted fetuses for research. (7/29)

Los Angeles Times: Congress Poised To Avert Highway Fund Shutdown, For Now
As part of the deal, Congress was also tacking on a provision to help the Department of Veterans Affairs avoid closing healthcare clinics amid its own budget shortfall. The agency will be able to tap $3 billion over the next two months to cover rising costs associated with providing veterans faster health services in order to avoid long wait times. (Mascaro, 7/29)

The Washington Post: House Approves Cutting Workplace Protections For VA Workers
The House voted Wednesday to cut workplace protections for Department of Veterans Affairs employees and extend their probationary period, making it easier to fire new staffers. The “VA Accountability Act of 2015” was approved with a 256 – 170 vote, largely, though not strictly, along party lines, despite a White House veto threat. (Davidson, 7/29)

The Associated Press: House Passes Bill Facilitating The Firing Of VA Employees
The House on Wednesday approved a bill making it easier to fire or demote hundreds of thousands of employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs, as lawmakers expressed continued frustration at the slow pace of change at the beleaguered agency. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said the VA hasn’t moved quickly enough to respond to a scandal over long waits for veterans seeking medical care and falsified records by VA employees to cover up the delays. (7/29)

The Washington Post: Cerner Wins $4.3 Billion DoD Contract To Overhaul Electronic Health Records
The award to the Leidos Partnership for Defense Health — which includes Cerner, an electronic-health-records manager; Accenture Federal; and Leidos, a government contractor based in Reston, Va. — was considered an upset among industry experts. Many had predicted that the bid anchored by Epic Systems, considered a titan in the medical-records field, would land the contract. (Brittain, 7/29)

Los Angeles Times: Families Accuse State Of Failing To Hospitalize Mentally Ill Defendants
Several family members of accused criminals who were held in jail after being ruled incompetent to stand trial are suing the state of California over lengthy delays in placing the defendants in state hospital beds. Felony defendants who a judge deems incompetent because of mental illness or developmental disabilities are supposed to go to a state hospital for treatment and training until they can understand the charges against them and help an attorney prepare a defense. (Sewell, 7/29)

The New York Times: A Psychologist As Warden? Jail And Mental Illness Intersect In Chicago
Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, who runs the sprawling Cook County Jail here, has an indelible childhood memory of police officers pounding on the aluminum walls of the family’s double-wide trailer home in North Carolina, rifling through cupboards and drawers, and arresting her father on charges of selling marijuana. Dr. Jones Tapia, then 8, had to call her mother home from work. (Williams, 7/30)

USA Today: NYC Investigates Legionnaire's Outbreak
New York City's Department of Health is investigating an outbreak in the Bronx of deadly Legionairre's disease, city officials said Wednesday. Since July 10, there have been 31 cases reported and two people have died from the ailment, caused by a bacteria known as Legionella, according to the city's Department of Health. Legionella often is traced to plumbing systems. (Eversley, 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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