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KHN First Edition: May 9, 2017


First Edition

Tuesday, May 09, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: ‘Boot Camp’ Helps Alzheimer’s, Dementia Caregivers Take Care Of Themselves, Too
Anna Gorman reports: "Gary Carmona thought he could do it all. He’s run companies and chaired nonprofit boards. But since his wife was diagnosed with dementia, Carmona, 77, has felt overwhelmed. “I really see myself at times crashing,” he said. “In my mind, I’m saying, ‘You know, I can’t really handle all this.’” There was the time his wife, Rochelle, wandered outside and fell down. And the time she boiled water and walked away, leaving the burner on. “I’m always double-, triple-, quadruple-checking everything that she’s around,” he said." (Gorman, 5/9)

Kaiser Health News: On The Air With KHN: Obamacare Replacement Bill Heads To The Senate
Reporters with Kaiser Health News and California Healthline (produced by KHN) have been featured on a variety of radio and television shows to discuss the legislation passed by the House to overhaul the Affordable Care Act and its prospects in the Senate. Here’s what KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner, KHN senior correspondent Mary Agnes Carey and California Healthline senior correspondent Emily Bazar had to say. (5/9)

The New York Times: Divided Senate Republicans Turn To Health Care With A Rough Road Ahead
The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has a reputation as a shrewd tactician and a wily strategist — far more than his younger counterpart in the House, Speaker Paul D. Ryan. So the Senate majority leader’s decision to create a 13-man working group on health care, including staunch conservatives and ardent foes of the Affordable Care Act — but no women — has been widely seen on Capitol Hill as a move to placate the right as Congress decides the fate of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. (Pear, 5/8)

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Confront Health-Bill Backlash
House Republicans may have won the battle to pass a health-care overhaul, but the fight over public messaging that is now ramping up could be critical to the shape of the bill that emerges from the Senate and to any final compromise. GOP leaders and the Trump administration are urgently trying to tamp down a backlash from Democrats and some Republicans who say the House legislation rolling back and replacing much of the Affordable Care Act would imperil coverage for millions of Americans. (Armour and son, 5/8)

The New York Times: They Voted To Repeal Obamacare. Now They Are A Target.
For months, protesters have been rallying outside Senator Cory Gardner’s offices in Colorado, urging him not to join fellow Republicans in their push to repeal the Affordable Care Act. When he refused to hold town hall meetings, protesters staged them in his absence, asking questions to a cardboard cutout of him.Now they are escalating their tactics. (Zernike, 5/8)

Politico: Left Adopts Shock Tactics In Obamacare Repeal Fight
One newly formed progressive super PAC is planning to cart caskets to Republican lawmakers' districts and hold mock funerals for their constituents. Another activist is encouraging protesters to ship their own ashes — should they die without health care —to GOP lawmakers. And other progressive groups are planning graphic "die-in" protests as they work to derail GOP plans to repeal Obamacare. Democrats, already frothing with anger over losing the White House to Donald Trump, are seething anew over the advancing Republican plan to gut Obamacare. (Vogel and Cheney, 5/9)

The Washington Post: A Lot Of Republican Rhetoric On Health Care This Weekend May Haunt The Party In 2018
It’s important to remember, when considering the Republican plan to overhaul Obamacare, that the only constituency that fervently supports throwing out the Affordable Care Act is Republicans. In the most recent Post-ABC News poll, three-quarters of Republicans supported repealing Obamacare, sure — but 9 in 10 Democrats and two-thirds of independents favored strengthening the existing law. The net effect, then, is that Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to deliver a long-held promise to their base — while not alienating other voters who might come to the polls next fall. (Bump, 5/8)

Politico: Maloney Plans Town Hall In Faso's District, As Health Care Fallout Continues
Fallout over last week’s House vote on the American Health Care Act is continuing across upstate New York, with planned protests, new television ads and a Democratic congressman holding a town hall meeting in the district of his Republican neighbor. They’re the latest steps in what is expected to be months of politicking over the bill, which was opposed by Democrats but supported by seven of New York’s nine Republican House members. (Vielkind, 5/8)

NPR: At Town Hall Meeting, Republican Lawmaker Gets An Earful
On Monday night, a few days after voting in favor of the House bill to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Elise Stefanik, 32, from Northern New York, held a town hall at a public television station. Stefanik is a moderate Republican in her second term. She's also the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. After refusing for weeks to say how she planned to vote, she was one of a handful of last-minute "yes" votes for the GOP health care bill. Stefanik got an earful about that from her constituents. (Hirsch, 5/9)

The Washington Post: Iowa Congressman Walks Out Of A TV Interview And Into An Angry Town Hall Meeting
An Iowa congressman walked out of a television interview on Monday, declining to explain why his staff is prescreening constituents who plan to attend his town hall meetings this week. A few hours later, Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) showed up at his town hall meeting where most of the prescreened audience screamed at him. It was a rough start to a recess week for Blum, a second-term lawmaker representing a swing district that voted narrowly for President Trump last year after supporting Barack Obama in 2012. Blum is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who initially declined to support the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act but ultimately voted last week for the American Health Care Act. (O'Keefe, 5/8)

The Associated Press: Rep. Raul Labrador Says Health Care Answer Wasn't Elegant
U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador says his answer to a question on health care at a recent town hall in northern Idaho wasn't very elegant. Labrador has received criticism for his comment Friday that no one has died because they didn't have access to health care — a claim disputed by medical experts because they counter that patients without health coverage often risk waiting until their conditions have advanced too far for effective treatment. (5/8)

The Washington Post: Obamacare Cost Him A Seat In Congress. Can It Make Him Governor Of Virginia?
An hour after House Republicans voted to gut the Affordable Care Act last week, Tom Perriello released a viral ad that showed him in front of an ambulance being compacted in a scrapyard, shouting above the din that he’d stop Republicans from crushing health care in Virginia if he is elected governor. Never mind that Perriello is competing for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination against a pediatric neurologist, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who supports Obamacare as much as he does. Or that the GOP House bill may never become law after the Senate gets to work on its version. (Nirappil, 5/8)

The New York Times: G.O.P. Bill Could Affect Employer Health Coverage, Too
If it becomes law, the American Health Care Act will have the biggest effects on people who buy their own insurance or get coverage through Medicaid. But it also means changes for the far larger employer health system. About half of all Americans get health coverage through work. The bill would make it easier for employers to increase the amount that employees could be asked to pay in premiums, or to stop offering coverage entirely. (Sanger-Katz, 5/9)

USA Today: Indiana's Alternative Medicaid Program Shows Tradeoffs Of Charging Recipients For Care
More than half the low-income people who qualified for Indiana’s alternative Medicaid program failed to make a required monthly payment for the top tier of benefits – a key feature of the program Vice President Mike Pence insisted on as a condition to expanding the health care program when he was Indiana’s governor. That's according to a new evaluation of the Healthy Indiana Plan, a program designed by Indiana health care consultant Seema Verma, who – as the new administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – can now grant other states permission to impose similar monthly fees. (Groppe, 5/8)

Reuters: Anthem Argues For 60 Days To Save Merger With Balky Cigna
Health insurer Anthem Inc asked a Delaware judge on Monday to give it more time to try to win approval for a merger with rival Cigna Corp, which is seeking to end the deal and collect a $1.85 billion break-up fee. Anthem asked Vice Chancellor Travis Laster of Delaware's Court of Chancery to grant a 60-day preliminary injunction that would prevent Cigna from terminating the $54 billion deal that would create the largest U.S. health insurer. (Bartz, 5/8)

The New York Times: New Veterans Affairs Chief: A Hands-On, Risk-Taking ‘Standout’
A gray-haired Vietnam veteran sat rustling on the paper of an examining table at the small veterans clinic in Grants Pass, Ore., on a recent afternoon when his doctor for the day appeared on a screen in front of him, wearing a white lab coat and bulbous headphones. “Take some deep breaths. All the way in … And, sir, do you want to give me a good cough?” the doctor said as he listened to the veteran’s heart and lungs from about 2,400 miles away in his office overlooking the White House. (Philipps and Fandos, 5/9)

The Washington Post: U.S. Life Expectancy Varies By More Than 20 Years From County To County
Life expectancy is rising overall in the United States, but in some areas, death rates are going conspicuously in the other direction. These geographical disparities are widening, according to a report published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Life expectancy is greatest in the high country of central Colorado, but in many pockets of the United States, life expectancy is more than 20 years lower, according to the report from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. (Achenbach, 5/8)

NPR: Life Expectancy Varies By 20 Years, Depending On County
Health experts have long known that Americans living in different parts of the country tend to have different life spans. But Murray's team decided to take a closer look, analyzing records from every U.S. county between 1980 and 2014. "What we found is that the gap is enormous," Murray says. In 2014, there was a spread of 20.1 years between the counties with the longest and shortest typical life spans based on life expectancy at birth. (Stein, 5/8)

Los Angeles Times: To Live A Long Life In America, It Helps To Be Born In The Right County
A child born in the United States in 2014 can expect to live 79.1 years, on average. But that figure doesn’t apply equally to all kids across the country. For example, a baby boy born in South Dakota’s Oglala Lakota County that year has a life expectancy of just under 62.8 years. Meanwhile, a baby girl lucky enough to be born in Summit County, Colo., can plan to live to the ripe old age of 88.5. That’s a difference of more than 25 years. Put another way, the girl in Colorado can expect to live 41% longer than the boy in South Dakota. (Kaplan, 5/8)

The Associated Press: Dems Want Omaha Win, But Anti-Abortion Candidate Riles Some
Democrats desperate for fresh faces cast 37-year-old Heath Mello as a pragmatic, next-generation leader who could win in the Nebraska heartland. Yet his anti-abortion stance has become a flashpoint for the national party. If Mello prevails on Tuesday in his bid for Omaha mayor, it’s a promising sign, he says, for a candidate “with a proven record of working bipartisan and tackling some big issues and, yes, to some extent, is a pro-life Catholic Democrat.” He is challenging Republican incumbent Jean Stothert. (Beaumont, 5/8)

The New York Times: Why Everything We Know About Salt May Be Wrong
The salt equation taught to doctors for more than 200 years is not hard to understand. The body relies on this essential mineral for a variety of functions, including blood pressure and the transmission of nerve impulses. Sodium levels in the blood must be carefully maintained. If you eat a lot of salt — sodium chloride — you will become thirsty and drink water, diluting your blood enough to maintain the proper concentration of sodium. Ultimately you will excrete much of the excess salt and water in urine. The theory is intuitive and simple. And it may be completely wrong. (Kolata, 5/8)

The Associated Press: Suicide Online: Facebook Aims To Save Lives With New Actions
The alarming video of a Georgia teenager livestreaming her own suicide attempt stayed up long enough on Facebook Live for sheriff's deputies to find and save her — a repeat phenomenon that has prompted mental health experts and Facebook's CEO to further investigate how they can use social media as a possible platform to help save lives. (5/8)

NPR: Public Restrooms Become Central To The Opioid Epidemic
A man named Eddie threads through the mid-afternoon crowd in Cambridge, Mass. He's headed for a sandwich shop, the first stop on a tour of public bathrooms. "I know all the bathrooms that I can and can't get high in," says Eddie, 39, pausing in front of the shop's plate glass windows, through which we can see a bathroom door. Eddie, whose last name we're not including because he uses illegal drugs, knows which restrooms along busy Massachusetts Avenue he can enter, at what hours and for how long. Several restaurants, offices and a social service agency in this neighborhood have closed their restrooms in recent months, but not this sandwich shop. (Bebinger, 5/8)

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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