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KHN First Edition: July 31, 2015


First Edition

Friday, July 31, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Prevention Task Force Recommends Depression Screenings For Pregnant Women, New Moms
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "One in seven women experience depression during pregnancy or the first year after giving birth, yet many may not realize it or report their concerns to clinicians. A new proposal by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force could help change that. It recommends that all women who are pregnant or within a year of giving birth be screened for perinatal depression, as it’s called. The screening proposal is included as part of a broader recommendation to screen all adults for depression that the task force released this week for public comment. The task force proposal would update the current guidelines, adopted in 2009, which recommend depression screening in all adults if clinicians are available to address depression care. In the 2009 document, the task force didn’t review depression in pregnant and postpartum women and made no screening recommendation for them." (Andrews, 7/31)

Kaiser Health News: Meet The California Family That Has Made Health Policy Its Business
KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "If there’s such a thing as the first family of health care, the Lees may be it. Five decades ago, two brothers helped start Medicare. Their father inspired them and they, in turn, have inspired the next generation. To mark the anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing Medicare into law on July 30, 1965, three Lees sat down to reflect on the U.S. health care system." (O'Neill, 7/30) It can be hard now to imagine a time when Medicare met serious opposition. But 92-year-old Dr. Lee, a founder of the family medicine department at the University of Southern California, remembers that time well.

The New York Times: Increased Competition Kept Lid On Health Insurance Inflation, U.S. Says
The Obama administration said on Thursday that many consumers were benefiting from increased competition among insurers under the Affordable Care Act. Most people who bought insurance through the federal marketplace had a greater choice of health plans this year than in 2014, the administration said, and premiums rose less in counties where more insurers were competing for business. (Pear, 7/30)

The Washington Post: HHS: More Competition On Insurance Exchanges Curbed Premium Rise
Most Americans who signed up for coverage on the federally run health insurance marketplaces had more choice of health plans in 2015 compared with the previous year, and the increased competition helped hold down the growth in premiums, according to a report released Thursday by federal officials. In 2015, 86 percent of consumers could choose from plans offered by at least three insurers, up from 70 percent in 2014. Premiums increased an average of just 2 percent for one of the most popular types of plans between 2014 and 2015. (Sun, 7/30)

USA Today: Report: Competition On ACA Federal Exchange Rose Between 2014 And 2015
Competition among insurers offering plans on the federal health care exchange rose between last year and this year, tamping down growth in premiums, says a federal report released Thursday. Meena Seshamani, director of the Office of Health Reform in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, calls that good news. "We want to promote competition and choice for consumers," she says. (Ungar, 7/30)

The Associated Press: McAuliffe Set For Renewed Push For Medicaid Expansion
Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he’ll make a renewed push to expand Medicaid now that Republican primaries are over and the U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. McAuliffe said Thursday in a conference call with reporters that the Republican lawmakers who have previously blocked Medicaid expansion will be more open to compromise during next year’s legislative session. (Suderman, 7/30)

Bloomberg: Republican Governors Buck Party Tenets To Seek Expanded Medicaid
Republican governors are pressing forward to expand Medicaid even after being stymied by lawmakers in their own party. As the Obama administration vows to help develop plans that will pass muster with conservatives, the governors of Utah and Wyoming said they still want the health care program for the poor broadened. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who declined to act in 2013, may seek a federal waiver to make insurance available to more residents. Louisiana's Republican legislature also opened a legal door. (Niquette and Newkirk, 7/30)

Los Angeles Times: Two-Thirds Of Uninsured Californians Gain Coverage After Obamacare Rollout
More than two-thirds of Californians uninsured before the Affordable Care Act now have coverage, a new report finds. “For people that didn’t have health insurance, California has been very successful in enrolling two-thirds of that group,” said Mollyann Brodie, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which released the survey's findings Thursday. “But the group that is left is a harder-to-reach group.” (Karlamangla, 7/30)

USA Today: Obama Marks 50th Anniversary Of Medicare, Medicaid
President Obama marked the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid Thursday by saying the U.S. should do more to expand and improve health care for all Americans, including the law he signed in 2010. "We must recognize that this work, though begun a half-century ago and continued over the decades that have followed, is not yet complete," Obama said in a proclamation. "For too many, quality, affordable health care is still out of reach -- and we must recommit to finishing this important task." (Jackson, 7/30)

USA Today: Medicare Turns 50 But Americans Still Have A Lot To Learn
Medicare, the landmark health insurance program for those 65 and older, turned 50 on Thursday. Some 55.2 million Americans are enrolled in the program and 91% of them, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released this month, say their experiences with the insurance have been positive. But anecdotal evidence suggests that many are nonetheless perplexed by what it does — and doesn't — provide. (Jones, 7/30)

The New York Times: Taking Aim At Planned Parenthood, Conservatives Use Familiar Tactic
The vow by ardently conservative Republicans to reject any spending bill that does not cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood is their latest attempt to force through policies by threatening to shut down the government. It is a tactic they employed after taking control of the House in 2011, when the government was nearly shuttered in a fight over money for abortions, and one they used again in 2013, when they tried to compel significant rollbacks to the Affordable Care Act, leading to a costly shutdown. (Steinhauer, 7/30)

Politico: GOP Support Grows For Hardline Planned Parenthood Strategy
Republicans are rallying behind a bare-knuckle strategy to strip Planned Parenthood’s government support via a must-pass fall spending bill, a momentum shift that dramatically increases the chances of a government shutdown fight this fall. What started out as a push from socially conservative firebrands like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and 18 House members on Wednesday, is spreading to include more centrist members of the Senate GOP. On Thursday, Arizona Republican John McCain, who often tacks to the middle in the Senate, not only backed a plan to link Planned Parenthood defunding with spending legislation, he suggested the move was inevitable. (Everett and Haberkorn, 7/30)

Politico: Pelosi: Dems 'Overwhelmingly' Against Defunding Planned Parenthood
House Democrats will “overwhelmingly” oppose any government spending bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday. The California Democrat’s comments add to the risk that the government will shut down in October if Congress is unable to pass a stopgap measure because of objections from GOP lawmakers to Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. (French,7/30)

USA Today: Family Planning Budgets In Crisis Before Planned Parenthood Controversy
Abortion opponents, outraged by a series of hidden-camera videos that depict Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue donation, have called for Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood and strip the organization of the more than $500 million in federal funding it receives each year. But the controversy over federal funding for Planned Parenthood surfaced long before the videos emerged. The group's critics in Congress, in an attempt to block any taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood, have sought for years to eliminate a federal family planning program. (Szabo and Ungar, 7/31)

The Associated Press: Indiana Clears Planned Parenthood Of Wrongdoing After Videos
Indiana on Thursday cleared Planned Parenthood facilities that perform abortions in the state of any wrongdoing in the handling of fetal tissue. Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, on July 16 ordered an investigation of Planned Parenthood facilities in Indianapolis, Bloomington and Merrillville to see if organs from aborted fetuses were being sold. He was among a number of conservative lawmakers around the country who have called for investigations after an anti-abortion group circulated a video it made secretly showing some of its national officials discussing how they obtain organs from aborted fetuses for research. Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest provider of abortions, has said its donations of fetal tissue for research are legal. (7/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Cigna Profit Tops Expectations
Cigna Corp., which last week agreed to sell itself to Anthem Inc. for $48 billion, logged better-than-expected profit in its second quarter amid medical cost management and customer growth. The Bloomfield, Conn., insurer said it had 14.77 million total medical customers at the end of the quarter, compared with 14.25 million a year earlier and 14.65 million in the previous quarter. (Dulaney, 7/30)

The Associated Press: Lawsuit Accuses CVS Of Overcharging For Generic Drugs
CVS Health Corp. deliberately overcharged some pharmacy customers for generic drugs by submitting claims to their insurance companies at inflated prices, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco. The suit says those inflated prices led to higher co-pays for customers that exceeded what they would have paid for the drugs if they had no insurance and participated in a CVS discount program. (7/30)

The Associated Press: Medical Device Manufacturer Agrees To $13.5M Settlement
Federal prosecutors say a medical device manufacturer has agreed to pay the U.S. $13.5 million over allegations of false claims for the company’s devices. Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a news release Thursday that California-based NuVasive Inc. agreed this week to the settlement, which also resolves allegations that the company paid kickbacks to physicians to use its devices. (7/30)

NPR: Low-Income Teens Are Better At Getting The HPV Vaccine
When it comes to getting the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer, teens below the poverty line are doing better than the rest. Among teenage girls ages 13 to 17 whose total family income was less than the federal poverty level for their family size, 67.2 percent have received the first dose of the human papillomavirus vaccine, compared to 57.7 percent for those at or above the poverty line. For teen boys, it's 51.6 percent compared to 39.5 percent. (Yang, 7/30)

The Associated Press: Feds Release Updated Strategy Against AIDS In America
U.S. health officials have updated their strategic plan for fighting AIDS, setting new goals for reducing infections and deaths. The new document "seizes on the rapid shifts in science as we've learned more about this disease," said President Barack Obama, in a statement. The plan unveiled Thursday updates one issued five years ago. Developments since then include new diagnostic tests, a daily pill for infection prevention and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — increasing the number of people with health insurance. (7/30)

The Associated Press: WHO Works To Reform Itself After Fumbling Ebola Response
The World Health Organization’s chief Dr. Margaret Chan says the agency is working to reform itself in the wake of its bungled response to last year’s Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Chan said new protocols were being developed for how the agency functions during health emergencies. The agency has previously proposed creating a specialized center within WHO to handle emergencies that would be self-managed. (Chang, 7/31)

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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