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KHN First Edition: September 18, 2017


First Edition

Monday, September 18, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Trump’s Deadline On ‘Dreamers’ Reverberates Through Health Industries
Karla Ornelas said she has “always had the idea of being a doctor, I’ve never seen myself doing anything else.” The third-year pre-medical student at the University of California-Davis said she plans to become a family medicine physician and work in California’s Central Valley, where there is a great need for doctors and especially bilingual doctors. (Heredia Rodriguez and Ibarra, 9/18)

California Healthline: California Drug Price Bill Sweeping In Scope, Lacking In Muscle
A California bill headed to the governor’s desk may be the most sweeping effort in the nation to shine a light on drug pricing, but it lacks the muscle being applied in other states to directly hold those prices down. The idea behind the law is that if everyone knows when and why prices are rising, political leaders eventually will be more empowered to challenge those increases. (Bartolone, 9/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Say Push To End Obamacare Gathers Support
A group of Republicans making a final push to topple the Affordable Care Act say they have almost enough votes in the Senate to pass their bill. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R., La.) told reporters Friday that he believes 48 or 49 GOP Senators support the bill. Fewer have publicly committed to the legislation, and it remains unclear if it has the momentum supporters claim. (Armour and Hackman, 9/15)

The Hill: Senator Says He Nearly Has The Votes For ObamaCare Repeal
The problem for Senate Republicans when it comes to ObamaCare repeal has always been getting the final few votes to put them over the top. The repeal legislation that failed in July got 49 votes, but fell short because three GOP senators bucked leadership and voted no. There is an extremely short window to pass the bill before a procedural deadline of Sept. 30. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Friday announced his opposition, saying the bill kept too much of ObamaCare. (Sullivan, 9/15)

Politico: Senate GOP Tries One Last Time To Repeal Obamacare
Right now, support for the bill — which would replace Obamacare’s tax subsidies with block grants, end the law’s individual insurance mandate and scale back its Medicaid expansion — among Republican senators is short of 50 votes. But McConnell and his lieutenants will gauge support this week in private party meetings with help from President Donald Trump, administration and Capitol Hill sources said. “McConnell and his team are engaged and serious about the vote and working with the conference to build support for Graham-Cassidy,” a source familiar with the bill’s prospects said Sunday. The “White House is also operating with all hands on deck.” (Everett and Dawsey, 9/17)

The Hill: Paul, Cassidy Tweet Back And Forth On ObamaCare Repeal Bill 
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Friday shot down an attempt by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to win over his support for a last-ditch plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, arguing that the measure keeps too much of former President Obama's signature health care law. In a brief exchange on Twitter that began with Paul accusing Cassidy's measure of being "Obamacare Lite," Cassidy argued that the bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act's "entire architecture," and offered to go over the legislation with the Kentucky senator. (Greenwood, 9/15)

The Hill: Dems Call For Action Against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare Repeal 
Democratic senators are reigniting their calls to fight against another Republican healthcare push that aims to repeal and replace ObamaCare after reports surfaced that President Trump and GOP leaders are working to garner support for Cassidy-Graham legislation. Prominent upper chamber lawmakers like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are taking to Twitter to make impassioned calls for voters to speak up and demonstrate their opposition to the bill. (Beavers, 9/17)

The Hill: Hospital Group Comes Out Against New ObamaCare Repeal Effort
America’s Essential Hospitals announced its opposition to a new ObamaCare repeal and replace bill, warning of cuts and coverage losses. The group, which represents hospitals that treat a high share of low-income people, said it is opposed to a last-ditch bill to repeal ObamaCare from Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). (Sullivan, 9/15)

Politico: 2 GOP Heavyweights Brawl Over Obamacare Bill
As if Sen. Lamar Alexander didn’t face enough difficulties trying to craft a bipartisan bill to shore up Obamacare, he’s taking hostile fire from one of his most powerful Republican colleagues — the other health care chairman. Alexander is “stealing our jurisdiction,” Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch told POLITICO, referring to the turf split between his panel and Alexander’s HELP Committee. “It’s pretty hard to get excited about what he’s doing.” (Haberkorn, 9/17)

Stateline: Why The Unpopular Individual Mandate Is Likely To Endure (For Now)
The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that Americans either carry health insurance or pay a fine remains the law’s most unpopular feature. Nevertheless, a bipartisan group of governors is insisting that the so-called individual mandate remain in place — at least for now. In a letter sent late last month, the governors urged federal lawmakers to retain the mandate to help stabilize insurance markets. But the group, which is led by Republican John Kasich of Ohio and Democrat John Hickenlooper of Colorado, also said states should be given the opportunity to devise “a workable alternative” to it, subject to federal approval. (Ollove, 9/15)

Reuters: Anthem To Sell Obamacare Health Plans In Virginia Counties That Don't Offer Them
U.S. health insurer Anthem Inc said on Friday it plans to sell Obamacare health plans in 68 cities and counties in Virginia next year, covering the only remaining U.S. counties that are currently without insurers offering the plans. Anthem said last month it was exiting the Obamacare market in the state, but reconsidered the move after no other insurer stepped up to cover most of Virginia's counties. (Erman and Humer, 9/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Anthem Reverses Decision To Pull Out Of ACA Exchange In Virginia
The decision is the latest twist in a continuing drama that has played out in states around the country, with state officials repeatedly—and, so far, successfully—scrambling to land insurers for potential bare patches on their ACA exchange maps. In addition to Virginia, states including Nevada, Ohio and Tennessee have managed to woo and cajole insurers to come in, after others decided to pull out, often citing uncertainty at the federal level about key aspects of the law. (Wilde Mathews, 9/15)

The Washington Post: After Single Payer Failed, Vermont Embarks On A Big Health Care Experiment
Doug Greenwood lifted his shirt to let his doctor probe his belly, scarred from past surgeries, for tender spots. Searing abdominal pain had landed Greenwood in the emergency room a few weeks earlier, and he’d come for a follow-up visit to Cold Hollow Family Practice, a big red barnlike building perched on the edge of town. After the appointment was over and his blood was drawn, Greenwood stayed for an entirely different exam: of his life. Anne-Marie Lajoie, a nurse care coordinator, began to map out Greenwood’s financial resources, responsibilities, transportation options, food resources and social supports on a sheet of paper. (Johnson, 9/17)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Moves Cheer Abortion Foes
The Trump administration has taken a series of steps to cut funds for abortion providers and promote conservative reproductive policies, moving toward what supporters and opponents say could be the most antiabortion presidential agenda in recent memory. A high-profile push to withhold federal Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions as well as an array of other women’s health services, fizzled this summer along with the larger Republican health care effort. But the administration has pursued more modest initiatives—rescinding Obama-era rules, curtailing contracts, making key appointments—that could broadly shape access to abortion and contraception. (Hackman, 9/15)

The Associated Press: Christie To Spend $200M On New Substance Abuse Initiatives
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to spend $200 million on new initiatives that he hopes will significantly improve the way the state approaches substance abuse treatment and prevention. Christie told the money will target programs for underserved populations — the uninsured, Medicaid recipients, babies born with addiction and their mothers. He said the money will come from the budgets of eight state departments. (9/17)

The Washington Post: Veterinarians Who Prescribe Opioids For Pets Are Being Told By Some States To Check Pet Owners Prescription History
Some states are taking the war on opioids into veterinarians’ offices, aiming to prevent people who are addicted to opioids from using their pets to procure drugs for their own use. Colorado and Maine recently enacted laws that allow or require veterinarians to check the prescription histories of pet owners as well as their pets. And Alaska, Connecticut and Virginia have imposed new limits on the amount of opioids a vet can prescribe. (Mercer, 9/16)

The Washington Post: ‘Waiting For Help That Never Came’: Fla. Nursing Home Where Eight Died After Irma Defends Actions, Says It Called Governor For Help
The night before Hurricane Irma began roaring over Florida, staffers at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills locked the doors, shuttered the windows and turned the temperature down to about 67 degrees — a buffer, administrators thought, to keep the building cool in case the power went out. It wouldn’t last long. About 3 p.m. on Sunday, the lights flickered, nursing-home executives say. The power stayed on, but a janitor soon noticed a problem: The massive chiller used to serve the 152-bed facility was spewing warm, muggy air. (Davis, Zezima and Berman, 9/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Visitors Tell Of Extreme Heat At Florida Nursing Home After Eight Deaths
In the sweltering Florida heat Tuesday afternoon, 84-year-old Betty Hibbard sat on her bed, in a second-floor hallway of the nursing home where she lived, wearing an institutional gown near an air blower. Ms. Hibbard was hot and struggling to breathe, according to her friend Jean Johnson, who visited. Ms. Johnson stayed with her for an hour and gave her friend a cold can of Coca-Cola before she left at about 5:30 p.m. (Kamp, Evans and Campo-Flores, 9/15)

Reuters: Florida Governor Orders Removal Of Nursing Home From Medicaid After Eight Died
Florida's healthcare agency ordered a Miami-area nursing home suspended from the state Medicaid program on Thursday after eight elderly patients there were exposed to sweltering heat in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and died. More than 140 residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were evacuated on Wednesday after fire and rescue crews and medical staff from a nearby hospital found many of the facility's residents suffering from dehydration, heat stress and breathing difficulties. (Dobuzinskis, 9/15)

NPR: Years After A Hurricane, Most People Fare Well
Long after the floodwaters recede and the debris is cleared, the mental health impacts of disasters like hurricanes can linger. Psychologist Jean Rhodes of the University of Massachusetts-Boston has spent more than a decade studying what happens to people years after a natural disaster — in this case, Hurricane Katrina. (Chang and Jochem, 9/15)

USA Today: Hospital Safety Investigations Seldom Result In Major Penalties
Hospitals that fail to report or address safety problems, including those that increase the risk of infections, rarely face meaningful repercussions by state or federal officials, health care experts say. USA TODAY reported last week that MedStar Washington Hospital Center is under investigation by the D.C. health department for recent sewage leaks, although the problem has been going on for up to two years. The go-to hospital for members of Congress and the White House also suffers from poor quality ratings, particularly on foreign bodies left inside patients and certain infections. (O'Donnell, 9/17)

USA Today: Ben Carson Says Housing Must Be Healthy, Safe And Affordable
Residents of Florida and Houston's mold and toxic air and water concerns after floodwaters receded are the latest example of the nexus between health and housing that is becoming a top priority for the Trump administration's housing chief.  Former neurosurgeon, presidential candidate and now-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is a big believer in looking at housing as a major "social determinant of health." That includes victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. (O'Donnell and Gilyard, 9/17)

Stat: In Excruciating Pain, Sickle Cell Patients Are Shunted Aside
The U.S. health care system is killing adults with sickle cell disease. Racism is a factor — most of the 100,000 U.S. patients with the genetic disorder are African-American – and so is inadequate training of doctors and nurses. And the care is getting worse, sickle cell patients and their doctors said, because the opioid addiction crisis has made ER doctors extremely reluctant to prescribe pain pills. STAT interviewed 12 sickle cell patients who described the care they received and didn’t receive. They were old and young, men and women, scattered from coast to coast, some with jobs or attending school and some too sick to do either. Two who wanted to tell their stories were unexpectedly hospitalized and too weak to talk to a reporter. (Begley, 9/18)

The Washington Post: Can Antidepressants Given Prophylactically Prevent Depression?
If you were at risk for developing depression, would you take a pill to prevent it? For years, physicians have prescribed antidepressants to treat people grappling with depression. Some people can benefit from taking these medications during an acute episode. Others with a history of recurrent depression may take antidepressants to help prevent relapses. (Morris, 9/17)

NPR: Benefits Can Outweigh Risks For Pregnant Women On Anxiety Drugs Or SSRIs
Earlier this year, when Emily Chodos was about 25 weeks into her pregnancy, she woke up one night feeling horrible. "My hands were tremoring, my heart racing, " recalls Chodos, who lives near New Haven, Conn. She couldn't take a deep breath. "I'd never felt so out of control of my body." She ended up paging her obstetrician's office at 4 a.m., and one of the midwives in the practice, after listening to her symptoms, said, "It sounds like you're having a panic attack." (Aubrey, 9/18)

The New York Times: Gut Bacteria May Be Key To Weight Loss
Whether a diet works might depend on which bacteria are in your gut. Using feces samples, Danish researchers analyzed the ratio of two gut bacteria, Prevotella and Bacteroides, in 62 overweight people. For 26 weeks, they randomly assigned them to a low-fat diet high in fiber, fruits, vegetables and whole grains or a diet comparable to that of the average Dane. (Bakalar, 9/15)

NPR: Pediatricians Advice Teens On Getting Tattoos Safely
Ariana Marciano is adding to her collection of about 75 tattoos at the Body Electric Tattoo and Piercing Studio on trendy Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. "I think they're so cool and I think they're visually really nice to look at," she says. There's a ram's head, an elk, a green-and peach colored praying mantis, a love bug and a moth. Today she's getting a ladybug. "I love bugs," Marciano, 23, says. "I think they're kind of overlooked." In about 20 minutes, with dots on its back and a bit of rusty orange, a small ladybug takes its place on her elbow. (Neighmond, 9/18)

Los Angeles Times: San Diego Is Struggling With A Huge Hepatitis A Outbreak. Is It Coming To L.A.?
Health officials in San Diego have scrambled for months to contain an outbreak of hepatitis A — vaccinating more than 19,000 people, putting up posters at bus stations and distributing hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes. Despite those efforts, 16 people have died of the highly contagious virus in San Diego County and hundreds have become ill in what officials say is the nation’s second-largest outbreak of hepatitis A in decades.Earlier this month, San Diego officials declared a public health emergency. (Karlamangla, 9/16)

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