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KHN First Edition: October 2, 2017


First Edition

Monday, October 02, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Tom Price Resigns As HHS Secretary Over Cost Of Private And Military Jet Travel
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned Friday, amid controversy over his use of private jets for official and personal business. He promised a day earlier to pay back some of the $400,000 spent on those flights, but the offer came too late for the Trump White House. In a statement released Friday afternoon, the White House said President Donald Trump intends to designate Don Wright of Virginia to serve as acting secretary, effective at midnight Friday. Wright serves as the deputy assistant secretary for health at HHS and he directs the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (Rovner, 9/29)

Kaiser Health News: Heart Device Failure: Medicare Spent $1.5B Over 10 Years To Replace Defective Implants 
Medicare paid at least $1.5 billion over a decade to replace seven types of defective heart devices, a government watchdog says. The devices apparently failed for thousands of senior patients. The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, in a report released Monday, said officials need to do a better job tracking these costly product failures to protect patients from harm. More detailed reporting could lead to earlier recognition of serious problems with medical devices and faster recalls of all types of “poorly performing” ones, the IG’s office said. (Schulte and Jewett, 10/2)

Kaiser Health News: Do Pharma’s Claims On Drug Prices Pass The Smell Test? We Found 5 Stinkers.
Drug companies launched an ad and publicity extravaganza this year right after President-elect Donald Trump said they “are getting away with murder” on sky-high pill prices. More than it has in years, the pharmaceutical industry fears major legislation that would curb prices and shrink profits. TV spots lauding drug companies, quoting poet Dylan Thomas and showing heroic scientists have been hard to escape. (Hancock, 10/2)

Kaiser Health News: Absent Federal Action, States Take The Lead On Curbing Drug Costs
Lawmakers in Maryland are daring to legislate where their federal counterparts have not: As of Oct. 1, the state will be able to say “no” to some pharmaceutical price spikes. A new law, which focuses on generic and off-patent drugs, empowers the state’s attorney general to step in if a drug’s price climbs 50 percent or more in a single year. The company must justify the hike. If the attorney general still finds the increase unwarranted, he or she can file suit in state court. Manufacturers face a fine of up to $10,000 for price gouging. (Luthra, 9/29)

The New York Times: Health Secretary Tom Price Resigns After Drawing Ire For Chartered Flights
Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, resigned under pressure on Friday after racking up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights and undermining President Trump’s promise to drain the swamp of a corrupt and entitled capital. Already in trouble with Mr. Trump for months of unsuccessful efforts to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care program, Mr. Price failed to defuse the president’s anger by offering regret and a partial reimbursement. (Baker, Thrush and Haberman, 9/29)

The Washington Post: HHS Secretary Tom Price Resigns Amid Criticism For Taking Charter Flights At Taxpayer Expense
Price submitted a four-paragraph resignation letter in which he said he regretted “that the recent events have created a distraction” from the administration’s objectives. “Success on these issues is more important than any one person,” he continued. Not long after, HHS staff received a message from Price praising employees as “dedicated, committed” and saying it had been “a great joy” to serve with them. (Eilperin, Goldstein and Wagner, 9/29)

The Wall Street Journal: Tom Price Resigns As Health And Human Services Secretary Amid Travel Uproar
The controversy over the flights and sudden departure of Dr. Price comes as the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal the ACA are at a standstill. After another effort to overturn the law failed Tuesday in the Senate, Republicans now must choose whether to work with Democrats on health care, or continue their efforts to repeal the ACA. If the administration favors regulations to change the ACA, those changes would be spearheaded by HHS. Dr. Price kept a low profile at times during the long legislative fight to undo the ACA, as such officials as Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, sometimes took on a more visible role in talking to lawmakers. Some health experts have suggested Ms. Verma could succeed Dr. Price. (Armour and Hackman, 9/29)

The Associated Press: Trump's Health Secretary Resigns In Travel Flap
The Health and Human Services secretary became the first member of the president's Cabinet to be pushed out in a turbulent young administration that has seen several high-ranking White House aides ousted. A former GOP congressman from the Atlanta suburbs, Price served less than eight months. (9/29)

The Associated Press: Trump Seeks New Health Chief After Price Resignation
President Donald Trump is seeking a new health secretary to take the place of Tom Price, ousted after an outcry over flying on costly private charters for official travel. The Health and Human Services chief oversees a $1 trillion department, with 80,000 employees and jurisdiction over major insurance programs, advanced medical research, drug and food safety, public health, and disease prevention. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 9/30)

Politico: Who Will Replace Price?
The rumored short-list includes former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who would sail through Senate confirmation but would probably be considered too moderate on Obamacare, to Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardio-thoracic surgeon made famous by his talk show, which Trump has appeared on. Other current or former members of Congress who could be considered include Rep. Fred Upton and former Rep. Dave Camp. (Kenen and Haberkorn, 9/29)

The Associated Press: Price's Exit Adds Another Hurdle To GOP Health Care Push
The ouster of Tom Price as President Donald Trump's health secretary is yet another self-inflicted blow for Republicans wishing to put their own stamp on health care — and the latest distraction for a White House struggling to advance its agenda after months of turmoil. ... "I think health care is a dead letter through the next election," Joe Antos, a policy expert with the business-oriented American Enterprise Institute, said Saturday. (10/1)

The Hill: Five Questions On Healthcare Following Price's Resignation
Tom Price’s resignation as Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary creates a big leadership void at the top of the department tasked with administering a health law Republicans hate. President Trump accepted the embattled secretary’s resignation Friday on the heels of Politico reports detailing how Price’s travel on military and charter jet flights had cost taxpayers more than $1 million since May. (Roubein and Hellmann, 9/29)

The Hill: Pelosi: 'Price Should Never Have Been In This Role In The First Place' 
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reacted to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price's resignation on Friday by condemning the Trump administration for selecting him "in the first place." Price became the first Trump Cabinet member to resign on Friday after a Politico investigation revealed he had spent more than $1 million in taxpayer dollars on private charter flights. (Bowden, 9/29)

The Hill: 'Saturday Night Live' Mocks Price's Resignation: 'How 'Bout You Pay Us Back The Money?' 
“Saturday Night Live” during its season premiere mocked the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price over his use of private jets for official business.“ Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign yesterday after he was caught using almost a million dollars in taxpayer money to fly on private jets,” cast member Colin Jost said during the show’s “Weekend Update” segment. (Balluck, 10/1)

The Associated Press: Health Care Defeat Leaves GOP In Crouch, Dems On Offense
Republicans face a big problem following the collapse of their latest push to repeal the Obama health care law: Their own voters are angry and don't trust them. Right now, they don't know what to do about it. That's trouble for a party preparing to defend its House and Senate majorities in 2018 midterm elections that look riskier than most imagined months ago. (9/29)

The Associated Press: GOP Unsure How To Deal With Voters Angry Over Health Care
Republicans face a big problem following the collapse of their latest push to repeal the Obama health care law: Their own voters are angry and don't trust them. Right now, they don't know what to do about it. That's trouble for a party preparing to defend its House and Senate majorities in 2018 midterm elections that look riskier than most imagined months ago. (9/30)

The Hill: Dems Look To Turn ObamaCare Tables On GOP In '18
On Tuesday, Senate Republicans decided against voting by the end of September on a last-ditch effort to repeal the health law, acknowledging the measure wouldn’t have passed. The announcement effectively killed the repeal effort for the immediate future, as the fast-track budget maneuver Republicans were using to gut ObamaCare can't be used this year after Sept. 30. Even without a new GOP-made health care system to run against, Democrats believe they have enough ammo to hit Republicans by pointing to the previous repeal attempts, all of which scored badly in approval polls. (Roubein, 10/1)

The New York Times: ‘Little Lobbyists’ Help Save The Health Care Law, For Now
Anna C. Corbin had not been involved in politics, had not even been to the Capitol before this year. But since March, she has made the two-hour drive here from her home in Hanover, Pa., 15 times so her sons, Jackson and Henry, could lobby against efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Jackson, 12, and Henry, 9, have a genetic condition known as Noonan syndrome, which causes a bleeding disorder, short stature and digestion problems. They also have a new profession — “little lobbyists.” (Pear, 9/30)

The Hill: How The Effort To Replace ObamaCare Failed 
When Republicans unexpectedly captured the White House and retained the Senate in November, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wanted to capitalize on the GOP’s political momentum right away by quickly passing a straight ObamaCare repeal bill similar to the one that passed both chambers of Congress at the end of 2015. ...What followed was a nine-month odyssey filled with ups and downs and ultimately a failure for Trump and Republicans. (Bolton, 10/1)

The Hill: No ObamaCare Repeal In New GOP Budget 
Senate Republicans appear to have conceded defeat on repealing ObamaCare this year, as the newly released budget resolution for fiscal year 2018 focuses almost entirely on tax reform. The draft released Friday only includes legislating instructions to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, which don’t have jurisdiction over health insurance. (Weixel, 9/29)

Los Angeles Times: Squeezed Again: Americans Burdened By Obamacare Now Face Even Higher Costs Under Trump
Jim Hansen and his wife considered themselves fortunate when they retired five years ago. The Denver couple, both electrical engineers, were healthy. They’d socked away an ample nest egg. And they found health insurance that, if not cheap, seemed reasonable for two people in their late 50s. Then, the math started to change. Since 2015, the couple’s annual premiums have more than tripled and may hit nearly $18,000 next year. (Levey, 9/29)

The Washington Post: Nobel Prize In Medicine Or Physiology Awarded To Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash And Michael W. Young
Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young have won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their work on molecular mechanisms that control circadian systems. Hall was born in New York, Rosbash in Oklahoma City, and they both worked at Brandeis. Michael Young was born in Miami and worked at Rockefeller University. In announcing the winner in Stockholm on Monday, the prize committee said they elucidated how a live form's "inner clock" can fluctuate to optimize our behavior and physiology. (Cha, 10/2)

The Washington Post: FDA, Industry Step Up Efforts To Avert Drug Shortages After Puerto Rico Hurricane
Federal and industry officials are stepping up efforts to avert potentially serious drug shortages in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria's assault on Puerto Rico, a major center for pharmaceutical manufacturing. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, headed to the island Friday morning with staff from the Department of Homeland Security. Gottlieb was scheduled to meet with the FDA's 100 employees in San Juan and learn more about damage to the island's dozens of drugmaking plants. (McGinley, 9/29)

The Associated Press: Judge: Maryland Can Act Against Drug Price-Gouging, For Now
An effort by drug makers to block Maryland’s first-in-the-nation law against pharmaceutical price gouging was denied by a federal judge on Friday. A group representing makers of generic prescription drugs sought to stop the law from taking effect this Sunday, calling it an “unconstitutional overreach” that will create market instability. (Witte, 9/29)

The Washington Post: 9 Million Kids Get Health Insurance Under CHIP. Congress Just Let It Expire.
Congress just allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provided low-cost health insurance to 9 million children, to expire. If action is not taken soon to restore the funding, the effects will become obvious in schools across the country, with many of the children in the program unable to see a doctor for routine checkups, immunizations, visits when sick and other services. (Strauss, 10/1)

The Hill: Congress Misses Deadline To Reauthorize Childrens' Health Care Program 
Congress missed a deadline to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) over the weekend, leaving federal funding to expire at the end of the month, according to ABC News. Neither the House nor the Senate took up a vote to reauthorize the program, which helps states provide inexpensive health insurance to children in lower-income families. (Carter, 10/1)

The Washington Post: The History Of Heroin And Opioid Addiction In The U.S.
The president, a swaggering populist from New York, was worried that a national crisis of opiate addiction was weakening America and diminishing its greatness. So in 1908, Teddy Roosevelt appointed a handsome Ohio doctor with a handlebar mustache, Hamilton Wright, to be the nation’s first Opium Commissioner.Americans, Wright warned, “have become the greatest drug fiends in the world.” (Miroff, 9/29)

The New York Times: In The U.S., 110 Million S.T.D. Infections
The incidence of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis is increasing, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At any given time, there are an estimated 110 million sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Chlamydia is the most common S.T.D., and the number of cases rose 4.7 percent from 2015 to 2016. The increases occurred nationwide; rates were highest in the South and lowest in the Northeast. (Bakalar, 9/29)

The Washington Post: Mother Prepares To Go To Jail After Refusing Court Order To Vaccinate Son
A Michigan woman said she will “most likely” go to jail this week if she refuses a court order to vaccinate her 9-year-old son. And Rebecca Bredow, it seems, is willing to take that risk. “I can’t give in against my own religious belief,” she told The Washington Post on Saturday. “This is about choice. This is about having my choices as a mother to be able to make medical choices for my child.” (Phillips, 9/30)

The Washington Post: With Checkpoint Inhibitors, These Cancer Researchers Are On The Cutting Edge Of Immunotherapy For Oncololgy Treatment
Cancer researcher Jim Allison stands at the edge of a small stage, fiddling with his harmonica, his unruly gray hair hanging almost to his shoulders. Soon, surrounded by eight other cancer experts who also happen to be musicians, he’ll be growling out the classic “Big Boss Man” before a boisterous crowd at the House of Blues. It’s a fitting number, says Patrick Hwu, who plays keyboards for the band and is Allison’s colleague at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “When it comes to immunotherapy, he is the big boss man.” (McGinley, 9/29)

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