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KHN First Edition: October 3, 2017


First Edition

Tuesday, October 03, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Hepatitis C Drug’s Lower Cost Paves Way For Medicaid, Prisons To Expand Treatment
Valerie Green is still waiting to be cured.The Delaware resident was diagnosed with hepatitis C more than two years ago, but she doesn’t qualify yet for the Medicaid program’s criteria for treatment with a new class of highly effective but pricey drugs. The recent approval of a less expensive drug that generally cures hepatitis C in just eight weeks may make it easier for more insurers and correctional facilities to expand treatment. (Andrews, 10/3)

Kaiser Health News: Flat-Fee Primary Care Helps Fill Niche For Texas’ Uninsured
Darrell Kenyon had been punting for years on various medical issues — fatigue, headaches, mood swings. The 43-year-old uninsured carpenter was particularly worried about his blood pressure, which ran high when he checked it at the grocery store. Then he heard about a different type of physician practice, one that provided regular primary care for a monthly fee. (Huff, 10/3)

The New York Times: Controlled Chaos At Las Vegas Hospital Trauma Center After Attack
On Sunday night, Toni Mullan drove 110 miles an hour on side streets from home to get back to University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, where she had just worked a 12-hour shift as a clinical supervisor in the trauma resuscitation department. Her car was smoking as she pulled into a three-hour parking spot close to the trauma center. Ms. Mullan, 54, left her hazard lights blinking as she shut the car door and raced inside. (Fink, 10/2)

The Wall Street Journal: Las Vegas Hospitals Face Range Of Serious Traumas
Hospitals in Las Vegas are grappling with a range of patient injuries that reflect the chaos of Sunday evening’s mass shooting, including horrific gunshot wounds and traumas inflicted as victims tried to flee. Local hospitals called in extra staff as well as medical personnel from a nearby Air Force base to cope with the onslaught, as authorities on Monday reported at least 59 deaths and more than 527 wounded from the tragedy outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Whalen and Caldwell, 10/2)

NPR: Las Vegas Hospitals Call In Reinforcements To Care For Shooting Victims
Hospitals across the Las Vegas area were inundated Sunday evening when hundreds of people injured in the mass shooting at a country music festival on the Strip arrived at their doors by ambulances and private car. And hundreds of doctors, nurses, and support personnel were called into work to help handle the patients that were lined up in ambulance bays and hallways, officials say. (Kodjak, 10/2)

Reuters: After Las Vegas Massacre, Democrats Urge Gun Laws; Republicans Silent
Sunday's massacre in Las Vegas spurred a ritual-like response from U.S. politicians following the mass shootings that have left a trail of victims across the country: Democrats renewed demands for tougher gun laws while Republicans offered up prayers but showed no signs of supporting such legislation. (Cowan, Cornwell, Holland and Tuppper, 10/2)

The Hill: Leading Doctors Group Calls For Automatic Weapons Ban After Las Vegas Shooting 
The American College of Physicians issued a statement Monday labeling mass shootings a “serious public health issue” and calling for a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. “We must acknowledge that lack of a U.S. policy to address gun violence is the reason we have much higher rates of injuries and deaths from firearms violence than other countries,” the group said in a statement. Specifically, we call for a ban on the sale and ownership of automatic and semiautomatic weapons." (Carter, 10/2)

Los Angeles Times: GOP Still Plans To Vote On NRA-Backed Legislation That Eases Gun Restrictions
Congress has been unable, or unwilling, to approve gun control legislation after recent mass shootings — including one targeting lawmakers playing baseball — and it is unlikely to consider new bills after the attack in Las Vegas. To the contrary, House Republicans are on track to advance legislation easing firearms rules, including a package of bills backed by the National Rifle Assn. that would make it easier to purchase silencers. (Mascaro, 10/2)

Politico: States Rush To Preserve Children's Health Coverage
States are scrambling to shore up the government health insurance program that covers 9 million low-income kids after Congress failed to meet the deadline to renew its funding over the weekend. A number of state officials are looking for ways to keep their programs afloat, hoping Congress will approve money for the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program before they have to cut off coverage. (Ehley, 10/2)

The Washington Post: House Republicans Propose Puerto Rico Funding As Part Of CHIP Bill
Republicans on a leading House health-care committee are proposing to send $1 billion in extra Medicaid funding to Puerto Rico as it deals with severe hurricane damage, as part of a five-year plan to fund the federal health insurance program for children. The proposal from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, provided Monday night to The Washington Post, would be paid for with a bucket of items, including raising Medicare rates for wealthier seniors, redirecting dollars from the Affordable Care Act’s prevention fund and shortening a grace period for enrollees who don’t pay their premiums. (Winfield Cunningham, 10/2)

Stat: Texas Hospitals Feeling The Long-Term Financial Strains Of Harvey
Texas hospitals canceled surgeries, evacuated patients, and closed for days because of Hurricane Harvey. They sank millions of dollars into not caring for patients as a measure of precaution. More than a month after Harvey made landfall, administrators at the roughly two dozen hospitals that evacuated in the eastern part of the state have now reopened their doors to patients. But some may feel the financial burdens of the storm for months to come — both caring for more patients who can’t afford treatment, while also seeing patients postpone the more lucrative elective surgeries that are many hospitals’ moneymakers. (Blau, 10/3)

Stat: In Sicker Communities, Trump Got More Votes. Is That Why He Won?
The worse a community’s health the more strongly its voters backed Donald Trump in the 2016 election compared to their support for Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, researchers reported on Monday. The findings suggest that public health “might influence” how people vote, said Dr. Jason Wasfy of Massachusetts General Hospital, who led the study, which looked at factors such as death rates, diabetes prevalence, and teen pregnancy. “The communities that shifted from Romney to Trump in general have worse public health.” (Begley, 10/2)

Bloomberg: Study Finds Poor Health Tied To Votes For Trump In 2016 Election 
Everybody has a theory about how Donald Trump defied the polls and won the U.S. presidential election. The latest: health. There is a “substantial association” between measures of poor public health and shifts toward Trump in last November’s balloting, from voting patterns in the 2012 election, according to a paper from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Political Science, published Monday in the journal PLOS ONE. (Shanker, 10/2)

The New York Times: With Federal Cuts To Hospitals, Cuomo Suggests New York City Step Up
After weeks of warning about its possible consequences, a federal cut to New York’s hospitals took effect on Sunday, adding stress to the state’s already overworked public health care system. The cut came as a result of a lack of action by Congress on so-called Disproportionate Share Hospital payments, known as D.S.H., which are federal funds that help hospitals cover the cost of serving poor and uninsured patients. Under the Affordable Care Act, those funds were supposed to be reduced as more patients received insurance coverage. (McKinley, 10/2)

The Wall Street Journal: Shire Alleges Allergan Blocked Drug From Medicare Contracts
Shire PLC filed an antitrust suit against Allergan PLC, alleging Allergan’s contracts with Medicare Part D drug plans for its Restasis eye drops effectively blocked access to Shire’s rival drug. The complaint, filed Monday in federal court in Newark, N.J., says Shire offered steep discounts in bids to secure insurance coverage of the company’s dry-eye drug Xiidra but the Part D plans refused, due to Allergan’s “bundled discounts, exclusive dealing” and other tactics. (Rockoff, 10/2)

Stat: Allergan's Mohawk Deal Could Cost The U.S. An Extra $10.7 Billion
Ever since Allergan (AGN) struck an unusual deal last month to sell patents for the Restasis eye treatment to a Native American tribe, the drug maker has been accused of using a clever legal tactic to forestall low-cost generic competition to a big-selling product. Now, one organization is attempting to quantify the potential cost to the U.S. health care system, and the number is a whopper — Americans would pay an extra $10.7 billion if a generic version of Restasis is unavailable between 2018 and 2024, when the existing patents on the medicine are due to expire. (Silverman, 10/2)

The Hill: Aetna Offers Emergency Compensation For HIV Disclosure Victims 
Health insurance giant Aetna is offering cash reimbursements to some of the people who were affected when the company accidentally disclosed the HIV statuses of some of its customers. The “emergency relief” program will offer reimbursement and payments to individuals who say they have incurred financial hardship as a direct result of the privacy breach. (Weixel, 10/2)

The Washington Post: Are Most Planned Parenthood Clinics In Urban Areas Where Women Have Adequate Access To Care?
With the House planning to vote Oct. 3 on an antiabortion bill, we dug into this common talking point by opponents of abortion rights. During a recent health-care debate on CNN, a woman asked about the provision in the Senate’s most recent Affordable Care Act repeal bill that would restrict federal funding to Planned Parenthood. The woman said a Planned Parenthood cancer screening in her mid-20s found ovarian cysts and benign tumors, and criticized the bill for blocking health care for women, “especially for those who live in the many parts of this country that are not served by community health centers.” (Lee, 10/3)

The Associated Press: State Attorneys General Seek More Beds For Drug Treatment
A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general on Monday called on Congress to allow Medicaid funding to flow to larger drug treatment centers, potentially expanding the number of addicts who can get help as the nation grapples with an overdose crisis. The government lawyers for 38 states and Washington, D.C., sent a letter to congressional leaders requesting the change. They say it's needed to help fight the opioid abuse and overdose epidemic, which continues to claim tens of thousands of lives a year. (10/2)

The Hill: NIH To Study Babies Affected By Opioids 
The National Institutes of Health is funding a new study on babies born with opioid withdrawal syndrome, a side effect of the nation’s epidemic of prescription painkillers and heroin. The number of newborns with this syndrome has increased in recent years, yet there’s a lack of standard, evidence-based treatments for providers, according to an NIH press release announcing the new study on Monday. (Roubein, 10/2)

The Wall Street Journal: New Jersey Cracks Down On Drug Dealers For Opioid Deaths
Less than four months after New Jersey resident MaryAnn McKinnon died of an overdose, police arrested the man accused of selling the opioids that killed her. Cleveland Spencer, 26, of Paterson, N.J., was charged in late September with four drug offenses, the most serious of which was a felony alleging he sold the drugs that resulted in Ms. McKinnon’s death. (King, 10/2)

The Wall Street Journal: Big Tobacco To Spend Millions On Self-Critical Ads In U.S.
Broadcast television networks and metro newspapers are about to get a boost from an unexpected but familiar source: Big Tobacco. It’s an old media buy to resolve an old fight. Starting as soon as next month, Altria Group Inc. and British American Tobacco PLC will begin running court-mandated ads to put to rest a lawsuit brought nearly two decades ago by the U.S. Department of Justice over misleading statements the industry had made about cigarettes and their health effects. (Maloney, 10/3)

NPR: Messing With Our Body Clocks Causes Weight Gain And Diabetes
Research that helped discover the clocks running in every cell in our bodies earned three scientists a Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday. "With exquisite precision, our inner clock adapts our physiology to the dramatically different phases of the day," the Nobel Prize committee wrote of the work of Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young. "The clock regulates critical functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism." (Aubrey, 10/2)

The Associated Press: Trying To Get Sober? NIH Offers Tool To Help Find Good Care
The phone calls come — from fellow scientists and desperate strangers — with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober? Tuesday, the government is releasing a novel online tool to help — directories of alcohol treatment providers paired with key questions patients should ask for a better shot at high-quality care. (10/3)

NPR: For Children With Severe Anxiety, Medication Plus Therapy Work Best
Teens and children struggling with anxiety are often prescribed medication or therapy to treat their symptoms. For many, either drugs or therapy is enough, but some young people can't find respite from anxious thoughts. For them, a study suggests that using both treatments at once can help. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology on Monday, analyzed data from a large clinical trial of 488 people ages 7 to 17 diagnosed with anxiety disorders. The trial compared therapy, an anti-depressant called sertraline (brand name Zoloft), the combination of both, and a placebo. Pfizer, which manufactures Zoloft, donated both the sertraline and the placebo pills to the study. (Chen, 10/2)

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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