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KHN First Edition: October 6, 2017


First Edition

Friday, October 06, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Association Health Plans: A Favorite GOP Approach To Coverage Poised For Comeback
Not even 24 hours after the latest “repeal and replace” proposal ran out of steam, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) ignited a new round of health policy speculation by predicting, during a cable news interview, impending Trump administration action on a longtime Republican go-to idea: association health plans. “If [consumers] can join large groups, get protection and less expensive insurance … it will solve a lot of problems in the individual market,” Paul said last week on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe.” (Appleby, 10/6)

Kaiser Health News: Eyes Fixed On California As Governor Ponders Inking Drug Price Transparency Bill
Insurers, hospitals and health advocates are waiting for Gov. Jerry Brown to deal the drug lobby a rare defeat, by signing legislation that would force pharmaceutical companies to justify big price hikes on drugs in California. “If it gets signed by this governor, it’s going to send shock waves throughout the country,” said state Sen. Ed Hernandez, a Democrat from West Covina, the bill’s author and an optometrist. “A lot of other states have the same concerns we have, and you’re going to see other states try to emulate what we did.” (Dembosky, 10/6)

The New York Times: Trump Administration Set To Roll Back Birth Control Mandate
The Trump administration is poised to roll back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, vastly expanding exemptions for those that cite moral or religious objections. The new rules, which could be issued as soon as Friday, fulfill a campaign promise by President Trump and are sure to touch off a round of lawsuits on the issue. (Pear, 10/5)

The Washington Post: Trump Administration To Narrow Affordable Care Act’s Contraception Mandate
The action, according to a Republican briefed Thursday on the regulation, will allow a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. It represents the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start. (Wan and Eilperin, 10/6)

The Washington Post: As ACA Enrollment Nears, Administration Keeps Cutting Federal Support Of The Law
For months, officials in Republican-controlled Iowa had sought federal permission to revitalize their ailing health-insurance marketplace. Then President Trump read about the request in a newspaper story and called the federal director weighing the application. Trump’s message in late August was clear, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations: Tell Iowa no. (Eilperin, 10/5)

The Hill: Trump Told HHS To Deny Request To Fix Iowa ObamaCare Market: Report
President Trump told the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Seema Varma to deny a request from the Republican-controlled state of Iowa to fix their health-care marketplace, according to The Washington Post. According to the Post, Iowa officials sought for months to get federal permission to fix health insurance markets in their state, but they were shut down by Trump administration officials. (Manchester, 10/5)

The Hill: Many States Blame Trump, GOP For ObamaCare Premium Increases 
Twenty states attribute ObamaCare premium increases next year to uncertainty caused by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress, according to a new report released Thursday. The report from pro-ObamaCare group Protect Our Care analyzed the 28 states where final, state-approved rates are public and found that 20 specifically cited uncertainty at the federal level for at least part of the reason for increases. (Hellmann, 10/5)

The Washington Post: Rep. Tim Murphy Resigns From Congress After Allegedly Asking Woman To Have Abortion
“Upon further discussion with my family, I have made the decision to resign my position” effective Oct. 21, Murphy wrote in a letter to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the people of southwestern Pennsylvania and to have worked with the talented and dedicated men and women of the United States Congress.” In a statement Thursday, Ryan (R-Wis.) thanked Murphy “for his many years of tireless work on mental health issues here in Congress and his service to the country as a naval reserve officer.” (DeBonis, 10/5)

Politico: Tim Murphy Resigns From Congress
The Pennsylvania Republican’s about-face came after House GOP leaders and senior Republicans upped the pressure on Murphy to step down. Republican sources familiar with Murphy’s thinking said the married father of one child initially believed he could weather a story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, revealing he had sent a series of text messages to his girlfriend — a psychologist half his age — encouraging her to have an abortion. Murphy has been a strongly anti-abortion lawmaker during his 15 years in Congress. (Bade and Sherman, 10/5)

The Hill: Graham Brings 20-Week Abortion Ban To Senate With 45 Co-Sponsors 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a 20-week abortion ban in the Senate on Thursday with the support of 45 GOP senators, two days after a similar bill passed the House.  The "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," which faces long odds in the upper chamber, would make it illegal for any person to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with the possibility of five years in prison, fines or both. (Hellmann, 10/5)

Stateline: States Scramble To Overcome Congress’ Failure To Move On CHIP
By failing to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program before last week’s deadline, Congress has nudged the state of Minnesota toward a painful solution to the loss of federal funds: Unless it can find $95 million, the state said it will continue to provide full health care for certain low-income pregnant women in the program, while either reducing the number of children eligible for CHIP or scaling back their benefits. That is the sort of agonizing choice that all states in the country will face in the coming months unless Congress acts quickly to restore federal funding to a program that is immensely popular with both parties. (Ollove, 10/6)

The Associated Press: House Passes GOP Budget In Key Step For Upcoming Tax Debate
The House on Thursday passed a $4.1 trillion budget plan that promises deep cuts to social programs while paving the way for Republicans to rewrite the tax code later this year. The 2018 House GOP budget reprises a controversial plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for future retirees as well as the party’s efforts to repeal the “Obamacare” health law. Republicans controlling Congress have no plans to actually implement those cuts while they pursue their tax overhaul. (Taylor, 10/5)

Stat: Senator Aims To Block Maneuvers Like Allergan's Patent Deal With Mohawks
Angered by a controversial Allergan patent maneuver, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Thursday introduced a bill that prohibits tribal sovereign immunity from being used to block certain types of patent challenges. Her move comes after Allergan transferred six patents for its best-selling Restasis eye treatment last month to a Mohawk tribe, which has sovereign immunity and is now attempting to use its status to block patent challenges filed by several generic drug makers. (Silverman, 10/5)

The Hill: Price's $51K Check To HHS For Private Flights Processed 
A check Tom Price signed to reimburse the government for his travel on private planes before resigning as Health and Human Services secretary has been processed, according to an HHS official. Price resigned last week after backlash over his travel, which reportedly cost taxpayers more than $1 million since May. Price indicated before his ouster that he would reimburse the government for his "seat" on the planes, for a total of $51,887.31, which he has paid. (Delk, 10/5)

The Washington Post: Armed With A New Approach, Police And Medics Stormed Through The Las Vegas Gunfire, Saving Lives
Joe Geeb didn’t know if there was one shooter, or 30. When the call for a “mass casualty incident” blasted through the radio Sunday night, the Clark County fire captain had no idea what was happening on the Las Vegas Strip, but he immediately began thinking about how he would run toward the bullets, the mayhem and the carnage while everyone else was running away. (Bui, 10/5)

The New York Times: How To Stop Bleeding And Save A Life
In the commotion immediately after the Las Vegas shooting that killed nearly 60 people on Sunday, medical workers outnumbered by victims pressed bystanders into service to help with emergency first aid. Just as bystander CPR has become standard, public health agencies are working to increase awareness of bystander first aid. Because trauma victims often die of blood loss, rather than the injury itself, stopping the bleeding is the top priority. (Rabin, 10/5)

Los Angeles Times: California Residents Can Apply For Aid For Medical Bills, Funeral Expenses After Las Vegas Attacks
Californians who were injured in the Las Vegas attack may be able to get some monetary relief. The California Victim Compensation Board, a state program that offers monetary support for victims of violent crimes, has released a single application process to allow people to apply for compensation from California as well as from Nevada's program, said Julie Nauman, the board's executive director. (Kohli, 10/5)

Stat: Hepatitis A In San Diego: An Outbreak Waiting To Happen
he hepatitis A outbreak now roiling this well-heeled, coastal city may have had its roots in a baseball game — when the city cleaned up for the 2016 All-Star Game by pushing its homeless out of the touristy areas downtown and into increasingly congested encampments and narrow freeway onramps just east of downtown. The lines of tents stretched for blocks. At the same time, the city was locking and removing bathrooms to help control the rampant drug and prostitution trade they’d spawned. Hepatitis A is transmitted through contact with feces from an infected person, and in close, unsanitary conditions, the highly contagious virus can spread explosively. So it was only a matter of time, experts say, before cases would surge among the homeless. (McFarling, 10/6)

Los Angeles Times: California's Deadly Hepatitis A Outbreak Could Last Years, Official Says
California’s outbreak of hepatitis A, already the nation’s second largest in the last 20 years, could continue for many months, even years, health officials said Thursday. At least 569 people have been infected and 17 have died of the virus since November in San Diego, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles counties, where local outbreaks have been declared. Dr. Monique Foster, a medical epidemiologist with the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters Thursday that California’s outbreak could linger even with the right prevention efforts. (Karlamangla, 10/5)

The New York Times: America Is Surprisingly Reliant On Foreign Medical Graduates
As our recent eight-nation bracket tournament showed, many people think the United States health care system has a lot of problems. So it seems reasonable to think of policy changes that make things better, not worse. Making it harder for immigrants to come here to practice medicine would fail that test. (Aaron E. Carroll, 10/6)

The New York Times: In A First, Gene Therapy Halts A Fatal Brain Disease
For the first time, doctors have used gene therapy to stave off a fatal degenerative brain disease, an achievement that some experts had thought impossible. The key to making the therapy work? One of medicine’s greatest villains: HIV. The patients were children who had inherited a mutated gene causing a rare disorder, adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD. Nerve cells in the brain die, and in a few short years, children lose the ability to walk or talk. (Kolata, 10/5)

The New York Times: The Never-Ending Battle Against Sport’s Hidden Foe
The first thing Colgate University did was purchase a sophisticated $14,000 machine that used ozone gas, not water or detergent, to disinfect all its athletes’ gear. An ice hockey player had come down with a staph infection, and Colgate, fearing the severe and sometimes fatal form of it known as MRSA, was not going to take any chances. The university didn’t stop at gassing gear. (Pennington, 10/6)

Los Angeles Times: As Much As 2.6% Of Your DNA Is From Neanderthals. This Is What It's Doing
Modern humans are a little more Neanderthal than we thought. A highly detailed genetic analysis of a Neanderthal woman who lived about 52,000 years ago suggests that our extinct evolutionary cousins still influence our risk of having a heart attack, developing an eating disorder and suffering from schizophrenia. Altogether, scientists now estimate that somewhere between 1.8% and 2.6% of the DNA in most people alive today was inherited from Neanderthals, according to a report published Thursday in the journal Science. (Healy, 10/5)

NPR: Neanderthal DNA Can Affect Skin Tone And Hair Color
Neanderthals died out some 30,000 years ago, but their genes live on within many of us. DNA from our shorter, stockier cousins may be influencing skin tone, ease of tanning, hair color and sleeping patterns of those of present-day Europeans, according to a study from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology published Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics. (Jochem, 10/5)

The Wall Street Journal: New York City Public Hospitals Take Measures To Conserve Cash
The head of New York City’s public hospital system says he will leave more jobs unfilled at the 11 hospitals he oversees to cope with a cash-flow crisis that emerged after the state withheld millions in aid. City and state officials have sparred over the funding in recent days as health-care dollars from Washington become scarce. (Gay and West, 10/5)

The Associated Press: State Estimates 90,000 Medicaid Eligible Are Uninsured
A new [Virginia] state report says there are about 90,000 Virginians who are eligible for publicly funded health care programs for the poor and disabled but have not signed up. The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services recently reported to the General Assembly that it estimates there were 28,000 adults who were eligible for Medicaid in 2015 that were not signed up for the program. DMAS said about 60,000 eligible children were not signed up for Medicaid or the state’s program for children known as FAMIS. (10/6)

Los Angeles Times: USC Medical School Dean Out Amid Revelations Of Sexual Harassment Claim, $135,000 Settlement With Researcher
After the dean of USC’s medical school resigned last year amid long-running complaints about his drinking and boorish treatment of colleagues, university leaders assured students and faculty that his successor would be worthy of respect. The man USC chose, however, had a black mark on his own personnel record: A finding by the university 15 years ago that he had behaved inappropriately toward a female medical school fellow. (Parvini, Ryan and Pringle, 10/5)

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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