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KHN First Edition: October 4, 2017


First Edition

Wednesday, October 04, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: 5 Takeaways From Congress’ Failure To Extend Funding For Children’s Coverage
Congress finally seems ready to take action on the Children’s Health Insurance Program after funding lapsed Sept. 30. Before the deadline, lawmakers were busy grappling with the failed repeal of the Affordable Care Act.CHIP covers 9 million children nationwide. But until Congress renews CHIP, states are cut off from additional federal funding that helps lower- and middle-income families. (Galewitz, 10/3)

California Healthline: Your Grandma’s Guide To Grass: State Rolls Out Website To Cut Through Cannabis Haze
Every day, Anna Denny encounters people who know their way around a joint.Denny owns Elevated 916, a smoke shop in north Sacramento that sells tobacco products and smoking accessories. But many of her customers don’t limit their smoking to tobacco. Because they’ve been there, done that, Denny just can’t imagine them using a new state website that offers resources — and plenty of warnings — about the use of marijuana now that lighting up recreationally is legal in California. (Ibarra, 10/3)

The Washington Post: As The Wounded Kept Coming, Hospitals Dealt With Injuries Rarely Seen In The U.S.
As trauma nurse Renae Huening rushed into Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center on Sunday night, she “followed a trail of blood indoors. ”Dozens of patients already were crammed into the waiting area, hallways and rooms of the hospital’s emergency department. Some were “red-tagged,” meaning they needed attention immediately. Names were being assigned randomly because there was no time to register people or find IDs. Huening could smell the blood. (Craig, Mello and Sun, 10/3)

The Washington Post: Who Will Take Care Of Nevada’s Wounded Psyche?
The call went out Monday from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Less than 24 hours earlier, from a suite on the 32nd floor, Stephen Paddock had squeezed off enough rounds from an AK-47-type rifle to kill at least 59 people and injure more than 500. And now, again, the hotel sought urgent help. “We are in need of certified trauma counselors,” it tweeted. And then these details: “If you can volunteer your time, please go to Circus Circus — Ballroom D where you will be given an assignment. . . . We are grateful for the support of our community.” (Nutt, 10/3)

The Hill: GOP Gives Ground In ObamaCare Stabilization Talks
Republicans are willing to provide insurers with two years of ObamaCare subsidies under a bipartisan market stabilization bill, according to the Senate Health Committee chairman. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said continuing cost-sharing reduction subsidies for two years is a key part of the stabilization package he is trying to negotiate with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). (Weixel, 10/3)

Roll Call: CBO Still Expected To Analyze Graham-Cassidy Health Care Measure
The Congressional Budget Office will still release a full analysis of a proposal from four Republican senators that would overhaul the health care system, according to one of the bill’s main sponsors. During an interview for Tuesday’s CQ Roll Call Big Story Podcast, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said a full score from the nonpartisan budget office is still expected. He believes that report could help dispel some of the opposition to the legislation. (Williams, 10/2)

The New York Times: With Affordable Care Act’s Future Cloudy, Costs For Many Seem Sure To Soar
Health insurers are aggressively increasing prices next year for individual policies sold under the federal health care law, with some raising premiums by more than 50 percent. By approving such steep increases for 2018 in recent weeks, regulators in many states appeared to be coaxing companies to hang in there, despite turmoil in the market and continuing uncertainty in Congress about the future of the law, the Affordable Care Act. (Abelson, 10/3)

The Hill: Ex-Obama Officials Launch Group To Sign People Up For ObamaCare
Former Obama administration officials are launching an effort to sign people up for ObamaCare, saying they need to fill the gap left by the Trump administration’s cutbacks. Lori Lodes and Joshua Peck, who oversaw enrollment efforts in the Department of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama, are launching the group called Get America Covered. (Sullivan, 10/4)

The New York Times: States Gird For Worst As Congress Wrestles With Children’s Insurance Program
Federal officials on Monday approved a $3.6 million emergency infusion for Minnesota after the state’s human services chief warned that pregnant women and some children were at imminent risk of losing health care coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Utah, meantime, has formally requested authority to “eliminate eligibility and services under CHIP” if the state does not have enough money to continue coverage. (Pear, 10/3)

Reuters: House Republicans Seek $1 Billion In Medicaid Funds For Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico, struggling to recover from hurricane damage, could receive $1 billion in additional funding for the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor under a proposal from a U.S. House of Representatives panel, a congressional aide said on Tuesday. Republicans who lead the House Energy and Commerce Committee included the request for more Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico as part of a separate bill to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program. It is scheduled to be considered and voted on in committee on Wednesday. (Cornwell, 10/3)

Politico: Ryan Asked White House To Reconsider Ousting Price
Speaker Paul Ryan last week urged the White House to reconsider ousting Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, his longtime friend who had come under fire for often using taxpayer-funded private jets for travel, according to two people with knowledge of the call. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, called the Wisconsin Republican minutes before the departure was announced Friday afternoon. It was a heads-up call, one White House official said. (Dawsey and Bade, 10/3)

The Hill: Top Dem Demands Answers: Did Price Pay Back For Private Travel? 
A top Democratic senator is demanding to know if former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price has reimbursed taxpayers for his use of charter flights on official government business. In a letter obtained by The Hill, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Tuesday asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to confirm whether Price has in fact sent a check to the U.S. Treasury, and for how much. (Weixel, 10/3)

Stat: Scott Gottlieb Rocketed To The Top Of FDA. He May Keep Rising
When President Trump nominated Scott Gottlieb as the head of the Food and Drug Administration, he was quickly pegged by many as a conservative businessman who was cozy with the pharmaceutical industry. Seven months later, he is attracting praise from some of President Trump’s staunchest critics — including former Obama administration officials. He may also be in line to succeed his old boss, Tom Price, as secretary of health and human services. (Swetlitz, 10/4)

The Associated Press: House Approves GOP Bill Outlawing Most Late-Term Abortions
Most late-term abortions would be outlawed under legislation Republicans pushed through the House on Tuesday, a major priority of the GOP and conservative groups that won't reach an eager President Donald Trump because it faces certain Senate defeat. The House approved the measure by a near party-line 237-189 vote. Though the bill's fate is sealed, the push for abortion restrictions remains a touchstone issue for most Republicans, even as the party splinters between traditionalist conservatives and anti-establishment voters looking to roil Washington. (10/3)

The Washington Post: With Trump’s Backing, House Approves Ban On Abortion After 20 Weeks Of Pregnancy
The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is not expected to emerge from the Senate, where most Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans can block its consideration. But antiabortion activists are calling President Trump’s endorsement of the bill a significant advance for their movement. The White House said in a statement released Monday that the administration “strongly supports” the legislation “and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.” (DeBonis and Johnson, 10/3)

Stat: House Passes 20-Week Abortion Ban, As GOP Proponents Cite 'Fetal Pain'
The co-chairs of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), along with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), said in a statement the ban “endangers women, interferes with their private health care decisions, and marginalizes sexual assault victims while also being blatantly unconstitutional.” Ninety-nine percent of abortions already take place before 21 weeks, according to Planned Parenthood. (Facher, 10/3)

NPR: For Many Women The Nearest Abortion Provider Is Many Miles Away
There's a clinic that's right in Kelsey's town of Sioux Falls, S.D., that performs abortions, but she still drove hours away to get one. Back in 2015, she was going through a difficult time — recently laid off, had to move suddenly, helping a close family member through some personal struggles — when she found out she was also pregnant. (McCammon, 10/3)

The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood Seeks Halt To Arkansas Abortion Pill Law
Planned Parenthood asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to prevent Arkansas from enforcing restrictions on how the abortion pill is administered while the organization asks the nation's highest court to review a ruling in favor of the new limits. Planned Parenthood Great Plains asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to not allow its ruling in favor of the restrictions to take effect yet. (10/3)

The Associated Press: ACLU Sues To Challenge FDA Limits On Access To Abortion Pill
The American Civil Liberties Union sued Tuesday in a challenge to federal restrictions that limit many women's access to the so-called abortion pill. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Hawaii, targets long-standing restrictions imposed by the Food and Drug Administration that say the pill, marketed in the U.S. as Mifeprex, can be dispensed only in clinics, hospitals and doctors' offices. The lawsuit contends the drug — used for abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy — should be made available by prescription in pharmacies across the U.S. (10/3)

The Associated Press: Court Ruling Favors Planned Parenthood In Missouri
A federal appeals court ruling has opened the door for Planned Parenthood to pursue abortion licenses in more areas of Missouri. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday lifted a temporary stay that had allowed the state to continue enforcing certain abortion requirements while appealing a lower court's ruling that the requirements infringed on women's abortion rights. The appeals court didn't explain its decision. (10/3)

The New York Times: Anti-Abortion Congressman Asked Woman To Have One, Report Says
Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, a strong and frequent critic of abortion, asked a woman with whom he was having an affair to undergo an abortion, according to a report published on Tuesday by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mr. Murphy, 65, who is married with an adult daughter, confirmed last month that he “became involved in an affair with a personal friend,” according to a statement previously provided to The Post-Gazette. (Stevens, 10/3)

The Associated Press: Meeting With Former Health Chief Is Focus Of Menendez Trial
The former head of the trillion-dollar federal agency that oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act testified Tuesday she found it unusual when she was asked to meet in 2012 with U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez at the request U.S. Sen. Harry Reid to discuss what she took to be an issue surrounding one physician’s Medicare billing dispute. Five years later, that meeting is playing a central role in the bribery case against Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and the physician, Salomon Melgen, who is charged with plying Menendez with free trips on his private plane and other gifts in exchange for Menendez’s political influence on the Medicare dispute and other matters. (Porter, 10/3)

The Washington Post: Former HHS Secretary Testifies In Menendez Corruption Case That She Declined To Help New Jersey Senator
Sebelius, testifying as a prosecution witness in Menendez and Melgen’s federal corruption trial, recounted the events leading up to an August 2012 meeting with Menendez and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at Reid’s office. “I don’t know exactly what [Menendez] wanted, just that he wanted me to do something,” Sebelius, a Kansas Democrat who led HHS from 2009 to 2014, testified. “My definite impression was that he was very concerned that the policy was inconsistent and unfair and something should be done.” (Maimon, 10/3)

The New York Times: At Menendez Trial, Ex-Health Secretary Recalls An ‘Unusual’ Meeting
“It was unusual for Senator Reid to ask me to come to a meeting involving another member of Congress,” she said. “I think this was the only time in five and a half years that that occurred. ”What also made the meeting different, Ms. Sebelius added, was the topic. “I was asked to discuss a practice involving a billing issue before Medicare and Medicaid services,’’ she said. “That was not something that I was personally involved in on a basis like this.” (Corasaniti, 10/3)

The Washington Post: Prosecutors Slammed For ‘Lack Of Moral Compass,’ Withholding Evidence In Widening Mass. Drug Lab Scandal
Twice in recent years, chemists used by the state of Massachusetts to test drugs in criminal cases committed massive misconduct in their testing, affecting tens of thousands of cases. And twice, prosecutors in Massachusetts failed to act promptly to notify most defendants of the problem. Instead, the prosecutors have taken years to seek justice for the defendants affected by the bad drug testing in both episodes, causing some people to wrongly spend years in prison. (Jackman, 10/4)

The New York Times: Personal Genetic Testing Is Here. Do We Need It?
For years, Jody Christ, 62, struggled to control her high cholesterol. Her doctors encouraged her to exercise, change her diet and lose weight, but none of that ever seemed to lower her numbers. When her health plan, the Geisinger Health System of Pennsylvania, offered a genetic test that screens for dozens of hereditary diseases, she submitted a saliva sample and awaited the results. (O'Connor, 10/3)

NPR: Human Brain Has A Direct Link To The Immune System After All
Fresh evidence that the body's immune system interacts directly with the brain could lead to a new understanding of diseases from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer's. A study of human and monkey brains found lymphatic vessels — a key part of the body's immune system — in a membrane that surrounds the brain and nervous system, a team reported Tuesday in the online journal eLife. (Hamilton, 10/3)

Stat: Amicus's New Drug For Pompe Disease Shows Strong Results
When two of John Crowley’s children were diagnosed with the rare and debilitating Pompe disease, he founded a company that helped develop a successful treatment. Now, he’s running another biotech — and clinical trial data presented Wednesday suggest that it’s on the way to developing a more effective drug for the same disease. The new drug from Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD) appears to deliver greater improvements in muscle and lung function for people with Pompe, according to interim data from a small, mid-stage study. (Feuerstein, 10/4)

The Washington Post: Breast-Cancer Death Rate Drops Almost 40 Percent, Saving 322,000 Lives, Study Says
Breast cancer death rates declined almost 40 percent between 1989 and 2015, averting 322,600 deaths, the American Cancer Society reported Tuesday. Breast cancer death rates increased by 0.4 percent per year from 1975 to 1989, according to the study. After that, mortality rates decreased rapidly, for a 39 percent drop overall through 2015.  The report, the latest to document a long-term reduction in breast-cancer mortality, attributed the declines to both improvements in treatments and to early detection by mammography. (McGinley, 10/3)

Stat: How Pets Could Help Researchers Find The Next Cancer Therapy For Humans
This field of comparative medicine — using animals to better understand and treat human disease — is not new; creatures such as mice, rats, and actual guinea pigs have long been the mainstay of medical research and studies of experimental drugs. What’s different is that veterinarians are now conducting rigorous clinical trials of new treatments with the hope they might eventually benefit humans as well as the family pet. Increasingly, they’re using dogs and cats and other companion animals in these experiments, as medical researchers recognize the limitations of traditional lab animals. (McFarling, 10/4)

The Washington Post: Failure To Vaccinate Is Likely Driver Of U.S. Measles Outbreaks, Report Says
People who don’t get vaccinated are the most likely reason for the steady increase in the rate of measles and major outbreaks in the United States, according to an analysis released Tuesday. The findings, published in JAMA, add to the body of evidence linking failure to vaccinate with the spread of the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease. Once common in the United States, measles was eliminated nationally in 2000 but has made a return in recent years largely because of people who reject vaccinating their children, experts say. (Sun, 10/3)

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