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KHN First Edition: August 6, 2015


First Edition

Thursday, August 06, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Telephone Therapy Helps Older People In Underserved Rural Areas, Study Finds
Kaiser Health News staff writer Lisa Gillespie reports: "Therapy provided over the phone lowered symptoms of anxiety and depression among older adults in rural areas with a lack of mental health services, a new study shows. The option is important, one expert said, because seniors often have increased need for treatment as they cope with the effects of disease and the emotional tolls of aging and loss." (Gillespie, 8/5)

NPR/ProPublica: On Yelp, Doctors Get Reviewed Like Restaurants — And It Rankles
Dental patients really don't like Western Dental. Not its Anaheim, Calif., clinic: "I hate this place!!!" one reviewer wrote on the rating site Yelp. Or one of its locations in Phoenix: "Learn from my terrible experience and stay far, far away." In fact, the chain of low-cost dental clinics, which has more Yelp reviews than any other health provider, has been repeatedly, often brutally, panned in some 3,000 online critiques — 379 include the word "horrible." Its average rating: 1.8 out of 5 stars. (Ornstein, 8/6)

Los Angeles Times: Yelp Adds Healthcare Data For Hospitals, Nursing Homes To Reviews
Yelp has launched a new feature that adds healthcare information to its online reviews pages for hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis clinics. The San Francisco company said Wednesday that it will provide statistics for 4,600 hospitals, 15,000 nursing homes and 6,300 dialysis clinics in the U.S. The information is compiled by ProPublica from their own research and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and will be updated quarterly. (Chang, 8/5)

The Washington Post: You Can Now Look Up ER Wait Times, Hospital Noise Levels And Nursing Home Fines On Yelp
Yelp is adding a ton of health-care data to its review pages for medical businesses to give consumers more access to government information on hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis clinics. Consumers can now look up a hospital emergency room's average wait time, fines paid by a nursing home, or how often patients getting dialysis treatment are readmitted to a hospital because of treatment-related infections or other problems. (Sun, 8/5)

USA Today: Yelp, ProPublica Pair To Give Consumers More Data On Health Care Facilities
Just as Yelp can give you advice on which restaurant to go to for the best burgers, now it can give you advice on which hospital to go to for the shortest emergency room waiting time. Yelp announced Wednesday that it has joined forces with ProPublica, a non-profit investigative news organization, to incorporate additional statistics onto the Yelp pages of more than 25,000 medical treatment facilities pages. (Thadani, 8/5)

The Washington Post: The Top 10 Issues You’ll Likely Hear About In Thursday’s Debate
With abortion, guns and the Iran nuclear deal dominating the national news cycle, Republican presidential candidates definitely won't run out of things to talk about in Thursday's debate (and earlier "kiddie table" forum). ... A little-known anti-abortion-rights activist group released several videos over the course of the last few weeks showing Planned Parenthood officials talking casually about the procurement of organs from aborted fetuses. Planned Parenthood officials denied doing anything wrong -- the implication is the organs were being sold -- but apologized for their tone. ... Americans have been able to buy health insurance on state- and federally run private exchanges since October 2013, when the hallmark piece of the president's Obama's 2010 health-care law, known as Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, went into effect. Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives has voted at least 50 times to defund or repeal the law and parts of it. (Phillips, 8/6)

USA Today: GOP 2016 Hopefuls Gather For First Debate
he stage is set, the players are assembling, and the plot focuses on a character who has never been in this kind of show before. Donald Trump is at the center of Thursday's Republican debate in Cleveland, while more experienced rivals try to figure out how to deal with the novice candidate who sits atop most GOP polls. ... Republicans may also be quizzed about how they plan to repeal and replace President Obama's health care plan, how they would change the battle against the Islamic State, and how they could end federal funding for Planned Parenthood. (Jackson, 8/6)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Pushing Policy In The Age Of The Donald
The group is warning about the dangers of the $18 trillion national debt because it is still growing even though the short-term federal deficit has declined. They are trying to raise political awareness in the presidential campaign because Congress seems to have lost interest in curbing the long-term growth of government entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. (Hook, 8/5)

Reuters: In Planned Parenthood Fallout, Each Side Sees The Law Differently
After an anti-abortion group released surreptitiously recorded videos of Planned Parenthood personnel in discussions about providing fetal tissue for research, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a pro-life Republican, pledged to "aggressively" investigate whether the women's health organization had violated the law. California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a pro-choice Democrat, also promised an investigation, but with an entirely different focus. Her office, she said, would scrutinize the anti-abortion group that made the videos to see if it had "violated laws, including but not limited to, [California's] registration and reporting requirements." (8/6)

Politico: Planned Parenthood Did Nothing Wrong
Republicans on Capitol Hill, and now GOP presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, are jumping over each other to defund Planned Parenthood because it transfers fetal tissues to researchers at cost. But if Americans want the benefits of biotechnology—helpful surgeries, cosmetics, vaccines, Alzheimer’s treatment and pharmaceutical drugs—they and their elected representatives need to learn a few basic facts about how these social services and products are derived from human tissue research (Goodwin, 8/5)

Los Angeles Times: Planned Parenthood Videos Highlight Questions About Fetal Tissue Research
Who released the videos, and what is the dispute about? A California nonprofit called the Center for Medical Progress has released five heavily edited videos, which it says were taped in “undercover” operations. Members of the group posed as a company looking to obtain fetal tissues from clinics that perform abortions. The center is run by David Daleiden, who previously was associated with the antiabortion group Live Action. ... What does federal law say about procuring fetal tissue and organs following an abortion? Donation of fetal tissue and organs for medical purposes is legal, and groups are allowed to charge “reasonable” fees to cover costs associated with “transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control or storage” of the material that a woman has agreed to donate. The 1993 law prohibits doctors from altering abortion procedures to meet the demand for intact body parts and forbids charging anything beyond those reasonable costs. (Mai-Duc, 8/5)

Politico: NIH, FDA Tied To Fetal Tissue Firm
One of the companies identified as a fetal tissue supplier in sting videos of Planned Parenthood counts two federal health agencies among its customers, earning at least $300,000 for material used in research of treatments for HIV and eye disease, officials confirmed to POLITICO. It’s unknown whether the nonprofit, Advanced Bioscience Resources, got any of that fetal tissue from abortions performed at Planned Parenthood clinics. (Haberkorn and Norman, 8/6)

The Wall Street Journal: Florida Investigation Of Planned Parenthood Clinics Finds Deficiencies
Three Planned Parenthood Federation of America clinics in Florida were ordered to stop performing second-trimester abortions after an investigation found they didn’t have the proper licenses, the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Wednesday. The investigation also found one clinic that wasn't keeping proper logs relating to fetal remains, according to the agency. The state may take additional actions, including administrative sanctions, against the clinics. (Armour, 8/5)

The New York Times: New Hampshire: A Vote Against Planned Parenthood
Officials on Wednesday voted against funding health centers operated by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. New Hampshire’s Executive Council voted, 3 to 2, to reject contracts that would have provided the organization’s centers in the state with about $638,000 over two years, roughly one-third of the public funding for the centers, which is primarily federal. (Bidgood, 8/5)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Bush, Clinton Spar Over Planned Parenthood
Funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America is emerging as a polarizing subject in the presidential election after Republican candidate Jeb Bush was slammed by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for comments he made about funding women’s health. Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, spoke Tuesday at the Southern Baptist Convention following the release of a fifth undercover video on Planned Parenthood providing fetal tissue for medical research. He said, “I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health.” He later said he misspoke, and was referring to the roughly $528 million the organization received last year in government funds. The bulk of that came from federal money, including Medicaid and a family planning program. (Armour, 8///5)

Politico: GOPers Frustrated By Jeb Bush Gaffe
Democratic critics of Jeb Bush’s ad-lib Tuesday about cutting women’s health spending were joined by conservatives, who are annoyed that the inartful statement may undermine their efforts to finally score a win against Planned Parenthood. Despite his swift damage control efforts, Bush’s casual aside Tuesday afternoon that “I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health programs” threw the Democratic attack machine into overdrive. (Stokols, 8/5)

The Washington Post: Here’s One Prominent Republican’s Plan To Curb Mass Shootings
The Mental Health and Safe Communities Act introduced Wednesday by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) does not include even the modest expansion to the national background check system that was at the center of the last major gun control push, which was rejected by the Senate in 2013 amid NRA opposition. ... But the bill would clarify the types of mental health records required to be forwarded to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System -- an issue raised in the recent shooting in Lafayette, La. -- and encourage states to send more information to the database by creating a stick-and-carrot compliance system. It would also encourage "best practices" for responding to mental health crises, including the use of specially trained response teams by federal and local law enforcement agencies. (DeBonis, 8/5)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Cornyn Bill Would Tighten Mental Health Tracking Ahead Of Gun Purchases
The bill would clarify which mental health records states are asked to send to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and would encourage state and local governments to provide more records to the national database. It would create incentives for states to establish new screening and treatment methods and crisis response strategies. To protect the due process rights of gun owners, Mr. Cornyn said, the bill would outline the process by which judges can block someone from purchasing a gun.(Stanley-Becker, 8/5)

The Associated Press: Leading GOP Senator Offers Bill On Guns, Mental Health
The measure drew criticism from groups advocating stricter controls over firearms, who said it doesn't go far enough and singled out provisions they said would make it easier for some unstable people to obtain deadly weapons. But it was backed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which advocates for mentally ill people, and groups representing police organizations, correctional workers and social workers, which combined with NRA support could broaden its appeal. (8/5)

The New York Times: Cybersecurity Bill Is Latest to Be Delayed in Senate
The Senate headed into its August recess on Wednesday without voting on a cybersecurity bill, adding it to a contentious to-do list for September that includes a push to disapprove the Iran nuclear deal and a spending fight mired in abortion politics. ... In addition, Republicans’ return to the thorny abortion debate — this time by inserting a bill to defund Planned Parenthood into the calendar ahead of the cybersecurity measure — left too little time to finish the computer security legislation. Presidential politics has also frequently played a part, with four Republican senators set to participate in primary debates on Thursday. (Steinhauer, 8/5)

USA Today: Deadly Infections From Medical Scopes Go Unreported, Raising Health Risks
Reports of superbug outbreaks linked to a specialized type of medical scope continue to climb, but government efforts to assess the public health risk are stymied: No one knows how often the infections occur — or where. Duodenoscopes, which are run down the throat to treat intestinal problems, have been tied to scores of infections and more than a dozen deaths at hospitals in Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and other cities. Indiana's health department recently notified federal officials of two more scope-related infections that have not been disclosed previously. (Eisler, 8/5)

Los Angeles Times: After Years Of Scandal, L.A. Jails Get Federal Oversight, Sweeping Reforms
Under the deal, jailers will receive revamped training on how to handle mentally ill inmates, including how to identify warning signs of suicide and how to respond to an inmate who has attempted suicide. The agreement also spells out changes to how inmates are evaluated when they are booked into jail and how those suspected of serious mental illness should be kept safe until they are seen by a mental health professional. The agreement specifies how deputies must handle mentally ill inmates, including when inmates may be physically restrained, where they can be housed and how frequently they should be checked on. (Chang and Rubin, 8/5)

The New York Times: Los Angeles Agrees To Overhaul Jails To Care For Mentally Ill And Curb Abuse
Many of the changes set forth in the settlement are intended to reduce the risk of suicides at the jails, including additional steps to assess prisoners’ mental health, improve crisis intervention training for jail employees, have inmates spend more time out of their cells and enhance the investigation of all suicide attempts. ... At a time when many state mental health facilities have closed, Los Angeles is one of many jail systems struggling to deal with the surging numbers of mentally ill inmates. (Lovett, 8/5)

The Wall Street Journal: Los Angeles County Jails To Undergo Reforms To Improve Treatment Of Inmates
Los Angeles County’s jail system will undergo reforms under federal oversight as part of a settlement with the Justice Department, which had been probing alleged mistreatment of inmates. ... As part of the settlement, filed in federal court Wednesday, the Justice Department included a complaint alleging a pattern or practice of providing inadequate mental health care and using excessive force at the jails, which house up to 20,000 inmates. (Emshwiller, 8/5)

The Wall Street Journal: Mayor Plans New Homeless Initiative
New York City will move to locate homeless people who have shown violent tendencies and push them toward mental-health care, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office is expected to announce Thursday. ... The city is expected to spend $22 million on the plan, according to a person briefed on it. About $8 million of the plan will pay for more caseworkers and police officers throughout the shelter system. The city is also planning to pair social workers with police officers and focus more on homeless people who are supposed to take medication. (Dawsey, 8/5)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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