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KHN First Edition: October 11, 2017


First Edition

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Social Media Is Harming The Minds Of Our Youth, Right? Maybe Not.
It was 1:30 a.m., and Anna was trying to keep her mind off her ex-boyfriend, with whom she had ended a painful relationship hours earlier. It was too late to call the therapist she was seeing to cope with low self-esteem and homesickness, and too late to stop by a friend’s house. So, she turned to social media. “I’m having a really hard time right now,” Anna — who asked to be identified by a pseudonym — posted on Facebook. “Is there anyone I can call and talk to until I feel better?” (Jacewicz, 10/11)

The New York Times: In New Test For Obamacare, Iowa Seeks To Abandon Marketplace
With efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act dead in Congress for now, a critical test for the law’s future is playing out in one small, conservative-leaning state. Iowa is anxiously waiting for the Trump administration to rule on a request that is loaded with implications for the law’s survival. If approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it would allow the state to jettison some of Obamacare’s main features next year — its federally run insurance marketplace, its system for providing subsidies, its focus on helping poorer people afford insurance and medical care — and could open the door for other states to do the same. (Goodnough, 10/10)

NPR: Will Trump's Order Really Expand Health Care Choices? 
President Trump is poised to sign an executive order that he says will make it easier for people to join together as a group and buy health insurance from any state. The president tweeted about his plans on Tuesday morning. "Since Congress can't get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people — FAST," he wrote. (Kodjak, 10/10)

The Hill: Trump Says Health Executive Order 'Probably This Week'  
President Trump said Tuesday that he will be signing an executive order on health care "probably this week" that will provide "great, great health care." Trump's executive order, which has been expected for several weeks, is aimed at allowing small businesses and other groups to join together to buy health insurance through what are known as association health plans. (Sullivan, 10/10)

The Associated Press: Trump Health Coverage Alternatives May Pose Risk To The Sick
The White House is working on a plan that could bring more health insurance choices and cheaper options to people buying individual and small business coverage. But the bill for this might be paid by the sick. Senior administration officials have said President Donald Trump is expected sign an executive order this week to expand the use of health plans offered through associations. These groups already allow individuals or businesses to band together to buy coverage, and Trump's order could increase their use by making it easier to sell this coverage across state lines. (10/10)

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare 101: How Trump Might 'Use The Power Of The Pen' To Overhaul Healthcare
President Trump, who has been unable to get Republicans in Congress to roll back the Affordable Care Act, is promising to issue an executive order this week that he says will offer relief to consumers facing rising insurance premiums. Administration officials are reportedly looking specifically at ways to loosen health insurance regulations and promote wider use of a form of insurance known as association health plans. (Levey, 10/10)

Bloomberg: This Is What Trump Could Do To Obamacare With An Executive Order 
President Donald Trump on Tuesday hinted on Twitter that he’s getting closer to signing an executive order that could erode Obamacare, after Republicans in Congress failed to pass a repeal bill. The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing an administration official, that an executive order regarding association health plans would be signed this week. The official echoed the president’s Sept. 27 comments to reporters, when he said he would “be signing a very major executive order where people can go out, cross state lines, do lots of things and buy their own health care.” (Rausch, 10/10)

Reuters: Food And Drug Chief Gottlieb Skirts Health Secretary Talk, Says Most Effective At FDA
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, considered a potential successor to recently departed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, said on Tuesday he believed he could best serve the Trump administration in his current role. "I feel like I want to continue to follow through on the policies we've put out and it's where I think I can be most effective," Gottlieb told Reuters in an interview in New York. (Clarke, 10/10)

The Hill: FDA Chief Plays Down Talk Of Succeeding Price At HHS 
But Gottlieb did not rule out moving up to the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary position, declining to say whether he has been in talks about the job. “I‘m not going to get into private discussions I might have had around that,” he said. (Sullivan, 10/10)

The Hill: Trump Announces Hargan As New Acting HHS Secretary
President Trump announced a new acting secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services: Eric Hargan, who the Senate confirmed last week to fill the No. 2 position within HHS. Hargan will fill the post vacated by Tom Price, who came under fire and resigned late last month as HHS secretary after a series of Politico articles reported his use of private and government planes for travel cost taxpayers more than $1 million. (Roubein, 10/10)

The Hill: House GOP Delays Vote On Children's Health Care Funding To Negotiate With Dems 
Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health have agreed to return to negotiations with Democrats on a bill to continue funding for the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said Monday he would delay floor consideration of the bill passed by the committee last week "in hopes of reaching a bipartisan agreement on offsets." (Hellmann, 10/10)

The Hill: Clinton Urges Congress To Reauthorize Children's Health Care Program 
Hillary Clinton issued her strong support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program in a series of tweets Monday night, urging Congress to re-authorize the program, which expired last month. “This hasn't gotten enough [attention]: For the first time, Congress missed the deadline to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program,” Clinton said. (Carter, 10/9)

Stat: Pharmacy Hand-Delivers Drugs To Congress, A Perk For The Powerful
If House Speaker Paul Ryan comes down with the flu this winter, he and his security detail won’t be screeching off toward the closest CVS for his Tamiflu. Instead, he can just walk downstairs and pick up the pills, part of a little-known perk open to every member of Congress, from Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell down to the newest freshman Democrat. Nearly every day for at least two decades pharmaceutical drugs have been brought by the carload to the Capitol — an arrangement so under the radar that even pharmacy lobbyists who regularly pitch Congress on their industry aren’t aware of it. (Mershon, 10/11)

The Hill: Battle Over Drug Prices Shifts Back To The States
President Trump has derided pharmaceutical companies as “getting away with murder,” but there’s been little action in Washington to rein in the costs of prescription drugs. Some states are taking matters into their own hands. California passed a new law that requires pharmaceutical companies to explain a drug’s price tag, and other states are considering similar measures. (Roubein, 10/11)

The New York Times: Melania Trump Says She Aims To ‘Give A Voice’ To The Victims Of Opioids
Melania Trump, a once-reluctant first lady who has lately been ramping up her travels as well as directing her aides to lash out at rivals, allowed the public a glimpse at her nascent platform on Tuesday at a clinic that treats infants born with addiction. Mrs. Trump flew about 400 miles to this western edge of the state. Her visit is a signal that her interests — so far stated broadly as helping children and combating cyberbullying — have narrowed, at least for now, to focus on learning more about the opioid epidemic. (Rogers, 10/10)

The Hill: West Virginia Gets Approval To Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Coverage
The Trump administration has approved a request by West Virginia to expand Medicaid coverage for treatment of substance abuse disorders, state officials announced Tuesday. West Virginia has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country, and officials said the waiver will contribute to a “comprehensive statewide strategy” to combat prescription drug abuse and opioid use disorders. (Weixel, 10/10)

The Hill: Dems Press Trump To Require Opioid Testing For Transportation Workers
Democrats are pressing the Trump administration to move ahead with a stalled rule that would require opioid testing for certain transportation workers. Currently, the Department of Transportation (DOT) only administers a five-panel drug test for safety-sensitive transportation workers, which includes marijuana, cocaine and PCP. (Zanoma, 10/10)

Los Angeles Times: 'Guns Kill People,' And Leading Doctors Want To Treat Them Like Any Other Threat To Public Health
The doctors who lead the medical profession’s debates on how best to preserve and restore our health are done with moments of silence in the face of gun-related violence. In the wake of a mass shooting that killed 59 people and wounded hundreds more in Las Vegas, they neither minced words nor observed political niceties in describing the threat that firearms pose to Americans’ health. (Healy, 10/10)

The New York Times: Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?
The disintegration of Jake’s life took him by surprise. It happened early in his junior year of high school, while he was taking three Advanced Placement classes, running on his school’s cross-country team and traveling to Model United Nations conferences. It was a lot to handle, but Jake — the likable, hard-working oldest sibling in a suburban North Carolina family — was the kind of teenager who handled things. Though he was not prone to boastfulness, the fact was he had never really failed at anything. Not coincidentally, failure was one of Jake’s biggest fears. He worried about it privately; maybe he couldn’t keep up with his peers, maybe he wouldn’t succeed in life. The relentless drive to avoid such a fate seemed to come from deep inside him. He considered it a strength. (Denizet-Lewis, 10/11)

The Washington Post: New Maps Show Big Divide Between The World’s Overweight And Underweight Children
The weight problems that preoccupy Americans typically are about how to lose weight, not gain it. But a study published in the Lancet on Tuesday night provides a sobering look at how much the relationship children globally have with food and weight depends on where they are growing up. The study reports that the number of obese children has increased more than tenfold in the past four decades — from 5 million girls in 1975 to 50 million in 2016, and from 6 million boys in 1975 to 74 million in 2016. (Cha, 10/10)

The Washington Post: Why Chicago’s Soda Tax Fizzled After Two Months — And What It Means For The Anti-Soda Movement
About two months after the country’s largest soda tax went into effect, embattled lawmakers in Cook County, Ill. — the home of Chicago — have decided to repeal it. The tax has been plagued, in its very short life, by legal challenges, implementation glitches and a screeching, multimillion-dollar media battle between the soda industry and public health groups. On Tuesday, in recognition of growing public pressure, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted 15-1 to roll back the tax, effective as soon as Dec. 1. (Dewey, 10/10)

The New York Times: Epidurals Do Not Prolong Labor
Many obstetricians resist giving epidural anesthesia during the late stage of delivery because they believe it lengthens the duration of labor. But a clinical trial by Chinese researchers has found that it does not. The study, in Obstetrics & Gynecology, randomized 400 women in labor to receive either a standard epidural anesthetic or a saline solution in an identical container. Neither the patients nor the health care providers knew who was receiving which. (Bakalar, 10/10)

The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood, ACLU Sue Over Missouri Abortion Law
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking a temporary injunction against a portion of a new law passed this summer that tightens abortion regulations in Missouri. During a special session called this summer by Gov. Eric Greitens, lawmakers approved a bill that gave the attorney general new powers to prosecute people who violate abortion laws and enacted several new requirements, such as annual state health department inspections of clinics and approval of clinics' plans for handling complications during medication-induced abortions. (10/10)

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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