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KHN First Edition: August 11, 2015


First Edition

Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Women In Combat Zones Can Face Difficulty Getting Some Contraceptives
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "Next year, the military will officially lift restrictions on women in combat, the end of a process that may open up as many as 245,000 jobs that have been off limits to women. But women who deploy overseas may continue to face obstacles in another area that can have a critical impact on their military experience: contraception. It’s not a minor issue. Rates of unintended pregnancy among women in the military are 50 percent higher than those of women in the general population. And because of strict federal rules, their insurance does not generally cover abortion." (Andrews, 8/11)

Los Angeles Times: Two Years Into Obamacare, Only One State Still Has More Than 20% Uninsured
When the Affordable Care Act took effect in October 2013, there were 14 states in which more than 1 in 5 adults lacked health insurance; today only Texas remains, according to data released Monday. At the other end of the scale, only five states' populations were so well-insured in 2013 that fewer than 1 in 10 adult residents lacked insurance. Today, more than half the states have achieved that goal. (Lauter, 8/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Audit Of Health Exchanges Finds Fault With Controls
Some consumers who got health coverage or subsidies through might not have been eligible to receive them last year because of deficiencies in the federal exchange’s internal controls, according to a government report likely to further stoke Republican criticism. Not all the internal controls were effective in determining if applicants were properly eligible for health insurance or subsidies, the Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General concluded in a report released Monday. It also found problems resolving inconsistencies between some applicants’ information and federal data. (Armour, 8/10)

Politico: Nurses Union Endorses Bernie Sanders
Hillary Clinton lost her first national labor endorsement Monday when the 185,000-member National Nurses United endorsed Bernie Sanders. The NNU endorsed Sanders at a “Brunch with Bernie” event at union headquarters in Oakland, California. The nurses group is the second AFL-CIO member union to issue an endorsement; the first, the 1.6-million member American Federation of Teachers, endorsed Clinton in June. (Mahoney, 8/10)

Tribune News Service: Bernie Sanders Picks Up First Major Labor Endorsement
Bernie Sanders picked up his first major labor endorsement from the nation's largest organization of nurses, reflecting the Vermont senator's appeal among unions in his challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. The 185,000-member National Nurses United endorsed Sanders during an event with the independent senator in Oakland, California. (8/10)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Hillary Clinton Takes Aim At GOP Candidates On Women’s Issues
Mrs. Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, singled out Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), saying that his comments about abortion were deeply troubling. During the debate, Mr. Rubio said he had never advocated including exceptions for rape and incest in abortion bans. “What I have advocated is that we pass a law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection,” the Florida senator said. Mrs. Clinton called Mr. Rubio’s suggestion that abortion laws should not include exceptions for rape or incest “as offensive and as troubling a comment as you could hear from a major candidate running for the presidency.” (McCain Nelson, 8/10)

The New York Times: A Republican Agitator In The Senate Makes Friends Across The Aisle
A member of Mr. Lee’s Senate staff had sent an email to a conservative group urging its leaders to pressure fellow Republicans to support another high-stakes procedural tactic to try to defund President Obama’s health care law, a move that Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, had counseled against. The message so provoked Mr. McConnell that he gave a copy of the email to Republican colleagues at an emergency meeting, then let them loose to attack Mr. Lee, whose efforts to gut the health care law two years ago helped lead to a politically toxic government shutdown. ... A few days later, Mr. Lee was working with Senator Amy Klobuchar, a liberal Democrat from Minnesota, to plan hearings on the consolidation of the health insurance industry, one of many efforts on the Judiciary Committee where Mr. Lee is gaining his legislative chops — and a reputation for working with Democrats. (Steinhauer, 8/10)

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Details Huge Sums Generated by Cardiac Biomarker Lab
A civil complaint filed in federal court in South Carolina lays out just how much money the Justice Department estimates a now-bankrupt cardiac biomarker laboratory generated for its founder, her former associates and the doctors who ordered its blood tests. Tonya Mallory, the founder of Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc., received at least $26 million in salary, bonuses and tax distributions from the company, while BlueWave HealthCare Consultants Inc., the sales-and-marketing contractor headed by two of Ms. Mallory’s former associates, collected $223 million in commissions over a roughly five-year period, the complaint says. (Carreyrou, 8/10)

The Wall Street Journal's MoneyBeat: Health-Care Deals Prop Up Hedge Funds That Bet On M&A
The health-care sector has been the bright spot in what’s otherwise been a meager 2015 for hedge funds betting on mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and other corporate events. Event-driven hedge funds made gains of 1.7%. in the year through July, according to data provided by Lyxor Managed Account Platform, against 2.6% for all hedge fund strategies. They were particularly hard hit in July, with losses of 0.6% against gains of 0.7% for all strategies. (Eschenbacher, 8/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Startups Vie To Build An Uber For Health Care
Heal is one of several startups putting a high-tech spin on old-fashioned house calls—or “in-person visits,” since they can take place anywhere. The services provide a range of nonemergency medical care—from giving flu shots to treating strep throats and stitching lacerations—much like a mobile urgent-care clinic. The companies use slightly different models. Pager, in New York City, dispatches doctors or nurse practitioners via Uber, for $200. Heal, in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orange County, Calif., promises to “get a doctor to your sofa in under an hour” for $99. (Beck, 8/11)

The Associated Press: CVS Health To Pay Government $450,000 To Settle Dispute
CVS Health has agreed to pay $450,000 to the federal government to settle allegations that several of its Rhode Island retail pharmacies filled forged and invalid painkiller prescriptions. The agreement announced Monday is the culmination of a two-year investigation by U.S. Attorney Neronha's office and the Drug Enforcement Administration's Office of Diversion Control into several of the Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS's retail pharmacy locations. (8/10)

USA Today/The Tennessean: Judge Lifts Restraining Order On Abortion Law — For Now
A federal judge on Monday conditionally lifted a temporary restraining order that had stopped the state from enforcing an abortion law requiring new licensing standards for clinics. The operator of two clinics — the Women's Center in Nashville and the Bristol Regional Women's Center in East Tennessee — claimed they were unable to obtain licenses from the state Department of Health in time to comply with the new law, which went into effect July 1. (Wadhwani, 8/10)

The Associated Press: Judge Strikes Down Oklahoma Law Restricting Abortion Drugs
A judge struck down an Oklahoma law Monday that required doctors to follow label instructions when prescribing abortion-inducing drugs, finding the rule is unconstitutional because it doesn't apply to other kinds of medication. District Judge Patricia Parrish invalidated the law, which the Republican-controlled Legislature approved and Gov. Mary Fallin signed last year. It had prohibited off-label uses of abortion-inducing drugs by requiring doctors to administer them only in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocols. (8/10)

The Wall Street Journal: 12 Dead in NYC Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak
City and state workers have tested dozens of cooling towers for Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx, a painstaking process augmented over the weekend by six staffers and three vehicles from Westchester County. The workers got along well, said Caren Halbfinger of the county health department. “These are all professionals who are used to responding to emergencies,” she said. (Ramey and Dawsey, 8/10)

The Washington Post: How One Couple’s Experience With Their Disabled Child Inspired Them To Launch A Powerful Digital Community
Slowly, a path emerged: Their son Isaac, born without a kidney, appeared to have no larger health issues. Annabel finally had a diagnosis that put a name to her mysterious symptoms, and a small but supportive digital community of Dup15q syndrome families showed them how to cope. A third child, Henry, came along. And then in early 2014, Porath was inspired to launch The Mighty, a digital platform for all people with disease and disabilities, and their families. Less than 18 months old, The Mighty now has an editorial team of 10 and nearly a thousand community contributors, and provides news and analysis of disability-related issues in popular culture, scientific research and social networks. It’s Huffington Post-meets-disability-and-disease-support-groups. (Tenety, 8/11)

Los Angeles Times: Mentally Ill Woman In LAPD Assault A Case Study In System's Lapses
After a court hearing examining county inmate Trishawn Carey's extensive medical and mental health history, a judge last month ordered her released to the care of a South Los Angeles residential treatment program for women just out of jail or prison. Two days later, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department dropped the homeless woman at the emergency room entrance of the county hospital. She ended up on skid row, where supporters found her five hours later at the scene of her March 1 arrest, without any medication. (Holland, 8/10)

Los Angeles Times: In A First, California Agrees To Pay For Transgender Inmate's Sex Reassignment
California is first in the nation to agree to pay for a transgender inmate's sex reassignment operation, but the state's settlement of a recent court case sidesteps the question of whether such surgery is a constitutional right. The state concedes that Shiloh Quine, who entered the California prison system in 1980 as Rodney, suffers severe gender dysphoria that can be treated only by physically conforming her body to her psychological gender. (St. John, 8/10)

NPR: One Man's Quest To Combat Counterfeit Drugs — With A Suitcase
The problem is counterfeit drugs — medications that don't have the active ingredient or have insufficient quantities of it to be effective. In other words, drugs that don't work. Counterfeit drugs account for roughly $75 billion of the $900 billion global pharmaceutical market — and about 100,000 deaths a year in Africa alone. In Kenya, up to 30 percent of drugs on the market are counterfeit, the World Health Organization reported. Many "drugs" are no more than just chalk or water. One man in Boston is trying to change that.(Yang, 8/10)

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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