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KHN First Edition: January 19, 2018

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First Edition

Friday, January 19, 2018                       Visit Kaiser Health News for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Podcast: What The Health? Our First Live Show: What The Health Will Happen In 2018? 
Congress is at the precipice of shutting down the government, unless lawmakers can quickly agree on another short-term spending bill. And this time, the Children’s Health Insurance Program is caught in the crosshairs. Republicans are offering six years of funding for CHIP as an enticement for Democratic votes on the spending bill, but Democrats are still balking because they want the bill to include protections for undocumented individuals brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were children. (1/18)

California Healthline: Judge Orders New Olympus Trial Over Superbug Death
A Seattle judge said Olympus Corp. failed to properly disclose internal emails that raised safety concerns about a redesigned medical scope as early as 2008, several years before the device was publicly tied to deadly superbug outbreaks. Citing those “willful discovery violations” by the Japanese device giant, King County Superior Court Judge Steve Rosen ordered a new trial Tuesday in a wrongful death case brought by Theresa Bigler. (Terhune, 1/18)

The New York Times: House Passes Short-Term Spending Bill, Setting Up Shutdown Battle In Senate
The House approved a stopgap spending bill on Thursday night to keep the government open past Friday, but Senate Democrats — angered by President Trump’s vulgar aspersions and a lack of progress on a broader budget and immigration deal — appeared ready to block the measure. The House approved the measure 230 to 197, despite conflicting signals by President Trump sent throughout the day and a threatened rebellion from conservatives that ended up fizzling. (Kaplan and Stolberg, 1/18)

The Associated Press: Congress Likely Racing Toward A Government Shutdown
A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being deported. Democrats in the Senate have served notice they will filibuster a four-week, government-wide funding bill that passed the House Thursday evening, seeking to shape a subsequent measure but exposing themselves to charges they are responsible for a looming shutdown. (1/19)

The Washington Post: House Approves Bill To Keep Government Open As Senate Democrats Take Heat For Threatening To Block It
Senate GOP leaders prepared to force Democrats into a series of uncomfortable votes, aimed at splitting their ranks by pitting moderates from states that Trump won against party leaders and the handful of outspoken liberals considering a run for the presidency. For one, Republicans attached a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and delays to several unpopular health-care taxes. The bill does not include protections for “dreamers,” immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children or who overstayed their visas as children, a top Democratic priority. (DeBonis, O'Keefe and Werner, 1/18)

The Washington Post: How CHIP Will Be Affected If The Government Shuts Down
If Congress fails to reach a deal to avert a government shutdown at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, federal workers won't be the only ones worrying. Parents of the 9 million children insured through the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, are panicking because funding for the program has nearly run out. Republicans in Congress thought they had a grand solution: They pitched Democrats a deal to do a one-month extension of overall government funding and a six-year extension of CHIP money. But President Trump tweeted Thursday morning that was a bad idea. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) says he spoke with Trump and the president is now on board, but confusion abounds in the Capitol. (Long, 1/18)

The Associated Press: Government Scientists Scramble To Save Research Ahead Of Shutdown That Could Ruin Studies
The nation's premier medical research institute is in "a scramble" to prepare for a partial government shutdown that could ruin costly experiments and leave sick patients unable to enter cutting-edge studies, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said Thursday. Fauci stressed that patients currently in NIH-run studies — including those at the research-only hospital often called the "house of hope" — wouldn't be adversely affected even if President Donald Trump and Congress don't reach a budget deal to avert a shutdown at midnight Friday. (Neergaard, 1/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Much Of The Federal Government Wouldn’t Shut Down In A Government Shutdown
If the federal government shuts down at midnight Friday, much of its work will continue, according to carefully laid plans that have become a familiar part of agency life amid regular political brinkmanship. ... The planned Women’s March on the National Mall should be able to go ahead, as the National Park Service says it has special provisions for first amendment activities that require crowd control. (Radnofsky, 1/19)

The Washington Post: Looming Shutdown Raises Fundamental Question: Can GOP Govern?
The federal government late Thursday faced increasing odds of a partial shutdown, the culmination of a long period of budget warfare that has now imperiled what most lawmakers agree is the most basic task of governance. The immediate challenge Thursday was a refusal by Senate Democrats to join with Republicans in passing legislation that would keep the government open for 30 more days while legislators continued to negotiate a longer-term solution. But the impasse raised deeper questions about the GOP’s capacity — one year into the Trump administration — to govern. (Paletta and Werner, 1/18)

The Associated Press: Senate Dems Question Legality Of Trump Work Requirements
The Trump administration's new policy allowing state work requirements for Medicaid recipients is legally questionable, more than two dozen Democratic senators said Thursday, framing an argument likely to be aired in court. The senators' letter to acting health secretary Eric Hargan reads like a memo to legal groups preparing a court challenge on behalf of low-income Medicaid beneficiaries. Last week the administration unveiled its policy letting states to impose Medicaid work requirements, and promptly approved a waiver request by Kentucky to carry out its version. (1/18)

The Associated Press: For Rival Camps In Abortion Debate, A Weekend To Mobilize
Activists on both sides of the abortion debate will be rallying and marching over the next few days in their annual show of force, while looking ahead to the coming year with a mix of combativeness and trepidation. The events kick off Friday with the March for Life in Washington, the biggest yearly event for opponents of abortion. Organizers say Donald Trump will become the first sitting president to address the gathering, speaking live from the White House Rose Garden. (1/18)

The Associated Press: Trump Steps To Forefront Of Anti-Abortion Movement
He once called himself “pro-choice.” But a year into his presidency, Donald Trump is stepping to the forefront of his administration’s efforts to roll back abortion rights. And though his record is mixed and a midterm election looms, abortion opponents say they have not felt so optimistic in at least a decade. “I don’t think anybody thinks that the White House is a perfectly regimented and orderly family ... but that doesn’t change their commitment to the issue,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which is expanding its door-knocking operation across states with Senate incumbents who have voted for abortion rights. (Kellman, 1/19)

The Washington Post: If Trump Is As Healthy As His Doctor Says, He’s Beating Long Odds
If President Trump really is the picture of extraordinary vitality portrayed by the White House physician this week, he is defying long odds, according to experts and medical research. Tuesday’s depiction of Trump as much healthier than the average 71-year-old means he is managing to escape the consequences of a lack of sleep, the dangers of significantly elevated “bad cholesterol” and the well-established health effects of obesity, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. (Bernstein and Sun, 1/18)

The Washington Post: Trump Is Targeting Health Workers’ Religious Objections. Here’s Why.
The Trump administration announced Thursday a new division responsible for handling complaints from health-care workers who do not want to perform a medical procedure like an abortion or assisted death because it violates their religious or moral beliefs, a move that seemed to renew past culture war battles over “conscience protections.” The new office, called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, is seen by many as a win for conservative religious groups that complained President Barack Obama’s administration did not prioritize religious freedom concerns. Critics, however, worry that the language is broad and could lead to discrimination. (Bailey, 1/18)

The New York Times: Questions And Answers About This Year’s Flu Season
At the moment, the 2017-2018 flu season is considered “moderately severe.” Large numbers of Americans have fallen ill, and every state except Hawaii has reported widespread flu activity. But some regions have been hit harder than others. More important, the number of people hospitalized or dying from flu nationwide is not unusually high. This season is closely paralleling the 2014-2015 season, which was dominated by the same H3N2 flu strain and was also “moderately severe.” (McNeil, 1/18)

The Washington Post: Flu Symptoms 2018: Healthy 10-Year-Old Boy Dies In New York During Harsh Influenza Season
Nico Mallozzi was known for his antics, his sly smile — and his good health. The 10-year-old hockey player from New Canaan, Conn., is depicted in photographs suited up and looking fierce on the ice. His coaches said he “captivated, entertained and kept us on our toes,” according to a GoFundMe page. His mother said “he was like an ox” — strong and never sick. (Bever, 1/18)

The Associated Press: More Than 1,600 New Yorkers Hospitalized For Flu In One Week
A drastic rise in flu cases has hospitalized more than 1,600 New Yorkers in the past week alone, state health officials said Thursday. The Department of Health reported influenza cases rose by 54% over the past week, with new cases diagnosed in all 62 counties, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release. The governor advised all New Yorkers six months of age and older over who haven’t received a flu shot yet to get vaccinated as soon as possible. (1/18)

Modern Healthcare: Health System-Led Drug Company Unlikely To Make A Dent In Drug Prices, Shortages 
As four not-for-profit health systems unveiled plans to create their own generic drug company Thursday, experts say they'll face an uphill battle to make a significant dent in one of the fastest-growing industry expenses and persistent problems: rising drug prices and drug shortages. Intermountain Healthcare, Ascension, SSM Health and Trinity Health are working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to pool their capital and 450 total hospitals to fight back against drug companies that unexpectedly hike the prices of decades-old off-patent generic drugs with minimal competition. They also look to create a more reliable supply of generic drugs like saline and sodium bicarbonate that are vulnerable to shortages. (Kacik, 1/18)

The Associated Press: Governors Ask Trump, Congress To Do More On Opioid Crisis
Less than three months after President Donald Trump declared the U.S. opioid crisis a public health emergency, the nation's governors are calling on his administration and Congress to provide more money and coordination for the fight against the drugs, which are killing more than 90 Americans a day. The list of more than two dozen recommendations made Thursday by the National Governors Association is the first coordinated, bipartisan response from the nation's governors since Trump's October declaration. (1/18)

Politico: Trump Again Targets Drug Policy Office, Proposing 95 Percent Budget Cut
President Donald Trump is planning to slash the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in what marks his administration’s second attempt to gut the top office responsible for coordinating the federal response to the opioid crisis. The plan would shift the office’s two main grant programs, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant and the Drug Free Communities Act, to the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, respectively, multiple sources in the administration and others working with the government on the opioid crisis told POLITICO. (Karlin-Smith and Ehley, 1/18)

The New York Times: The U.S. Fertility Rate Is Down, Yet More Women Are Mothers
A baby bust. The fertility rate at a record low. Millennials deciding not to have children. There has been a lot of worry about the state of American fertility. Yet today, 86 percent of women ages 40 to 44 — near the end of their reproductive years — are mothers, up from 80 percent in 2006, reversing decades of declines, according to a new analysis of census data by Pew Research Center on Thursday. (Miller, 1/18)

Los Angeles Times: This New Blood Test Can Detect Early Signs Of 8 Kinds Of Cancer
Scientists have developed a noninvasive blood test that can detect signs of eight types of cancer long before any symptoms of the disease arise. The test, which can also help doctors determine where in a person's body the cancer is located, is called CancerSEEK. Its genesis is described in a paper published Thursday in the journal Science. (Netburn, 1/18)

NPR: Scientists Edge Closer To A Blood Test To Detect Cancers
There have been many attempts over the decades to develop blood tests to screen for cancers. Some look for proteins in the blood that appear with cancer. Others more recently have focused on DNA from tumors. But these methods alone don't give reliable results. So Nickolas Papadopoulos, a professor of oncology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, collaborated with many colleagues at the medical school to develop a new approach. It combines two methods into one test. (Harris, 1/18)

The Associated Press: Anti-Smoking Plan May Kill Cigarettes--And Save Big Tobacco
Imagine if cigarettes were no longer addictive and smoking itself became almost obsolete; only a tiny segment of Americans still lit up. That's the goal of an unprecedented anti-smoking plan being carefully fashioned by U.S. health officials. But the proposal from the Food and Drug Administration could have another unexpected effect: opening the door for companies to sell a new generation of alternative tobacco products, allowing the industry to survive — even thrive — for generations to come. (1/19)

NPR: CTE In Athletes Linked To Hits To The Head, Even Without Concussions
We live in an age of heightened awareness about concussions. From battlefields around the world to football fields in the U.S., we've heard about the dangers caused when the brain rattles around inside the skull and the possible link between concussions and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. (Goldman, 1/18)

Los Angeles Times: Forget Concussions. The Real Risk Of CTE Comes From Repeated Hits To The Head, Study Shows
For more than a decade, researchers trying to make sense of the mysterious degenerative brain disease afflicting football players and other contact-sport athletes have focused on the threat posed by concussions. But new research suggests that attention was misguided. Instead of concerning themselves with the dramatic collisions that cause players to become dizzy, disoriented or even lose consciousness, neuroscientists should be paying attention to routine hits to the head, according to a study that examines the root cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, better known as CTE. (Healy, 1/18)

The New York Times: Reproductive Factors In Women Tied To Heart Disease And Stroke Risk
Several female reproductive factors, including early menarche, early menopause and miscarriage, are associated with an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, British researchers report. Between 2006 and 2010, scientists collected data on 267,440 women 40 to 69 years old and followed them for an average of seven years. They found 3,075 cases of cardiovascular disease, 1,635 cases of coronary heart disease and 1,504 strokes. (Bakalar, 1/18)

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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