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KHN First Edition: August 18, 2015


First Edition

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Cost Of Diabetes Drugs Often Overlooked, But It Shouldn’t Be
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "When it comes to treating chronic conditions, diabetes drugs aren’t nearly as sexy as say, Sovaldi, last year’s breakthrough hepatitis C drug that offers a cure for the chronic liver infection at a price approaching six figures. Yet an estimated 29 million people have diabetes — about 10 times the number of people with hepatitis C — and many of them will take diabetes drugs for the rest of their lives. Cost increases for both old and new drugs alike are forcing many consumers to scramble to pay for them." (Andrews, 8/18)

Kaiser Health News: Bad Health Outcomes For Adults Who Don’t Get Help As Teens
Kaiser Health News staff writer Lisa Gillespie reports: "Young people with health problems left uncared for in adolescence face higher risks of leading unhealthy lives as adults, a new study finds. A study of 14,800 people found that the odds of adverse adult health conditions were 13 percent to 52 percent higher among those who reported unmet health needs as adolescents than for those whose who did not have unmet needs as teens but who were otherwise comparable. The study was conducted first in 1994-1995 when many subjects were in their mid-teens and again in 2008 when many were in their late 20s." (Gillespie, 8/17)

The New York Times: U.S. Budgets Cash To Treat Heroin Abuse In Northeast
The funding — a sliver of the $25.1 billion that the government spends every year to combat drug use — will help create a new “heroin response strategy” aimed at confronting the increase in use of the drug. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that heroin-related deaths had nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013. “The Heroin Response Strategy will foster a collaborative network of public health-public safety partnerships to address the heroin/opioid epidemic,” said the announcement by the policy office. “The aim will be to facilitate collaboration between public health and public safety partners within and across jurisdictions, sharing best practices, innovative pilots, and identifying new opportunities to leverage resources.” (Shear, 8/17)

Los Angeles Times: White House Announces Push To Combat Growing Heroin Epidemic
About $2.5 million from President Obama's anti-drug programs will target heroin abuse in New England, Appalachia and East Coast cities, and $1.3 million will go to fight trafficking on the border with Mexico, drug czar Michael Botticelli said. Public health coordinators will monitor heroin use and issue warnings regarding dangerous batches of the drug. Public safety coordinators will work with law enforcement to stem illegal imports. Botticelli emphasized the benefits that would come from cooperation between public health officials and law enforcement. (Toman-Miller, 8/17)

USA Today: White House Launches New Heroin Strategy
While the grants don't provide any new money — only Congress can do that — the new heroin strategy is "targeting the resources we have already to deal with our biggest drug threats," Botticelli said. But critics of the national drug policy say the announcement is "one step forward, two steps back." “Half of what they’re doing is right – the focus on health and overdose prevention – but the other half, the side that focuses on the failed arrest and incarceration policies of the past is destined to ruin lives and fail,” said Bill Piper, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs. (Korte, 8/17)

The Associated Press: GOP Hopeful Scott Walker Offers Health Plan With Tax Credits
Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker's plan for replacing President Barack Obama's health care law would extend refundable tax credits to help pay for private health insurance based on age instead of income, restructure Medicaid and allow people to shop for insurance across state lines. The Wisconsin governor provided details of his proposal to The Associated Press in advance of a Tuesday speech in suburban Minneapolis where he was to outline his first major policy initiative of the presidential campaign. (8/18)

Los Angeles Times' Trail Guide: Scott Walker Tries To Pull Obamacare Back Into The Spotlight
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker plans to hit a favorite Republican target, "Obamacare," in an effort to excite many of the Republican primary voters who have ignored him in the five weeks since he entered the presidential primary. ... Walker plans to travel to Minnesota on Tuesday to give a detailed plan to repeal and replace President Obama's healthcare plan. He promises to limit government interference while still “ensuring affordable coverage for those with preexisting conditions, and removing the fear that something as simple as changing jobs could result in loss of coverage.” (Bierman, 8/17)

The Wall Street Journal: Scott Walker Unveils Health-Care Plan
The Wisconsin governor and GOP presidential candidate says the plan wouldn’t add to the federal deficit and would completely repeal and dismantle the Obama administration’s health-care law. Mr. Walker says his plan would give more control to the states, overhaul Medicaid and do away with tax credits based on income. It would also toss out the law’s requirement that insurers offer plans that cover essential health benefits such as maternity care and mental-health services. (Epstein and Armour, 8/18)

Politico: Scott Walker Gets Out Front With Obamacare Replacement Plan
Walker says he would replace Obamacare with a plan that would return authority to the states and provide sliding-scale tax credits directly to consumers who don’t get coverage at work to help them buy insurance. He would also expand the role of health savings accounts and allow consumers to buy insurance across state lines — standard Republican ideas. States would also be able to set up high-risk pools with federal funds to help consumers with pre-existing health problems purchase coverage. In a nod to Republican opposition to federal control over health care, Walker would also give states greater say over Medicaid, which he would break into separate plans for different groups, such as poor families, people with disabilities and low-income seniors. (Haberkorn and Cheney, 8/18)

The Associated Press: Bush: Privatize More Veterans Care, Boost Active Forces
Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush wants to privatize more veterans care, make it easier to fire federal employees found responsible for poor treatment and overhaul the Pentagon to prioritize an increase in the number of active troops. The former Florida governor announced those and other veterans policy ideas Monday to open a two-day swing in the early voting state of South Carolina, where he visited a Veterans Affairs medical facility in Charleston and held a town hall-style meeting with veterans in Columbia. (Barrow, 8/17)

USA Today/Military Times: Jeb Bush Unveils VA Reform Plan For Presidential Bid
Bush’s VA reform plan, to be unveiled later Monday in advance of an appearance with Concerned Veterans for America in South Carolina on Monday night, includes expanding “choice” options for care outside the department without cutting funding for VA hospitals and medical staff. Instead, he promises that extra funds can be found through “cutting excess administrators (not caregivers)” and eliminating “billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse.” That includes more competitive bidding for department contracts and firing poorly performing employees. (Shane, 8/17)

The Washington Post: Jeb Bush Unveils Veterans Policy As 12 Medal Of Honor Recipients Endorse Him
The Republican presidential candidate unveiled a new veterans health-care plan on Monday at the start of a two-day visit to South Carolina, the place with the highest percentage of active-duty and retired military personnel among the first four early primary states. ... Bush said that revamping the VA and veterans health care overall would be "a top priority" if he's elected president. His ideas mirror those advanced last year by many Republican lawmakers, who responded with outrage to revelations of widespread mistakes and delayed care for veterans seeking medical treatment or referrals. (O'Keefe, 8/17)

The Washington Post's Fact Checker: Carson’s Claim That Planned Parenthood Targets Blacks To ‘Control That Population’
We have delved before into the question of birth-control pioneer Margaret Sanger, eugenics and her attitude about African-Americans, during the 2012 election season when Herman Cain made similar remarks suggesting Planned Parenthood targets blacks. The 2011 fact check came under attack for allegedly sugarcoating Sanger’s record, in particular for some language on her paternalistic view of blacks that we later acknowledged was a “poor choice of words.” Carson’s remarks are less inflammatory than Cain’s, but the implication is similar: The claim is that Sanger (1879-1966), who founded what is now Planned Parenthood, was racist and Planned Parenthood thus has a deliberate policy of trying to “control” the black population by placing “most of their clinics in black neighborhoods.” (Kessler, 8/18)

Politico: Ben Carson’s Perplexing Stance On Abortion
Ben Carson’s presidential campaign is surging on a wave of support from socially conservative voters inspired by his passionate talk about faith and his attacks on Planned Parenthood. But while Carson insists he’s a fierce opponent of abortion, he also defends a long series of actions on the issue that are sharply at odds with the beliefs of the very voters fueling his rise. (Glueck, 8/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Candidates From Both Parties Take On Planned Parenthood Controversy
As eager as Republicans have been to attack Planned Parenthood, a women’s health-care provider that also performs abortions, Democrats have rushed to defend the group. And, at least during the presidential primary season, the issue is working for candidates from both parties. Former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina, who earned a spike in the polls following her recent GOP debate performance, Monday vowed to defund the organization, earning the greatest round of applause during her stint at the Iowa State Fair soapbox. (Meckler and Ballhaus, 8/18)

The New York Times: States Move To Cut Funds For Planned Parenthood
With Congress in summer recess into September, anti-abortion officials in a number of Republican-controlled states are rushing to halt public funding for Planned Parenthood or to investigate it in reaction to hidden-camera videos claiming that it profits from fetal tissue sales. On Monday, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida sought a judge’s emergency injunction against the state health agency, which did inspections ordered by the governor and cited three clinics — in St. sburg, Naples and Fort Myers — as illegally performing second-trimester abortions when they are licensed only for first-trimester procedures. The state used a new definition of gestational age, one that differs from that of medical societies. (Calmes, 8/17)

The Wall Street Journal: Planned Parenthood Gains Some Traction In Fight Over Antiabortion Group’s Videos
Planned Parenthood Federation of America appears to be gaining traction in its efforts to push back against videos targeting it and state efforts to cut its funding. The Center for Medical Progress, which released undercover videos that it says show Planned Parenthood illegally profits from the sale of fetal tissue to medical researchers, is now under investigation in two states over the videos. In addition, the Obama administration warned Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana that they might be in violation of federal law after moving to choke off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. (Armour, 8/17)

Politico: Planned Parenthood Fires Back
After weeks of bad PR over videos of its executives discussing fetal tissue and organs, the group is unveiling a six-figure broadcast and cable ad buy Tuesday that will run in the states of four vulnerable Republican senators, according to details obtained by POLITICO. The lawmakers could be key to deciding whether a fight over the group’s funding triggers a federal government shutdown this fall. (Palmer, 8/17)

The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood Asks Judge For Emergency Ruling
Planned Parenthood in Florida asked a judge Monday for an emergency ruling to allow them to continue performing abortions at 12 and 13 weeks after a discrepancy with the state about what constitutes first and second-trimester abortions. The request comes after state health officials recently inspected 16 Planned Parenthood facilities and said three were performing second-trimester abortions when they licensed to perform first-trimester abortions. (8/17)

Los Angeles Times: As Lawmakers Return To Sacramento, Debate Over Healthcare Taxes Kicks Off
The debate over new taxes and fees — a dominant theme in the final weeks of the legislative session — kicked off Monday, with some Democratic lawmakers calling for a new tax on health insurance plans to pay for Medi-Cal and other social services. Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) touted his proposal to impose a flat tax on managed care organizations at a news conference, arguing that it would avert a plunge in funding from Washington for state-subsidized healthcare. (Mason, 8/17)

The Wall Street Journal: Paramedics Aren't Just For Emergencies
In this new role, paramedics augment existing programs like visiting nurse services and home care. They also treat patients who don’t meet home-nursing criteria or don’t want someone in their home all the time but still have complex needs, says David Schoenwetter, an emergency physician and head of the mobile health paramedic pilot program at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., part of Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System. (Landro, 8/17)

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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