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KHN First Edition: August 19, 2015


First Edition

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: The Hospital Is In Network, But Not The Doctor: N.Y. Tries New Balance Billing Law
WHYY's Elana Gordon, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "He thought it was pneumonia. Michael Trost, 52 and seemingly healthy, just wasn’t feeling right. During a chance break at work as a wood finisher, Trost’s wife brought him to an emergency room near where they live at the edge of the Poconos in Dingmans Ferry, Pa. 'They’ll give me a chest x-ray and antibiotics and I’ll be on my way,' Trost thought." (Gordon, 8/19)

The Washington Post: Republicans’ Obamacare ‘Repeal And Replace’ Dilemma Joins Presidential Contest
For Republican leaders, one loaded phrase represents the difference between the party they are and the party they wish to be: “repeal and replace.” Since 2010, Republicans have pledged to repeal and replace President Obama’s Affordable Care Act — promising a legislative backflip that would please conservatives who despise the law’s every word and moderates who want to keep some of its benefits. (Fahrnthold and Johnson, 8/18)

The New York Times: Scott Walker’s Health Care Plan Relies On Tax Credits To Buy Coverage
Mr. Walker’s plan makes a full repeal of the law his top priority, then proposes a system of tax credits that would allow Americans who do not get health insurance through their employers to purchase individual plans. The credits would be based on age, and consumers could then decide what plan to purchase, if they opt to buy health insurance at all. “On my very first day as president of the United States, I will send legislation to the Congress to once and for all repeal Obamacare entirely,” Mr. Walker said in a speech in Minnesota. (Rappeport, 8/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Scott Walker Unveils Health-Care Plan
Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker proposed replacing President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law with a system that eliminates many federal mandates and provides tax credits for the uninsured based on age—not income or family status. The centerpiece of the Wisconsin governor’s plan is an annual tax credit that would help people pay for policies on the private market if they don’t have employer-provided health insurance and want to be covered. (Epstein and Armour, 8/18)

USA Today: Scott Walker Unveils Health Insurance Plan
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker assailed Republicans in Congress on Tuesday for failing to repeal Obamacare while unveiling his own plan to repeal and replace the law. The GOP presidential candidate, who has been lagging in recent polls, decried GOP leaders in Washington who have had control over both chambers of Congress since January but have yet to send a bill to President Obama getting rid of the health care law. (Slack, 8/18)

The Washington Post: How Scott Walker Proposes To Repeal And Replace Obamacare
GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker has long said he wants to repeal President Obama's signature Affordable Care Act, but on Tuesday morning he detailed how he would replace the law. Walker's health care plan calls for lowering the cost of health insurance by reducing regulation of the industry, providing tax credits to offset the cost of private insurance plans and allowing people to shop for plans across state lines. He also wants to restructure Medicaid, the government-provided health insurance for the poor and disabled. (Johnson, 8/18)

Politico: Scott Walker Lays Out Obamacare Replacement Plan
Scott Walker became the first top-tier Republican candidate Tuesday to release a plan to replace Obamacare, but conservative rivals said it is too liberal and would create a new entitlement. ... Speaking at a machine parts shop outside of Minneapolis, Walker also said he would sign an executive order to undo what he calls the “special deal for Congress,” which allows the federal government to pay a portion of Hill staffers’ and members’ health insurance as their employer. The provision has raised the ire of conservatives but repealing it would raise insurance costs for staffers on Capitol Hill. (Haberkorn and CHeney, 8/18)

Reuters: Republican Walker Proposes Health Tax Credits By Age, Not Income
Republican presidential contender Scott Walker on Tuesday unveiled his healthcare plan: repeal Obamacare and replace it with age-based tax credits that Americans could use to offset the cost of purchasing their own coverage. Under his plan, the Wisconsin governor said he would give up to $3,000 directly to taxpayers to buy health insurance. The amount would range from $3,000 in credits for those aged 50 to 64 and scale down to $900 for those age 17 and under, and go to those without health insurance from their jobs. (8/18)

Los Angeles Times: Scott Walker Sides With Trump On Immigration And Offers Alternative To Obamacare
The comments pushed Walker further to the right on immigration. On Tuesday, he followed up with more traditional GOP fare by attacking both the Affordable Care Act and the Republican senators — four are in the race — who he said had failed to get rid of it. ... Walker’s proposal to repeal and replace President Obama’s healthcare law hews to general conservative ideas for expanding health coverage with Medicaid block grants to states and a simplified system of federal aid to Americans to buy insurance. But the plan lacks many key details, including specifics on how it would be paid for. Any healthcare law that offers subsidies to tens of millions of Americans for health coverage, as Walker proposes to do, would probably cost hundreds of billions of dollars. (Bierman and Levey, 8/18)

The New York Times: Scott Walker To Increase Attacks On Washington
And Mr. Walker noted, in the course of previewing his Tuesday health care speech, that he refused to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin with money offered by the Affordable Care Act. He noted that “a couple of the other governors in this race went the opposite direction.” (Martin, 8/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Wal-Mart Margins Hurt by Affordable Care Act
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s took a hit from the Affordable Care Act during the second-quarter. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said its pharmacy business had reduced margins, which hurt earnings at the U.S. business. Much of that was due to fewer customers paying for drugs with cash, which has higher margins, said Greg Foran, head of Wal-Mart’s sprawling U.S. operations. Fewer cash payments reflect “a marketplace shift in which more customers are now benefitting from greater drug insurance coverage,” he said, during a pre-recorded earnings conference call. (Monga, 8/18)

Los Angeles Times: Amgen To Pay $71 Million To States For Promoting Off-Label Drug Uses
Amgen Inc. has agreed to pay $71 million to settle allegations by 48 state attorneys general that it improperly marketed two of its blockbuster drugs. The agreement announced Tuesday brings an end to a difficult chapter in the history of the Thousand Oaks biotech, which pleaded guilty in 2012 to a federal criminal charge related to similar allegations and paid $762 million in criminal penalties and civil settlements. (Pfeifer, 8/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Amgen Reaches $71 Million Settlement With States
Amgen Inc. reached a $71 million settlement with 48 states related to allegations that the biotechnology company made unsubstantiated marketing claims about blockbuster drugs Aranesp and Enbrel, according to several state attorneys general. In a statement on Tuesday, Amgen said the settlement with the states resolves some of the same issues addressed in Amgen’s December 2012 settlement with the federal government related to the company’s marketing practices. (Stynes, 8/18)

The New York Times: F.D.A. Approves Addyi, A Libido Pill For Women
The drug — Addyi from Sprout Pharmaceuticals — is actually the first drug approved to treat a flagging or absent libido for either sex. Viagra and other drugs available for men are approved to help achieve erections, or to treat certain deficiencies of the hormone testosterone, not to increase desire. (Pollack, 8/18)

Los Angeles Times: As FDA Approves 'Pink Viagra' For Women, Controversy Persists
The FDA’s approval of flibanserin, often known by the nickname “pink Viagra,” reverses two earlier rejections of the pill as a treatment for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD. The decision follows a public campaign challenging the agency to close a widening gap between the number of drugs available for men’s sexual health and those available to women. ... Clinical trials presented to the FDA showed that compared with pre-menopausal women who got a placebo, those who took flibanserin reported a modest but measurable rise in sexual desire and increased their number of “sexually satisfying encounters” by roughly one per month, from a median of two to three to between 2 1/2 and four. (Healy, 8/18)

NPR: FDA Approves First Drug To Boost Women's Sexual Desire
The Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug designed to increase a woman's libido. The controversial decision was hailed by some doctors and advocates as a long-sought victory for women's health, but was condemned by others as irresponsible and dangerous. The little pink pill, known generically as flibanserin, will be sold under the brand name Addyi beginning Oct. 17, according to its maker, Sprout Pharmaceuticals. The medicine is to be taken daily to treat premenopausal women suffering from hypoactive sexual desire disorder, which is essentially a sudden, unexplained loss of any desire to have sex. (Stein, 8/18)

The Washington Post: FDA Approves Controversial Drug For Women With Low Sex Drives
The approval of the controversial drug, flibanserin, which the FDA twice rejected before and now will be marketed as Addyi, comes with a series of conditions reflecting the agency’s concerns about serious side effects. These include a boxed warning that highlights the risks of low blood pressure and fainting in patients who drink alcohol while taking the drug, as well as a requirement that doctors complete a training course before being allowed to prescribe it. (Schulte and Dennis, 8/18)

Politico: FDA Approves 'Female Viagra' Drug
But the agency’s decision on Tuesday — which follows a well-orchestrated advocacy campaign financed by the drug’s maker, Sprout Pharmaceuticals — comes with a requirement that the company take steps to ensure doctors prescribe flibanserin carefully and make women aware of its health risks. (Karlin, 8/18)

The Washington Post: Male Doctors Are More Likely To Be Sued Than Females, Study Finds
Male doctors are more than twice as likely to have legal action taken against them than their female counterparts, a recent study found. The study, published last week in the journal BMC Medicine, affirms a well-established trend for the first time on a global level. It also shows that the disparity has not changed over the course of 15 years, despite a growing presence of women in the field. (Gebelhoff, 8/18)

The New York Times: Poll Finds Most Back Healthy School Meals
A majority of Americans support providing schoolchildren with healthy meals that consist of more fruits and vegetables and fewer foods high in calories and sodium, according to a national poll released on Tuesday by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. (Nixon, 8/18)

The Associated Press: California Governor Balks At Push To Eye Right-To-Die Bill
California lawmakers on Tuesday announced a second attempt at passing right-to-die legislation this year after an earlier measure stalled amid religious opposition and hesitant Democrats. The new bill allowing doctors to prescribe terminally ill patients life-ending drugs was introduced in a special legislative session on health care financing convened by Gov. Jerry Brown. (8/18)

Reuters: Top California Lawmakers Vow To Push Aid-In-Dying Bill
California lawmakers on Tuesday reintroduced a bill to legalize assisted suicide that had stalled amid opposition from the Catholic church and disability rights activists, as leaders among majority Democrats vowed to make its passage a priority. In a move that made clear that lawmakers sought support from Latino Catholics who might be concerned about church opposition, backers of the bill showcased support from top Latino politicians at a news conference on Tuesday, some of whom spoke dramatically in Spanish of the pain and suffering experienced by people with terminal cancer and other illnesses. (8/18)

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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