Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Can Health Care Be Cured Of Racial Bias?

Even as the health of Americans has improved, the disparities in treatment and outcomes between white patients and black and Latino patients are almost as big as they were 50 years ago. A growing body of research suggests that doctors' unconscious behavior plays a role in these statistics. (April Dembosky, KQED, 8/20)

3. Political Cartoon: 'Power To The Lethal?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Power To The Lethal?'" by Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


That little pink pill -
Feminist victory or
new set of health risks?

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

Health Law Issues And Implementation

4. Hutchinson Signals Willingness To Continue Ark. Medicaid Expansion Beyond 2016 -- If Changes Are Made

The changes, however, would be a tough sell to the Obama administration. Meanwhile, news from Alaska details how some expansion opponents are turning to the courts to stop the state plan for implementation.

CQ Healthbeat: Limited Medicaid Expansion Sought By Arkansas Governor
Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday that he’s open to continuing the state's Medicaid expansion program, which serves 220,000 low-income residents, beyond its 2016 expiration if the state can make some sweeping changes that would be a tough sell to the Obama administration. In a presentation to his state’s Healthcare Legislative Task Force, created earlier this year to consider changes to the program, Hutchinson outlined a seven-point proposal emphasizing cost-cutting and encouraging beneficiaries to work. (Evans, 8/20)

Campaign 2016

5. GOP Presidential Hopeful Jeb Bush Gets Koch Attention

Tea party members are likely to continue supporting Bush over candidates like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who supported Medicaid expansion. The candidate also expressed confidence that voters will support him over Donald Trump, whom he hit over Trump's positions on abortion and a single-payer health care system.

The Associated Press: Newcomer To Koch Scene, Bush Competes With Tea Party Class
Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are opening the tea party's door for Republican Jeb Bush, whose time as Florida governor preceded the movement. ... Five of the 17 GOP presidential candidates, including Cruz and Rubio, plan to be in Columbus. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are also scheduled to speak at the two-day summit. Notably absent will be Ohio's own Gov. John Kasich, whose office is less than a mile from the convention hall. Americans for Prosperity objected strongly to the GOP presidential candidate's acceptance of federal money in exchange for expanding Ohio's state-run health insurance program for poor people under the 2010 federal health care law. (8/21)

The New York Times: Once Voters Get The ‘Narrative,’ Jeb Bush Says, They’ll Turn To Him Over Donald Trump
The day after dueling New Hampshire town-hall-style meetings left Jeb Bush the recipient of snide attacks from Donald J. Trump, Mr. Bush offered some not-so-friendly fire of his own. ... “I cut taxes every year; he’s proposed the largest tax increase in mankind’s history, not just our own country’s history. I have been consistently pro-life; he until recently was for partial birth abortion. I’ve never met a person that actually thought that was a good idea. I believe we need to reform our health care system to make sure we stop the suppression of wages and allow people to have access to insurance; he’s for a single payer system.” (Parker, 8/20)

Capitol Hill Watch

6. Congressional Democrats Eye Legality Of Controversial Videos About Planned Parenthood And Fetal Tissue Research

Meanwhile, Politico reports on one of the women featured in some of the covert videos and why she says she participated in the so-called "sting."

The Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Examine Whether Antiabortion Videos Broke Laws
Congressional Democrats are examining whether the antiabortion group that released videos of Planned Parenthood Federation of America officials discussing fetal tissue broke state or federal laws. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) on Thursday sent a letter to the antiabortion group the Center for Medical Progress. Mr. Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is looking into whether the organization sought charitable donations by posing as a nonprofit and whether the group secretly recorded Planned Parenthood employees without their consent. (Armour, 8/20)

Politico: Sting Videos' Star Sees Some 'Good' In Planned Parenthood
The woman featured prominently in three of the Planned Parenthood sting videos says she’s unsure whether the women’s health organization should be shut down in light of the massive political controversy she helped ignite. Holly O’Donnell, a 24-year-old from Northern California, said in a little-noticed conservative radio podcast that she is “pro-life” and personally opposes abortion, but also calls it “every woman’s choice.” She said she participated in the videos as a whistleblower because she wanted to expose practices that she considers trafficking in fetal body parts — yet she still has praise for some of Planned Parenthood’s work. (Haberkorn, 8/20)


7. Benefits Of Women's Low-Libido Medication May Not Outweigh Expense And Side Effects

As doctors debate the merits of Addyi, the newly FDA-approved drug dubbed the "female Viagra," its maker Sprout Pharmaceuticals is being acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals for $1 billion.

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: The New Women’s Libido Drug May Not Be The Feminist Victory That It Seems
Should women really be celebrating the new libido drug? Flibanserin, the newly approved drug that has been touted as the "female Viagra" and decried for its risky side effects, has been under an intense media spotlight for the past two days. Just days after Sprout Pharmaceuticals received federal regulators' blessing to market the drug, the small company got scooped up by a Canadian drugmaker for $1 billion. (Johnson, 8/20)

The New York Times' DealBook: Maker Of Addyi, ‘Female Viagra’ Drug, Being Sold To Valeant For $1B
Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which on Tuesday won regulatory approval for the first pill to aid a woman’s sex drive, will be acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International for about $1 billion in cash. The deal, announced on Thursday, represents a sizable return for investors in Sprout, a privately held company in Raleigh, N.C., with 34 employees. A total of about $100 million has been invested in Sprout since its formation in 2011. (Pollack and Bray, 8/20)

Bloomberg: Valeant Buys Female Libido-Drug Maker Sprout For $1B
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. agreed to pay about $1 billion in cash for Sprout Pharmaceuticals Inc., the U.S. drugmaker that this week received approval to sell a pill for low libido in women. Sprout’s pill received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday. The drug has been controversial due to modest benefits and serious side effects, and was caught up in a debate about whether male sexual dysfunction has received more attention. The agency followed the counsel of an expert panel that decided in June that the benefits of the drug outweighed the risks. (Chen, Koons and Edney, 8/20)

8. Online Doctor Appointment Service ZocDoc Valued At $1.8B

The company is raising money to expand. Elsewhere in health care technology news, Google Glass finds a place in the doctor's office and startups aim at giving second opinions on expensive surgery.

Reuters: Digital Health Company ZocDoc Valued At $1.8B In Latest Funding
ZocDoc, which helps users book doctor appointments online, said on Thursday it raised $130 million in funding, valuing the U.S. digital healthcare company at $1.8 billion. The proceeds would be used to develop products and expand beyond its scheduling capability, the company said. ZocDoc, founded in 2007, is used by millions of people in all 50 U.S. states and covers 60 percent of the country's population. The New York-based startup also helps patients find in-network neighbourhood doctors and get reminders for upcoming appointments and check-ups. (Roy, 8/20)

Bloomberg: Google Glass Comes To Doctor's Office Near You As Upgrade Looms
A few weeks ago, a New Zealand doctor donned Google Glass and beamed video of an aortic surgery to the U.S. offices of medical device maker Endologix Inc. The test demonstrated the potential power of a technology that famously flopped with consumers but is quickly becoming a go-to gadget for the medical world. Google is expected to roll out a new version of Glass in the coming months, and medical device makers, hospitals and family doctors are eagerly anticipating improvements. These will probably include an adjustable eyepiece, longer-lasting battery and water-resistant properties, according to people familiar with the project. (Kharif and Womack, 8/20)

Bloomberg: The Startups That Give You A Second Opinion On Costly Surgery
In the window before his kids wake up and he has to go to work, Dr. Gregory Gebauer helps people he's never met avoid needless surgery. That's when the Florida spine surgeon reads charts and examines MRI or X-ray scans referred to him through a company called Grand Rounds, a San Francisco startup that promises to save employers money and help their workers find better care. He often finds that patients have been given an inaccurate diagnosis or recommended for an operation unlikely to help them. (Tozzi, 8/20)

Public Health And Education