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KHN First Edition: Aug. 24, 2015

KHN

First Edition

Monday, August 24, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Should You Follow Your Physician On Facebook?
KHN staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "Doctors’ practices are increasingly trying to reach their patients online. But don’t expect your doctor to “friend” you on Facebook – at least, not just yet. Physicians generally draw a line: Public professional pages – focused on medicine, similar to those other businesses offer – are catching on. Some might email with patients. But doctors aren’t ready to share vacation photos and other more intimate details with patients, or even to advise them on medication or treatment options via private chats." (Luthra, 8/24)

Kaiser Health News: Pain By The Numbers
Working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, Rachel Gotbaum reports: "In one of the largest population studies on pain to date, researchers with the National Institutes of Health estimate that nearly 40 million Americans experience severe pain and more than 25 million have pain every day. Those with severe pain were more likely to have worse health status, use more health care and suffer from more disability than those with less severe pain." (Gotbaum, 8/24)

Los Angeles Times: California's Obamacare Exchange Criticized For Not Fixing Enrollment, Tax Errors
In a response to blistering criticism from a consumer group, California's Obamacare exchange vowed to fix longstanding enrollment and tax-related errors that have blocked consumers from getting coverage for months and left some with unforeseen bills. Lee, executive director of the Covered California exchange, addressed the complaints at a Thursday board meeting and said more staff and resources have been assigned to resolve these lingering glitches. (Terhune, 8/21)

The Associated Press: Appeals Court Reinstates Wage Rules for Home Care Workers
A federal appeals court on Friday revived Obama administration regulations that guarantee overtime and minimum wage protection to nearly 2 million home health care workers. The ruling was a victory for worker advocacy groups and labor unions that have long sought higher wages for domestic workers who help the elderly and disabled with everyday tasks such as bathing or taking medicine. (8/21)

The New York Times: Ohio Bill Would Ban Abortion If Down Syndrome Is Reason
Opening a new front in the abortion wars, abortion opponents are pushing Ohio to make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion if a woman is terminating her pregnancy to avoid having a baby with Down syndrome. The legislature is expected to approve the measure this fall because lawmakers endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee, which supports the bill, make up more than two-thirds of both houses. (Lewin, 8/22)

The Washington Post: The Heroin Epidemic’s Toll: One County, 70 Minutes, Eight Overdoses
“It’s absolutely insane. This is nuts,” said District Attorney Eugene A. Vittone, a former paramedic who is trying to hold back the tide of drugs washing across Washington County, a Rust Belt community 30 miles south of Pittsburgh. On any day, Vittone said, the county averages five to eight overdoses, almost all from heroin. More are recorded each day in towns just over the county line. (Bernstein, 8/23)

NPR: Ravages Of Heroin Addiction Haunt Friends, Families And Whole Towns
Heroin is cheap, abundant and accessible, and communities across the nation, from big cities to small rural towns, are struggling with the consequences. In Marion, Ohio — once a thriving steel town — the trouble arrived around 2007, when the police started seeing balloons of heroin during routine traffic stops. Since then, heroin has changed many lives in Marion. It took Chrystina Carey's. (8/23)

The Washington Post: Cruz’s Evangelical Outreach Shifts Into High Gear
Sen. Ted Cruz, who has assiduously courted evangelicals throughout his presidential run, will take a lead role in the launch this week of an ambitious 50-state campaign to end taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood — a move that is likely to give the GOP candidate a major primary-season boost in the fierce battle for social-conservative and evangelical voters. (Zezima and Hamburger, 8/23)

The Associated Press: Walker's Health Plan Hinges On A Tricky Subsidy Rollback
Republican Scott Walker's plan for repealing and replacing President Barack Obama's health care law hinges on what many see as a nearly insurmountable obstacle — getting 60 votes in the Senate. Walker's solution for winning over enough lawmakers? In a nutshell, he would first strip away the federal health insurance subsidies that they and their staff get as government employees. (Aug. 23)

Politico: Bernie Sanders Dings Nikki Haley On Medicaid
As he campaigns through South Carolina, Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking more than a few shots at Gov. Nikki Haley and the state’s conservative legislators on health care. In multiple speeches here, the liberal Democratic presidential candidate and Independent senator from Vermont has a one-two punch ready: South Carolina should have expanded Medicaid and the decision not to was fueled, at least in part, because President Barack Obama wants that to happen. (Strauss, 8/22)

USA Today: 5 Perilous Issues For Boehner When Congress Returns
Many Republicans, for example, would like a must-pass spending bill to include provisions blocking Obama's immigration actions and environmental regulations. Others want any omnibus spending bill to include an amendment that strips federal funding from Planned Parenthood. The reproductive health care provider has come under scrutiny after the release of undercover videos in which Planned Parenthood officials discussed providing tissue from aborted fetuses for research. (Shesgreen, 8/24)

The Wall Street Journal: Heart Drug Linked To Extra Years For Cancer Patients
A common heart drug called a beta blocker was associated with a striking increase in survival for women with ovarian cancer in a study that suggests a possible new strategy for treating a variety of tumors. Researchers analyzing a database of 1,425 women with the tough-to-treat cancer found those who had taken a certain type of beta blocker lived more than four years longer on average than those who hadn’t been prescribed the drug. (Winslow, 8/24)

The New York Times: Decades Of Data Fail To Resolve Debate On Treating Tiny Breast Lesions
More than 30 years after the widespread use of mammograms set off a surge in the detection of tiny lesions in milk ducts, there is still debate about how — or even whether — to treat them. ... The latest round of controversy was set off by a paper published Thursday in JAMA Oncology that analyzed 20 years of data on 100,000 women who had the condition, which is also known as ductal carcinoma in situ, or D.C.I.S. (Kolata, 8/21)

The Wall Street Journal: Brooklyn Medicaid Fraud Case Settled
A Brooklyn-based home health-care service has agreed to pay $6 million as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general to resolve allegations of improper Medicaid billing, highlighting the state’s heightened attention to fraud in this growing industry. (Davis O'Brien, 8/23)

NPR: New York City Struggles To Keep Up With High Homeless Numbers
Eight months after homelessness hit a record in New York City, you can still see the need of the city's most vulnerable in Tompkins Square Park. ... New York's current mayor, Bill de Blasio, has beefed up funding to help more families find permanent housing and pay for rent, as well as to improve shelter conditions and open new facilities. He recently announced a $22 million mental health program that includes more treatment for mentally ill people living on the streets. (8/23)

The Washington Post: Military Women Are At The Same Risk Of PTSD As Men, Study Finds
As high-ranking military chiefs debate allowing women into the front lines of combat, researchers from the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs are adding new research to the mix: Women warriors are at the same risk of post-traumatic stress disorder as men. The finding, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research, offers insight into the long-term mental health effects of military service for women — including experience with combat. (Gebelhoff, 8/21)

NPR: Amid Backlash Against Isolating Inmates, New Mexico Moves Toward Change
In New Mexico, many low-risk inmates were moved out of solitary. The men still housed in isolation can now earn their way out in nine months with good behavior. That's still more time in solitary than most reform advocates and most mental health experts support, but not so long ago, New Mexico's solitary unit was packed with inmates who were thrown into cells "and then we really had no clear cut way to get 'em outta there," says Gregg Marcantel, head of New Mexico's prison system. He says when he came in as corrections secretary four years ago, that heavy reliance on solitary had been unquestioned for decades. (Haverty, 8/24)

The Associated Press: 'Second Cancer' Cases Becoming More Common
Second cancers are on the rise. Nearly 1 in 5 new cases in the U.S. now involves someone who has had the disease before. When doctors talk about second cancers, they mean a different tissue type or a different site, not a recurrence or spread of the original tumor. (8/24)

NPR: 'A Mighty Fine Teacher': Hundreds Gather For Carter's Sunday School
The crowd consists of the faithful and the curious alike: They've gathered here this Sunday to try to catch the Sunday school teachings of former President Jimmy Carter. ... Then, after briefly describing how his cancer will be treated, Carter gets right to it, teaching straight from the heart of his Christian faith. (Blakenship, 8/24)

The Washington Post: In The Nation’s Capital, A New Business To Regulate: D.C.’s Personal Trainers
After decades of unregulated existence in all 50 states, the booming field of personal trainers is braced for a wave of scrutiny that is expected to transform the industry and could make or break some of the biggest fitness companies in the country. The new regulations, being written by and for the nation’s capital city, will create a registry of all personal trainers in the District only. But they are expected to become a model that winners and losers in the fight believe will be replicated elsewhere. (Davis, 8/23)

The Wall Street Journal: Army Tests Hearing Drug At The Rifle Range
Sgt. Durden is a participant in a clinical trial, one tackling an issue that is both costly and garnering greater awareness in the military: hearing damage. Such damage traces not just to explosive sounds such as an M16 shot—a momentary 155 decibels, far louder than a jackhammer—but also to constant exposure to lesser noise such as that of engines. The trial is testing an experimental drug that might prevent noise-induced hearing loss, in a collaboration between an academic scientist and the military. (Dockser Marcus, 8/21)

NPR: After A Divorce, What Happens To A Couple's Frozen Embryos?
Soon after their wedding, Dr. Mimi Lee and Stephen Findley decided to create five embryos. Lee had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she worried that treatment would leave her infertile. Now that they're divorced, Lee wants to use them; Findley, however, does not. Those embryos are at the heart of a court case that will soon decide a very modern problem: Which member of a divorced couple gets control of their frozen embryos? (Ludden, 8/22)

The New York Times' Well Blog: Doctors Behaving Badly
What really goes on in an operating room? This week, the Annals of Internal Medicine published an anonymous essay recounting two appalling incidents that took place while gynecological patients were unconscious. The medical journal challenged doctors to call out colleagues who behave inappropriately, but so far the response has been polarizing. (Caryn Rabin, 8/21)

USA Today: Breast Cancer Survivors Show Strength With Tattoos
Cancer not only took Dana Kasse Donofree's breasts, it marred her body with permanent reminders of pain and loss. "I didn't want to look in the mirror every day and see the scars," she says. "I wanted to see something beautiful." So like a growing number of breast cancer survivors and their families, the 33-year-old Philadelphia woman decided to cover her scars — and reclaim power over her body — with tattoos. (Ungar, 8/23)

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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