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KHN First Edition: August 27, 2015


First Edition

Thursday, August 27, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Win Big Health-Rate Increases
At a July town hall in Nashville, Tenn., President Barack Obama played down fears of a spike in health insurance premiums in his signature health law’s third year. “My expectation is that they’ll come in significantly lower than what’s being requested,” he said, saying Tennesseans had to work to ensure the state’s insurance commissioner “does their job in not just passively reviewing the rates, but really asking, ‘OK, what is it that you are looking for here? Why would you need very high premiums?’” (Radnofsky and Armour, 8/26)

The Associated Press: Obama To Seek Unity With Pope On Issues In White House Visit
Despite deep differences on some social issues such as abortion, Obama and the pope are expected to focus on areas of agreement. The White House said economic opportunity, immigration and refugees, and protection of religious minorities were high on the agenda. ... When he visited Francis early last year, Obama contradicted the official Vatican account of their meeting by saying they hadn't discussed social issues in any detail. Papal aides insisted the two leaders indeed discussed religious freedom, life and conscientious objection - buzzwords for abortion, birth control and parts of Obama's health care law. (8/26)

The Washington Post: Amputees Protest Proposed Medicare Changes For Artificial Limbs
Wednesday afternoon’s modest protest was organized to attract outsize attention to concerns by the nation’s amputees — and health practitioners who work with them — that the government might make it more difficult for older and disabled Americans to afford state-of-the-art artificial legs, or any artificial legs at all. Such changes are envisioned in a set of rules proposed by the four regional companies to which Medicare delegates responsibility for the program’s medical device benefits, including artificial limbs. (Goldstein, 8/26)

The Associated Press: Amputees Decry Medicare Payment Overhaul For Artificial Feet
Famous people don’t often get involved with Medicare payment policy, but a Boston Marathon bombing survivor and a former U.S. senator who lost a leg in wartime service have joined an industry campaign to block new requirements for artificial legs and feet. Medicare’s mounting cost for those items in the last 10 years — even as the number of amputees was declining — has prompted scrutiny from government investigators. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/27)

Reuters: When Congress Returns From Vacation, Budget Fight Looms
Republican Senator Ted Cruz, also a candidate, has led a charge to kill federal funding for Planned Parenthood after secretly taped videos showed technicians for the women's health organization gathering fetal tissue from abortions. Cruz and other conservatives have tried to use must-pass spending bills, like the one coming due Oct. 1, as vehicles to kill Obama's healthcare law and immigration policies. The strategy has failed but has forced temporary agency shutdowns. (8/27)

The New York Times: Hillary Clinton Speaks About Farming, And Much More, In Iowa
Growing together was a central theme: She said that creating more clean energy would be a boon to agriculture, that expanded broadband and Internet access would help rural communities, that comprehensive immigration reform would help stabilize the agricultural work force, and that a growing agriculture sector would help combat the drug dependency and addiction plaguing the country. ... “I want to focus on the people of rural America,” she said, her voice becoming hushed as she listed the devastation that drugs have caused in parts of the country. “Meth, pills, overdoses, lost lives, broken families.” She pledged to improve treatment of addiction, and especially in making such facilities available in rural areas for addiction and mental health. (Corasaniti, 8/26)

NPR: Texting Helps Diabetes Patients Fine-Tune Insulin Dosing
People whose diabetes requires insulin injections usually have to make a series of visits to the doctor's office to fine-tune their daily dosage. But many low-income patients can't afford to take those few hours off to see the doctor. As a result, they often live with chronically elevated blood sugars for weeks or months until they can find time to get to the clinic. (Shaikh-Lesko, 8/26)

NPR: How The Prescription Painkiller Fentanyl Became A Street Drug
If you've ever had surgery, you may have been given an analgesic named fentanyl. Fentanyl is a favored painkiller because it acts fast. But it's also 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The powerful drug has made its way to the streets and increasingly is being used to cut heroin — resulting in a deadly combination. (Whitehead, 8/26)

The Associated Press: AP EXCLUSIVE: California Tax Donations Lost In Bureaucracy
Every year when they do their taxes, Californians donate millions for charitable causes, but nearly $10 million of that money sat unspent in government accounts at the end of last year and some of the funding never reaches its intended target, according to a review by The Associated Press. ... Records show that $278,000 raised for asthma and lung disease research reverted to the state treasury because neither the Legislature nor the distributing agency put them to use. ...But in a dozen of the funds, state agencies tapped less than half the contributions available. Health agencies never used funding for a colorectal cancer prevention program, promoted by Erin Stennis, a Culver City woman who lost her husband to colon cancer in 2003. ... Not a single dime has been spent on cancer prevention. (8/27)

The Wall Street Journal: Long Island Hospital Posts Doctor Ratings
Amid a Wild West of consumer-ratings sites, North Shore-LIJ Health System is one of only a few hospitals in the U.S. to take matters into its own hands. The Long Island-based hospital network began posting online ratings of its doctors this week, making it the first such organization in the metropolitan area to do so, hospital officials said. (Ramey, 8/26)

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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