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KHN First Edition: August 28, 2015

KHN

First Edition

Friday, August 28, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Few Health Savings Accounts Owners Choose To Invest That Money, Study Finds
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews reports: "Only a tiny fraction of the growing number of people with health savings accounts invests the money in their accounts in the financial markets, according to a recent study. The vast majority leave their contributions in savings accounts instead where the money may earn lower returns. People who have had their health savings accounts for a longer period of time are more likely to invest their contributions, suggesting that there’s a learning curve in grasping how the accounts work and how to use them, says Paul Fronstin, director of the Health Research and Education Program at the Employee Benefit Research Institute and the study’s author." (Andrews, 8/28)

Kaiser Health News: Why Don’t We Have Mental Health Parity?
The law says insurance companies must pay for mental health benefits the same as they do everything else. Addiction as much as diabetes. Depression as much as cancer. But around the country, consumers are taking their insurers to court saying the companies are refusing to pay up. The insurance providers say mental health is complicated, and keeping costs down is part of their job. What does this mean for patients? Kaiser Health News reporter Jenny Gold discusses the complex issue on NPR’s On Point. (8/27)

The New York Times: Planned Parenthood Videos Were Altered, Analysis Finds
Planned Parenthood on Thursday gave congressional leaders and a committee that is investigating allegations of criminality at its clinics an analysis it commissioned concluding that “manipulation” of undercover videos by abortion opponents make those recordings unreliable for any official inquiry. “A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict,” the analysis of a private research company said. (Calmes, 8/27)

The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood Alleges 'Smear' In Letter To Congress
Planned Parenthood Federation of America defended its practices Thursday in a lengthy letter to congressional leaders and included a report by experts it hired who found undercover videos of officials discussing fetal tissue for research were heavily altered by anti-abortion activists. The report supports the organization's claims that the secretly recorded videos were distorted to misrepresent conversations employees had with anti-abortion activists posing as biomedical company employees interested in buying fetal tissue, Planned Parenthood said. (8/27)

NPR: Planned Parenthood Says Experts Found Misleading Edits In Videos
Planned Parenthood has paid forensic experts to comb through undercover videos released by anti-abortion activists, and their report finds significant distortions and misleading edits. The report has been handed over to Congress, which is investigating allegations that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from fetal tissue donation. (Ludden, 8/27)

The Wall Street Journal: Dueling Assessments Of Planned Parenthood Videos
The [Planned Parenthood ] letter and analysis are the organization’s first concerted response to investigations by federal lawmakers following the release of eight videos by the Center for Medical Progress, another antiabortion group. Americans United for Life on Thursday also sent letters to congressional leaders, saying its lawyers had reviewed seven unedited videos, concluding that they raise probable cause that Planned Parenthood violated at least six federal laws. (Armour, 8/27)

The Washington Post: Videos Deceptively Edited, Planned Parenthood Tells Congress
The letter, [written by the ­organization’s president, Cecile Richards] was accompanied by a 10-page report commissioned by Planned Parenthood and penned by an independent investigator, former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson. Through his firm Fusion GPS, Simpson enlisted experts who analyzed both the short, highly produced videos publicized by the antiabortion group, as well as hours of “full” footage the group posted on YouTube. The implication is that the longer footage was unedited. But Simpson said he found significant gaps. (Somashekhar, 8/27)

NPR: Planned Parenthood Fights Back
In a new report and letter sent to congressional leadership, Planned Parenthood contends that controversial videos alleging the organization sells fetal tissue have been "heavily edited in order to significantly change the meaning" of what its staff said. The report is based on an analysis by forensics firm Fusion GPS, which was commissioned by Planned Parenthood. (Kelly, 8/27)

The Associated Press: Q&A: Questions, Answers In Planned Parenthood Controversy
[Planned Parenthood] sent a letter Thursday to congressional leaders and included a report by experts it hired who found that undercover videos of its officials were heavily altered by anti-abortion activists. The move was the latest development in a heated dispute that has riled people on both sides of the abortion debate. The videos were produced by a California-based anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress, which began releasing them in July. Here are answers to some of the questions at the heart of the controversy. (Melley, 8/28)

USA Today: New Drug Could Dramatically Reduce Cholesterol
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the second in a new class of cholesterol drugs that promises to dramatically lower cholesterol, although at a very high price. Amgen's Repatha, also known generically as evolocumab, belongs to a new class of injectable cholesterol fighters called PCSK9 inhibitors, which are man-made antibodies. The FDA last month approved the first of these drugs, Praluent, made by Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Both drugs will cost more than $14,000 a year. (Szabo, 8/28)

The Washington Post: FDA Approves Another In A New Class Of Cholesterol-Fighting Drugs
But because PCSK9 drugs are so new, researchers have yet to determine whether their cholesterol-lowering effects actually will translate into fewer heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems. Over the next couple years, studies should begin to offer clearer answers about how the drugs work over time. While many experts agreed about the promising potential for the new drugs, the price tag for PCSK9 inhibitors already has caused concerns in the health-care world, given the number of patients that eventually could end up using them. (Dennis, 8/27)

The Associated Press: FDA Lays Out Proposal For Naming Lower-Cost Biotech Drugs
The Food and Drug Administration released its proposal Thursday for naming lower-cost biotech drugs, a critical step in creating a market for the new class of medicines. These quasi-generic biotech drugs have the potential to save the U.S. health care system billions of dollars in costs. But representatives for the generic drug industry warned that the FDA’s proposal could curb those savings by making the drugs more difficult to prescribe. (Perrone, 8/27)

The Associated Press: F.D.A. Warns 3 Tobacco Makers About Language Used On Labels
In three separate letters made public on Thursday, the F.D.A. told the manufacturers of the brands that they did not have the agency’s approval to claim that their products were free of certain harmful substances, or that they posed less risk to consumers than other tobacco products. The warnings were sent to ITG Brands, which makes Winston cigarettes; Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, which makes Natural American Spirit; and Sherman’s 1400 Broadway N.Y.C., the maker of Nat Sherman cigarettes. (Abrams, 8/27)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Warns Cigarette Makers On ‘Natural’ Labeling
The agency said the warning is the first it has issued for use of those terms. It was sent to: Reynolds American Inc., owner of Natural American Spirit; Imperial Tobacco PLC, owner of Winston; and Sherman’s 1400 Broadway N.Y.C. Ltd., owner of Nat Sherman cigarettes, for its Nat Sherman cigarette brand. “The FDA’s job is to ensure tobacco products are not marketed in a way that leads consumers to believe cigarettes with descriptors like ‘additive-free’ and ‘natural’ pose fewer health risks than other cigarettes, unless the claims have been scientifically supported,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, in a statement. Reynolds said it is reviewing the FDA’s letter. Nat Sherman declined to comment. (Mickle, 8/27)

Los Angeles Times: John Kasich Might Have A Little Donald Trump In Him, And He's A Threat To Jeb Bush
His philosophy plays better in New Hampshire than in states with more conservative Republican voting bases. Kasich accepted federal money to expand Medicaid in his state as part of the Affordable Care Act, infuriating the law’s opponents. He supports the Common Core education standards that have become wildly unpopular with many core Republicans. And he has resisted harsh immigration rhetoric, while embracing a plan to provide legal status for people in this country illegally. ... On other issues, including abortion, he is fairly conservative. (Bierman, 8/28)

The Associated Press: Clinton Likens GOP's Views On Women To Those Of Terrorists
Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday drew parallels between terrorist organizations and the field of Republican candidates for president when it comes to their views on women, telling an Ohio audience her potential GOP rivals were pushing "out-of-date" policies. ... Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush responded on Twitter: .@HillaryClinton compares pro-life Americans to terrorists, but defends despicable PP treatment of unborn? Her priorities are totally wrong. Bush was referring to Planned Parenthood. (8/27)

Los Angeles Times: Judge Halts Counties' Lawsuit Against 5 Narcotic Drug Manufacturers
A judge halted a government lawsuit Thursday against five of the world's largest narcotics manufacturers in spite of an impassioned plea by Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas that the companies pay for the damages of a prescription drug epidemic. The ruling came in a suit filed last year by Orange and Santa Clara counties accusing the companies of fraudulently marketing addictive painkillers to undermine the effect of warning labels required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The counties say that the efforts boosted sales of the dangerous drugs at the expense of public health. The companies say that the claims are unfounded. (Girion, 8/27)

Los Angeles Times: California Lags In Vaccinating Children, CDC Says
California lawmakers quickly moved to tamp down a growing resistance to vaccination that had been fostered in some communities by unfounded safety concerns. By summer, Gov. Jerry Brown had signed one of the nation's toughest laws to keep parents from opting not to inoculate their kids. Nationwide data released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that although California children are immunized at a high level, the state's vaccination rate still lags behind the rest of the country. (Karlamangla, 8/28)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Los Angeles Times: Report Claims Missouri Did Not Receive Required Lab Reports On Fetal Tissue
A Brentwood, Mo.-based pathology lab failed to send the state an unknown number of reports on fetal tissue from the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic, a state inspection report says. State officials said this week they had no idea how long the tissue exam reports weren't filed, even though state law requires that a pathology lab contracted by Planned Parenthood send reports to the Department of Health and Senior Services. (Stuckey and Liss, 8/27)

The New York Times: Brisk Business At Bronx Hotel, Center Of Legionnaires’ Outbreak
The Opera House Hotel had to turn off its air-conditioning one hot day this month so that a cleaning crew could scrub away the Legionella bacteria lurking in the cooling tower on its roof. ... Not much else has changed at the hotel at the center of the worst outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the city’s history. Business has been, if anything, a little brisker. Occupancy rates have hovered between 90 and 95 percent for the past two months, slightly higher than a year ago, the management said. An online reservation system showed the hotel was completely booked for this Saturday, and for four nights in September. (Hu, 8/27)

The Associated Press: Chairman Promises Review Of Unspent Charity
Nearly $10 million in charitable donations by California taxpayers sat unspent in government accounts at the end of last year, The Associated Press has found, and the Senate Governance and Finance Committee chairman said Thursday that he wants a review of state accounts and will hold a hearing to find out why the money hasn’t been spent. ... The money was donated by Californians when they filed their tax returns and was supposed to go for causes such as cancer research and to help sea otters. ... 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. In 2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation sponsored by Stennis’ family foundation creating a tax checkoff fund that raised $237,000 for colorectal cancer screenings, with a focus on African-Americans who are disproportionately killed by the disease. Not a single dime has been spent on cancer prevention. (Nirappil, 8/27)

NPR: Help Wanted: Last Pediatrician On Mendocino Coast Retires
For more than 35 years, Mahon examined patients day in and day out at his small clinic, next to Mendocino Coast District Hospital, the only hospital for miles. He handled everything from regular checkups to broken bones to very sick kids who might need a spinal taps or IV treatment. He got to know families closely. Going anywhere in town almost certainly involved bumping into a former patient. Now [Dr. Bill] Mahon is mostly retired. (Romero, 8/27)

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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