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KHN First Edition: August 31, 2015


First Edition

Monday, August 31, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Heart-Attack Patients More Likely To Die After Ambulances Are Diverted
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Barbara Feder Ostrov writes: "Heart-attack patients whose ambulances were diverted from crowded emergency rooms to hospitals farther away were more likely to be dead a year later than patients who weren’t diverted, according to a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California-San Francisco and the National Bureau of Economic Research, looked at ambulance diversions affecting nearly 30,000 Medicare patients in 26 California counties from 2001 to 2011." (Feder Ostrov, 8/31)

Kaiser Health News: American Academy Of Pediatrics Recommends Individualized Counseling For Parents Of Premature Infants
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold reports: "For the tiniest infants — those born before 25 weeks in the womb — survival is never guaranteed, and those who make it may be left with severe disabilities. These micro-preemies are born in what’s known as the “grey zone.” Whether or not to resuscitate them depends on the decisions made by individual hospitals, doctors and parents. Decisions can vary greatly even among hospitals in the same area." (Gold, 8/31)

Politico: 'Cadillac Tax' Could Wreck Popular Medical Accounts
A popular middle class tax benefit could become one of the first casualties of the Affordable Care Act’s so-called Cadillac tax, affecting millions of voters. Flexible spending accounts, which allow people to save their own money tax free for everything from doctor’s co-pays to eyeglasses, may vanish in coming years as companies scramble to avoid the law’s 40 percent levy on pricey health care benefits. (Faler, 8/31)

The Wall Street Journal's CFO Journal: Writers Union Seeks ‘Cadillac Tax’ Exemption
The union representing thousands of film, television and digital media writers is seeking an exemption for all unions from the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac tax” on high cost health plans. In a letter to the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, the Writers Guild of America East argued that health care plans negotiated under collective bargaining agreements should be exempted from the tax on high cost plans, which takes effect in 2018. (Chasan, 8/28)

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Olympians’ Insurance Finally Qualifies
America’s Olympians now have officially qualifying health insurance, after the federal government and the U.S. Olympic Committee reached an agreement last week on the status of their coverage. That news may come as a surprise to some of the 850 athletes and 225 dependents enrolled in the special health plan through USOC, who already had been receiving an array of health benefits under it. (Radnofsky, 8/29)

The Washington Post: Judge Allows Alaska Governor To Move Ahead With Medicaid Expansion
Alaska’s governor won a legal victory Friday that, at least for now, will allow the state to begin next week to sign up more low-income residents for Medicaid — despite objections from state lawmakers. The dispute in Alaska has emerged as the latest political and legal skirmish over the Affordable Care Act, lingering even after the Supreme Court two months ago upheld the constitutionality of a core aspect of the law that requires most Americans to have health insurance. (Goldstein, 8/28)

The Washington Post: Planned Parenthood’s Aggressive Defense
Planned Parenthood is using virtually every tool in its lobbying arsenal to defend against attacks from conservatives and anti-abortion activists. Lawmakers will raise the stakes when Congress returns next week by threatening to defund the group through the federal appropriations process. (Ho and Snell, 8/31)

The Wall Street Journal: Planned Parenthood Unit Files Suit Against Alabama Gov. Bentley
A Planned Parenthood unit filed a lawsuit Friday against Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley over his move to end all state funding to the organization following videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue procurement. The complaint, filed in federal court in Montgomery, Ala., was brought by Planned Parenthood Southeast Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union. It will be followed next week by a request for a preliminary injunction to preserve Medicaid funding, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The complaint asserts that Gov. Bentley’s termination of Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood violates a federal law that requires beneficiaries to have a choice of providers in family planning care. (Armour, 8/28)

The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood Sues Alabama Over End To Medicaid Funds
Planned Parenthood Southeast on Friday filed a federal lawsuit over Gov. Robert Bentley’s effort to cut off Medicaid payments to the organization’s Alabama clinics. The organization said Bentley’s effort penalizes low-income women who seek contraceptive and preventative health care services at the clinics. (Chandler, 8/28)

The Washington Post's The Fix: Donald Trump Is Not A Traditional Republican — Including On Some Big Issues
Donald Trump has rather effortlessly demonstrated that he is not a normal presidential candidate. And with his scatter-shot delineation of where he stands on various issues, he has made something else clear: He's not a normal Republican. ... Where they differ: Health care: 2012 Republican party platform: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — was never really about healthcare, though its impact upon the nation’s health is disastrous. From its start, it was about power, the expansion of government control over one sixth of our economy, and resulted in an attack on our Constitution, by requiring that U.S. citizens purchase health insurance. Trump, 2016: During the first Republican debate, Trump defended his past support for single-payer health care — that is to say, health care managed entirely by the government. "As far as single-payer," he said, "it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you're talking about here." That apparently means that he thinks single-payer's time in America has come and gone. He went on to say that he'd like to see a private system. But praise of single-payer in any form is not at all common among leading Republicans. (Bump, 8/30)

Los Angeles Times: The Doctor Is Online: Remote Video Medical Exams Gain Popularity
When Tom Essenpreis first signed up for his company's Anthem Blue Cross health plan, he checked out its website and came across a service that enables him to visit with a doctor online 24 hours a day. He downloaded it right away. "I immediately saw the utility of it," said the 35-year-old aerospace engineer from Hawthorne. The service came in handy one Saturday when his 2-year-old daughter had what he said was "goopy stuff clogging up the corner of her eye." (Zamosky, 8/28)

The Washington Post: Feds Appear To Ease Ban On Dementia Advocate
The Department of Health and Human Services appears to have reversed the security restrictions that were imposed on Michael Ellenbogen, a well-known advocate who has dementia, because of provocative remarks he made while urging a more aggressive government fight against Alzheimer’s disease, he and his attorney said, citing a letter from the agency’s general counsel. (Kunkle, 8/28)

USA Today: Labs Cited For 'Serious' Security Failures In Research With Bioterror Germs
Amid concerns about the potential of a laboratory insider unleashing a deadly bioterror pathogen on the public, President Obama ordered greater scrutiny of workers with access to the riskiest microbes five years ago. The goal of the resulting regulations was to prevent something like the 2001 anthrax letter attacks — or worse — from happening again. (YOung, 8/28)

The Associated Press: 6 San Quentin Inmates Ill With Legionnaires’ Disease
At least six San Quentin State Prison inmates were ill with Legionnaires’ disease and dozens more under observation Sunday, prompting a weekend halt to visitors, no hot meals and limited drinking water supplies at California’s oldest prison. At least 51 inmates are under observation for respiratory illness at the prison’s medical unit, said Dana Simas, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. (8/30)

USA Today: Top-Notch Community Health Care Emerges In New Orleans From Hurricane Katrina's Rubble
Following the catastrophic hurricane, health care administrators and providers strategized to make their public health system more resilient in a disaster, and focused on improving patient delivery to the city's indigent population—a change that studies since have shown is remarkably better for patients. "In the aftermath of Katrina, few could have predicted that the next 10 years would bring a profound transformation to the health system here in New Orleans," says Charlotte Parent, director of the New Orleans Health Department. (Marsa, 8/29)

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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