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KHN First Edition: September 3, 2015


First Edition

Thursday, September 03, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Doctor-Owned Hospitals Are Not Cherry-Picking Patients, Study Finds
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau reports: "Physician-owned hospitals are often vilified in America’s health care system, accused of siphoning the most profitable operations away from other hospitals while leaving them with the sicker and poorer patients. Congress has banned new ones from opening. But an independent study released Wednesday argues physician-owned hospitals have gotten a bad rap. The study, published online by the British medical journal, The BMJ, concluded that overall, physician-owned hospitals are not cherry-picking patients or limiting themselves to the most lucrative types of procedures and operations." (Rau, 9/3)

Kaiser Health News: Texas Strives To Lure Mental Health Providers To Rural Counties
KERA's Lauren Silverman, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "In her third year of medical school, Karen Duong found herself on the other side of Texas. She had driven 12 hours north from where she grew up on the Gulf Coast to a panhandle town called Hereford. 'Hereford is known for being the beef capital of the world,” she says, laughing. “There’s definitely more cows than people out there.'” (Silverman, 9/3)

The Wall Street Journal: UAW Pitches Health-Care Co-Op To Car Makers
The United Auto Workers union is pushing Detroit car makers to put all their employees under one health-care umbrella, creating a powerful purchasing group that could upend traditional health care markets. The union’s idea would create a joint purchasing group for the three largest U.S. auto makers that would cover factory and white-collar workers and union-affiliated retirees. The group could total nearly 1 million members, a scale it believes would have unprecedented leverage in negotiating directly with hospitals, drug companies and others. (Rogers and Wilde Mathews, 9/2)

The Washington Post: Parade Of Planned Parenthood Hearings Begins Next Week
Congress will make its first public examination of Planned Parenthood next week, a day after lawmakers return from their long summer recess, following the release of a series of undercover videos airing frank conversations about the group's fetal tissue practices. The Sept. 9 hearing scheduled Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee will be the first in a series titled "Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider" -- making clear that the women's health care provider can expect withering attention from the committee's Republican majority. (DeBonis, 9/2)

The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog: Judge To Decide If Louisiana Can Ban Planned Parenthood From Medicaid
Lawyers representing Louisiana and a regional affiliate of Planned Parenthood are facing off in federal court on Wednesday on the question of whether the state can ban the group from receiving Medicaid dollars. At a hearing scheduled for this afternoon, U.S. District Judge John deGravelles in Baton Rouge will consider Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Inc.’s request for an injunction that would block Louisiana from expelling the organization from the federal- and state-funded subsidized health-insurance program, at least in the short term. (Gershman, 9/2)

Bloomberg News: Louisiana Can't Yank Planned Parenthood's Medicaid Funds Yet
Louisiana's plan to yank Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contracts Wednesday was put on hold until Sept. 15 as a federal judge questioned the state's reasons for terminating them. Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican presidential candidate, vowed to take away the group's public funding after the organization was accused in a video campaign that purported to show its doctors discussing harvesting fetal tissue for research. (Hasselle and Calkins, 9/2)

The New York Times: Hillary Clinton Proposes $10 Billion Plan To Combat Drug Epidemic
Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday released plans for a $10 billion initiative to combat the escalating drug epidemic that she says has swept through rural America and has emerged as a regular concern among voters she has met in the early nominating states. “In state after state, this issue came up again and again — from so many people, from all walks of life, in small towns and big cities,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in an op-ed in The New Hampshire Union Leader. (Chozick, 9/2)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Hillary Clinton Proposes $10 Billion Plan To Combat Drug Addiction
Hillary Clinton is proposing $10 billion in new federal grants to combat drug and alcohol addiction, the latest in a string of domestic policy proposals from the Democratic presidential contender. On the campaign trail, Mrs. Clinton regularly talks about how surprised she is to hear from voters in Iowa and New Hampshire about the challenge of combating heroin use, prescription drug abuse and other addictions. Her plan includes a new grant program for states to tackle the issue and increased funding for an existing grant program. (Meckler, 9/2)

The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton’s $10 Billion Plan For Treating Drug Addiction
The program, much of which would be funded by the federal government, would also help get a life-saving rescue drug into the hands of more emergency responders to improve the odds for overdose victims. The plan, announced in an op-ed in the Manchester, N.H., Union Leader newspaper, grew out of months of discussion of national drug addiction at Clinton campaign events in New Hampshire, Iowa and elsewhere. The topic comes up nearly every time Clinton engages voters in public, and she has made the scourge of drug addiction a part of her stump speech. (Gearan, 9/2)

NPR/Center For Public Integrity: White House Takes Aim At Medicare And Medicaid Billing Errors
White House budget director Shaun Donovan called for a "more aggressive strategy" to thwart improper government payments to doctors, hospitals and insurance companies in a previously undisclosed letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell earlier this year. Government health care programs covering millions of Americans waste billions of tax dollars every year through these improper payments, Donovan said in the Feb. 26, 2015 letter. (Schulte, 9/3)

USA Today: Storm Damages Beleaguered Phoenix VA Hospital
Dozens of patients were moved, new-patient admissions was canceled and some medical procedures were postponed after a monsoon storm damaged the beleaguered Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center, according to The Arizona Republic. Don Taylor, acting associate director of the hospital, told The Republic torrential rains Monday night, along with "almost hurricane-force winds," hammered the main building's west and south sides. Damage was also reported at the Phoenix Zoo, where several trees blew down. (9/3)

USA Today: Study: Needle Exchange Policy Prevented HIV
Lifting a ban on spending city money on needle exchanges for intravenous drug users prevented 120 new cases of HIV in two years in Washington, according to a new study that researchers hope can help other communities deal with a surge in addicts shooting up. (Ungar, 9/3)

The New York Times: Insurer Says Clients On Daily Pill Have Stayed H.I.V.-Free
Demonstrating that taking a daily pill to prevent H.I.V. infection can work in the real world, San Francisco’s largest private health insurer announced Wednesday that not one of its 657 clients receiving the drug had become infected over a period of more than two years. That outcome contradicted some critics’ predictions that so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, would lead to less condom use and more H.I.V. infections. A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases found that the San Franciscans on PrEP, almost all of whom were gay men, did use fewer condoms — and contracted several other venereal diseases as a result. But none got H.I.V. (McNeil Jr., 9/2)

The Washington Post: A Cancer Building Boom, Fueled By Economics And An Aging Population
Had she faced breast cancer years ago, Gail Brown might have ended up traveling hours to one of the renowned cancer research hospitals in New York or Boston. But when the 68-year-old retiree received her diagnosis this spring, a $40 million, 70,000-square-foot cancer center was opening its doors on a wooded hilltop here. Leaders of the center, the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute, had formed a partnership with New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, part of an alliance aimed at bringing the most up-to-date cancer care to smaller communities. (Dennis, 9/2)

Los Angeles Times: Stethoscope Meets Smartphone And The Heart Knows It's Right
Call it a winter-spring romance: The oldest tool in a doctor's kit -- a stethoscope -- meets the youngest -- a smartphone. Together, they make (and hear, see, analyze and record) heartbeats race. The Food and Drug Administration has cleared for the U.S. market a digital stethoscope, the Eko Core, that aims to bring auscultation -- the ancient medical practice of listening to a patient's heartbeat -- squarely into the 21st century. (Healy, 9/2)

Los Angeles Times: Legionnaires' Outbreak Grows, Keeping San Quentin Locked Down
An environmental consultant has been brought into the hunt for the source of Legionnaires' disease at San Quentin state prison. After six days of testing, officials still do not know what caused the outbreak that has left more than 100 inmates sick and the sprawling historic prison in near-lockdown. Showers and drinking water have been shut off since a prisoner was diagnosed with the severe illness Thursday. In addition, prison officials said they are consulting daily with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the state health department. (St. John, 9/2)

The New York Times: San Quentin Prison Scrambles After Outbreak Of Legionnaires’ Disease
The thick walls of San Quentin State Prison contain thousands of criminals housed deep within a rambling complex on the edge of San Francisco Bay. But since last week, when the first of six prisoners tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, those ramparts seem to have also turned the prison into a petri dish. An outbreak of the disease has reverberated from death row to solitary confinement, with 95 additional inmates reporting the infection’s pneumonialike symptoms in the last few days, though none of them have received an official diagnosis of Legionnaires’ disease. (Nir, 9/2)

NPR: California Moves To Stop Misuse Of Psychiatric Meds In Foster Care
Children in foster care are prescribed antipsychotic drugs at double to quadruple the rate of that not in foster care, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Hundreds of children were found to be taking five or more psychotropic medications at a time, although there is no medical evidence to support such a drug regimen. Thousands of children were prescribed doses that exceeded FDA-approved guidelines. The report found monitoring programs for psychotropic drugs provided to foster children fell short of guidelines established by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (Korry, 9/2)

NPR: Illinois House Leaders Override Governor's Veto On Heroin Addiction Bill
Illinois lawmakers set aside their bitter partisan bickering Wednesday to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's partial veto of bill addressing the state's heroin crisis. Illinois has one of the highest rates of heroin overdose deaths in the country, and the Chicago area has led the nation in the number of emergency room visits related to heroin. And as we've recently reported, the heroin crisis has been growing worse as state funding for treatment programs has been cut. (Schaper, 9/2)

Los Angeles Times: Stories Of Mexican Mothers Having Babies In U.S. Are Complex, Texas Doctors Say
The mother arrived at the hospital last week in need of an emergency caesarean section, saying she had crossed the border to run an errand in town, not so her baby would be born an American citizen. She assured the doctor that she arrived at the hospital just "because [she] was here." Dr. Rolando Guerrero listened skeptically. "They always have a story," he said after delivering her 8-pound boy, Dylan. (Hennessy-Fiske, 9/3)

The Associated Press: School Drug Counselors Charged In $46 Million Fraud Scheme
Some were students who had tried drugs or alcohol, but didn’t have substance abuse problems. Others were young addicts in need of help. Neither group necessarily fared well under counseling programs run by a Long Beach company for Los Angeles County schools, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. Dabblers were dubbed abusers, and hard-core users didn’t always get the care they needed. (Melley, 9/3)

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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