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KHN First Edition: September 10, 2015


First Edition

Thursday, September 10, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: When The Hospital Is Boss, That’s Where Doctors’ Patients Go
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jay Hancock reports: "Why did hospitals binge-buy doctor practices in recent years? To improve care coordination, lower costs and upgrade patient experiences, say hospitals. To raise costs, gain pricing power and steer patient referrals, say skeptics. Researchers at Stanford University tested those opposing arguments by comparing referral patterns between independent doctors and those working for hospitals." (Hancock, 9/9)

The Associated Press: Judge Clears Way For House Lawsuit Challenging Health Law
A federal judge cleared the way Wednesday for a legal challenge by congressional Republicans to President Obama's health care law to proceed. U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled the House can pursue its claim that the administration violated the Constitution when it spent public money that was not appropriated by Congress. At issue is the more than $175 billion the government is paying health insurance companies over a decade to reimburse them for offering reduced health care co-payments for lower-income people. (9/9)

The New York Times: Judge Rules House Can Sue Obama Administration On Health Care Spending
In a significant defeat for the administration, United States District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer found that the House had made a compelling case that suing the White House was the only way to preserve its constitutional power to control federal spending and stop the administration from distributing $136 billion in insurance company subsidies that Republicans say Congress never approved. (Hulse, 9/9)

Los Angeles Times: Judge Allows Unusual House GOP Lawsuit Against President To Proceed
The judge rejected pleas by Obama’s lawyers to dismiss the House lawsuit on the grounds it involved a political dispute, not a legal one. Collyer noted that the House claimed it would suffer an “institutional injury” if the president and his aides could spend money on their own authority. Her ruling is only the first step, however. She told lawyers she would hear arguments in the fall on whether the administration’s action violated the Constitution. (Savage, 9/9)

The Washington Post: House GOP Can Pursue Part Of Health Care Lawsuit, Judge Rules
House Republicans filed their lawsuit challenging Obama’s executive actions in November. Criticized as a political ploy by Democrats, the lawsuit targeted two aspects of the health care law’s implementation: the delays in enacting the employer mandate, which requires most larger companies to offer health insurance, and the use of unappropriated funds for cost-sharing subsidies designed to alleviate out-of-pocket medical costs for people with lower incomes. (Viebeck, 9/9)

The Washington Post: GOP Tries To Avert Shutdown As Right Spoils For Planned Parenthood Fight
Congressional Republican leaders returned to Washington this week with no clear plan for extending government funding later this month that risks shutting down federal agencies amid a growing outcry from conservatives ready for a fight over funding Planned Parenthood. The once-normal process of approving a stopgap bill that keeps the federal government operating on the previous year’s fiscal budget has become anything but routine during House Speaker John A. Boehner’s five-year tenure. (Kane and Snell, 9/9)

The Washington Post: Obama Issues Familiar Warning To Congress: Don’t Shut Down The Government
Inside the White House, however, there is growing alarm that the congressional fight over the budget could result in the second shutdown in three years, after the government was shuttered for 16 days in 2013 over Republican opposition to Obama’s health-care law. GOP leaders in both chambers have vowed not to repeat that process. But conservatives led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a presidential candidate, have threatened to oppose a spending plan that maintains funding for Planned Parenthood. That has left the outcome uncertain as federal spending authority expires Sept. 30. (Nakamura, 9/9)

NPR: House Begins Series Of Hearings On Defunding Planned Parenthood
House Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood, and that effort began today with the first in a series of hearings. This was all prompted by sting videos that sought to implicate the women's health group in various crimes related to the collection of fetal tissue for research. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports that much of today's discussion focused on the morality of abortion itself. (Ludden, 9/9)

Los Angeles Times: Abortion 'Survivors' Criticize Planned Parenthood On Capitol Hill
As conservatives redouble efforts to end Planned Parenthood’s government funding, House Republicans on Wednesday fueled an already emotional and partisan debate by hearing testimony from two women who were born during botched abortions in the 1970s. “If abortion is about women’s rights, then what were mine?” asked Gianna Jessen, who was left with cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen during her mother’s attempt to terminate the pregnancy. (Howard, 9/9)

The Washington Post: Planned Parenthood Hearing On Hill Evokes Old Battles Over Abortion
A congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood’s tissue-donation program Wednesday devolved into an ideological clash over abortion rights as lawmakers sparred over the definition of “baby” and the appropriateness of certain abortion techniques. Planned Parenthood officials were not invited to testify at the hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, nor were activists with the Center for Medical Progress, an antiabortion group whose undercover videos targeting the women’s health organization triggered the hearing. (Somashekhar, 9/9)

Politico: On Planned Parenthood, Both Sides See A Winner
Congress is about to find out what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Both Democrats and conservative Republicans are vowing not to budge from their entrenched positions on Planned Parenthood funding even at the risk of a government shutdown on Oct. 1 — creating a political showdown between the two parties that deeply appeals to their base and promises to make life miserable for Speaker John Boehner. (French and Haberkorn, 9/9)

Politico: Abortion Returns To Election Spotlight
The anti-abortion group behind the Planned Parenthood sting videos didn’t testify at the first congressional hearing into the controversy — but it is already making abortion a 2016 campaign issue. And Republicans and Democrats alike are convinced they can use it to their own advantage. (Haberkorn, 9/9)

The Washington Post: Doctors’ Group Will Scrap 10-Year Re-Certification Exam
The professional group that represents anesthesiologists will become the first medical board to scrap a widely criticized test that most physicians take every 10 years to demonstrate that they are up to date in their specialties, officials said Wednesday. Beginning next year, the American Board of Anesthesiology instead will offer its 50,000 “board-certified” members the opportunity to show their mastery — and brush up if they fall short — through weekly online quizzes that they can take at will, coupled with educational material. (Bernstein, 9/9)

The Associated Press: Retail Clinics, Apps Change Doctor-Patient Relationship
Tom Coote suspected the stabbing pain in his abdomen was serious, but the harried doctor at the urgent care center suggested it was merely indigestion. Coote also suspected that his recently retired family physician would have taken more time to diagnose what turned out to be appendicitis. ... Coote's experience reflects a wider change in American medicine: A shortage of primary care physicians and emerging alternatives such as retail clinics and smartphone apps are clouding the once-simple doctor-patient relationship, which for generations has served as the gateway to the U.S. health care system. (9/9)

The Wall Street Journal: UPS Pilots Union Calls For Strike Vote
The union expects to report an affirmative vote on Oct. 23, however, a strike doesn’t look likely at this point. Supply-chain and shipping industry consultants view the vote call as a bid to push UPS closer to meeting the pilots’ demands on sticking points that include health-care and retirement benefits. (Stevens, 9.9)

The Wall Street Journal: Sun Life To Buy Assurant’s Employee-Benefits Business In $975 Million Deal
Sun Life Financial Inc. agreed to buy the employee-benefits business of Assurant Inc. in a complicated transaction valued at $975 million, the latest sign of consolidation in the insurance industry. The transaction is part of a deal boom that is combining companies across the health, life and property-casualty insurance sectors. While the Canadian insurer’s purchase of the Assurant unit is much smaller than property-casualty insurer ACE Ltd.’s pending $28.3 billion acquisition of Chubb Corp., it is more typical of the deals that industry executives, bankers and analysts expect in coming months. Sun Life is based in Toronto. (Scism, 9.9)

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: The Crazy Reason It Costs $14,000 To Treat A Snakebite With $14 Medicine
Every once in awhile somebody will go and get themselves bitten by a venomous snake, and come home with an outrageous hospital bill that makes headlines. Nobody expects antivenom to be cheap. Making the most common rattlesnake antivenom, for instance, involves injecting sheep with snake venom and then harvesting the antibodies produced by the animals' immune systems. But does that process, complicated as it may be, add up to the estimated $2,300 per vial hospitals pay for the stuff? (Ingraham, 9/9)

Los Angeles Times: California Assembly Approves Right-To-Die Legislation
After nearly a quarter-century of efforts in California to afford terminally ill patients the right to end their lives with a doctor’s help, state lawmakers and the governor may be on the verge of granting the dying that authority. The state Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to the terminally sick. The End of Life Option Act, which the Catholic Church and others oppose, awaits final approval by the Senate -- three months after that chamber passed a similar bill by a thin margin. (McGreevy and Willon, 9/9)

NPR: Baltimore Fights Heroin Overdoses With Antidote Outreach
A suspected case of measles. A rabid fox on the loose. A recall of a dye used in tattoos. A drug epidemic that's claiming hundreds of lives. Those are just a few of the problems that Dr. Leana Wen confronts in a typical week as the Baltimore City Health Commissioner. While they all have to be dealt with, it's clear that heroin is among Wen's gravest concerns. Right now, she's focused on stopping overdoses and saving lives. (Cornish, 9/9)

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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