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KHN First Edition: September 16, 2015


First Edition

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Under Pressure, Hospitals Push Physicians To Improve Their Bedside Manners
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "A doctor’s training hasn’t historically focused on sensitivity. And too often while juggling heavy workloads and high stress, they can be viewed as brusque, condescending or inconsiderate. A 2011 study, for instance, found barely more than half of recently hospitalized patients said they experienced compassion when getting health care, despite widespread agreement among doctors and patients that kindness is valuable and important." (Luthra, 9/16)

Kaiser Health News: The Gender Gap Persists In Academic Medicine, Studies Find
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "Academic medicine is still a man’s world, according to two studies and an accompanying editorial published Tuesday in the journal JAMA. Despite growing numbers of women doctors and researchers, the top echelon at U.S. academic medical facilities is still heavily skewed to favor men, the studies suggest." (Luthra, 9/15)

The New York Times: Tough Going For Health Co-Ops
Late last month, the Nevada Health Co-op became the third casualty among 23 insurance start-ups created under the federal health care law to inject competition for coverage in certain parts of the country. Set up as nonprofits with consumer-led boards, the co-ops were designed to provide affordable insurance coverage to individuals and small businesses. They were intended under the law to offer alternatives — and hopefully cheaper prices — to the plans sold by large established insurance companies in some regions. (Abelson, 9/15)

The Washington Post: Rates For Health Plans On D.C. Marketplace To Rise 4% On Average
Most D.C. residents who buy health insurance through an online marketplace under the federal Affordable Care Act will see a modest increase in prices next year. Insurance plans for individuals will cost, on average, 4 percent more — a gentler increase than in Maryland, where the most popular plan will cost on average 26 percent more starting in January. (Zauzmer, 9/15)

The New York Times: Republicans Vow To Erase Obama’s Record, But Such Promises Are Rarely Kept
For all the talk of Republican fractiousness, the party’s 2016 presidential field has united around one principle: erasing President Obama’s record. ... The candidates gathering to debate on Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library merely start with the Affordable Care Act as a target.On larger initiatives, constitutional checks and balances pose high barriers. To repeal the Affordable Care Act, a Republican president would need to persuade Congress to disrupt existing health insurance for millions of Americans. Even policies subject to more executive control, under presidents with sharp ideological edges, often prove resistant to change. (Harwood, 9/15)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Candidates Must Win Over Dissatisfied Voters
Anti-Washington sentiment has been churning for years—especially among Republicans—but no one candidate has emerged at a national level to harness it. Voters angry about the economy, President Barack Obama, and his health care law helped propel Republicans into control of the House in 2010 and of the Senate in 2014. Now, one reason many Republicans say they are chafing at the status quo is because they are disappointed in the GOP-controlled Congress, which they say hasn’t brought enough change or more effective opposition to the president. Hook and O'Connor, 9/16)

The New York Times: With Possible Shutdown Nearing, Obama Looks To Take Budget Fight To G.O.P.
Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown on Tuesday, with Republicans threatening to block a budget deal if it includes financing for Planned Parenthood, as President Obama prepared to join the fight by pushing Republicans to scrap a multibillion-dollar tax advantage for private equity managers. In a speech on Wednesday, Mr. Obama is expected to call on Republicans to end the tax break and use the funds to pay for spending increases on domestic and national security programs, and he will enlist business leaders to help him make his case. (Herszenhorn and Hirschfeld Davis, 9/16)

Politico: Shutdown Watch: Reid, McConnell On Same Page
The must-pass measure has gotten tangled up in the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, with conservative lawmakers pressuring Republican leaders to cut off federal funding for the women’s health group.But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, trying to stave off the specter of a shutdown from the GOP-controlled Congress, has said he wants a funding bill free of provisions such as defunding Planned Parenthood that would be broadly, if not unanimously, opposed by Democrats. (Kim, 9/15)

Politico: Government Shutdown: How Close Are We?
Congress has just 15 days left in September to reach a budget agreement and the stakes are high: Without a deal, the government will shut down for the second time in three years. The flashpoint this time could be Planned Parenthood: Republicans want to use the budget negotiations to defund the group after videos released this summer allegedly showed the organization illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Democrats have said they will not accept any budget that defunds Planned Parenthood. (Vinik, 9/15)

The New York Times: Pennsylvania Republican Offers Compromise On Planned Parenthood
As the House and Senate return on Tuesday to begin confronting a spending impasse, Representative Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania, says he has come up with a way to avert a possible government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding: a bill that would take away money only from clinics involved in selling tissue from aborted fetuses. That program came under fire after a series of undercover videos surfaced this summer claiming that affiliates of the group profit from it illegally. (Planned Parenthood has denied the charges.) Some Republicans now say they will not vote for a short-term spending measure unless Planned Parenthood is cut off. (Steinhauer, 9/15)

The Associated Press: House Chairman Subpoenas Uncut Planned Parenthood Videos
A House committee chairman issued a subpoena Tuesday for an anti-abortion group’s unedited videos about Planned Parenthood’s provision of fetal tissue for research. The subpoena by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was the GOP’s latest move in its escalating battle against Planned Parenthood. The party has long battled that group, which performs abortions and provides birth control in clinics from coast to coast. (Fram,9/15)

The Washington Post: Planned Parenthood Is A Symbol. This Is The Reality Of One Ohio Clinic.
There they were, in a state whose attorney general had recently opened an investigation of Planned Parenthood, in a country where House and Senate members were threatening to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood funding, at a time when an anti­abortion group was releasing weekly videos that purported to show the organization’s employees talking about selling fetal tissue for profit — and in a universe where Planned Parenthood had again become a symbol for one of the most divisive moral battles of the modern era. Moore wrote the prescription, then moved on to her next patient. This clinic sees nearly 7,100 patients a year, most of them young and poor. The clinicians administer 3,400 pregnancy tests, write 2,900 prescriptions for birth control and provide 13,200 screenings for sexually transmitted infections to the women and men walking into a boxy building between a restaurant-supply store and a used-car dealership. Inside the clinicians’ office, a ­pamphlet on the wall reads “Bomb Threat Checklist.” (Hesse, 9/15)

The Associated Press: Anti-Abortion Videos Draw Scrutiny To Fetal Tissue Brokers
Covert videos released by an anti-abortion group have opened a window on a largely unknown corner of science: the middlemen who supply researchers with human fetal cells from elective abortions. For decades, these typically small companies or nonprofits have been quietly processing human tissue and filling orders for fetal cells from scientists studying eye disease, HIV, autism and other conditions. Until recently, their biggest challenge was finding an adequate supply because of a nationwide drop in the number of abortions. (Johnson, 9/16)

The Associated Press: Fiat Chrysler, UAW Reach Tentative Contract Deal
A tentative contract agreement reached Tuesday between the United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler addresses pay and health care issues, but neither side would give specifics about the pact. ... At a hastily called news conference after the deal was announced early Tuesday evening, Williams said the agreement meets the union's goals but still keeps Fiat Chrysler competitive with other automakers. He told reporters he had three goals for the contract: giving entry-level workers a path to higher pay, rewarding members for sacrifices they made while Fiat Chrysler struggled financially, and dealing with escalating health care costs. (9/16)

The Wall Street Journal: Google Backs Startup Oscar Health Insurance
Insurance startup Oscar Health Insurance Corp. has a powerful new ally in its uphill battle to win customers from entrenched insurance giants: Google Inc. Google Capital, the Internet company’s growth-equity fund, has invested $32.5 million in Oscar, the startup’s CEO said in an interview. The deal values two-year-old Oscar at $1.75 billion, up from a valuation of $1.5 billion when it last took funding in April, said a person familiar with the transaction. (MacMillan, 9/15)

The New York Times' DealBook: Dentsply To Acquire Sirona Dental For $5.5 Billion
Two of the biggest makers of dental products said on Tuesday that they had agreed to combine, betting on bigger scale to take advantage of growing demand for dentistry work. Dentsply said it would acquire Sirona Dental Systems for $5.5 billion in what the two companies called a merger of equals that would create a dental health giant with a combined market value of about $13.3 billion. (de la Merced, 9/15)

The Associated Press: Obama Nominates FDA’s No. 2 Official To Lead Agency
President Barack Obama has nominated the Food and Drug Administration’s second-highest ranking official, Dr. Robert Califf, to lead the agency, which regulates consumer products ranging from medications to seafood to cigarettes. The White House made the announcement late Tuesday in a statement naming officials nominated for various federal posts. (Perrone, 9/15)

The Washington Post: Cardiologist And Researcher Robert Califf Nominated As Next FDA Commissioner
The nomination comes after the resignation this spring of Margaret A. Hamburg, who left the agency in March after a six-year tenure marked by a wave of new drug approvals, as well as legislation to overhaul the nation's food safety system and begin regulating tobacco products for the first time. Stephen Ostroff, previously the FDA's chief scientist, has served as acting commissioner in recent months. (Dennis, 9/15)

The New York Times: F.D.A. Bans Sales Of 4 Cigarette Products By R.J. Reynolds
The Food and Drug Administration halted the sale of four types of R. J. Reynolds cigarettes on Tuesday, saying the company failed to prove that they were not more harmful than products already on the market. The agency ordered retailers who sell any of the cigarettes to stop immediately and to dispose of them within 30 days or face financial penalties or criminal prosecution. (Tavernise, 9/15)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Orders Reynolds To Stop Selling 4 Cigarette Products
The affected cigarettes—Camel Crush Bold, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter Menthol and Vantage Tech 13— have a combined U.S. market share of less than 1% and aren’t expected to have a significant impact on sales. But the move could signal a tougher regulatory stance as the FDA reviews thousands of applications for new tobacco products. It comes after the FDA sent warning letters last month to three companies, including Reynolds American, for violating federal law by marketing some of their brands as “additive-free” or “natural.” (Estrerl, 9/15)

NPR: FDA Orders 4 Cigarette Products Pulled From The Market
For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has ordered a major tobacco company to stop selling several types of cigarettes. The FDA on Tuesday ordered the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to stop selling four products: Camel Bold Crush, Vantage Tech 13 and the regular and menthol versions of Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter cigarettes. The FDA has ordered other cigarettes off the market before, but those actions involved much smaller companies selling much less popular cigarettes. (Stein, 9/15)

Los Angeles Times: Patients Scarred, Insurance Firms Duped In Massive Scam, L.A. County Prosecutors Say
The patients were told a board-certified orthopedic surgeon would conduct their operations. But the surgeries were instead performed by a physician's assistant who had never attended medical school and was not overseen by the surgeon during the operations, which were billed as the surgeon's work, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. The results for nearly two dozen patients were lasting scars, prosecutors said. Many had to undergo additional surgeries to repair the damage. (Winton and Hamilton, 9/15)

The Associated Press: California Doctor Charged In $150 Million Insurance Scam
An orthopedic surgeon was charged as the ringleader in one of the state's biggest health fraud schemes, which included unnecessary operations by an untrained assistant that scarred patients forever, according to indictments unsealed Tuesday. Dr. Munir Uwaydah and 14 associates, including another doctor and a lawyer, bilked insurance companies out of $150 million in the scheme, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. (9/15)

Los Angeles Times: Hospital's Suit Could Hamper L.A. County's Effort To Expand Trauma Network
For the first time in several years, Los Angeles County officials are taking ambitious steps to expand the region's network of hospital trauma centers. But that plan could soon hit a roadblock. The county pays for 14 of the specialized emergency rooms, which treat only the most serious injuries, with help from a voter-approved parcel tax known as Measure B. The tax generates about $250 million a year, and officials recently pledged some of that revenue to develop a new, long-awaited trauma center in Pomona. (Karlamangla, 9/15)

Los Angeles Times: Advocates Protest Latina Immigrant's Arrest At Texas Doctor's Office
Blanca Borrego has been living in the U.S. illegally for a dozen years, so she didn’t think she was risking arrest when she went to her gynecologist’s office this month. Her husband works and has private health insurance for the family. But sheriff’s deputies surprised the mother of three, handcuffing her in front of her 8-year-old, U.S.-born daughter and taking her to jail, where she was held in lieu of $35,000 bond. The charge: tampering with a government record, a felony. Borrego, 44, originally from Monterrey, Mexico, had given the staff at the clinic a fake Texas driver’s license as identification and they alerted deputies, who found a fake Social Security card in her purse, leading to the charges. ... She has no criminal record. County and hospital officials said they were simply enforcing the law. ()Hennessy-Fiske, 9/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Heart Surgeon Brings High-Tech Health Care To The World’s Poor
Indian philanthropist and cardiac surgeon Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty is the Chairman of Narayana Health in Bangalore. Born in a small village, Shetty went to school in Bangalore before studying in the UK. After returning to India in 1989, Mother Teresa had a heart attack, and Dr. Shetty was called to operate on her. From then on, he served as her personal physician. (Tam and Messmer, 9/16)

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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