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KHN First Edition: October 6, 2015


First Edition

Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Chronically Ill Pay More In Obamacare Plans Than Employer Coverage
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "Chronically ill people enrolled in individual health plans sold on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges pay on average twice as much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs each year than people covered through their workplace, according to a study published Monday in the Health Affairs journal. Patients with at least one chronic condition such as diabetes or asthma pay on average $621 out–of-pocket for prescription costs on the popular, mid-priced silver exchange plans compared to $304 for those with employer coverage, researchers at Emory University in Atlanta found." (Galewitz, 10/5)

Kaiser Health News: California Gov. Brown Signs Aid-in-Dying Bill Into Law
KQED's April Dembosky and Kaiser Health News' Anna Gorman, working in partnership with NPR, report: "California Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation Monday, allowing terminally ill patients to obtain lethal medication to end their lives. In a deeply personal statement, Brown wrote that he read opposition materials carefully, but in the end was left to reflect on what he would want in the face of his own death." (Dembosky and Gorman, 10/5)

The Wall Street Journal: For Prescription Drug Makers, Price Increases Drive Revenue
Demand for a drug called Avonex has declined every year for the past 10. Not a problem for its manufacturer. U.S. revenue from the drug has more than doubled in that time, to $2 billion last year. The key: repeated price increases. The multiple sclerosis drug’s maker, Biogen Inc., raised its price an average of 16% a year throughout the decade—21 times in all. (Walker, 10/5)

Reuters: U.S. Labor Chief Tries To Calm Fiat Chrysler Worker Fears
UAW President Dennis Williams said in a Monday morning Facebook posting to Fiat Chrysler U.S. union members that he will not shift health care costs to workers from the Detroit Three automakers as he tries to lower costs by creating a pool of covered employees from the companies. (10/5)

The Washington Post: House Republicans Face Extended Fight Over Leadership
Any chance of a quick and bloodless transition to a new slate of GOP leaders ended Monday when outgoing House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) postponed elections for the party’s No. 2 and No. 3 posts for weeks pending the outcome of the speaker’s race — which itself remains in doubt. Closed-door, secret-ballot elections for all three posts — to nominate a speaker ahead of a decisive floor vote of the entire House, and to select a majority leader and party whip — had been set for Thursday amid the widespread presumption that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) would claim the speaker’s chair. (DeBonis, 10/5)

The New York Times: Heart Scan Can Fine-Tune Risk Estimate For Patients Considering Statins
Treatment guidelines suggest that nearly half of those over age 40 — nearly 50 million people in the United States — at least consider a cholesterol-lowering statin to reduce heart attack risk. But a new large study of people who had an inexpensive heart scan found that half of those who were statin candidates had no signs of plaque in their heart and very little chance of having a heart attack in the next decade. (Kolata, 10/5)

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: Racial Inequality Even Affects How Long We Wait For The Doctor
To medicine's long list of racial disparities, add this: Minorities wait much longer to see the doctor. For years, grim statistics have revealed the rampant and widespread disparities in the health of Americans of different races. Black Americans are more likely to be obese than white Americans. Minorities are more likely to have diabetes than whites. Black women are more likely to have heart failure, coronary heart disease, hypertension and strokes than white women. Black Americans experience a higher incidence of cancer and are more likely to die from cancers that we know how to effectively treat. (Johnson, 10/5)

The Wall Street Journal: Democratic Candidates Lay Out Gun-Control Plans
The three leading candidates in the Democratic presidential contest each laid out proposals for new gun-control efforts on Monday, injecting fresh energy into the push for restrictions, which have faced heavy resistance from Republicans. ... Mr. Sanders, who has a mixed record on backing gun-control measures, laid out a set of proposals on Monday afternoon that have considerable support among Democrats, including Mrs. Clinton. They include requiring background checks for sales by unlicensed dealers at gun shows, banning assault-style semi-automatic weapons and providing better mental-health care. (Meckler, 10/5)

The Associated Press: Republican Gov. John Kasich Says He’s A ‘Troublemaker’
Kasich touted his job-growth record in Ohio as well as his efforts to improve mental health services and his decision to expand Medicaid in the state. He also pledged to boost defense spending and gives states more control over Medicaid and welfare programs. Kasich, who’s struggling to stay in the nomination race, said his multifaceted economic approach is “why some people just don’t get me.” (Durkin, 10/5)

Los Angeles Times: Gov. Brown Signs Controversial Assisted-Suicide Bil
The California law will permit physicians to provide lethal prescriptions to mentally competent adults who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and face the expectation that they will die within six months. The law will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns its special session on healthcare, which may not be until next year — January at the earliest, November at the latest. (McGreevy, 10/5)

The Associated Press: Gov. Brown Signs California Right-To-Die Measure
In a rare personal message, California’s 77-year-old governor provided insight into his deliberations before deciding to sign a bill allowing terminally ill Californians to legally take their own lives, reflecting on religion and self-determination as he weighed an emotionally fraught choice. Gov. Jerry Brown, a lifelong Catholic and former Jesuit seminarian, said he consulted a Catholic bishop, two of his own doctors and friends “who take varied, contradictory and nuanced positions.” (Williams, 10/5)

The Associated Press: NY, Federal Authorities Agree To Joint Insurer Oversight
New York's attorney general and the federal Employee Benefits Security Administration have agreed to share information and address violations of laws covering health insurance offered as worker benefits. They say the five-year memorandum enables them to conduct joint investigations and assist each other with enforcement, whether those covered are members of plans offered by insurance companies or self-insured plans created by private employers. (10/5)

The Washington Post: Va. Senate Leaders Spar Over Health Care, Gun Control, Climate Change
In a debate at Christopher Newport University, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City County) and Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) — who have a combined nearly 60 years of service in the Senate — spent more than an hour sparring over issues such as Medicaid expansion, gun control and climate change that have sharply divided the two parties during the first 20 months of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration. (Portnoy, 10/5)

The New York Times: San Francisco Is Changing Face Of AIDS Treatment
It wasn’t his first broken condom, so Rafael didn’t worry. But three weeks later, the man he’d met in a bar called to say that he had “probably been exposed” to H.I.V. Rafael, a muscular, affable 43-year-old, went to a clinic and within 45 minutes learned he was infected. Although it was already closing time, a counselor saw him immediately and offered him a doctor’s appointment the next day. (McNeil Jr., 10/5)

Los Angeles Times: Planned Parenthood In Thousand Oaks Reopens After Arson Attack
The Planned Parenthood clinic in Thousand Oaks reopened Monday after an arsonist set fire to the building last week. The West Hillcrest Drive facility had been closed since Wednesday, when an arsonist threw a stone into a window, then splashed gasoline inside and ignited it. The small fire was doused by the building's sprinkler system. (Rocha, 10/5)

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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