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KHN First Edition: October 8, 2015


First Edition

Thursday, October 08, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Leslie Michelson’s Checklist For Avoiding Diagnostic Errors – The KHN Conversation
KHN staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "When the Institute of Medicine came out last month with a report saying almost every American will experience a medical diagnostic error, Leslie Michelson wasn’t surprised. He runs Private Health Management, a Los Angeles based company that – for a substantial fee – helps patients figure out what’s wrong with them, often after an array of doctors have failed to do so. ... KHN spoke with him about how to navigate the health system and avoid diagnostic errors." (Appleby, 10/8)

The Associated Press: Obama Signs Law Preventing Premium Hikes Under Health Law
President Barack Obama has signed legislation aimed at preventing premium increases that some smaller businesses were expecting next year under his signature health care law. The White House says Obama signed the bill into law Wednesday. It represents an uncommon instance in which both parties rallied behind an effort to revamp part of the Affordable Care Act. (10/7)

The Washington Post: Special House Committee Will Investigate Planned Parenthood, Abortion Issues
House Republicans voted Wednesday to create a special committee to investigate a wide range of practices related to abortions and fetal tissue procurement in the latest and perhaps most lasting consequence of an activist campaign targeting Planned Parenthood. The new 13-member select Energy and Commerce subcommittee would continue the work of three House panels that have investigated Planned Parenthood since July, when antiabortion activists first released undercover videos depicting some of the group’s executives discussing its handling of tissue harvested from aborted fetuses for research. (DeBonis, 10/7)

USA Today: House Creates Special Panel To Investigate Planned Parenthood
The House voted Wednesday to create a special panel to investigate the handling of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. ... There now will be at least two House investigations of Planned Parenthood going on at once — one by the new "select investigative panel" and a second by the Judiciary Committee. Republican leaders pushed for the latest investigation after they were unable to win passage last month of legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. (Kelly, 10/7)

The Associated Press: House OKs Special Panel To Probe Planned Parenthood
The Republican-led House voted Wednesday to create a special panel to investigate Planned Parenthood and its procurement of fetal tissue as the GOP continued pressing an issue that has galvanized conservatives since secret videos surfaced this summer. The near party-line vote was 242-184, as Democrats dismissed the probe as a wasteful political exercise by the GOP. It was unclear if Democrats would participate in the committee's work. (Fram, 10/7)

The Washington Post: Congress Takes Aim At The Science Behind The Government’s Nutrition Advice
The quality of the evidence supporting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the influential nutritional advice from the federal government, came under steady attack at a Congressional hearing Wednesday, with representatives complaining that the credibility of the national advice has been eroded by shifts in science. Salt? Saturated fat? Eggs? Meat? Opinions about each of these were aired as members of Congress directed their skepticism at the two cabinet secretaries who oversee the development of the nutritional guidelines, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. (Whoriskey, 10/7)

The Wall Street Journal: Environmental Impact Won’t Be Part Of Dietary Guidelines, Officials Say
Federal officials said they won’t consider food products’ impact on the environment as they prepare new U.S. dietary guidelines, rejecting a proposal by a government advisory panel. The decision by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell marks a victory for the U.S. meat industry, which pushed back against the February recommendation by a committee of nutrition experts recruited by the Obama administration. (Gee, 10/7)

The Associated Press: Lawmakers Question Effectiveness Of Dietary Guidelines
Lawmakers on Wednesday asked federal officials whether Americans should trust the government’s dietary guidelines, which inform everything from school lunches to advice from a doctor. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defended the guidelines before the House Agriculture Committee, pointing out that the latest guidelines haven’t even been written yet. They are released every five years and the 2015 version is due by the end of this year. (Jalonick, 10/7)

The New York Times: Testimony On U.S. Nutrition Guidelines Reflects A Complex Debate
Amid a national conversation about high rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, uncertainty over what to eat has unnerved many Americans trying to sift through marketing and dieting trends. The latest tussle over the next edition of the government’s nutrition guidelines may not help much. Federal officials and experts are drawing up the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, a series of recommendations updated every five years that will be released in December. ... A congressional committee veered on Wednesday from health to politics, highlighting worries that what ends up on American tables could be affected by special interest groups, environmental concerns and private sector bias as much as by science. (Hauser, 10/7)

Reuters: US Cancer Doctors Drop Pricey Drugs With Little Or No Effect
U.S. oncologists, aware that patients are paying more of the costs of expensive cancer drugs, are increasingly declining to prescribe medicines that have scant or no effect, even as a last resort. At least half a dozen drugs, including colon cancer treatments Cyramza, from Eli Lilly & Co, and Stivarga, sold by Bayer AG, aren't worth prices that can exceed $100,000 a year, top cancer specialists said in interviews with Reuters. If specialists do start considering a drug's cost in their prescribing habits, such decisions could dent the multibillion-dollar cancer drug business of companies from Roche Holding AG to Celgene Corp. Worldwide spending on cancer medicines reached $100 billion in 2014, a year-over-year jump of more than 10 percent. (Beasley, 10/8)

The New York Times: Mass Killings Are Seen As A Kind Of Contagion
Experts in violence prevention say that many, if not most, perpetrators of such shootings have intensively researched earlier mass attacks, often expressing admiration for those who carried them out. The publicity that surrounds these killings can have an accelerating effect on other troubled and angry would-be killers who are already heading toward violence, they say. ... The potential for cultural contagion, many experts say, demands a public health response, one focused as much on early detection and preventive measures as on politically charged campaigns for firearm restrictions. But in some cases, efforts to identify and monitor potentially violent people can raise concerns about civil liberties. (Goode and Carey, 10/7)

USA Today: Medicare Part B Premiums To Rise 52% For 7 Million Enrollees
For seven in 10 Medicare beneficiaries 2016 will be much like 2015. They will pay $104.90 per month for their Medicare Part B premium just as they did in 2015. But 2016 might not be anything like 2015 for some 30% of Medicare beneficiaries — roughly 7 million or so Americans. That’s because premiums for individuals could increase a jaw-dropping 52% to $159.30 per month ($318.60 for married couples). And for individuals whose incomes exceed certain thresholds, premiums could rise to anywhere from $223.00 per month up to $509.80 (or $446 to $1,019.60 for married couples), depending on their incomes. (Powell, 10/7)

The Wall Street Journal: Watchdog Agency Rejects Whistleblower Claims On FDA Medical Device Approvals
A government watchdog agency rejected a high-profile whistleblower’s claims that the Food and Drug Administration improperly approved medical imaging devices for breast-cancer and colon-cancer screening. In a report to President Barack Obama made public late Wednesday, the head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said the complaints weren't substantiated. Special Counsel Carolyn N. Lerner, whose agency evaluates whistleblower allegations within federal departments, concluded that the investigations by the FDA and its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, “appear to be reasonable.” Those investigations turned up no agency wrongdoing. (Burton, 10/7)

NPR: Despite Sweeping Death-With-Dignity Law, Few Will Have That Option
The death-with-dignity movement took a giant step forward this week, with 38 million people coming under its umbrella in a single swoop when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the End of Life Option Act on Monday. But the law still leaves out a wide range of people who might want to be covered: people with progressive debilitating diseases that don't have an obvious six-months-to-live prognosis and people with dementia, the fastest-growing health threat in the U.S. That's also true of similar laws in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont. (Henig, 10/7)

The Associated Press: Kentucky Pharmacy PharMerica Agrees To $9.25M Settlement
A Kentucky pharmacy has agreed to pay $9.25 million to settle allegations that it solicited and received kickbacks from a manufacturer in exchange for promoting a drug with nursing home patients, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday. The settlement with Louisville-based PharMerica Corp. resolves claims that it received kickbacks from Abbott Laboratories in exchange for recommending that physicians prescribe the Abbott-manufactured drug Depakote. The federal government alleged the kickbacks were disguised as rebates, educational grants and other financial support. (10/7)

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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