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KHN First Edition: October 21, 2015


First Edition

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Are Medicare ACOs Working? Experts Disagree
In August, Medicare officials released 2014 financial details showing that the so far the ACOs have not saved the government money. The 20 ACOs in the Pioneer program and the 333 in the shared savings program reported total savings of $411 million. But after paying bonuses, the ACOs recorded a net loss of $2.6 million to the Medicare trust fund, a fraction of the half a trillion dollars Medicare spends on the elderly and disabled each year. To help put this development in perspective, Kaiser Health News posed this question to several ACO experts: Three years in, the ACO program has many success stories, but it’s not yet saving Medicare money. Is it working? (10/21)

The Associated Press: Cancer Group's Mammogram Advice: Start Later And Get Fewer
The American Cancer Society now says women should start mammograms later in life and get fewer of them, a stance that puts the trusted group closer to an influential government task force's advice. In new guidelines out Tuesday, the cancer society recommends that most women should begin annual screening for breast cancer at age 45 instead of 40, and switch to every other year at 55. The task force advises screening every other year starting at age 50. It's not a one-size-fits-all recommendation; both groups say women's preferences for when to be scanned should be considered. (Tanner, 10/20)

The Wall Street Journal: New Guidelines Push Back Age For Mammograms
At age 55, women should cut back to one mammogram every two years and continue that pattern for as long as they are healthy and expect to live at least 10 more years, the cancer society said. That is because breast cancer in that age group grows slowly enough that yearly screenings add only a small benefit while raising the risk of false positives. (Beck, 10/20)

The Washington Post: In Major Shift, New Guidelines Scale Back Breast Cancer Screenings For Younger Women
The changes, which include recommending that the testing be started later and conducted less frequently, are a recognitioncof the growing concern that the benefits of mammograms may have been oversold as well as the anxiety and burden to the health care system caused by overdiagnosis and false positives from the tests. Richard Wender, a member of the breast cancer guideline panel and a former president of the ACS, said that the new recommendations confirm that mammography is the most important thing a woman can do to reduce her chance of dying of breast cancer but that they provide a more “personalized and tailored approach.” (Cha, 10/20)

NPR: Why Is Mammogram Advice Still Such A Tangle? Ask Your Doctor
Researchers say that, across a 10-year period of getting annual mammograms, women overall have a 50-50 chance of being called back at least once for further testing that turns up nothing cancerous. And that's one reason why the American Cancer Society changed its advice Tuesday. It now recommends that instead of getting that first screening mammogram at age 40, women who don't have an increased risk for breast cancer can start the screening later — at age 45. (Neighmond, 10/21)

The Washington Post: Why This Harvard Radiologist Still Recommends Women Get Mammograms At Age 40
A high-quality screening mammogram is still considered the best way to catch breast cancer as early as possible. But members of the medical community disagree on what age all women should start getting annual mammograms, and breast cancer screening has become an increasingly polarizing topic as a result. ... But other experts strongly believe all women in their forties should get mammograms, including Daniel Kopans, a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and director of breast imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital. (Kim, 10/20)

The New York Times: Lawmakers Wrangle Over Plans To Avert, Manage Or Embrace Default
With the potential for an unprecedented federal default two weeks away, House Republicans on Wednesday plan to pass legislation not to avert disaster, but rather to manage it, channeling daily tax collections to the nation’s creditors and Social Security recipients if the government’s borrowing limit is not lifted. The Obama administration and nonpartisan authorities say the plan is unworkable... A separate coalition of conservatives that includes most House Republicans, the Republican Study Committee, on Tuesday outlined conditions it would demand that Mr. Obama meet. These include $3.8 trillion in savings, mainly from entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid, and a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, which could not win congressional approval without the leverage of a debt crisis. (Calmes and Herszenhorn, 10/20)

Politico: House GOP Weighing Debt Limit Bill With Strings Attached
With the debt ceiling deadline 14 days away, House Republican leaders will use a Tuesday night party meeting to discuss a Republican Study Committee proposal to lift the debt ceiling with a host of attached policy provisions, according to multiple senior GOP sources familiar with internal planning. (Sherman, 10/20)

Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan Says Republicans Have Until Friday To Unify Behind Him For House Speaker
Ryan, a former vice presidential nominee, is considered the Republican Party's best hope for uniting its divided House majority. But he had expressed reluctance at taking the difficult job without unanimous support. ... The leadership struggle has stymied the fall agenda and is complicating the next must-pass item: legislation to raise the federal debt limit to continue paying the nation's bills and avoid a credit default. ...Ryan received a partial endorsement Tuesday from one unlikely source, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the minority leader. ... Reid added that he's no fan of Ryan's ideology or his proposals for cutting Medicare and other safety net programs. He shrugged when asked whether his backing could doom Ryan's candidacy. (Masscaro, 10/20)

Politico: Ryan Will Serve As Speaker If GOP Unites Behind Him
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who for years has resisted a move into House Republican leadership, said Tuesday night he would serve as House speaker if he is the party's "unity candidate." ... Ryan's move could put major pressure on the Freedom Caucus, which had endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) dropped his bid to succeed Boehner. Members of the Republican Study Committee and Tuesday Group have already showered praise on Ryan, but members of the Freedom Caucus aren't quite ready yet to endorse him. (Sherman, Bresnahan and French, 10/20)

The New York Times' DealBook: Collective Health, Insurance Services Start-Up Focused On Employers, Raises $81 Million
While many start-ups have sought to make their name in the health care industry, fewer are taking on the knotty health insurance information services sector. Collective Health, which provides tools to help companies with their employer-provided insurance, said on Tuesday that it had raised $81 million in a new round of financing. The round was led by Google Ventures, a new investor, and existing backers New Enterprise Associates, Founders Fund, Maverick Capital, Redpoint Ventures and RRE Ventures. de la Merced, 10/20)

The Wall Street Journal: AmSurg Bids For Team Health Holdings
AmSurg Corp., a provider of outsourced physician services to hospitals and others, is seeking to combine with Team Health Holdings Inc. in an effort to gain scale amid a wave of consolidation in the health-care industry. Team Health rebuffed the offer in a statement Tuesday, pointing to insufficient value and the benefits tied to its planned deal to buy another outsourced-services provider, IPC Healthcare Inc., for about $1.4 billion. (Cimilluca, 10/20)

The New York Times' Bits: Amino Harnesses Health Industry Data For Consumers
David Vivero and his team at Amino, a San Francisco start-up, have been assembling for the last two years an unusual collection of health data for a consumer service. The online service, which was introduced on Tuesday, is built on a database that includes nearly every practicing doctor in America and the treatment of more than 188 million people. (Lohr, 10/20)

The New York Times: Report Traces Jeb Bush’s Ties To Companies That Had Business With Florida
A sizable chunk of his earnings is attributable to Mr. Bush’s work with three companies — Tenet Healthcare, Lehman Brothers (later Barclays) and Rayonier Inc. — that had business interests with the state while he was governor. In April 2007, four months after leaving office, Mr. Bush was named to the board of Tenet, which paid him more than $2 million in cash and stock over the next eight years, according to the company’s public filings. Florida was among Tenet’s biggest markets. (Flegenheimer and Eder, 10/20)

The Washington Post: Cancer Patients Died Waiting For Care At Troubled Veterans’ Hospital, Probe Finds
Some patients with bladder and prostate cancer died waiting for care, and medical treatment for almost 1,500 others was delayed because of short-staffing and mismanagement of urology care at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix, a new investigation has found. Senior officials at the medical center, the center of a national scandal last year over fudged wait times, did little to respond to a severe staffing shortage as recently as April 2015, investigators for the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general found. (Rein, 10/20)

The Associated Press: NY Assembly Plans Hearing On Services For Disabled
The state Assembly plans to hold a public hearing to examine the adequacy of support and services for disabled New Yorkers. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who chairs the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, says they'll take testimony Tuesday on how effective New York's efforts have been at ensuring people with disabilities are effectively integrated into society and their needs met. (10/20)

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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