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KHN First Edition: November 11, 2015


First Edition

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: When Something Goes Wrong At The Hospital, Who Pays?
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "When Charles Thompson checked into the hospital one July morning in 2011, he expected a standard colonoscopy. He never anticipated how wrong things would go. Partway through, the doctor emerged and said there were complications, remembered Ann, Charles’ wife. Charles’ colon may have been punctured. He needed emergency surgery to repair it." (Luthra, 11/11)

Politico: GOP Obamacare Repeal Hits Procedural Speed Bump
Senate Republicans will be able to go ahead with legislation dismantling Obamacare under fast-track rules, according to a procedural ruling reached Tuesday — as long as the GOP makes some changes first. The Senate parliamentarian ruled Tuesday afternoon that some provisions of a GOP bill to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood did not survive the so-called Byrd rule, which governs when the powerful procedural tool known as reconciliation can be used. But top GOP Senate aides also noted the parliamentarian ruled that the bill was "privileged," meaning it can avoid a filibuster. Republicans also maintained that the problem could be resolved relatively easily on the floor with a substitute amendment. (Kim, 11/10)

Reuters: U.S. Democrats Discussing Fix To Healthcare 'Cadillac Tax'
U.S. Democratic lawmakers are discussing proposing changes to the "Cadillac tax," a levy on high-cost employer-based healthcare plans passed as part of President Barack Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat said on Tuesday. "I'm not proposing eliminating it at this point, I’m open to suggestions for changing it," Illinois Senator Dick Durbin told reporters. (11/10)

The New York Times: White House Seeks To Ease Veterans’ Access To Care
The Obama administration on Wednesday will call on Congress to enact measures to help military veterans gain easier access to health care, disability and educational benefits, part of a push to spotlight its efforts to improve the way the government treats veterans after a scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs. President Obama will urge Congress to improve a program that allows veterans to receive private medical care, speed the appeal process for disability claims and pass legislation aiming to improve the quality of schools that serve veterans. (Hirschfeld Davis, 11/11)

The Washington Post: 'Don’t Just Throw Rocks,’ VA Secretary Tells Congress
As he tries to repair a sprawling agency beset by poor morale, growing caseloads, a shortage of medical staff and a crisis last year over manipulated waiting lists to paper over delays in health care, the retired chief executive of Procter & Gamble has felt bipartisan criticism. VA may be the one corner of the government that, because there are veterans in every congressional district, Democrats and Republicans can agree on. And the public criticism of how he is leading the agency — more biting from Republicans, not surprisingly — has been unrelenting, from inaction on firing executives who engaged in misconduct to battles over funding. (Rein, 11/11)

The New York Times: In Republican Debate, Candidates Battle Sharply On Immigration
But policy details and disagreements, for the most part, replaced nasty potshots in the early going on Tuesday night, laying bare real fissures within the Republican Party on immigration, national security, trade and the meaning of being a conservative. The candidates used the 90 seconds they were allotted for each answer to promote their tax proposals, to lament what they said were intrusive business regulations and to delve into the country’s monetary policy. Even when Mr. Kasich sought to speak at one point when he was not called on, it was because he wanted to discuss a value-added tax. (Martin and Healy, 11/10)

The Associated Press: AP FACT CHECK: GOP Candidates Flub Some Figures In Debate
The fourth debate of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign was thick on economic policy — and with that came a variety of flubs and funny numbers. Some of the claims Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts: ... CARLY FIORINA: “Obamacare isn’t really helping anybody.” THE FACTS: President Barack Obama’s health care law may or may not be good for the country on balance. But it’s clearly helping many people. In the two years it’s been in effect, the share of Americans without health insurance has declined to 9 percent, a historic low. People with pre-existing health conditions can no longer be turned away by insurers, and everyone is required to have coverage or face fines. (Rugaber and Boak, 11/11)

The New York Times: Chris Christie Saves All His Shots For Clinton In G.O.P. Undercard Debate
When Mr. Jindal criticized Mr. Christie for “liberal” policies in New Jersey, he simply said he had no interest in contrasting himself with the Louisiana governor. “I want to talk about what’s going to happen to this country if we have another four years of Barack Obama’s policies,” Mr. Christie said, adding that his success in a blue state qualified him to run strongly nationally. “Wait a minute, records matter,” Mr. Jindal interjected. He criticized Mr. Christie for expanding food stamps and Medicaid in his state. Again, Mr. Christie refused to engage. “Who’s going to be able to beat Hillary Clinton and keep their eye on the ball,” he said. (Gabriel, 11/10)

The Wall Street Journal: In Early Republican Debate, Chris Christie Looks For An Opening
Mr. Christie was joined on stage by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Mr. Jindal took repeated swipes at Mr. Christie, arguing the New Jersey governor had expanded his state’s government. “You caved in to Obamacare, you expanded Medicaid,” Mr. Jindal said, in a reference to the government health-care program for the poor. “We need a conservative, not a big government Republican.” (Hook and Ballhaus, 11/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Hillary Clinton Vows To Fight VA Privatization
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton offered her vision for veterans’ health care Tuesday, promising to fight full-fledged privatization while allowing the government to contract with private providers for a range of health services. In her proposal, Mrs. Clinton struck a balance between support for traditional government-run veterans health programs while acknowledging that many veterans want to access care from private providers as well, given the system’s failings. (Meckler and Kesling, 11/10)

The Associated Press: Clinton Pushes Back Against GOP On Veterans’ Health Issues
Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined steps to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday, casting herself as a protector against proposals to privatize the sprawling health care system for those who have served in the military. In a pre-Veterans Day event, the Democratic presidential candidate said she would seek to improve veterans’ health care, modernize veterans’ benefits system and address an unwieldy bureaucracy that was exposed in a scandal involving chronic delays for those seeking medical care or to have their claims processed. (Thomas, 11/10)

The Associated Press: Medicare Announces 'Part B' Premiums For Outpatient Care
Most Medicare beneficiaries will keep paying the same monthly premium for outpatient care next year, the Obama administration said Tuesday. But new beneficiaries will pay a larger amount, and upper-income retirees are looking at considerably higher charges. Separately, all beneficiaries face a $19 increase in the Part B deductible — the amount they pay for outpatient care each year before Medicare kicks in. (11/10)

The New York Times: Express Scripts Cuts Ties To New York Specialty Pharmacy
The nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager has stopped doing business with a specialty pharmacy used by the drug maker Horizon Pharma, in a sign of a further crackdown on the use mail-order dispensaries to help lift sales of expensive drugs. The benefit manager, Express Scripts, sent an immediate termination letter to Linden Care, a specialty pharmacy in Woodbury, N.Y., on Monday. Linden Care in turn sued Express Scripts in Federal District Court in Albany on Tuesday, asking the court to reverse the termination. (Pollack, 11/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Biggest Valeant Holder Plumbed Philidor Ties
As shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. plunged in recent weeks, representatives from its largest shareholder went to great lengths to check up on its multibillion-dollar investment, including paying hundreds of dollars for information and offering thousands more to not talk with anyone else. Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb Inc., manager of Sequoia Fund Inc., said it reached out to former employees of the Philidor Rx Services LLC mail-order pharmacy that almost exclusively dispensed Valeant drugs and sought to speak with them about the pharmacy’s work. (Rockoff and Rothfeld, 11/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Safeway, Theranos Split After $350 Million Deal Fizzles
Safeway Inc. spent about $350 million to build clinics in more than 800 of its supermarkets to offer blood tests by startup Theranos Inc. But the tests never began, the clinics are now used largely for flu shots and travel-related vaccines, and the two companies have been negotiating to officially dissolve their partnership, according to people familiar with the matter. Current and former Safeway executives said Theranos missed deadlines for the blood-testing rollout. They also said several Safeway executives questioned the accuracy of results Theranos gave to Safeway employees tested at a clinic in the supermarket chain’s headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif. (Carreyrou, 11/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Prime Healthcare Wins Saint Michael’s Medical Center Auction
The Saint Michael’s Medical Center, a 357-bed hospital in Newark, N.J., may become the latest facility to be taken over by California-based Prime Healthcare after it made a $62.2 million purchase offer. In court papers, Saint Michael’s Medical Center lawyers declared a Prime Healthcare affiliate to be the winner at Thursday’s bankruptcy auction for the hospital. (Stech, 11/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Millennium Health Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Millennium Health LLC, one of the nation’s largest drug-testing laboratories, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a month after agreeing to pay $256 million to settle allegations that it billed the federal government for unnecessary tests. The San Diego-based company filed for bankruptcy with a lender-backed plan that will slash $1.15 billion in debt off its books. Under the terms of the so-called prepackaged plan, Millennium’s lenders, owed $1.75 billion, will swap their debt for 100% of the equity in a reorganized company plus $600 million in new debt. (Fitzgerald and Brickley, 11/10)

Los Angeles Times: Team Of Sleuths Stalks Cancer In L.A. County
Three men hunch over a table, scrutinizing a document. Maps paper the walls around them. The moment, captured in a black-and-white photograph, marks the beginning of a quest to catch a villain. For more than four decades, this team has been stalking the killer's every move, trying to identify patterns of attack. They collect and store evidence, filling drawers and file cabinets. The detectives: researchers at USC. The bad guy: cancer. (Karlamangla, 11/11)

NPR: Pitching Health Care In Baltimore's Red Light District
Every Thursday night you can find Nathan Fields making the rounds of Baltimore's red light district, known to locals as The Block. An outreach worker with the Baltimore City Health Department, Fields, 55, is a welcome sight outside strip clubs like Circus, Club Harem and Jewel Box. In the early evening before the clubs get busy, he talks with dancers, bouncers and anyone else passing by about preventing drug overdoses and how to stop the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Later on, he'll drop into the clubs to check on the dancers who aren't able to come outside, finding out what they might need. (Cornish, 11/10)

The Associated Press: Md. Panel To Hold Seminar On Handling Mental Health Crisis
A Maryland panel is holding a seminar on how to de-escalate confrontations with people experiencing a mental health crisis. The Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions is holding a session on Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate what works and what doesn’t in a mental health crisis that will include participants who will role play. (11/11)

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County To Pay $1.3 Million Over Doctor Who Molested Patients
Los Angeles County supervisors agreed Tuesday to pay $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a patient who alleged she was groped and sexually harassed by a doctor at a county clinic. They also took county health officials to task and called on them to put in place stricter protocols requiring that medical examinations be chaperoned and policies be developed to encourage nurses and staff to report doctors suspected of misconduct. (Sewell, 11/10)

Reuters: Maine Sues Anti-Abortion Protester, Claiming He Shouts Too Loud
Maine's top attorney on Tuesday filed a civil rights lawsuit against an anti-abortion protester, contending that his yelling outside a Portland Planned Parenthood clinic was so loud that it disrupted the staff's ability to counsel patients inside. The lawsuit, filed in Maine's Superior Court by Attorney General Janet Mills, alleges that Brian Ingalls, 26, who shouts about "murdering babies, aborted babies' blood and Jesus," violated the state's Civil Rights Act because he was audible inside the facility. (11/10)

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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