KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

In Ohio, New Abortion Clinic Opens, Bucking National Trend

Since the Roe v. Wade decision, Ohio has been a trendsetter in passing laws that restrict abortion. That’s why it is especially unusual that in a small Ohio town just south of Cleveland, a new clinic that performs abortions opened its doors. (Sarah Jane Tribble, WCPN, 8/31)

Political Cartoon: 'Defriended?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Defriended?'" by J.C. Duffy.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Was it a pill mill?
Patients got pain meds quick, but
Does that mean murder?

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

Health Law Issues And Implementation

Judge Allows Group To Claim Moral Objection To Health Law's Mandate On Birth Control Coverage

A federal judge ruled that employers, such as the organization March for Life, can claim an exemption to this requirement based on moral or ethical grounds, as well as religious ones.

The New York Times: Judge Allows Moral, Not Just Religious, Contraception Exemptions
Employers do not need to provide insurance coverage for contraception even if their objections are moral rather than religious, a federal judge here ruled on Monday. The case concerned a group called March for Life, which was formed after the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to abortion in 1973 in Roe v. Wade. The group, Monday’s decision said, “is a nonprofit, nonreligious pro-life organization.” (Liptak, 8/31)

The Associated Press: Judge Sides With Anti-Abortion Group In Birth Control Case
The decision from U.S. District Judge Richard Leon adds to the legal debate surrounding the law’s requirement that contraceptives for women be included among a range of cost-free, preventive benefits offered to employees. ... March for Life, which holds annual anti-abortion marches in Washington, was founded in 1973 following the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade opinion that established the legal right to abortion. The organization contends that life begins at conception and opposes coverage in its health insurance plans for methods of contraception that it likens to abortion. (Tucker, 8/31)

The Washington Post: Pro-Life Group Beats Obamacare Contraception Rule In Court
Now, a U.S. District Court has ruled that, like some like-minded religious groups, March for Life does not have to offer coverage for a service it doesn’t believe in. “March for Life has been excised from the fold because it is not ‘religious,'” Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in his opinion. “This is nothing short of regulatory favoritism.” (Moyer, 9/1)

CQ Healthbeat: Judge: Secular Groups Merit Obamacare Contraception Exemption
A federal judge struck down part of the 2010 health care law’s contraception mandate on Monday, ruling that the government can’t deny an exemption to secular groups that oppose abortion. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, in a 29-page ruling in Washington D.C., ruled it unconstitutional for the Department of Health and Human Services to give religious groups that oppose abortion an exemption to the mandate, but not give one to March for Life, an advocacy group best known for an annual anti-abortion march that draws large crowds to the National Mall. (Ruger, 8/31)

Public, Private Employers Develop Plans, Strategies For Looming Cadillac Tax

In other news, a government report finds that fewer Americans are going without health care because of cost concerns and the number of people in Colorado who have health insurance reaches a historic high.

The Huffington Post: Fewer Americans Go Without Medical Care Due To Cost, Survey Says
More than 15 years have passed since this small a share of Americans didn't get medical care they needed because of the cost, a new federal government report reveals. During the first three months of 2015, 4.4 percent of Americans surveyed said they went without health care at some point in the past 12 months because they couldn't afford it, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research released on Tuesday. (Young, 9/1)

Colorado Public Radio: Colorado Uninsured Rate Drops To Record Low
The number of Coloradans who have health insurance has reached a historic high, according to a new survey from the non-profit, non-partisan Colorado Health Institute. ... There were predictions that a sharp uptick in coverage would overburden the system, making it harder for people to get health care. So far that hasn't happened. The survey found only a slight increase in the percentage of people who couldn't get an appointment when they needed. Also, the report documents glaring disparities. Hispanics are uninsured at higher levels than other groups, while higher uninsured rates continue to affect residents of the Western Slope. (Daley, 9/1)

Kaiser Health News/Health News Colorado: Medicaid Drives Historic Coverage Gains In Colorado
Colorado’s uninsured rate has plummeted from a recent high of 15.8 percent four years ago to 6.7 percent this year, but the success of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado is almost entirely the result of Medicaid expansion, according to a much anticipated survey from the Colorado Health Institute. The survey found that nearly one in three of the state’s 5.3 million residents now get insurance through Medicaid or other public health insurance programs. (Kerwin McCrimmon, 9/1)

Alaska Supreme Court Greenlights Medicaid Expansion

The state's high court did not grant a temporary restraining order to opponents of the expansion plan and allowed enrollment to begin today.

Alaska Dispatch News: Alaska Supreme Court Allows Medicaid Expansion To Take Effect Tuesday
Medicaid expansion will start in Alaska Tuesday after the Alaska Supreme Court said it would not block enrollment in the broadened health care program. The court’s order Monday marks a victory for Gov. Bill Walker in an ongoing lawsuit between his administration and the state Legislature over the legality of expanding Medicaid without legislative approval. ... While the Supreme Court denied the Legislature’s motion for a temporary restraining order, which would have temporarily stopped enrollment in expanded Medicaid, the underlying lawsuit pitting the Legislature against the Walker administration still stands. (Hanlon, 8/31)

The Associated Press: Alaska Supreme Court Won't Block Medicaid Expansion
Thousands of lower-income Alaskans will become eligible for Medicaid after the Alaska Supreme Court on Monday refused to temporarily block the state from expanding the health care program. The win capped a big day for Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, who earlier flew with President Barack Obama from Washington, D.C., to Anchorage. (Thiessen, 9/1)

And in the news from Texas -

The Texas Tribune: Abbott Courting Feds For Health Care Money, Emails Show
Shortly before 1 a.m. on July 15, Gov. Greg Abbott sent an email from his personal account to his top advisers about an editorial published by the Houston Chronicle. Its author, Ken Janda, had written that Texas' health care safety net system for the poor and uninsured was “in serious danger of meltdown" because state leaders were refusing to expand health coverage to a million uninsured Texans living in poverty. The governor told aides he wanted to “see the financials” of Janda’s nonprofit Community Health Choice, a health insurer affiliated with the Harris Health System, one of Texas’ largest public hospitals. (Walters, 8/31)


Patent Rule Change For Generics Reportedly Could Increase Federal Health Care Costs By $1.3B Over Decade

Meanwhile, as the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs grab attention from lawmakers and government officials, Politico reports that disease advocacy groups have been conspicuously quiet in the debate.

The Wall Street Journal: Drug-Industry Rule Would Raise Medicare Costs
A patent law change sought by the pharmaceutical industry could cost federal health-care programs $1.3 billion over a decade by delaying new generic medicines, an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found this summer, according to people familiar with the matter. Pharmaceutical trade groups are asking Congress to exempt drug patents from being challenged through an administrative process that is cheaper and faster than the federal courts. The procedure has become popular with generic-drug companies looking to sell copies of brand-name products. (Walker, 8/31)

Politico Pro: Disease Groups Sit Out Protest Over Drug Prices
Outrage over prescription drug prices is coming from every corner of the health care arena with one notable exception: disease advocacy groups. Despite the influence that dozens of these groups enjoy on Capitol Hill, most have been conspicuously silent on the issue, instead remaining focused on their push for research dollars and access to cures. (Norman, 8/31)

In another industry development, Google teams up with Sanofi to take on diabetes -

Bloomberg: Google Pairs With Sanofi To Move Diabetes Patients To Cloud
Google Inc.’s life science unit is still seeking a name but it already has a foe: diabetes. The U.S. Internet giant on Monday agreed to work with French drugmaker Sanofi to devise new ways of managing a disease that afflicts 382 million people worldwide, adding to recent deals with Novartis AG and DexCom Inc. The companies didn’t disclose financial details of the agreement. (Bennett, 8/31)

And in other drugmaker news, Bristol-Myers Squibb is acquiring rights to a mid-stage fibrosis drug while Bayer moves to the final stage of testing an experimental medication for chronic heart failure and diabetic kidney disease -

Reuters: Bristol-Myers Buys Rights To Acquire Fibrosis Drug Developer
Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb said it bought rights to a mid-stage fibrosis drug and its privately held developer for up to $1.25 billion, boosting its pipeline for drugs that treat tissue scarring. The deal gives Bristol-Myers access to Promedior Inc's lead experimental drug, PRM-151, which is being tested to treat two types of fibrosis. (8/31)

Bloomberg: Bayer To Forge Ahead With Finerenone Trials On Positive Data
Bayer AG will conduct final-stage tests on an experimental drug to treat chronic heart failure and diabetic kidney disease following successful mid-stage trials. The latest studies determined the right dosing levels for the medicine, called finerenone, Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer said in a statement on Monday. The company will now examine the drug’s efficacy and safety in almost 15,000 patients it hopes to enlist over three years. (Koch, 8/31)

Veterans' Health Care

Investigations Of Medical Errors At VA Hospitals, Clinics Down 18 Percent, GAO Report Finds

Over the same four-year time period, errors rose 14 percent through the Department of Veterans Affairs system. Meanwhile, the ongoing troubles at the agency and attempts to reform its issues with providing health care to vets has stifled doctor recruitment.

The Washington Post: Medical Errors Are Up At VA Hospitals, But They’re Actually Doing Less To Figure Out Why
Hospitals across the country are under growing pressure to reduce preventable medical mistakes, the errors that can cause real harm and even death to patients. But the Department of Veterans Affairs, which runs a massive system of hospitals and clinics that cared for 5.8 million veterans last year, is doing less, not more, to identify what went wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again. (Rein, 8/31)

In a new report, 41 percent of women in the military say they have been sexually harassed while serving -

Reuters: Two In Five Military Women Endure Sexual Trauma During Service
In the U.S. military, women may be nearly 10 times more likely than men to experience sexual assault or harassment, a study of recent veterans suggests. Researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) surveyed more than 20,000 men and women who served during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 41 percent of women and 4 percent of men reported suffering some form of sexual harassment during their time in the military. (8/31)

State Watch

Legal Wrangling Heats Up Over Planned Parenthood Funding In Louisiana

Lawyers filed documents on behalf of the Louisiana health secretary in advance of a Wednesday court hearing in which Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is seeking to keep the Jindal administration from removing its clinics as Medicaid providers.

The New York Times: Louisiana Lays Bare Difficulty In Push To Cut Planned Parenthood Funding
The political dispute embroiling Planned Parenthood here and nationwide is over abortion, though public funds are not permitted by federal law to be used for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or when a pregnancy threatens the mother’s life. Neither clinic in this state — like nearly half of all Planned Parenthood centers — performs them. What the Louisiana Planned Parenthood clinics did do last year was administer nearly 20,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections, as well as providing gynecological exams, contraceptive care, cancer screenings and other wellness services for nearly 10,000 mostly low-income patients. (Calmes, 9/1)

The Associated Press: Louisiana Files Response To Planned Parenthood Lawsuit
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration told a federal judge that Louisiana can boot Planned Parenthood from Medicaid under both federal law and the terms of the organization's state contract. Lawyers for Jindal health secretary Kathy Kliebert filed documents in advance of a Wednesday court hearing in which Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is seeking a restraining order to block Jindal from removing its clinics as Medicaid providers. (DeSlatte, 8/31)

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich, also a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, is facing pressure from anti-abortion activists -

The Associated Press: Groups Ask Kasich To End Funds To Planned Parenthood
Anti-abortion groups in Ohio have called on Gov. John Kasich to block Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, though federal health officials have warned other states that such a move could violate the law. Ohio Right to Life and a coalition of other anti-abortion groups want Kasich, a Republican presidential contender, to stop taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood. (Sanner, 8/31)

California Doctor's Trial For Murder Could Have 'Chilling Effect' On Legitimate Pain Pill Prescriptions

Dr. Lisa Tseng pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges in the deaths of three of her patients who overdosed on pain killers she prescribed. Prosecutors accuse her of recklessly doling out pills in three-minute appointments while the defense says the victims abused their prescriptions.

Los Angeles Times: Murder Trial Sends Message To Doctors: 'Don't Get Reckless,' Medical Expert Says
During opening statements in her case Monday, Tseng hunched forward in her chair, settling in for a landmark second-degree murder trial that’s expected to last for months. The general practitioner, who scribbled notes on a yellow notepad and tapped her foot over and over, is the first California doctor ever charged with murdering patients who overdosed merely for prescribing them medication, Niedermann said. (Gerber, 8/31)

The Associated Press: California Doctor Faces Murder Trial In 3 Men’s Drug Deaths
A prosecutor says that even after several patients died of overdoses, the California doctor now charged in their deaths continued to prescribe powerful painkillers in appointments that lasted as little as three minutes. But the defense attorney for Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng says some of those patients were suicidal, others were using the prescriptions to party, and all took well over the recommended dosage. (Myers, 8/31)

17,000 Arkansans Lose Medicaid Despite Federal Change In Renewal Process

Meanwhile, allegations of Medicaid billing and bidding fraud are hot topics in Pennsylvania and Iowa. And news outlets in New Jersey and Florida offer additional coverage of Medicaid developments.

Arkansas Online: Medicaid Ends For 17,000 Despite Reprieve For Others
More than 17,000 individuals will lose their health coverage today despite a federally mandated change in Arkansas' process for conducting Medicaid renewals, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services said Monday. ... Under a change ordered by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the state Human Services Department said Friday that it would begin giving recipients 30 days to provide such records. But Human Services Department spokesman Amy Webb said Monday that the new policy does not apply to those whose coverage had already been scheduled to end today because they did not respond to the income-verification requests within the earlier 10-day deadline. (Davis, 9/1)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. AG Accuses Three Of Medicaid Billing Fraud
The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General accused three Southeastern Pennsylvania residents of fraudulently billing Medicaid a total of $26,558 for personal-care services. Jeanne Schafle, 60, of Ambler, allegedly billed Medicaid $9,444 for attendant-care services to her daughter when her daughter was in the hospital on 13 separate occasions from March 2012 through March of this year. (Brubaker, 8/31)

Des Moines Register: Branstad Defends Medicaid Bid Process
Gov. Terry Branstad is downplaying controversies experienced by four companies selected to manage Iowa’s $4.2 billion Medicaid program, and he says he’s hopeful disputes over the bidding process won’t delay the implementation of their oversight of health care for 560,000 poor and disabled persons. The four winning bidders – Amerigroup, UnitedHealthcare, WellCare and AmeriHealth – have each faced serious charges of fraud or mismanagement in other states with some forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, a Des Moines Register investigation has found. (Petroski, 8/31)

The New Jersey Record: N.J. Owes $32.2M, Medicaid Report Says
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said New Jersey should repay the federal government $32.2 million after a federal audit found medical records and other documents missing when state officials submitted claims for Medicaid reimbursement. The findings, detailed in a report obtained by The Record to be released today, mark the second time in four years that federal officials have raised concerns about questionable claims for care provided to homebound elderly or low-income residents. After the earlier audit, they called for $145 million to be returned. (Rizzo and Layton, 8/31)

Health News Florida: FL KidCare Full-Pay Program Rates To Rise
The families of more than 35,000 children enrolled in the Florida Healthy Kids program will soon have to choose between two more expensive plans, or find new insurance. The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation recently sent a letter to parents enrolled in the full-pay program earlier this month. It said new requirements in the Affordable Care Act forced them to either raise their rates or shut down the full-pay program, which is part of the Florida KidCare program that serves about 400,000 Florida children. (Miller, 8/27)

Mass. General To Take On Children's Hospital In Ad Campaign

News outlets from Florida, Pennsylvania and Kansas report on other hospital news.

Stat/The Boston Globe: Mass. General Ad Campaign Takes On Children’s Hospital
MGH opened MassGeneral Hospital for Children in 1999, after Children’s refused to join it in the Partners HealthCare System. At that time, MGH threw $200,000 into ads designed to lure patients from Children’s, which provides continuing care for adults in only a few categories, such as congenital heart disease, cerebral palsy and sports medicine. Children’s is by far the largest pediatric hospital in eastern Massachusetts. It has 41 percent of the market share for inpatient pediatric care, compared with Partners’ 13 percent, according to a 2012 bond filing by Children’s. (Bailey, 8/31)

The Miami Herald: Jackson Leaders Encouraged By Growth In Insured Patients
More insured patients chose to be hospitalized at Jackson Health System over the summer than administrators had expected, a small development that may portend big changes for Miami-Dade’s taxpayer-supported hospital network. Jackson, which has begun a 10-year building plan and public relations campaign to upgrade facilities and shed the hospital system’s image as the healthcare provider of last resort, on Monday reported growing revenues from patients with commercial insurance, Medicaid managed care and other forms of coverage. (Chang, 8/31)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Hospitals Prepare For Stranded Employees During Papal Visit
For thousands of employees at hospitals in or near the papal security zone, Pope Francis' visit next month will mean a three-day sleepover at the office. Some bosses are even trying to make it fun. People will be working so hard that they may be tired enough to actually sleep on the cots and air mattresses hospitals will scatter about their campuses. Their supervisors swear medical workers are used to spartan conditions after years of storm and disaster duty. (Burling and Cook, 8/31)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Lawsuit Alleges Medicare Fraud At Lawrence Memorial Hospital
A former emergency room nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital has filed a federal “whistleblower” lawsuit alleging that the hospital falsified patient records to obtain higher Medicare and Medicaid payments. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., on behalf of Megen Duffy alleges that top hospital officials knew about the fraud, which began in 2007, and threatened to fire employees who objected. (McLean, 8/31)

Assisted Suicide Bill To Get New Hearings In California's Special Legislative Session

In other state legislative news, Florida's House forms a panel to advance health proposals. Meanwhile, medical marijuana proposals also are getting retooled and re-examined in these states.

Reuters: California Assisted Suicide Bill To Be Heard In Special Session
A controversial bill to allow physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in California comes up for a new round of hearings on Tuesday, after failing in the legislature earlier this summer amid opposition from the Catholic Church. The measure, which was pulled from consideration in the legislature's regular session in July, was reintroduced last month as part of a special session on healthcare called by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. (Bernstein, 9/1)

News Service of Florida: House Forms Panel To Push Health Proposals
The House has formed the Select Committee on Affordable Healthcare Access, a potential vehicle for ideas that were cast aside this year by the Senate during a fight over health-care policy. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Wednesday announced the new panel as part of the committee lineup for the 2016 legislative session, which begins in January. (8/31)

California Healthline: Medical Marijuana Bills Retooled
California legislators regrouped last week and cobbled together a revised package of medical marijuana legislation with a wary eye on a growing campaign for a statewide initiative to legalize recreational use of the drug. Three bills were compared, juggled and retooled Thursday in appropriation committee hearings in the Assembly and Senate. All three were amended and passed along the legislative chain with hopes they'll win full approval by the Sept. 11 deadline and land on the governor's desk. (Lauer, 8/31)

Health News Florida: Marijuana Initiative Headed Toward Court Review
Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana appear to have submitted enough petition signatures to spur a review by the Florida Supreme Court. The People United for Medical Marijuana effort, which is more commonly known as "United for Care," comes two years after backers narrowly failed to pass an initiative that would have legalized medical marijuana. (8/31)

State Highlights: Fla. Embroiled In Legal Fracas Over Prescription Drug Benefits; New England Governors Urge FDA To Toughen Opioid Warnings

Health care stories are reported from Florida, Connecticut, California, Ohio and Georgia.

Health News Florida: State In Legal Battle Over Prescription Drug Benefits
Pharmacy-benefit managers for the state-employee health insurance program are challenging an attempt to require them to repay $39.2 million to the Florida Department of Management Services. Medco Health Solutions, Inc. and Express Scripts, Inc., which are subsidiaries of the same holding company, have filed a series of legal petitions that were sent this month to the state Division of Administrative Hearings. (8/31)

The Associated Press: New England Governors Urge FDA To Set Tougher Opioid Labels
The governors of all six New England states have sent a letter urging the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to tighten warnings on opioids.The governors said the FDA should require changes on labels for immediate release opioids to make sure patients and doctors understand the risk of addiction, overdose, neonatal abstinence syndrome and death associated with the drugs. (8/31)

The Connecticut Mirror: Uptick In Denials For Home Nursing Care Worries Families, Advocates
The service at issue, known as extended, or complex, nursing care, involves a nurse providing services in a person’s home for more than two hours at a time. Clients must have their services reauthorized periodically to continue receiving them. Data from the state Department of Social Services shows the denial rate for requests for extended nursing services has risen sharply since the beginning of the year. (Levin Becker, 9/1)

The San Jose Mercury News: Santa Clara County To Sever $300 Million Contract Over Valley Med Hospital Upgrade
Santa Clara County's $300 million expansion and seismic upgrade at Valley Medical Center is already two years behind schedule -- with no hope of opening next month in time for its latest deadline. Now, in an increasingly bitter dispute that played out Monday at the construction site, the county declared it intends to fire Turner Construction, the company overseeing the project and one of the country's biggest builders, whom county officials blame for falling woefully behind on the job. (De Sa, 8/31)

Kaiser Health News: In Ohio, New Abortion Clinic Opens, Bucking National Trend
Dr. David Burkons graduated from medical school and began practicing obstetrics and gynecology in 1973 – the same year of the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion decision in Roe v. Wade. Burkons liked delivering babies but he is also committed to serving his patients, including those who choose abortions. (Tribble, 8/31)

Kaiser Health News: A Third Of Ga. Pediatricians Join Together To Form Network To Improve Care
More than 1,100 Georgia pediatricians have joined a new physician-led network that aims to improve quality of care and eventually contract for payments from insurers. The sign-ups represent roughly one-third of the pediatricians practicing in the state. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the major pediatric hospital system in the metro area, helped create the nonprofit entity, called the Children’s Care Network. (MIller, 9/1)

Editorials And Opinions

Viewpoints: Medicare's Plan For Prosthetics; GOP Stumbles On Health; Prisoners Paying For Care

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.

The Hill: Medicare Should Not Reverse Standard Of Care For Amputees
Today, Medicare officials have before them a draft rule that would increase the suffering of hundreds of thousands of men and women who are working hard to make their way in the world as amputees. It is not an exaggeration to say that research into advanced prosthetics will not only cease but the standard of care will regress back to the good old days in 1969 when I was first fit with a wooden leg. ... Here’s a note for budget hawks: Total prosthetic limb spending for Medicare peaked in 2010 and has decreased every year since. Total spending on prosthetic limbs and orthotic braces by all payers in this country is less than $2 billion a year. To put that amount in perspective, we spend $7 billion a year for hip and knee replacements. (Bob Kerrey, 9/1)

The New York Times' The Upshot: The Problem With G.O.P. Plans To Sell Health Insurance Across State Lines
At the Fox News Republican debate last month, Donald Trump offered a way to lower health care costs: allow insurers to sell their policies across state lines. ... The idea is that by eliminating the red tape associated with state insurance regulation, insurers will be able to offer national plans with lower administrative costs. That would expand consumers’ choices and reduce the price of insurance. The proposals also all assume that, in place of expensive regulations in some states, insurers would have the option of choosing to base their companies in a state with fewer rules. ... The trouble is that varying or numerous state regulations aren’t the main reason insurance markets tend to be uncompetitive. (Margot-Sanger Katz, 8/31)

Los Angeles Times: Would The GOP's Healthcare Ideas Work? It Depends On Your Definition Of 'Work.'
Just like in the 2012 election, every Republican candidate for president wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Some of the candidates have even come forward with ideas for replacing it, and we are beginning to get a sense of what Republican healthcare reform might look like. Judging from rhetoric alone, Republicans seem to want to achieve what Obamacare has already accomplished. (Larry Levitt, 8/31)

The New York Times: Psychology Is Not In Crisis
Is psychology in the midst of a research crisis? An initiative called the Reproducibility Project at the University of Virginia recently reran 100 psychology experiments and found that over 60 percent of them failed to replicate — that is, their findings did not hold up the second time around. The results, published last week in Science, have generated alarm (and in some cases, confirmed suspicions) that the field of psychology is in poor shape. But the failure to replicate is not a cause for alarm; in fact, it is a normal part of how science works. (Lisa Feldman Barrett, 9/1)

Bloomberg: Why We Fall For Bogus Research
[O]n Thursday, Science published the results of a project that aimed to replicate 100 famous studies -- and found that only about one-third of them held up. The others showed weaker effects, or failed to find the effect at all. This is, to put it mildly, a problem. But it is not necessarily the problem that many people seem to assume, which is that psychology research standards are terrible, or that the teams that put out the papers are stupid. Sure, some researchers doubtless are stupid, and some psychological research standards could be tighter, because we live in a wide and varied universe where almost anything you can say is certain to be true about some part of it. But for me, the problem is not individual research papers, or even the field of psychology. It's the way that academic culture filters papers, and the way that the larger society gets their results. (Megan McArdle, 8/31)

Modern Healthcare: Prisoners Have Skin In The Game, Too
Talk about skin in the game! In this case, it's more like muscle and bone. At least 38 states are charging prison inmates co-payments for healthcare services, according to a recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Those fees typically are $20 or less, according to a story on the study by Stateline. But in Texas, state prison inmates who request a medical visit can be charged $100. In Utah state prison, inmates can be charged up to $2,000 for a hospitalization. “We do it for the same reason your insurance company does, to eliminate abuse by making the inmates put a little skin in the game,” Tommy Thompson, jail administrator at the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee, told Stateline. (Harris Meyer, 8/28)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: How Much To Cut Drug Prices?
On August 20, the Kaiser Family Foundation published the latest results from its poll that tracks health care opinions among American consumers. The pollsters found that only slightly more than four in 10 respondents (42 percent) have a positive view of pharma companies. That ranks the pharma industry near the bottom, with just oil companies below it at 40 percent. Although people recognize pharma's contributions to improving the length and quality of life (they put pharma in the middle of the pack as far as social contributions), 74 per cent of this sample said Big Pharma is too concerned about making money and not concerned enough about helping people. (Daniel R. Hoffman, 8/31)

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: More Work Remains On Mental Health
Four months ago, police officers arrested JayMicheal Mitchell for stealing a Snickers, a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew and a snack cake from a 7-Eleven. They took him to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, where he remained until Aug. 19 — when he was found dead in his cell. Nothing at the moment suggests foul play. But neither does anything about the case seem right. The 24-year-old Mitchell suffered from bipolar disorder, and had been awaiting transfer to the Eastern State mental hospital. He kept waiting, because no beds were available. (8/31)

Modern Healthcare: Hospital Admission Policy In Dismaland
Over the several years that the CMS and hospitals have been tussling over the reasons behind the steady rise in short-term observation stays, no one until now has suggested the increase represents a deliberate effort by hospitals to avoid Medicare's 30-day readmission penalties. But in a blog post on the Health Affairs website last week, single-payer advocates Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler made precisely that charge. (Merrill Goozner, 8/29)