KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: September 12, 2017

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

The New York Times: Congress Rejects Trump Proposals To Cut Health Research Funds
Back in March, when President Trump released the first draft of his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, he asked lawmakers for deep cuts to one of their favorite institutions, the National Institutes of Health — part of a broad reordering of priorities, away from science and social spending, toward defense and border security. Six months later, Congress has not only rejected the president’s N.I.H. proposal; lawmakers from both parties have joined forces to increase spending on biomedical research — and have bragged about it. (Pear, 9/11)

The Hill: Dems Worry GOP Pulling Health Care Negotiations In Partisan Direction 
It's unclear whether Republicans and Democrats on the Senate's Health Committee will be able to reach a deal by the end of the week on a bill to shore up ObamaCare's insurance markets. But Democrats are worried Republicans are digging in with conservative ideas, ruining changes at negotiation, a senior Democratic aide told The Hill. (Hellmann, 9/11)

The Hill: Dems Call For ObamaCare Hearings In The House
Democrats are calling on House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) to hold bipartisan hearings on stabilizing ObamaCare markets. The committee's Democrats in a letter to Brady dated last Friday request that the panel hold hearings, and cite the Senate Health Committee’s hearings this month as an example. (Sullivan, 9/11)

The Hill: Paul: Cassidy-Graham Health Care Bill Not 'Going Anywhere' 
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Monday that he opposes a new Republican ObamaCare replacement effort, saying it does not go far enough to repeal the law. Paul told reporters that the bill from GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) would “probably” be worse than doing nothing at all on the health law. (Sullivan, 9/11)

The Hill: Booker Signs On To Sanders's 'Medicare-For-All' Bill 
Sen. Cory Booker is throwing his support behind a "Medicare for all" bill being introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), becoming the latest Democrat floated as a 2020 contender to back the legislation. The New Jersey senator told NJTV News that he would sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill, which is scheduled to be rolled out on Wednesday. (Carney, 9/11)

The New York Times: Houston’s Floodwaters Are Tainted With Toxins, Testing Shows
Floodwaters in two Houston neighborhoods have been contaminated with bacteria and toxins that can make people sick, testing organized by The New York Times has found. Residents will need to take precautions to return safely to their homes, public health experts said. It is not clear how far the toxic waters have spread. But Fire Chief Samuel Peña of Houston said over the weekend that there had been breaches at numerous waste treatment plants. The Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday that 40 of 1,219 such plants in the area were not working. (Kaplan and Healy, 9/11)

The Washington Post: Florida’s Hospitals Weather The Storm
Doctors, nurses and staff at hospitals up and down Florida's Gulf and Atlantic coasts were nearly breathless with surprise and relief Monday: Their patients — and their buildings — had survived the monster named Irma. “We're wonderful,” said Cheryl Garn, spokeswoman for Lee Health's four hospitals in Fort Myers. “Minimum damage. The sun is out and shining. We have some leaks where wind or rain blew in, but the patients are safe and comfortable.” (Nutt, 9/11)

Reuters: Hospital Shares Rise As Irma Damage Lighter Than Feared
Stocks of U.S. hospital companies rose on Monday as damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida appeared to be lighter than feared. Shares of Tenet Healthcare Corp rose 3.9 percent, Community Health Systems Inc shares were up 2.8 percent, Envision Healthcare Corp rose 1.7 percent and HCA Health shares were up 1.4 percent in morning trading. (Erman, 9/11)

NPR: Sept. 11 First Responder Still Fights For Care For Others Who Were There
Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, first responders rushed to ground zero in Manhattan, where they braved dangerous conditions to rescue people buried in the rubble, retrieve the remains of the dead and clear the debris. Among them was demolition supervisor John Feal. Feal arrived at ground zero on Sept. 12; just five days later, he was seriously injured when an 8,000-pound piece of steel fell and crushed his foot. (Gross, 9/11)

Bloomberg: Equifax Holds Contract To Verify Data Of Obamacare Customers
Equifax Inc., which said last week it suffered a breach that exposed the personal data of 143 million Americans, holds a contract to check incomes and other data of people who bought health insurance in the Obamacare markets. The credit data firm has a $329 million, five-year government contract which ends in March to verify the incomes of people purchasing coverage through the health exchanges. The Affordable Care Act provides subsidies to help people afford health insurance depending on their income levels. (Edney and Murphy, 9/11)

The New York Times: For One Hedge Fund, A Bet On The Affordable Care Act Sours
Wagering that the new federal health care law would be a boon, the billionaire investor Larry Robbins bet big on hospital stocks five years ago. Those investments helped propel his hedge fund, Glenview Capital Management, to the ranks of the top-performing funds in 2013. Since then, the bet has soured. Glenview suffered steep losses as the stocks of many for-profit hospital chains sank, hurt by weak earnings and, more recently, by uncertainty over the lasting impact of the law, the Affordable Care Act. (Creswell and Abelson, 9/11)

The Associated Press: US Report Finds $1.4B Problem In New York's Medicaid Program
The state paid out an estimated $1.4 billion in Medicaid funds for long-term care providers who didn't follow the state's rules for the program, according to a federal review of the state's Medicaid system published Tuesday. The report, from the Office of the Inspector General, revealed a large number of providers who failed to document patient assessments, provide community-based services or provide written care plans to patients, all requirements spelled out in their contracts with the state. (9/12)

Stat: FDA Panel: Risk Of Opioid Use In Kids’ Cough Medicines Outweighs Benefits
A federal advisory committee sent a strong message to the Food and Drug Administration on Monday, declaring nearly unanimously that the risks of using certain opioids in children’s cough medications outweighs the benefits. “We have a disease with a very low risk profile, yet we’re looking at a drug that has a risk of death,” said Dr. Christy Turer, an assistant professor of pediatrics, clinical sciences, and medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern. “That, to me, seems very disproportionate.” (Swetlitz, 9/11)

The New York Times: Suicide Data Incorrectly Reported In Drug Trials, Suit Claimed
For many years GlaxoSmithKline and its predecessor, SmithKline Beecham, marketed Paxil as an antidepressant that would reduce the risk of suicide in depressed patients. The results of the company’s clinical trials, presented to the Food and Drug Administration in 1989, suggested Paxil was far safer than a placebo. Back then, the company reported that among nearly 3,000 patients treated with Paxil in the worldwide clinical trials, five committed suicide — a rate of about one in 600. By contrast, there were two suicides in a much smaller group of 554 patients randomly assigned to take a placebo pill — a rate of about one in 275, more than double that of the Paxil group. (Rabin, 9/11)

The New York Times: Lawsuit Over A Suicide Points To A Risk Of Antidepressants
The last dinner Wendy Dolin had with her husband, Stewart, he was so agitated that he was jiggling his leg under the table and could barely sit still. He had recently started a new antidepressant but still felt very anxious. “I don’t get it, Wen,” he said. The next day, Mr. Dolin, a 57-year-old Chicago lawyer, paced up and down a train platform for several minutes and then threw himself in front of an oncoming train. (Rabin, 9/11)

Stat: Can We Treat Disease With Electrical Pulses? Investors Are Intrigued
The much-hyped field of “electroceuticals” — which involves zapping nerves with tiny electrical pulses to treat disease — got another injection of funds late last month with a $30 million investment round for startup SetPoint Medical. Major medical device companies Medtronic and Boston Scientific kicked in funding, as did several venture funds. Global pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline has also invested in SetPoint. (Piller, 9/12)

Stat: Otherwise Healthy Obese People Have Higher Rate Of Cardiovascular Disease
Is obesity always unhealthy? Some studies have tried to answer that question by looking at those who are “fat but fit” — obese but still physically active. A new study takes a different tack: If people are obese but without other cardiovascular risk factors, do they still have a higher rate of things like heart attack and stroke? The answer, in one of the biggest studies yet to weigh in on the question, is yes. Using an electronic health record database of 3.5 million people, researchers at the University of Birmingham in England separated people into categories based on their body mass index (BMI) and whether they had type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or more than one of those illnesses. (Sheridan, 9/11)

Los Angeles Times: Get Up At Least Once Every 30 Minutes. Failure To Do So May Shorten Your Life, Study Finds
ou can spend a lot of accumulated time on your bottom in the course of a day. Or you can sit for lengthy spells without a break. Both, it turns out, are very bad for you. Whether you’re a heavy sitter or a binge-sitter, racking up prolonged sedentary time increases your risk of early death, according to a study published in Tuesday’s edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine. (Healy, 9/11)

The Washington Post: For Both Sides Of Abortion Debate, Unusually High Stakes In Virginia Governor’s Race
Abortion, a long-simmering issue in Virginia — a purple state where rural evangelicals sharply differ from urban progressives — has been elevated in this year’s gubernatorial contest because of changing dynamics on the federal level. President Trump has vowed to appoint antiabortion judges who could unravel federal protections, turning the power to decide whether women can terminate pregnancies back to governors and state legislatures. (Nirappil, 9/11)

The Washington Post: Pet-Store Puppies Linked To Bacterial Outbreak Among People In 7 States, CDC Says
Federal health officials said Monday that they are investigating a multistate outbreak of Campylobacter infections traced to puppies sold at Petland, a nationwide chain of about 80 pet stores. The bacteria, a common cause of diarrheal illness that can spread through contact with dog feces, has sickened at least 39 people in Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida. Nine people have been hospitalized since last September, but no deaths have been reported, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Brulliard and Sun, 9/11)

Los Angeles Times: Mexican Papaya Recalled After Salmonella Outbreak
A Southern California company has recalled papaya imported from Mexico after health authorities linked its fruit shipments to a salmonella infection that has killed one person and sickened 13 others in three states. Bravo Produce Inc. of San Ysidro, issued a recall notice Sunday, after federal investigators last week traced an infected sample of Maradol papayas to shipments the company imported from a Tijuana packer. (Mohan, 9/11)

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