KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Ohio Tensions Rise Over Drug-Pricing Transparency Ballot Measure; Number Of Calif. Dialysis Patients Spikes

Media outlets report on news from Ohio, California, Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Iowa.

Stat: In Ohio, Tension Brews Over Who's Funding A Drug Price-Control Ballot Measure
It was supposed to be a battle over high drug prices, but right now, it’s become a battle over transparency — specifically, which drug makers are funding an effort to block a measure on the ballot in Ohio this November that seeks to rein in drug prices in the state. The proposal in Ohio is similar to the one that California voters shot down last November following a huge oppositional push from drug companies; it’s even backed by the same group, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which runs a nonprofit network of clinics. (Robbins, 8/14)

California Healthline: Number Of Dialysis Patients In California Surges
The number of Californians who are getting care at dialysis centers has spiked in recent years — but not because kidney disease is more prevalent. The reason is that people are living longer with end-stage renal disease, said Anjay Rastogi, a professor of nephrology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. The number of new cases has generally leveled off in recent years, Rastogi said. “The same number of patients are being put on dialysis, but they stay on dialysis,” he said. (Bartolone, 8/15)

Austin American-Statesman: Senate Tentatively OKs $563 Million For Schools, Retired Teachers
With two days left in the special legislative session, the Texas Senate early Tuesday morning approved 25-6 a bill to pump an extra $351 million into the public education system over the next two years — a $1.5 billion cut from what the House had proposed. Tuesday morning’s vote sends the watered-down version of House Bill 21 into conference committee where Senate and House members will continue negotiations that began over the weekend. (Chang, 8/14)

Politico Pro: Latest Texas Abortion Curbs Designed To Avoid Legal Fireworks
Two new abortion curbs the Republican-controlled Legislature fast-tracked for Gov. Greg Abbott's signature over the weekend represent an alternative approach that could avoid the kind of legal fireworks surrounding recent state efforts to limit access to the procedure. ...If the two bills are signed into law, as expected, Texas lawmakers will have passed half a dozen new abortion measures this year. (Rayasam, 8/14)

Austin American-Statesman: Texas Is 18th Most Expensive State To Have A Baby, Online List Says
In WalletHub’s new ranking of the best and worst states to have a baby, the Lone Star State arrived at No. 34 overall, No. 32 in terms of birth costs, No. 35 in terms of health care rank, No. 38 in terms of “baby-friendliness” and No. 29 in terms of “family-friendliness.” Its ranking of No. 34 out of all 50 states and Washington, D.C. means that Texas is the 18th most expensive place to have a baby in America. (Harris, 8/14)

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland School Of Alternative Medicine To Offer New Naturopathic Program 
The Maryland University of Integrative Health is establishing a school of naturopathic medicine and plans to admit the first students to the program next year. The school of naturopathic medicine will be the first in the mid-Atlantic region and one of only a handful of schools nationwide that operate within a regionally accredited university, officials with the university of integrative health said. (McDaniels, 8/14)

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Regulators Approve Eight New Medical Marijuana Growers 
Maryland’s medical marijuana regulators approved final licenses for eight growing companies on Monday, allowing them to start cultivating the drug. Several companies said they are ready to begin growing immediately, while others say they will take weeks to get started. ...Until Monday, just one of the 15 selected firms had received final permission to start cultivating medical marijuana, which was first legalized in the state in 2013. Even at full capacity, one firm could not produce nearly enough to support 102 planned dispensaries. (Cox, 8/14)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: Conshy's Symphony Health Drug-Data Firm Sold For $520M
PRA Health Sciences Inc., a North Carolina-based clinical research organization that tests drugs, has agreed to pay $520 million for Symphony Health Solutions Corp., a Conshohocken-based medical data company assembled by Silicon Valley investors from mostly suburban Philadelphia-based firms that collected patients’ drug prescriptions from doctors and sold the information to drug makers. ...With sales of around $200 million a year, Symphony employs around 250, according to PRA. That’s down from 500 in 2012. The company’s profit margin, before financial expenses, was 20 percent last year, PRA chief financial officer Linda Baddour told investors in the conference call. (DiStefano, 8/14)

The San Diego Union-Tribune: Aztecs Cancel Monday Night's Practice As Chickenpox Count Grows To Five Players 
San Diego State postponed Monday night’s football practice amid a rash of chickenpox cases that has increased from three to five Aztecs players. SDSU head coach Rocky Long said the move was made as a precaution in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading even further. ...The SDSU weight room is shared by all the school’s sports teams, including in recent weeks the other fall sports of men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and women’s cross country. School officials said no chickenpox cases outside of the football team have been reported. (Kenney, 8/14)

San Jose Mercury News: Check Your Kids' Vaccine Record As School Year Starts
August — ouch — is National Immunization Awareness Month and the start of school for many, timely reminders why local and state public health​ officials are urging parents to make sure their children are up to speed with their vaccines, preventing diseases like measles and whooping cough that can easily spread in childcare and school settings. Actually, it’s not just a reminder, it’s the law — and one that got even tougher in California starting last summer when parents no longer were allowed to opt out of immunizations for their children, save for legitimate medical exemptions. (Seipel, 8/15)

San Jose Mercury News: Healthcare Workers Rally To Halt Oakland Nurse's Deportation
Health care workers and other community members are rallying at noon Monday in front of Highland Hospital to demand that U.S. immigration officials halt the imminent deportation of registered nurse Maria Sanchez and her husband on Tuesday. The couple, who moved to the Bay Area in the early 1990s from a small town in Mexico, are undocumented immigrants. (Seipel, 8/14)

San Jose Mercury News: Santa Clara County Hiring Transgender Services Manager
Santa Clara County is bolstering its services aimed at the South Bay’s diverse and often marginalized transgender community through a new program manager dedicated to that population — the second such post in the nation. The program manager will serve as a “trainer, mediator and facilitator” for the transgender community, who face unique challenges at school, the workplace, in hospitals, correctional facilities and elsewhere. (Kurhi, 8/14)

Iowa Public Radio: Data On Gunshot Wounds Lacking
Nationally, more people between the ages of 15-24 are shot than any other age group. Dr. Denville Myrie, a trauma surgeon at Mercy Medical Center, says that’s true for the ER he works for in Des Moines. (Moon and Kieffer, 8/14)

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