KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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From Kaiser Health News - Latest Stories:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

Houston Hospital Checking To See If Patients' Cupboards Are Bare

Starting in fall 2015, Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System began to examine the food struggles among patients at four medical sites and found that 11 percent to 30 percent said they had run out of food in the prior month or thought that they would. (Charlotte Huff, 5/15)

Political Cartoon: 'Apple-Polisher?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Apple-Polisher?'" by Bill Schorr, Cagle Cartoons.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

HEALTH CARE … IT’S STILL COMPLICATED

Though president says
He now understands health care
Is that really true?

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.

Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

Flickers Of Bipartisanship May Light Way For Plan B In Senate If GOP Legislation Fails

There are signs that moderates are reaching across the aisle to talk about health care. Meanwhile, a controversial provision in the Republican legislation was predicted to die in the upper chamber, but now experts aren't so sure. And The Washington Post fact checks claims about rising premiums — under both Obamacare and the Republican bill.

Politico: Senators Hold Back-Channel Talks On Bipartisan Obamacare Fix
Sen. Bill Cassidy held up bright red posters in a mostly empty Senate chamber Thursday for a presentation on how his ideas would pass the "Jimmy Kimmel Test," by helping people with preexisting conditions. After the speech, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia came to the floor and praised the wonkish Republican doctor from Louisiana. “I do applaud my colleague,” Kaine said. "Amen.” (Everett and Schor, 5/14)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Move To Ease Existing-Condition Health Coverage Mandate Could Endure
One of the most controversial provisions of the House Republican health-care bill had been expected to quietly disappear in the Senate. Now, some government budget experts think it might not. The provision would enable states to obtain waivers to opt out of certain Affordable Care Act regulations, which would let insurers offer skimpier but cheaper health plans. The waivers also would allow insurers to charge more to people with existing health conditions who had let their coverage lapse. (Peterson, 5/12)

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Health Insurance Premiums Will Keep Going Up, Under Either ACA Or AHCA
Advocates for the House Republicans’ health-care overhaul plan frequently say or suggest that premiums would go down under the proposal. There is, in fact, a line in the Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act that, at first glance, might suggest premiums will decline by 10 percent. But, as we have frequently explained, the reference in the report is compared to current law — the Affordable Care Act. What CBO does is measure the impact of a proposed law against a current law baseline. So average premiums by 2026 are projected to be rougher 10 percent lower than the baseline for the Affordable Care Act — but they still would go up. (Kessler, 5/15)

And in related news —

The Hill: Trump Health Chief: Senate Will Vote On ObamaCare Repeal By August
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is predicting the Senate will vote on a bill to replace ObamaCare before Congress's August recess, though GOP senators have refused to give a timeline...Asked if senators would be able to vote before they leave Washington, Price added, "I believe so." Lawmakers have roughly two and a half months before they are scheduled to leave on July 31. They will return to Washington in early September, where they will need to work out a deal funding the government and avoiding a shutdown.  (Carney, 5/12)

Kaiser Health News: Planned Parenthood Funding Could Thwart GOP Efforts On Health Bill
If there’s anything congressional Republicans want to do more than “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act it’s defund Planned Parenthood, which provides health care to women around the country. But Senate rules could prevent lawmakers from accomplishing both of those goals in the same bill, as they intend to do. The American Health Care Act, passed by the House earlier this month to overhaul the federal health law, would bar funding under the Medicaid program for one year to any “prohibited entity” that “is primarily engaged in family planning services, reproductive health, and related medical care; and … provides for abortions” other than those for rape, incest or to protect the life of the woman. (Rovner, 5/12)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Democrats Push GOP On Health Care
Wisconsin Democrats are using last week’s vote to overhaul Obamacare to try to force Republican state lawmakers to take a stand on helping people with cancer and other pre-existing conditions. The effort makes clear health care is likely to remain front and center in next year’s campaigns. (Marley, 5/12)

McClatchy: Obamacare Repeal: Women's Health At Risk In Republican Plans?
As an all-male working group of 13 Republican senators works to give the nation’s health care system a conservative makeover, women’s advocates are using Mother’s Day to illustrate how replacing the Affordable Care Act could disproportionately hurt more than half the country’s adult population. Under the GOP plan that narrowly passed the House of Representatives, funding for Medicaid, which pays for about half of U.S. births, would be slashed. Women with individual insurance in some states could lose guaranteed coverage of maternity and newborn care. (Pugh, 5/12)

The Associated Press: AP Explains: How Lawmakers Get Their Health Care
Republican Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot who at 80 has had several health setbacks, gets his coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs. House leaders, like Speaker Paul Ryan, get their coverage through the Affordable Care Act, as do many members of Congress. Congress voted to include itself in the law when it passed in 2010, and a bill passed by the House last week would continue that requirement in the new version. So how is it working for them? (Jalonick and Freking, 5/15)

Kaiser Health News: Trump Says He Knows About Health Care, But Some Of His Facts Seem Alternative
Lost in all the coverage of the firing of FBI Director James Comey last week were a pair of in-depth interviews President Donald Trump gave that included lengthy comments on health care — one with Time magazine and the other with The Economist. He acknowledged to Time interviewers that health care was not an area of expertise in his previous job. “It was just not high on my list,” he said. But he added that “in a short period of time I understood everything there was to know about health care.” Not really. (Rovner, 5/15)

Selling GOP Health Plan To Public May Make Herculean Effort To Get It Through House Seem Easy

After a brutal few months of negotiations, Republican lawmakers managed to eke out a victory in the House. But now they have to convey to their voters, who are terrified of losing health care, why that was a good thing.

Roll Call: Republicans‘ Latest Health Care Challenge: Selling Their Bill
With the Republican health care plan continuing to earn negative headlines and unfavorable poll numbers, House GOP lawmakers returning to Washington this week have a public relations challenge of epic political proportions. They succeeded — barely — at passing their health care bill. Now they need to sell it. Some members tried to do that over recess. A handful held in-person town halls, with New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur, the architect of the amendment that resurrected the plan, taking questions for nearly five hours. Others hit the media circuit or wrote op-eds in their local newspapers. (Pathé, 5/15)

The Associated Press: In Swing Districts, Voters Vent Over Health Care, Fear Trump
Skeleton in hand, retired biology teacher Jeannie Scown delivered a message to her Republican congressman at his office northwest of Chicago. "Killed by Trumpcare Plague, May 4, 2017," her poster read. In a nod to House Republicans' recent vote to gut the health care law, Scown had no intention of sparing four-term Rep. Randy Hultgren with subtlety. (Barrow and Burnett, 5/14)

CQ Magazine: The Curious Case Of Democratic 'Yes' Votes On Health Care
That day Congress voted on the American Health Care Act and most everyone fixed their attention on a group of Republicans who hadn’t quite made up their minds on the bill. So it all but escaped notice that two Democrats initially voted for the bill. Internet sleuths claimed they found the “traitors” but it turned out the two they named had left Congress in 2015. (Miller and Dick, 5/15)

But not all voters are worried after the vote. For some it was a relief —

The New York Times: Why Some Can’t Wait For A Repeal Of Obamacare
For Linda Dearman, the House vote last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act was a welcome relief. Ms. Dearman, of Bartlett, Ill., voted for President Trump largely because of his contempt for the federal health law. She and her husband, a partner in an engineering firm, buy their own insurance, but late last year they dropped their $1,100-a-month policy and switched to a bare-bones plan that does not meet the law’s requirements. They are counting that the law will be repealed before they owe a penalty. (Goodnough, 5/12)

School Districts Sound The Alarm Over Medicaid Cuts In GOP's Health Plan

They say they won't be able to absorb any cuts to the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements, and that something will have to give. Meanwhile, families who rely on other Medicaid programs and the Children's Health Insurance Program are also worried about their future under the Republican health care plan.

The Associated Press: Changes In Medicaid Distributions Worry School Districts
For school districts still getting their financial footing after the Great Recession, the Medicaid changes being advanced as part of the health care overhaul are sounding familiar alarms. Administrators say programming and services even beyond those that receive funding from the state-federal health care program could be at risk should Congress follow through with plans to change the way Medicaid is distributed. They say any reduction in the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements would be hard to absorb after years of reduced state funding and a weakened tax base. (Ho and Thompson, 5/15)

USA Today: Obamacare Replacement Threatens Kids' Health Coverage
Samantha Bailey spends her days in a Phoenix hospital room with her 19-month-old son, Henry, waiting for a heart transplant and fretting about his health care once he gets it. Fears about health care for low income or special needs children in Arizona aren't theoretical or simply the product of an anxious mother's mind. Until last year, Arizona was the only state in the nation that wasn't enrolling children just above the poverty line into the free or low-cost Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  A recession-induced budget crunch there led to a health coverage wait list for families earning between $27,000 to $40,000 a year for a family of three. (O'Donnell and Alltucker, 5/13)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Trumpcare Could Lead To Cuts In Services For Elderly, People With Disabilities In Virginia 
Cuts to Medicaid prescribed by the American Health Care Act could lead to a drastic reduction in services for Virginians with disabilities, policy experts and lawmakers said last week. In Virginia, 1 in every 8 residents rely on the state’s Medicaid program. That includes one-third of Virginia’s children and two-thirds of its nursing facility residents. (O'Connor and Kleiner, 5/14)

Meanwhile, some lawmakers want even more aggressive Medicaid cuts —

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Conservatives Look To Cut Medicaid
Conservative Senate Republicans are weighing faster and steeper cuts to Medicaid that could drop millions of people from coverage and mark the biggest changes to the program in its 52-year history. The plan being pushed by lawmakers such as Mike Lee (R., Utah) is likely to face resistance from centrist GOP senators who are already concerned a health-overhaul bill passed by House Republicans would leave too many people uninsured. But the push for more aggressive Medicaid cutbacks indicates that if a bill ultimately passes both chambers, it could significantly scale back the federal-state insurance program that covers 73 million low-income or disabled Americans. (Armour and Peterson, 5/14)

Amid News Of Firms Fleeing From Exchanges, Largest Kansas Insurer Says It Will Stay

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas filed its preliminary decision, but it may change depending on what happens with the American Health Care Act in Congress. Meanwhile, Tennessee's insurance chief is frustrated by the lack of answers on insurer subsidies.

KCUR: Largest Kansas Health Insurer To Offer ACA Marketplace Plans In 2018 
With a Monday deadline approaching, it isn’t clear whether all of the health insurance companies now participating in the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Kansas will continue in 2018. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest health insurer, has made a preliminary decision to continue and has filed initial paperwork with the Kansas Insurance Department, said Mary Beth Chambers, a company spokeswoman. (McLean, 5/12)

Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee's Insurance Chief Seeks Elusive Answers In Washington
Tennessee's top health insurance official is expressing frustration over what she describes as a lack of answers from Washington and the Trump administration, as the state braces for a new round of insurance rate filings. The future of a type of health insurance subsidy called cost-sharing reductions (CSR) is causing distress for insurers across the country, and Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak says she can't pinpoint the agency that will make the decision. (Fletcher, 5/12)

And Aetna's CEO says the debate over a single-payer system is needed —

Capitol Hill Watch

Ryan Says He Continues To Seek To Revamp Medicare To Help Control Federal Spending

The House speaker says in a radio interview that he is seeking "comprehensive Medicare legislation because that is the biggest one of all the unfunded liabilities.” Also, a new Commonwealth Fund study looks at the out-of-pocket health costs facing Medicare beneficiaries, and federal officials make an adjustment on new payment rules for doctors.

Roll Call: Paul Ryan Still Wants To Re-Do Medicare
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Friday it is possible the fiscal 2018 budget resolution could propose changes to the Medicare program. Speaking on WISN 1130, a conservative radio station in Milwaukee, Ryan said he’s long championed changes to the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older. “You know that I’ve long passed in my budgets comprehensive Medicare legislation because that is the biggest one of all the unfunded liabilities,” Ryan said. “The question is, can we get everybody else to agree, and that is just an ongoing conversation we’re having.” (Rahman, 5/12)

CNBC: Many Medicare Beneficiaries Spend 20 Percent Or More Of Their Income On Premiums, Other Health Costs
Having government-run health care doesn't mean you won't be on the hook for some steep medical bills. More than a quarter of all Medicare beneficiaries — 15 million elderly and disabled Americans — spend 20 percent or more of their household income in premiums and out-of-pocket health costs, a new study says. And those cost burdens are more common among Medicare beneficiaries who have low incomes, the Commonwealth Fund report found. (Mangan, 5/12)

WFPL (Louisville, Ky., Pubic Radio): Medicare Isn’t The Safest Of Safety Nets In Kentucky
If you’ve got Medicare insurance, you probably already know this. But if you don’t, you need to know this: It won’t be a relief from high health care costs. That’s according to a new study out from the Commonwealth Fund. The out-of-pocket cost for an average Medicare recipient is $3,024 a year, according to the study. That doesn’t include monthly premiums. And Medicare recipients pay on average $1,300 every time they’re hospitalized. (Gillespie, 5/15)

Modern Healthcare: CMS Gives 800,000 Docs A Pass On MACRA Requirement 
More than 800,000 clinicians will not have to comply with Merit-based Incentive Payment System reporting requirements outlined in MACRA, which may save them millions collectively in compliance costs. The majority of physician practices were expected to use the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, known as MIPS, to comply with MACRA as opposed to alternative pay models. Under MIPS, payments would be based on a compilation of quality measures and use of electronic health records. (Dickson, 5/11)

Women’s Health

Vulnerable Senators, Trying To Walk Fine Line On Abortion, Draw Fire From Both Sides

With the issue expected to be a lightning rod in the 2018 elections, lawmakers are trying to find the right balance. It isn't easy.

Politico: Abortion Politics Hound Senators From Both Parties
The politics of abortion are already vexing vulnerable senators from both parties on the 2018 ballot. Two of the most endangered senators up for reelection next year, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Nevada Republican Dean Heller, are being targeted by their opposition for stumbling over the issue recently. And there's plenty more in store: If the Senate calls up a bill to repeal Obamacare, controversy over Planned Parenthood funding will come to the fore — ensuring the 2018 campaign won’t lack for that perennial lightning rod. (Schor, 5/14)

Meanwhile, in the states —

KCUR: Missouri Appeals Decision Blocking Abortion Restrictions 
As expected, Missouri has appealed a federal judge’s ruling blocking two abortion restrictions enacted by the Legislature in 2007.Attorney General Josh Hawley had said he would appeal the preliminary injunction entered by U.S District Judge Howard Sachs last week. The injunction blocks Missouri’s laws requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and abortion clinics to be outfitted like ambulatory surgical centers. (Margolies, 5/12)

The Tennessean: Abortion: Tennessee Governor Signs Strict Late-Term Ban
Tennessee's governor signed a strict new abortion measure into law Friday, drawing praise and sharp criticism. The measure will further limit the few abortions already performed in Tennessee past the point of fetal viability — and potentially send doctors to jail if they fail to prove in court that an abortion of a viable fetus was necessary to save a woman's life or prevent substantial or irreversible harm to a "major bodily function of a pregnant woman." (Wadhwani and Lowary, 5/12)

And in other women's health news —

Politico: Trump Calls For More Women's Health Care, Paid Family Leave Options
In a statement celebrating Women's Health Week, President Donald Trump on Sunday called on improving health care access for "quality prenatal, maternal, and newborn care," in addition to ensuring paid family leave for both mothers and fathers." Ensuring affordable, accessible, and quality health care is critical to improving women’s health and ensuring that it fits their priorities at any stage of life," Trump said in his statement, issued on Mother's Day. (Morin, 5/14)

Pharmaceuticals

Ideas For Tackling Prescription Drug Costs Gain Traction With White House, Lawmakers

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney says that the administration is looking at ways to make drugmakers pay for mandatory rebates on medications bought through Medicare, as done with Medicaid. And Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will hold listening sessions on the issue in the coming weeks.

The Washington Post: The White House Budget Director Dropped A Hint About How Trump Could Bring Drug Prices Down 
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney dropped a surprising clue Thursday about how President Trump might bring drug prices down, describing the kind of government intervention that traditionally has been supported by Democrats. Mulvaney explained at a Stanford University conference that drugmakers receive a “tremendous giveaway” from Medicare's prescription drug benefit because they do not have to pay a mandatory rebate off the average price, as they do in Medicaid. Instead, in Medicare's prescription drug benefit, private companies bargain with drug companies to win rebates for their members. (Johnson, 5/12)

Roll Call: Policymakers Face Pressure To Act On Drug Pricing
A proposal that would open the door for the import of low-cost prescription drugs from Canada was defeated at a Senate markup Thursday, but the proposal is unlikely to be gone for good. Lawmakers from both parties seem to want to demonstrate concern about drug prices to voters. The administration also appears interested in addressing the issue, with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price holding listening sessions with patient groups and think tanks in recent weeks. None of the proposals would send drug prices plummeting, but public concern is high and policymakers are feeling pressure to take some kind of step, even if it would have a modest impact. (Siddons, 5/15)

Marketplace

After Losing Court Battles, Anthem Drops Efforts To Buy Cigna

Anthem says, however, that Cigna does not deserve a termination fee.

The Associated Press: Anthem Gives Up Cigna Bid, Vows To Fight On Over Damages
Anthem has ended its soured, $48 billion bid to buy rival Cigna, but the nation's second-largest health insurer isn't giving up a fight over whether Cigna deserves a termination fee for the scrapped deal. Anthem said Friday that Cigna sabotaged the merger agreement and caused "massive damages" for Anthem, which provides Blue Cross-Blue Shield coverage in several states. It said it plans to "vigorously pursue" its claims against Cigna. (Murphy, 5/12)

Bloomberg: Anthem’s Latest Court Loss Means Cigna Deal Is All But Dead 
Anthem Inc.’s nearly two-year effort to buy rival insurer Cigna Corp. is officially dead. Anthem said Friday that it won’t appeal a Delaware judge’s ruling late Thursday that Cigna can walk away from the $48 billion health insurance merger. That leaves the companies to fight over who’s to blame for the deal’s collapse. ... The judge’s decision means Anthem could be on the hook for a $1.85 billion breakup fee to Cigna, which said Friday it will seek “prompt payment.” The insurer has argued that Anthem was too stubborn to see that the concerns about competition were insurmountable, and also wants $13 billion in damages. (Feeley, Tracer and McLaughlin, 5/12)

Modern Healthcare: Anthem Calls Off Cigna Merger Deal After Another Court Loss 
A Delaware Chancery Court judge late last week denied Anthem's request to prevent Cigna from backing out of the $54 billion merger agreement. "Anthem has delivered to Cigna a notice terminating the Merger Agreement," the company said in a statement. "Cigna has failed to perform and comply in all material respects with its contractual obligations." Anthem also said that it would not pay Cigna an estimated $1.85 billion breakup fee. In fact, Anthem hinted that it would be going after Cigna for losses due to the merger. (Lee and Livingston, 5/13)

Medicaid

Oregon Officials May Be Nearing Budget Deal That Would Avert Cuts In Medicaid

Last month, Democrats in the legislature said that a budget shortfall could mean they would need to drop 350,000 people from the Medicaid program. News outlets also report on Medicaid news in Nebraska, Virginia and California.

The Oregonian: Kate Brown And Oregon Lawmakers Consider Health Care Taxes To Fund Medicaid
Gov. Kate Brown, lawmakers and the health care industry could be nearing a deal to avert cuts to Oregon's Medicaid program in the next two-year budget. "Everybody's been working super hard on this," the governor's health policy advisor Jeremy Vandehey said in an interview Thursday. ... Solving the $882 million shortfall in the Oregon Health Authority budget is key to closing the $1.6 billion hole in the next two-year general fund budget. In April, top Democrat budget writers warned they would have to throw 350,000 low-income Oregonians off Medicaid and cut a number of other vital programs unless the Legislature raises $575 million in new revenue. (Borrud, 5/12)

Omaha World-Herald: State’s New Medicaid Managed Care System Blamed For Problems With Billing And Getting Approval For Care
Nebraska’s new system for administering the bulk of its Medicaid program has gotten off to a rocky start. Nearly five months after its launch, the system has left behavioral health and home health providers fuming over unpaid claims and frustrated about getting care authorized for patients. Unpaid Medicaid claims topped $300,000 for one agency, prompting it to take out a line of credit for the first time in its 44 years. Providers also are worrying about how long they can afford to keep seeing Medicaid patients. (Stoddard, 5/15)

Omaha World-Herald: Medicaid Can Collect Nursing Home Room-And-Board Costs From Clients, Nebraska Supreme Court Rules
The Medicaid program can seek reimbursement from clients for nursing home room-and-board costs, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday. The high court rejected an argument from the representative of a deceased Medicaid recipient that it was “unconscionable and contrary to law” for the Department of Health and Human Services to collect most of his remaining estate to pay nonmedical expenses incurred while he was living in a nursing home. (Duggan, 5/14)

The Washington Post: Is It A Veto Or Not? McAuliffe And GOP Fight Over Language Blocking Medicaid Expansion.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the Republican legislature have escalated a long-running fight over whether a handful of his vetoes are valid — a battle that could determine whether the Democrat is able to pull off his marquee campaign pledge to expand Medicaid before leaving office in January. McAuliffe on Friday issued an executive order directing state agencies to recognize the state budget as he sees it — including five vetoes he made to various parts of the two-year spending plan. One of those vetoes, issued a year ago, rejects language that the General Assembly had inserted to prevent him from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act without its permission. (Vozzella, 5/12)

California Healthline: Fearing Deportation, Parents Worry About Undocumented Kids In Medi-Cal
Luz felt relieved and grateful when she learned that her 16-year-old son qualified for full coverage under Medi-Cal. Now, she worries that the information she provided to the government health program could put her family at risk of deportation. Luz’s son is one of nearly 190,000 children who have enrolled in Medi-Cal since California opened it to undocumented children last year. Luz, her husband and her son came to Merced, Calif., from Mexico without papers about 10 years ago. Luz asked that the family’s last name not be used, for fear of being identified by federal immigration authorities. (Ibarra, 5/15)

Public Health And Education

Federal Tough-On-Crime Drug Policy Sparks Criticism In State Hit Hard By Opioid Epidemic

“We should treat our nation’s drug epidemic as a health crisis and less as a ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ problem,” says Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Meanwhile, after HHS Secretary Tom Price angered advocates last week, Stat offers a look at the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment.

The Associated Press: Appalachia’s Approach To Drugs At Odds With AG Policy
In Appalachian states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic, the tough-on-crime policy announced Friday by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions runs counter to a recent emphasis on treatment and less prison time for low-level drug offenders. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul strongly opposed the Department of Justice directive, which reverses an Obama-era policy that prescribed leniency for nonviolent, low-level drug offenders. “We should treat our nation’s drug epidemic as a health crisis and less as a ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ problem,” Paul said in a statement released shortly after Session’s announcement. (Lovan, 5/13)

Stat: How Effective Is Medication-Assisted Treatment For Addiction?
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price sparked a firestorm last week with his comments about medication-assisted treatment, saying that “if we’re just substituting one opioid for another, we’re not moving the dial much” in the nation’s opioid epidemic. Notably, the former surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, took him to task on Twitter for, as he put it, moving away from evidence-based treatment protocols. (Sheridan, 5/15)

And in the states —

The Associated Press: Virginia Gets Nearly $10M To Fight Opioid Crisis
Virginia is getting nearly $10 million in federal money to help in its fight against the opioid epidemic. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced Friday that the state has received a $9.76 million grant. It will be used to purchase medication, support the medical staff necessary to prescribe and oversee clinical treatment, and remove barriers to access, such as transportation. (5/13)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia Receives Nearly $10 Million To Fight Opioid Epidemic 
In its effort to stifle the ongoing opioid epidemic that continues to claim lives, Virginia has received $9.7 million to increase medication-assisted treatment for addiction and to purchase the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. The state received the one-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Of the funds, $5 million will be doled out to Community Services Board throughout the state. (O'Connor, 5/12)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Jail Recovery Pod Gives Addicted Inmates A Way Out
The Hamilton County Detention Center’s women's recovery pod, which opened to inmates in the fall, was designed with an exit strategy. County officials seem sold on the concept. The Hamilton County commissioners this year approved a $200,000 boost to the program in the budget. Men will soon have their own recovery pod, and a detox unit is expected to be created for inmates who experience withdrawal when they arrive at the jail. (DeMio, 5/12)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Against The Odds, Emergency Rooms Are Getting People Into Addiction Treatment
In what some call a "warm handoff," a patient is transferred directly from the ER into a treatment program without cooling off for days in the old neighborhood, around old using buddies, one fentanyl-tainted bag of heroin away from death. The emergency room seems an ideal place to intervene. A revived patient has just experienced a potentially life-changing event. Hospitals have resources, including doctors and nurses who are passionate about saving lives. It turns out not to be that easy. Treatment beds are in short supply almost everywhere, forcing a wait of several days even for those who would jump at the chance to get clean. (Sapatkin, 5/14)

The Implants Used To Rebuild Her Chest After She Had Her Breasts Removed Gave Her Cancer

The Food and Drug Administration first reported a link between the implants and cancer in 2011, and information was added to the products’ labeling. But the warnings were deeply embedded in a dense list of complications, and no implants have been recalled.

The New York Times: A Shocking Diagnosis: Breast Implants ‘Gave Me Cancer’
Raylene Hollrah was 33, with a young daughter, when she learned she had breast cancer. She made a difficult decision, one she hoped would save her life: She had her breasts removed, underwent grueling chemotherapy and then had reconstructive surgery. In 2013, six years after her first diagnosis, cancer struck again — not breast cancer, but a rare malignancy of the immune system — caused by the implants used to rebuild her chest. (Grady, 5/14)

The New York Times: What You Need To Know If You Have Breast Implants
Nearly every case of the rare cancer that has been linked to breast implants — anaplastic large-cell lymphoma — involves those with a textured surface, not a smooth one, and most implants in the United States are smooth. The Food and Drug Administration says women with implants who are not experiencing any problems with them should stick to routine care, and do not need to have the implants removed. But symptoms like breast pain, swelling, fluid buildup or lumps should not be ignored. (Grady, 5/14)

Significant Racial, Ethnic Gaps Still Remain Despite Efforts To Broadly Reduce Sudden Infant Deaths

It's not clear why American Indian and Alaska Native infants experience a higher rate of SIDS than others. Meanwhile, the trend of having babies sleep in a box to reduce risk is spreading to the U.S., and air mattresses pose a danger to infants.

NPR: Racial Disparities Persist In Sudden Infant Deaths
American Indian and Alaska Native families are much more likely to have an infant die suddenly and unexpectedly, and that risk has remained higher than in other ethnic groups since public health efforts were launched to prevent sudden infant death syndrome in the 1990s. African-American babies also face a higher risk, a study finds. (Hobson, 5/15)

The Washington Post: Put Your Baby To Sleep In A Box? A Finnish Idea Is Winning Converts Here.
Although Ella Mae Formel works full time in Great Barrington, Mass., money is tight for the new mother. Her baby, Oliver, was born at the end of March, and making sure she had everything she needed to take care of him was important to her. So when she read a newspaper article before his birth about a program offering free baby boxes, she jumped at the opportunity. Her gift — a cardboard box where the baby can sleep for his first six months — came loaded with swaddles, a first-aid kit, a rubber duck thermometer to test water temperature, diapers, and tea and sanitary pads for her. (Eaton, 5/13)

NPR: Inflatable Beds: Dangerous For Infants, Attractive To Cash-Strapped Parents
Inflatable beds can be cheap, which is good news for consumers who want an alternative to pricey traditional mattresses. But their uneven, soft, impermeable surfaces are dangerous for babies, and can increase the risk of sudden infant death. The dangers may be particularly acute for low-income families, a recent essay in the American Journal of Public Health argues. (Hersher, 5/12)

Now That Hep C Is Curable, Surgeons Want To Use Organs That Otherwise Would Have Been Thrown Out

As many as 1,000 kidneys are discarded each year because they're infected with hepatitis C, but some think those could be going to needy patients. In other public health news: suicide at a young age, ADHD and car crashes, sunscreen at school, yawning, second-hand smoke, and more.

Stat: Surgeons Plan To Use Hepatitis-Infected Hearts To Slash Wait For A Transplant
As many as 1,000 such infected kidneys are thrown away each year in the United States, but new medications have made hepatitis C curable — and made it possible to consider using infected organs for transplants. That could cut down on the wait time not just for kidneys but also other organs, especially hearts...In 2016, there were 14,501 kidneys made available for transplantation in the US, while roughly 100,000 people waited for a new kidney, [Dr. Richard N. Formica Jr.] said. The same year, there were 3,208 heart transplants, Formica said, and nearly 4,000 people waited for one. (Weintraub, 5/12)

Reuters: ADHD Treatment Tied To Lower Car Crash Risk
People with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are at increased risk of motor-vehicle accidents, but it is significantly reduced when they are taking ADHD medication, a 10-year study finds. The researchers estimate that 1 in 5 of the accidents among more than 2 million people with ADHD during the study period could have been avoided if these individuals had been receiving medication the entire time. (5/12)

The Associated Press: More States Allow Sunscreen At Schools Without Doctor’s OK
Susan Grenon makes sure her son is lathered with sunscreen before he leaves for school in the morning, but the fair-skinned 10-year-old can’t bring a bottle to reapply it without a doctor’s note. Many school systems categorize sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication requiring special paperwork, but several states have been pushing to loosen restrictions to make it easier for kids to protect themselves from skin cancer. (O'Brien, 5/14)

NPR: Yawning May Promote Social Bonding Even Between Dogs And Humans
Bears do it; bats do it. So do guinea pigs, dogs and humans. They all yawn. It's a common animal behavior, but one that is something of a mystery. There's still no consensus on the purpose of a yawn, says Robert Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Provine has studied what he calls "yawn science" since the early 1980s, and he's published dozens of research articles on it. He says the simple yawn is not so simple. (Trudeau and Greenhalgh, 5/15)

The Baltimore Sun: University Of Maryland Team Uses Amish To Study Ill Effects Of Secondhand Smoke 
In bucolic Lancaster County, Pa., the Amish grow their own tobacco. In keeping with traditional gender roles, the men smoke the tobacco in cigars, pipes or cigarettes, while the women largely tend to abstain. A recent study of the Old Order Amish community by University of Maryland researchers has nonetheless found the women to be just as susceptible to the health problems related to exposure to secondhand smoke. (Wells, 5/14)

The Washington Post: Trump Thinks That Exercising Too Much Uses Up The Body’s ‘Finite’ Energy
President Trump reportedly eschews exercise because he believes it drains the body’s “finite” energy resources, but experts say this argument is flawed because the human body actually becomes stronger with exercise. Trump’s views on exercise were mentioned in a New Yorker article this month and in “Trump Revealed,” The Washington Post’s 2016 biography of the president, which noted that Trump mostly gave up athletics after college because he “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.” (Rachael Rettner, 5/14)

NPR: High School Students Try Nap Pods To Reduce Stress
When 18-year-old Hannah Vanderkooy feels extremely tired or anxious, she heads to a space-like capsule for a nap — during school. Like many teens struggling to get good grades and maybe even a college scholarship, Vanderkooy doesn't get enough sleep. And she's not alone. Various studies indicate that chronically sleepy and stressed-out teenagers might be the new normal among U.S. adolescents who are competing for grades, colleges and, eventually, jobs. (Neighmond, 5/15)

State Watch

State Highlights: N.J. Gov. Seeks More Oversight Of State's Largest Insurer; Missouri Takes Big Step To Address Doctor Shortage

Media outlets report on news from New Jersey, Missouri, Texas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Virginia, California and Georgia.

The Wall Street Journal: New Jersey Governor Seeks More Control Over Big Health Insurer
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is waging an unlikely battle against the state’s largest health insurer in his administration’s waning months. Mr. Christie, a business-friendly Republican who has claimed credit for cutting corporate taxes and regulations during his nearly two terms in office, is calling for more state control of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, which covers 3.8 million people. (King, 5/14)

The Associated Press: Missouri Targets Doctor Dearth, Expands First-In-Nation Law
Numerous additional doctors from around the U.S. could become eligible to treat patients in Missouri’s underserved areas as a result of a planned expansion of a first-in-the-nation law aimed at addressing a pervasive doctor shortage. The newly passed Missouri legislation would broaden the reach of a 2014 law that sought to bridge the gap between communities in need of doctors and physicians in need of jobs. That law created a new category of licensed professionals — “assistant physicians” — for people who graduate from medical school and pass key medical exams but aren’t placed in residency programs needed for certification. (Lieb, 5/14)

Texas Tribune: State Employee Health Care Fix Could Hurt Texas Medical Schools, Critics Say 
Inserted in the nearly 900 page Senate budget bill are three paragraphs that would force the medical schools to treat members of the Employees Retirement System of Texas at a discounted rate... Proponents see it as a way to use one state asset to help another. But opponents warn that it would mean less revenue to help the medical schools pay for important cancer research and medical residencies that help fight doctor shortages in the state. (Watkins, 5/12)

Texas Tribune: House Freedom Caucus Blocks Maternal Mortality Bills, More Than 100 Others 
In a stunning blow to public health experts and advocates, the 12-member House Freedom Caucus used a parliamentary maneuver to kill a wide slate of bills, including House Bill 1158, which would have connected first-time pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid to services, and House Bill 2403, which would have commissioned a study on how race and socioeconomics affect access and care for pregnant black women. Both bills were aiming to help the state better understand how to better reach expecting mothers. (Evans and Malewitz, 5/12)

Houston Chronicle: Key Medical Bills Among Casualties Of Bill Massacre
Texas' disturbingly high rate of pregnancy-related deaths alarmed lawmakers last summer, but the only real legislation to tackle the problem in the current session was a casualty of Thursday night's bill massacre. The killed legislation included House Bill 1158, which would have made it easier for first-time pregnant women on Medicaid to access services and information; and HB 2403, which would have required the state's maternal mortality task force to conduct a study evaluating the causes of death in blacks, who bear the greatest risk. (Ackerman, 5/13)

Boston Globe: Partners HealthCare To Cut $600 Million To Become More Efficient 
Partners HealthCare, the state’s largest hospital network, is planning to slash more than $600 million in costs over the next three years, its most significant initiative to become more efficient. At more than $12 billion a year, Partners’ revenues surpass those of its competitors, but the company lost $108 million last year as its insurance arm and certain hospitals struggled. (Dayal McCluskey, 5/12)

Pioneer Press: UMN Cancels M Health Agreement With Fairview, Plans To Renegotiate 
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted Friday to cancel its M Health agreement with Fairview Health Services in hopes of striking a better deal. Under the 2013 agreement between Fairview and University of Minnesota Physicians, U officials have said, revenues and the quality of patient care have improved. But the university thinks it can do better. (Verges, 5/12)

NPR: A Young Doctor Tends To His Patients In Rural Alaska
In rural Alaska, providing health care means overcoming a lot of hurdles. Fickle weather that can leave patients stranded, for one. Also: complicated geography. Many Alaskan villages have no roads connecting them with hospitals or specialists, so people depend on local clinics and a cadre of devoted primary care doctors. (Block, 5/13)

Denver Post: New Center At CU Anschutz Could Create National Model For Veterans’ Care
The facility, which could begin offering some services as early as this summer, will provide a place for veterans to receive comprehensive treatment in one place — whether they need treatment for a traumatic brain injury, counseling for post-traumatic stress, physical therapy or other care. The center plans also to offer alternative therapies such as acupuncture and yoga, and its location on the Anschutz Medical Campus means that more complicated treatment — such as for prosthetics — is all within a few blocks. (Ingold, 5/12)

Kansas City Star: Wellington, Kan., Hospital Threatened Like Other Rural Facilities 
Wellington’s hospital is just rural enough to carry small-town problems and just close enough to Wichita — a little more than 20 miles up the turnpike — to see patients referred to bigger hospitals for the most complicated and money-generating care. That means empty beds and sometimes idle staff, more factors that push its ledger toward the red. (Canon, 5/14)

Kaiser Health News: Houston Hospital Checking To See If Patients’ Cupboards Are Bare
Sherry King had lost her job as a dental assistant and was stretching her food, sometimes going without any fresh fruit or vegetables. But the suburban Houston resident didn’t reach out for any help — even from her own relatives, whom she didn’t want to worry. Then she switched to a new doctor late last year. “They asked me, ‘Do I have enough food? Do I have access to nutritious food?’ ” the 51-year-old recalled. “When they asked me that, it made me cry.” That prompted the medical practice to take note of her situation, and a clinician soon introduced King to several local food banks that carry fresh produce and some meat, such as chicken. (Huff, 5/15)

The Star Tribune: Minnesota's 'Incident Team' Races To Stop Measles Outbreak 
For nearly four weeks, the Minnesota Department of Health had been battling a measles outbreak that is now the state’s worst since 1990. The Minneapolis day care center was one of 11 where infected children have exposed thousands of others — many unvaccinated — leading to an outbreak that has sickened 54 people and spread to rural parts of the state. After a brief discussion, Heath and the group decided to contact the state Department of Human Services, which oversees child care providers, and ask for enforcement help. (Howatt, 5/15)

San Antonio Press Express: Freestanding ERs And That $2,000 Flu 
The Rice University study “Freestanding Emergency Departments in Texas deliver costly care, sticker shock” released in March confirms what leaders in the emergency and urgent care industries have known for several years: Freestanding emergency rooms, or FSERs, charge 10 to 15 times more than urgent care clinics, or UCCs, for treatment of similar problems. The study noted that in 2015, the total price of a FSER visit averaged $2,199 versus $168 for a UCC. (Swift, 5/14)

Denver Post: With Sleek New Kids-Only Helicopter, Children’s Hospital And Flight For Life Are Transforming Colorado Air Transport 
Before Lifeguard 6, the transfer would have taken longer in a smaller helicopter not equipped with complex, kid-specific medical treatments and medicines. What’s carried aboard the new aircraft, including the medical team, is like bringing Children’s Hospital right to the patient, say hospital and Flight for Life officials. They hope it will help transform the way sophisticated health care reaches rural corners of Colorado and beyond, where complex pediatric and neonatal intensive care is scarce. (Paul, 5/14)

The Star Tribune: Taking Cue From Edina, Other Minnesotans Want Tobacco Age Raised To 21
Now that Edina has approved raising the age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21, the idea is winning support elsewhere in Minnesota. A community health manager in northwestern Minnesota wrote last week in a letter to the editor that what Edina and more than 200 other communities around the country have done "will help prevent more kids from being addicted to tobacco products." (Walsh, 5/14)

Austin American-Statesman: Austin Council To Ban E-Cigarettes From Parks, Bars
Austin City Council members on Thursday asked staffers to add electronic cigarettes to the list of tobacco products covered by city ordinances, adding them to existing bans. City policies disallow smoking in public places including city parks, bars and restaurants.Council Member Delia Garza said she considered it a victory for public health and overall clarity of city positions. (Findell, 5/12)

The Oregonian: Age Of Rising Triplet Rates Is Over In Oregon, Nationwide 
The Huntington triplets were among about 6,900 individual triplets born in the United States in 2001. That compares with about 4,200 in 2014. The decline marks significant scientific advances. Not only do fertility labs have better equipment and techniques, doctors have also gained more experience and knowledge to reduce the number of embryos they implant in a woman. (Terry, 5/13)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: VCU's New Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Could Improve Outcomes 
In March, Fields and a team of Massey providers successfully inserted a CivaSheet into a 70-year-old pancreatic cancer patient from Varina, marking the first time the device has been used to treat pancreatic cancer. CivaSheet is a biodegradable applicator that is basically a flat membrane containing radioactive isotopes. Once placed, it applies radiation in one direction while shielding the healthy tissue in the opposite direction. (O'Connor, 5/14)

Boston Globe: Harvard Pilgrim Employees Get Unlimited Time Off 
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has stopped restricting how much time off employees can take, joining the ranks of tech startups and a handful of major corporations that no longer track paid vacation time as the boundaries between work and personal life become increasingly blurred. The aim of the policy is to give employees flexibility, boost morale, and attract talented workers, the health insurer said in announcing the plan. But since vacation time will no longer be on the books, unused time won’t have to be paid out when a person leaves, potentially saving the company money. (Johnston, 5/15)

Los Angeles Times: Glendale Hospitals Celebrate National Nurses Week
The American Nurses Assn. has designated May 6 through 12 “National Nurses Week,” and as the week closes, the News-Press is highlighting the work of nurses for their work at three Glendale hospitals. May 12 is also the birthday of British nurse Florence Nightingale, a pioneer of modern nursing. (Landa, 5/12)

San Jose Mercury News: Comprehensive Sex-Ed Curriculum Coming To Santa Clara County Schools
In classrooms, district offices and school board rooms around the county, the conversation lately has pivoted to one subject: sex... At the center of the controversy is Health Connected, a Redwood City nonprofit that several districts in the region have contracted to teach a sex education program called Teen Talk. The program was updated following passage of the California Healthy Youth Act, which went into effect in January 2016 and requires school districts to provide comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education once in middle school and once in high school. (Sarwari and Myllenbeck, 5/12)

Editorials And Opinions

Different Takes: Look Past Capitol Hill To See Real Reform; GOP Health Plan 'Insults' Women

Opinion pages nationwide highlight some of the key elements of the current repeal-and-replace debate.

Bloomberg: Health Care Is Reforming, Just Not In Washington
As lawmakers in Washington continue their debate over how to modify the U.S. health-insurance market, health-care investors and business leaders around the world need to see past the political drama and run their businesses with a view toward improving value in health care. If they succeed, it will make a bigger difference for the cost and quality of care -- globally and for most Americans -- than whatever action is taken by Congress. (David Gluckman and Peter R. Orszag, 5/15)

The Huffington Post: This Mother’s Day, We Must Acknowledge The Negative Impacts Of The AHCA
Becoming a parent, as any of us who’ve made this incredible journey know, is one of life’s most awesome experiences. It’s intensely joyful, often challenging, sometimes bewildering, and completely transformative. And for a mom-to-be who doesn’t receive the right care, it can also be unnecessarily dangerous, resulting in costly and sometimes devastating complications. As parents and grandparents, we are teaming up to raise awareness about the devastating impacts of the U.S. House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA). (Sen. Jon Tester and Heidi Murkoff, 5/14)

The New York Times: The Health Care Bill’s Insults To Women
When Representative John Shimkus questioned, during a debate in March, why men have to pay for prenatal care, it was a sign of things to come. Soon Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, was joking that older men didn’t need maternity care. When asked about repealing a requirement of the Affordable Care Act, Senator Pat Roberts replied, “I wouldn’t want to lose my mammograms.” (5/12)

WBUR: Women Must Rise Up Against Republican Assault On Female Health Care 
The health care bill developed by the Trump administration and members of the House should serve as a call to action for women throughout the country. In the desperate quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans passed a bill that sets women’s health care — and women’s rights — back decades. As a sea of white male faces took an unprecedented victory lap at the White House following their narrow House win, one wonders how these Congressmen face their mothers, wives and daughters after voting for a bill that is demonstrably hostile to women. (Lauren Stiller Rikleen, 5/15)

San Antonio Press Express: The Pre-Existing Lie In Health Care Debate 
If you’ve only followed coverage of the Republican health care bill loosely in the media, you might believe that House Republicans, after much effort, passed legislation to deny people with pre-existing conditions health insurance. The issue of pre-existing conditions has dominated the debate over the GOP health care bill out of all proportion to the relatively modest provision in the legislation, which is being distorted — often willfully, sometimes ignorantly — into a threat to all that is good and true in America. The perversity of it all is that the legislation is properly understood as doing more to preserve the Obamacare regulation on pre-existing conditions than to undermine it. (Rich Lowry, 5/13)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Straight Talk On ‘Pre-Existing Conditions’ 
As Senate Republicans prepare for their turn in the health care meat grinder, it increasingly appears that the question of pre-existing conditions will be toughest to address. This is an issue so fraught with emotion as to cry out for some straight talk. First, let’s be clear about who we’re talking about when the conversation turns to pre-existing conditions: people who are already sick or at high risk of becoming sick. (Michael Tanner, 5/12)

USA Today: GOP Health Bill Creates Separate Countries Of The Sick And The Well.
Let me tell you a story. A young, healthy, athletic man was struck down by a heart attack and, the following year, a diagnosis of cancer. These crises moved him to write a memoir, a letter to his younger self, describing the insights and transformations he underwent as a result of these profoundly life-altering experiences. It became At the Will of the Body, the powerful book by Arthur Frank, who has touched and informed not only patients but also their caregivers for many years. (Sara T. Baker, 5/15)

The New York Times: A Trumpcare Change Of Heart
I want to tell you a story this morning about two men from New Jersey. A few months ago, Tom Moran, a columnist for The Star-Ledger, went to Washington, D.C., to interview Representative Tom MacArthur, a Republican from his state. During their conversation, MacArthur explained why he was one of the renegade Republicans blocking his own party’s health care bill. “I want to be sure we don’t pull the rug out from 20 million people,” he said. “No American should lack insurance. And I’m not talking about access — I’m talking about insurance.” ... Last week, MacArthur switched his position on the Republican health care bill, from opposition to support. Not only that, he wrote a provision that helped the bill win enough support to pass. Without Tom MacArthur, Trumpcare might not have passed in the House. (David Leonhardt, 5/12)

Perspectives On GOP Medicaid Plans: The Challenges Of Spin; Proposed Changes Could Cause Harm For Years To Come

Editorial writers examine various issues involved in the Republican efforts to change the federal-state low-income insurance program.

The Washington Post: Why Republicans Are Finding It So Hard To Spin Their War On Medicaid
To be clear, what [Republican senators are] pushing for — and what Republicans have wanted for a long time — isn’t just revoking the ACA’s Medicaid expansion but going farther, to transform the program into block grants given to states and give them “flexibility,” which means allowing them to cut benefits and kick people off the program. This is apparently what hard-right conservatives like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee (both of whom are on the working group devising the Senate’s plan) are pushing for. (Paul Waldman, 5/12)

Baltimore Sun: Gutting Medicaid Will Harm Generations To Come
A bill to fundamentally change the way Americans purchase and receive health care passed the House of Representatives and is now waiting consideration in the Senate. The bill, which was opposed by nearly every major medical organization, threatens the health and well-being of millions of Americans with public and private insurance. The bill would effectively gut Medicaid, the program that today, thanks to expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ensures health services for 74 million Americans, including nearly 1.3 million Marylanders. As leaders and frontline health professionals, we see daily how Medicaid saves lives and provides hope and stability, and our state must join a growing national effort to preserve it. (Rep. Elijah Cummings, Leana S. Wen and Kevin Lindamood, 5/14)

Axios: No, Medicaid Isn't Broken
One reason the architects of the American Health Care Act want to cut Medicaid spending and give more responsibility to the states is that they believe that the current program is "broken," with inadequate access to physicians and out-of-control costs. This is one of those canards that is repeated so often that many people just accept it as true. Mostly, it is not true. (Drew Altman, 5/15)

Forbes: Trumpcare Hits Children's Hospitals Hard
The nation’s children’s hospitals may see a harsh reduction in funding and reduced care for their patients should the American Health Care Act, also known as Trumpcare, replace the Affordable Care Act, new analyses show. The ACA expanded Medicaid in 31 states that opted to do so, particularly for children that tend to qualify for such coverage in greater numbers than adults. The AHCA, which narrowly passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, would roll back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and will lead to 14 million fewer Americans with insurance by 2018 and eventually 24 million would lose coverage by 2026, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in March. (Bruce Japsen, 5/14)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio Lawmakers Must Fill Multimillion-Dollar Medicaid Managed-Care Sales Tax Hole
A substantial amount of funding for the state of Ohio, for mass transit in Greater Cleveland and elsewhere, as well as for counties depends on how well the General Assembly addresses a hole federal decisions have dug for Ohio. At issue: a sales tax on Medicaid managed care organizations worth $597 million annually for Ohio and $200 million for the localities and transit authorities that levy "piggyback" sales taxes. Federal officials have said the taxes are no longer proper and given Ohio until June 30 to get rid of them. (5/14)

Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail: Ryancare Courageously Takes On Medicaid Problem
Medicaid has been a backdoor for getting the country on a single-payer government health care system. Just since 1980, the percentage of Americans on this government single-payer system has exploded from 8.7 percent to 18.3 percent in 2013. ... Because Medicaid is simply government health care, it is marked by waste and inefficiency. The undisciplined spending just drives up health care costs and drives down health care quality. (Star Parker, 5/12)

Viewpoints: Mental Health Issues And Schools; Electronic Medical Records -- The Bane Of Doctors' Existence?

A selection of public health opinions from around the country.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Mental Health Issues Becoming Pervasive For Schools
There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of precise numbers, but experts in the field say there has been an increase nationwide in mental health needs of kids. Possibly, a factor may be that we’re paying more attention and doing more about problems. The statement is frequently made that one in five school-age children have mental health issues that go beyond normal, and 80% do not get professional help. (Alan Borsuk, 5/13)

WBUR: Death By A Thousand Clicks: Leading Boston Doctors Decry Electronic Medical Records
Electronic medical records, or EMRs, were supposed to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of health care, and provide instant access to vital patient information. Instead, EMRs have become the bane of doctors and nurses everywhere. They are the medical equivalent of texting while driving, sucking the soul out of the practice of medicine while failing to improve care. To fix them, hospital administrators and clinicians need to work together to demand better products from EMR manufacturers and to urge government to relax several provisions of the HITECH Act, the 2009 law that spawned many of the problems with EMRs. (John Levinson, Bruce Price and Vikas Saini, 5/12)

Austin American-Statesman: Amid Shift In Healthcare, Nurses Remain A Constant
During our combined 74 years working in this field, medical advances have revolutionized healthcare, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled level of care. At the same time, these changes have presented new challenges. Regardless of what happens with our nation’s healthcare system, one thing has not changed — the steadfast support provided by nurses. (David Huffstutler and Sheila Fata, 5/15)

The Washington Post: The Simple Moment When My Autistic Son Was Treated Like Any Other Person
Unlike with most of the important changes I go through, I can pinpoint the exact moment when I stopped grieving a recent traumatic event in my son’s life. This unexpected shift happened during one of those crazy-hot days we had in April. The sky was hazy with the new green from baby leaves; the cherry trees were bursting with pink confetti. I had taken my son, Nat, home with me for the afternoon — he lives in a group home with other intellectually disabled adults. He’s supposed to stay at the home on weekends, to get used to this new house, to become independent of us. But on that sunny Sunday, I just wanted him with me. (Susan Senator, 5/12)

Stat: Failing In Public Can Teach Doctors Much-Needed Lessons In Humility
Beyond the immediate guilt of overlooking a diagnosis, I felt the shame that comes from the professional exposure of failure. I pulled aside my supervising resident physician, who was attending to the baby. We talked about my assessment of the baby and where I had fallen short. She discreetly but directly covered the consequences of moving too quickly and viewing an X-ray through the dingy overhead light of a county hospital. She recognized that I had learned from my failure the most important lesson it could have taught me. Medical internship is a remarkable time. In the course of a year, a person moves from being a brand-new medical school graduate to an almost independently thinking physician. The transformation brings a level of confidence that has you believing you can see a sliver of air between the chest and lung through the glare of a fluorescent light. (Bryan Vartabedian, 5/12)

The New York Times: Why Marathons Are More Dangerous For Nearby Residents Than Runners
At least 21 runners died in United States marathons from 2000 through 2009, most from heart problems. Seven more died a day later. Those results from a study published in 2012 sound scary, until you consider that this was out of more than 3.7 million participants. A recent study suggests that the far bigger cardiovascular danger is not faced by runners, but by older people who live in the cities where marathons are occurring and might be delayed from receiving care. (Aaron E. Carroll, 5/15)

Los Angeles Times: Make Good On A Tobacco Tax Promise To Pay Higher Rates To Medi-Cal Doctors
The $183.4-billion revised spending plan Brown unveiled Thursday restores some things that were on the chopping block in January and even finds a little more money to hand out. There’s $1.4 billion more for education above the amount required by Proposition 98. There’s $500 million more to pay child care providers. There’s about $400 million more to help counties pay for in-home health services and $6.5 million more for the California attorney general to fight President Trump. But no more for Medi-Cal providers? (5/12)