KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Numbers tell stories.
They show the GOP’s health
Care priorities.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

24 Million More Would Be Uninsured Under GOP Replacement Plan By 2026

The highly anticipated Congressional Budget Office analysis of the American Health Care Act projects grim coverage numbers for the Republicans' bill.

The Associated Press: What The Budget Analysts Say About GOP Health Care Bill
Fourteen million more people would be uninsured next year, mostly 6 million who wouldn't get coverage on the individual market and 5 million fewer under Medicaid. The number of uninsured would rise to 24 million in 2026. Much of the increase would be from changes in Medicaid enrollment as states end Obama's expansions of eligibility. (3/14)

NPR: GOP Health Care Bill Could Leave 24M More Without Coverage By 2026, CBO Says
In addition, CBO estimates that the Republican bill would reduce the number of employers offering health insurance, in part because it repeals the employer mandate to provide insurance. The CBO also notes that the GOP plan's tax credits (available only to people who aren't offered insurance at their jobs) would be available to more people than under Obamacare. (Kurtzleben, 3/13)

Bloomberg: GOP Obamacare Plan Takes Hit With CBO's Dire Estimates
The 2018 portrait is particularly awkward. About 14 million more people would be uninsured next year under House Speaker Paul Ryan’s health plan compared to Obamacare. Although the CBO said the measure would eventually reduce the deficit, the cost figures would still be rising through 2018, while premiums would also still be going up. (Edney, Tracer and Wasson, 3/13)

'Eye-Popping' CBO Analysis Sends Republicans Into Damage Control Mode

While Republicans tried to soften the news by pointing out more optimistic parts of the report, the White House slammed the analysis as "just not believable."

Politico: GOP Scrambles After Scorching Health Bill Appraisal
House Republican leaders plunged into damage control mode Monday after a brutal budgetary assessment of their Obamacare replacement threatened to upend Senate GOP support and armed their critics on the left. Speaker Paul Ryan’s team quickly pinpointed rosier elements of the report by the Congressional Budget Office, from cost savings to lower premiums. (Cheney, Everett and Pradhan, 3/13)

The Hill: GOP Does Damage Control Over Healthcare Score 
Leading House Republicans are fighting to defend their ObamaCare replacement bill in the face of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that found the measure would result in millions of people becoming uninsured. Democrats are on the attack, hoping the findings — and the eye-popping estimate that 24 million additional people will be without coverage by 2026 — will stop ObamaCare repeal in its tracks. (Sullivan, 3/14)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Ga. Republicans In Damage Control Mode On Health Care
Many Georgia Republicans scrambled to re-frame the health care conversation Monday on Capitol Hill after the release of a nonpartisan report that estimated that 24 million fewer people would be on the health insurance rolls by 2026 under GOP leaders’ Obamacare replacement plan compared to the current law. Several Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation emphasized the more flattering aspects of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the GOP’s American Health Care Act and ignored the uglier ones in a bid to keep the proposal afloat. Others sought to return the spotlight to rising premiums under the Affordable Care Act. (Hallerman, 3/13)

The Hill: Trump Official Slams CBO Score: It's 'Just Not Believable' 
The Trump administration on Monday slammed a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that millions of people would become uninsured under the Republicans' plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare...Price said the analysis released Monday afternoon does not take into account the entirety of the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which he said would cover more people while lowering costs. The long-awaited report has roiled the debate over the GOP’s bid to overhaul the healthcare system, which would include repealing many elements of the Affordable Care Act and creating a new tax credit to help people buy insurance. (Fabian, 3/13)

The Wall Street Journal: CBO Sees 24 Million More Uninsured, $337 Billion Deficit Cut In Coming Decade With GOP Health Plan
But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said Republicans shouldn’t reject the CBO report because they don’t like every element of it. “Let’s say the CBO is half right—that should be cause for concern,” Mr. Graham told reporters. “The prudent thing for the party to do is to look at the CBO report and see if we can address some of the concerns raised.” (Armour and Peterson, 3/13)

The Washington Post: White House Attacks On CBO Could Set Up Months Of Brawling
CBO officials are often political punching bags, but vitriolic attacks from top White House officials in recent days have the potential to erode the agency’s standing at a time when its assessments of health-care policy, changes to the tax code and deficit projections will factor into whether Congress enacts key parts of the Trump administration’s agenda. (Paletta, 3/13)

CQ Roll Call: Attack On CBO Seen As Disturbing New Development
Republicans’ rollout of Obamacare repeal legislation has provoked one of the most brutal public beatings of the Congressional Budget Office in recent memory.The trigger? The release of a cost estimate of Republicans’ budget reconciliation legislation that would partially repeal and replace a major portion of the 2010 health care law ( PL 111-148 , PL 111-152 ).The common defense when grilled on what CBO would show? Slam the nonpartisan scorekeeper. But former CBO employees and directors said that doing so could have devastating consequences down the road. (Mejdrich, 3/14)

In other news, the report wasn't bad news for everyone —

CBO Numbers A Boon To Replacement Plan's Critics

Democrats say the nonpartisan CBO's score is evidence that the GOP legislation will provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the rich while yanking health coverage from the poor.

The Hill: CBO Ignites Firestorm With ObamaCare Repeal Score
“The CBO’s estimate makes clear that TrumpCare will cause serious harm to millions of American families,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said in a statement. “Tens of millions will lose their coverage, and millions more, particularly seniors, will have to pay more for health care. The CBO score shows just how empty the president’s promises, that everyone will be covered and costs will go down, have been.” (Sullivan and Hellmann, 3/13)

Modern Healthcare: 24 Million Would Lose Coverage Under GOP's Obamacare Repeal Plan
“This is totally devastating,” said David Cutler, a pro-ACA health policy expert at Harvard University. “There's no way anyone can vote for this plan knowing that it will likely cause 24 million people to lose insurance coverage." “Adding more than 20 million-plus individuals to uninsured status is not an ideal way to reduce future budget deficits,” said Tom Miller, a conservative health policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute and an ACA critic. (Meyers and Dickson, 3/13)

Boston Globe: Elizabeth Warren Slams Republican Health Plan After CBO Report 
Senator Elizabeth Warren said that Massachusetts residents “have every right to be worried” over the House GOP health care bill, railing against the plan Monday evening on Twitter. Warren sent out a series of tweets shortly after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report projecting that 14 million Americans would lose coverage next year under the GOP plan — a number that would grow to 24 million by 2026. (Reiss, 3/13)

Despite Efforts To Discredit CBO, White House's Own Analysis Is Even More Grim

The executive branch's projections, obtained by Politico, show 26 million people would lose insurance over the next decade -- 2 million more than the Congressional Budget Office estimate.

The Hill: WH Analysis Of ObamaCare Replacement Projects Bigger Coverage Gap Than CBO: Report 
The White House's internal analysis of the GOP's ObamaCare replacement plan reportedly projects more insurance losses than the report released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The White House document, obtained by Politico, projects that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade under the GOP's healthcare plan. It finds that 54 million people total would be uninsured in 2026. (Savransky, 3/13)

States From Calif. To Conn. Weigh Impact Of Loss Of Coverage Under GOP Plan

Older and poorer people who gained coverage under the federal health law are most at risk, according to advocates in places that have embraced Obamacare.

San Francisco Chronicle: GOP Health Plan To Cost Older, Poorer Californians Far More 
The health care bill proposed by House Republicans would disproportionately affect older and poorer Californians by shrinking federal assistance to hundreds of thousands of older people who buy plans on Covered California and by reducing federal funding to Medi-Cal, the insurance program for the poor, experts say. The American Health Care Act, the GOP proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, includes two provisions that health care experts calculate would lead to lower-income Californians in their 50s and 60s paying more for health care. (Ho, 3/13)

Boston Globe: Would Mass. Residents Lose Health Coverage Under GOP Plan? Yes, Analysts Say 
Some Massachusetts residents would lose health insurance if the GOP’s health care proposal goes into effect — but possibly not as quickly as the rest of the country. ... most of the first reduction, in 2018, is attributed to the elimination of penalties for not getting insurance. The CBO projects that some people who had been buying insurance just to avoid the penalty will drop coverage once the penalty is gone. That may not be as big a factor in Massachusetts, because the state has its own law, with penalties, requiring that nearly everyone obtain health insurance. (Freyer, 3/13)

The CT Mirror: Analysis: GOP Obamacare Replacement Could Cost CT $89M To $539M
The House Republican proposal to replace the federal health law could cost the state $89 million to $539 million in 2020, the year many of the major provisions would take effect, according to an analysis released by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration Monday. The administration also estimated that 34,000 people who buy health plans through the state’s health insurance exchange would not renew their coverage for 2018 if the proposal becomes law. (Levin Becker, 3/13)

The CT Mirror: CT Dems Say CBO Report Shows GOP Health Plan Should Be Scrapped 
As soon as the Congressional Budget Office released its long-awaited report Monday afternoon on the impact of the GOP’s American Health Care Act, Connecticut Democrats joined party colleagues in saying the analysis proved the health plan should be scrapped. The CBO estimated the American Health Care Act would result in 24 million Americans losing their health insurance, but would lower the budget deficit by $337 billion over 10 years, largely as a result of reduced federal payments to Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor. (Radelat, 3/13)

Detroit Free Press: Obamacare Replacement Hits Michigan's Working Poor Hardest
Michigan is one of several states that expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — with an estimated 637,000 people qualifying under Gov. Rick Snyder’s Healthy Michigan program. If the plan severely scales back Medicaid payments, many Michiganders would be expected to ultimately lose or fail to qualify for coverage. Snyder — who has lobbied Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and the Trump administration for flexibility in continuing the Medicaid program — has remained mum on his opinion of the proposal since its unveiling last week. It faces an uncertain future in Congress, with Democrats and many more conservative Republican opposing it, though for different reasons. (Spangler, 3/13)

Richmond Times Dispatch: Va. Hospital Group Concerned About American Health Care Act Replacement
The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association has expressed concern about the American Health Care Act in letters it sent to Virginia’s representatives in Congress. Proposed last week as a replacement to the Affordable Care Act, if approved, the American Health Care Act would most drastically change the Medicaid program and how tax subsidies are doled out to help people afford health insurance. (Demeria, 3/14)

Trump: ACA Is Similar To Obama, You Only Like It When It's Gone

President Donald Trump hosted a receptive audience of voters who oppose the Affordable Care Act at a listening session in the White House. "When [Obama] left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn't like him so much. That's the way life goes. It's human nature," the president said.

The Washington Post: Trump Compares Coverage Of Obamacare To Obama’s Popularity: ‘When He Left, People Liked Him’
Turns out Obamacare is a little bit like its namesake president: kind of popular. President Trump is in the midst of his pitch to the American public that it's time to throw out the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” and replace it with a new Republican bill, the American Health Care Act. The problem is, according to Trump, the press and the public have come down with something akin to seller's remorse. (Phillip, 3/13)

Bloomberg: Trump Warns It Could Take Several Years For Health Costs To Drop 
President Donald Trump said it could take several years for health insurance prices to start to drop under an Obamacare replacement plan he is promoting, creating a rocky transition period that could pose a risk for members of Congress up for re-election next year and Trump’s own bid for a second term in 2020. In a meeting at the White House Monday with a group of small business owners, doctors and individuals who said their plans were canceled or that they saw a spike in health-insurance costs since Obamacare was enacted, Trump offered reassurances but warned that any relief won’t be immediate. (Pettypiece, 3/13)

The New York Times: Fact Check: Trump’s Critiques Of The Affordable Care Act
President Trump blamed the news media on Monday morning for “making Obamacare look so good” as he spoke at a listening session with nine people he characterized as “victims” of the health care law. Mr. Trump repeated his declaration that “Obamacare is a disaster” — a sentiment echoed more specifically by White House and cabinet officials in the past few days. (Qiu, 3/13)

GOP's Strategy Starkly Different Than Democrats' When Crafting Health Law

The Republicans' efforts to move the replacement plan through quickly could cause problems down the road. Meanwhile, the number of members in their own party who have voiced concerns over the bill could be enough to kill it in both chambers.

The Hill: GOP Senator Decries 'Mythical' House ObamaCare Strategy 
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Monday pushed back on Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare in three phases, calling it “politicians’ talk.” In addition to passing the current GOP replacement measure in the Senate with the 50 votes required by budget reconciliation, Ryan has pointed to the Trump administration’s actions on its own as Phase 2. Additional legislation under a 60-vote threshold in the Senate would serve as Phase 3.  (Sullivan, 3/13)

Roll Call: Conservatives Take Shots At Independent-Minded GOP Senators
Activist groups that want conservative orthodoxy on Capitol Hill have aimed their fire previously at Republicans including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and his predecessor, John A. Boehner. Now they have some new targets. Their focus has turned to three senators who’ve shown some willingness to challenge President Donald Trump: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona. ... [Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks] also worries that McCain and Collins could defect if Republicans take up legislation to repeal the health care law, and he’s concerned that they could oppose the confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Zeller, 3/14)

Politico: Trump Looks To Woo Conservatives On Obamacare Repeal
President Donald Trump's White House is increasingly likely to support some conservative-backed changes to the House Obamacare alternative, two administration officials said Monday — a move that comes after a nonpartisan budgetary analysis showed 24 million people could lose insurance under the bill. (Dawsey, Bade and Palmeri, 3/13)

Chicago Sun Times: Planned Parenthood Head To Roskam: 'Women Are Watching' His Votes 
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is putting pressure on Rep. Peter Roskam to vote against the Affordable Care Act replacement bill, which features language to “defund” the healthcare non-profit — urging constituents to let him know “women are watching” and will remember his votes come election time next year. Roskam has been under fire for not hosting in-person meetings about the Obamacare repeal. Last month the Wheaton Republican ducked out of a GOP organization event in Palatine as protesters — upset about his support of the Obamacare repeal — stood outside. He has hosted several “tele-townhalls” instead. He has since attended private meetings with constituents about the Republican replacement plan. The overhaul has prompted concerns among Republicans governors, such as Bruce Rauner and Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker. (Sfondeles, 3/13)

WBUR: Can White House Bowling Heal GOP Divisions And Spare The Health Care Bill?
The two-lane Truman Bowling Alley isn't glamorous or grand, but as bowling alleys go, the location is mighty exclusive. It's in the basement of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, inside the White House complex. And on Tuesday night it will be the latest backdrop for a high stakes sales pitch to a group of conservative House Republicans known as the Freedom Caucus. They are skeptical of what the president is selling: the American Health Care Act, or as Breitbart called it derisively, "Obamacare 2.0." (Keith, 3/13)

And in other news on the American Health Care Act —

Georgia Health News: Feds Look At ACA Provision As Possible Way To Lower Premiums 
The head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price of Georgia, said Monday in a statement that a provision of the Affordable Care Act allows waivers “to modify existing laws or create something entirely new to meet the unique needs of their communities.” The ACA, also known as Obamacare, is the target of repeal efforts in Congress. But it remains in force, along with the waiver provision noted by Price. (Miller, 3/13)

NPR: Health Bill Could Affect Patients Widely, Surgeon Worries
Atul Gawande is a cancer surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. He has spoken out against the GOP bill, expressing concern that it would cause poor and sick people to lose health coverage. (Hersher, 3/13)

Kaiser Health News: Families To Pay Price If Maternity Care Coverage Is Cut By GOP
Christie Popp, who is pregnant with her third child, is hoping hard that the maternity coverage she has through the Affordable Care Act doesn’t go away. That coverage is written into the health law as a requirement for every plan sold on the individual market. But that could change if Republicans get their way to repeal the ACA and remake health care. (Rovner, 3/14)

Kaiser Health News: Companies Behind Health Savings Accounts Could Bank On Big Profits Under GOP Plan
Health savings accounts are poised for a major expansion by Republicans in Washington, D.C., and that could mean millions more customers — and fees — flowing to a handful of companies. Investors are betting on it, bidding up shares of HSA provider HealthEquity by about 35 percent since the November election. It’s one of the best performing stocks on Wall Street since Donald Trump won the White House. (Terhune and Appleby, 3/14)

Kaiser Health News: Say What? Fact-Checking The Chatter Around The GOP Health Bill
Republicans are in a hurry to get their “repeal and replace” health care bill to the House floor. In just the week since it was introduced, two committees have approved the “American Health Care Act,” and a floor vote is planned before month’s end. But in the rush to legislate, some facts surrounding the bill have gotten, if not lost, a little buried. Here are five things that are commonly confused about the health overhaul effort. (Rovner, 3/13)

The Hill: House Reschedules Healthcare Bill Markup Due To Weather 
The House Budget Committee announced Monday evening that it had rescheduled its markup of the GOP’s healthcare bill because of inclement weather expected in D.C. The markup was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but the committee announced Monday evening that it will now take place on Thursday. (Master, 3/13)

Administration News

Senate Confirms Seema Verma To Head Agency Overseeing Medicare And Medicaid

Verma helped engineer Indiana's Medicaid expansion, which requires many enrollees to contribute toward their health care premiums.

The Associated Press: Senate Confirms Trump Pick To Head Medicare And Medicaid
Indiana health care consultant Seema Verma, a protégé of Vice President Mike Pence, was approved by a 55-43 vote, largely along party lines. She'll head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a $1 trillion agency that oversees health insurance programs for more than 130 million people, from elderly nursing home residents to newborns. It's part of the Department of Health and Human Services. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/13)

CQ Roll Call: Senate Confirms Verma As CMS Administrator
Verma will take the helm with a clear goal of making it easier for states to try new approaches in aiding low-income and disabled people. Democrats criticized Verma's positions on the future direction of Medicaid. The giant state-federal health program served 68.6 million people in December, according to CMS — more than 20 percent of the U.S. population. Verma gained the support of only three Democrats: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, as well as Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the minority party. (Young, 3/13)

Modern Healthcare: Senate Confirms Seema Verma To Lead CMS 
Verma is believed to have more Medicaid experience than any other administrator in the agency's history, having helped craft expansion plans in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Ohio. Verma, and Brian Neale, the newly selected director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services are expected to push Medicaid in a more conservative direction in which states could apply for and receive waivers to impose work search requirements and lifetime caps on Medicaid enrollment. The Obama administration refused to implement such proposals. (Dickson, 3/13)


Indiana Governor Wants To Keep State's Medicaid Expansion

Gov. Eric Holcomb says he is talking to federal officials to make sure "we’re compassionate and that we cover the Hoosiers that we are right now.” In other news, Medicaid expansion developments in New Jersey, New Hampshire and Kansas.

WFYI (Indianapolis Public Radio): Holcomb Wants Medicaid Expansion Continued
Governor Eric Holcomb says he wants to see Indiana’s Medicaid expansion protected as federal lawmakers debate health care reform. Indiana uses Medicaid expansion dollars available through Obamacare to pay for HIP 2.0, its health care program for low-income Hoosiers. The proposed health care reform bill advanced by Congressional Republicans would put that funding in jeopardy in the next few years. Holcomb says he’s been talking to members of Congress and the Trump administration, advocating the need to continue HIP 2.0. (Smith, 3/13)

Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette: Holcomb Wants Federal Funds For Medicaid Expansion
HIP 2.0 is the modified expansion program Indiana started offering in February 2015 after receiving a federal waiver. About 420,000 low-income Hoosiers now get health insurance through the program, which has several cost-sharing components -- including an average monthly contribution -- aimed at pushing members to seek preventive care and make good health care choices. This is a key difference from traditional Medicaid, which bears all costs of care. (Kelly, 3/13)

NJ Spotlight: ACA Medicaid Expansion Helped NJ Save Millions In Charity Care
New Jersey has saved hundreds of millions of dollars on hospital support since the federal Affordable Care Act took full effect in 2014, according to a state analysis of charity-care payments that fueled concerns among healthcare leaders about Republican efforts to repeal the landmark law. The state has budgeted $252 million — half state, half federal dollars — for the coming fiscal year, starting in July, to help hospitals cover the cost of treating uninsured patients who they are obligated to help, regardless of their insurance status. That’s down $100 million from the previous year and nearly $400 million less than the $650 million New Jersey committed to these expenses in 2015. (Stainton, 3/13)

New Hampshire Union Leader: Recovery Coach Says Expanded Medicaid Saved Him
For Philip Spagnuolo, expansion of Medicaid in New Hampshire was a lifesaver, helping to rescue him from the potentially fatal effects of addiction. Spagnuolo was on Medicaid from February 2016 until January of this year. In that time, he was able to get counseling, therapy and medical care that allowed him to overcome his substance abuse disorder. Now a licensed recovery coach at Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region in Laconia, Spagnuolo has become an advocate for recovery and for the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, the Granite State’s own version of expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. (Solomon, 3/13)

KCUR: Senate President Predicts KanCare Expansion Will Pass Despite Federal Uncertainty 
Kansas lawmakers appear poised to pass a Medicaid expansion plan despite objections from Gov. Sam Brownback and uncertainty about the future of federal funding. Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, doesn’t hesitate when asked if the expansion bill, which passed the House in late February, will clear the Senate later this month. “I believe the bill passes on the Senate floor,” Wagle says, adding that she believes it will be approved by a wide margin. “It will be close to veto proof … because the (Kansas) health care community has become very vocal,” she says. (McLean, 3/13)


Justice Department Urges Appeals Court To Uphold Anthem-Cigna Ruling

The government lawyers and some states are asking the court to keep a federal judge's ruling that blocked a planned merger. Meanwhile, Anthem officials notify Connecticut that the company may not participate in the 2018 online marketplace because of "uncertainties" in the market right now.

Modern Healthcare: Trump Justice Department Stays Strong Against Anthem-Cigna Merger Appeal
The U.S. Justice Department and several states on Monday urged a federal appeals court not to overturn a decision blocking Anthem and Cigna's proposed $54 billion merger. In a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Trump administration Justice Department said there was “overwhelming evidence” showing the blocked merger would never create any of the proposed efficiencies that Anthem touted. (Teichert, 3/13)

The CT Mirror: Anthem Uncertain It Will Continue In CT’s Individual Market Next Year
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is likely to notify state regulators this summer that it will withdraw from Connecticut’s individual market next year – even though the company has not yet decided whether to sell plans in 2018, the company’s president told the head of the state’s health insurance exchange. Companies seeking to withdraw from the market must notify the state six months in advance – a deadline that falls before the likely resolution of “uncertainties” affecting whether Anthem could sell coverage through the individual market, Anthem President Jill R. Hummel wrote. (Levin Becker, 3/12)


Right-To-Try Drug Laws Create Chaos, Villainize FDA, Experts Say

The popular measures undermine a more thoughtful federal program that balances patients’ need for options, drug companies’ desire to protect their investments, and the government’s duty to evaluate drug safety and effectiveness, they say.

In other pharmaceutical news —

Stat: Will New Biotech Products Outpace The Regulatory System?
The Trump administration, of course, has suggested that the Food and Drug Administration, among other government agencies, must cut two regulations for every one that they adopt. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, his nominee to head the FDA, may have his own ideas on the subject. That said, the report suggests that the current level of expertise available at the FDA, along with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture, likely isn’t sufficient to address the burgeoning biotech sector. The report itself was actually commissioned by these three agencies, lending some insight into their general stance on the issue. (Keshavan, 3/13)

Stat: New Class Of Cancer Drugs Might Reach A Broader Market
One in five women with breast cancer could be treated effectively with PARP inhibitors, according to a new study published Monday in Nature Medicine. The previous school of thought was that PARP inhibitors, a class of drugs that interfere with DNA repair, only work in patients with certain mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. It’s estimated that between only 1 and 5 percent of women with breast cancer have these specific mutations. These results suggest that PARP inhibitors, which are being studied and used in breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers, could have a much broader market than anticipated. (Keshavan, 3/13)

Public Health And Education

Canadians With Cystic Fibrosis Outlive American Patients By 10 Years

The study suggests access to lung transplants and health insurance may play a role in the survival gap. Canadians survived longer than uninsured patients in the U.S. and those on Medicaid, but U.S. patients with private health insurance had similar life spans to Canadians.

City Sues OxyContin-Maker For Allegedly Allowing Drug To Funnel To Black Market

In the lawsuit in federal court, Everett, Wash., officials are seeking to hold Purdue Pharma liable for "supplying OxyContin to obviously suspicious pharmacies and physicians and enabling the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market." In other news on nation's opioid epidemic, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledges increased funding and resources to fight the growing number of overdoses.

The New York Times: As Drug Deaths Soar, Mayor Offers Plan To Cut Toll
With fatal drug overdoses at alarming levels in New York City, particularly from opiates like heroin, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday vowed to reverse the tide and reduce the number of deaths by 35 percent over five years through a combination of outreach, treatment and law enforcement. (Goodman and Southall, 3/13)

Possibility Of Zika Contamination Flagged For Miami-Area Sperm Banks

Today's other public health stories report on developments related to a proposed bill requiring employees to submit to genetic testing, the concerning rise in suicides among middle-aged men, the fight against malaria, children's impact on longevity, sugar and salt content in food and more.

Stat: Tom Price Expresses Concern On Genetic Testing Bill
President Trump’s top health official suggested that there would be “significant concerns” with a House bill that would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing, but said the administration had not yet examined the issue. Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services, was asked about the bill on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend. “I’m not familiar with the bill, but it sounds like there would be some significant concerns about it,” Price said. “If the department’s asked to evaluate it, or if it’s coming through the department, we’ll be glad to take a look at it.” (Joseph, 3/13)

Stateline: As Legal Marijuana Spreads, Worries About Teen Addiction Grow
Dr. Christian Thurstone, a pediatric addiction psychiatrist at Denver Health Medical Center who treats teens and works with Ingram and other counselors in six local high schools, sees a link between growing addiction to marijuana among teens and the state’s decision to make it legal — even though there are no indications more Colorado teens are using it. Since the state allowed private companies to market and sell medical marijuana in 2010, the number of adolescents coming to Denver Health seeking treatment for marijuana dependence has doubled, he said. (Vestal, 3/13)

WBUR: Why Are So Many Middle-Aged Men Killing Themselves?
A recent rise in suicides in Massachusetts -- an increase of 40 percent from 2004 to 2014 — is driven by a rise in middle-aged men taking their own lives, according the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In fact, 40 percent of all people who die by suicide in the United States are men between the ages of 35 and 64. It’s a staggering number, especially since this demographic represents only 19 percent of the nation’s total population. (Reed, 3/14)

Stat: Gene Drives Could Halt Malaria In West Africa — If Residents Agree To It
This small village of mud-brick homes in West Africa might seem the least likely place for an experiment at the frontier of biology. Yet scientists here are engaged in what could be the most promising, and perhaps one of the most frightening, biological experiments of our time. They are preparing for the possible release of swarms of mosquitoes that, until now, have been locked away in a research lab behind double metal doors and guarded 24/7. The goal: to nearly eradicate the population of one species of mosquito, and with it, the heavy burden of malaria across Africa. (Swetlitz, 3/14)

Bloomberg: Sugar And Salt Content Shrivels As Consumers Get Wise On Health 
Global consumer-goods makers reduced ingredients such as sugar and salt in about 20 percent of their products in 2016 as shoppers shift toward healthier brands. A survey of 102 companies, including Nestle SA and Procter & Gamble Co., found that 180,000 products were reformulated in 2016, according to a report from the Consumer Goods Forum. That was about double the previous year...The biggest producers are losing share to smaller, localized brands which are capitalizing on shoppers’ growing preference for healthier and more sustainable products. Organic growth for global consumer companies has fallen to less than 3 percent for the last three years, according to Credit Suisse analysts. Kraft Heinz Co.’s $143 billion approach for Unilever underscored the pressure building on companies to breakout from the sector’s malaise. (Chambers, 3/13)

KQED: Can Probiotics Help Your Depression? What We Know, What We Don’t
What if your psychiatrist prescribed yogurt and vegetables as an antidepressant? It may sound like alternative medicine, but researchers at the intersection of psychiatry and biochemistry think that adding certain beneficial bacteria to a person’s intestines could be the future for treating anxiety and depression. (Cantrell, 3/13)

Miami Herald: Hearing Loss Will Spike As The U.S. Population Ages: Study
A Johns Hopkins study published earlier this month found that, as Americans age, more of them are expected to suffer from hearing loss. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore predict that 44 million — or 15 percent of U.S. adults — will have some hearing loss by 2020. That will increase to 23 percent of all adults 20 and older by 2060. (Veciana-Suarez, 3/13)

Miami Herald: Sales Of Adult Diapers Expected To Boom As World Population Ages
Baby boomers are buying more absorbent hygiene products than ever, helping a beleaguered paper industry that has seen its fortunes plummet as information grows increasingly digital and paperless. U.S. retail sales for incontinence products are projected to increase 9 percent in 2017 and 8 percent in 2018, according to Svetlana Uduslivaia, the head of industry research at Euromonitor International. In 2016 sales adult incontinence products racked up almost $2 billion. (Veciana-Suarez, 3/13)

State Watch

State Highlights: Minn. House Passes Reinsurance Bill To Combat High Prices; Calif. Candidate Drafts Universal Health Plan

Outlets report on news from Minnesota, New Hampshire, California, Kansas, Maryland, Florida, Texas and Georgia.

Sacramento Bee: Gavin Newsom To Propose Universal Health Care Plan For California 
Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is drafting a health care plan for California that he plans to unveil as a core component of his gubernatorial run, based in part on the universal health care program he signed into law when he was mayor of San Francisco. Newsom, seen as a strong contender in the increasingly crowded field of candidates vying to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, is staking out an ambitious plan to rein in rising health care costs, expand universal access to people across the state regardless of income or immigration status, and preserve coverage for the estimated 5 million Californians who risk losing their insurance under President Donald Trump’s changes. (Hart, 3/13)

Pioneer Press: Key Negotiations Lie Ahead As House Advances ‘Reinsurance’ Bill 
A plan to spend taxpayer money to try to produce a cheaper, more stable health insurance market is moving forward in the Minnesota Legislature. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted largely on party lines Monday to pass a “reinsurance” proposal, and a similar measure is moving forward in the Senate...The 78-53 vote saw four members of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party join most Republicans to support the package, with the rest of the DFLers and two Republicans voting no. Neither the House bill nor the Senate version is likely to become law in its current form. Instead, they’ll head to a conference committee where lawmakers will try to get a bill that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton will sign. (Montgomery, 3/13)

New Hampshire Union Tribune: Legislators At Budget Hearing Urged To Increase Funding For Health Programs 
Members of the House Finance Committee got an earful from nursing home operators, representatives of the developmentally disabled and counselors on the front lines of the opioid crisis in the third and final public hearing on the state budget, this one held in Representatives Hall at the State House. The testimony on Monday was similar to what lawmakers heard in Derry last week, as one speaker after another took the microphone to urge generous funding for alcohol and drug rehabilitation, services for the developmentally disabled and mental health treatment. (Solomon, 3/14)

KCUR: Kansas Senator Doubles Down On His Equating Planned Parenthood To Concentration Camp
A Kansas senator who compared Planned Parenthood to Dachau doubled down on his statement and called Planned Parenthood worse than Nazi concentration camps. Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, Republican of Leavenworth, told KCUR on Monday that he saw nothing wrong with the comparison, which he made in a letter to Planned Parenthood after a woman made a donation to the organization in his name. Asked if he thought Planned Parenthood was akin to a Nazi concentration camp, he replied, “Worse. Much worse, much worse, much worse." (Margolies, 3/13)

The Star Tribune: Bipartisan Bill Calls For Statewide Strategy To End HIV/AIDS Epidemic 
The number of new HIV infections in Minnesota — 300 annually — has remained stubbornly unchanged for the last 15 years, prompting a bipartisan group of legislators to call for the first-ever statewide strategy to tackle the ongoing HIV epidemic and reduce infections to virtually zero. If approved, the legislation would require the state health department to report to the Legislature next year, explaining how Minnesota can reduce new infections and provide care for the estimated 8,200 people living with HIV or AIDS in the state. (Lopez, 3/13)

California Healthline: California Hospitals Get A Second Law On Notifying Observation Care Patients
Starting this month, California hospitals must comply with a new federal law that requires them to notify patients when they are in observation care and explain why they are not officially admitted even if they are staying a few nights. That’s on top of a state notice law that took effect in January. In the past, California seniors often were unaware they had not been admitted until they received surprise bills for the services Medicare doesn’t cover for observation care patients, including some drugs and — more importantly — expensive nursing home stays. (Jaffe, 3/14)

The Baltimore Sun: Hopkins' Nursing School To Expand With Help Of $2 Million Grant 
The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing has won a $2 million grant from the France-Merrick Foundation that school leaders say will mean not only an expansion and renovation of their East Baltimore building but extra volunteer commitments in the surrounding community. The nursing school is expected to produce 30 percent more graduates annually by 2021 after the project is completed in 2020. Currently, there are 1,100 students enrolled, up about 500 from when the building was completed in 1998. (Cohn, 3/13)

Health News Florida: Central Florida PTSD Clinic Funding Included In Defense Budget 
The $577.9 billion national defense bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week includes a provision for money that would go to a University of Central Florida clinic that treats veterans and first responders for post-traumatic stress disorder. UCF RESTORES uses virtual reality as a key part of treatment. The funding for the clinic would come from a defense budget devoted to advanced concepts and simulation. (Sago, 3/13)

San Francisco Chronicle: Court Ruling Could Lead To Cancer Warning On Monsanto’s Roundup
A judge says California is legally authorized to label the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, the nation’s most widely used herbicide, as a potential cause of cancer. A state environmental agency announced plans in late 2015 to add the chemical, glyphosate, to California’s list of potential cancer-causing chemicals based on a World Health Organization research agency’s findings that it was a probable human carcinogen. (Egelko, 3/13)

New Hampshire Union Leader: Flexibility Cited As Nurses Choose Private Hospitals Over State Positions 
It’s become common in the health-care industry for nurses to work three 12-hour shifts, for a total of 36 hours, and remain eligible for the full employee benefit package. With the demand for nurses far exceeding the supply, flexible scheduling has become a popular incentive, according to hospital administrators. But the state can’t compete on those terms, at least not under the current contract with the State Employees Association. (Solomon, 3/13)

San Antonio Press-Express: Bill Would Reduce Penalty For Marijuana Possession 
Advocates for marijuana reform waited up to 10 hours to testify Monday night at the Texas Capitol in support of a bill that would dramatically reduce criminal penalties for marijuana possession. HB 81, the last of 11 bills heard by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday, would eliminate any jail time or threat of arrest for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana and the offense would be punishable with a fine of $250. (Mejia Lutz, 3/13)

WABE: Dust From Brakes And Tires Can Impact Health, Ga. Tech Study Finds
Georgia Tech researchers have found it's not just car emissions sending people to emergency rooms in Atlanta, but all that dust coming off brakepads and tires. Last year, researchers suspended monitors near I-75 in Atlanta to measure air pollution including the acidity in the air. (Shamma, 3/13)

San Francisco Chronicle: Oakland Making It Tough To Open A Pot Business
Last week, the council revised how marijuana businesses will be regulated, writing legislation faster than a waitress taking orders at a crowded all-night diner. Before the revisions, half of the city’s cannabis permits were reserved for residents who were jailed on marijuana convictions in Oakland within the past decade or had lived for at least two years within six police beats in East Oakland with a high volume of marijuana arrests, convictions and jail sentences. The beats were in districts represented by Councilwoman Desley Brooks, the architect of Oakland’s equity permits, and council President Larry Reid. (Taylor Jr., 3/13)

Editorials And Opinions

Thoughts On The CBO's Estimates On The GOP Health Plan

Opinion writers express their thoughts on what the estimates released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office say about the Republican's American Health Care Act.

The New York Times: Trumpcare Vs. Obamacare: Apocalypse Foretold
The Congressional Budget Office report on Trumpcare is out, and it’s devastating: 14 million people losing insurance in the first year, 24 million over time, with premiums soaring for older, lower-income Americans — in many cases, the very people who went strongly for President Trump. The C.B.O. thinks it would reduce the deficit, but only marginally, around $30 billion a year in a $19 trillion economy. (Paul Krugman, 3/13)

Los Angeles Times: Breaking: CBO Says 24 Million Would Lose Insurance Under GOP's Obamacare Repeal
For anyone believing in the principle that the goal of government healthcare reform should be decreasing the ranks of the uninsured, this report looks devastating. The American Health Care Act, which is the GOP’s moniker for its repeal plan, would reduce insurance coverage sharply and drive up costs. Although the CBO says premiums would moderate after a few years, it explains that would happen only because insurance benefits would shrink and deductibles and co-pays would rise. (Michael Hiltzik, 3/13)

The New York Times: Trading Health Care For The Poor For Tax Cuts For The Rich
So much for President Trump’s pledge of “insurance for everybody.” The Congressional Budget Office said on Monday that next year 14 million fewer Americans will have insurance if the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is repealed and replaced on the terms the president is seeking. That tally would rise to 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026. By then, the total number of uninsured Americans would reach 52 million. (3/13)

The Washington Post: The CBO Reveals Republicans’ Health-Care Cruelty
When it comes to understanding the Republican obsession to undo Obamacare, this number is about all you need to know: 24 million. That is how many people would lose coverage under the GOP’s supposedly choice-enhancing, access-increasing replacement plan. What possible justification can there be? (3/13)

Los Angeles Times: CBO Shows How Trumpcare Would Save Billions: By Leaving Millions Uninsured
The analysis of the new House GOP bill was written by the Congressional Budget Office with help from the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. And though a top Trump administration official blasted the report as “just not believable,” some of its findings should actually help House leaders sell the bill to skeptical conservatives. In particular, Republicans will welcome estimates that the measure would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over 10 years and, after initially driving up insurance premiums faster than current law, would lead to slower increases in later years. (Jon Healey, 3/13)

The Wall Street Journal: CBO’s Prophecies, Demystified
The white smoke rose Monday afternoon from the Congressional Budget Office as the fiscal forecasters published their cost-and-coverage estimates of the GOP health-care reform bill. Awaiting such predictions—and then investing them with supposed clairvoyance—are Beltway rituals. (3/13)

Bloomberg: CBO Exposes Republican Penchant for Deceit
The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Republican health-care bill did not disappoint. Republicans feared it would be catastrophic. It is. Instead of "better health care for more people at a lesser cost," as President Donald Trump promised, the nonpartisan CBO report released Monday said the Republican plan would drop 24 million from the insurance rolls by the end of the next decade -- and 14 million by 2018. (Francis Wilkinson, 3/15)

Real Clear Health: The CBO Is Right, And House Republicans Know It
The early reviews of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) have been disastrous, with doctors, hospitals, and liberal and conservative experts alike panning the House majority’s legislation. On Monday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office added its official score to the pile-on, projecting that 24 million Americans would lose health care coverage by 2026 if the bill was enacted. (Thomas Huelskoetter, 3/14)

USA Today: CBO Exposes Ryancare: Our View
The House GOP measure would greatly curtail the financial incentives for individuals to buy insurance on state exchanges while all but eliminating the penalties for not doing so. It would also scale back on Medicaid, the principal form of insurance for those on the bottom rungs of the income ladder. (3/13)

USA Today: Our Plan Offers More Choices
This report confirms that the American Health Care Act will lower premiums (starting in 2020) and improve access to quality, affordable care. CBO also finds that this legislation will provide massive tax relief, dramatically reduce the deficit, and make the most fundamental entitlement reform in more than a generation. (House Speaker Paul Ryan, 3/13)

Chicago Tribune: Fixing A Floundering Obamacare: The Next Chapter
The Congressional Budget Office weighed in Monday on the profound impact of the House Republicans' ambitious Obamacare fix. There's fuel here for both proponents and critics of the bill known as the American Health Care Act. CBO says 24 million fewer Americans would have health insurance by 2026. Why? Some would choose not to have insurance because the bill ends the mandate that people buy insurance or pay a penalty. Others would forgo insurance because of rising premiums. And many would lose coverage because of dramatic changes to Medicaid. (3/13)

San Francisco Chronicle: Don’t Repeal And Displace Affordable Care Act 
Congressional Republicans need to put an immediate halt to their rush to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has given the Trump administration and House Republicans all the warning they need that they are inviting disaster if they charge ahead with a health care overhaul that would cause 24 million Americans to lose insurance in a decade — and raise premiums for those who are covered in individual markets. (3/13)

The Washington Post: Don’t Undermine The Congressional Budget Office. Use It.
Congress faces a daunting legislative agenda: Health care is “complicated,” as President Trump recently discovered. So are tax reform and spending bills that reflect campaign promises without escalating debt. There are deep divisions over many of the Trump administration’s proposals — including within the president’s own party — and there will be serious disputes about the costs of many proposals and their effects. Congress needs all the help it can get from the team of neutral experts it created for just these moments: the Congressional Budget Office. (Alice M. Rivlin, 3/13)

Different Takes: On-The-Ground Views Of The GOP Health Plan

News outlets offer views on state and local impressions about Republican plans to overhaul the health system.

The Washington Post: The GOP’S Obamacare Replacement Is A Disaster For Some Of Its Most Loyal Voters
Grant County, Nebraska is one of the most pro-Trump places in America. In this rural community of about 700, the President won over 93 percent of the vote in the last election. But Grant County is also a place that has benefited hugely from the Affordable Care Act. In 2016, the law provided more than a quarter of its residents with tax credits to help them purchase health insurance. (Jeff Guo, 3/13)

Arizona Republic: Pulling The Health-Care Plug On 24 Million
For as many as 24 million Americans whose health care coverage already is on life support, the Republican plan would pull the plug.This is according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. These are the numbers-crunchers whose job it is to take the politics out of a debate and let us know what a piece of legislation will cost. Good or bad. The projections with the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act projects that 14 million people will lose coverage by 2018 and 24 million would lose coverage by 2026. (EJ Montini, 3/13)

Arizona Republic: 24 Million Reasons Why Arizona Pols Are Likely Hyperventilating Today
Just in time for the 2018 elections, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has come up with its estimate of the impact of the Republicans’ replacement for Obamacare, the American Health Care Act... That’s going to leave a mark. Especially in Arizona, where nearly 400,000 adults and another 73,000 children now enjoy health care coverage as a result of Medicaid expansion. Where the hospital industry is now thriving, thanks to fewer uninsured people flocking to emergency rooms. (Laurie Roberts, 3/13)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A Moment Of Reckoning: Health Care Experts Vs. Alternative ‘Facts’
From the right, center and left, reaction to the proposed legislation from health care experts has been swift and consistent: This is not the health care reform we were looking for. Instead, the proposal put forth by the commander-in-chief and his enabler-in-chief, Mr. Ryan, amounts to little more than a massive series of tax giveaways to those at the top and the health insurance industry, thinly disguised as “health care reform.” (John Grabel, 3/13)

Policy Perspectives On Repealing And Replacing Obamacare

Editorials from around the country compare, contrast and analyze the key issues in play in the current health care debate.

The New York Times: The Original Lie About Obamacare
You hear it from Republicans, pundits and even some Democrats. It’s often said in a tone of regret: I wish Obama had done health reform in a bipartisan way, rather than jamming through a partisan bill. The lament seems to have the ring of truth, given that not a single Republican in Congress voted for Obamacare. Yet it is false —demonstrably so. That it’s nonetheless stuck helps explain how the Republicans have landed in such a mess on health care. The Congressional Budget Office released a jaw-dropping report Monday estimating that the Republican health plan would take insurance from 24 million people, many of them Republican voters, and raise medical costs for others. The bill effectively rescinds benefits for the elderly, poor, sick and middle class, and funnels the money to the rich, via tax cuts. (David Leonhardt, 3/14)

Bloomberg: Missing: The Individual Mandate
Under the Republicans’ proposed American Health Care Act, there would be no such requirement to have health insurance. That would not bring an end to shared medical expenses, however. It would only mean returning to a system in which many people’s health costs are paid with tax dollars. Republicans have argued that the government shouldn’t be able to force people to purchase something they don’t want. That may be true for many things people might buy, but health insurance is different, because the costs incurred by people without it will still be borne by everyone else. Keep in mind, the U.S. has a history of requiring all citizens to fund many essential services, such as education and security. (3/13)

Pioneer Press: Have 20 Million People Gained Coverage Under The ACA? 
The precision of the figure — 20.0 million, not 20.1 or 19.9 — suggests a level of certitude that the report doesn’t actually deliver. Its authors analyzed a blend of data from the government’s National Health Interview Survey, or NHIS, and the private Gallup Healthways survey. They concluded that 17.7 million nonelderly adults gained coverage between January 2014 and February 2016. The agency also estimated that 2.3 million young adults had gained private coverage between 2010 and 2013 because the ACA required employers to cover dependent “children” until their 26th birthdays. (Doug Badger, 3/14)

Bloomberg: Best Health-Care Plan For Republicans? Wait
Republicans will have to do something eventually, but they will be in a better position to do that something if they wait. If the exchanges survive, they will have time to come up with a plan and sell it to the public. If they don’t survive, then Republicans will be in an even better position, because they will no longer be contending with loss aversion. People hate losing anything they already have. Most interest groups are organized to make darned sure they never lose an existing benefit. Once the exchanges have collapsed, and you are no longer taking something away from people, you have a lot more freedom to design alternatives. (Megan McArdle, 3/13)

The New York Times: Trumpcare: Fiction And Fact
Watching administration officials play cat and mouse with Sunday talk show hosts is a hoary Washington tradition. But yesterday, Trump spokesmen offered a remarkably large number of flat out untruths as they attempted to defend the Republican health care plan. (Steven Rattner, 3/13)

Denver Post: Republicans’ Plan For Medicaid Would Fail My Disabled Brother
Benjamin does not walk or talk, he can’t see and is partially deaf. He will need full-time care for the rest of his life, and thanks to Medicaid I know someone will be there when my parents, sister or I can’t be. But now that safety net is under attack. Overlooked in the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a drastic change to traditional Medicaid funding that threatens services for more than 10 million people with disabilities. (Alyssa Roberts, 3/13)

Viewpoints: A Global Response To Antibiotic-Resistance Bacteria; How Long Should Medical Interns Work?

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

Stat: WHO'S Priority List Of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Looks Beyond Tuberculosis
To respond to the growing challenge of antibiotic resistance, the WHO launched in 2015 a global action plan on antimicrobial resistance, with specific global objectives and recommendations. ... To help governments, researchers, and industry focus their efforts on antibiotic resistance, the WHO recently published a priority list of 12 antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Through this list, the WHO aims to guide the development of new antibiotics to fight microbes that have never before been high priorities for this work at a global level, but which are emerging as serious risks to patients and communities around the world. (Marie-Paule Kieny, 3/13)

Stat: The WHO Made A Big Mistake On Tuberculosis. It Must Fix It
The World Health Organization — the world’s most influential health agency — published its first-ever global priority list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It is a catalog of the 12 families of bacteria that the WHO says “pose the greatest threat to human health — and for which new antibiotics are urgently needed.” ... While the list is welcome, it contains an enormous flaw that requires immediate correction. The experts compiling the list failed to include Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB), even though TB kills more people than any other infectious disease and has developed such extensive resistance to antibiotics that WHO itself labels it “a crisis.” (José Luis Castro, 3/13)

WBUR: Harvard Doctor: Return To 28-Hour Shifts For Medical Interns Is Good — Except When It's Not 
As anyone who follows medical education knows, the group that sets rules for trainee doctors has just ruled that interns can again work up to 28-hour shifts. This move came after years of limiting intern shifts to 16 hours in order to improve patient safety....This controversy is completely unsurprising. That's because these long shifts are both a good and a bad thing, and whenever there are mixed results from a decision, you're bound to find fervent supporters of both sides. (Paul E. Sax, 3/13)

The Wall Street Journal: On ‘Right To Try,’ The FDA Should Proceed With Caution
The Food and Drug Administration is the nation’s most ubiquitous regulatory agency, overseeing everything from syringes and CT scanners to drugs, vaccines and most foods. These products account for more than $1 trillion annually, or about a quarter of U.S. consumer spending. One reform Scott Gottlieb, President Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, will likely embrace is “right to try”—that is, giving terminally ill patients access to unapproved medicines. ... The right to try unapproved drugs has the potential to be compassionate and sound public policy—but there are dangers. (Henry I. Miller, 3/13)

The New York Times: 'Perfectly Normal’: Autism Though A Lens
Of course there’s no way for those without autism to actually understand the autistic experience. I grew up with a severely autistic older brother named Joshua, and after observing him closely for more than 40 years, find his emotional and cognitive process as fundamentally mysterious as ever. The impenetrability of autism, with its seemingly endless variants and its essential “otherness,” is its hallmark. All this renders Jordan’s testimony that much more useful and intriguing. He is a reporter at a hinge-point of consciousness, able to inhabit his condition while describing it for us — whether we are “neurotypicals” or lodged somewhere on the spectrum — with remarkable precision and insight. (Eli Gottlieb, 3/14)

The New York Times: Lousy Customer Service? A Better Way In Health Care
You’ve all experienced it: There’s a problem with your health care bill, or you have difficulty getting coverage for the care you need. Your doctor or hospital tells you to talk to your insurer. Your insurer tells you to talk to your doctor or hospital. You’re stuck in an endless runaround. (Austin Frakt, 3/13)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Cannabis Oil Legislation: This Makes Sense How?
The state Legislature recently approved a bill that would give parents the ability to try a drug derived from marijuana to help children with severe seizures. It’s a good and important measure that got the support it deserved. It was approved unanimously in the Assembly and with only one no vote in the Senate (Duey Stroebel). Legislators justifiably patted themselves on the back with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) proclaiming that “Today is a day that I could not be prouder.” But – and this is a pretty big but – although it’s fine to possess the drug, you can’t actually legally obtain it in Wisconsin. (Ernst-Ulrich Franzen, 3/13)