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HERE’S ONE REASON WHY HAVING A BABY IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA IS SO EXPENSIVE

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Doctor consolidation
Leads to higher costs.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

Democrats Urge House Republicans To Follow In Senate's Bipartisan Footsteps

Lawmakers are asking House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) to hold bipartisan hearings on solutions to stabilize the marketplace. Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Democrats worry Republicans are digging in their heels too much on state waivers, and Sen. Ran Paul (R-Ky.) says he does not support the Graham-Cassidy bill.

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

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

The CT Mirror: CT’s Wade Weighs In With Obamacare Fixes
As a key Senate panel continues to seek a bipartisan fix for the Affordable Care Act, the Connecticut Insurance Department on Monday weighed in with its suggestions, including allowing people to buy a new, cheaper, “copper-level” plan with fewer benefits and higher out-of-pocket costs. In a letter to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade asked Congress to continue a moratorium on the ACA’s health insurance tax, a levy that will go into effect next year based on the premium dollars an insurer earns. (Radelat, 9/11)

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

Politico Pro: Rand Paul: Graham-Cassidy Repeal Plan 'A Bad Idea'
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday said the GOP’s last-ditch plan to repeal Obamacare is a “bad idea” that he doesn’t see going anywhere. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) are scrambling to get the 50 GOP votes needed to pass their Obamacare repeal bill before the end of the month, when the Republicans' fast-track option to pass legislation with a simple majority expires in the Senate. (Haberkorn, 9/11)

ACA Navigators Begin Shutting Down Operations

The government has slashed funding for the organizations that help people enroll in coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Health reform experts predict that without adequate navigator services, enrollment in the exchanges will plummet.

Modern Healthcare: With Funding Slashed And No Contracts In Hand, ACA Marketplace 'Navigators' Are Shutting Down
Navigator groups that help educate and enroll consumers in the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges are shutting down because the federal government isn't paying them. Several navigator organizations, including the University of South Florida, which received the country's largest federal grant for navigation services in 2016, are suspending education and outreach activities ahead of the 2018 open enrollment period that is slated to begin Nov. 1. (Livingston, 9/11)

In other health law news —

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

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

Capitol Hill Watch

Lawmakers Enthusiastically Reject Trump's Proposal To Cut NIH Funding

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bipartisan bill last week providing $36.1 billion for the health institutes. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said it was the third consecutive year in which he had secured a $2 billion increase for the agency, and, in a separate hearing the audience erupted in applause when Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, announced the boost in funding.

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

In other news from Capitol Hill —

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

Medicaid

Montana Lawmakers Put Plan To Cut Medicaid On Ice After About 175 People Protest

The governor ordered the reductions after the legislature cut the health budget. Meanwhile, federal officials say that New York Medicaid officials failed to follow rules when making about $1.4 billion in Medicaid payments.

Montana Public Radio: Montanans Protest $8.6 Million In Proposed Cuts To State Department Of Health
The cuts Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services is planning are in response to the Legislature cutting its budget by $8.6 million. They would result in lower payments to health care professionals, and end some case-management services. ... The cut in state funding would also mean an even larger loss of federal Medicaid matching funds, of up to $26 million. The federal government pays most of the cost of Medicaid in Montana. (Cates-Carney, 9/11)

MTN/KTVH (Helena, Mont.): MT Legislative Panel Continues To Block Cuts To Services For Poor, Disabled
A legislative committee Monday continued to block more than $20 million in proposed cuts to medical services for the poor and disabled in Montana – although it’s unclear whether the action will ultimately stave off the cuts. The Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee voted 7-1 to continue until at least November its objection to Bullock administration rules enacting the cuts, which affect services ranging from nursing-home care for the elderly to case management for the mentally ill. ... [Sheila Hogan, director of the state Department of Public Health and Human Services] said the state plans to cut rates paid to Medicaid providers by 3 percent, in response to a state law that directs widespread budget cuts because tax revenue didn’t meet a June 30 target. (Dennison, 9/11)

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

Medicare

Rule Changes For Medigap Supplemental Plans Leaves New Beneficiaries With Tough Choices

Medigap Plans F and C, which are quite popular among Medicare beneficiaries, will close to new enrollment in 2020. In other Medicare news, federal officials have proposed some changes in home health payment policies, and public health officials ponder a rise in sepsis cases among beneficiaries.

Chicago Tribune: Why Seniors Should Choose Wisely When Selecting Medigap Supplement Insurance
In 2020, people who are on Medicare and don't already have what's known as Plan F or Plan C Medigap insurance won't be able to buy it because the federal government will close those plans to new participants. That means that when people go onto Medicare at 65, or if they switch Medicare-related insurance during the next couple of years, they are going to have to be diligent about scrutinizing insurance possibilities before some of those doors start to close. (MarksJarvis, 9/8)

Modern Healthcare: CMS' Proposed Home Health Payment Model Alarms Providers. Would It Boost Access For Medically Complex Patients?
The CMS has proposed the largest overhaul of Medicare home health payment in many years, out of concern that the current reimbursement system discourages providers from serving patients with clinically complex or chronic conditions. Critics say Medicare's system now gives home health providers incentives to select patients who need higher-paying therapy services, such as joint replacement, rather than those needing help with traumatic wounds or poorly controlled chronic conditions or who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. (Meyer, 9/8)

Modern Healthcare: Aggressive Diagnoses And Care Spark Big Rise In Medicare Sepsis Discharges
The number of Medicare inpatient discharges for sepsis has been on a steady rise, and in 2015 it beat out major joint replacements as the most common discharge for the first time. On first glance, the results are jarring considering how the federal government and providers have made concentrated efforts in recent years to curb sepsis. But patient safety experts claim that the rise likely stems from changes in clinical practice over the last 15 years to diagnosis more patients with infections as septic sooner so they can treat the infection quickly before it develops into severe sepsis and becomes life-threatening. (Castellucci, 9/7)

Public Health And Education

'We Did Really Well': After Bracing For Disaster, Florida Hospitals Breathe Sigh Of Relief

Most hospitals fared well during the storm, and hospital officials credited changes and additions they've made in the past decade to strengthen their buildings against natural disasters.

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

Miami Herald: Hurricane Irma: South Florida Hospitals Begin Returning To Normal
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Florida hospitals are returning to regular operations, discharging high-risk patients who had sheltered at their facilities during the storm, and preparing for an influx of emergency room visits from people suffering falls, cuts and other mishaps related to the recovery. But not all hospitals and healthcare facilities are ready to rebound after Irma. (Chang, 9/11)

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

Orlando Sentinel: Hurricane Irma: Data On Hurricane-Related Injuries Remains Scant
Before Hurricane Irma arrived, Dr. Kenneth Alexander decided to put together a list of anticipated short-term and long-term injuries after the hurricane so that he and his colleagues could better prepare at the hospital. He started researching the current literature, and to his surprise there were very few studies on the topic. (Miller, 9/11)

Georgia Health News: Power Outages Spread Across South Georgia As Irma Rolls In
The northern bands of Tropical Storm Irma knocked out power to more than 400,000 Georgia Power and EMC customers in coastal and South Georgia on Monday morning. More than 80,000 Georgia Power customers were without power in the Savannah area, as were another 94,000 from Brunswick and St. Simons south to St. Marys, at the Florida line, the AJC reported. (Miller, 9/11)

Meanwhile, in Texas —

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

Texas Tribune: Fifteen No-Cost Abortions Scheduled Through Harvey Relief Effort
Fifteen patients have scheduled no-cost abortions as part of an effort launched by Whole Woman's Health Clinic to pay for procedures for women affected by Hurricane Harvey. Six of those abortions will take place in the clinic's San Antonio location and nine are scheduled in Austin, a spokeswoman for the clinic said. (Platoff, 9/11)

Treating Diseases With Electrical Pulses Is Compelling Concept, But Evidence That It Works Is Scant

That isn't stopping companies from trying to strike while the iron's hot, though. In other public health news: opioids in cough medicine, Sept. 11 first responders, obesity, the problems with a sedentary lifestyle, prostate cancer and more.

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

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

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

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

WBUR: Why Men Are Less Likely To Return To A Female Doctor
Men are less likely to return to a new doctor if the doctor is female, according to a new report from athenahealth. Using data from over 2 million visits to primary care doctors, the study found that if the doctor was a woman, men with commercial health insurance would only schedule a return visit about 40 percent of the time. (Chakrabarti, Mitchell and Goldberg, 9/11)

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

Georgia Health News: Tests For Prostate Cancer Get Stronger Backing
A federal task force five years ago recommended against routine screening for prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said the PSA screening test often suggested that prostate cancer might be present when there was no cancer — a result known as a “false positive.” Such results cause worry and anxiety and can result in follow-up tests and procedures, such as biopsies, that aren’t needed, the task force said. This opposition to routine screening proved controversial, and earlier this year the organization relaxed its position. The new recommendation of the task force said men ages 55 to 69 should decide individually with their doctors whether and when to undergo PSA testing. (Miller, 9/11)

North Carolina Health News: Fighting Antibiotic Resistance, One Prescription At A Time 
Fewer North Carolinians are getting and filling antibiotic prescriptions over the past five years, and according to infectious disease experts, that’s a good thing. Data released last month by the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association showed fewer North Carolina patients filled prescriptions for antibiotics than in any other Southeastern state. Researchers looked at claims submitted by people covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield in almost every state and saw how many people were getting prescriptions for antibiotics. In North Carolina, the number of claims had dropped from 87.4 prescriptions per hundred patients in 2010 to 66.8 prescriptions per hundred patients last year, the second fastest rate of decline in the U.S. (Hoban, 9/11)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: Citing Brain-Injury Risk, Doctors Say Orthopedic Surgeons Should Not Support Football
Orthopedic surgeons should dissociate themselves from football at all levels of the sport rather than enabling an activity that carries a risk of brain injury, according to an editorial by senior editors of a Philadelphia-based orthopedics journal. No team sponsorships, such as the marketing arrangement that the Rothman Institute and Thomas Jefferson University have with the Eagles. No standing on the sidelines. No performing sports physicals for high school and college players. (Avril, 9/11)

Pharmaceuticals

Lawsuit Renews Concerns Over Link Between Antidepressants And Suicide In Adults

It is known that antidepressants increase the risk of suicide in young people, but new data revealed after a lawsuit may demonstrate dangers for older patients as well.

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

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

Women’s Health

National Dynamics Bump Up Abortion As A Priority In Virginia's Gubernatorial Race

“It’s so fundamentally different with a Republican in the White House and a national threat to Roe v. Wade, a threat that hasn’t existed in a decade,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist with roots in Virginia.

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

In other news —

KCUR: Planned Parenthood To Provide Abortion Services At Two Missouri Clinics 
Planned Parenthood Great Plains plans to offer abortion services at two more clinics in Missouri, the organization announced Monday, bringing to three the number of abortion providers in Missouri. Planned Parenthood’s midtown Kansas City clinic has received an abortion license and will now offer medication abortion services. The organization anticipates its Columbia clinic will offer both medication and surgical abortion services in the coming days. (Smith, 9/11)

State Watch

State Highlights: Conn. Hospitals Wary Of Governor's Tax Plan; Needs Of Appalachia Overlooked In Health Care Debate

Media outlets report on news from Connecticut, Virginia, Louisiana, California, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida.

The CT Mirror: CT’s Hospitals See Huge Risk In Malloy’s Fix For Budget Impasse
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s bid to end the state’s budget impasse hinges on convincing legislators to take a leap of faith about the state’s hospital tax. Specifically, the governor is asking for a 55 percent tax increase on hospitals and saying that his new plan to pump the proceeds of that tax hike — and more — back into the industry won’t evaporate as his original one did six years ago. (Phaneuf, 9/12)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: At Least 12 Patients Contract Rare Infection After Children's Hospital Heart Surgeries: Report
At least 12 patients have contracted a rare infection after heart surgeries at Children's Hospital in New Orleans, according to The New Orleans Advocate. The hospital pointed to a piece of operating room equipment as the source of the infection, which was caused by bacteria known as Mycobacterium Abscessus. ...The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that Mycobacterium Abscessus is commonly found in water, soil and dust, and can cause "a variety of infections." Typically, "health-care associated infections" associated with it "are usually of the skin and soft tissues under the skin." (Brasted, 9/11)

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

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

San Francisco Chronicle: Software Strives To Shrink Emergency Room Waits
Qventus’ software helps health care institutions manage staffing in hospitals and pharmacies. It processes data, including the number of patients and doctors in the hospital, the length of wait times, and where slowdowns are occurring, so that, for example, more nurses can be sent to the area of the hospital where they are most needed, or managers can get the latest information on what rooms need to be cleaned. (Salian and Thadani, 9/11)

San Jose Mercury News: UC Aligns Cancer Centers To Battle Deadly Diseases
For the 176,000 Californians diagnosed with cancer this year, Monday’s announcement that the University of California’s five academic cancer centers are forming an alliance to stem the disease’s rising toll here couldn’t come soon enough. Experts say cancer is on its way to overtake heart disease as the Golden State’s leading cause of death. (Seipel, 9/11)

Editorials And Opinions

Perspectives: A Bipartisan Path To Insurance Market Stability; Single-Payer's Political Traps

Editorial writers offer their views on ways forward on health reform and where partisans have gone wrong.

The Washington Post: Five Bipartisan Steps Toward Stabilizing Our Health-Care System
At a meeting in California this spring, we sat down with a number of insurance company chief executives who are major participants in the Affordable Care Act exchanges. They asked us to carry back a message to Washington: Put partisanship aside and end federal uncertainty about support for the ACA; otherwise, they will end up setting premiums higher than necessary or withdrawing from markets across the country. (Bill Frist and Andy Slavitt, 9/11)

Los Angeles Times: If The GOP Would Only Give Up On Repeal And Replace It Could Actually Make Healthcare More Affordable
Time is rapidly running out before health insurers have to commit to the policies and premiums they’ll offer next year to roughly 20 million Americans not covered by an employer-sponsored health plan. Although those premiums are expected to jump 10% or more in many states, Congress can rein in that increase significantly — if it acts quickly. Doing so, however, will require Senate Republicans to stop flirting with yet another partisan proposal to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, and start focusing instead on steps to make coverage more affordable that can win broad support. (9/12)

The Washington Post: GOP Leaders Made A Huge Wager — And They’re Losing
The wager was large and lost. The attempt to revive a health-care alternative in the Senate seems halfhearted and doomed by the same ideological dynamics that killed the legislation the first time. Republican enthusiasm for the Mexican border wall is limited by the fact that it is among the most wasteful, impractical and useless ideas ever spouted by an American president. And ambitious tax reform has been tabled in favor of a few tax cuts that are likely to reaffirm public impressions that the “P” in GOP stands for “plutocracy.” (Michael Gerson, 9/11)

The New York Times: How Single-Payer Health Care Could Trip Up Democrats
Many Democrats giddy from their recent health policy successes are starting to reach enthusiastically for a mountaintop goal: establishing a single-payer system for all Americans. But they may want to learn the lessons of their opposition. Like “repeal and replace,” “single-payer” is a broadly popular slogan that papers over intraparty disagreements and wrenching policy choices. Republicans fumbled multiple attempts to replace the Affordable Care Act this year. If the Democrats eventually wrested back power, they could find themselves similarly factionalized and stymied over the details. (Margot Sanger-Katz, 9/11)

The New York Times: 5 Questions About Single-Payer Health Care
Welcome to single-payer health care week. Bernie Sanders plans to introduce his Medicare for all bill this week, and it’s already winning support from some Democrats. Even Max Baucus, the powerful former Montana senator who long opposed single-payer, now supports it. With Republicans controlling every branch of government, single-payer health care has no chance of becoming law anytime soon. But the attention to it still matters. The odds are rising that Democrats will make a push toward single-payer when they next are in charge. (David Leonhardt, 9/11)

Viewpoints: Bracing For Health Data Breaches; The Economics Of Opioid Abuse And Despair

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

RealClear Health: Your Health Data Will Be Breached
Just a couple of weeks ago, NHS Lanarkshire, the third largest health system in Scotland and one that employs over 12,000 staff, fell victim to a malware attack. On the heels of a broad cyberattack affecting much of the National Health Service (NH) in May, medical operations were put on hold, and patients were even told to not go to the hospital unless it was absolutely necessary. Though occurring on the other side of the Atlantic, this event stood as a stark reminder that many hospitals, health systems and other companies in the health care space are vulnerable to a cyberattack. (Cori McKeever Ashford and Kristen Thistle, 9/12)

Bloomberg: Which Came First, The Opioids Or The Despair?
Anne Case and Angus Deaton's 2015 article on rising mortality among middle-aged white Americans -- and the 2017 follow-up that attributed this rise to an increase in suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths among those without college educations -- was among those rare academic papers that changed public debate. (Justin Fox, 9/11)

Boston Globe: We Can’t Fight The Opioid Crisis Without Adequate Health Care
Health care and social workers, counselors, and law enforcement agencies, as well as policy makers and administrators at the local, state, and federal levels of government are already putting it all on the line to help people overcome addiction. We must give them the tools and support they need so we can win this fight. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 9/11)

The New York Times: Blaming Medicaid For The Opioid Crisis: How The Easy Answer Can Be Wrong
The theory has gained such prominence that a United States senator is investigating it. “Medicaid expansion may be fueling the opioid epidemic in communities across the country,” Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, wrote recently. Some conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act have been passing around the same theory for months. It’s a politically explosive (and convenient) argument, but is it true? Substantial evidence suggests the answer is no, but let’s give it a fair hearing. (Aaron E. Carroll and Austin Frakt, 9/12)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Issue 2 To Give Ohio Power To Cut Drug Prices
Don’t be fooled when pharmaceutical companies argue that their pricing strategy is simply based on supply and demand. We all know that is not true. It’s time that Ohioans demand pharmaceutical companies bring down their outrageously overpriced drugs. (Nina Turner, 9/11)

Stat: Cancer Treatment Should Qualify As A Reason For Student Loan Deferment
I was first diagnosed with cancer when I was a senior in college, preparing to get a job and begin paying off my student loans. I was fortunate to have school administrators who advocated for me, and my loans were quickly deferred. But many of the 70,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States aren’t so lucky. They continue to rack up interest as they put their lives on hold to go through lifesaving cancer treatments. That’s why I urge Congress to pass the Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act of 2017 this session. This essential but under-the-radar piece of legislation would allow cancer patients to qualify under existing laws for student loan deferments while they undergo treatment. (Samantha Watson, 9/11)