KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Longer Looks: Obamacare Enrollees; Abortion Access; And Drug Pricing

Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.

Vox: Why Obamacare Enrollees Voted For Trump
I spent last week in southeastern Kentucky talking to Obamacare enrollees, all of whom supported Trump in the election, trying to understand how the health care law factored into their decisions. Many expressed frustration that Obamacare plans cost way too much, that premiums and deductibles had spiraled out of control. And part of their anger was wrapped up in the idea that other people were getting even better, even cheaper benefits — and those other people did not deserve the help. (Sarah Kliff, 12/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Pledge To Loosen Regulations On Businesses Is A Heavy Lift
Mr. Trump has said his administration will take aim at regulations across industries, and he will be backed by congressional Republicans eager to undo some of the more controversial Obama administration initiatives. Big targets include power-plant regulations and regulatory rules imposed on banks and financial institutions after the financial crisis of 2008, though the effort will also reach deep into the federal bureaucracy to include rules involving labor, telecommunications and health care. (Harder and Tracy, 12/14)

The Economist: How States, Emboldened By Trump, Are Challenging Abortion Rights
Donald Trump was once a staunch supporter of abortion rights, declaring in 1999 that he was “pro-choice in every respect”. But Mr Trump campaigned for president as an opponent of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion-rights ruling from 1973. (He had a change of heart when he observed that a child of a friend who “was going to be aborted” was instead brought to term and went on to become a “total superstar, a great, great child”.) In post-election interviews, the president-elect has repeated promises to name pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, starting with a replacement for Antonin Scalia, the justice who died in February. After a couple of nominations, Mr Trump said during a debate in October, Roe will “automatically” be overturned and the question of abortion rights will return to the states. (12/13)

The New Yorker: How Doctors Could Thwart Health-Care Reform 
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump made many promises he doubtless won’t keep and a few he apparently doesn’t remember. But his nomination of Representative Tom Price, a hard-core conservative from Georgia, to be Secretary of Health and Human Services is a sign that repealing Obamacare is one promise he’d like to carry out. In every Congress since the Affordable Care Act was passed, Price has sponsored a bill to replace it. And there’s something else that should worry supporters of Obamacare: he’s a doctor. (James Surowiecki, 12/11)

The New York Times: Back On Her Feet At 85, Thanks To A Chair - The New York Times
In the middle of Marilyn Oshman’s otherwise cozy apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, between an antique candelabra, flower-covered curtains and framed family photos, was a hospital bed.“I was dying,” Mrs. Oshman, 85, said. “I felt like I was in a prison in that lousy hospital bed. I couldn’t get out.” (Levine, 12/13)

Vox: These Maps Show How Americans Are Dying Younger. It’s Not Just The Opioid Epidemic.
We recently learned that for the first time in decades, Americans are dying a little bit earlier — and mortality rates have increased for a number of causes of death. But we’ve seen very little on precisely where in the country this public-health crisis is most acute.Now, a study out in JAMA, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, maps out mortality trends by county and cause from 1980 to 2014. This new data massively complicates the story many people have been telling about why mortality is trending the wrong way, a story about how the stagnating economy in certain parts of the country and despair over the future have given rise a substance abuse and suicide epidemic that’s killing far too many Americans. (Julia Belluz and Sarah Frostenson, 12/13)

The Atlantic: The Sugar Wars
"I hope that when you have read this book I shall have convinced you that sugar is really dangerous,” wrote John Yudkin in his foghorn-sounding treatise on nutrition from 1972, Pure, White and Deadly. Sugar’s rapid rise to prominence in the Western diet, starting in the mid-19th century, had coincided with a sudden outbreak of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Yudkin, one of the United Kingdom’s most prominent nutritionists at the time, believed that one had caused the other. (Daniel Engber, 12/13)

The Economist: High Price Tags For New Medicines Are About To Come Under Renewed Pressure
The past year has brought a steady infusion of grim news about the price of drugs. Much outrage has been caused by a price-gouging scheme for an AIDS medicine. Other scandals have included the cost of the allergy medicine EpiPen, the excessive cost of insulin, an expensive cure for Hepatitis C and enormous price increases in the cost of two heart drugs. New data on federal spending on programmes for the poor and the elderly show that last year $9.2bn was spent on a single medicine—Harvoni, which cures Hepatitis C. More such tales can be expected from the ongoing antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice into possible price fixing in generic drugs. (12/10)

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