- Kaiser Health News Original Stories 3
- Report: States Increase Cost Controls To Manage Medicaid Growth
- California Reforms Target Workers’ Compensation Fraud
- Exercise, Even In Small Doses, Offers Tremendous Benefits For Senior Citizens
- Political Cartoon: 'Take It Easy'
- Pharmaceuticals 1
- Waxman Continues Crusade Against Big Pharma's Profit-Padding From New Perch As Lobbyist
- Public Health And Education 4
- On Precipice Of Rare Alzheimer's Breakthrough, Researchers Hold Their Breaths
- Study: For Every Life Saved By Mammogram, Four Are Over-Diagnosed And Over-Treated
- Following FDA Warnings, Reports Of Fatalities, Company Discontinues Teething Gel
- Drones Could Be Used As Tool In Battle Against Spread Of Zika
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: Kansas Hospitals Try New Strategy To Reduce Readmissions; Health Contract For Tenn. Prisons Back Up For Grabs
From Kaiser Health News - Latest Stories:
Medicaid enrollment and total Medicaid spending are projected to rise more slowly for 2017, but states’ tab will grow faster as the federal government begins to taper its funding for Obamacare expansions, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports in its annual 50-state survey. (Phil Galewitz, 10/13)
Two new laws will prohibit felons from billing for workers' comp and rein in unsanctioned treatment. (Christina Jewett, 10/13)
New research shows that senior citizens who walk or exercise regularly see tremendous benefits in their health and well-being. (Judith Graham, 10/13)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Take It Easy'" by Dave Coverly, Speed Bump.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
FOR SENIORS, SMALL DOSES OF EXERCISE ARE A POWERFUL PRESCRIPTION
Push-ups and sit-ups?
No – not that kind of workout.
It’s about movement.
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.
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Summaries Of The News:
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's criticism is the latest sign of trouble with the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, conservative groups urge Congress to block "bailouts" to insurers.
The Associated Press:
Democrat Dayton: Health Law 'No Longer Affordable' For Many
Minnesota's Democratic governor said Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act is "no longer affordable" for many, a stinging critique from a state leader who strongly embraced the law and proudly proclaimed health reform was working in Minnesota just a few years ago. (10/12)
Democratic Governor: Obamacare 'No Longer Affordable' For Many
Gov. Mark Dayton's criticism comes as his state faces massive rate hikes and shrinking competition in its Obamacare insurance marketplace next year. Dayton's comments also come almost a week after Donald Trump and Republicans seized on former president Bill Clinton's remarks lamenting Obamacare's affordability problems. (Pradhan, 10/12)
Dem Governor: ObamaCare 'No Longer Affordable' For Many
Democrats have long acknowledged that improvements need to be made to the health law, but Dayton’s remarks go farther and are more negative than usual from members of his party. Dayton added that a "deadlocked" Congress is hurting the situation by preventing improvements from being made to the law. (Sullivan, 10/12)
Conservative Groups Pressure GOP To Block ObamaCare 'Bailouts'
A coalition of more than 50 conservative groups is calling on Congress to stop “bailouts” of insurance companies under ObamaCare. The groups, in a Wednesday letter to members of Congress, are calling for the passage of two bills that would keep funds away from insurers under two ObamaCare programs that have been the target of growing Republican outrage. The conservative groups are now further pressuring Republicans. (Sullivan, 10/12)
And in other health law news —
White House Economic Adviser Urges Support For ‘Cadillac’ Tax
A top economic adviser to President Obama on Tuesday urged against repealing the so-called “Cadillac” tax on high-cost insurance plans. “Certainly, the administration feels that the excise tax remains a sensible way of sort of addressing the distortions created by the exclusion, focusing on the least efficient plans while retaining strong incentives for employers to continue to offer coverage” Matt Fiedler, the chief economist on the Council of Economic Advisers, said at a Mercatus Center event on the effects of health care costs on economic well-being. (McIntire, 10/11)
The Associated Press:
Obama Cites Hispanic Gains In Health, Education At Reception
President Barack Obama is recounting progress he says Hispanics have made over the course of his presidency and that he’s optimistic about future gains despite some of the rhetoric heard during election season. Obama is speaking to hundreds of people attending a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month at the White House. He says that during his presidency 4 million Hispanics have gained health insurance coverage. (10/12)
MNsure Site Security Tightened After Feds Find Vulnerability
MNsure had several key technology vulnerabilities last summer, a federal report has concluded. The report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General found that MNsure, the state-run health insurance exchange, did have security controls and policies to protect its website and data. But those controls didn’t always align with federal and state information security guidelines, and the inspector general’s scans of MNsure’s website and databases “identified numerous weaknesses.”... MNsure has been plagued with technology issues since its launch in 2013, including a website that consumers often found difficult to access and buggy back-end systems to manage cases on public programs. Many of those problems have been fixed since 2013, but others remain in progress. (Montgomery, 10/12)
The program former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is lobbying for allows hospitals that serve a large proportion of low-income patients to buy drugs from manufacturers at a discount of 20 percent to 50 percent. In other news, a look at why drug coupons are benefiting the industry.
The Washington Post:
Henry Waxman Isn’t Done Fighting With Drug Companies
Henry Waxman spent four decades in Congress relentlessly going after drug companies for what he charged was their profit-padding. The California Democrat left Capitol Hill in 2015, but he hasn’t given up battling big pharma. Waxman is now working as a lobbyist for hospitals and medical clinics to protect a drug discount program, known as 340B, that he helped create 24 years ago. He is urging federal regulators to resist calls by the drug industry’s leading trade group to put new restrictions on the program, which was designed to help hospitals better treat poor patients by requiring drug makers to offer medicines at a steep discount. (Ho, 10/12)
Study Shows Coupons Lead To Big Profits For Drugmakers
In the last few years, there's been such a spike in drug coupons, pharmaceutical companies have barely been able to print them fast enough. Coupons help patients shoulder the cost of expensive prescriptions, but a new paper out in the New England Journal of Medicine finds certain coupons are also a windfall for drug companies. Harvard Business School economist Leemore Dafny, Northwestern’s Chris Ody and UCLA’s Matt Schmitt found when manufacturers issued coupons right before a generic competitor entered the market, branded drug sales soared by 60 percent. (Gorenstein, 10/12)
The percentage of Humana’s membership in plans rated four stars or higher dropped to about 37 percent in July from 78 percent. Humana says the lower rating will negatively affect future revenue.
The Wall Street Journal:
Humana Sees Potential Fallout From Lower Medicare Star-Rating Report
Humana Inc. on Wednesday indicated that a downgrade in a key Medicare quality measure could lower its federal reimbursements, but the insurer said the poor grade wasn’t a fair indication of how its business is faring. The company boosted its per share earnings guidance for its September quarter and current year. Still, shares in the company tumbled 5% on Thursday to close at $168.44. (Steele, 10/12)
Humana Drops After Ratings For Its Medicare Plans Decline
Humana Inc., the health insurer planning to merge with Aetna Inc., fell the most in more than three months after seeing a sharp decline in government ratings of plans it offers under Medicare. The percentage of Humana’s membership in plans rated four stars or higher dropped to about 37 percent, or 1.17 million members, in July from 78 percent, or 2.15 million, a year earlier, according to ratings published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, on Wednesday. The decline is mainly due to lower scores as a result of a recent CMS audit, Humana said in a statement. (Darie, 10/12)
In other news —
The Wall Street Journal:
These Health Insurance Mergers Aren’t Alike
Investors have taken a dim view of two big pending health insurance mergers. But the two deals are starting to diverge, which could give investors an opportunity. More than a year ago, four of the five largest private insurers agreed to mergers, which would consolidate the industry into three giants. The euphoria, which drove share prices to new heights, was short-lived. The Justice Department sued to block the two deals—between Aetna and Humana and Anthem and Cigna. (Grant, 10/12)
As the draft rule on this new Medicare physician payment structure is being finalized, a group of GOP physician-lawmakers expresses alarm to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Other coverage details the role that commercial insurers have in slowing the trend toward value-based payment models and the "predicament" faced by Wills Eye Hospital when it comes to Medicare.
GOP Lawmakers Say MACRA Could Kill Small Practices And Fuel Consolidation
Republican lawmakers are warning the CMS that if its draft rule on the new physician payment framework is finalized as is, small practices may close their doors, leading to more consolidation and higher healthcare costs. A group of Republican physicians in Congress wrote to the CMS just weeks before a final rule is expected. When MACRA goes live in 2019, it promises bonuses for top-performing doctors and clinicians and negative incentives for underperformers on a variety of measures, especially quality of care. (Dickson, 10/12)
Providers Say Commercial Payers Are Unwilling To Share Risk
While healthcare providers are speeding ahead with implementing value-based payment models to reduce admissions and save costs, some slow-to-adapt commercial insurers are hindering progress, according to a survey of health system executives. Because insurers in many states have been slow to form value-based payment agreements with integrated delivery systems and clinical networks, 66.7% of hospital C-suite leaders are becoming more interested in starting or pairing up with a provider-owned health plan rather than waiting on insurers to partner up, according to the survey released Wednesday by healthcare group purchasing and quality consulting firm Premier (Livingston, 10/12).
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Wills Eye's Medicare Predicament
Wills Eye Hospital's top East Coast rivals in Miami, Baltimore, and Boston operate as hospitals under Medicare, even though most of their patients are outpatients. Wills, despite its name, is not a hospital under Medicare. The Center City institution gave up that designation in July 2006 when it sold its inpatient business to Jefferson, operating instead as an ambulatory surgery center at Eighth & Walnut Streets. Now, Wills is fighting to get that hospital certification back, after completing a $6.5 million renovation three years ago that included a four-bed inpatient unit. (Brubaker, 10/12)
The company, which helped employers buy health insurance, ran into trouble after it was discovered its founder had created a program to allow sales representatives to skirt requirements on a state insurance licensing course.
The New York Times:
Zenefits, A Rocket That Fell To Earth, Tries To Launch Again
Trying to turn around a failing technology company is almost always a futile task — just ask Marissa Mayer at Yahoo or whoever it is who now runs BlackBerry. But the challenge becomes even more daunting if your company is afflicted by something deeper than a mere implosion of its business. If the company you’re rebuilding has been racked by questions about its ethics and culture, and if on some fundamental level it became derelict in its integrity, well, good luck trying to get that turkey to fly. (Manjoo, 10/12)
The Drug Enforcement Administration was considering making kratom a schedule 1 drug.
The Associated Press:
DEA Opts Against Ban On Plant Some Call Opioid Alternative
The Drug Enforcement Administration has reversed a plan to temporarily ban a plant that some users suggest could be an alternative to powerful and addictive opioid painkillers. In a notice set to be published Thursday in the Federal Register Thursday, the agency said it was withdrawing its plan to add two psychoactive components of the plant, known as kratom, to the list of the most dangerous drugs. (Caldwell, 10/12)
Kratom Spared DEA Schedule I Status — For Now
It's been a wild ride for kratom lately. Since Aug. 31, when the Drug Enforcement Administration announced its intention to classify the plant as a Schedule I substance, a group of kratom vendors filed a lawsuit against the government to block the move, angry advocates took to social media in protest and scientists questioned whether they would be able to continue kratom research. Now, the DEA is withdrawing its notice of intent to put kratom in the most restrictive category of controlled substances, with drugs like LSD and heroin. (Silverman, 10/12)
Scientists rely heavily on meta-analyses and systematic reviews, but a new study has found them to be increasingly generated by researchers who have financial interests in the outcome.
A Key Tool Of Medical Research May Be Tainted By Corporate Interests
When doctors want to help untangle confusing and sometimes contradictory findings in the scientific literature, they often turn to specially crafted summary studies. These are considered the gold standard for evidence. But one of the leading advocates for this practice is now raising alarm about them, because they are increasingly being tainted by commercial interests. (Harris, 10/12)
In a field where roughly 99 percent of experimental treatments have failed in clinical trials, one drug company thinks they finally cracked the code. In other public health news, gene editing offers hope for those with sickle cell disease, astronauts' exposure to radiation could create major cognitive issues, a study finds 14 million kids may be exposed to toxins in their schools and more.
Alzheimer's Drug Trial Could Offer Real Hope — Or Crush It
Scientists at Eli Lilly are racing to wrap up a clinical trial on a drug that could be the first major advance in treating Alzheimer’s in more than a decade — or a crushing reminder of why the memory-destroying disease has bedeviled researchers for so long. This is the third time Lilly has tested the drug in large-scale trials. The first two tests flopped. But the company, which has spent about $3 billion on Alzheimer’s research over 25 years, believes it has finally identified the patients most likely to benefit from its therapy. (Garde, 10/13)
Los Angeles Times:
With CRISPR, Scientists Correct Genetic Mutation That Causes Sickle Cell Disease
The promise of a revolutionary gene-editing technology is beginning to be realized in experiments aimed at curing sickle cell disease. Scientists reported Wednesday that they used the CRISPR-Cas9 system to correct a tiny genetic mutation that causes the blood disease, which affects millions of people around the world. (Netburn, 10/12)
Los Angeles Times:
Cosmic Radiation May Leave Astronauts With Long-Term Cases Of ‘Space Brain,’ Study Says
This is your brain in space — and it does not look pretty. Scientists studying the effects of radiation in rodents say that astronauts’ exposure to galactic cosmic rays could face a host of cognitive problems, including chronic dementia. The UC Irvine-led study, published in Scientific Reports, adds to a growing body of research on the harmful effects humans may reckon with as they venture out longer and deeper into space, whether on trips to Mars or potentially beyond. (Khan, 10/12)
14 Million US Kids Could Be Exposed To Toxic PCBs At School
One-third of all public schools in the United States could be contaminated with toxic PCBs, according to a new report from Sen. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. The report could be the most comprehensive investigation into the presence of this toxic substance in public schools since they were first used in classrooms across the United States more than 70 years ago. It found that up to 14 million American children could be exposed to PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls. The report estimated that it could cost upward of $52 billion to rid schools of this cancer-causing chemical. (DesRoches, 10/12)
The New York Times:
How Exercise May Turn White Fat Into Brown
Exercise may aid in weight control and help to fend off diabetes by improving the ability of fat cells to burn calories, a new study reports. It may do this in part by boosting levels of a hormone called irisin, which is produced during exercise and which may help to turn ordinary white fat into much more metabolically active brown fat, the findings suggest. (Reynolds, 10/12)
Kaiser Health News:
Exercise, Even In Small Doses, Offers Tremendous Benefits For Senior Citizens
Retaining the ability to get up and about easily — to walk across a parking lot, climb a set of stairs, rise from a chair and maintain balance — is an under-appreciated component of good health in later life. When mobility is compromised, older adults are more likely to lose their independence, become isolated, feel depressed, live in nursing homes and die earlier than people who don’t have difficulty moving around. (Graham, 10/13)
The Star Tribune:
Can Playing 'Pokemon Go' Make You Live Longer?
Researchers at Stanford University and Microsoft just came out with a study that found that "Pokémon Go" significantly increased physical activity levels for die-hard players — many of whom were not active before they started playing the wildly popular game. In fact, engaging in the scavenger-hunt-type game led to a more than 25 percent increase in players’ activity levels over 30 days. That, researchers estimated, adds up to an extra 41 days of life expectancy for players ages 15 to 49 who keep up their addictive habit of searching for and catching virtual Pokemon characters as they walk around with their mobile phone game. (Shah, 10/12)
“Mammography can help a few — a very few — women, but it comes at a real human cost, including people undergoing treatment unnecessarily,” says Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, one of the authors of the study.
Mammograms More Likely To Cause Unneeded Treatment Than To Save Lives
A new study offers a reality check to anyone who says a mammogram saved her life. For every woman in whom mammography detected a breast cancer that was destined to become large and potentially life-threatening — the kind that screening is intended to head off — about four are diagnosed with one that would never have threatened their health. But the surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation that follows such diagnoses can be traumatic, disfiguring, toxic, or even life-shortening even as it’s unnecessary. Prior estimates of how many mammogram-detected cancers are overdiagnoses, meaning they don’t need to be treated, have ranged from 0 to 54 percent. (Begley, 10/12)
Los Angeles Times:
Majority Of Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer After Screening Mammograms Get Unnecessary Treatment, Study Finds
More than half of breast cancers newly diagnosed in the United States are likely cases of mistaken identity that subject women to needless anxiety, treatment and expense, researchers reported Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study also found that the value of mammograms as a life-saving tool has been significantly overstated. Instead, the introduction of more effective treatments should get most of the credit for improving survival rates among women diagnosed with breast cancer, the researchers concluded. (Healy, 10/12)
In other women's health news —
More US Women Plan On Having Children Than A Decade Ago
A rising number of American women are planning to have children someday, despite generally falling birth rates in the country in recent years, according to new numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday. Half of US women between the ages of 15 and 44 say they intend to have children in the future, up from 46 percent in 2002. And experts say that could be a sign that future parents are more confident in the economy — and with that, their ability to handle the financial responsibilities of having kids. (Thielking, 10/13)
Other side effects experienced by the infants included seizures, shortness of breath, vomiting and constipation.
Infant Teething Medicines That Drew FDA Warning Discontinued
A homeopathic product company says it will discontinue the sale of its teething medicines, following federal warnings about their safety and unconfirmed reports linking the medicines to infant deaths. The company, Hyland’s, has manufactured teething tablets and gels — designed to relieve pain and irritability when an infant’s teeth are coming in — for more than 90 years. Hyland’s has “chosen to discontinue the distribution of our Hyland’s teething medicines in the United States,” the company wrote in an open letter published on its website. “This decision was made in light of the recent warning issued by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) against the use of homeopathic teething tablets and gels. This warning has created confusion among parents and limited access to the medicines.” (Scott, 10/12)
Giving Teething Babies Homeopathic Remedies Could Kill Them
More than 400 teething babies given homeopathic remedies to help ease gum pain developed serious health problems over the past six years, including seizures, shortness of breath, vomiting, and constipation, according to an investigation by U.S. regulators. At least 10 died. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning parents and care providers about the potential dangers from the teething products, though its investigation isn’t yet complete. The agency said it hasn’t conclusively determined that homeopathic products were directly responsible for the deaths, and it didn’t identify any of the brands. (Cortez, 10/12)
A grant will help officials explore the use of the aerial vehicles and other such innovative ideas. In other news on the virus outbreak, no homegrown cases have yet been found in Central Florida or further to the north.
Zika Virus: U.S. AID Gives Grants For Help Develop Innovations To Combat Disease
In the fight against Zika and future disease outbreaks, aerial drones might help by delivering medical supplies to remote areas and ferrying back lab samples for testing, or by dropping squadrons of sterile mosquitoes over an affected area to halt spread of a virus. Those are among the ideas selected by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, to receive $3.3 million in funding for testing and development. Other possible innovations, many of them currently being tested overseas, include mining data to forecast future outbreaks and harnessing the collective power of mobile phones to improve disease surveillance, according to Wednesday’s announcement. (Chang, 10/12)
Zika Update: Central Florida Still Free Of Local Cases
In the nine months since the first travel-related Zika case was confirmed in Florida, more than 1,000 others have tested positive for the virus. The majority have been infected overseas, but the number of homegrown cases has been going up too, reaching 150 since June 30, when the first local case was confirmed in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. On Wednesday, the state health department reported five new travel-related Zika cases, and six new local cases, which have been linked to Miami-Dade County. (Miller, 10/12)
Outlets report on health news from California, Kansas, Tennessee, Delaware, Georgia, Colorado, Florida, New York and Minnesota.
Kansas Health Institute:
Kansas Hospitals Try New Tactics To Reduce Readmission Rates
Regina Borthwick, director of clinical care coordination at Hays Medical Center, said home visits and follow-up calls are important parts of efforts to keep patients from being readmitted to the hospital. ... Hospitals have had a strong incentive to reduce readmissions since 2012, when a provision of the Affordable Care Act took effect that requires most hospitals to track readmissions within 30 days after a Medicare patient was discharged. Hospitals with higher-than-expected rates are penalized. Some people have raised concerns, however, that hospitals are being punished for taking low-income and seriously ill patients, who typically have higher readmission rates. Borthwick said the Hays hospital was able to reduce its readmissions by calling to follow up with patients, connecting them with health care resources and educating patients about their conditions in everyday terms. (Wingerter, 10/12)
Tennessee Opens Bidding For Massive Prison Health Contract
The contract to provide health services to the more than 20,000 men and women in state prisons is back up for grabs with the current quarter billion-dollar deal is set to expire in early 2017. The current provider, Centurion of Tennessee, signed a $270 million in 2013 that was set to expire this year. That contract has been extended through February 2017, but the state has officially opened a bidding process to allow any company to vie for the lucrative deal, said Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman Neysa Taylor. (Boucher, 10/12)
The Associated Press:
Judge Affirms Delaware Has Reformed Mental Health System
A federal judge has released the state of Delaware from a 2011 settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, affirming that the state has reformed its public mental health system. Local news organizations report that U.S. District Court judge Leonard P. Stark signed the order Tuesday after the DOJ and the state filed a motion to dismiss the settlement agreement. (10/12)
Georgia Health News:
A Big Sum For Medicaid — And Some Hard Choices
How should the Georgia Medicaid program spend the $110 million penalty to be paid by Tenet Healthcare as part of a fraud case settlement? The net amount is the biggest Medicaid fraud recovery in Georgia history, according to the state Attorney General’s office. By law, it must go to Medicaid, not to the state’s general treasury. The money is part of Tenet’s payment of more than $513 million to settle the case of Medicaid fraud involving some metro Atlanta hospitals. The Texas-based chain has since sold all its Georgia hospitals, but the misconduct occurred while Tenet was the owner. (Miller, 10/12)
VA Improperly Disclosed Health Information About Colorado Vet To The Media
A Colorado spokesman for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs violated privacy rules when he disclosed protected medical information about a Vietnam veteran more than two years ago to The Denver Post, but the agency did little more than retrain him, the agency admits in a recent letter. Sallie Houser-Hanfelder, director of VA’s Eastern Colorado Health System, said in a two-page letter to Michael Beckley that while his protected health information “was impermissibly disclosed to the news media, resulting in a privacy breach,” the misconduct was just a gaffe in paperwork rather than malicious. (Migoya, 10/12)
California Companies Sued For Allegedly Selling Fetal Tissue For Profit
A California district attorney on Wednesday announced a civil lawsuit against two fetal tissue companies, claiming they have illegally sold fetal tissue for profit. The issue of profits from the sale of fetal tissue was thrust into the spotlight last year due to undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood. Multiple state investigations have since found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. In this case, though, the Orange County district attorney says two companies, DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics, which share some of the same owners, illegally sold fetal tissue for profit. (Sullivan, 10/12)
Tampa Bay Tribune:
USF Medical Students Help ‘BRIDGE’ The Healthcare Gap
Founded in 2007 by a team of medical students, BRIDGE stands for Building Relationships and Initiatives Dedicated to Gaining Equality. BRIDGE Healthcare is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday and staffed by first- and second-year students who confer with their fourth-year peers. The clinic is overseen by physicians who donate their time and expertise, and those doctors must approve all medical treatments as well as write all prescriptions. The collaborative effort also includes students and professionals in the fields of physical therapy, social work, public health and pharmacology. (McKenzie, 10/12)
The Mercury News:
Albany Election Sees Soda Industry Run Up Big Tab
The Albany soda tax is one of three similar measures on Bay Area ballots this November — San Francisco and Oakland have also proposed such a tax. All three are modeled on one passed in Berkeley in 2014. Albany’s tax would charge distributors at one cent per fluid ounce and includes an exemption for distributors serving businesses with less than $100,000 in gross receipts per year. All three raise taxes on distributors, rather than the actual sale of sweetened beverages, and all send the money rasied to the general fund. (Esper, 10/12)
Health News Florida:
77% Of Florida Voters Support Medical Marijuana, According To Poll
Seventy-seven percent of Florida voters support medical marijuana, according to a new survey of likely voters. The University of North Florida poll shows broad support for expanding access to the drug, which is currently available to people with certain chronic illnesses. UNF pollster Michael Binder says the results bode well for proponents of Constitutional Amendment 2, who need the support of 60% of voters in order to pass the measure. (Payne, 10/11)
Minnesota Public Radio News:
Hopkins Legionnaires' Disease Traced To Beverage Plant
A beverage processing plant in Hopkins has been identified as the likely source of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in that community. Samples from a single cooling tower at Citrus Systems, Inc., contained Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires' disease, public health investigators said Wednesday. The company's products aren't affected. The bacteria exactly matched the strain taken from patients who contracted the respiratory infection, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. (Benson, 10/12)
The Star Tribune:
Source Of Legionnaire's Outbreak In Hopkins Is Identified
The Minnesota Department of Health reported Wednesday that the three-year-old cooling tower at the Citrus Systems juice manufacturing plant near downtown Hopkins was the culprit, and that testing found an exact genetic match between Legionella bacterial samples from the tower and from four of the sickened patients. The tower was sanitized on Sept. 27, and no new infections have been reported since Sept. 23, meaning “the outbreak for all intents and purposes is over,” said Richard Danila, deputy state epidemiologist. (Olson, 10/12)
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
A Full List Of Donald Trump's Rapidly Changing Policy Positions
In August, Trump was asked repeatedly if he still supported the single-payer health care he'd touted in the past. He said America should have a private system but repeatedly praised Canada and Scotland's socialized system. (Jane C. Timm, 10/11)
The New Yorker:
Seventeen Days On A Locked Ward
Nurse Robert leans over me just after I settle into my chair and start writing in my journal. He has a habit of sliding his five-foot-four frame just close enough that I can see the lone hair curling out of the mole on his forehead. It’s near the end of his shift and musk is radiating off of his body. I wrinkle my nose and slam shut my notebook. (Taylor Elizabeth Eldridge, 10/9)
The New York Times Magazine:
Pie In The Sky
Sodium is in pretty much everything we eat, in part because it tastes good and in part because it’s an effective and cheap preservative. Some 75 percent of the salt in our diets comes from packaged and restaurant food, leaving just about 25 percent under most people’s control. Many public-health officials say the single most important thing we can do to fight heart disease — still the country’s leading killer — is cut back on sodium. In June, the Food and Drug Administration released new preliminary guidelines for reducing sodium that it urged food makers to follow. As of now, the rules do not have the force of law. But food makers have seen the writing on the wall for some time. (Corby Kummer, 10/5)
Our Pets, Ourselves
A new study suggests that we might consider taking some tips from our pet health-care system. A NBER working paper by Liran Einav and Atul Gupta at Stanford University and Amy Finkelstein at MIT finds that pet health care in the United States has exhibited growth, accessibility, and end-of-life spending patterns that almost directly mirror patterns in the American human health-care system. Their work suggests that pet health care is a useful comparison point for analysis and research. (Vann Newkirk, 10/7)
The Obamacare Problem That Democrats Don’t Want To Talk About
[Julianna] Pieknik is a 37-year-old PhD student in Maryland, who shares a house with four roommates. She earns $42,000, which is just slightly too much to qualify for tax credits where she lives. This year, she paid a $250 premium for a plan with no deductible. Next year, to keep same level of coverage, she needs to pay $450 — and she doesn’t think she can afford that. So right now she’s facing a choice: Pay a lot more money, or scale back her level of coverage. (Sarah Kliff, 10/11)
The New York Times Magazine:
The train to Enfield was hardly the greatest extreme to which I would go during the decade I was entangled with Adderall. I would open other people’s medicine cabinets, root through trash cans where I had previously disposed of pills, write friends’ college essays for barter. Once, while living in New Hampshire, I skipped a day of work to drive three hours each way to the health clinic where my prescription was still on file. Never was I more resourceful or unswerving than when I was devising ways to secure more Adderall. (Casey Schwartz, 10/12)
The ‘Swiss Agent’: Long-Forgotten Research Unearths New Mystery About Lyme Disease
he tick hunter was hopeful he had found the cause of the disabling illness, recently named Lyme disease, that was spreading anxiety through leafy communities east of New York City. At a government lab in Montana, Willy Burgdorfer typed a letter to a colleague, reporting that blood from Lyme patients showed “very strong reactions” on a test for an obscure, tick-borne bacterium. He called it the “Swiss Agent.” (Charles Piller, 10/12)
When ‘Religious Freedom’ Leaves Children Dead
Jessica Crank had a swollen shoulder. Not just swollen: In May 2002, when the teenager’s mother, Jacqueline, finally took her to a walk-in clinic in Lenoir City, Tennessee, the nurse practitioner found signs of bone disintegration and “other indications of a serious medical condition” on the x-ray. She called the University of Tennessee emergency room and had them prepare for Jessica’s arrival and urgent treatment. (Emma Green, 10/6)
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
The New York Times:
Drug Coupons: Helping A Few At The Expense Of Everyone
When a furor erupted over the rapidly rising price of EpiPens this summer, the drugmaker Mylan offered a solution: a coupon for the expensive drug. People who need the EpiPens to protect themselves from life-threatening allergic reactions could use the coupon to get up to $300 off at the pharmacy counter if their insurance plan has a deductible or a co-payment. (Margot Sanger-Katz, 10/12)
Los Angeles Times:
Why Do People Still Hate Obamacare? Probably Because They Still Don't Know Much About It.
Much about our current political climate may be volatile, but one feature seems to be as stable as the Rockies: Americans’ dislike of the Affordable Care Act. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been tracking this sentiment almost since the law’s passage in early 2010 (its latest reading shows unfavorable opinion of Obamacare outpolling favorable 47% to 44%) thinks it may have a clue as to why that is. Its poll also shows that the vast majority of Americans still have no idea about what the law has accomplished. (Michael Hiltzik, 10/12)
Cost, Effectiveness, and Value: How to Judge?
Universal health coverage is a global aspiration supported by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations. The World Health Organization has defined universal health coverage as ensuring that “all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.” The UN resolution supporting universal health coverage specifically avoided defining a particular type of health financing system, but called on member states “to ensure that health financing systems evolve so as to avoid significant direct payments at the point of delivery.” (Michael D. Rawlins, 10/11)
Zika Virus 6 Months Later
On January 15, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised pregnant women not to travel to areas where the Zika virus was spreading. Six months later, more than 60 countries or territories have reported new local transmission of Zika. By August 4, 2016, nearly 1700 cases of travel-associated Zika infection, including 479 in pregnant women, had been reported in the continental United States; Puerto Rico is experiencing rapid and extensive spread of the epidemic.1 Florida has documented 5 symptomatic and 8 asymptomatic locally acquired Zika infections in a 6-block area north of downtown Miami. Comprehensive mosquito control efforts, including reduction of standing water, provision of repellants containing diethyltoluamide (DEET), and application of pyrethroid insecticides and larvicides using backpack sprayers and trucks to eliminate adult and larval forms of mosquitoes, were initiated on confirmation of the first cases. Persistent findings of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes led to a decision to also use aerial spraying with naled and larvicide within 3 days of documentation of the risk of ongoing Zika transmission. (Thomas R. Frieden, Anne Schuchat and Lyle R. Petersen, 10/11)
Make Way For Better Germ Tests
The standard diagnostic technology for identifying microbes, decades old, is simply too slow and imprecise to help most patients. The good news is that scientists have developed far better technology, capable of diagnosing thousands of different infections quickly, and with remarkable precision. But doctors won’t be able to use it until federal regulators grant approval, and unfortunately, this process is about to get much harder, if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stays on its current course. (Steven Salzberg, 10/12)
Health Affairs Blog:
The Cost Of US Adult Vaccine Avoidance: $8.95 Billion In 2015
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 42 percent of US adults ages 18 and older received the flu vaccine in the 2015–16 flu season. This is just one example of US adults’ not receiving vaccinations at recommended levels, which can lead to avoidable costs of doctor visits, hospitalizations, and lost productivity. (10/12)
Hype Vs. Hope In Medical Research
To be clear: Science is the most powerful force in the world for improving human health and well-being. It consistently pays enormous returns on society’s investment, transforming the way we live and work. It’s only natural that expectations run high. That said, the time frame for the big therapeutic payoffs is often misunderstood. The scientific path from biological insights to medical impact is often long and winding. (Eric Lander, 10/12)
My Turn: Proposition 206 Will Affect Arizona Seniors
Although much of the attention to Proposition 206 has been directed toward restaurant and other service workers, there is a larger and more vulnerable population that will be significantly impacted by raising the minimum wage in Arizona: seniors and those who care for them. As the president of the Arizona In-Home Care Association, I represent an industry that has been hit hard in recent years by the Affordable Care Act and other federal legislation and unfunded mandates. Proposition 206 goes a step beyond in terms of its direct impact to our elderly and disabled population. (Mark Young, 10/12)
Prop. 60 Is Needed To Protect The Health Of Porn Actors
Proposition 60 is a workplace safety measure to protect young performers in the porn industry who are now routinely and illegally exposed to sexually transmitted diseases. The callous mistreatment of these often socially marginalized young men and women employees by their bosses has gone on for too long. Proposition 60 will give state health officials more tools to enforce an existing law requiring condoms be worn in adult films to protect performers. The law is based on regulations formulated in 1992 by federal health professionals. (Gary Richwald, 10/12)