- Kaiser Health News Original Stories 3
- Once Its Greatest Foes, Some Doctors Are Now Embracing Single-Payer
- Medicaid Expansion Making Diabetes Meds More Accessible To Poor, Study Shows
- How Genetic Tests Muddy Your Odds Of Getting A Long-Term-Care Policy
- Political Cartoon: 'Fake News?'
- Health Law 1
- State Insurance Regulators Doubtful That 'Junk Insurance Is Better Than Nothing' When It Comes To Short-Term Plans
- Supreme Court 1
- Republicans Could Pay Political Price For Cementing Conservative Supreme Court, History Shows
- Coverage And Access 1
- Democrats Tout $2 Trillion In Savings From 'Medicare For All,' But Author Of Cost Analysis Cries Foul
- Opioid Crisis 2
- FDA Takes Steps To Encourage Development Of Medication That Can Be Used To Aid Addiction Treatment
- App Warns Those Recovering From Addiction When They're In A Location That Could Trigger Relapse
- Marketplace 2
- General Motors Signs Contract Directly With Hospital System In Unique Deal To Try To Cut Health Costs
- Vermont's Health System Ranks First In Study Assessing Costs, Accessibility And Medical Outcomes
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: Sexual Abuse Allegations At Arizona Immigration Shelter Raise Concerns Over Safety; Conn. Gubernatorial Candidates Focus On Abortion Rights
From Kaiser Health News - Latest Stories:
Young physicians are pushing the medical establishment to rethink its long-held opposition. The political fallout could be substantial. (Shefali Luthra, 8/7)
The number of diabetes drug prescriptions filled for low-income people enrolled in Medicaid rose sharply in states that expanded eligibility for the program under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new study. (Pauline Bartolone, 8/6)
Federal law bars insurers from using these test results for health coverage, but they can influence whether you get a plan covering long-term care. (Michelle Andrews, 8/7)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Fake News?'" by Darrin Bell.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
LAWMAKERS TURN UP HEAT ON PAINKILLER-MAKERS
Spotlight on Pharma:
Not so fast you drug dealers!
We are on to you.
- Ernest R. Smith
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:
The regulators were particularly concerned about aggressive and possibly misleading marketing strategies to sell the plans that are being touted by the Trump administration following a rule extending the duration that the coverage can be sold.
The New York Times:
Trump’s Short-Term Health Insurance Policies Quickly Run Into Headwinds
The Trump administration’s efforts to allow health insurers to market short-term medical plans as a cheap alternative to the Affordable Care Act are already running into headwinds, with state insurance regulators resisting the sales and state governments moving to restrict them. State insurance regulators, gathered over the past three days for a meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, expressed deep concern that short-term plans were being aggressively marketed in ways likely to mislead consumers. Many said the plans, which need not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s coverage mandates, were a poor substitute for comprehensive insurance. (Pear, 8/6)
There's a track record in the nation's history of political backlash reflected in elected positions any time the court goes too far to one ideological side. Meanwhile, Democrats are digging in to possible ties between Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a judge forced into retirement last year over sexual harassment allegations.
The Associated Press:
Could Hard-Right Supreme Court Haunt GOP? History Says Maybe
It's of little worry for Republicans or solace for Democrats bracing for battle over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Yet history suggests that if President Donald Trump cements an assertively conservative court for a generation, the GOP may ultimately pay a political price. When and how steep? That depends on how momentous the issues and how jolting the decisions, according to legal scholars who've studied the high court's impact on electoral politics. (Fram, 8/7)
Dems Zero In On Kavanaugh Ties To Judge In Sexual Harassment Scandal
Senate Democrats are gearing up to press Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on his decades-long relationship with former Judge Alex Kozinski, who was forced into retirement last year by a mounting sexual harassment scandal. It’s not just what, if anything, Kavanaugh saw during his time as a Kozinski clerk in the early 1990s that’s on Democratic minds. They also want to know how President Donald Trump’s high court pick would address the judiciary’s ongoing internal reckoning with sexual misconduct that was sparked by Kozinski — one of Kavanaugh’s early mentors who introduced the younger appellate court judge at his Senate confirmation hearing in 2006. (Schor, 8/6)
The Washington Post fact checks some Democrats' talking point that a recent working paper supports the idea that the proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would save $2 trillion in health care spending. To get to that number, one would need to make unrealistic assumptions, the report's author says.
The Washington Post Fact Checker:
Democrats Seize On Cherry-Picked Claim That ‘Medicare-For-All’ Would Save $2 Trillion
As our colleague David Weigel reported, Democrats have latched onto the catchy idea of “Medicare-for-all” (also known as M4A) as a way of expressing their support for universal health care. On July 30, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University released a working paper on the 10-year fiscal impact of the Medicare-for-all plan sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The report was written by Charles Blahous, a former economic adviser to George W. Bush and a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare from 2010 through 2015. (Kessler, 8/7)
Kaiser Health News:
Once Its Greatest Foes, Doctors Are Embracing Single-Payer
When the American Medical Association — one of the nation’s most powerful health care groups — met in Chicago this June, its medical student caucus seized an opportunity for change. Though they had tried for years to advance a resolution calling on the organization to drop its decades-long opposition to single-payer health care, this was the first time it got a full hearing. The debate grew heated — older physicians warned their pay would decrease, calling younger advocates naïve to single-payer’s consequences. But this time, by the meeting’s end, the AMA’s older members had agreed to at least study the possibility of changing its stance. (Luthra, 8/7)
Currently, just three drugs exist to treat opioid use disorder: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. Adherence to the drugs is typically low, and addiction treatment experts have long said medication assisted treatment is vastly underutilized.
Trump Officials Take New Step To Encourage Opioid Abuse Treatments
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday took a step to encourage the development of more drugs to treat opioid addiction. The FDA issued guidance to encourage the development of more drugs that can be used in what is known as Medication Assisted Treatment, a leading way to treat people with opioid addiction, through using certain drugs to reduce dependence on opioids. (Sullivan, 8/6)
FDA Will Expand The Way It Considers Medication-Assisted Treatment
Now, rather than merely examining whether a potential treatment reduces opioid use, the agency will consider factors like whether a drug could reduce overdose rates or the transmission of infectious diseases. “We must consider new ways to gauge success beyond simply whether a patient in recovery has stopped using opioids, such as reducing relapse overdoses and infectious disease transmission,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. (Facher, 8/6)
FDA Gives Drugmakers New Ways To Prove Opioid Disorder Treatments Work
The recommendations follow earlier draft guidance the agency released in April that outlined the FDA's current position on drug development and trial design issues as related to the study of new buprenorphine products. In that document, the agency suggested some of those products—such as extended-release versions and implants—may not need new safety and efficacy clinical trials such as those for new drugs seeking regulatory approval. Both documents reflect a noticeable shift in the FDA's position related to the drug approval process. The agency is opting for shorter studies and faster approvals for new medication-assisted treatments as the opioid epidemic continues to impact the nation, causing more than 42,000 deaths in 2016 and a 30% rise in emergency department visits from 2016 to 2017 across 45 states. (Johnson, 8/6)
The Associated Press:
Jails, Prisons Slowly Loosen Resistance To Addiction Meds
Four inmates sit silently in the library of the Franklin County House of Correction one summer morning. But these men aren't here to read books. Under the supervision of a nurse and two corrections officers, they're taking their daily dose of buprenorphine. The drug, often known by the brand name Suboxone, is meant to control their heroin cravings and is commonly smuggled into jails and prisons. (8/7)
It can also send a notification when the person is around an acquaintance that could make them vulnerable to using again. The app -- Hey, Charlie -- is part of a new trend of technology focusing on the social-network of a person in recovery. In other news from the opioid crisis: lawmakers are seeking documents from painkiller-makers as part of an ongoing investigation; a letter-writing campaign finds success in getting doctors to cut back on overprescribing; and more.
Can An App's Warnings To Avoid Triggers Prevent Opioid Addiction Relapses?
It’s from Hey,Charlie, an app — conceived at a 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology health hackathon — that aims to help people avoid environmental triggers that might threaten their recovery from an opioid addiction. The app, now being piloted by several treatment centers in Boston and Framingham, Mass., monitors a user’s contacts and location, and sends pop-up notifications to caution them about risky acquaintances or neighborhoods. (Farber, 8/7)
Congress Requests Sackler Deposition That Purdue Is Fighting To Keep Sealed
Among the documents House lawmakers requested last week from opioid painkiller manufacturers is a deposition of the former president of Purdue Pharma — Dr. Richard Sackler — which is also being sought by STAT through the courts in Kentucky. The letters, sent Thursday by a bipartisan group of members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to Purdue, Mallinckrodt, and Insys Therapeutics, ask for a broad range of documents related to the companies’ marketing strategies and what they knew about their drugs’ potential for abuse and when. But the letter to Purdue also specifies that the committee wants to see an unredacted copy of the deposition by Sackler, who is also a member of the family that owns the company. (Joseph, 8/6)
A Simple Letter Helped Curb Overprescribing Of Antipsychotics By Some Doctors
The antipsychotic drug Seroquel was approved by the FDA years ago to help people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious mental illnesses. But too frequently the drug is also given to people who have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. The problem with that? Seroquel can be deadly for dementia patients, according to the FDA. Now some researchers have conducted an experiment that convinced some of the general practice doctors who prescribe Seroquel most frequently to cut back. (Jaffe, 8/7)
Chicago Limits Opioid Prescriptions For City Employees
The city of Chicago is asking major employers to follow its lead and limit coverage of prescription opioid painkillers to seven days at a time for many workers. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday that many city employees will now be limited to seven days worth of prescription opioid painkillers at a time, a move aimed at fighting opioid addiction in the city. (Schencker, 8/6)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Future Of Opioid Lawsuit Becomes An Issue In Ohio Attorney General's Race
Ohio's next attorney general will inherit its high-profile opioid lawsuit, and Democratic candidate Steve Dettelbach says he won't have a conflict of interest in prosecuting the case if elected. Dettelbach and BakerHostetler, where he's a partner and which represents a defendant in the case, told cleveland.com they have taken steps to wall-off the candidate from accessing case files and receiving compensation from the company. (Borchardt, 8/6)
The GM deal is a different approach to the traditional model in which companies hire insurers for access to a broader network of health-care providers. More and more, companies are looking for innovative ways to try to curb rising costs.
The Wall Street Journal:
GM Cuts Different Type Of Health-Care Deal
General Motors Co. has struck a deal with a Detroit-based hospital system to offer a new coverage option to employees, upending the traditional benefits setup in an attempt to lower costs and improve care. The auto maker’s agreement with Henry Ford Health System covers everything from doctor visits to surgical procedures. By signing a contract directly with one health-care provider, as other companies have done, GM says it can offer a plan that costs employees less than other options while also promising special customer-service perks and quality standards. (Wilde Mathews, 8/6)
In A First For Michigan, Henry Ford Health Signs Direct Contract With GM
The direct contract with GM is the first of its kind in Michigan. Only about 3 percent of self-insured companies nationally have some form of direct contracts with providers, said the National Business Group on Health. But a growing number of large self-insured employers—Boeing, Walmart, Lowe's, Whole Foods, Disney and Intel—have found that one sure way to reduce employee healthcare costs and improve service is to cut out middle-men health insurers and develop with integrated healthcare delivery systems that share cost savings and pay based on value. (Greene, 8/6)
In other industry news —
The Wall Street Journal:
Carl Icahn To Publicly Oppose $54 Billion Cigna-Express Scripts Deal
Carl Icahn is going public with his campaign to scuttle Cigna Corp.’s $54 billion plan to buy Express Scripts Holding Co. The billionaire activist investor plans to send an open letter Tuesday urging fellow Cigna shareholders to vote against the deal, which he calls a “$60 billion folly” carrying a “ridiculous” price tag, according to a draft seen by The Wall Street Journal. (Lombardo, 8/6)
Louisiana came in last in the WalletHub study that compared the states and D.C. The measures were broken down further, such as lowest average monthly insurance premium and hospital beds per capita.
Rockland/Westchester Journal News:
New York Ranks 17th Best Health Care? See WalletHub Data For Country
New York has the 17th best health care system in the country based on cost, accessibility and medical outcomes, according to a new study. Some of the worst rankings of New York’s health care included its high cancer rate, at No. 48, and low rate of physicians accepting Medicare, at No. 47, according to data from WalletHub. The Empire State fared better in terms of highest percentage of insured children, at No. 5, and most physicians per capita, at No. 4. (Robinson, 8/6)
Naples Daily News:
Florida Among 10 Worst States For Health Care, WalletHub Reports
The best state in terms of affordability, access to care and better patient outcomes is Vermont, followed by Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Hawaii. The findings are not good for Florida. (Freeman, 8/7)
SC Ranks One Of The Worst States For Heath Care, Wallethub Says
South Carolina has one of the worst health care systems in the country , according to a new study from WalletHub. The study — which assesses states and the District of Columbia by cost, access and outcomes — ranked the Palmetto State 44th, according to Wallethub. The state was ranked 49th when it comes to cost, only beating out North Carolina and Alaska. (Bohatch, 8/6)
Colorado Ranks 7th In Nation For Healthcare According To WalletHub Study
Colorado ranks 7th in the nation for healthcare across 40 key measures, but the Centennial State still struggles to get its most at-risk residents to the doctor, according to a new study. The WalletHub study compared each U.S. state and the District of Columbia on cost, access and outcomes like the number of hospital beds per capita, life expectancy and average monthly insurance premium. (Staver, 8/6)
Georgia Health News:
State’s Latest Health Rank Is More Of The Same
The best news in Georgia’s latest health care ranking is that monthly insurance premiums in the state are relatively low. The state is ranked 16th among states on that measure in an analysis by WalletHub, released Monday. But overall, Georgia is ranked 43rd among the states when it comes to health care issues. (Miller, 8/6)
A new study also finds that male physicians who have treated more women or have more female colleagues are more successful in treating women who have had heart attacks.
Women Survive Heart Attack More Often When Doctor Is Female, Study Finds
Much like shoes or skinny jeans, heart attacks can fit women a little differently than men. Their symptoms don’t always look the same, and for a meshwork of reasons, physicians all too often fail to diagnose heart attacks in women with enough time to intervene. The consequence: Women are more likely to die from heart attacks than men are. But, according to a new study, not if they’re treated by female doctors. (Farber, 8/6)
Do Women Heart Attack Patients Fare Better With Women Doctors?
"I think what's critical to emphasize is the importance of understanding the diversity of the patient community and ensuring that the physician pool is diverse as well," said Brad Greenwood, the study's main author and an associate professor of information and decision sciences at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis. (Howard, 8/6)
Powerful new drugs can cure the virus, so scientists wanted to test out if the transplants would be successful despite the donor being infected. “When there’s such a bad organ shortage, we can’t just do business as usual,” said Dr. Peter Reese, a kidney specialist who led the study. “We need to shake off that these organs aren’t valuable and that people will not want them.” In other public health news: ticks, microbiome testing, gene-muting drugs, cancer, postpartum struggles, and more.
The Associated Press:
Patients Who Accepted Infected Kidneys Cured Of Hepatitis C
Some patients in desperate need of a kidney transplant participated in a bold experiment where they received organs infected with hepatitis C. The gamble paid off. Their new organs are working fine thanks to medication that got rid of the virus, researchers reported Monday. (8/6)
The New York Times:
An Invasive New Tick Is Spreading In The U.S.
For the first time in 50 years, a new tick species has arrived in the United States — one that in its Asian home range carries fearsome diseases. The Asian long-horned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, is spreading rapidly along the Eastern Seaboard. It has been found in seven states and in the heavily populated suburbs of New York City. At the moment, public health experts say they are concerned, but not alarmed. (McNeil, 8/6)
As Microbiome Testing Firms Proliferate, So Do Questions About Their Claims
Microbiome testing companies have become a thing, offering consumers a chance to see a snapshot of the billions of microbes that reside in their bodies. Some promise even more from a swab: personalized advice on how to improve your health. ...There’s no doubt that the microbiome, the community of trillions of bacteria and viruses that live in a person’s body, has a profound impact on human health. But our understanding of the microbiome isn’t advanced enough, nor are the commercial tests precise enough, to guide customized health recommendations, experts told STAT. (Shaffer, 8/7)
The FDA Is Poised To Approve Alnylam's First-Ever RNA Interference Drug
After a decades-long wait, the FDA is on the brink of approving a landmark rare disease treatment — the first to rely on a Nobel prize-winning technique known as RNA interference, or RNAi. The widely anticipated approval will be a watershed moment not only for its manufacturer, Alnylam, but for the broader field of research into RNAi, which lets scientists mute genes that aren’t functioning properly. The FDA must announce its decision by Friday to meet a a regulatory deadline. (Sheridan, 8/7)
The Washington Post:
She Made A Career Out Of Studying The Brain. Then Hers Veered Off Course.
The walls inside Barbara Lipska’s office at the National Institute of Mental Health are plastered with race plaques: first-, second-, third-place awards. Lipska, 67, only started running in her 40s, but because she does nothing halfway, in short order she was doing marathons and triathlons, while commuting to work in Bethesda, Md., on her bike, a total of 40 miles a day. A decisive, fast-moving woman — capable, her boss tells me, of accomplishing the workload of three or four people — Lipska directs NIMH’s Human Brain Collection Core. “We might get a brain today,” she says hopefully on a Wednesday in late February. (Copeland, 8/6)
The Associated Press:
Cancer Study Of Nuclear Test Site Expected To Finish In 2019
A long-anticipated study into the cancer risks of New Mexico residents living near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test likely will be published in 2019, the National Cancer Institute announced. Institute spokesman Michael Levin told The Associated Press that researchers are examining data on diet and radiation exposure on residents who lived near the World War II-era Trinity Test site, and scientists expect to finish the study by early next year. (Contreras, 8/6)
The Associated Press:
Serena Williams Shares Postpartum Struggles On Social Media
Serena Williams says she's been struggling with postpartum emotions and wants other new moms to know they are "totally normal." The 23-time Grand Slam champion suffered the most lopsided defeat of her career, a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Johanna Konta in San Jose, California, last Tuesday. She then withdrew from this week's Rogers Cup in Montreal, citing personal reasons. (8/6)
What Does It Mean To Be A Doctor With A Disability?
Lisa Iezzoni was in medical school at Harvard in the early 1980s when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She started experiencing some of the symptoms, including fatigue, but she wasn't letting that get in the way of her goal. Then came the moment she scrubbed in on a surgery and the surgeon told her what he thought of her chances in the field. "He opined that I had no right to go into medicine because I lacked the most important quality in medicine," Iezzoni recalls "And that was 24/7 availability." (Gordon, 8/6)
The Washington Post:
Thousands Of Inebriated Pedestrians Die Each Year In Traffic Accidents
It’s 11 p.m. on a Saturday on U Street in Washington, and music is blaring from the glittery bars and clubs. Many of the partyers will stick around till the bars close at 3 a.m., then pour out onto the sidewalks — and sometimes into the streets. “I’ve seen drunk people wandering into the street around 2 or 3 in the morning like zombies,” said Austin Loan, a bouncer checking IDs at Hawthorne, a restaurant with five bar areas and DJs on the weekends. “When you get drunk, you think you can rule the world. You may not be paying attention to anything else.” (Bergal, 8/6)
Kaiser Health News:
How Genetic Tests Muddy Your Odds Of Getting A Long-Term-Care Policy
In general, long-term-care insurers can indeed use genetic test results when they decide whether to offer you coverage. The federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibits health insurers from asking for or using your genetic information to make decisions about whether to sell you health insurance or how much to charge. But those rules don’t apply to long-term-care, life or disability insurance. (Andrews, 8/7)
Media outlets report on news from Arizona, Connecticut, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Texas, Oregon, California, Oklahoma, Kansas and Florida.
Abuse Allegation Prompt Question: Who Keeps Migrant Kids Safe?
A staffer at a Mesa migrant shelter is accused of performing oral sex on two teenage boys there, and attempting to force one of them to have anal sex. Six other teens accuse the same employee of sexual abuse. The staffer tells authorities he is HIV-positive. Those revelations — all involving employees of the Texas-based non-profit Southwest Key and brought to light over a seven-day period — have raised troubling questions about conditions inside shelters housing vulnerable children, as well as the measures taken by the non-profit and federal and state government to prevent abuse. (Philip and Pitzi, 8/6)
The CT Mirror:
CT's Democratic Gubernatorial Contenders Take Aim At Trump
Connecticut’s Democratic gubernatorial contenders took aim at President Donald Trump’s administration Monday, vowing to push back against attacks on abortion access rights and environmental standards. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim called for an amendment to the Connecticut Constitution to reinforce a longstanding statue legalizing women’s right to an abortion. (Phaneuf and Silber, 8/6)
The Star Tribune:
Moody's Revises Blue Cross Outlook To Negative
Moody's Investors Service has revised to negative its outlook on Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota because of declines in commercial health insurance customers plus the expected arrival of for-profit HMO competitors in the state's health plan market. In lowering the outlook, Moody's affirmed its rating of the financial strength at Blue Cross as well as the rating for the company's debt. (Snowbeck, 8/6)
Lahey CEO Grant Says He’ll Retire Next Month
As Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health pursue their big hospital merger, Lahey’s chief executive is stepping down. Dr. Howard Grant will retire on Sept. 30, Lahey officials said Monday. (Dayal McCluskey, 8/6)
Senate School Safety Plan: More Counselors, Marshals; No Red-Flag
A special Texas Senate committee, formed to recommend changes in the wake of the Santa Fe High School shooting that left 10 dead in May, released a report Monday that focused on strategies for beefing up school security while rejecting actions that could limit gun rights. The panel of six Republicans and three Democrats proposed legislation that would help school districts hire more counselors, social workers and psychology specialists — and ensure that they are not distracted by unrelated duties — in addition to offering mental health “first aid” training to employees who interact with students. (Lindell, 8/6)
The CT Mirror:
Change Is Coming For Nonprofit Human Service Providers, But Will It Make Or Break Them?
After two decades of flat or reduced funding from its chief client — state government — community-based agencies are struggling to retain both their programs and the low-paid staff who deliver care for thousands of poor, disabled and mentally-ill adults and children. ... Depending on the vantage point, Connecticut’s nonprofit social services sector is viewed as either the best means to preserve the state’s safety net or as the cheapest route to drive down government spending. (Phaneuf, 8/6)
Mold-Infested Texas Department Of State Health Services Building "Not Unsafe," Commissioner Says
The Aug. 2 meeting was held nearly two weeks after State Health Services employees whose job it is to analyze data on tuberculosis, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases were relocated from the Austin State Hospital 636 building where a mold infestation had invaded some of their desks, chairs, carpeting and keyboard hand rests. The move was announced one day after The Texas Tribune revealed the mold incursion and reported that legal counsel was advising against putting any new staffers in the building. (Evans, 8/7)
Yellowhawk Opens New Tribal Health Facility
Yellowhawk will host a grand opening Tuesday to give people a peek at the new facility. The building officially opened May 1 with a soft opening for patients and tribal members and the first appointments took place May 2. It is a circular building that offers a host of patient-centered services. The building has space for most health care needs, including behavioral health, medical, dental and a pharmacy. The new health center has been a long-time goal of the CTUIR health commission. McGuire said it officially started saving for the new facility in August of 2006 after the Board of Trustees appropriated $3 million from “available resources” to a permanent health care fund. (Norton, 8/6)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Data Breach At SF’s Institute On Aging May Affect 3,900 Patients, Workers
A May data breach at San Francisco’s Institute on Aging, a nonprofit that provides home care and other support services for seniors in the Bay Area, may have compromised the personal information of nearly 4,000 clients and employees. On May 28, an “unauthorized individual” may have accessed email accounts of the institute’s employees, gaining unauthorized access to the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, emails, phone numbers, dates of birth, financial records and health information — including diagnoses, treatment and medical payment information — of employees and clients, according to a letter sent by the institute’s attorney to the California Department of Justice. (Ho, 8/6)
San Francisco Chronicle:
San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Guest House Closes As Donations Drop
After nearly three decades of helping seriously ill people live out their final days with dignity, the Zen Hospice Project’s guesthouse may be nearing its own demise. The project closed the internationally known guesthouse, at least temporarily, at the end of June while it holds out hope for a deep-pocketed donor — as well as reform in the health insurance industry — to help pay the bills of the beautiful Page Street Victorian, where as many as 100 people a year receive care. (Cabanatuan, 8/6)
Company With Hospitals In Kansas City Area Settles Medicare Fraud Claims For $65 Million
The owner of four hospitals in the Kansas City area and its chief executive have agreed to pay the federal government $65 million to settle a whistleblower suit alleging the company defrauded Medicare. Federal prosecutors alleged that Prime Healthcare Services falsely billed Medicare by unnecessarily admitting patients at 14 of its California hospitals when they should have been treated in an outpatient setting. Reimbursements are higher for admitted patients than for outpatients. (Margolies, 8/6)
The Associated Press:
Oklahoma Governor Signs Revised Medical Marijuana Guidelines
Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a revised set of emergency rules governing the use of medical marijuana in Oklahoma less than a week after they were approved by the state Board of Health. Fallin signed the regulations into law on Monday, describing them as "very basic" and "the best option in developing a proper regulatory framework." (8/6)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Stanford Researchers Start Concussion Study With High School Athletes
A Palo Alto company is teaming up with a Stanford health care network and several regional high schools for a study that will use virtual reality headsets to track eye movements to better spot concussions. The Golden State Warriors, Pac-12 universities and several hospitals around the country already use the technology from the company, SyncThink. (Aydin, 8/6)
Tampa Bay Times:
More People Are Being Diagnosed With Concussions. Here Are Some Things You Should Know.
Concussion diagnoses are on the rise, especially in youth sports in Florida, said Dr. Patrick Mularoni with AllSports Medicine, a program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital that serves youth athletes from Sarasota to Pasco counties. Over the last five years, the program has diagnosed and treated at least 3,000 concussions in children, he said. (Griffin, 8/6)
Editorial pages focus on these and other health care issues.
Trump’s New Obamacare Sabotage Could Really Stick It To Consumers
The Trump administration’s new attack on Obamacare will expose consumers to surprise, sometimes staggering medical bills. Just ask some of the state officials who deal with these kinds of issues every day. ... state insurance officials like Jessica Altman, who is insurance commissioner in Pennsylvania, say the administration isn’t telling the public or would-be buyers the whole story about what the [short-term] policies will cover ― and, more importantly, what they will not cover. “I’m frustrated with how [administration officials] are presenting this,” Altman said in an interview. “They’re saying, ‘Here’s this option that’s affordable and wonderful,’ and not talking about how limited the plans are.” (Jonathan Cohn, 8/5)
Immigrant Children Aren't Kept In Cages, But Shelter Isn't Much Better
For years, politicians in Congress have allowed companies to profit off children’s misery and trauma. These children escaped death, some being physically or sexually assaulted along the way, crossing a desert in unimaginable heat, only to endure mental health damage and sexual assault at our hands so that a president can force an immoral border policy on a supposedly moral country. (Juan Mendez, 8/6)
What Does 'Normal' Mean When You Live With A Disability?
As imperative as the ADA is — it is important for America to have a law that clearly outlines the requirements and responsibilities of government entities, public facilities, employers, stores, etc. — to those of us who manage chronic health issues, the ADA alone cannot undo a cultural mindset of what society considers “normal.” (Laura Beretsky, 8/7)
Trump's Travel Restrictions Will Make Americans Sicker, Not Safer
It’s debatable whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold President Trump’s policy to prevent people from five Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States will protect national security. But it is certain to be a setback for the health of Americans. The travel ban now restricts certain visa classifications for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as those from North Korea and Venezuelan government officials. While it applies broadly to individuals in all fields of study and professional practice, it has a disproportionate impact on the field of medicine. Millions of Americans, particularly those in underserved communities, depend on foreign doctors, thousands of whom hail from countries affected by the restrictions. (William W. Pinsky, 8/7)
A Push For Drug Decriminalization Surges In Countries Around The World — Could The US Be Next?
Drug decriminalization has rapidly emerged as a mainstream political issue in Canada and several other countries, but few U.S. policymakers have embraced it so far. That could change soon. Ending criminal penalties for drug possession, often referred to as decriminalization, means nobody gets arrested, goes to jail or prison, or faces other forms of criminal punishment simply for possessing a small amount of drugs for personal use. This concept is already supported by a majority of the U.S. public, as well as leading governmental, medical, public health and civil rights groups. (Jag Davies, 8/6)
There's No Place Like Home For Health Care For The Homebound
An estimated 400,000 elderly Americans are completely homebound; another 1.6 million leave their homes at most once a week. Homebound individuals are more likely to be elderly, less educated, female, and non-white, groups that already have trouble accessing health care. They are also more likely to have multiple chronic medical conditions. Yet only 12 percent of completely homebound individuals report receiving medical care at home. Home-based interventions such as primary care visits have consistently been linked to good health outcomes and significant cost savings. (Ifedayo Olufemi Kuye, 8/7)
With Kavanaugh On Deck, Pro-Life Movement Needs A Future Beyond Abortion
Imagine if the end of Roe were not the end of our advocacy, but the beginning? What if we saw ourselves, not merely as conservatives or anti-abortion activists, but as people who are always, everywhere advocating for policies that help the most vulnerable flourish? Imagine a new kind of politics where the ethic of human dignity disrupted our political categories, uniting those who see the humanity of the unborn with those who see the humanity of the immigrant, the disabled, the infirm, and the elderly? Imagine a new era of civility where we saw dignity even in our fiercest opponents and worked, with whoever is willing, to end injustices against the innocent? (Daniel Darling, 8/7)
Lawsuit Exposes Fatal Flaw In ObamaCare's Individual Mandate
The most recent challenge to the Affordable Care Act, a Texas-led, 20-state lawsuit, made news when the U.S. Department of Justice conceded the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate. This action aroused passion, including concern even from groups opposed to the ACA. But, no one who dislikes the ACA as a policy should worry about the legal process of this new challenge. (Robert Henneke and Braden Boucek, 8/6)