KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

Health Gap Widens Between Appalachia And Rest Of The U.S.

In the early 1990s, people in this economically depressed region lagged only slightly behind other parts of the country. Today, rates of infant mortality in Appalachia are significantly higher than elsewhere, and the difference in life expectancy has grown noticeably. (Vickie Connor, 8/7)

Political Cartoon: 'Thick As A Brick?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Thick As A Brick?'" by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Shkreli scapegoated.
What, am I my Bro's keeper?
Pharma wants to know.

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.

Summaries Of The News:


For Insurance Commissioners On Front Lines, Subsidies Aren't Just A Part Of A Political Game

In Washington, the subsidies for insurers have become a hot topic in the health care debates, but state insurance commissioners are more concerned about what they'll actually have to do if they're cut off. Without the federal subsidies, insurers would need to get the money — estimated at $7 billion to $10 billion next year — from another source. Meanwhile, in other marketplace news, Anthem is pulling out of Nevada's exchanges and paring back its offerings in Georgia, and Molina is closing a clinic in Michigan.

The New York Times: Facing Trump Subsidy Cuts, Health Insurance Officials Seek A Backup Plan
Congress is on vacation, but state insurance commissioners have no time off. They have spent the past three days debating what to do if President Trump stops subsidies paid to insurance companies on behalf of millions of low-income people. For administration officials and many in Congress, the subsidies are a political and legal issue in a fight over the future of the Affordable Care Act. But for state officials, gathered here at the summer meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the subsidies are a more immediate, practical concern. (Pear, 8/7)

Politico Pro: POLITICO Pro Q&A: Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak
Julie Mix McPeak has served as Tennessee insurance commissioner since 2011, when she was appointed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. Prior to that she was executive director of the Kentucky Office of Insurance. McPeak is also the president-elect of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which is holding its annual summer meeting in Philadelphia this week. (Demko, 8/7)

The Associated Press: Bipartisan Experts Urge Next Steps On Health Care Push
A group of conservative and liberal health policy experts is pressing the Trump administration and Congress to take steps to quickly shore up coverage under the Obama health care law, an idea that's been anathema to President Donald Trump and many congressional Republicans. The plan, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, includes continuing federal payments to insurers Trump has threatened to block. It says Trump and lawmakers should find a way for people to buy coverage in the handful of counties that may have no insurers next year in the federal and state insurance exchanges created by President Barack Obama's statute. (8/8)

Reuters: Anthem To Pare Back Obamacare Offerings In Nevada And Georgia
U.S. health insurer Anthem Inc said on Monday it will no longer offer Obamacare plans in Nevada's state exchange and will stop offering the plans in nearly half of Georgia's counties next year.The moves come after Republican senators last month failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law, creating uncertainty over how the program providing health benefits to 20 million Americans will be funded and managed in 2018. (Erman and Berkrot, 8/7)

The Hill: Anthem To Exit ObamaCare Markets In Nevada
Anthem BlueCross BlueShield will completely exit Nevada’s ObamaCare exchange next year, the state's insurance commissioner said Monday. The company had previously said it would only offer plans in three urban counties in the state, leaving people in 14 counties without an insurer for 2018.  (Weixel, 8/7)

Georgia Health News: Blue Cross Agrees To Stay In Counties Where There’s No Other Exchange Option
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia has agreed to offer coverage in the state insurance exchange in the 85 counties that will have no other health plans in 2018. The agreement was reached in negotiations with state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, after the insurer told the agency in June that it was planning to exit the entire individual insurance market in Georgia, both on and off the exchange. (Miller, 8/7)

Detroit Free Press: Molina Healthcare To Close Dearborn Clinic, Lay Off 120
Molina Healthcare plans to close its 24-hour Midwest Medical Center in downtown Dearborn on Sept. 30 and lay off all 120 people who work there. The clinic at 4700 Schaefer offers urgent care, primary care, physical therapy and other services, and serves Medicaid beneficiaries, as well as those with commercial insurance. The clinic is run by the publicly-traded company's subsidiary, Molina Medical Management. (Reindl, 8/7)

Health Law

'I'm Not Sure What Happens Next': McConnell Asks For Patience With Congress Over Health Care

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he doesn't know what the path forward looks like, but he thinks that "no action is probably not going to work."

Cincinnati Enquirer: McConnell Sees 'No Path Forward' For Health Care Plan
As McConnell spoke inside Hilton Cincinnati Airport in Florence, more than a dozen protesters holding signs on a sidewalk outside on Turfway Road urged improving the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare rather than repealing it. [Duane] Froelicher, a Florence city councilman, pressed McConnell with a second question, asking if there are plans to reintroduce another health care bill. (Mayhew, 8/7)

Meanwhile, experts, community activists and pastors say African-American men are more likely than any other group to be left behind as Congress and the administration start rolling back the ACA —

USA Today: Churches, Community Groups Step Up To Address Black Health Disparities
In a small room down the hall in the Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, about two dozen people listened one recent afternoon as Donald Solomon rattled off ailments ravaging African-American communities. “We’re a sick crowd … Whatever is wrong in the country, we have it worse. We need to get health into the church,” said Solomon, a founder of Congregations for Public Health and co-author of Body and Soul, a healthy living guide for church leaders. (Berry, 8/7)


Appeals Court Strikes Down Calif.'s Lowered Medi-Cal Payments For Hospital Outpatients

The state cut its Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals by 10 percent for services that didn't require an overnight stay and eventually got approval from the Obama administration. The federal appeals court said the government can adopt such measures only if it shows that access to care is not affected.

Los Angeles Times: U.S. Appeals Court Says Medi-Cal Cut To Hospitals Was Illegal
A U.S. appeals court decided Monday that the federal government wrongly approved California’s request to temporarily cut Medi-Cal reimbursement by 10% during the recession for hospital outpatient care. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal government can approve such cuts only if evidence shows that the recipients of aid will have access to the same services as the general population. ... If the ruling stands, the state and the federal government will have to pay back California hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars, said Robert Leventhal, who represented more than 50 California hospitals in the challenge. (Dolan, 8/7)

San Francisco Chronicle: SF Court Reverses Approval On Lowered Medi-Cal Outpatient Rates
The court case concerned rates for treatment of Medi-Cal patients who do not require an overnight hospital stay. In July 2008, the state reduced Medi-Cal rates for those outpatient services by 10 percent for a specific eight-month period in 2008-09, then raised them back to their earlier levels eight months later after the federal government withheld approval. In 2011, California lowered all of its Medi-Cal rates by 10 percent to balance its budget, and also sought and received approval from President Barack Obama’s health care agency for the earlier eight-month reduction. (Egelko, 8/7)

San Jose Mercury News: Paying Doctors More - Now Will They Treat More Poor Californians?
Yes, while debate over the future of Obamacare waxes and wanes in Congress, California doctors are happily preparing for their first state pay increase in Medi-Cal in 17 years. ... Even so, civil rights groups and some California labor unions are suing the state to pay doctors significantly more -- the latest in a long history of legal actions that blame meager Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for delays in patient care. ... Here’s what you need to know about how physicians may respond -- and how it could impact the ability of 13 million Californians to see the doctors they need, when they need them. (Levin, 8/7)

Oregon Latest State To Offer Medicaid To Children Of Immigrants Regardless Of Status

Although advocates are cheering the victory, they don't see many more states following suit under the Trump administration.

Stateline: More Immigrant Children In U.S. Illegally To Receive Health Care
California extended full Medicaid benefits to child immigrants, no matter their immigration status, if their families otherwise meet the income thresholds for the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. ... Oregon just followed suit, joining the five other states plus Washington, D.C. that extend Medicaid health benefits to children living in the country illegally. Immigration advocates welcomed the news, but with the Trump administration cracking down on illegal immigration, they don’t expect to see similar laws enacted in other states in the near future. (Ollove, 8/8)

Health IT

Experts Warn Hospitals Particularly Vulnerable To Cyberattacks: 'There’s Going To Be Patients That Die'

Those who have studied health care’s specific vulnerabilities worry that hackers — working for enemy states or cybercrime groups — could train their digital sights directly on U.S. hospitals, health care networks and medical devices.

McClatchy: Cyber 'D-Day' May Be Near For Vulnerable U.S. Health Care System
Cyberattacks are accelerating worldwide and the U.S. health care system is dangerously unprepared to defend itself, or its patients. In the past two months, thousands of computers of the nation’s No. 3 pharmaceutical company, Merck, seized up amid a global cyberattack, cutting into production of medicines. (Johnson, 8/7)

Modern Healthcare: Internet-Based EHRs Gaining Some Customers But Still A Small Segment 
More and more, hospitals such as [Brad] Huerta's are following in the footsteps of physician groups and looking to the metaphorical sky for their EHR needs. Though Epic Systems Corp. and Cerner Corp. still dominate the hospital market with solutions that are mostly client-server based, cloud-based EHR vendor Athenahealth more than doubled the number of hospitals it has contracts with last year, and 90% of provider organizations surveyed by KLAS Research are either currently hosting or considering hosting their data off-premises, according to preliminary research. (Arndt, 8/7)

Public Health And Education

Doctor's Murder Raises Tough Questions About Battling Opioid Epidemic

Dr. Todd Graham refused to give a patient a pain killer prescription. The woman's husband returned with threats and a gun. Graham's death is serving as a stark reminder to the community that doctors are on the front lines of the crisis. Meanwhile, deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. rose sharply in the first nine months of 2016.

Stat: A Doctor Was Murdered Over Opioids. His Town Is Left With No Easy Answers
Dr. Todd Graham wasn’t yet halfway through his workday at South Bend Orthopaedics when a new patient came into his office here complaining of chronic pain. Heeding the many warnings of health officials, he told her opioids weren’t the appropriate treatment. But she was accompanied by her husband, who insisted on a prescription. Graham held his ground. The husband grew irate. ...Then he pulled out a semiautomatic weapon and shot the doctor who wouldn’t give his wife pain pills. Days after the July 26 murder, STAT interviewed doctors, law enforcement officials, and local residents to piece together the full story — and to understand how the shouts in the office and the gunshots in the parking lot have reverberated through this small Midwestern town. (Thielking, 8/8)

Stat: 'Doctors Are Getting Shot': Navigating The Perils Of Pain Pill Prescribing In The Midst Of An Opioid Crisis
The recent murder of Dr. Todd Graham has shaken physicians across the U.S. Graham was shot by the husband of a new patient who had asked him earlier that day for opioids to control chronic pain. Graham, an orthopedist in Mishawaka, Ind., had refused to write the prescription, explaining that the powerful pain pills weren’t appropriate treatment. The patient’s husband tracked him down later in the parking lot and pulled out a gun. (Ross, 8/8)

Stat: Doctors Who Attend Lower-Tier Medical Schools Prescribe Far More Opioids
Aphysician’s propensity to prescribe opioids could be affected by a range of factors relating to background and clinical experiences. But new research shows one variable may be especially influential: where the doctor went to medical school. A paper published Monday by economics professors at Princeton University determined that physicians who studied at lower-ranked medical schools prescribe nearly three times as many opioids per year as those who attended top-tier institutions. (Ross, 8/7)

The Washington Post: Deaths From Drug Overdoses Soared In The First Nine Months Of 2016
Deaths from drug overdoses rose sharply in the first nine months of 2016, the government reported Tuesday, releasing data that confirm the widely held belief that the opioid epidemic worsened last year despite stepped-up efforts by public health authorities. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that overdose deaths reached a record 19.9 per 100,000 population in the third quarter, a big increase over the 16.7 recorded for the same three months in 2015. Similarly, the first two quarters of last year showed death rates of 18.9 and 19.3, far greater than the corresponding periods for 2015. Data for the fourth quarter of 2016 are not yet available. (Bernstein, 8/8)

And in other news on the crisis —

The Associated Press: Report Reveals Underground US Haven For Heroin, Drug Users
A safe haven where drug users inject themselves with heroin and other drugs has been quietly operating in the United States for the past three years, a report reveals. None were known to exist in the U.S. until the disclosure in a medical journal, although several states and cities are pushing to establish these so-called supervised injection sites where users can shoot up under the care of trained staff who can treat an overdose if necessary. (Stobbe, 8/8)

The Oregonian: Fed Up With Opioid Deaths, Multnomah County Sues Drug Makers For $250 Million
Multnomah County has joined a list of other counties, cities and states across the nation in filing a lawsuit against major U.S. pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of pushing doctors to overprescribe opioids such as OxyContin and Percocet despite the great risks of addiction. In the $250 million lawsuit, Multnomah County claims pharmaceutical makers and distributors have engaged in a nearly two-decades-long “campaign of lies and deceptions” to drive up profits by selling opioids to the masses. It’s now a $13-billion-a-year industry. (Green, 8/7)

New Hampshire Public Radio: In First Year, Childhood Trauma Response Team Refers More Than 250 For Services
Children in New Hampshire are finding themselves caught in the front lines of the state’s heroin and opioid crisis. ...Lara Quiroga is with the Manchester Community Health Center, and helped launch a program last summer that aims to ensure children who experience trauma, whether it's witnessing an overdose or being exposed to violence, get the services they need. (Ganley and Brindley, 8/7)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Drug Overdose Surge Hits Hamilton County
A surge in suspected overdoses in Hamilton County on Saturday prompted public health officials to issue an alert to the community. Twenty-two suspected overdose cases were logged at Hamilton County hospitals on Saturday alone, health department records show. (DeMio, 8/7)

Boston Globe: A Door Inches Open To Give Inmates Medication For Addiction
With grants announced Monday, the houses of correction in Franklin and Hampden counties will expand their ability to offer buprenorphine, a drug commonly known by the brand name Suboxone, to inmates with a diagnosed opioid use disorder, starting within a month of their release. Only a handful of prisons and jails nationwide dispense buprenorphine as treatment. (Freyer, 8/7)

Smoking One Of Biggest Culprits In Appalachia's Health Disparities

Appalachia is falling behind the rest of the country in infant mortality and life expectancy. And although much attention has focused on the area's opioid crisis, the study finds that the region's tendency to be "more accepting of tobacco use as a social norm" is a bigger factor in its health problems.

The Associated Press: Infant Mortality Disparity Grows In Appalachia, Study Finds
Placing much of the blame on smoking, a study chronicling the ongoing health crisis in Appalachia has concluded that the 13-state region suffers from a growing disparity in infant mortality and life expectancy, two key indicators of "a nation's health and well-being." The study , published in the August issue of Health Affairs, compared infant mortality and life expectancy rates in Appalachia with the rest of the United States between 1990 and 2013. It found while the rates were similar in the 1990s, by 2013 infant mortality across Appalachia was 16 percent higher than the rest of the country while life expectancy for adults was 2.4 years shorter. (8/7)

Kaiser Health News: Health Gap Widens Between Appalachia And Rest Of The U.S.
Sandy Willhite doesn’t mind driving 45 minutes to the nearest shopping center. But living in Hillsboro, W.Va., became problematic when she had to travel nearly six hours for proper foot treatment. “There just aren’t any quality surgeons or specialists in our area,” Willhite said, when explaining why she went to a doctor in Laurel, Md. (Connor, 8/7)

Young People On 'Brink Of The Worst Mental Health Crisis In Decades,' Expert Warns

Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, talks about how attachment to smartphones and social media is proving damaging to the mental health of those in the "iGen" generation. In other public health news: sunscreen, malaria, heart disease, a mysterious illness, smoking and damaged skin cells.

NPR: Smartphones Are Making Today's Teens Unhappy, Psychologist Says
For the first time, a generation of children is going through adolescence with smartphones ever-present. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, has a name for these young people born between 1995 and 2012: "iGen." She says members of this generation are physically safer than those who came before them. They drink less, they learn to drive later and they're holding off on having sex. But psychologically, she argues, they are far more vulnerable. (Cornish, 8/7)

The Washington Post: Some Schools Don't Let Kids Bring In Sunscreen Without A Doctor's Note
State Rep. Craig Hall of Utah has four redheaded children, lives in the state with the highest rate of melanoma in the country and buys sunscreen “in the Costco size.” He is an unabashed proponent of sun protection. But when Hall, a Republican, introduced legislation this year to allow kids to bring sunscreen to school — which starts Aug. 21 in his district — he said his fellow lawmakers were less enthusiastic. “My colleagues’ first reaction to this bill was mostly ‘Seriously? We need a bill for this?’" (Moore, 8/7)

The New York Times: Rapid Malaria Tests Work, But With Unexpected Drawbacks
Rapid diagnostic tests have greatly improved malaria treatment in the last decade, but they also had some unexpected bad consequences, a large new study has found. As hoped, the tests — which use only a drop of blood and provide results in about 15 minutes — substantially decreased how many patients with fever were incorrectly given or sold malaria drugs when they did not have malaria. (McNeil, 8/7)

Stat: MyoKardia Drug Boosts Blood Flow For Patients With Inherited Heart Disease
MyoKardia (MYOK) announced Monday that its experimental drug mavacamten demonstrated statistically significant improvements in blood flow and aerobic capacity in patients with an inherited form of heart disease in a small, mid-stage clinical trial. Eight of the 10 patients who completed the study achieved improvement in blood flow to a level where they no longer met the threshold for being diagnosed with their disease — obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM. (Feurstein, 8/7)

The Washington Post: Her Daughters Floppy Limps And Poor Muscle Tone Were A Medical Mystery Until A Lucky Enounter And A Complex Diagnosis
Elena Silva gripped her cellphone, struggling to convey a sense of urgency to her husband, Brian Woodward, whose response was drowned out by the background din of a suburban Maryland swimming pool on a steamy July afternoon. “You have to bring the kids here — right now,” Silva remembers insisting. She believed that the couple’s long-running quest for a diagnosis of their daughter Gabriela, known as Gg (pronounced “Gigi”), then 7, hinged on the little girl’s presence. (Goodman, 8/7)

Bloomberg: Smokers Could Turn To Vaping If FDA Regulates Nicotine
The FDA’s initiative may upend the $130 billion American tobacco industry. It’s also likely to set off a ferocious lobbying and legal war in Washington, and push the cigarette industry to develop products that rely less on burning carcinogenic tobacco and more on delivering doses of nicotine through cleaner vapor. Smoking-related illnesses cost $300 billion a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interviews with New York smokers suggested that few had taken notice of the proposal announced last week, but many said they would be more likely to switch to new delivery devices than to smoke diluted cigarette after diluted cigarette. Some have already made the change. (Cromwell and Mattingly, 8/7)

NPR: Chip Reprograms Cells To Speed Healing In Mice
Scientists have created an electronic wafer that reprogrammed damaged skin cells on a mouse's leg to grow new blood vessels and help a wound heal. One day, creator Chandan Sen hopes, it could be used to be used to treat wounds on humans. But that day is a long way off — as are many other regeneration technologies in the works. Like Sen, some scientists have begun trying to directly reprogram one cell type into another for healing, while others are attempting to build organs or tissues from stem cells and organ-shaped scaffolding. (Chen, 8/8)

Women’s Health

Lawmakers Taking Strides To Address Menstruation Care As Basic Health Need

Getting rid of a tax on menstrual products is one of several ideas around menstruation care that's gaining speed across the country. In other women's health news: weight gain, postpartum depression and mothers of kids with cancer.

The Washington Post: The Once-Whispered Topic Of Women’s Menstruation Now Has Political Cachet
A topic that for so long was rarely discussed above a whisper has recently been taken up by growing numbers of lawmakers. Spurred by grass-roots activism aimed at lifting the stigma surrounding menstruation, the lawmakers are proposing measures to provide broad access to menstrual products for women. Their efforts include exempting tampons and pads from state and local taxes, compelling prisons to stop charging inmates for the supplies and making them available for free at public schools and workplaces. (Chandler, 8/7)

The New York Times: Researchers Track An Unlikely Culprit In Weight Gain
For middle-aged women struggling with their weight, a recent spate of scientific findings sounds too good to be true. And they may be, researchers caution. Studies in mice indicate that a single hormone whose levels rise at menopause could be responsible for a characteristic redistribution of weight in middle age to the abdomen, turning many women from “pears” to “apples.” At the same time, the hormone may spur the loss of bone. (Kolata, 8/7)

And Planned Parenthood receives a large donation —

Pioneer Press: Planned Parenthood Eyes New Minneapolis Uptown Clinic With $6.5M Gift
A $6.5 million gift will help Planned Parenthood update and expand its clinics. A local couple who asked to remain anonymous donated the money. It will go toward Planned Parenthood’s three-year facilities expansion initiative. Highlights of the initiative include building a new health care facility in Minneapolis, on the site of its existing clinic in Uptown. The effort also will go toward making sure the 18 other clinics in the region “reflect the most modern standards in health care,” the St. Paul-based nonprofit said in a statement. (8/7)

State Watch

U.S. News Releases 2017 Rankings For Hospitals

In other news, a hospital system in Houston adds more facilities while a group of physicians who are hospitalists are seeking to expand beyond Maryland.

Chicago Tribune: Northwestern Ranked Illinois' Top Hospital, According To U.S. News 
Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital is on a winning streak, ranking No. 1 in the state for the sixth year in a row, according to U.S. News & World Report rankings released Tuesday, though it slipped a few spots nationally this year. U.S. News again ranked Rush University Medical Center second in the state. Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood ranked third. (Schencker, 8/7)

And in other hospital news —

Houston Chronicle: HCA Healthcare Adds Four Hospitals To Expanding Network 
HCA Healthcare's Gulf Coast Division continues its growth on Houston's north side as it completes the purchase of three acute care hospitals and one long-term care hospital, officials with the regional network announced. The acquisition of the four facilities comes on the heels of the purchase of Tomball Regional Medical Center, with more potentially on the way, a company statement said. (Deam, 8/7)

The Baltimore Sun: Hospitalist Group Changes Name As It Seeks To Grow 
MDICS, a private hospitalist group, has changed its name to Adfinitas Health as it seeks to expand to new hospitals. The group, Maryland Inpatient Care Specialists, currently serves five hospitals in Maryland, including Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Calvert Memorial Hospital in Prince Frederick, Civista Medical Center in La Plata, Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore City and Baltimore Washington Medical Center. The group also works in skilled nursing facilities around the state. (Cohn, 8/7)

Modern Healthcare: IU Health, Like Bigger Hospital Systems, Hurt By Declining Admissions 
Indiana University Health suffered a 46% operating decline to $77.4 million in its second quarter following its divestiture of three hospitals, with the system reporting lower same-facility admissions. Revenue in the quarter fell 3% to $1.5 billion, from $1.56 billion in the year-earlier period, without the contributions from divested Goshen Health and LaPorte and Starke hospitals. Those were northern Indiana facilities that IU Health deemed non-core. (Barkholz, 8/7)

KCUR: First Black Hospital In Kansas City Is Now On Life Support 
Vacant since 1972, the first black-owned hospital in Kansas City – where black doctors and nurses could practice medicine and receive advanced clinical training – sits decaying under 45 years of neglect. Once a triumph of community-wide cooperation, the Wheatley-Provident Hospital remains on the city's dangerous buildings list for an eighth year. Absent a plan for its rehabilitation, it could be demolished by 2019. (Tufts, 8/7)

State Highlights: Deep Funding Cuts Hit Fla.'s Fragile Mental Health System Hard; Tenn. Awards $473M Contract For Inmate Health Care To Private Company

Media outlets report on news from Florida, Tennessee, Maryland, Ohio, Georgia, Texas, Minnesota, Washington and South Carolina.

Orlando Sentinel: Cuts To Mental Health Care Could Leave Thousands Without Help, Advocates Say
Central Florida’s already fragile mental health system is reeling from millions of dollars in cuts negotiated by state lawmakers — a loss that has already triggered layoffs at two major providers and is expected to leave several thousand people without care. ...Some mental health providers said they didn’t know the full extent of the cuts until just before the start of the July 1 fiscal year. (Santich, 8/7)

Nashville Tennessean: New Tennessee Health Contract Could Top $473 Million
Inmate health care will remain in the hands of the private company currently overseeing health care in all public Tennessee prisons, at a potential cost of more than $473 million over five years. Bid documents for the contract also point to a possible new approach to care for more inmates affected by the prison system's Hepatitis C epidemic. Tennessee announced in late July its intent to award Centurion of Tennessee the contract. Centurion previously had a three-year, $270 million contract. (Boucher, 8/7)

The Baltimore Sun: MedStar To Open New Regional Orthopaedic Center In Timonium 
MedStar Health will open a new orthopaedic super center in Timonium Tuesday that will house several specialties in one building in order to provide patients more comprehensive care. The 46,000-square-foot building on Greenspring Dr. will offer medical services that include orthopaedics, spine, sports medicine, physiatry, pain management, outpatient surgery and rehabilitation. The center’s administrators say having all these services in one location will allow patients to get diagnostic testing and see several doctors all in one day, and doctors will also be able to more easily consult with other specialists. (McDaniels, 8/7)

The Star Tribune: Hennepin County Focuses On Infants To Break Child Protection Cycle
Hennepin County officials, seeking to find ways to help its youngest citizens grow up in stable households, have hit upon something new: Infant Court. It’s part of the county’s three-year Infant Team pilot program, a $1 million project that provides families with intensive coaching to mend a fractured or even nonexistent bond between a baby or toddler and a caregiver. (Smith, 8/7)

Seattle Times: Swedish Health Largely Bans Overlapping Surgeries
Swedish Health has decided to largely prohibit its doctors from conducting overlapping surgeries, responding to the concerns of patients who were troubled by the practice. Swedish’s new CEO, Dr. Guy Hudson, said in an interview Monday that the new policies are the product of a review he launched in recent months that involved collecting input from doctors, nurses, experts and patients. (Baker, 8/7)

Kaiser Health News: S.C. Taps Private Donors To Expand In-Home Services For At-Risk Moms
Deona Scott was 24 and in her final semester at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina when she found out she was pregnant. She turned to Medicaid for maternity health coverage and learned about a free program for first-time mothers that could connect her with a nurse to answer questions about pregnancy and caring for her baby. The nurse would come to her home throughout her pregnancy and for two years after her child’s birth. (Andrews, 8/8)

Miami Herald: Parkinson's Foundation Launches A Bi-Weekly Podcast
The cause of Parkinson’s disease remains unknown, but people who want a hands-free way to stay up-to-date on new developments about the disease can listen to a podcast launched recently by the Parkinson’s Foundation. The podcast, “Substantial Matters: Life and Science of Parkinson’s,” will be produced every other week and feature discussions about exercise, clinical trials and nutrition, among other subtopics. (Runcie, 8/7)

Editorials And Opinions

Policy Perspectives: GOP Confronts Health Care Conflicts, Possibilities For Compromise; Judge's 'Risk Corridor' Ruling Serves As GOP 'Rebuke'

Opinion writers offer a variety of thoughts on the current zeitgeist surrounding the Capitol Hill repeal-and-replace discussion as well as a number of other policy issues.

Louisville Courier-Journal: Growing Enemy Threatens GOP Existence In Their Infighting Over Obamacare
The HBO series "Game of Thrones" presents a strange irony for the audience at home. While various ancient families fight over an ugly throne in a capital that no one actually wants to live in, there is a growing enemy that threatens their collective existence. Though the audience at home knows this, most of the characters are ignorant or indifferent to it. This is eerily similar to watching Republicans fight to repeal, replace, alter, or mold Obamacare, while Democrats pave the way for a single payer health care system. (Jordan Harris, 8/8)

Bloomberg: How To Compromise On Health Care
Progressives are understandably breathing a sigh of relief following the Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare and replace it with legislation that would have scaled back health-insurance coverage. But they shouldn’t be too comfortable in their victory — it’s temporary. President Donald Trump has threatened not to support the Affordable Care Act. If the Trump administration decides not to make critical payments to insurers, or stops enforcing the tax penalty for people who don’t buy insurance, the law could be in serious trouble. And even if the administration continues to support Obamacare’s success, progressives should be clear that the law still needs improvements. (Michael R. Strain, 8/7)

Los Angeles Times: In A Rebuke To The GOP, A Federal Judge Orders The Government To Pay Molina Health $52 Million In Obamacare Funds
The main thread of the Republican effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act may have been snipped apart on the Senate floor late last month, but vestiges of its campaign of vandalism still remain. On Friday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., kicked away one of its legs in a $52-million ruling in favor of Molina Healthcare. The Long Beach health insurance company, which specializes in Obamacare coverage, sought the money in accordance with the ACA’s risk corridor provision. In his second ruling in a row on the issue, the federal judge in the case took direct aim at what may have been the most cynical attack on the ACA that Congressional Republicans cooked up. The judge, Thomas C. Wheeler of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, had awarded Moda Health of Oregon $214 million just last February. His reasoning this time around was almost identical. (Michael Hiltzik, 8/7)

The Washington Post: Will Congress Force Me To Deny Health Care To Children Once Again?
It has been 20 years since I’ve had to tell a mother she had no options for insuring her child. At the time, I had been treating a little boy who was born prematurely and required developmental therapies. He toddled over to me from across the waiting room, shouting my name to show that he could. But his mother had found a new job at her aunt’s hair salon, making her no longer eligible for Medicaid. We were forced to turned them away. (Dorothy R. Novick, 8/7)

The New York Times: Medicare Advantage Spends Less on Care, So Why Is It Costing So Much?
The Medicare Advantage program was supposed to save taxpayers money by allowing insurers to offer older Americans private alternatives to Medicare. The plans now cover 19 million people, a third of all those who qualify for Medicare. Enrollee satisfaction is generally high, and studies show that plans offer higher quality than traditional Medicare. But the government pays insurers more than they pay out for patient care — in some years, it turns out, a great deal more. (Austin Frakt, 8/7)

Viewpoints: Protecting The 'Miracle Drugs'; Family Physicians And The Opioid-Abuse Battle

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

The Washington Post: How To Save Our Miracle Drugs
A major public-health danger that languished for too long is at last getting more attention. Antibiotic resistance, the tendency of bacteria to fight back against antibiotics, has been known to exist for decades but was often met with complacency, in part because new and effective antibiotics were discovered frequently. Now there is a growing realization that these miracle drugs could lose their punch. (8/7)

Lexington Herald Leader: Family Physicians Key To Opioid-Abuse Fight
Across Kentucky, community leaders, health care professionals, public-policy makers and law-enforcement officials are stepping up to address the opioid epidemic. The Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians is one of the many groups working to stop opioid abuse before it starts and to help those who are already struggling with opioid use disorders (Dr. William C. Thornbury Jr., 8/7)

The Columbus Dispatch: Help Wanted: Drug Treatment Key
President Donald Trump has made a political career out of linking the demise of American manufacturing to globalism, tax policy and hyper-regulation. But a different, serious cause is that employers cannot find enough workers for good-paying jobs because many applicants can’t pass a drug test. This is a particular problem in old, industrial communities from the Rust Belt to Appalachia, and it shows that solutions lie in greater drug counseling and job-training programs, not in the Trump administration’s push for harsher drug prosecutions. (8/8)

The Wall Street Journal: Money For Marrow, Finally
Arya Majumder would have celebrated his 19th birthday last month. Instead he died of cancer in 2010, his condition exacerbated by a scarcity of bone-marrow donors. Arya’s father later recounted how the loss of his only child “took away my very heart and soul, and triggered the collapse of my 23-year-old marriage.” Other families may be spared the same life-upending sorrow because last week the Department of Health and Human Services withdrew a proposed Obama-era regulation that would have prohibited compensation for bone-marrow donation. About 11,000 ailing Americans are currently searching the national marrow registry, hoping to find a compatible donor. (8/7)

Lexington Herald Leader: Urgent Need To Provide More Care For Health-Care Workers
Something frightening is happening to our health-care students and providers. “A Roadmap to Decreasing Clinician Burnout” published in Hospitals and Health Networks in May, reported that more than 50 percent of nurses are emotionally exhausted and 25 percent are clinically depressed. In “Breaking the Culture of Silence on Physician Suicide” (2016) The National Academy of Medicine found that about 400 physicians take their lives each year, and that they are more than twice as likely to take their own lives as non-physicians. Female physicians are three times more likely to kill themselves than male physicians. (Janie Heath, 8/7)

Stat: Hey, Hippocrates: Food Isn't Medicine. It's Just Food
Hippocrates supposedly said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I disagree. Food is not medicine. ... Food is so much more than medicine. Food is intrinsically related to human social interactions and community. Food is culture, love, and joy. Turning food into medicine robs it of these positive attributes. (Dylan MacKay, 8/7)