- Kaiser Health News Original Stories 5
- Verma Unveils State Medicaid Scorecard But Refuses To Judge Efforts
- A Hospital ER Charges An ‘After-Hours’ Fee. Who Has To Pay It?
- Suspension Of California’s Aid-In-Dying Law Leaves Sick Patients In Limbo
- Health Care Simmers On Back Burner In California Heartland's Hot House Races
- Listen: Disrupted Lives, Delayed Care And A Revised Death Toll In Puerto Rico
- Political Cartoon: 'Second Helping?'
- Health Law 1
- The Individual Mandate Actually Still Exists, And That Technicality Is At Heart Of Latest Suit To Bring The Law Down
- Supreme Court 1
- In Decision Narrowly Focused To One Case, Supreme Court Sides With Administration Over Pregnant Immigrant Teen
- Elections 1
- Democrats Increasingly Embracing Progressive Health Care Ideas As Primary Season Gets Into Swing
- Veterans' Health Care 1
- 30 Days And Counting: Veterans Face Long, Unexpected Waits To See Doctors In Private Health Program
- Opioid Crisis 1
- Is Punishing An Offender For A Drug Relapse Cruel And Unusual? Massachusetts' High Court Will Decide
- Public Health 4
- Novel Therapy Using Patient's Own Immune Cells Eradicates Advanced, Incurable Breast Cancer In Woman
- Although Lung Cancer Remains Grim Diagnosis, Scientists See Hope In Progress Being Made
- CRISPRcon Attendees Wade Through Ethical Morass Of Designer Babies And Colonialism
- Vaccine Research: Tests Begin On Potentially 'Safe', Universal Treatment For Dengue Fever, Endemic In US Tropics
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: Illinois Children Stuck In Psychiatric Hospitals With Nowhere To Go; Florida Hospitals Dinged For MRSA Rates
From Kaiser Health News - Latest Stories:
Seema Verma, who heads the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, refused to discuss the findings in any detail or comment on any individual states performing poorly or exceptionally. (Phil Galewitz, )
Tacking on an after-hours surcharge to an emergency department bill strikes some consumers as unfair, since the facilities are open 24 hours a day. (Michelle Andrews, )
Doctors have stopped writing lethal prescriptions and pharmacists have stopped filling them after a court fight over how the law was enacted. (JoNel Aleccia, )
After rallies and protests in the San Joaquin Valley congressional districts, the urgency over protecting coverage under the ACA seems to have waned — at least in the primaries. Three of four seats in the region are likely to remain red, political forecasters say. (Ana B. Ibarra, )
KHN senior correspondent Sarah Varney, who has seen firsthand how devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria has harmed residents of Puerto Rico, discusses the new statistics on the number who perished in the storm. ( )
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Second Helping?'" by Alex Hallatt.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
Hi, what do you do?
Oh my. You sell insurance?
No! I'm a Doctor.
- Ernest R. Smith
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if we can include your name. Haikus follow the format of 5-7-5 syllables. We give extra brownie points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KHN or KFF.
DID YOU TAKE YOUR VITAMINS? If so, you are one among millions of Americans. But what evidence is there that they ward off chronic disease? Tune in to the next KHN Facebook Live on Wednesday, June 6, at 3 p.m. ET, when senior correspondent Liz Szabo will separate fact from fiction. You can submit your questions and watch here.
Summaries Of The News:
Two Texas plaintiffs say they feel morally obligated to follow the law despite there being no financial penalty to not buying insurance next year. The men are the faces of the lawsuit that conservatives hope will finally be the one to kill the law. Meanwhile, more rate hikes have come out and they're in the double-digits.
Texas Plaintiffs Personalize Uphill Legal Challenge To Overturn Obamacare
Two self-employed Texans, John Nantz and Neill Hurley, have leading roles in the latest legal effort to kill Obamacare. The men are the named plaintiffs in a lawsuit by 20 states that argues Congress fatally undercut the law when it repealed the individual mandate penalty in tax cut legislation. Nantz and Hurley say the mandate compels them to buy costly insurance that doesn't fit their needs — even though the financial penalty for not complying is disappearing next year. (Rayasam, 6/4)
New York, Washington State Propose Double Digit Rate Hikes For ObamaCare Plans
ObamaCare insurers in New York and Washington state are proposing double-digit rate hikes for 2019, citing recent and upcoming changes to the law. In New York, 14 insurers are asking state regulators to approve an average rate hike of 24 percent, while 11 insurers in Washington state want to increase premiums by an average of 19.08 percent. (Hellmann, 6/4)
Why A Higher Uninsured Rate Means More Expensive Premiums
A new study by the Commonwealth Fund reports that the uninsured rate has been rising since 2016, and about 4 million more Americans are uninsured today than two years ago. One consequence of fewer insured Americans is that premiums will likely rise for the consumers who do continue to buy health insurance, beginning as early as next year. (Tolbert, 6/4)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Health Care Costs For A Typical Family Of Four Top $28,000 This Year
The total costs for a typical family of four insured by the most common health plan offered by employers will top $28,000 this year, according to the annual Milliman Medical Index. The estimate includes the average cost of health insurance paid by employers and employees, as well as deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. (Boulton, 6/4)
The justices ruled in an unsigned opinion that vacating a lower court decision in favor of the teen, who had been in government custody after entering the country illegally, was the proper course because the case became moot after she obtained an abortion.
The Associated Press:
High Court Rules In Dispute Over Immigrant Teen's Abortion
The Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case about a pregnant immigrant teen who obtained an abortion with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, siding with the Trump administration and wiping away a lower court decision for the teen but rejecting a suggestion her lawyers should be disciplined. The decision is about the teen's individual case and doesn't affect an ongoing class-action case about the ability of immigrant teens in government custody to obtain abortions, the ACLU said. The justices ruled in an unsigned opinion that vacating a lower court decision in favor of the teen, who had been in government custody after entering the country illegally, was the proper course because the case became moot after she obtained an abortion. (Gresko, 6/4)
Supreme Court Wipes Out Appeals Court Ruling In Immigrant Abortion Case
The action means the question is all but certain to arise again, particularly given the Trump administration’s policy of resisting actions it views as facilitating abortions for minors. The high-profile case, which dates back to last fall, was the first in a series of court battles over abortion policy in the relatively obscure Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is responsible for the care of unaccompanied minors who enter the country illegally. Monday’s court order, one of the first of abortion cases with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch on the bench, comes after weeks of delay suggesting that there might have been conflicting opinions behind the scenes of the court, but no dissenting opinion was issued. (Gerstein and Rayasam, 6/4)
The Wall Street Journal:
Supreme Court Vacates Ruling On Undocumented Minor’s Abortion
The high court’s action hands a potential boost to the administration as it continues to defend its stance because the lower-court precedent will no longer exist. Related litigation is continuing, and the issue could come back to the Supreme Court. The court’s action came in an unsigned opinion with no recorded dissents. A Washington, D.C., appeals court ordered the administration in October to let the teenager leave government custody so she could get an abortion. The girl—from an unnamed country—had crossed the southern U.S. border in September when she was eight weeks pregnant. (Kendall, 6/4)
High Court Finds Case Of Immigrant Teen Moot After Abortion
HHS and DOJ said in a joint statement that the administration was pleased with the court’s decision to set aside the lower court ruling, which would have let a minor get an abortion while in custody. "The Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear that the federal government is not obligated to help a minor get an abortion and may choose policies favoring life over abortion," said the agencies. "A pregnant minor who is in the country illegally can leave federal custody by returning to her home country, for example, but American taxpayers are not responsible for facilitating her abortion. We look forward to continuing to press the government’s interest in the sanctity of life.” (Raman, 6/4)
California, Iowa and other states have primaries today where health care has played a role in the race. Many candidates are touting single-payer type systems, public options and universal coverage among other progressive ideas in an area where Republicans once dominated with their chants of "repeal and replace."
Primary Season: Democrats' Next Healthcare Ideas Go To The Polls
Sitting congressional Democrats are increasingly comfortable with the idea of a public option. Over the past year, lawmakers have proposed several bills involving public option ideas. They counter the "Medicare for all" proposal by Vermont's liberal independent Sen. Bernie Sanders that critics have panned as impractical and costly while shifting the majority of Americans off their employer coverage. Current polling for both these options track in their favor at a time when Obamacare has never been more popular. (Luthi, 6/4)
Los Angeles Times:
Where The Candidates For California Governor Stand On The State's Biggest Issues
Welcome to your guide to some of the key policy positions of six top candidates in California’s race for governor. The candidates listed have met certain criteria, including: previous election to public office; at least 5% support from likely voters in an independent, established public opinion poll; or demonstrated fundraising ability. Here’s where they stand. (6/4)
Why Young Brains Are Getting Big Attention In The Governor's Race
One million neural connections are made every single second of life until the age of 3, according to current research, and the preschool years have a long-term influence on outcomes in health and education. ... But during the recession, state funding for programs like infant toddler care and preschool was severely cut -- and those funds have not been restored under Gov. Jerry Brown. (Neely, 6/4)
Promised to see a doctor within 30 days, veterans are waiting more than two months for appointments in the program designed to give them an alternate option to the VA.
The Associated Press:
Long Waits Under VA's Private Health Program
A health care program being expanded by the Trump administration to give veterans greater access to private doctors has failed to provide care within 30 days as promised due to faulty data and poor record-keeping that could take years to remedy. That's according to a government investigation. The Government Accountability Office found veterans often waited between 51 and 64 days for appointments with private doctors under the Choice program. The scheduling process took as long as 70 days. (Yen, 6/4)
The case involves a woman who tested positive for drugs in her system while she was on probation. Within hours, she was shackled, strip-searched and incarcerated, with no access to treatment. Now a court must decide if that's the right course of action to take with offenders who are struggling with addiction. The decision could ripple throughout the country.
The New York Times:
She Went To Jail For A Drug Relapse. Tough Love Or Too Harsh?
As soon as Julie Eldred was granted probation for stealing jewelry to buy drugs, she got busy fulfilling the judge’s conditions. She began an intensive all-day outpatient treatment program. She even went an extra step and started daily doses of Suboxone, a medication that can quell opiate cravings. Then she relapsed and snorted her drug of choice — fentanyl.To stop from plunging into free fall, she asked her doctor for a stronger dose of Suboxone. She stayed clean the next day. And the next. (Hoffman, 6/4)
In other legal news —
Florida Doctor Admits Taking Kickbacks From Insys, Others
A Florida doctor has admitted, as part of a plea deal, that he received kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics Inc in exchange for writing prescriptions for a powerful fentanyl-based pain medicine. Dr. Michael Frey, 46, pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court in Fort Myers, Florida, to conspiring to receive kickbacks from a medical equipment provider and a pharmacy sales representative. (Raymond, 6/4)
Scientists were excited about the results but stressed that the approach, called adoptive cell therapy, is experimental and that several other patients who got the same treatments had not responded. However, the case could provide a "blueprint" to making the therapy more effective.
The Washington Post:
Researchers Use Immune-Cell ‘Army’ To Battle Another Tough Cancer
A Florida woman diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, generally considered incurable, is free of the disease two-and-a-half years after a novel therapy used her own immune cells to target her tumors, researchers said Monday. Striking recoveries were reported earlier for a patient with deadly liver cancer and another with advanced colon cancer. The three patients were treated by a team at the National Cancer Institute led by Steven Rosenberg, an immunotherapy pioneer who is chief of the surgery branch. For each patient, the team sequenced the genomes of their tumors to find mutations, then tested immune cells extracted from the cancers to identify which ones might recognize the defects. Those cells were expanded by the billions in the laboratory, then infused back into the patients, where they attacked the tumors. (McGinley, 6/4)
Los Angeles Times:
'I Have Definitely Hit The Jackpot.' Advanced Breast Cancer Disappears After New Immunotherapy
The patient’s “complete durable cancer regression” followed a single infusion of her own immune cells, which were painstakingly chosen for their ability to recognize and fight her tumors — then expanded into an army of 82 billion identical cells. More than three years later, the patient, Judy Perkins, is not only alive, but seemingly cancer-free, according to a report published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.“I have definitely hit the jackpot,” said Perkins, a retired engineer from Port St. Lucie, Fla. In the fast-moving world of cancer research, the new report is being hailed as a development that could open a broad new front in cancer immunotherapy. (Healy, 6/4)
The Wall Street Journal:
Novel Immunotherapy Method Led To Complete Regression Of Breast Cancer In Patient
Dr. Rosenberg, who has investigated for three decades how the immune system can be employed to fight cancer, said he is hopeful this approach “holds the best opportunities for finding effective immunotherapies for patients with the solid tumors that last year caused over 500,000 deaths in this country.” “This research has promise for many malignancies,” said Cleveland Clinic medical oncologist Megan Kruse. “We rarely see such deep and durable responses with conventional therapies and we have not seen such dramatic responses with other immunotherapies in breast cancer to date.” (Burton, 6/4)
Breast Cancer Treatment With T Cells Eradicates Advanced Disease In Patient
But Rosenberg and others caution that the approach doesn't work for everyone. In fact, it failed for two other breast cancer patients. Many more patients will have to be treated — and followed for much longer — to fully evaluate the treatment's effectiveness, the scientists say. Still, the treatment has helped seven of 45 patients with a variety of cancers, Rosenberg says. That's a response rate of about 15 percent, and included patients with advanced cases of colon cancer, liver cancer and cervical cancer. (Stein, 6/4)
“The era in which chemotherapy was the only option for non-small-cell lung cancer patients is drawing to a close,” said John Heymach, a lung-cancer specialist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Researchers touted new treatment such as immune-boosting drugs and procedures targeting genetic traits of tumors. More oncology news focuses on breast cancer, a child cancer bill, a young girl with a brain tumor, and more.
The Wall Street Journal:
Research Yields Progress Against Lung Cancer
Cancer researchers presented more evidence of advances against one of the deadliest and most common forms of the disease—lung cancer—at a major medical meeting here. Studies released at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in recent days showed that a range of newer approaches, from immune-boosting drugs to treatments targeting genetic traits of tumors, can help patients. Some of the drugs are supplanting or augmenting chemotherapy, which has been commonly used to treat lung cancer for years but with limited effectiveness. (Loftus, 6/4)
Los Angeles Times:
For Many Lung Cancer Patients, Keytruda Is A Better Initial Treatment Than Chemotherapy, Study Finds
In findings that may allow many lung cancer patients to avoid chemotherapy, a large clinical trial has shown that the immunotherapy drug Keytruda is a more effective initial treatment for two-thirds of patients with the most common type of lung cancer. Compared with advanced small-cell lung cancer patients who got chemotherapy, those treated first with Keytruda had a median survival time that was four to eight months longer. (Healy, 6/5)
The Washington Post:
A Big Question Answered About Treating Early-Stage Breast Cancer
One of the big questions facing women with early-stage breast cancer is whether to be treated with chemotherapy to reduce their risks that the cancer will return. A new study presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology provides much-needed clarity: Most of these women can safely skip chemo. Although chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer has been declining, physicians said the latest research findings will have a major effect by either giving patients more confidence in their decisions or encouraging them to take a different treatment approach. There are some important nuances, however. (McGinley, 6/4)
Groups Cheer Child Cancer Bill After Doubts Over 'Right To Try'
President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law soon a bill meant to enhance research into childhood cancers and their treatments. Groups who push for progress against childhood cancer see this as a significant win after they grew frustrated with Congress and the administration’s pursuit of higher-profile legislation to expand access to experimental treatments. The bill (S 292) Trump plans to sign would let the Health and Human Services Department set up demonstration projects for childhood cancer survivors. Even after successful treatment, these patients can experience effects from their cancer, such as cardiovascular issues, intellectual handicaps and emotional trauma. (Siddons, 6/5)
The Washington Post:
Live Like Lola: A Young Girl Confronts Deadly Brain Cancer With Resolve
It was several months after learning she had a rare brain tumor — and several more before she would turn 13 — when Lola Muñoz drove from Upstate New York to Tennessee with her mother. The choice had been Lola’s: to enter a clinical trial testing whether two chemotherapy drugs might be safe for patients with DIPG. Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas, striking in childhood at the base of the brain, are especially aggressive, difficult to treat and deadly. Lola opted to take part in the trial at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis with a singular hope. “I’d rather help find something for the other kids that will get DIPG than to not help at all,” she explained. (Levine, 6/4)
The Associated Press:
Licking Cancer: US Postal Stamp Helped Fund Key Breast Study
Countless breast cancer patients in the future will be spared millions of dollars of chemotherapy thanks in part to something that millions of Americans did that cost them just pennies: bought a postage stamp. Proceeds from the U.S. Postal Service's breast cancer stamp put researchers over the top when they were trying to get enough money to do the landmark study published on Sunday that showed genetic testing can reveal which women with early-stage breast cancer need chemo and which do not. (Marchione, 6/4)
St. Louis Public Radio:
Siteman Aims To Make Clinical Trials More Diverse By Bringing Science To North St. Louis
To help increase diversity in its cancer studies, Siteman bringing the science to people’s neighborhoods, with smaller centers in traditionally underserved areas, far away from the big medical campus. ... While the gap is closing, fewer than 10 percent of cancer clinical trial participants are African-American. (Fentem, 6/4)
The gene editing technology may be scientists' favorite shiny toy, but it comes with a lot of complications -- moral, ethical and legal. In other public health news: a new calculator for who should be taking medication to prevent heart attacks and strokes; gun control ideas; misconduct among mental health professionals; sex with robots; and more.
At CRISPRCon, Talk Of Designer Babies, IP Fights, And Scientific Colonialism
While lacking the costuming of Comic-Con or revelry of SantaCon, CRISPR’s second annual geek-out dealt with a concept weightier than superheroes or public drunkenness: How should society deal with a technology that can literally reshape the world? CRISPRcon brought hundreds of academics, industry scientists, and public health officials to Boston this week to answer just that question, moving past the beaker-and-pipette specifics of gene-editing to tackle the ethical, cultural, and democratic implications of science’s favorite new toy. The event runs through Tuesday. (Garde, 6/5)
New Calculator Could Change Aspirin, Statin, And Blood Pressure Prescribing
More than 11 million people may need to reconsider taking medications to avoid heart attack and stroke, according to new research that says current guidelines overestimate risk for some people, but underestimate risk for others, especially African-Americans. Right now, doctors can consult a calculator found online or in electronic health records to decide whether patients might benefit from aspirin, statins, or blood pressure medications. Those estimates of 10-year risk for cardiovascular disease were derived in 2013 and endorsed by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. They were based on statistical analyses that combined data from large studies such as the original Framingham Heart Study, whose participants were 30 to 62 years old in 1948. (Cooney, 6/4)
GOP's Solutions To Santa Fe, Sutherland Springs Come From Gun Lobby
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week proposed giving a $1 million grant to a gun storage education program run by the National Shooting Sports Foundation — a trade association based in Newtown, site of the Sandy Hook shootings, that represents the firearms industry. (Drusch, 6/4)
Nine To 12 Percent Of Mental Health Professionals Have Had Sexual Contact With Patients
If it shocked you to read, in today’s story about a psychologist accused of sexual misconduct, that 9 percent to 12 percent of mental health professionals admitted in surveys they’d had sexual contact with a patient, consider this: Those percentages could be an underestimate. The numbers reflect only those therapists who responded to the surveys and who acknowledged the conduct. (Freyer, 6/4)
The Washington Post:
New Report Finds No Evidence That Having Sex With Robots Is Healthy
Sex sells, and robots are no exception. One of the most expensive consumer robots under development, a machine named Harmony, is a $15,000 union of silicone curves and silicon chips. Part of an estimated $30 billion industry, Harmony has software that remembers birthdays and can quote Shakespeare, per the Guardian. Harmony is also equipped for intimate human-robot relations. Sex doll maker Realbotix, in its marketing materials, bills Harmony as “the perfect companion.” But healthy companionship is too bold a claim to make about sex robots, warn a pair of doctors in a report published Monday in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health. (Guarino, 6/4)
The New York Times:
The Ideal Subjects For A Salt Study? Maybe Prisoners.
Suppose you wanted to do a study of diet and nutrition, with thousands of participants randomly assigned to follow one meal plan or another for years as their health was monitored? In the real world, studies like these are nearly impossible. That’s why there remain so many unanswered questions about what’s best for people to eat. And one of the biggest of those mysteries concerns salt and its relationship to health. (Kolata, 6/4)
The New York Times:
That Time Of The Month Can Be Fun, Too
When it comes to periods, every woman has a story about “that time” — that time she first saw the blood in her underwear and thought death was knocking; that time she tied a sweatshirt around her waist to hide a stain on her white paints; that time her cycle made its presence known at the most inopportune moment. “We’re making out like crazy, and I remember feeling extra wet,” said Njambi Morgan, a spoken word performer and poet, sharing her own “that time” story with a crowd of several dozen listeners. “I thought, that’s how it is in the movies. I got this. One thing led to another, and then he jumped up. I’ve never seen a face like that.” The audience of mostly women groaned in sympathy, knowing where the story was headed. Ms. Morgan imitated the voice of a teenage boy: “OH. You bled all over my mom’s couch!” (Safronova, 6/4)
Immigrant Families Face New Threat To Children’s Health: Uncertainty
Physicians and researchers warn that some of the most significant changes are invisible. What we can’t conspicuously see – yet – is that chronic fear amounts to more than a mindset: It actually can erode families’ health. (Rubenstein, 6/4)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Need A Little Extra Money? You'll Soon Be Able To Sell And Rent Your DNA
Feel like earning a little extra money and maybe improving your health at the same time? Consumers will soon be able to sell or rent their DNA to scientists who are trying to fight diseases as different as dementia, lupus and leukemia. Bio-brokers want to collect everything from someone’s 23andMe and Ancestry.com gene data to fully sequenced genomes. (Robbins, 6/3)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
New Study On Supplemental Vitamins Proves They're Useless And A Waste Of Money
Published this month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers from a network of universities throughout Canada compiled data from a host of studies performed over the last five years in an effort to update the findings originally published by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2013. The authors focused mainly on cardiovascular diseases and concluded that there was no benefit from taking multivitamins, including vitamins C, D, beta-carotene, calcium, and selenium, and in fact, there may be harm from taking supplemental niacin. (Litman, 6/5)
Also, medical workers give more than a 1,000 people an experimental vaccine in Democratic Republic of Congo to control a deadly Ebola outbreak.
Georgia Health News:
UGA Researchers Pursue Quest For Universal Dengue Vaccine
Naoko Uno, with a pipette in one hand and quiet determination on her face, goes carefully about her work inside her laboratory at the University of Georgia’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology. Uno, a PhD student, and several others are working on a potential universal vaccine for dengue. Dengue, often called dengue fever, is a mosquito-borne viral infection found mostly in tropical and subtropical countries. (Dhapte, 6/4)
Medical Workers In Congo City Finish Vaccinating Contacts Of Ebola Patients
Medical workers in Democratic Republic of Congo have given all the immediate contacts of Ebola patients in the city of Mbandaka an experimental vaccine as they try to thwart a disease that has killed around 25 people, the health ministry said. Ebola spreads easily through bodily fluids and the medical strategy involves vaccinating all the people a patient may have infected and then vaccinating a second "ring" of contacts around each of those potential sufferers. (Mwarabu, 6/4)
Media outlets report on news from Illinois, Florida, California, Tennessee and Puerto Rico.
Hundreds Of Illinois Children Languish In Psychiatric Hospitals After They’re Cleared For Release
These unnecessary hospitalizations are another failure for a state system that has frequently fallen short in its charge to care for Illinois’ most vulnerable children, who suffer from conditions such as severe depression or bipolar disorder. Though statistics to compare how states handle children in psychiatric hospitals are scarce, and other states also experience similar challenges, psychiatrists and mental health experts say circumstances in Illinois are among the most dire in the nation. (Eldeib, 6/5)
CDC: Jackson Health Led All U.S. Hospitals In MRSA Infections In 2017
Seven Florida hospitals fell below national standards for combating a deadly infection known as MRSA — and patients at Miami-Dade's Jackson Health System were more likely to develop a MRSA infection than patients at any other hospital in Florida, according to data collected by the federal government as part of a national effort to reduce the infections. (Chang, 6/4)
Close To A Quarter Of Lettuce-Related E. Coli Cases Were In California
The nationwide outbreak of E. Coli tied to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona, has now sickened 45 people in California, according to state health officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday announced an update on the number of cases around the country: At least 197 people in 35 states have now become sick from the outbreak. (Goldberg, 6/4)
Kaiser Health News:
Suspension Of California’s Aid-In-Dying Law Leaves Sick Patients In Limbo
Dozens of terminally ill patients in California who counted on using the state’s medical aid-in-dying law may be in limbo for a month after a court ruling that suspended the 2016 measure. A judge who ruled in May that the law was improperly enacted refused to vacate that decision at the request of advocates last week. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia set a hearing for June 29, however, to consider a separate motion by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to reverse the decision. (Aleccia, 6/5)
Chicago Sun Times:
County Board Plans Public Hearing On Finances Of Hospitals System Tuesday
The Cook County Board of Commissioners will meet with executives of the county’s health and hospitals system Tuesday for a public hearing on the system’s finances after two inspector general reports found faults in the system that resulted in lost revenue. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. in the County Board room. In March, Independent Inspector General Patrick Blanchard found that faults in patient scheduling and registration, as well as accurate coding and billing, resulted in the system losing out on $66 million because of denials in 2017, and over $108 million in 2016. In May, Blanchard issued a supplement to that report, estimating that the amount of lost revenue from 2015 to 2017 was around $165 million. (Hinton, 6/4)
Broward Cities' Task Force Has 100 School Safety Ideas
After a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killed 17 and wounded 17 more in the deadliest school shooting in Florida history, the Broward League of Cities formed a task force to assess school and community safety measures. On Monday, it released a 93-page report with 100 suggestions. (Wright, 6/4)
Chicago Sun Times:
Healthcare And Family Services Chief Felicia Norwood Leaving Rauner Administration To Join Anthem Insurance Firm
Felicia Norwood is stepping down as director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to take an executive position at a leading health insurance company later this month. Anthem, a for-profit health care company in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, announced Monday that Norwood had been named executive vice president of the company and president of its Government Business Division. Prior to joining Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration in 2015, Norwood spent nearly 20 years at Aetna, another leading insurance company. (Schuba, 6/4)
Williamson Medical Center Working Out Construction Costs For Expansion
With Williamson Medical Center expanding, the county could vote to secure its $45 million bond note to fund its construction. The total $79 million extension of the hospital will include new orthopedic offices and an expansion of women’s services. That will mean 14 new delivery rooms, eight additional neonatal intensive care units, a new location for the baby nursery and a new operating room for women having a caesarean. (West, 6/4)
Kaiser Health News:
Listen: Disrupted Lives, Delayed Care And A Revised Death Toll In Puerto Rico
KHN senior correspondent Sarah Varney, on assignment in Puerto Rico, spoke with Mina Kim, host of KQED Forum, on Friday — the first day of hurricane season. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week showed that more than 4,600 people perished during and after the Sept. 20 storm. A third of the deaths were attributed to delayed medical care or no medical care at all, according to the study. Varney has seen firsthand how devastation wrought by the storm harmed citizens of the island, especially the sick and elderly. (6/4)
Judge Considers Lifting Stay On Medical Marijuana Ruling
Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers said Monday she will decide quickly on whether to lift an automatic stay on her ruling declaring that the state's ban on smoking medical marijuana is unconstitutionalIf she lifts the ban, it will force Gov. Rick Scott and state regulators to move forward on rules they have spent the last two years trying to delay. (Klas, 6/4)
Opinion writers express views on how to achieve lower health care costs and insure everyone.
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Healthcare Regulation, Too Much And Often Wrong
The unstated working assumption related to regulatory activities in healthcare is that once all healthcare providers are doing everything precisely the same way we will have perfect care, exceptional quality and the lowest cost. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. (Howard Peterson, 6/4)
The Washington Post:
Health Care Is Still A Mess. Republicans Are Making It Worse.
The Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s official scorekeeper, released last month a bevy of new projections about health-care coverage in the United States. The upshot is that the nation still faces huge cost and coverage challenges, and Republicans are making some of the direst problems worse. The government spends a whopping $685 billion on nonelderly health coverage, which equals 3.4 percent of the economy. And costs are going up, fast. Federal health-care subsidy spending is set to rise by 6 percent per year for the next decade. This is not a result only of Obamacare subsidies; the federal government spends far more to subsidize the employer-based coverage most Americans get than it does Obamacare’s individual market insurance plans. For all the rancorous debate about the law, only 4 percent of Americans get their coverage on the Obamacare marketplaces. (6/4)
The Wall Street Journal:
The ObamaCare Fix For Mom And Pop
The Obama administration sold the Affordable Care Act as a boon to small businesses and the 59 million Americans they employ. It hasn’t worked out that way. ...The answer to these out-of-control costs is to repeal ObamaCare. The House was able to pass a plan; the Senate wasn’t. But hope is not lost. A rule the Labor Department is expected to unveil shortly would greatly expand association health plans. (Tom Price, 6/4)
Every State Needs A Database With All Health Insurance Claims
California spends approximately $367 billion a year on health care. That’s more than the gross domestic product of South Africa or Denmark. It’s more than the state spends on six years of K-12 education, or 23 years of transportation. In other words, it’s a lot. Many say it’s too much. When you don’t really know where the money is going, or what value it is generating, how can you determine where to save money? That’s a key question for California policymakers. To answer it, the state is taking another look at developing an all-payer claims database. (John Freedman, 6/5)
Tampa Bay Times:
Virginia’s Lessons For Florida On Medicaid Expansion
Floridians should not be left behind. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Florida has the third-highest portion of uninsured adults in the nation, at 20.1 percent in 2017. That’s up from 19.8 percent the year before. The average percentage of uninsured adults is more than double in states that have not accepted Medicaid expansion money than in states that have accepted the money. Remember that the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost of expansion, which could mean roughly $5 billion a year for Florida. And remember that nearly 1 million additional low-income Floridians could receive access to health care. (6/1)
Editorial: After Medicaid Expansion, What's Next On The Agenda?
Virginia’s political class has been arguing over Medicaid expansion for so long that its accomplishment leaves a policy vacuum in the state. What should come next? (6/4)
Editorial writers look at these and other health care issues.
We Know How To Reduce The Number Of Women Who Die In Childbirth. Do We Have The Will?
The United States’ maternal mortality rate places us behind countries including Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina — despite our possession of the world’s most advanced and expensive health care system. The reason why some women die in childbirth and others don’t has nothing to do with biology or culture, and everything to do with apathy. (Ophelia Dahl, 6/5)
Opioid Addiction Fight Demands Training And Resources
I am an emergency room doctor who is also board-certified in addiction medicine. I work at many different hospitals, in different states, with different population densities and cultures. I drop in, work a shift or two and go home. One thing that allows me to seamlessly join an ER staff is that the general approach to any medical problem or injury is well understood. The one major exception is in my area of specialization. (R. Corey Waller, 6/4)
Restricting Access To Medication Abortions Undermines Women’s Health Care
Arkansas became the first state to ban medication abortion, with the Supreme Court rejecting a challenge to a state law restricting the procedure.By allowing the law to stand, people seeking abortion in Arkansas will be denied access to health care. This law, like the numerous other medically unnecessary regulations on abortion in the state, are simply political ploys to cut off access to care and are not rooted in medicine or science. (Mary Fjerstad, 6/4)
Compassionate Use's 'Cruel Joke': Pharma Companies Don't Have To Comply
From my days in medical school, I vaguely remember learning about lysosomal storage disorders. They occupied at most part of a lecture or two in my second-year pathophysiology course. I memorized a few details about these rare diseases in preparation for my board exam, and then never gave them another thought. These diseases were treated by pediatric specialists and wouldn’t be part of my life as a cardiologist.That changed a few weeks ago when my 28-month-old daughter, Radha, was diagnosed with a lysosomal storage disorder. Now I know far more about these diseases than I did in medical school. I’ve also learned a frustrating fact that no medical school teaches its students: While the FDA has a compassionate use program to allow people access to experimental drugs, it can’t compel a company to provide those drugs. The newly signed “right-to-try” law doesn’t either. (Vibhav Rangarajan, 6/5)
Biology Doesn’t Explain Disparities In Cancer Treatment — Racial Bias Does
The story was all too familiar. A patient is diagnosed with locally aggressive prostate cancer. A few days before the surgery, the patient does not show up for his preoperative visit. We call the patient. “We noticed you didn’t show up for the pre-op, is everything okay?” “I am sorry, doc. Had to cancel — something came up,” he sighed. “No problem. Should we reschedule the procedure?” “To be honest, Doc, I am not sure if I can afford to miss work right now. The surgery is going to have to wait.” In this story, our patient is black. (Junaid Nabi and Quoc-Dien Trinh, 6/4)
Los Angeles Times:
A New Report Affirms What We Already Know: Easier Access To Guns Means More Violent Deaths
Studies have proved what common sense has already told us: Places that have more and easier access to guns tend to have more gun deaths. Now a new report by the Violence Policy Center reaffirms a similar link between looser gun-control laws and gun-suicide rates.It stands to reason that suicidal people with easy access to firearms will find it easier to kill themselves on the spur of the moment, and studies also have found that connection between access to firearms and gun homicides. The link is there, too, in lethal acts of domestic violence including murder-suicides — a woman is five times more likely to be killed if she lives in a house with a gun, according to one study. It’s the guns that increase the lethality of a moment, whether it be a self-destructive impulse or a lover’s rage. (6/4)
The Wall Street Journal:
Profile Of A School Shooter
Charles Andrew Williams hid in a bathroom stall at Santana High School on a March day in 2001, staring at his father’s .22 revolver. The 15-year-old opened the door once, shut it in fear, and waited a few moments. Then he came out shooting—exhausting nearly 40 bullets, killing two people and injuring 13 others. Over the next 17 years, he has grasped for possible explanations: incessant bullying, being forced to move twice in two years, his small stature at the time. He still can’t square his actions. (6/3)