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Great Weekend Reads From KHN

Happy Friday! Welcome back to The Friday Breeze, where I (KHN’s newsletter editor) wade through hundreds of health articles from the week so you don’t have to.

Health certainly was not at the top of mind for this week’s news cycle (what with the House speaker announcing he would not seek re-election and a raid here or there), but there were still some stories that are worth the read. Here’s what you need to know.

Following on the heels of Minnesota’s success, states are starting to eye publicly funded reinsurance pools (which essentially protect insurers when they’re hit with an unexpectedly high claim) as an answer to stabilizing the health law marketplace. But in the era of tight budgets, states have only so much money to throw at the problem. Also, a comprehensive look at where exchanges stand after the past couple topsy-turvy months.

The growing popularity of retail clinics and urgent care centers (as well as low pay and long hours for the physicians themselves) are nudging the traditional primary care doctor toward extinction. Physicians are worried all these mergers and movement in the industry are a slippery slope. What’s next, asks one: “Are Aetna patients going to be mandated to go to a CVS MinuteClinic?”

Over in pharmaceutical land, the once-powerful industry’s rare defeat in the “doughnut hole” battle with Congress doesn’t speak well of its current clout on the Hill. And, believe it or not, there are some arguing that certain drug prices are too low.

In the war on opioids, you won’t get far without hearing about naloxone. It’s been a lifesaver for thousands, and the surgeon general just last week urged Americans to start carrying it. But it has its flaws, it’s expensive and, right now, there aren’t any realistic alternatives. Scientists want to change that.

And drug distributors are about to be summoned to Congress in a move some are likening to the tobacco executive hearings in the 1990s.

There were a few things out of the states to keep an eye on from this week: the California bill that would let the state set certain health prices (like hospital stays); how beliefs on single-payer are coming to define the California gubernatorial race (in a microcosm of the Democratic Party); and the fact that not one patient has utilized D.C.’s aid-in-dying law.

In the miscellaneous file of smart, funny or insightful reads from the week: a heartbreaking dive into the crisis facing black women and their babies; juicy takeaways from a book on Theranos (including how staffers would “get disappeared” by the company’s mysterious No. 2); the thousands of vacancies the VA just can’t seem to fill (because there aren’t enough HR people to do the hiring); and the lawyer who’s at the center of the battle over young immigrants seeking abortions.

Have a fantastic weekend (but not too fantastic, because apparently one extra glass of wine a day takes 30 minutes off your life). And make sure to let us know what you think of the Friday Breeze.

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Cost and Quality Health Care Costs Health Industry Insurance Pharmaceuticals Public Health The Health Law