- KFF Health News Original Stories 2
- With CHIP Funds Running Low, Doctors And Parents Scramble To Cover Kids’ Needs
- Hospital Honchos Hone New Message In Wake Of Opioid Epidemic: Expect Pain
- Political Cartoon: 'Ripe Old Age?'
- Administration News 2
- Legal Challenge To Medicaid Work Requirements Already Brewing, But CMS Says Law Is On Its Side
- Trump To Undergo First Physical Exam In Office Amid Chatter Over State Of His Cognitive Health
- Quality 1
- Disturbing Video Of Baltimore Woman Shines Light On Pervasive Problem Of Hospitals 'Dumping Patients'
- Health Care Personnel 1
- 13 Of 15 Doctors In Congress Are Republican Men. This Group Wants To Change That Statistic.
- Public Health 3
- Methadone Clinics Become 'Liquid Handcuffs' For Those Who Can't Afford Pricier Treatment Programs
- Vicious Flu Sweeping Country: Death Tolls Are Climbing And Hospitals Are Overwhelmed
- Generation That Equated Loud Music With Defiance Now Paying The Price With Hearing Loss
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: Fla. Targets For-Profit Stem Cell Clinics; Ga. Gov. Proposes Extra $23M For Children's Mental Health Services
- Health Policy Research 1
- Research Roundup: High-Priced Drugs In Part D; Community-Based Health Improvement Programs; Infant Sleep
- Editorials And Opinions 3
- Parsing The Policy: Will Medicaid Work Requirements 'Backfire'?; Will They Make People Healthier?
- Different Takes: The Value Of Reforming Medicaid; Securing Social Services; Getting A Flu Shot
- Viewpoints: Reversing The Downward Trend In U.S. Life Expectancy; Who Is Responsible For Kids' Smartphone Use, Addiction?
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
KFF Health News Original Stories
With CHIP Funds Running Low, Doctors And Parents Scramble To Cover Kids’ Needs
Doctors are advising patients to be sure to fill medication orders now or are giving away drugs to make sure children have enough if their insurance disappears. (Phil Galewitz and Emmarie Huetteman, )
Hospital Honchos Hone New Message In Wake Of Opioid Epidemic: Expect Pain
"We really do have a lot of responsibility and culpability," says one hospital official who is part of a working group trying to address the opioid epidemic. Patients have to expect more pain after surgery and understand the risk of addiction, says another doctor. (Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio, )
Political Cartoon: 'Ripe Old Age?'
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Ripe Old Age?'" by Dan Piraro.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
Fallout From ‘Nuclear Button’ Tweets
Sales of drugs to treat
Radiation's effects spike
After Trump's war taunt.
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 an original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KFF Health News or KFF.
Summaries Of The News:
Legal Challenge To Medicaid Work Requirements Already Brewing, But CMS Says Law Is On Its Side
Critics of the new guidelines that will allow states to impose the requirements on some of their Medicaid enrollees say the policy is a contradiction of the purpose of Medicaid, and thus needs an act of Congress to change it. But CMS Administrator Seema Verma says she thinks the agency acted well within its rights. Meanwhile, outlets offer a look on where state leaders stand on the issue.
CMS Maintains Medicaid Work Requirements Can Withstand Legal Challenges
The CMS is confident that its decision to approve states' Medicaid work requirement waivers can withstand any litigation challenging the policy shift. On Thursday morning, the CMS issued new guidance intended to help states reshape their Medicaid programs. The agency spelled out criteria for states to follow when applying for waivers to add such things as work requirements for beneficiaries. (Weinstock and Dickson, 1/11)
CMS Pressed To Give More Time For Comment On Medicaid-Work Changes
The National Health Law Program (NHeLP) is pressing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to give the public more time to comment on state proposals to impose work requirements in the Medicaid program. NHeLP sent a letter to the agency just hours after CMS unveiled guidance letting states apply for waivers requiring certain Medicaid enrollees work or participate in community engagement in order to get health coverage. The guidance marked a major policy shift in the joint federal-state health program for low-income and disabled Americans. (Roubein, 1/11)
Ten States To Seek Work Requirements For Medicaid Recipients
The Trump administration is offering states a path to impose new work requirements for some people who get health insurance under Medicaid, the program that serves 68 million primarily low-income, elderly and disabled Americans. ... Never in Medicaid's 52 years have people had to work in order to get health insurance. (Gorenstein, 1/11)
Baker Rebuffs Medicaid Work Requirements Available Under Trump Program
Governor Charlie Baker is rejecting the Trump administration’s new effort to allow states to force some poor people to work to get government-funded Medicaid health insurance. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Thursday that it is opening the door for states that want to impose work requirements on working-age, nondisabled poor people who are covered by Medicaid, a joint state-federal health care program that covers about one in five Americans. (Miller, 1/11)
Gov. Baker Opposes Work Requirement For Medicaid Recipients
Gov. Charlie Baker is not on board with the wave of states interested in imposing work requirements on certain Medicaid recipients. The federal government issued guidance Thursday enabling states to pursue a requirement that able-bodied, working age, adult Medicaid recipients work or participate in "community engagement activities" in order to continue receiving health insurance benefits. (Norton, 1/11)
The CT Mirror:
Malloy Says He Won’t Impose Work Requirements On Medicaid
Connecticut will not impose a work requirement on Connecticut Medicaid recipients, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, even as the Trump administration moved Thursday to allow states to do so. ... The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it would, for the first time, allow states to craft programs that would require Medicaid recipients to prove they are working, training for a job or volunteering in their communities. (Radelat, 1/11)
Dallas Morning News:
Unlike Other States, Texas Hasn’t Applied For Medicaid Work Requirements Under Trump's New Policy
The Trump administration announced Thursday that states can apply to add work requirements to their Medicaid programs. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the policy guidelines are an attempt to get more able-bodied adults working or engaged in their communities. Ten states have already applied, but Texas isn’t one of them. (Wang, 1/11)
Austin (Texas) American-Statesman:
Key Texas Lawmaker Supports Medicaid Policy Change
An influential Texas lawmaker says he supports a new federal policy that allows states to impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients. State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, who chairs the Texas Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, said the policy change will allow states more flexibility with their health care systems. However, he said the new policy would have less impact in Texas than in some other states due to Texas’ already limited Medicaid eligibility for nonworking residents. (Herrera and Zehr, 1/11)
San Antonio (Texas) Express-News:
Medicaid Work Requirements, If Adopted, Would Affect Few Texans
Only a small percentage of low-income Texans who get their health care through Medicaid would have to work to receive benefits should the state decide to adopt work requirements, according to figures provided by an advocacy organization. ... In Texas, the health care program primarily insures low-income children, who make up more than 75 percent of the 4.4 million enrollees, according to the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities. There are only about 150,000 impoverished adults covered by Medicaid who aren’t pregnant, elderly or disabled. A parent of two must make less than $230 a month, or $2,760 a year, to qualify for Medicaid in Texas. (Morris, 1/11)
Arizona Legislator Wants To Let Uninsured Buy Medicaid Coverage
Rep. Kelli Butler, a Phoenix Democrat, said she will introduce a bill this legislative session that would either allow uninsured Arizonans to buy Medicaid coverage or direct state officials to study what it would take to enact such a coverage expansion. Butler said the Medicaid buy-in option would provide a practical insurance option for residents who don't qualify for subsidized plans through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. (Alltucker, 1/11)
No Work, No Medicaid? Illinois Reviews New Federal Guidelines
Illinois is reviewing new guidance from the Trump administration that opens the door for states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, but there is no indication yet that it will follow the lead of neighboring states that are pursuing plans to tighten their rules. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office and the state’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services said the new policy and its implications are “under review,” but the Republican administration has not signaled whether it supports Medicaid work requirements. (Elejalde-Ruiz, 1/11)
The Associated Press:
Louisiana Governor Considering Work Requirements In Medicaid
Louisiana is developing a proposal to impose work requirements on certain adult Medicaid recipients, as the Trump administration announced Thursday (Jan. 11) it will allow states to enact such provisions. Gov. John Bel Edwards said his administration is "actively working" on the concept, which would require federal approval. ... The details of what Louisiana is crafting -- and how many low-income people in Louisiana's $12.5 billion Medicaid program it would affect -- aren't clear. Edwards said he wants the work requirements to be "reasonable," with exceptions for people in school or training programs. He said Louisiana has hired a consulting firm that helped develop a similar work requirement proposal for Kentucky, which is awaiting a federal decision. (Deslatte, 1/11)
Trump To Undergo First Physical Exam In Office Amid Chatter Over State Of His Cognitive Health
President Donald Trump said he would "be surprised" if it didn't go well. Meanwhile, a group of more than 70 psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health professionals urge the physician conducting the exam to assess the president's neurological health.
President Donald Trump To Undergo His First Physical Exam Since Taking Office
President Trump is set Friday to undergo his first physical exam since taking office — a move that could offer a rare public snapshot of the 71-year-old leader's health. "I think it's going to go very well," Trump told reporters Thursday. "I'll be very surprised if it doesn't." The exam will be overseen by Dr. Ronny Jackson, a Navy rear admiral who directs the White House medical unit. Earlier information about Trump's health came from his personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, who famously declared in 2015 that Trump would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." (Horsley, 1/12)
Trump Predicts Clean Bill Of Health In First Presidential Exam
Presidential physician Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson will release a written statement Friday following the exam and take questions from reporters on the president’s health on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. (Pettypiece, 1/12)
Dozens Of Experts Urge Doctor To Examine Trump's Neurological Health During Physical
A group of more than 70 psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health professionals sent a letter to President Donald Trump’s physician on Thursday, imploring him to include an evaluation of the president’s neurological health in a physical examination scheduled for Friday. The White House has said tests of mental fitness will not be part of the president’s physical. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Thursday that the physician, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, would issue a statement following the exam and answer questions from the media next week. (Nussbaum, 1/11)
Centene Sued After Enrollees Say They Can't Find Doctors To Take Their Plans
“Centene misrepresents the number, location and existence of purported providers," the lawsuit claims. Centene, which also provides coverage to low-income individuals under the government Medicaid program, has proved to be one of the mainstays of the Affordable Care Act.
The New York Times:
Health Insurer Centene Is Sued Over Lack Of Medical Coverage
People who bought policies from Centene, a large for-profit health insurance company, filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday claiming the company does not provide adequate access to doctors in 15 states. “Members have difficulty finding — and in many cases cannot find — medical providers,” who will accept patients covered under policies sold by Centene, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington State. (Abelson, 1/11)
Lawsuit Filed Against ObamaCare Insurer Over Coverage
According to the lawsuit, Centene targets low-income customers who qualify for substantial government subsidies “while simultaneously providing coverage well below what is required by law and by its policies.” A spokeswoman for the company told The Hill they have not been served papers and only learned of the lawsuit Thursday morning. “We believe our networks are adequate. We work in partnership with our states to ensure our networks are adequate and our members have access to high quality health care,” Marcela Manjarrez Hawn said in an email. (Weixel, 1/11)
Centene's Narrow Approach To Obamacare Plans Targeted By Lawsuit
Centene, which specializes in covering low-income individuals, has been expanding in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces even as rivals retreat. That has left consumers in some parts of the country with little choice of Obamacare plans; in many counties where it expanded, Centene is the only insurer offering coverage under the health law. The company, based in St. Louis, now has more than 1.4 million customers in its ACA plans across 15 states, placing it among the largest insurers in the program. (Tracer, 1/11)
6-Year CHIP Extension Looks Likely After CBO Numbers Show 'It May Have No Cost'
The funding has been held up in Congress because of disputes over how to pay for the program. But those arguments might be moot now that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that extending funding would save the government $6 billion over a decade because providing coverage through CHIP is more cost effective than other government-funded coverage, such as Medicaid or subsidized marketplace coverage. Meanwhile, doctors and families take steps to protect against a further-protracted funding lag.
GOP Chairman Eyes Floor Action For CHIP Next Week
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said on Thursday that he is aiming to bring a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to the floor next week. Speaking to reporters, Walden pointed to new Congressional Budget Office estimates as the catalyst that broke the logjam over funding for the program, which covers 9 million children. (Weixel, 1/11)
House Weighs Six-Year Children's Health Funding Extension
The House is weighing a longer-term funding renewal of the Children's Health Insurance Program after a new preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office revealed that the program would not have to be offset. The offsets had been a point of contention between both parties. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden said lawmakers are now discussing a six-year reauthorization of CHIP, which may have no cost to the federal government. It was not immediately clear whether a package would be included on a Jan. 19 spending bill or could move separately. (Raman and McIntire, 1/11)
Kaiser Health News:
As CHIP Funds Run Low, Doctors And Parents Scramble To Cover Kids’ Needs
Dr. Mahendra Patel, a pediatric cancer doctor, has begun giving away medications to some of his patients, determined not to disrupt their treatments for serious illnesses like leukemia, should Congress fail to come up with renewed funding for a key children’s health program now hostage to partisan politics. In his 35 years of practice, Patel, of San Antonio, has seen the lengths to which parents will go to care for their critically ill children. He has seen couples divorce just to qualify for Medicaid coverage, something he fears will happen if the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is axed. He said: “They are looking at you and begging for their child’s life.” (Galewitz and Huetteman, 1/12)
Disturbing Video Of Baltimore Woman Shines Light On Pervasive Problem Of Hospitals 'Dumping Patients'
A video that went viral shows a disoriented woman in nothing but a hospital gown and socks discharged out into the cold, dark night from the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. The practice of patient dumping, however, is anything but new.
The New York Times:
Baltimore Hospital Patient Discharged At Bus Stop, Stumbling And Cold
A woman who appeared to be wearing nothing but socks and a hospital gown was discharged from a Baltimore hospital on a cold winter night and left alone at a bus stop. A passer-by filmed the woman late Tuesday evening and posted several videos on Facebook shortly after midnight. In them, people in dark uniforms can be seen walking into the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Midtown Campus with an empty wheelchair, leaving the woman alone on the sidewalk. (Fortin, 1/11)
The Washington Post:
Social Media Fury Follows Video Of Dazed Woman Put Out In Cold By Baltimore Hospital
The man hurried up the Baltimore sidewalk with a camera in his hand as four black-clad hospital security guards walked toward him, then past him. One of them was pushing an empty wheelchair. “So wait, y’all just going to leave this lady out here with no clothes on?” said Imamu Baraka, referring to a dazed woman wearing only a thin hospital gown whom they had left alone at a bus stop Tuesday night in mid-30s temperatures. Her face appeared bloody, her eyes empty. It was the latest incident of “patient dumping,” which has sparked outrage around the country — and one that, according to an expert, probably violated a 1986 federal law that mandates hospitals release those in their care into a safe environment. (Cox, Vargas, Moyer, 1/11)
Why Was A Baltimore Patient Discharged At A Bus Stop In Just A Gown?
Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of the hospital, said at a news conference Thursday that he was confident the incident was isolated and that individuals throughout the organization would be held accountable for the woman's treatment. Suntha said he has tried to reach the man who intervened to thank him for helping the woman and for making the incident public. He said the woman had been treated and not been turned away because she couldn't pay. He said the hospital has a responsibility to address the "social needs" of patients, working with outside agencies. (Kennedy, 1/11)
The Baltimore Sun:
University Of Maryland Hospital Apologizes For Its Failure To Discharged Patient Found On Street In Hospital Gown
The issue of people being put out of hospitals is a nationwide problem. The New York Times first began writing about the issues in the 1870s, when private hospitals were sending patients to the city’s public hospital, according to a 2011 report in the American Journal of Public Health. The 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act forbids emergency rooms to deny hospital services if patients can’t pay. Hospitals must transfer patients they can’t stabilize. The Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, also requires that hospitals have a discharge plan. But the discharge policies can differ by hospital and the practice of hospital dumping persists. The city of Los Angeles began a crackdown on hospital dumping about a decade ago after several incidents there, particularly along Skid Row, where many of the city’s homeless people live. The city has imposed millions of dollars in fines on hospitals for the practice. (McDaniels and Cohn, 1/11)
13 Of 15 Doctors In Congress Are Republican Men. This Group Wants To Change That Statistic.
With so much of today's political discourse revolving around health care, this grassroots groups thinks its imperative for the "doctors caucus" in Congress to include Democratic women.
Grass-Roots Group Tries To Get Female Doctors Elected To Congress
Since 1960, nearly 50 doctors have traded in their white coats for the suit jackets required in the halls of Congress. And there’s been one remarkable constant: The doctors-turned-legislators in those blazers have been overwhelmingly male and overwhelmingly Republican. Just a handful were Democrats and only two were women. None were both. This year, Dr. Ramsey Ellis, a progressive hand surgeon from the Chicago suburbs, is working to change that. She’s throwing the support of a private group of more than 8,000 Democratic female doctors across the nation behind a slate of eight congressional candidates with the same qualifications: all women, all Democrats, and all doctors — pediatricians, gynecologists, and ER physicians among them. (Mershon, 1/12)
In other news on health care personnel —
This Surgeon General’s Famous Report Alerted Americans To The Deadly Dangers Of Cigarettes
Dozens of distinguished physicians have served as the U.S. surgeon general in our nation’s history. That said, we rarely remember their names, including the surgeon general who may have had the farthest-reaching influence on our collective health.That man was Luther Terry. (Markel, 1/11)
AAMC Head Kirch To Step Down In 2019
The Association of American Medical Colleges President and CEO Dr. Darrell Kirch plans to step down from his role in June 2019, the group said Thursday. A psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Kirch has led AAMC since 2006. Prior to his time with the organization, Kirch served six years as senior vice president for health affairs and dean of the college of medicine at Pennsylvania State University. AAMC did not elaborate on why Kirch decided to step down.A nationwide search will be conducted by the AAMC Board of Directors and led by Dr. Marsha D. Rappley, AAMC's immediate past chair. (Johnson, 1/11)
Methadone Clinics Become 'Liquid Handcuffs' For Those Who Can't Afford Pricier Treatment Programs
Although the opioid crisis hasn't discriminated based on race or economic class, the treatment for it does. In other news on the epidemic: studies show the benefits of safe injection sites, a judge overseeing hundreds of lawsuits against drugmakers wants all sides to start talking to each other, the FDA warns against giving kids certain cough medicine, and more.
The New York Times:
Opioid Addiction Knows No Color, But Its Treatment Does
On a street lined with garbage trucks, in an industrial edge of Brooklyn, dozens of people started filing into an unmarked building before the winter sun rose. Patients gather here every day to visit the Vincent Dole Clinic, where they are promised relief from their cravings and from the constant search for heroin on the streets. Robert Perez exited the clinic on a recent Wednesday and walked toward the subway, along the Gowanus Canal. Within the clinic’s antiseptic blue walls, he had just swallowed a red liquid from a small plastic cup. The daily dose of methadone helps Mr. Perez, 47, manage withdrawal symptoms as he tries to put decades of drug abuse behind him. (del Real, 1/12)
Injection Sites Provide Safe Spots To Shoot Up
In about one hundred locations across Canada, Europe and Australia, supervised drug injection facilities allow visitors to inject heroin and other drugs in a clean, well-lighted space under the watchful eye of trained personnel who can rescue them if they overdose. Tens of thousands of drug users have visited the facilities, thousands have overdosed and, researchers say, no deaths have been reported. Studies show that a substantial number of drug users who visit safe injection sites end up in treatment, which is routinely offered to them. Research also has shown that the facilities help contain hepatitis C and HIV infections and are a cost-effective way to save lives. (Vestal, 1/12)
The Associated Press:
Federal Judge Invites States To Discuss Opioid Crisis
A federal judge who’s overseeing lawsuits from around the country against the pharmaceutical industry has invited state attorneys general to join discussions and provide input. Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland is overseeing a consolidated case involving dozens of suits filed by communities against drugmakers and drug distributors. Polster told The Associated Press Thursday he invited representatives this week from two groups of attorneys general to attend a hearing later this month. (Welsh-Huggins, 1/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
Ohio Takes Steps Toward Resolution Of Opioid Litigation
Ohio has begun settlement talks with opioid-painkiller makers it has sued alleging illegal marketing, and will meet with a federal judge urging settlement of hundreds of similar suits, in early steps toward resolution of the sprawling litigation. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said his staff held separate meetings with Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Wednesday. He described the meetings as “settlement discussions.” (Whalen and Randazzo, 1/11)
Dallas Morning News:
Dallas County Sues Big Drug Companies Over Opioid Epidemic
Dallas County sued a slew of drug companies and doctors this week over their alleged roles in the deadly opioid epidemic, joining dozens of other governments nationwide that have launched court battles. The 59-page claim filed Monday in Dallas County court accuses at least 11 pharmaceutical companies — including Purdue Pharma, which makes the bestselling painkiller OxyContin — and three local doctors of knowingly pushing addictive drugs on patients while claiming they were safe. The three doctors have all been convicted of illegal "pill mill" over-prescription practices. (Martin, 1/11)
The Washington Post:
FDA Warns Against Giving Kids Cough And Cold Medicines With Codeine Or Hydrocodone
The Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday that children and adolescents should not be prescribed cough and cold medicines containing codeine and hydrocodone because of serious safety risks posed by the opioid ingredients. The agency said it is requiring manufacturers to change the wording on their labels to make clear that such products should not be used for anyone younger than 18. Common side effects of opioids include headache, dizziness and vomiting. Greater dangers include breathing difficulties and even death. (McGinley, 1/11)
Kaiser Health News:
Banding Together To Stop Opioid Addiction Where It Often Starts — In Hospitals
Doctors at some of the largest U.S. hospital chains admit they went overboard with opioids to make people as pain-free as possible, and now they shoulder part of the blame for the nation’s opioid crisis. In an effort to be part of the cure, they’ve begun to issue an uncomfortable warning to patients: You’re going to feel some pain. Even for people who’ve never struggled with drug abuse, studies are finding that patients are at risk of addiction anytime they go under the knife. (Farmer, 1/12)
Medicaid Won't Cover Medical Marijuana For Pain
Recent scientific reviews have found substantial evidence that marijuana can be useful in easing at least some types of chronic pain. Yet even for the majority of Americans who live in states that have legalized medical marijuana, choosing opioids can be much cheaper. "I can get a bottle of opioids for a dollar on my state insurance," says MaryJane Sarvis, a textile artist in Shaftsbury, Vt. Instead, Sarvis says, she spends around $200 each month on medical marijuana. (Corwin, 1/11)
Boston EMS Reports Opioid Overdose Deaths Were Way Up In 2017
In Massachusetts, where at least five men and women are dying from an opioid overdose every day, everyone tied to the epidemic is desperate for signs of hope. They got some late last year, when state data showed an estimated 10 percent decrease in overdose deaths for the first nine months of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016. (Bebinger, 1/11)
Officials Defend Ending 'Flawed' Mental Health, Drug Abuse Program Registry
The Trump administration ended a national database for evidence-based mental health and substance abuse programs because it was "flawed" and potentially dangerous, officials said Thursday. The administration announced earlier this month it would discontinue the database, which was created in 1997 to help people, agencies and organizations identify and implement evidence-based programs and practices in their communities. (Hellmann, 1/11)
Vicious Flu Sweeping Country: Death Tolls Are Climbing And Hospitals Are Overwhelmed
Media outlets report on news from California, Texas, Oregon, Minnesota and Ohio.
Los Angeles Daily News:
The H3N2 Flu Virus Is Known As The Hospitalizer. Here's Why.
At a news conference at their downtown Los Angeles office, county public health officials said it was not too late to get the flu vaccine, since they said it perfectly protects against three of four of the strains circulating. They also said that because the flu season started a month earlier than usual and its peak has yet to be identified, the bug could circulate for a longer period of time. (Abram, 1/11)
Flu Patients Leave Texas Hospitals Strapped
Big-city hospitals in Texas have been overwhelmed this week by an influx of flu patients, and state health officials say influenza activity is widespread across the state. At Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, waiting rooms turned into exam areas as a medical tent was built in order to deal with the surge of patients. A Houston doctor said local hospital beds were at capacity, telling flu sufferers they might be better off staying at home. Austin's emergency rooms have also seen an influx of flu patients. (Greene, 1/11)
Intense Flu Season Strains Houston-Area Care Centers
With five deaths reported Thursday in the region, the flu season is raging in Houston yet weeks away from its peak, according to local experts. After an earlier-than-usual arrival in November, the heightened activity, stemming mostly from a particularly nasty strain of the virus circulating this year, is overloading area hospital emergency departments, hospital rooms and doctor's offices with mostly pediatric patients. Doctors say they expect the activity to pick up now that kids have returned to school. (Ackerman, 1/11)
Severe Flu Season Hits Oregon, Killing 2 Children
Two Oregon children died earlier this month from the flu, which is raging across the state. One child died earlier this month and was younger than 5, state health officials said. The other died in December and was younger than 10. No more information was available. Oregon usually has one or no pediatric flu deaths a season, said Dr. Ann Thomas, a state public health physician. Last season there were none. But in 2009, a pandemic year, five children died in Oregon from the flu. (Terry, 1/11)
One Child Dead As Minnesota Flu Season Worsens
With almost 1,800 flu-related hospitalizations and nearly 100 outbreaks in schools and nursing homes, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Thursday that it could potentially be a severe flu season. As of the week ending Jan. 6, there has been one pediatric flu death this season along with 1,765 flu-related hospitalizations, 55 outbreaks of influenza-like illness in long-term care facilities and 43 outbreaks in schools. The health department did not release details about the child who died. (Amundson, 1/11)
The Star Tribune:
Flu Cases Spike As Minnesota Enters Peak Season
State health officials reported a sharp increase in hospitalizations related to influenza last week, along with the first pediatric death, suggesting that Minnesota is in for a difficult flu season. An alert from the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday urged people to seek vaccination before the annual flu season reaches it traditional peak — usually in January or February. The circulating strain, known as H3N2 influenza, has been associated in past years with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths in the elderly and children. (Olson, 1/11)
Minnesota Public Radio:
Child Dies From Flu; Minnesota Officials Urge More Vaccinations
Minnesota's flu season is shaping up as potentially severe, with outbreaks rising and one pediatric flu death already reported, the state Health Department said Thursday. Seasonal data through Jan. 6 show 1,765 flu-related hospitalizations, 55 outbreaks of influenza-like illness in long-term care facilities and another 43 in schools, the agency reported Thursday in its weekly flu data update. (1/11)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Get A Shot Against The Flu's Potentially Lethal Consequences For Yourself And Others
Ohio's flu incidence has been widespread for weeks and is accelerating, with 1,750 new hospitalizations just last week. And Ohio is just one of 46 states with widespread flu activity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Getting a flu shot is the very best way to safeguard yourself, your family, your co-workers and neighbors from harm, and there's still time to do so. (1/12)
Generation That Equated Loud Music With Defiance Now Paying The Price With Hearing Loss
Biotech companies want to be the ones to reap the profits of those bad decisions. In other public health news: colonoscopies, genome sequencing, lead, E. coli, standing desks, and more.
Baby Boomers Destroyed Their Hearing. Biotech Is Trying To Fix It
Baby boomers grew up with music blasting from dorm room turntables, car stereos, and arenas where the sound of a band at full throttle could rival the roar of a jet engine. Volume became an act of generational defiance. As rocker Ted Nugent put it: “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” Turns out, it was too loud. Millions of boomers are now grappling with hearing loss — some of it caused by turning the volume to 11 — prompting companies to develop treatments that improve upon the expensive and often limited-value hearing aids and surgical implants that have been around for decades. (Weisman, 1/11)
Colonoscopy? How About A Blood Test?
Nobody likes getting a colonoscopy. For the people who catch colon cancer early thanks to that bowel camera, the standard screening—every 5 to 10 years from age 50 to 75—proves invaluable. For the 993 people in 1,000 who don’t test positive following a colonoscopy, the pain (and for the uninsured, the expense) can be enough to make them skip the next one. People who’ve shirked their exams often number among the 50,000 Americans who die from colon cancer each year. “More non-invasive ways of screening are needed,” says Matthew Kalady, co-director of the colorectal cancer program at the Cleveland Clinic. “If you could pick up colon cancer early and noninvasively with a simple blood test, that would be just fantastic.” (Tullis, 1/11)
Genome Sequencing Turns Up New Drivers Of Drug Resistance In Malaria
Hundreds of thousands of people die from malaria every year — and as drug-resistant strains of the parasite grow more common, there’s an urgent need for new treatment options. New research, published Thursday in Science, points to potential targets for those novel treatments. Researchers analyzed 262 Plasmodium falciparum parasites, which cause malaria. (Thielking, 1/11)
Lead Tests For 'Millions Of Kids’ May Be Wrong?
There's a chance that tests given to millions of kids since 2014 to detect lead poisoning didn't work properly, delivering falsely low results to an unknown number of American families. As many as 7 million tests performed on children over the course of the three years could have been wrong, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The manufacturer of the tests in question, however, is confident the number is millions lower. (Blackmore, 1/11)
The New York Times:
Deadly E. Coli Outbreak Tied To Leafy Greens Likely Over, C.D.C. Says
A pair of fatal E. coli outbreaks linked to leafy greens in the United States and Canada appear to be over, health experts said on Wednesday. American officials said that the outbreak in the United States was most likely caused by “leafy greens,” and their counterparts in Canada specifically identified romaine lettuce as the source of the infections there. (Chokshi, 1/11)
Many Workers Already Have A Standing Desk Called Their Job
The standing desk is having a moment among office workers, but not everyone needs to stand more at work. A study published Thursday in the latest issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report finds that many U.S. workers are already active on the job. Researchers analyzed the 2015 National Health Interview Survey — the most recent data available — and found that two-thirds of employed adults reported frequent standing at work. (Wilhelm, 1/11)
Los Angeles Times:
Nature Boosts Your Mental Health, And You Don't Even Have To Leave The City To Reap The Benefits
Good news, urbanites! New research suggests that you don't have to leave the city to reap some of the benefits of being in nature. Simply listening to the chirping of birds, glimpsing the sky and even noticing a scrawny city tree can boost your mental well-being, according to a report published Tuesday in the journal Bioscience. (Netburn, 1/11)
New Study Joins Growing List Confirming Abortion Pills Are Safe For Women To Take
Out of 220 women only two reported having major complications. In other women's health news: the Trump administration is trying to block another pregnant teenage immigrant from seeking an abortion, and Serena Williams' experience highlights the dangers that still accompany childbirth.
The Washington Post:
New Study On Abortion Pill Shows High Success, Low Rate Of Complications
Ever since the abortion pill RU-486 began to hit the market in the 1980s, questions have lingered about its safety, especially for women who take it in countries where terminating an unwanted pregnancy is restricted and they cannot openly seek help from a medical professional if something goes wrong. As reports of deaths and injuries grew in the early 2000s and the pill became a big political issue, studies were launched to try to get more data on the safety question. The results are starting to come out. (Cha, 1/11)
Trump Admin Moves To Block Abortion For Fourth Undocumented Minor
The Trump administration has moved to block a fourth undocumented minor from receiving an abortion, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The woman, known to the court as Jane Moe, has requested an abortion but has been prevented from getting one by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an office within the Department of Health and Human Services. (Hellmann, 1/11)
The New York Times:
For Serena Williams, Childbirth Was A Harrowing Ordeal. She’s Not Alone.
The need to ensure that medical professionals are responsive to new mothers’ concerns has gained attention in recent years. The “Stop. Look. Listen!” campaign, for example, which was introduced in 2012, aims to empower women to report pregnancy-related medical issues and to increase awareness and responsiveness among health care practitioners. About 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Complications affect more than 50,000 women annually. And the risk of pregnancy-related death is three to four times as high for black women as it is for white women, the C.D.C. says. (Salam, 1/11)
State Highlights: Fla. Targets For-Profit Stem Cell Clinics; Ga. Gov. Proposes Extra $23M For Children's Mental Health Services
Media outlets report on news from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Massachusetts and Texas.
Health News Florida:
Tampa Lawmaker Proposes Crack Down On For-Profit Stem Cell Clinics
Florida has the second highest number of for-profit stem cell clinics in the United States, and a new proposal by a Tampa lawmaker would crack down on those that prey on elderly and vulnerable Floridians. These procedures take stem cells harvested from patients’ belly fat, bone marrow or blood and re-inject them into the body to try to cure a range of diseases. (Miller, 1/11)
Georgia Health News:
Health Care Largely Missing From Deal Annual Address
Gov. Nathan Deal, in his final State of the State address, announced Thursday that he is recommending $22.9 million in additional funding for children’s mental health services. ...In contrast, a year earlier, Deal had laid out several health care initiatives in his annual address. (Miller, 1/11)
Mayor Megan Barry Delays Closure Of Inpatient Care At Nashville General Hospital
Mayor Megan Barry is delaying a controversial proposal to eliminate inpatient care at Nashville General Hospital. In a letter to the Metro Council members late Thursday, Barry proposed a "reset" on the plans at the recommendation of Vice Mayor David Briley. Barry said she would delay decisions on the fate of the hospital until the end of 2018. Barry had initially proposed closing inpatient care at the city's only public hospital by June in an announcement that took hospital officials, the oversight board, city officials and community leaders by surprise. (Wadhwani, 1/11)
Brown University, Calif. Chain Mount Bid To Buy R.I. Health System
Brown University said Thursday that it is joining with a California for-profit hospital chain in an attempt to buy Care New England Health System of Providence, adding an unexpected twist to efforts by Partners HealthCare of Boston to acquire the Rhode Island company. In a letter issued campus-wide, Brown President Christina Paxson warned that the acquisition of Care New England by Partners would put at risk “the vision of an integrated academic health system in and for Rhode Island,” and likely increase the cost of care in the state. (Conti, 1/11)
Dental Company With Large Texas Presence Hit With $24M Fine For False Medicaid Claims
A dental management company with multiple Texas clinics has been fined nearly $24 million for submitting false claims to state Medicaid programs - including Texas' - and performing unnecessary dental work on children. The fine against Benevis LLC - as well as its affiliated Kool Smiles clinics - was announced Thursday by the U.S. Justice Department. (Downen, 1/11)
Cobb Dental Company Will Pay $24M After Accusations Of Medicaid Fraud
Marietta-based Benevis, the company that operates Kool Smile dental clinics in low-income communities, has agreed to pay nearly $24 million to settle accusations of Medicaid fraud. Prosecutors said Wednesday that for years the company had performed medically unnecessary dental procedures like root canals on children and billed taxpayers for the work. (Brasch, 1/11)
Research Roundup: High-Priced Drugs In Part D; Community-Based Health Improvement Programs; Infant Sleep
Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.
High-Priced Drugs In Medicare Part D: Diagnosis And Prescription
This paper examined the design of the reinsurance benefit in Part D of Medicare. That design generates serious inefficiencies. The significant subsidies to plans in the reinsurance region combined with the launch of unique high cost prescription drugs could be expected to lead to and has led to substantial departures from cost-effective outcomes in treatments delivered. Extremely high costs for an extremely limited class of drugs, what we label MISCs, get woefully insufficient consideration. (Frank and Zeckhauser, 12/4)
Evaluating Community-Based Health Improvement Programs
Increasingly, public and private resources are being dedicated to community-based health improvement programs. ... We found that the implementation of community-based health improvement programs was associated with a decrease of less than 0.15 percent in the rate of obesity, an even smaller decrease in the proportion of people reporting being in poor or fair health, and a smaller increase in the rate of smoking. None of these changes was significant. (Fry et al., 1/1)
Morbidity and Mortality:
Trends and Disparities in Infant Safe Sleep Practices — United States, 2009–2015
There have been dramatic improvements in reducing infant sleep-related deaths since the 1990s, when recommendations were introduced to place infants on their backs for sleep. However, there are still approximately 3,500 sleep-related deaths among infants each year in the United States, including those from sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and unknown causes. (Bombard et al., 1/9)
What The World Can Learn From Chile's Obesity-Control Strategies
Chilean officials recognized that when people shop, they often do so automatically and habitually, and people seldom spend a lot of time reading labels or doing calculations to figure out what the best choice would be. To address this, Chile's Ministry of Health worked with graphic artists to develop simple warning labels. These black-and-white stop signs note whether a product has an excessive quantity of salt, sugar, calories or fat—enough to increase the risk of a chronic disease. (Cohen, 12/30)
Parsing The Policy: Will Medicaid Work Requirements 'Backfire'?; Will They Make People Healthier?
The Trump administration plan to add work requirements to the Medicaid program drew strong reactions from opinion writers across the country.
The New York Times:
The Trump Plan To Hurt The Poor By Pretending To Help Them
When Ohio and Michigan expanded their Medicaid programs to broaden coverage, residents who became eligible found it easier to look for work, according to studies by the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the University of Michigan. That’s because having Medicaid gave them access to primary care doctors and prescription medicine that helped them live normal lives and get jobs. That’s how you help people in the real world. The Trump administration said Thursday that it would get poor people to work by letting state governments deny them Medicaid if they don’t have a job. (1/11)
The New York Times:
Trump’s Medicaid Work Requirement Will Backfire
Just because President Trump and the Republican Congress were unable to pass health care legislation that would have unwound the coverage benefits of the Affordable Care Act doesn’t mean such attacks are behind us. To the contrary, Republicans are now making an end run around Congress to accomplish one of their harshest goals: kicking economically vulnerable people off Medicaid. (Jared Bernstein and Hannah Katch, 1/11)
The New York Times:
Can Requiring People To Work Make Them Healthier?
One of the clearest patterns in public health research is the correlation between income and health. The richer you are, the more likely you are to have good health, and live a long life. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be sicker, and die younger. That data could be an argument for just giving poor people money to improve their health. But in general, the way states and the federal government try to make poor people healthier is by giving them health insurance instead. (Margot Sanger-Katz, 1/11)
The Washington Post:
Medicaid Work Requirements Are One Of The Least Politically Controversial Things Trump Has Done
The big news Thursday morning — besides President Trump undercutting his own White House on FISA — was that his administration is moving to allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. And as The Washington Post's Amy Goldstein reports, it's a legally controversial decision because it would impose such requirements for the first time in Medicaid's half-century history. It's simply not clear that the law allows for it. And opponents quickly cried foul, arguing that the move would harm the poor. Politically speaking, though, this is among the least controversial things Trump has done as president. For decades, Americans have overwhelmingly supported work requirements for government assistance. (Aaron Blake, 1/11)
Medicaid Work Requirements Are A Throwback To Rejected Racial Stereotypes
Some myths just won’t die, no matter how odious or untrue. And in the Trump era of outright lies masquerading as “alternative” facts, it is no surprise that we are seeing decades-old canards creep back into, and muddy, policy debates. A new Trump administration policy does just that by encouraging states to place work requirements on people who want to receive health insurance coverage through Medicaid. The Trump administration wants to decimate vital programs like Medicaid. ... Never mind that these sorts of mandates don’t work — numerous studies, including those from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, confirm the inefficacy of work requirements in alleviating poverty or increasing employment over the long-term. Never mind that most Medicaid recipients already work if they are able to do so. Never mind that work requirements have never been allowed in the 50-plus years of the Medicaid program. (Vanita Gupta and Fatima Goss Graves, 1/11)
Los Angeles Times:
Threatening To Take Away Their Care At Gunpoint Isn't The Way To Get Medicaid Recipients Working
According to the Trump administration, having a job makes you healthier. Most people — especially those who aren't coal miners, air traffic controllers or professional football players — would agree with that. So it's not unreasonable for the federal government to encourage states to try to get more of their able-bodied Medicaid recipients into jobs. In fact, it's something Medicaid has been doing for some time with disabled Americans. (Jon Healy, 1/11)
Trump's New Medicaid Work Requirements Are A Disaster For Disabled People (And Everyone Else)
[A]llowing states to implement the work requirement is a terrible idea. As a disability lawyer and disabled person myself, I know this policy change will be disastrous for my community in a number of important ways. My first concern involves the eligibility process. According to the Washington Post, states will be able to decide for themselves who qualifies as “disabled” for the purpose of being exempt from the work requirement. No matter how broad they define the category, there will be disabled people who do not qualify for the exemption even though they should. (Katie Tastrom, 1/12)
The Problem With Work Requirements For Medicaid
In November, the Trump administration announced that it would be more open to proposals from states that impose work requirements for Medicaid. In other words, it would allow states to apply restrictions on “able-bodied” adults who might apply for the program. This is an abrupt change from the Obama administration, which supported Medicaid eligibility by income levels, regardless of whether people had jobs or not. (Aaron Carroll, 1/11)
Different Takes: The Value Of Reforming Medicaid; Securing Social Services; Getting A Flu Shot
Opinion writers examine a range of state-specific health care issues, including a proposed effort to create a first-of-its-kind drug formulary for Medicaid; struggles to save social services programs from the chopping block; and a push for everyone to get the flu shot this year.
New England Journal of Medicine:
Massachusetts’ Proposed Medicaid Reforms — Cheaper Drugs And Better Coverage?
Massachusetts has applied for a federal waiver to create a closed drug formulary for Medicaid, which would be a first for the program. If the plan is approved, other states would follow suit, and it would be critical to include consumer protections. (Benjamin D. Sommers and Aaron S. Kesselheim, 1/12)
Kentucky Budget Cuts To Social Services Will Hurt People And Economy
The Kentucky General Assembly faces tough choices as it builds our commonwealth’s budget. Social services, which are already stretched thin, should not be on the chopping block. We have a moral imperative to care for the frail, sick and less fortunate in our society. However, some might argue that caregiving should be the domain of the private sector. (Julie Guenthner, 1/11)
The Des Moines Register:
Legislature Will Focus On Mental Health, Medicaid This Session
Mental health and Medicaid will have a number of discussions this coming year. We are committed to finding a solution to both these issues in our state that will be beneficial for recipients and ensure they are getting the care they need. (State Sen. Brad Zaun, 1/11)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Get A Shot Against The Flu's Potentially Lethal Consequences For Yourself And Others
We're in a nasty flu season -- not the worst, but still deadly for some, as this week's reports of the first child deaths in Ohio underscore. A 1-year-old boy in Lucas County in northwest Ohio and a 4-year-old boy in Montgomery County in southwest Ohio both have died from the flu, the Ohio Department of Health reported Wednesday. Ohio's flu incidence has been widespread for weeks and is accelerating, with 1,750 new hospitalizations just last week. ... Getting a flu shot is the very best way to safeguard yourself, your family, your co-workers and neighbors from harm, and there's still time to do so. (1/12)
Kansas City Star:
How $150 Million Could Be A Game-Changer For Children's Mercy
Kansas City’s reputation as a major center for medical research is getting an important boost.Two well-known local charitable foundations — the Hall Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation — will each give $75 million to Children’s Mercy Kansas City.The money will help build and staff a new nine-story facility where scientists will conduct research into treating childhood diseases. (1/11)
Viewpoints: Reversing The Downward Trend In U.S. Life Expectancy; Who Is Responsible For Kids' Smartphone Use, Addiction?
A selection of opinions on health care from news outlets around the country.
The Washington Post:
U.S. Life Expectancy Is Dropping. Here’s How To Fix It.
Driven by sharp increases in deaths from drug overdoses, U.S. life expectancy declined for a second consecutive year in 2016. Even during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s, life expectancy did not decrease over multiple years. Preliminary data suggests that U.S. life expectancy may drop even further in 2017 — a three-year decline not seen since World War I and the global influenza pandemic a century ago. The dramatic increase in deaths from illegal opioids — particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl — is driving this alarming trend. (Thomas R. Frieden, 1/11)
Time For Apple To Update Parental Controls
No one disputes that parents have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that their children use smartphones safely. And we said that precisely in our letter to Apple. ... The problem is that most experts agree that Apple’s parental controls, which were introduced in 2008 before most kids had smartphones, have failed to keep pace with the research on negative outcomes. For example, Apple’s controls are largely binary, meaning parents can only shut certain applications or tools on or off, vs. moderating or modifying their usage, which research suggests is a better approach. Children who engage in limited use of their smartphones have better mental health outcomes than those who do not use them at all, and even the most concerning apps such as Facebook can also have beneficial impacts in moderation. (Barry Rosenstein, 1/11)
Don't Blame Apple For Smartphone Addiction
Anxiety and depression have spiked recently among young people, and researchers believe that heavy usage of wireless devices is a main reason why. To help combat this trend, a couple of large investors — Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System — have turned to shareholder activism. Specifically, they’ve targeted Apple, demanding that the iPhone maker develop software giving parents more power to limit the amount of time their kids can be active on their phones. The two investors also want Apple to commission a study of the link between smartphone usage and mental health issues. ... Even so, the investors' particular tactic is suspect. (1/11)
The New England Journal Of Medicine:
Federal Right-To-Try Legislation — Threatening The FDA’s Public Health Mission
[I]n August 2017, the Senate passed the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act, which would sharply curtail the FDA’s oversight of access to investigational drugs for patients with life-threatening illnesses. Though popular with the public and supported by politicians from both parties, the legislation has been widely criticized by policy experts. In isolation, its impact would probably be limited, since the bill was substantially hollowed out to secure the necessary votes. Nonetheless, the motivation behind the proposed legislation threatens to weaken the FDA’s ability to pursue its public health mission. (Steven Joffe and Holly Fernandez Lynch, 1/10)
New England Journal of Medicine:
In-Person Health Care As Option B
What if health care were designed so that in-person visits were the second, third, or even last option for meeting routine patient needs, rather than the first? This question seems to elicit two basic responses — sometimes expressed in the same breath: “The idea will upset many physicians, who are already under duress” and “I wish my health care worked that way.” (Sean Duffy and Thomas H. Lee, 1/11)
The New York Times:
The Women The Abortion War Leaves Out
Motherhood is really expensive. ... The price of motherhood is set by our government’s policies. It will, at some level, always be cheaper for a woman to have an abortion than to have a baby. But if anti-abortion campaigners truly want to decrease the numbers of abortions, rather than passing laws designed to drive up the costs of abortion, they would do far better to invest in the kinds of economic supports that make becoming a parent a realistic possibility for struggling women. (Michelle Oberman, 1/11)
With Trump MIA On Opioids, Here Come The Lawyers
How is the U.S. going to end its opioid crisis? The answer really shouldn’t be that difficult. ... President Donald Trump seems uninterested in taking these obvious steps. Yes, he created an opioid commission, whose recommendations he has ignored, and declared a “national health emergency.” But instead of adding funding, he actually proposed cutting the substance abuse budget by $400 million. And of course nothing signaled Trump’s lack of seriousness than the person he named to be his “opioid czar”: Kellyanne Conway, the spinmeister best known for rebranding Trump’s fantasies as “alternative facts.” (Joe Nocera, 1/12)
Black Mothers Are Dying: The Toll Of Racism On Maternal Health
From my perspective, it sometimes feels that being a poor, black mother is akin to a diagnosis that increases the risk of dying during pregnancy or soon after giving birth. By fighting the racism that contributed to the deaths of Erica Garner and so many other American women, we can also stop the need for mourning. (Wrenetha Julion, 1/11)
New England Journal of Medicine:
When The CHIPs Are Down — Health Coverage And Care At Risk For U.S. Children
Despite bipartisan agreement on a 5-year plan in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Congress failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) last fall, causing uncertainty and worry for families and state CHIP directors alike. ... Shortly before leaving town for the holidays, Congress included stopgap funding of $2.8 billion for CHIP in a short-term government funding bill. That additional funding means that states have not had to begin disenrolling children from CHIP just yet. But with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reporting on January 5 that it could ensure only that the available funds would keep CHIP funded in every state through January 19, it also means that the sword of Damocles continues to hang over the program: parents and state CHIP directors will still be on edge. (Lisa C. Dubay and Genevieve M. Kenney, 1/10)
San Jose Mercury News:
Republicans Should Fund CHIP Health Care For Kids
Congress has become so embarrassingly dysfunctional that it can’t find a way to fund one of the most admired, fully bipartisan health care programs of the past 20 years: the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides basic coverage for 9 million kids, including 200,000 in the Bay Area. House Republicans are using children’s health as a pawn in their never-ending quest to cripple the Affordable Care Act. (1/11)
New England Journal of Medicine:
Rejuvenating Regenerative Medicine Regulation
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently made long-awaited progress toward protecting patients from interventions involving human cell- and tissue-based products (HCT/P) of unknown safety and efficacy. By clarifying its position on the handling and therapeutic use of cells, the agency has sent a clear signal that it intends to regulate a broad swath of highly manipulated cellular materials as biologic drugs. This is a welcome development, and complementary action taken at the state level and by professional societies would further promote the interests of patients. (R. Alta Charo and Douglas Sipp, 1/10),