- KFF Health News Original Stories 2
- Hispanic Children's Uninsured Rate Hits Record Low, Study Finds
- Study: Some Marketplace Customers Spend 25 Percent Of Income On Health Expenses
- Political Cartoon: 'Ping Me'
- Campaign 2016 1
- Realist Vs. Crusader: Health Care Tussle Reflects Divergent Leadership Styles Of Dem Candidates
- Health Law 2
- Consumers Who Opt Against Health Coverage May Be Surprised At Tax Penalty's Size
- Ky. Governor's Plan To Revamp Medicaid Raises Concerns About Poor Communities
- Women’s Health 1
- In Undercover Video Suit, Planned Parenthood Alleges Conspiracy, Fraud By Activists
- Public Health 1
- Teen-Specific Addiction Treatment Options Lag, But New Efforts Aim To Fix The Disparity
- State Watch 2
- Courtroom Clash: Health Care Companies, Iowa Officials Spar Over State's Medicaid Privatization Plan
- State Highlights: Fla. Lawmaker Says Clearing Backlog Of Rape Kits Is Top Priority; Advocates Heartened By Christie's Drug Initiatives
- Health Policy Research 1
- Research Roundup: Long-Term Care Needs; Publishing All Research Results; Surprise Bills
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
About 300,000 Hispanic children gained insurance in 2014 from 2013, dropping the number of uninsured to 1.7 million, researchers said, and two-thirds of 1.7 million uninsured Hispanic kids live in five states. (Lisa Gillespie, )
Urban Institute researchers found that premiums and out-of-pocket costs are still a major concern for people seeking coverage on the health care marketplaces. (Michelle Andrews, )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Ping Me'" by Kelly Kamowski.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
THE 2016 PLOT THICKENS
A new health care war?
No, it’s not the GOP.
It’s Sanders, Clinton.
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:
Hillary Clinton in recent days has fired up attacks on Bernie Sanders' health care plan, but the battle goes deeper than a single policy issue. Some say it demonstrates what kind of governing style -- pragmatism versus a political revolution -- each would bring to the White House. In other news, the Republican field duked it out at Thursday's debate, with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz exchanging the harshest volleys.
The Wall Street Journal:
Health-Care Fight Bruises Both Hillary Clinton And Bernie Sanders
As the fight over health care between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders grows nastier, both presidential candidates risk winding up on the wrong side of an issue Democrats care about deeply. So far, Mr. Sanders hasn’t released the details of his proposal for a single-payer health-care plan, where the government replaces insurers, and thus risks being seen as unwilling to explain or defend his ideas. He also hasn’t said how he would pay for his plan, estimated at some $15 trillion over 10 years. Mrs. Clinton, the former secretary of state and senator, risks being cast as an opponent of universal health care, a goal that has long been a top priority for her party. (Meckler, 1/14)
Los Angeles Times:
Tightening Democratic Race Revives Party's Old Debate Over Healthcare
The divergent views epitomize the differences between the candidates – Hillary Clinton as a battle-hardened realist, with Bernie Sanders the uncompromising crusader – and the healthcare debate has become one of the most rancorous parts of an increasingly competitive primary. Polls show Sanders closing the gap with Clinton in Iowa and leading her in New Hampshire, the states that hold the country’s first two nominating contests. (Megerian and Levey, 1/15)
Clinton: Sanders Would "End All The Kinds Of Health Care We Know"
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said rival Bernie Sanders would "end all the kinds of health care we know" and criticized his new TV ad in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Thursday night. (Seitz-Wald, 1/14)
Bernie Sanders Promises Health Care Details Before Iowa Caucuses
Bernie Sanders on Thursday stood by his pledge to outline his health care plan before the Iowa caucuses amid criticism from Hillary Clinton and conflicting statements from within the Vermont senator's campaign about whether he will meet his own deadline. (LoBianco and Zelaney, 1/14)
Clinton’s Health-Care Assault On Sanders Backfires
Hillary Clinton’s assault on Bernie Sanders for his support of a single-payer health system has stunned and irritated liberals who see it as an abandonment of core progressive principles. (Cook, 1/14)
The Washington Post:
The Detente Between Trump And Cruz Is Definitely Over
The mutually beneficial campaign detente between Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) came to an end on the debate stage here Thursday. The two Republican presidential candidates, locked in a tight race to win the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, argued over whether Cruz meets the constitutional requirements to serve as president and whether Trump is a trustworthy conservative or is tainted by what Cruz called “New York values.” ... Trump brushed off criticism of his demeanor, saying, “I will gladly accept the mantle of anger.” “Our military is a disaster,” he said. “Our health care is a horror show. Obamacare, we’re going to repeal it and replace it. ... Our country is being run by incompetent people. And yes, I am angry.” (Tumulty and Rucker, 1/15)
Republican Hopefuls Brawl In Feisty Debate
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz exchanged their harshest attacks yet Thursday in the first Republican presidential debate of 2016, one that revealed three groups of candidates — those looking to win the early contests, finish strong or simply survive. ... Two other candidates faring well in the polls also mixed it up during the feisty debate — Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. Rubio said Christie supported President Obama’s agenda on education and guns and even “wrote a check to Planned Parenthood” — charges Christie rejected. “This is the difference between being a governor and being a senator,” Christie said. (Wolf and Jackson, 1/15)
Going without health insurance will cost $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater. But some consumers who did pick up coverage on the health law's marketplaces still find their share of costs is hefty.
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Uninsured In 2016? Coverage Might Be Cheaper Than The Penalty
Are you among the shrinking number of Americans without health insurance? If so, you could face a hefty penalty in 2016. The cost of going without coverage is $695 or 2.5% of your income, whichever is greater. It will be added to the amount you owe in federal income tax when you file your return for the year. That’s a lot of money to pay when you get nothing in return. Many people choose to accept the penalty because they think it’s cheaper than the cost of coverage. But a lot of them may be wrong. (Field, 1/14)
Kaiser Health News:
Study: Some Marketplace Customers Spend 25 Percent Of Income On Health Expenses
Even with subsidies to make coverage more affordable, many people who buy health insurance on the marketplaces spend more than 10 percent of their income on premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket payments, a recent study found. Among those hit hardest, the researchers said, are people who spend nearly a quarter of their income on health care expenses. (Andrews, 1/15)
And President Barack Obama remembers a key moment in his presidency —
The Wall Street Journal:
President Obama’s Favorite Moment? The Night Obamacare Passed
President Barack Obama said Thursday that the best moment of his time at the White House came in March 2010, after the passage of his signature health-care bill. Mr. Obama has cited the shootings in Newtown, [Conn.], as the worst moment of his presidency. (1/14)
Some people worry that Gov. Matt Bevin's plan to replace Kentucky's traditional Medicaid expansion with one that would require enrollees to contribute financially to their health care could undermine gains made in the "neediest corners of America," the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Other outlets look at Louisiana's decision to expand Medicaid and the Obama administration's proposal to extend federal funding for the program.
Bevin's Medicaid Testing Ground Lies In E. Ky.
Newly elected Republican Gov. Matt Bevin ... announced plans to remake Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion to look more like nearby Indiana’s program, a more limited version that calls for patients to share more costs so they have a bigger stake in their care. ... If the governor succeeds and Medicaid changes begin next year, Kentucky would join six other states with specially-designed Medicaid expansion programs approved by the federal government. It also would be one of the first states to replace the traditional Medicaid expansion envisioned by the ACA with one that includes co-pays and premiums. Yet some worry that could undermine hard-won health care gains in one of the neediest corners of America, where struggles with poverty, unemployment and ill health are common. (Ungar and Kenning, 1/14)
The New York Times:
New Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards, Is Off To A Volatile Start
John Bel Edwards was sworn in the Deep South’s only Democratic governor this week, and already he has experienced momentous triumph — and momentous defeat. In his first major act in office, Mr. Edwards signed an order expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, extending health benefits to roughly 300,000 poor Louisianans. Some of his supporters cried as he signed it. (Fausset and Alford, 1/14)
New Orleans Times Picayune:
President Obama Takes Questions, Talks Medicaid Expansion In Baton Rouge
President Barack Obama used a Baton Rouge high school gymnasium Thursday (Jan. 14) to announce a far-reaching revision to financing Medicaid expansion aimed at convincing more states to adopt changes under the Affordable Care Act. ... If approved by Congress as part of Obama's 2017 budget, the change Obama announced Thursday will allow states that have resisted adopting Medicaid expansion to put off cost-sharing for three years. The change will mean that Louisiana, which began the process of expanding Medicaid eligibility to 300,000 residents on Tuesday, will not have to begin matching federal funds until 2020 instead of 2017. (Litten, 1/14)
New Orleans Times Picayune:
Does Obama's Medicaid Proposal Set Mousetraps For Louisiana's GOP?
President Barack Obama's offer to pick up the tab for Gov. John Bel Edward's decision to expand Medicaid could put Louisiana Republicans opposed to "Obamacare" in a political bind. Support the president's plan, and risk the wrath of GOP voters who strongly oppose the Affordable Care Act. Oppose the offer, and risk placing a larger financial burden on Louisiana patients and residents. (Rainey, 1/14)
New Orleans Times Picayune:
Medicaid Expansion Could Mean More Hiring, Investments By Hospitals
Medicaid expansion in Louisiana could mean big changes for hospitals across the state as they begin to see new revenue from patients who had been uninsured. One of the biggest challenges hospitals have faced is how to pay for treating patients without insurance. In some cases hospitals have closed emergency rooms because they couldnt't afford to treat those who couldn't pay. Gov. John Bel Edwards' decision to expand Medicaid will draw new federal funding for reimbursing medical providers who treat people who qualify for Medicaid, most of whom are the working poor. (Litten, 1/14)
Medicaid Expansion Offer May Fall On Deaf Ears In Congress, N.C.
North Carolina would have the opportunity to expand its Medicaid program with 100 percent federal financing for the first three years, according to a proposal unveiled Thursday by the White House. However, analysts say the chances are slim for getting approval from a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly in an election year. As a result, the proposal may just serve as another election-year hot potato between those who want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and those who want to provide Medicaid coverage to potentially another 500,000 North Carolinians. (Craver, 1/14)
Georgia Health News:
Legislative Panel Reflects Divide On Medicaid Expansion
A bipartisan panel of state lawmakers voiced agreement Thursday on at least a couple of health care issues. Support for a higher cigarette tax, and for the emerging trend of ambulance crews treating people in their homes rather than in ERs were two areas of general unanimity on the panel, at an event sponsored by the group Georgians for a Healthy Future. But as expected, there was sharp division among the four legislators on the panel when it came to the issue of expanding the state’s Medicaid program. (Miller, 1/14)
The political realities of 2016 shortens the list of what House Speaker Paul Ryan will be able to accomplish. But Ryan highlights a bill making it easier for people with addiction, depression and other mental illnesses to get treatment as one that has promise. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt will testify on co-ops and the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee will look at a drug discount program.
Paul Ryan's Short List Of What Could Get Done This Year
House Speaker Paul Ryan has a list -- a short list, to be sure -- of legislation that he thinks has a good chance of passing the Republican-controlled Congress and being signed by the Democratic president, even during this election year. It's clear that the biggest proposals won't get enacted, from the GOP's goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act to President Obama's support of a comprehensive immigration bill. Ryan cited … other bills with bright prospects this year: … Mental health legislation, now before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "I think there's promise in that area because there are some Democrats who are agreeing with us on that." Among other things, the legislation would make it easier for people with addiction, depression and other mental illnesses to get treatment. (Page, 1/14)
With Nomination In Limbo, Acting CMS Head To Testify On Co-Ops
President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Medicare and Medicaid programs is slated to testify next week about health insurance co-op failures before the same Senate panel that has not acted on his nomination since it was put forward six months ago. Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is due before the Finance Committee at a Jan. 21 hearing examining co-ops established under the 2010 overhaul (PL 111-148, PL 111-152). A branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, CMS is the main federal agency implementing the health law, in addition to running the two big government health programs. (Attias, 1/14)
MedPAC Votes on 340B Drug Plan Proposal, 2017 Recommendations
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission voted Thursday to delve into the thorny debate on the so-called 340B drug discount program, proceeding over objections from hospital groups and three of its own members. The work will be a new addition for MedPAC’s widely followed annual report recommendations to Congress about Medicare, the nation’s largest single buyer of health care. The influential panel on Thursday also approved more routine specific recommendations regarding Medicare programs that provide more than $500 billion worth of services provided to elderly and disabled Americans. Lawmakers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rely on MedPAC in setting new policies for Medicare, which serves more than 53 million people. (Young, 1/14)
The organization argues that the Center for Medical Progress acted illegally when it secretly recorded videos alleging the reproductive health organization profited from selling fetal tissue from abortions. The center fired back, calling the lawsuit “frivolous.”
The Associated Press:
Planned Parenthood Sues Activists Who Made Undercover Videos
Planned Parenthood filed a federal court lawsuit Thursday alleging extensive criminal misconduct by the anti-abortion activists who produced undercover videos targeting the handling of fetal tissue at some Planned Parenthood clinics. The anti-abortion activists, who named their group the Center for Medical Progress, began releasing a series of covertly recorded videos in July alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue to researchers for a profit in violation of federal law. Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing, saying a handful of its clinics provided fetal tissue for research while receiving only permissible reimbursement for costs. The lawsuit says the videos were the result of numerous illegalities, including making recordings without consent, registering false identities with state agencies and violating non-disclosure agreements. (Crary, 1/14)
Planned Parenthood Files U.S. Lawsuit Against Group Behind Secret Videos
The 65-page complaint alleged that the Center for Medical Progress is a "complex criminal enterprise" that violated racketeering laws, set up a fake company and secured false identification to access private abortion conferences and meetings in California, Maryland and Florida. The complaint also accused the group of violation of privacy, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and trespassing in connection with the video-recording campaign. The Center for Medical Progress called the lawsuit "frivolous" in a statement. (Skinner, 1/14)
In other Planned Parenthood news —
The Associated Press:
Kansas Medical Board Clears Planned Parenthood Clinic
Kansas' medical board is taking no action against a Planned Parenthood clinic after completing an investigation into whether illegal sales of fetal tissue are occurring after abortions, a board document shows. A State Board of Healing Arts disciplinary attorney sent a letter to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri last week saying the board's disciplinary staff had investigated the organization's clinic in the Kansas City surburb of Overland Park, Kansas. The Associated Press on Thursday obtained a copy of the letter, which said a board disciplinary panel reviewed material gathered during the investigation. (Hanna, 1/14)
Many programs are geared toward adult care, but communities are now adopting strategies to meet the unique needs of young people suffering with addiction. Elsewhere, new research finds warning labels on sugary drinks might actually work, and a cafe for Alzheimer's patients opens.
For Teenagers, Adult-Sized Opioid Addiction Treatment Doesn't Fit
Deaths from heroin overdose in all age groups doubled from 2010 to 2012, according to a 2014 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In response, communities are seeking new strategies to treat addiction and speed access to care. That includes trying to meet the unique needs of youth after years of addiction treatments geared to adults. Serenity Mesa is one of those youth-centered efforts. (Benson, 1/15)
Warning Labels Might Help Parents Buy Fewer Sugary Drinks, Study Finds
Lately, the idea of affixing a health warning label to sugary beverages has been getting traction. So far, no city or state has been able to pass such a measure. But several are trying. California, New York and Baltimore all have legislation in the works requiring these labels on sugary drinks. Until now, the effectiveness of such a label has been presumptive, drawing from the large body of research showing that warning labels on tobacco and alcohol products work. But research appearing in the journal Pediatrics Thursday suggests that a warning label on sugary beverages might indeed deter people from buying the products. (Barclay, 1/14)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Penn Starts A 'Cafe' For Alzheimer's Patients And Caregivers
Dementia can ruin a social life. Friends don't know how to act around someone whose brain is failing, and people with dementia often withdraw as social situations get more confusing. As a result, people with Alzheimer's or another memory-robbing dementia - and their caregivers - can become isolated. Knowing that, Genevieve Ilg, a social-work graduate student who is interning at the Penn Memory Center, was intrigued when she read about "memory cafés," a European innovation that is slowly taking hold in the United States. (Burling, 1/14)
Thursday's courtroom action centered on Gov. Terry Branstad's plan to privatize Iowa's $4.2 billion Medicaid program. Also, Democratic state legislators are pushing to ensure that accountability is part of the effort to shift the program's management to private companies. One report estimates that oversight could cost as much as $17 million.
Des Moines Register:
Court Arguments: Iowa’s Medicaid Plan A 'Cancer'
Three companies on Thursday asked a judge to suspend or terminate Iowa’s plan to privatize Medicaid management, one saying Gov. Terry Branstad’s plan is so ill-conceived it should be treated like a "cancer." The comments came in response to revelations that WellCare, one of three companies selected to manage Iowa's $4.2 billion Medicaid program, hired former House Speaker Christopher Rants and former Rep. Renee Schulte to help them win the contract. (Clayworth, 1/14)
Iowa Public Radio:
Aetna, WellCare and DHS Spar Over Medicaid Implementation Progress
About 20 lawyers representing six healthcare companies and the state of Iowa crowded into a small Polk County courtroom Thursday. All want Judge Robert Blink to issue or reject various stays, or orders, relating to the upcoming privatization of Iowa's $4.2 billion Medicaid system. All also argued a ruling in their favor prioritizes the healthcare of Iowa's 560,000 Medicaid recipients. (Borden, 1/14)
Des Moines Register:
Iowa Democratic Legislators Seek Medicaid Safeguards
Iowa Democratic legislators say they want to ensure that accountability and safeguards are part of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad's plan to shift the management of the state's Medicaid program to private companies. Senate President Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, told reporters Thursday protections are needed because Medicaid health insurance provides a safety net for the most vulnerable Iowans facing severe medical challenges. (Petroski, 1/14)
Des Moines Register:
Report: Iowa Medicaid Oversight To Cost $17 Million
Iowa would need to hire 134 additional workers and spend as much as $17 million more a year to properly expand ombudsman oversight of Gov. Terry Branstad’s plan to privatize Iowa’s Medicaid management, a new multi-agency workgroup report shows. The report mandated by the Legislature includes several key findings behind the privatization plan that has already been delayed once by federal officials because of the state’s unpreparedness. (Clayworth, 1/14)
News outlets report on health care developments in Florida, New Jersey, South Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan, North Carolina and Illinois.
The News Service Of Florida:
Negron Questions FDLE On Backlog Of Rape Kits
The powerful chairman of a Senate committee that oversees the criminal-justice budget said Wednesday that Florida's backlog of thousands of untested rape kits is one of his top priorities. But Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, also made clear he isn't a fan of Florida Department of Law Enforcement proposals to outsource testing of the kits to clear the backlog. (Menzel, 1/14)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Christie Drug Treatment Ideas Called 'Work In Progress'
Advocates and treatment providers were heartened by Gov. Christie's focus on addiction and mental health during Tuesday's State of the State address. But the impact of the initiatives Christie outlined wasn't yet clear Wednesday - in part because funding must go through the budget process. (Hanna, 1/14)
DOJ, FTC Support South Carolina Bill To Limit Certificate Of Need Law
The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are backing legislation in South Carolina that would limit the state’s certificate-of-need laws, a move that could ultimately lead to the state's repeal of a program started in 1971 to regulate health care providers on a state-by-state basis. Republican Governor Nikki R. Haley invited the two antitrust agencies to comment on a bill in the South Carolina House (H 3250) that would change existing laws that require new health care providers to be state-sanctioned before they can build new facilities. The agencies are concerned the laws not only force new entrants to await state sanctioning, but let existing companies try to solidify their market position by filing challenges to a potential rival's application. (Chamseddine, 1/14)
The Connecticut Mirror:
Spending And Enrollment Up, But Medicaid Per-Person Cost Is Down
Connecticut’s Medicaid program is projected to cost the state and federal governments more than $6 billion this year, and it covers close to one in five state residents, a dramatic growth from a decade ago. But underneath the rising cost and enrollment trends, something else has been happening: The average per-person costs have been falling – particularly among those newly eligible for coverage under the federal health law. (Levin Becker, 1/15)
Deadly Disease Strikes After Cost-Cutting Contaminated Flint's Water Supply
Residents in Flint, Michigan have been outraged since the discovery that their water is tainted with lead, a substance has irreversible neurological and developmental effects on children. The contamination came after the city of 100,000 changed water sources in April 2014, switching from Detroit's water system to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. Yesterday brought even more bad news: Cases of Legionnaires' Disease have spiked in Genessee County since Flint, the largest city in the county, began using the river water. There have been 87 cases of the disease since June of 2014, ten of which have been fatal. According to the CDC, Legionnaires' disease is a pneumonia-like respiratory infection that can cause fevers, coughing, muscle aches, and, in severe cases, death. It grows in warm water, like that in hot tubs and fountains. (Lurie, 1/14)
Heartland Health Monitor:
While Johnson County Has More Binge Drinking, Wyandotte County Has Bigger Challenge
When Kelli was growing up in Olathe in the 1970s, it was a quiet, clean community boasting single-family homes and good schools. And with state laws prohibiting alcohol sales on Sundays — in stores and by the glass — outsiders could have been forgiven if they found life there to be pretty straight-laced. “You just never know what goes on behind closed doors,” says Kelli, who asked that her last name not be used. Behind the bucolic suburban façade, the picture was different for Kelli. She describes her father as a highly successful CEO — and a high-functioning alcoholic. When she became an adult, Kelli tried to avoid falling into the same trap. (Smith, 1/14)
The Associated Press:
NC Weighs Community Colleges Offering 4-Year Nursing Degree
North Carolina is confronting a chronic nursing shortage by considering whether its network of two-year community colleges should break with the past and offer four-year nursing degrees. The state's community college board could take the next step as early as Friday by launching a feasibility study into the pros and cons. Almost half the states in the country offer advanced nursing education at community colleges. (1/15)
The Chicago Tribune:
CVS Clinics To Share Patient Records With University Of Chicago
CVS will share electronic patient data from its in-store health clinics with University of Chicago Medicine, under a deal announced Thursday. The deal is the latest attempt to ease concerns that patients will get lower-quality care when they substitute walk-in retail care like that practiced at CVS's 44 Chicago-area MinuteClinics for traditional primary medical care from a family doctor. (Janssen, 1/14)
The Detroit Free Press:
Nurse Anesthetists Say Disrespect Led To Resistance
It has been nearly two weeks since Jessica Mast and 65 fellow nurse anesthetists were sedating patients and earning six-figure salaries in the St. John Providence Health System. Today, they remain out of their jobs since rejecting the nonprofit health system's plan to outsource them on Jan. 1 to PSJ Anesthesia, a new outside contractor run by a metro Detroit doctor. It was a rare act of defiance by a group of non-unionized employees against what has been a nationwide trend in the health care business. (Reindl, 1/14)
The Chicago Tribune:
Caregiver Asks, 'What's Going To Happen To US?'
"What's going to happen to us?" the woman asked me with pleading eyes. She is one of 100 home health care assistants for Shay Health Care in Oak Forest [Ill.] who care for elderly people who live at home but need help with daily tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, even getting out of bed. It's likely that all 100 of them will lose their jobs at the end of the month because Shay has not been fully reimbursed by the state since July, and the agency's co-founder says she has taken out $800,000 in personal loans to keep that part of her business afloat. (Kadner, 1/14)
The Associated Press:
Aids: OT Policy Will Hurt In-Home Care For Disabled
Disabled Illinois residents who depend on in-home help for daily needs will suffer once the state stops paying overtime for their caregivers beginning March 1, some home health care workers and their union say. Tens of thousands of employees who help people with disabilities live independently are eligible for time-and-a-half pay over 40 hours in a week, under a federal rule that took effect Jan. 1. But without a state budget in place to control spending, Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration says it can't afford the extra pay. (Lisenby, 1/14)
Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.
The New England Journal of Medicine:
Future Of Long-Term Care And The Expanding Role Of Medicaid Managed Care
America faces a complex policy challenge that lies at the intersection of social welfare and health care: the 12 million people who cope with one or more chronic disabling conditions requiring them to use long-term services and supports (LTSS) (also called long-term care) must negotiate a patchwork of services to find assistance. Most of the care is provided by some 40 million unpaid family members or friends, 60% of whom hold jobs while also giving care, according to recent survey research. Of that number, about 11% (2.6 million workers) reported leaving their jobs by resigning, retiring, or taking a leave of absence because they could not afford paid care for their care recipient. This report is an overview of the major issues that surround LTSS, a complex sphere with an array of stakeholders. (Iglehart, 1/14)
Transparency In Clinical Research
Reporting biases in the published literature -- whereby the results of research are inconsistently or selectively reported -- is a well-known phenomenon and has been a source of concern in the health care field since at least the 1980s, particularly in the realm of therapeutic drug trials. Despite several efforts over the ensuing decades to address this issue, it is estimated that up to half of all clinical trials conducted and completed have never had their results published. ... An oft-cited concern is how to ensure that patients' rights are adequately protected--in particular, how to share patient-level data without compromising privacy. ... Another key concern relates to the risk that trial data will be misused or improperly analyzed. (Richardson, 1/14)
Rand Corp./Journal of General Internal Medicine:
Cost Of Transformation Among Primary Care Practices Participating In A Medical Home Pilot
We interviewed practice leaders in order to identify changes practices had undertaken due to medical home transformation. ... Practices incurred median one-time transformation-associated costs of $30,991 per practice (range, $7694 to $117,810), equivalent to $9814 per clinician ($1497 to $57,476) and $8 per patient ($1 to $30). Median ongoing yearly costs associated with transformation were $147,573 per practice (range, $83,829 to $346,603), equivalent to $64,768 per clinician ($18,585 to $93,856) and $30 per patient ($8 to $136). Care management activities accounted for over 60% of practices’ transformation-associated costs. ... The costs of medical home transformation vary widely, creating potential financial challenges for primary care practices—especially those that are small and independent. Tailored subsidies from payers may help practices make these investments. (Martsolf, 12/29)
The Kaiser Family Foundation:
Medicaid Expansion Spending And Enrollment In Context: An Early Look At CMS Claims Data For 2014
CMS released preliminary spending and enrollment data from the [Medicaid Budget and Expenditure System] MBES that covers the period from January 2014 through December 2014. This period is of particular interest because these are the first quarters that the Medicaid expansion was in effect. ... Key findings from this data show: The new adult group represented a relatively small share (10%) of total Medicaid spending across all states in CY 2014. Looking at just expansion states, spending for the new adult group made up a slightly larger share (16%) total spending. ... Spending per enrollee for the new adult group is notably lower than spending per enrollee across all groups ($4,513 vs. $7,150.) (Snyder et al., 1/11)
The Kaiser Family Foundation:
Surprise Medical Bills
“Surprise medical bill” is a term commonly used to describe charges arising when an insured individual inadvertently receives care from an out-of-network provider. ... Federal authority to track the incidence and impact of surprise medical bills exists but has not yet been implemented. Policy makers have considered and adopted various responses, yet tradeoffs are involved in protecting consumers from surprise bills. There is concern among some as to whether or how new consumer protections might affect insurance premiums. Establishing requirements both on what health plans must cover and on amounts that out-of-network providers can bill can limit the impact on premiums, though providers may balk at restrictions on how much they can charge. (Pollitz, 1/6)
Here is a selection of news coverage of other recent research:
Doctors Are Biased Against Patients. Is That A Problem?
Forty percent of physicians report that they’re biased against certain groups of patients, finds a new national survey from Medscape out Wednesday. Some of the factors that were reported to trigger bias: emotional problems, weight, language disparities, and insurance coverage. (Thielking, 1/13)
Saving Lives: 2015 Was A Record Year For Organ Donations In The U.S.
More than 30,000 organs were transplanted in 2015 in the United States, the United Network for Organ Sharing reported Wednesday. And more than 15,000 people donated organs. Both numbers are records, UNOS says. "These trends are encouraging, and they make a huge difference not only for transplant recipients, but for many more people whose lives they touch," UNOS CEO Brian Shepard said. (Fox, 1/13)
New U.S. Cancer Cases Holding Steady, Deaths Declining
The number of new cancer diagnoses in the U.S. is largely steady while the number of cancer deaths continues to decline, according to a new report from the nation's leading cancer advocacy group. This year, the U.S. will see nearly 1.7 million new cancer cases and nearly 600,000 cancer deaths, according to American Cancer Society projections published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. (Seaman, 1/8)
Forget The Gizmos: Exercise Works Best For Lower-Back Pain
[Chris Maher, a physical therapist turned health researcher at the University of Sydney in Australia,] and his colleagues in Australia and Brazil wanted to know if there were approaches that would reduce people's risk of getting an episode of acute low-back pain. So they rounded up 21 studies done around the world, involving over 30,000 participants in total, on how to treat and prevent lower-back pain. While back belts and shoe insoles didn't seem to offer a benefit, they determined, exercise reduced the risk of repeated low-back pain in the year following an episode between 25 and 40 percent. It didn't really matter what kind of exercise — core strengthening, aerobic exercise, or flexibility and stretching. Their review was published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. (Bichell, 1/11)
Delayed Deaths Declining Among Pediatric Cancer Survivors
It's long been known that cancer survivors -- people alive five years after diagnosis -- face a higher risk of premature death, and doctors have made efforts over the decades to reduce those deaths. A new study of childhood cancer cases suggests that the effort has been successful, at least to some degree. Most people "kind of assume that if you hit the five-year time point, you've beaten your cancer and the story's over," chief author Dr. Gregory Armstrong of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis told Reuters Health by phone. "I think the first thing this paper does is show on a national scale that beyond five years there's a very significant risk of mortality. That should be a big wakeup call for most of the primary physicians who are taking care of these patients." (Emery, 1/14)
Sleep Disruptions In Seniors Tied To Unhealthy Brain Changes
Older people who have trouble sleeping through the night are at an increased risk of unhealthy changes in the brain, a new study found. The brain changes are tied to increased risks of strokes and other problems like dementia, the researchers say. (Seaman, 1/14)
Study Yields Clues To Explosions' Effect On Brain
Damage to the filter that protects the brain from toxins may partly explain why explosions have been leaving soldiers with lasting brain injuries, researchers say. In a study of U.S. veterans after hazardous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the researchers found that the higher the exposure to blasts, the lower the activity in a brain region called the cerebellum. The cerebellum is important for motor skills and also for emotions. Problems with irritability, mood and impulsivity are very common in veterans who suffer the kinds of mild traumatic brain injury that a blast can inflict, said study coauthor Dr. Elaine Peskind. (Seaman, 1/14)
U.S. Girls, Women At Risk Of Genital Mutilation Has Tripled: Study
More than half a million women and girls in the United States live at risk of female genital mutilation, a threefold increase in recent years due to the rise in immigrants from countries where it is practiced, a government study said on Thursday. The number of U.S. women and girls who have undergone the actual procedures is unknown, however, due to a lack of reliable data, said the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (Wulfhorst, 1/14)
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
Gaming Of Health Care Threatens The Whole Program
In November, UnitedHealth abruptly reversed its previously sunny take on Obamacare and said that the company would have to pull out of the government-run exchanges if market conditions didn't improve. The problem: People signing up during "special enrollment" (the majority of the year that falls outside of the annual open enrollment period) were much sicker, and paying premiums for much less time, than the rest of the exchange population. The result: Those policies were losing a ton of money. (Megan McArdle, 1/14)
The Washington Post:
Hillary Clinton’s Latest Attack On Bernie Sanders Shows She’s A Rotten Candidate
At some point, you cannot blame the national mood or a poor staff or a brilliant opponent for Hillary Clinton’s campaign woes. ... Her attack over health care makes no sense whatsoever. Clinton is dinging Sanders for a universal health-care plan that she says would require a big tax hike. Huh? This is Sanders, the darling of the left, who has always wanted true, single-payer health care. The idea that Sanders — “the democratic socialist” — would be coming up with a dastardly plan to undermine or take away universal health care, from the left’s perspective, is inconceivable. (Jennifer Rubin, 1/14)
Hillary's Attacks On Sanders' Single-Payer Proposal May Be Risky In Iowa
Pundits are questioning the political wisdom of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's attacks against her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, over his proposal for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health insurance system in the U.S. There's good reason for those questions. Conversations this month with Democratic Party officials and voters in Iowa lend support to comments that Clinton's assault on Sanders over single payer is a risky gambit going into that state's Feb. 1 presidential caucuses. (Harris Meyer, 1/14)
The Huffington Post:
Louisiana Just Expanded Medicaid. Now Obama Is Gunning For Other Holdouts.
Louisiana on Tuesday became the 31st state to embrace the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. That's a big deal. The decision means 300,000 poor and working-class residents will soon have access to comprehensive, government-provided health insurance. Those who enroll will be better off, financially and perhaps medically, according to the best and most recent research. But more than 4 million low-income Americans just like them still can’t get onto Medicaid. That’s because officials in their states despise Obamacare and have refused to expand the program’s eligibility. (Jonathan Cohn, 1/14)
Des Moines Register:
Medicaid Plan Could Be Zero Sum Gain, Or Worse
So now it turns out that two of the four insurance companies the state has picked to replace it in administering health benefits to the poor have a history of denying claims, allegedly without cause, to save money. Who could have seen that coming? (Rekha Basu, 1/15)
Lexington Herald Leader:
Bevin’s Dis-Kynect Bad For Business
It’s disappointing that Gov. Matt Bevin felt compelled to follow through on an illogical position that he staked out early in his campaign, based on limited knowledge. Bevin’s decision to move forward with dismantling Kynect, Kentucky’s much-praised health insurance exchange, flies in the face of the classic conservative belief that state control is better than federal control. (1/14)
Kansas City Star:
Can Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Recognize A Nightmare?
Does Sam Brownback ever experience 3 a.m. regrets? As a restless sleeper myself, I wonder about this. In those dark hours when you can’t do much except worry, does the governor of Kansas contemplate the awful mess confronting his state and think, “What have I done?” ... “The State of our State is strong,” the governor said in his annual address. But it isn’t. The federal government has cut off Medicare payments for new patients at Osawatomie State Hospital after its inspectors found shocking security violations at the facility for mentally ill people who pose a danger to themselves and others. ... There is no money to solve problems, much less invest in Kansas’ future. (Barbara Shelly, 1/14)
Our Turn: Awareness, Empathy Key In Addiction Fight
In recent years, we have witnessed the increasing pain and suffering inflicted by heroin and opioid addiction in communities in our districts and across the country. We, like many of our constituents, have seen firsthand how this tragic epidemic has affected our own friends and loved ones, and by sharing their stories we hope to put a face to the addiction crisis. The statistics surrounding drug addiction and overdose are truly staggering. (Rep Annie Kuster and Rep. Frank Guinta, 1/15)
Add A Little Sugar To Nutrition Labels
Americans have a sweet tooth, and the obesity and diabetes rates to prove it. The best way to help people eat less sugar is to let them know how much of it is in their foods. Yet a sensible plan to inform consumers about the amount of sugar added to packaged products is under fire from the food industry and politicians. The Food and Drug Administration should stand strong and stick with the plan when it issues its final rules later this year. (1/14)
Lexington Herald Tribune:
Don’t Fall For The Lies From Big Marijuana
In response to the column, “Stop waste of money, lives in criminalizing pot,” let me say that I agree with Sen. Perry B. Clark on one point: America is being bamboozled. We are being bamboozled by Big Marijuana. (Frank Rapier, 1/14)