- KFF Health News Original Stories 3
- Students With Addictions Immersed In The Sober Life At ‘Recovery’ High Schools
- Trump Zeroes In On Surprise Medical Bills In White House Chat With Patients, Experts
- Listen: 'Death Certificate Project' Aims At Opioid Crisis, But Doctors Cry Foul
- Political Cartoon: 'Take Your Best Shot?'
- Government Policy 2
- Trump Targets Surprise Medical Billing As Administration Pushes For More Transparency In Health Care Pricing
- The Ripple Effects Of The Shutdown: ACA Marketplace Instability, Native American Heath Care, And Premiums For Furloughed Workers
- Coverage And Access 1
- What Is The Cause Of America's Rising Uninsured Rates? Republicans Blame High Premiums, While Dems Say 'Sabotage'
- Marketplace 1
- Trade Secrets Lawsuit Hints At How Health Industry Is Braced For New Initiative Launched By Billionaires
- Women’s Health 1
- Abortion-Rights Movement Sets Sights On State-Level Gains: '2019 Holds Real Promise For Progress'
- Administration News 1
- Trump Administration Rules Foster Program That Only Works With Heterosexual Couples Can Receive Federal Funding
- Opioid Crisis 1
- As Families Scramble To Find Good Treatment Programs During Opioid Epidemic, Addiction Specialists Offer Guidelines
- Public Health 2
- There Were Horrified Researchers Who Knew About Scientist's Embryo Gene-Editing Plans, But They Had Nowhere To Turn
- Eating Fried Foods Linked To Heart Disease, Earlier Deaths In Women Over 50
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: New York Inmates With Mental Illness Have Extended Stays, Suit Alleges; Colorado Governor Opens Office To Curb Health Care Costs
- Health Policy Research 1
- Research Roundup: FDA Approvals; Medicaid And Justice-Involved Populations; And The Shutdown
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
At one Seattle public school, students earn their diplomas while attending daily support groups and meeting with counselors to help them stay off drugs and alcohol. There are about 40 similar schools around the country, both public and private, and more are on the drawing board. (Anna Gorman, )
Patients and doctors got a chance to share their nightmarish experiences with medical bills with President Donald Trump and other top White House officials. (Emmarie Huetteman, )
A radio report on an effort in California to hold doctors responsible when a patient overdoses on opioids. Doctors say it is unfair, but the state medical board defends the new project. (April Dembosky, KQED, )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Take Your Best Shot?'" by Ann Telnaes.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
'I FELT SAFE THERE'
Help students earn diplomas
While staying sober.
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:
"We're going to stop all of it, and it's very important to me," President Donald Trump said during a health care roundtable. Surprise billing -- the practice of charging patients for care that is more expensive than anticipated or not covered by their insurance -- has been regarded as a possible bipartisan issue a divided Congress might tackle.
Trump Calls For Cracking Down On Surprise Medical Bills
President Trump on Wednesday spoke out against surprise medical bills that patients often cannot afford, highlighting an issue that has received bipartisan concern in Congress. “The health care system too often harms people with some unfair surprises ... medical bills and the like,” Trump said at a roundtable at the White House, along with patients who had received unexpectedly large bills from hospitals. (Sullivan, 1/23)
Trump Vows To End Balance Billing
"We're going to stop all of it, and it's very important to me," Trump said as cameras rolled during the portion of a roundtable discussion on healthcare with his top deputies and patients from around the country with stories of unexpected high medical costs. Senators from both parties are currently working on legislation to stop insurers and hospitals from leaving patients to foot the bill for high and unexpected medical bills. (Luthi, 1/23)
Kaiser Health News:
Trump Zeroes In On Surprise Medical Bills In White House Chat With Patients, Experts
David Silverstein, the founder of a Colorado-based nonprofit called Broken Healthcare who attended, said Trump struck an aggressive tone, calling for a solution with “the biggest teeth you can find.” “Reading the tea leaves, I think there’s big change coming,” Silverstein said. Surprise billing, or the practice of charging patients for care that is more expensive than anticipated or not covered by their insurance, has received a flood of attention in the past year, particularly as Kaiser Health News and other news organizations have undertaken investigations into patients’ most outrageous medical bills. (Huetteman, 1/23)
Check out KHN and NPR's Bill of the Month series, that dissects and explains medical bills to shed light on U.S. health care prices and to help patients learn how to be more active in managing costs.
Media outlets look at how the continued partial government shutdown is felt across the health care industry. Insurers say rule-making delays have left them scrambling to make key decisions about future participation in the ACA’s health-insurance exchanges; funding for Native American health services dwindles; and more consequences.
The Wall Street Journal:
Shutdown Poses Risk To Health Care
The longest-ever U.S. government shutdown is posing new risks to the Affordable Care Act and some health services, prompting alarm from insurers, providers and congressional Democrats who say the impasse could harm consumers and undermine the stability of the individual insurance market. Ongoing staffing shortages at the Internal Revenue Service could lead to higher premiums for some consumers who need tax credits to help pay their health-insurance premiums, Democrats say. (Armour, 1/23)
Furloughed Federal Workers May Lose Some Health Benefits: U.S. Senators
Four U.S. senators expressed concern on Wednesday that federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown could lose their dental and vision health insurance benefits if they are unable to pay their premiums. In a letter to the government's Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Democratic Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin said forcing workers to pay the premiums during the shutdown would be "unacceptable." (1/23)
The Washington Post:
Federal Workers Affected By Partial Shutdown To Be Billed For Dental, Vision Coverage
The workers are not at risk of losing their health insurance benefits, which will stay in effect through the duration of the shutdown — and for as long as a year — even if they are not receiving a paycheck, with their accumulated premiums deducted from their pay once their agency reopens. However, that protection does not extend to vision and dental insurance, and starting with their second missed paycheck at the end of this week, employees will be billed directly for premiums for dental and vision coverage. If the shutdown continues for another two weeks into a third missed pay period, the company that provides long-term care insurance to federal workers also will start billing them directly. (Rein and Yoder, 1/23)
Amid Government Shutdown, Workers Face Health Struggles
The government shutdown has hit much more than some workers' wallets -- it has affected their health. Tamela Worthen hasn't been able to afford her diabetes medication in a week, she said. Yvette Hicks said that her children haven't been able to receive their proper asthma treatment. John Kostelnik said he won't be able to find out whether he has cancer until the shutdown is over. (Howard and Bracho-Sanchez, 1/22)
Shutdown Highlights Desire For Action On Indian Health
The shutdown is putting a strain on health care services for American Indians, but lawmakers hope it can be an inflection point in addressing some of the troubled Indian Health Service’s problems. The Indian Health Service provides care for 2.2 million American Indians either through direct care at its facilities, care purchased from third-parties or funding to tribes who run their own health systems. (Siddons, 1/23)
The Washington Post:
Americans Across The Country Are Helping Feed Federal Workers As The Shutdown Enters Its Second Month
They are the workers whose jobs serve the people of the United States. But as the partial government shutdown enters its second month, with no apparent end in sight, thousands of government employees now are relying on the people of the United States to help them feed their own families. It’s like one giant government bread line — except for government workers. The outpouring of support has been widespread and creative, high-profile and grass-roots. For every relief kitchen opened by José Andrés and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen — the celebrity chef and humanitarian recently said more kitchens are coming after the first one debuted last week in Washington — there are countless small markets and programs. (Carman, 1/23)
A new report has found that the percentage of adults without health insurance climbed to 13.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, from 12.4 percent a year earlier and a low of 10.9 percent in 2016.
The New York Times:
After Falling Under Obama, America’s Uninsured Rate Looks To Be Rising
The number of Americans without health insurance plunged after Obamacare started. Now, early evidence suggests, it’s beginning to climb again. New polling from Gallup shows that the percentage of uninsured Americans inched up throughout last year. That trend matches other data suggesting that health coverage has been eroding under the policies of the Trump administration. (Sanger-Katz, 1/23)
The Wall Street Journal:
More Americans Lack Health Insurance, New Survey Finds
The percentage of adults without health insurance climbed to 13.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018, from 12.4% a year earlier and a low of 10.9% in 2016, according to a closely followed Gallup report released Wednesday. The Gallup data is based on self-reported responses from tens of thousands of adults, and has been used in reports produced by policy makers. About seven million more Americans lacked health insurance in the fourth quarter compared with the 2016 period, according to Gallup. Women, low-income people and younger adults saw the greatest rise in the uninsured rate, the poll found. (Armour, 1/23)
Uninsured Rate At Highest Level Since 2014
Gallup says ObamaCare's premium increases in recent years could contribute to a higher uninsured rate. The administration's funding cuts to ObamaCare's marketing and outreach budget could also have effected uninsured rates, Gallup said. Other factors include a shorter enrollment period and confusion caused by the GOP's efforts to repeal and replace the law in 2017, the survey states. (Hellmann, 1/23)
Texas is leading the charge against the health law in courts, but it could cost the state billions. And, as of now, there doesn't seem to be a plan in place if the Republicans win. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers had to reverse course after saying he directed the state's attorney general to withdraw from the suit.
Texas Is Leading The Fight To Kill Obamacare — But Has No Plan If It Wins
Texas may have won a big battle against Obamacare in court. But it could cost the state billions in lost subsidies, leave a million Texans without insurance and turn health systems upside down. And if the state has any plan to deal with a world without Obamacare, it’s a very well-kept secret. (Rayasam, 1/23)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Tony Evers Not Directing Josh Kaul To Withdraw From Lawsuit After All
Less than 24 hours after Gov. Tony Evers told a statewide audience he is directing the state's attorney general to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, he reversed himself. Evers in his first State of the State address Tuesday said he "fulfilled a promise I made to the people of Wisconsin by directing Attorney General (Josh) Kaul to withdraw from a lawsuit that would gut coverage for 2.4 million Wisconsinites who have pre-existing conditions." (Beck and Marley, 1/23)
And in other news on the health law —
Dem Chairman Schedules Hearing On Pre-Existing Conditions
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) will hold a hearing next week on protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions. The hearing will be one of the committee's first since Democrats regained the majority. No other information about the hearing, including who will testify, has been announced yet. (Hellmann, 1/22)
"From the minute we first became aware of the crime, we have virtually worked nonstop seven days a week to resolve this case," Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said in announcing the arrest Wednesday morning. The case is just one of several high-profile assaults that have brought attention to the quality of care and protection that nursing facilities are providing.
Nurse Arrested In Sexual Assault Of Incapacitated Woman At Phoenix Facility
Phoenix police arrested a 36-year-old nurse at Hacienda HealthCare facility, alleging he sexually assaulted and impregnated an incapacitated woman at the center. The woman gave birth to a boy Dec. 29. Staff members told a 911 operator that they had not known she was pregnant. "From the minute we first became aware of the crime, we have virtually worked non stop seven days a week to resolve this case," Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said in announcing the arrest Wednesday morning. (Burkitt, Shuman and Harris, 1/23)
The New York Times:
Nurse Charged With Sexual Assault Of Woman In Vegetative State Who Gave Birth
Detectives at the Phoenix Police Department took the nurse, Nathan Sutherland, 36, in for questioning in the case on Tuesday, the police said, and collected a DNA sample from him that matched that of the child, a boy who was born on Dec. 29. Mr. Sutherland was booked on Wednesday morning at the Maricopa County Jail on one charge of sexual assault and one charge of vulnerable adult abuse, the police said. “Through a combination of good old-fashioned police work, combing through evidence, talking to people and following up on information, combined with the marvels of DNA technology, we were able to identify and develop probable cause to arrest a suspect,” Jeri L. Williams, the Police Department’s chief, said at a news conference on Wednesday. (Haag, 1/23)
Hacienda HealthCare Sexual-Assault Case: Who Is Nathan Sutherland?
Phoenix police announced the arrest of Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old nurse at Hacienda HealthCare facility, who they accuse of raping and impregnating an incapacitated woman in his care. The woman gave birth to a baby Dec. 29. Staff members told a 911 operator that they had not known she was pregnant. (Burkitt, 1/23)
The Associated Press:
Lawyer: No Proof Nurse Raped Arizona Patient Who Had Baby
The surprise birth late last month triggered reviews by state agencies, highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated and led to disciplinary actions and resignations of staffers and managers. It also prompted authorities to test the DNA of all the men who worked at the Hacienda HealthCare facility. (Tang, 1/23)
Community Outrage At Hacienda Rape Could Result In New Arizona Laws
Outrage over a "monstrous and unspeakable crime" may lead to more oversight of vulnerable patients in Arizona. The rape of a 29-year-old patient at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix shows "failure at every level," Arizona House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma, told a standing-room-only crowd that filled an old Arizona Supreme Court room at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. (Innes, 1/23)
How To Protect A Loved One From Sexual Assault Or Abuse In A Nursing Home
It's the stuff of nightmares: Your loved one, who you thought was being well cared for in a long-term care facility or nursing home, was physically abused, raped or even impregnated. And you had no idea it was happening. The family of a 23-year-old developmentally disabled women faced that horrific reality last February, after authorities discovered signs of sexual assault and a broken hip while she was living at a healthcare facility in Pensacola, Florida. The violent assault resulted in a pregnancy and later miscarriage, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday. (LaMotte, 1/18)
Optum, one of the nation's largest health insurers, wants the courts to block one of its former executives from sharing confidential corporate information with the health venture that was launched by Amazon, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Berkshire Hathaway.
Concerned About Gawande’s New Venture, Optum Sues Over Trade Secrets
One of the nation’s largest health insurers has filed a federal lawsuit to protect its trade secrets from the health care venture launched by Amazon, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Berkshire Hathaway, making it clear it sees the upstart company as posing a major threat to its business on a national scale. The lawsuit, filed by Optum Inc. in Massachusetts District Court in Boston on Jan. 16, seeks a court order to block one of its former executives, David Smith, from sharing confidential corporate information he allegedly accessed just before he was hired by the new health care company last month. (Sheridan and Ross, 1/23)
In other health industry news —
Juul Labs Lobbies Lawmakers
The presence of Juul e-cigarettes in high schools across the country is increasing — and so is Juul Labs' lobbying presence in the nation's capital. The company, which bills its product as "a satisfying alternative to cigarettes," spent $750,000 on lobbying during the last three months of 2018, according to lobbying disclosure forms filed with Congress on Tuesday. (McMinn, 1/23)
While anti-abortion advocates are pivoting to focus on Senate confirmations of judicial nominees and federal rules, abortion-rights groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood see their opening on the state level.
Abortion-Rights Groups Bet On States
Abortion-rights groups facing challenges at the federal level are seizing on gains from the midterm elections and enthusiasm at the start of state legislative sessions to push progressive bills in Democratic-controlled states. There is an “incredible energy and momentum for proactive policies with states with new champions for reproductive health in governors’ offices and state legislatures,” said Leana Wen, the physician at the helm of Planned Parenthood, who says the group will work to repeal abortion restrictions and introduce bills to expand access. (Raman, 1/23)
Meanwhile, in Wyoming —
Wyoming Public Radio:
Legislature Considers 48 Hour Waiting Period For Abortion
A bill restricting women's access to abortion received initial approval Tuesday from the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 140 requires a woman seeking an abortion to first meet with a provider and then wait 48 hours before terminating her pregnancy. (Watson, 1/23)
“The government should not be in the business of forcing foster care providers to close their doors because of their faith," said Lynn Johnson, HHS's assistant secretary for children and families. Under the Obama administration, the program had been found to violate an anti-discrimination regulation.
Trump Admin Grants Religious Exemption To Federally-Funded Foster Care Program
The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will allow a ministry in South Carolina that only works with heterosexual Christian families to participate in a federally funded foster care program. That means Miracle Hill Ministries can receive federal funding to participate in the program while not working with non-Christians, or those who identify as LGBT. (Hellmann, 1/23)
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's decision on transgender troops sparks concerns —
St. Louis Public Radio:
St. Louisans Decry Supreme-Court Decision To Uphold Trump's Ban On Transgender Troops
Many St. Louisans are dismayed by a U.S. Supreme Court decision to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. The decision by the justices on Tuesday allows the Pentagon to stop people who’ve transitioned from enlisting in the U.S. armed forces. It also permits the military to require those already serving to present as the gender on their birth certificate. (Fowler, 1/23)
Families often don't know where to get help for addictions that killed 130 people a day in 2017. Two groups hoping to change that are piloting a national certification program. News on the national drug epidemic looks at recovery high schools and the "death certificate program," as well.
Addiction Treatment: Where Are The Doctors? Help May Be On The Way
Fact is, more than a decade into a nationwide epidemic, many physicians in the United States may not know where to send people with an opioid addiction. So the addiction that killed more than 130 people a day in 2017 has families turning to the only people who they think know what to do: Each other. (DeMio, 1/23)
Kaiser Health News:
Students With Addictions Immersed In The Sober Life At ‘Recovery’ High Schools
It’s the last class period of the day. The students lean back on couches and take turns describing the most important day of their lives: the day they became sober. For Marques Martinez, that date was Nov. 15, 2016. Until then, he had used OxyContin, Xanax and nearly every other drug he could get his hands on, he said. He had been suspended from school for selling drugs. “I knew what I was doing was bad,” he said. “But I didn’t think there was another way.” (Gorman, 1/24)
Kaiser Health News:
Listen: ‘Death Certificate Project’ Aims At Opioid Crisis, But Doctors Cry Foul
On “All Things Considered” Thursday, KQED’s April Dembosky reports on the California medical board’s Death Certificate Project, which collected almost 3,000 death certificates of people who died of opioid overdoses, then cross-referenced those with the state’s drug prescription database. The board then sent letters to more than 500 doctors throughout the state who had prescribed the drugs to the people who died. The board has filed formal charges against 25 doctors, and left hundreds more, like Dr. Ako Jacintho of San Francisco, waiting to learn their fate. (Dembosky, 1/23)
The gene-editing work conducted on human embryos by one person sent shockwaves through the field. Although researchers don't agree what the next steps forward should be, most say there needs to be something done to stop rogue scientists. In other public health news: the flu, medical tourism, spinal fractures, blood pressure medication, climate change, and more.
The New York Times:
How To Stop Rogue Gene-Editing Of Human Embryos?
A year ago, Dr. Matthew Porteus, a genetics researcher at Stanford, received an out-of-the-blue email from a young Chinese scientist, asking to meet. A few weeks later, the scientist, He Jiankui, arrived in his office and dropped a bombshell. He said he had approval from a Chinese ethics board to create pregnancies using human embryos that he had genetically edited, a type of experiment that had never been carried out before and is illegal in many countries. “I spent probably 40 minutes or so telling him in no uncertain terms how wrong that was, how reckless,” Dr. Porteus said in a recent interview. (Belluck, 1/23)
Flu Science Points To Another Culprit When Vaccines Fail — Us
A growing body of evidence suggests that sometimes our immune systems simply don’t follow the instructions a vaccine tries to give them — that is, make antibodies to fight a particular H3N2 or H1N1 virus. The reason? We all have flu baggage that shapes the way our immune systems respond to both infections and vaccines. ...The idea is that the first flu viruses your immune system encounters make indelible marks on it. A person born in 1970 whose first influenza A infection was caused by an H3N2 virus will always mount a better immune response to H3N2 viruses — or that component of the vaccine — than she will to an H1N1 virus or vaccine. (Branswell, 1/24)
The Washington Post:
U.S. Medical Tourists In Tijuana Contract Rare, Antibiotic-Resistant Infection
Tamika Capone thought she was making a smart call by traveling to Mexico for bariatric surgery. Her doctor had urged her to have the procedure to reduce her out-of-control weight and blood pressure. But her husband’s health insurance would not cover the $17,500 bill. After a friend got the surgery in Tijuana for $4,000, Capone decided to do the same. Nearly four months later, the Arkansas woman is one of at least a dozen U.S. residents who returned from surgeries in Tijuana with a rare and potentially deadly strain of bacteria resistant to virtually all antibiotics, say federal health officials. Some in the group recovered, but Capone, 40, remains seriously ill despite being treated with a barrage of drugs. (Sun, 1/23)
The New York Times:
Spinal Fractures Can Be Terribly Painful. A Common Treatment Isn’t Helping.
Scientists warned osteoporosis patients on Thursday to avoid two common procedures used to shore up painful fractures in crumbling spines. The treatments, which involve injecting bone cement into broken vertebrae, relieve pain no better than a placebo does, according to an expert task force convened by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. (Kolata, 1/24)
The New York Times:
Her Daughter, Born With A Dangerous Infection, Needs Close Care
For Luisa Estefany Jimenez, silence is elusive, sleep even more so. At all hours, her eldest daughter, Jasleen, 9, emits screams and moans that echo through their apartment, threatening to wake the neighbors. The clangs and bangs of thrown objects don’t help. Ms. Jimenez said caring for Jasleen, who is deaf and has trouble communicating, has made her feel perpetually unsettled. She has two other daughters, as well, and is candid about feeling overwhelmed. (Otis, 1/23)
Why Have So Many Blood Pressure Medications Been Recalled Lately?
The FDA inspects foreign factories that make drugs for U.S. companies. It was during these inspections the FDA discovered unacceptable levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA. Further testing revealed the presence of N-Nitrosodiethylamine, or NDEA, in batches of valsartan. The majority of the recalled drugs were produced in the Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical factory in Linhai, China, USA Today reported, and the FDA issued an import alert, preventing its drugs from being shipped to the United States. (Clanton, 1/23)
Climate Change Will Affect How Many Boys Are Born Worldwide, Scientists Say
Global warming will have a variety of effects on our planet, yet it may also directly impact our human biology, research suggests. Specifically, climate change could alter the proportion of male and female newborns, with more boys born in places where temperatures rise and fewer boys born in places with other environmental changes, such as drought or wildfire caused by global warming. (Scutti, 1/23)
'I Figured It Was Going To Be A Horrible Death, And It Probably Will Be'
Over the past year, NPR and the PBS program Frontline have interviewed dozens of miners across Appalachia with black lung. The interviews with miners like Muncy were part of an investigation that found federal regulators, despite mounting evidence and a stream of dire warnings, failed to protect coal miners. (Schuknecht, 1/23)
In Thailand, Tracking Animal Health To Prevent Outbreaks Of Human Disease
Animals in regions that are geographically remote present particular challenges for disease containment. But in Thailand, local residents are using technology, including digital scanning, to track animals and stop outbreaks before they start. (de Sam Lazaro, 1/23)
Health Effects Of Pregnancy Can Last A Lifetime
Melody Lynch-Kimery had a fairly routine pregnancy. But when she got to the hospital for delivery, she says, things quickly turned frightening. After an emergency cesarean section, Lynch-Kimery hemorrhaged; she heard later she'd lost about half the blood in her body. "I just kept thinking 'I'm not going to die. I'm not going to die. I'm not going to let you let me die,'" she says. (Bavis, 1/24)
Increased risk of premature death was 12 percent higher for once-a-week consumption. Because more than a third of adults reportedly eat at fast food restaurants where fried foods take center stage, nutritionists suggest lowering intake. Nutrition news also looks at problems with popular diets and hypertension when you're younger.
The New York Times:
Fried Foods Tied To Heart Disease In Women
Eating fried foods may increase the risk of heart disease and death in women over 50. Researchers used health and dietary data on 106,966 postmenopausal women enrolled in a large health study between 1993 and 1998, and followed their health through the beginning of 2017. (Bakalar, 1/23)
These Are The Hidden Pitfalls Of Popular Diets You Just Resolved To Follow
If you've resolved to eat healthier at one point or another, you may have been enticed by popular nutrition trends, like organic or gluten-free eating, or even vegetarianism. Although these seemingly healthy eating styles may be tempting to try, if you're not careful with what or how much you eat, you could end up sabotaging your efforts and gaining weight. "People get caught up on going gluten-free, organic, low-sugar or whatever but then totally disregard portions, which can lead to significant weight gain over time," said Lisa Young, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of "Finally Full, Finally Slim: 30 Days to Permanent Weight Loss One Portion at a Time." (Drayer, 1/23)
The New York Times:
Even Modest Blood Pressure Elevation In Young Adults May Take A Toll On The Brain
Elevated blood pressure in people under 40 is associated with reduced brain volume, a new study has found. The effect was apparent even in people with blood pressure readings in the range generally considered normal. The analysis, published in Neurology, included 423 adults between 19 and 40 who had their blood pressure measured and underwent M.R.I. examinations of the brain. Researchers divided the blood pressure findings into categories increasing in four steps from under 120/80 to greater than 140/90. (Bakalar, 1/23)
Media outlets report on news from New York, Colorado, Oregon, California, Florida, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Connecticut, Washington, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Ohio.
The New York Times:
Mentally Ill Prisoners Are Held Past Release Dates, Lawsuit Claims
On paper, a 31-year-old man found to have serious mental illnesses was released from a New York state prison in September 2017 after serving 10 years behind bars for two robberies. But in reality, the man, who asked to be identified by his initials C.J., still wakes up each day inside a maximum-security prison in Stormville. Though he is technically free, he is still confined to a cell because of a Kafkaesque bureaucratic dilemma: The state requires people like him to be released to a supportive housing facility, but there is not one available. (Southall, 1/23)
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Creates Office To Focus On Health Care Costs
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, following up on an initiative he revealed earlier this month, signed an executive order Wednesday that will create a state office devoted to finding ways to curb health care costs. The Office of Saving People Money on Health Care will focus on reducing costs associated with hospital stays, insurance and prescription drugs, along with finding ways to improve price transparency. (Seaman, 1/23)
State May Face Lawsuits For Forcing Mentally Ill People Out Of Facilities
The Oregon Health Authority could face two lawsuits alleging the agency hurt people with severe mental illness by forcing them out of treatment homes based on decisions by embattled contractor Kepro. Attorneys for two mentally ill people put the state on notice in recent months that they may sue. The tort filings mark the first signs of possible legal repercussions for the state as it continues to reckon with a program faulted by advocates for repeatedly putting vulnerable people in harm’s way. (Zarkhin, 1/23)
Los Angeles Times:
Gov. Gavin Newsom Makes Aggressive, Early Moves On His Gun Control Agenda For California
Gavin Newsom won the governorship in part by touting his leadership on gun control as the architect of Proposition 63, a 2016 initiative that put him at loggerheads with the National Rifle Assn. Now, in his first weeks in office, Newsom has already moved to significantly reduce the number of Californians with firearms. Gun rights advocates are sounding almost nostalgic for his predecessor, fellow Democrat Jerry Brown, a gun owner who signed several far-reaching gun control measures, including a ban on the sale of long guns to those under age 21, but vetoed others. (McGreevy, 1/25)
Health News Florida:
State Medicaid Changes Come Under Fire
Florida has put in place sweeping changes to its main health-care safety net program over the last several months, but legislators on Tuesday received an earful about ongoing problems with the $28 billion Medicaid program. Some of the changes include new five-year Medicaid contracts with managed-care plans, as well as changes in payments to behavioral analysis providers who treat children with autism. (Sexton, 1/23)
New Hampshire Public Radio:
Report: Students Of Color And Students With Disabilities Twice As Likely To Face Suspension
A report from the Juvenile Reform Project, a coalition of New Hampshire advocacy organizations, says that school discipline in New Hampshire is disproportionately harsh on students of color and students with disabilities. The report, which will be released publicly the week of January 27, draws on data from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. (Gibson, 1/23)
Minnesotans Share Their Stories Of Traveling For Labor And Delivery Services
Initial research suggests that new risks arise when women live far away from a hospital with a maternity unit. One study from researchers at the University of Minnesota shows that the rate of preterm births and deliveries without an obstetrics team rise in communities where OB obstetrics care has disappeared. (Richert, 1/23)
Health Center To Serve 5,000 New Patients, Partner With UC Davis
A new partnership with UC Davis Health will allow Sacramento County to provide care for 5,000 new patients at the county’s health center, according to the county. The Sacramento County Health Center offers primary and behavioral health care for low-income residents and Medi-Cal and Medicare enrollees. (Darden, 1/23)
The CT Mirror:
Nonprofits Press CT To Privatize More Social Services
Connecticut’s private, nonprofit social service agencies released an agenda Wednesday that includes further privatization of state-sponsored services. Officials with the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance also urged legislators to resolve a growing disagreement over the municipal tax status of nonprofit agencies. (Phaneuf, 1/23)
The Wall Street Journal:
Washington State Becomes Latest Hot Spot In Measles Outbreak
The U.S. is experiencing outbreaks of measles, a disease it had declared eliminated years ago, largely due to a drop in vaccination rates in some areas. An outbreak in Washington state has sickened 23 people this month, mostly children under 10. Local health officials in Clark County, near Portland, Ore., declared a public-health emergency on Friday and are urging residents to track potential symptoms and call ahead before heading to medical centers. (Abbott, 1/23)
Poll: Californians Want Leaders To Expand Mental Health Care
Californians indicated In a survey released Thursday that they want state leaders to put a priority on ensuring that people with mental health conditions can get access to treatment, with 49 percent saying it’s extremely important and 39 percent saying it’s very important. The Kaiser Family Foundation and California Health Care Foundation designed and conducted the poll of 1,404 Californians in November and December, looking to gauge health care priorities and experiences in a state considered a leader in health-care trends. (Anderson, 1/24)
School Shocks Students With Disabilities. The FDA Is Moving To Ban The Practice
Luigi Disisto is a 47-year-old man who has autism and lives at a private special education center based in suburban Boston best known for being the only school in the country that shocks its students with disabilities to control their behavior. Disisto wears a backpack equipped with a battery and wires that are attached to his body to deliver a two-second shock if he misbehaves. The controversial practice at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center has pitted family members, who swear it has been the only way to control their loved ones, against critics who call it torture. (McKim, 1/23)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Advocate Aurora Health To Buy Remaining Stake In Marinette Hospital
Advocate Aurora Health has signed an agreement to buy the 51 percent of Bay Area Medical Center in Marinette that it does not own. The agreement calls for Advocate Aurora Health to contribute $25 million to a new foundation that would focus on supporting health and wellness programs in the Marinette area and at the hospital. (Boulton, 1/23)
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Ochsner And Lambeth House Partner Using Telehealth To Care For Dementia Patients
The staff at Lambeth House, a retirement community in New Orleans, recognized that this was a problem for the 16 residents who live in their memory unit called Mercer’s Way. The residents in this unit have moderate to progressed forms of dementia, a term used to describe the progressive and steady decline of mental function. The most common form of which is Alzheimer’s disease, which affects about 5.7 million U.S. adults. Patients with moderate dementia often exhibit poor judgment, use of inappropriate language, a tendency to wander as well as problems with personal hygiene. Those with severe dementia will experience extensive memory loss, limited or no mobility, trouble swallowing, as well as difficulty recognizing family members and caregivers. (Clark, 1/23)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio Parole Board Is Secretive And ‘Frighteningly Unfair,’ Former Member Shirley Smith Says
A former state senator who recently left the Ohio Parole Board is now speaking out against it, painting it as a “secret society” whose members make decisions on inmates’ futures using inconsistent, biased or racist reasoning, often after missing hearings or being distracted by food or other work. Cleveland Democrat Shirley Smith, in an op-ed submitted to Ohio media outlets and in a follow-up interview with cleveland.com, called for an independent investigation of the nine-member board, claiming she “witnessed strongly biased opinions regarding cases, unprofessional behavior, unethical decisions, and a frighteningly unfair practice of tribal morality.” (Pelzer, 1/23)
Arizona To Get $2.4 Million In Case Involving Hip-Replacement Marketing
Arizona will receive a $2.4 million share from a settlement in a case involving false marketing claims about hip replacements, the state Attorney General's Office said Wednesday. The deal is part of a larger $120 million settlement involving 45 other states and DePuy orthopedics, whose parent company is Johnson & Johnson, according to the Attorney General's Office. (Smith, 1/23)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Winter Storm, Flu Season Drastically Decrease Blood Supply Available In Northeast Ohio, Nation
The American Red Cross and Vitalant blood bank are urging people to give blood. Winter storms this past weekend and cold and flu season rendering people unable to give are causing a drastic dip in local supplies. Snowstorm Harper prevented people from getting out to give blood, forcing Vitalant in Northeast Ohio to cancel blood drives, resulting in 55 lost blood units, they said. (Pledger, 1/24)
The Associated Press:
Hospital: 'Poor Decisions' By Staff Giving Outsize Pain Meds
An Ohio doctor's orders for potentially fatal doses of pain medicine given to at least 27 hospital patients were carried out by employees who "made poor decisions" and ignored existing safeguards, a top administrator told staff in an internal video. The Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System said it fired the intensive care doctor, reported its findings to authorities and has put six pharmacists and 14 nurses on paid leave pending further review. (1/23)
The Associated Press:
Doctor Reprimanded For Removing Wrong Man’s Kidney
A Massachusetts doctor who removed a kidney from the wrong patient has received a reprimand from the state. The Telegram & Gazette reports Tuesday that the state Board of Registration in Medicine issued its reprimand to Dr. Ankur Parikh last month after he admitted to the error. The board says in 2016 the urologist removed a healthy kidney from 65-year-old Albert Hubbard Jr. after mistakenly reading the CT scan of another man with the same name. (1/23)
DOJ Cracks Down On Stockton's 'School-To-Prison Pipeline' After Discrimination Findings
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced on Tuesday an agreement with the Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) aimed at ending systemwide discrimination against minority and disabled students after an investigation found schools frequently referred students to the district's police department for issues that could have been handled by administrators or teachers. The investigation found those practices had a disparate impact on African-American and Latino students and students with disabilities. (Hall, 1/23)
Colorado Bill Allowing Medical Marijuana Use For Autism Advances
A bill that would allow Coloradans with autism to use medical marijuana cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday. The bill — sponsored by state Reps. Edie Hooton, a Boulder Democrat, and Kim Ransom, a Littleton Republican — would add autism spectrum disorder to the list of conditions that qualify a patient to receive a medical marijuana card with a doctor’s recommendation.Neither bill sponsor has a child with autism, but both invoked parenthood when introducing the bill. (Garcia, 1/23)
State House News Service:
Baker Wants Law Applying OUI Statutes To Marijuana
As the number of stores selling marijuana in Massachusetts grows, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday announced he'll ask lawmakers to adopt the recommendations of a special commission that studied ways to deal with operating under the influence. (Young, 1/23)
Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.
JAMA Internal Medicine:
Physicians’ Perspectives On FDA Approval Standards And Off-Label Drug Marketing.
Recently, 2 fundamental aspects of the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) pharmaceutical market oversight have become controversial. First, the FDA created and increasingly uses expedited development and approval pathways, emphasizing greater reliance on postmarketing drug data.1 Some argue that approval standards are becoming inappropriately low and postapproval evaluation too lax. (Kesselheim et al, 1/22)
Health Care For Justice-Involved Populations: Role Of Medicaid
With many states expanding Medicaid eligibility, individuals leaving jail or prison are now often able to enroll in health coverage upon release. It is increasingly clear, however, that coverage alone is insufficient to address the often complex health and social needs of people who cycle between costly hospital and jail stays. (Guyer, 1/11)
The Shutdown Through The Lens Of Families And Children
The longest-ever government shutdown will soon enter its fifth week. The shutdown has disrupted much more than government services like airport security screenings or tax return processing. Thousands of American families and their children now face mounting instability and hardship. (Abare, 1/18)
Medication Treatment For Opioid Use Disorders In Substance Use Treatment Facilities
Medication treatment (MT) is one of the few evidence-based strategies proposed to combat the current opioid epidemic. We examined national trends and correlates of offering MT in substance use treatment facilities in the United States. According to data from national surveys, the proportion of these facilities that offered any MT increased from 20.0 percent in 2007 to 36.1 percent in 2016—mainly the result of increases in offering buprenorphine and extended-release naltrexone. Only 6.1 percent of facilities offered all three MT medications in 2016. Facilities in states with higher opioid overdose death rates, facilities that accepted health insurance overall (and, more specifically, those that accepted Medicaid in states that opted to expand eligibility for Medicaid), and facilities in states with more comprehensive coverage of MT under their Medicaid plans had higher odds of offering MT. The findings highlight the persistent unmet need for MT nationally and the role of expansion of health insurance in the dissemination of these treatments. (Mojtabai et al, 1/7)
Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
The Washington Post:
The U.S. Faces Real Crises. Why Is Trump Fixated On A Fake One?
The partial government shutdown, now into its fifth week, is a national crisis. The lack of a border wall — used to justify the shutdown — isn’t. ...What’s depressing is that one of the few crises on my list that Trump has tried to address is opioids. He signed legislation in October to combat this scourge. But, showing where his priorities lie, he has tweeted about opioids only 16 times, compared with 627 tweets about the border. At least that’s better than his response to climate change, which he treats as a joke. Or his response to gun violence: He won’t do anything meaningful because he is so beholden to the National Rifle Association. (Max Boot, 1/23)
How To Talk To Your Kids About Vaping
Talking with your kids about vaping is one of the most important things you can do. I understand it may be difficult to broach the subject, that’s why we’ve launched a statewide public information campaign about vape pens and e-cigarettes and our website offers parents advice for how to have the conversation. (Monica Bharel, 1/24)
HIV Care Is Threatened By Proposed Changes To Medicare Part D
As a physician who has cared for individuals with HIV for more than three decades, and who has investigated treatment and prevention interventions for just as long, I’m worried about a recent proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Although the stated intention of the proposal is laudable, it will impose new obstacles to uninterrupted therapy by restricting access to HIV medications. (David Hardy, 1/24)
The Washington Post:
Where The Fight For Abortion Rights Will Take Place Next
New York stands to be an inflection point, adding powerful momentum to efforts to protect abortion rights and expand access in every state where it is possible. States such as Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico and Wisconsin are among the states that could be up next. It is true that if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned tomorrow, there are states where the hurdles to restore abortion access would be daunting, and in the short term, perhaps insurmountable. (Andrea Miller, 1/23)
Roe V. Wade Anniversary: Moving Home To Expand Texas' Abortion Access
That’s the fourth test, my best friend told me in a calm, but stern voice. I was pregnant. I sat in shock on the toilet seat, staring at all four positive pregnancy tests. How could this be? Taking birth control pills made me feel invincible; there was no way I could be pregnant. I was 17 years old and in a state of pure instability. With siblings away at college, no longer speaking to my father, and knowing my mother was processing the messy divorce that tore our family apart — I felt alone, lost and with nowhere to turn. (Sarah Valliere, 1/22)
Parents Must Talk To Teens About Mental Health History, Marijuana Risks
Nearly all young people whom I treat use marijuana. As a psychiatrist, I’ve cared for dozens of young people experiencing their first psychotic episode, and many are “wake-and-bakers” who use weed throughout the day. Marijuana is now legal for medicinal use in 33 states and recreational use in 10 states. (Marni Chanoff, 1/22)
San Jose Mercury News:
While Trump Tweets, Newsom Leads On Health Care
While President Trump and congressional Republicans roll back national progress toward universal health care, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposes changes to improve health outcomes, reduce the number of uninsured Californians and lower prescription drug prices. Newsom’s strategy puts him on a path to fulfill his campaign promises for universal health care and lower drug costs in California. (1/22)
The Washington Post:
In NYC, Teachers Will Soon Work Under A New Contract. Here’s Why 3,000 School Occupational And Physical Therapists Won’t.
Last month, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers ratified a new contract with the city’s Department of Education that provides a big wage increase for union-represented employees, which starts on Feb. 14. That made news, but this got less attention: the contract that wasn’t ratified. That one covers school nurses, occupational and physical therapists, and supervisors of nurses and therapists. The UFT reported that most of the 282 school nurses who cast ballots voted to ratify, but 64 percent of the 1,251 occupational therapists and physical therapists who cast ballots voted no. (Valerie Strauss, 1/23)
Des Moines Register:
Proposed Medicaid Work Requirement Is About Politics, Not Smart Policy
Here we go again. Republicans controlling the Iowa Legislature are revisiting the idea of imposing a “work requirement” on Medicaid recipients. The latest GOP rationale for making government health insurance contingent on employment: It could ease the state’s worker shortage. (1/22)
Los Angeles Times:
California Has Gone Crazy For Sketchy Stem Cell Treatments
In case you haven’t noticed, stem cell clinics are popping up everywhere. There are hundreds across the country, especially in California. The clinics peddle “vegan stem cell facials” or “stem cell vaginal rejuvenations” and claim the miracle cells can treat autism, baldness, dementia, diabetes, arthritis and paralysis all with a quick injection. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. There is no good scientific evidence the pricey treatments work, and there is growing evidence that some are dangerous, causing blindness, tumors and paralysis. Medical associations, the federal government and even Consumer Reports have all issued stern warnings to patients about the clinics. (Usha Lee McFarling, 1/23)