- KFF Health News Original Stories 3
- Beyond The Buzz: What Do Americans Mean By 'Medicare-For-All'?
- Soda Industry Steals Page From Tobacco To Combat Taxes On Sugary Drinks
- Hello? It's I, Robot, And Have I Got An Insurance Plan For You!
- Political Cartoon: 'Off-Label?'
- Elections 3
- Will Health Issues Swing The Elections? The Big Day Is Here
- Drugmakers Switch Gears This Year With Big Bankroll For Democrats
- Voters Across The Country Will Weigh Health-Related Ballot Questions
- Women’s Health 1
- Ark. Planned Parenthood Says It's Now In Compliance With Disputed Abortion Pill Law
- Health Care Personnel 1
- Otis Brawley, A Cancer Society Executive, Resigns; Fundraising Partnerships Partly To Blame
- Public Health 2
- Health Officials, Doctors Struggle To Explain Rise In Cases Of Polio-Like Illness
- Study: Women Who Are Early Risers Have Lower Risk Of Breast Cancer
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: New Program Expands Treatment For New Hampshire's Opioid Epidemic; Hospital, College Take Step To Improve Pediatricians' Training In Louisiana
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
KHN's news analysis on "Medicare-for-all" sparks a broader conversation. ( )
Voters in Oregon and Washington will decide whether to strip cities of the ability to tax sugary drinks. (Liz Szabo, )
An “epidemic” of robocalls timed to open-enrollment season are largely illegal, fraudulent or aim to rope you into insurance you don’t need or can’t use. They're also really annoying. (Barbara Feder Ostrov, )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Off-Label?'" by Mike Peters.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
WE BET YOU'VE HEARD: IT'S ELECTION DAY
Have you voted yet?
Last day for a midterm say.
It's good for your health.
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:
Candidates' messaging, campaign ads, and polls have all indicated that health care is one of the most important issues to voters in this year's midterm contests. Tonight's results will start to reveal if that narrative proves true. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump offers closing campaign arguments to their parties and key constituents.
Has Obamacare Become A Winning Issue For Democrats?
But after their catastrophe of 2016, when Hillary Clinton was criticised for lacking a clear message to compete with “Make America great again”, Democrats realised that a pure anti-Trump message would not be enough. Instead, many have maintained a laser-like focus on a single issue: protecting Americans’ healthcare. “In the midterms they were much more the pro-health insurance party than they were the anti-Trump party,” said Bill Galston, a veteran of six presidential campaigns and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington. “They worked very hard to avoid what was widely viewed as the mistake of 2016, which was to be seen as too anti-Trump.” (Smith, 11/6)
In These Eight Midterms Races, Health And Medicine Are Front And Center
In Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah, voters will directly decide whether their states should expand their Medicaid programs. In Wisconsin, they could elect a candidate for governor who has pledged to sharply curtail drug prices. And across the country, Democratic congressional candidates are running on platforms highlighting their support for protecting insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and lowering drug prices. Health care is on the ballot across the country, with issues ranging from medical marijuana to abortion rights to insurance coverage dominating the conversation. (Facher, 11/6)
Pelosi Urges Dems To 'Push' Health Care Message Day Before Midterms
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged Democrats to hone in on the issue of health care ahead of the midterm elections Tuesday. "I write to acknowledge the vital role Congressional Democrats played in protecting the Affordable Care Act and exposing the GOP’s monstrous health care agenda – and I urge all of us to continue to push this message in the next 24 hours," Pelosi wrote in a letter to House Democrats. (Hellmann, 11/5)
The New York Times:
Trump Closes Out A Campaign Built On Fear, Anger And Division
Mr. Trump spent Monday barnstorming the Midwest on behalf of allies in close races, drawing loud and enthusiastic crowds of thousands. At rallies in Cleveland; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and finally here in Cape Girardeau, his remarks were laced with his usual acerbic attacks on his adversaries — “radical,” “left-wing socialists,” “corrupt,” “the Democrat mob” — and accusations that Democrats would raise taxes, destroy Medicare and take over the American health care system. (Baker, Shear and Rogers, 11/5)
Pharmaceutical companies have contributed heavily to candidates, with 63 percent of their donations going to Democrats, Stat reports. And in other election-related news, KHN explains the "Medicare-for-all" buzz. Plus, how anti-vaccine supporters are backing candidates and a look at where the Georgia gubernatorial candidates stand on health issues.
As Election Day Nears, Pharma Spends More Heavily On Democrats
In the final weeks before Tuesday’s midterm elections, the pharmaceutical industry’s campaign donations have begun flowing heavily and unexpectedly in a new direction: toward Democrats. The party received a full 63 percent of the industry’s campaign contributions reported in the first half of October, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a new trend to cap off a tumultuous election cycle: Up to this point, just over half of drug industry money has flowed toward Republicans, and the GOP has received substantially more campaign cash from the pharmaceutical and health products industry in the past decade. (Facher, 11/6)
Kaiser Health News:
Beyond The Buzz: What Do Americans Mean By ‘Medicare-For-All’?
KHN's news analysis on "Medicare-for-all" sparks a broader conversation ahead of the midterm elections. (11/6)
How Antivax PACs Helped Shape Midterm Ballots
In other hotbeds of anti-vaccine sentiment, centrist conservatives who’ve championed similar bills have also been conspicuously missing from this year’s midterm ballots. Replacing them are candidates backed by well-financed organizations made up of members who either entertain the fraudulent science linking vaccines to autism, who believe their kids have had adverse vaccine reactions, or think the government shouldn’t dictate what goes in their children’s bodies. (Molteni, 11/5)
Georgia Health News:
Ga. Governor Candidates And Health Care
Graduate students at the College of Public Health of the University of Georgia have created a “nonpartisan, fact-based infographic” detailing the health policy positions of gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp. To avoid political rhetoric, the graphic shows how the candidates describe their own views on health care in Georgia, and does not include how Abrams and Kemp might characterize each other’s positions. (Miller, 11/5)
The issues in play range from Medicaid expansion to marijuana legalization and soda taxes.
Your Health Is On The Ballot In The Midterm Election
Voters in 37 states will have more than candidates to choose in Tuesday's election. There are more than 150 statewide measures on ballots this midterm election, and several involve health-related issues such as Medicaid expansion, marijuana, abortion, grocery taxes and charges related to drug use and possession. (Christensen, 11/5)
The Washington Post:
Marijuana Legalization Referendums: Where They're On The Ballot
Now, legalization advocates are hoping to build on these successes with a number of statewide ballot measures up for consideration Tuesday, including full recreational legalization in two states and medical marijuana in two more. Here’s a rundown of what the measures say and where the polling on them stands. (Ingraham, 11/5)
The Associated Press:
Michigan, North Dakota Weigh Bringing Legal Pot To Midwest
Voters in Michigan and North Dakota will decide Tuesday whether to legalize recreational marijuana, which would make them the first states in the Midwest to do so and would put conservative neighboring states on notice. More than half the states have already legalized medical marijuana, and Utah and Missouri could join their ranks Tuesday. (Karoub, 11/6)
West Coast Voters Could Set The Soda Wars On A New Course
Voters in Oregon and Washington state are about to decide whether new soda taxes have a future here in the Pacific Northwest, but the results could reverberate far beyond the region. The two statewide ballot initiatives, if approved, would make the entire West Coast — the very place where U.S. soda taxes were born — off-limits to new taxes for the foreseeable future. (Evich, 11/4)
Kaiser Health News:
Soda Industry Steals Page From Tobacco To Combat Taxes On Sugary Drinks
In the run-up to the midterm elections, the soda industry has poured millions of dollars into fighting taxes on sugary drinks, an increasingly popular approach to combating obesity, which affects 40 percent of American adults. Soda makers have campaigned against sugary drink taxes in dozens of cities in recent years, mostly successfully. ... Soda makers also have cultivated close relationships with doctors, scientists and professional societies, including the Obesity Society and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Both groups say there’s not enough evidence to know if sugar taxes are effective. (Szabo, 11/6)
The health insurer allegedly used aggressive tactics to sell sham plans -- one of which was named TrumpCare -- that skirt the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, leaving people around the country with skimpier coverage than they expected and liable for unpaid medical bills. And, as Obamacare open enrollment continues, news outlets offer tips for finding the right coverage and news about new options.
The New York Times:
Sales Of ‘Ruinous’ Health Insurance Plans
Federal authorities have shut down a network of Florida companies that they say used aggressive, deceptive tactics to sell skimpy health insurance products that skirt requirements of the Affordable Care Act and left tens of thousands of people around the country with unpaid medical bills. “There is good cause to believe” that the Florida companies have sold shoddy coverage by falsely claiming that such policies were comprehensive health insurance or qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act, Judge Darrin P. Gayles of the Federal District Court in Miami said in a temporary restraining order issued last week at the request of the Federal Trade Commission. (Pear, 11/5)
‘TrumpCare’ Health Insurer Ordered To Shut Down
A South Florida company that collected more than $100 million in premiums selling sham health insurance “for smart people” through a network of deceptive websites, including one called trumpcarequotes.com, was ordered by a federal judge to temporarily shut down following consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission. Simple Health Plans, based in Hollywood, lured “tens of thousands” of consumers with false promises of covering pre-existing medical conditions and prescription drugs for monthly premiums ranging from $40 to $500, the FTC said in a 28-page complaint recently unsealed by a federal judge. (Chang, 11/5)
Four Steps For Finding The Right Health Insurance Plan In 2019
Do you need individual or family health insurance coverage in 2019? Open enrollment is here, which means consumers can compare and enroll in Affordable Care Act marketplace plans on Healthcare.gov until Dec. 15. All the news about marketplace plans and new carriers coming to Nashville might distract consumers from an option that has been around for a long time, but is even more attractive in 2019 because of tax law changes. That option is Farm Bureau, and applying for one of its offerings should be the first step most Tennesseans take this year. (Tolbert, 11/5)
The Star Tribune:
Farmer Health Plans Expect Growth
Open enrollment is underway at two agricultural cooperative health plans that for a second year will provide an alternative to the state's individual market and MNsure health insurance exchange. Whereas average premiums are declining next year for health plans sold via MNsure, organizers say the co-op rates will be flat or increasing for 2019. (Snowbeck, 11/5)
Other news about health coverage and enrollment highlights robocall marketing strategies as well as a series of announced layoffs at Kaiser Permanente of Colorado --
Hello? It’s I, Robot, And Have I Got An Insurance Plan For You!
“Anna” will not stop calling. She really, really wants to sell you health insurance. What a lot of consumers really, really want is to smack Anna upside her robocalling head. As health insurance open-enrollment season gets underway in California and nationwide, automated phone calls offering Affordable Care Act or other health plans are spiking — and driving many consumers to the brink. California residents may have it worst, because its open-enrollment period is twice as long as in other parts of the country. (Feder Ostrov, 11/6)
Kaiser Permanente Colorado Lays Off 200 Workers
Nearly a month after saying it would review operations following financial difficulties, Kaiser Permanente Colorado announced Monday that it’s laying off about 200 employees in the state. Kaiser, the largest insurer in Colorado, said the layoffs are being made to “address redundancies” in administrative and non-patient related positions. The affected employees were notified Nov. 2. (Seaman, 11/5)
On the Medicaid front --
State Eases Sanctions Against Blue Cross, Partly Reopening Medicaid Managed Care Enrollment
Illinois residents eligible for Medicaid will again be allowed to choose a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois plan for coverage after the state decided to lift a sanction against the health insurer. Blue Cross, however, isn’t totally in the clear. The insurer is part of the state’s recently revamped Medicaid managed care program, in which private insurers administer benefits. Medicaid is a state- and federally funded health insurance program for low-income and disabled patients, and it also serves many elderly people. (Schencker, 11/5)
After losing its challenge in court, Planned Parenthood says it has contracted with a physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital, so is now in compliance with a new Arkansas law requiring such a partnership in order to provide abortion pills. Meanwhile, in Texas, a court heard arguments in Texas' efforts to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure.
The Associated Press:
Planned Parenthood Says It's Complying With Restriction
Planned Parenthood said Monday it’s now complying with an Arkansas law that was put on hold requiring doctors providing abortion pills to contract with a physician with admitting privileges at a hospital who agrees to handle any complications. Attorneys for Planned Parenthood Great Plains and the state of Arkansas asked a federal appeals court to lift a judge’s ruling that had prevented the state from enforcing the abortion pill restriction. A federal judge in July had issued a preliminary injunction but ordered Planned Parenthood to continue trying to find a contracting physician. (DeMillo, 11/5)
Fifth Circuit Court Hears Arguments On Texas Ban On Dilation And Evacuation
The federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday morning about whether Texas should be able to ban doctors from performing the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, called dilation and evacuation. In a nearly hourlong hearing, attorneys for Texas and lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood argued in front of a panel of three judges. (Evans, 11/5)
After 11 years with the American Cancer Society, Brawley, an executive vice president and chief medical officer, left his post late last week. And look who's in the top spot at Families USA.
The New York Times:
Cancer Society Executive Resigns Amid Upset Over Corporate Partnerships
A top official of the American Cancer Society has resigned in part because of concern over some of the organization’s fund-raising partnerships. The official, Dr. Otis W. Brawley, an executive vice president and chief medical officer, resigned his post late last week after 11 years at the society. His departure was largely attributed to his dismay over some commercial partnerships, including with Herbalife International, the controversial supplements company, people close to him said. (Kaplan, 11/5)
Liberal Health Advocate Looks To Move Beyond Defense On ObamaCare
Frederick Isasi says people are sometimes surprised to learn he is the head of a major liberal advocacy group. “It’s a funny thing to walk into a room with funders or with the press or with partners and they say, ‘Oh you’re the new [executive director], that’s interesting, like we’re not used to somebody that’s so young or kind of just seems really different,’ ” Isasi, who became the head of Families USA early last year, said in an interview with The Hill last week. (Sullivan, 11/6)
Also, Stat examines the lack of oversight when it comes to academic consulting and the health industry --
Academic Consulting Deals With Industry Lack Oversight, Raising Concerns
Numerous academics have consulting deals with industry, but there is a distinct lack of oversight at schools of medicine and public health that raise concerns about the effects on scientific progress, published research, and intellectual discourse, a new analysis suggests. To wit, about one-third of universities surveyed require faculty to submit at least some consulting agreements for institutional review, but another third review contracts upon request and still another third refuse to review contracts. (Silverman, 11/5)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 80 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, that mostly affects children. This represents the illness' third nationwide peak since 2014. And, cases of measles are also spiking.
More Than 200 Cases Of Polio-Like Illness Under Investigation In US; 80 Confirmed
There have been 80 confirmed cases of the polio-like illness known as AFM in 25 states this year as of Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. In addition, there are 219 cases under investigation. This is eight more confirmed cases than the agency reported last week and 20 additional patients under investigation. (Goldschmidt, 11/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
Another Burst Of Polio-Like Cases In Children Alarms Doctors
The condition is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. Though rare, it has jumped onto the national radar. As doctors struggle to explain its third nationwide peak since 2014, families like the Bottomleys are trying to provide hope to others hit with the sudden, polio-like disease and to push for more awareness in the medical community. AFM causes inflammation of the nervous system, particularly the gray matter of the spinal cord, which results in weakening muscles in usually one or more arms and legs. It can also affect the face and lead to difficulty swallowing or even breathing. Almost all AFM patients are hospitalized for several days or even months. (Reddy, 11/6)
CDC Says Cases Of Polio-Like Illness On The Rise
There isn't a cure for AFM, and the agency doesn’t know what causes the illness. The CDC said there is no specific treatment for AFM; there’s no known medical treatment that can reverse the effects once the central nervous system is attacked. Rehabilitation can help some patients regain function, but there are many unknown factors. (Weixel, 11/5)
Measles Cases Top Last Year's Total, Spread Among The Unvaccinated
The number of measles cases in the United States so far this year has surpassed 2017 with the potential for about a quarter of the highly contagious respiratory infections to be occurring in one New York county north of New York City. Nationwide as of Oct. 6, the most recent nationwide data available, 142 measles cases had been reported, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of people sickened, mostly unvaccinated, exceeded the 2017 total of 120 in mid-August. (Cutler, 11/5)
Meanwhile, pediatricians offer advice about common childhood health issues —
The Associated Press:
Don't Spank: Pediatricians Warn Parents Of Long-Term Harms
The academy says research since its 1998 discipline policy led to the update. It says spanking is falling out of favor among parents, especially those with young children. While some parents still believe it can lead to short-term improvements in behavior, studies show spanking is no more effective than non-physical punishment, including timeouts, setting firm limits and establishing unwanted consequences. (Tanner, 11/5)
The New York Times:
Spanking Is Ineffective And Harmful To Children, Pediatricians’ Group Says
Parents should not spank their children, the American Academy of Pediatrics said on Monday in its most strongly worded policy statement warning against the harmful effects of corporal punishment in the home. The group, which represents about 67,000 doctors, also recommended that pediatricians advise parents against the use of spanking, which it defined as “noninjurious, openhanded hitting with the intention of modifying child behavior,” and said to avoid using nonphysical punishment that is humiliating, scary or threatening. (Caron, 11/5)
The New York Times:
For A Child’s Cough, The Best Medicine Is No Medicine
Parents are often disappointed or even a little bit upset when I tell them there’s no medicine to help their coughing, sneezing, drippy-nosed children feel better. There’s nothing that works, I say, and medicines can have bad side effects. We don’t recommend any of the cough and cold medications for children under 6. But after all, parents are intimately aware of just how miserable a cough and a runny nose and congestion can make a small child feel, from cranky days to disruptive nights. (Klass, 11/5)
And in Louisiana —
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Number Of Premature Babies Rises In Louisiana: March Of Dimes
Louisiana has the second-highest early, or preterm, birth rate in the U.S., earning it an ‘F’ rating, according to a recent report from the March of Dimes, a non-profit organization advocating for maternal and infant health. According to the Preterm Birth Report Card, published Nov. 1, Louisiana had a 12.7 percent preterm birth rate in 2017. Mississippi was the only state that ranked lower, at 13.6 percent. Baton Rouge and New Orleans are among the 10 cities in the country with the highest preterm birth rates, according to the report. The overall preterm birth rate in the U.S. rose to 9.93 percent in 2017 from 9.85 percent the year before, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. (Clark, 11/5)
A team of UK researchers found that women who wake up early have a 40 to 48 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer. In other public health news: why you should get your flu shot now; U2's Bono thanks Congress for maintaining AIDS funding; an exploration of the brain's working memory; and more.
Breast Cancer Study: Women Who Wake Up Early Reduce Risk By 40 Percent
Women who wake up early have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, according to researchers in the United Kingdom. A team at the University of Bristol in England analyzed data from 180,215 women enrolled with the UK Biobank project, and 228,951 women who had been part of a genome-wide association study of breast cancer led by the international Breast Cancer Association Consortium. The findings, which were not peer-reviewed, were presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. (May, 11/6)
The New York Times:
Need A Flu Shot? Get It Now
If you’ve waited until now to get your flu shot, your procrastination may actually pay off, though you’d be unwise to delay getting the vaccine any longer. Although there are some cases of flu in October and November in the United States, flu season here doesn’t usually get going full speed until December, peaking in most years in February and usually ending by April. (Brody, 11/5)
The Associated Press:
Bono To Congress: Thanks For Ignoring Trump On AIDS Funding
Bono has a message for the U.S. Congress: Thanks for ignoring President Donald Trump. Trump has sought to slash hundreds of millions of dollars from U.S. funding for AIDS programs at home and abroad, but the U2 frontman says members of Congress “have so far turned down this president’s request to cut AIDS funding — right and left in lockstep together on this.” His message to them? “Thank you for your leadership.” (Lawless, 11/5)
Neuroscientists Debate A Simple Question: How Does The Brain Store A Phone Number?
You hear a new colleague's name. You get directions to the airport. You glance at a phone number you're about to call. These are the times you need working memory, the brain's system for temporarily holding important information. "Working memory is the sketchpad of your mind; it's the contents of your conscious thoughts," says Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. (Hamilton, 11/4)
The New York Times:
How To Eat Safely And Travel With An Autoimmune Disease
Most medical professionals categorize travel as a stressful event, even more so for those suffering from autoimmune diseases like inflammatory bowel, celiac, Hashimoto’s or psoriasis. A change of routine, jet lag, and unfamiliar germs or foreign food can exacerbate one’s condition. Plus, since a growing number of people adhere to strict anti-inflammatory diets to manage those illnesses, dining on the road can pose a real challenge. Here, doctors and specialists share some advice on how to stay healthy and eat well while traveling. As always however, talk to your doctor for specific advice related to your condition, depending on where you plan to visit. (Walsh, 11/5)
These Flatworms Can Regrow A Body From A Fragment. How Do They Do It And Could We?
[Nelson] Hall and researchers around the world are hard at work trying to understand how most of a group of flatworms called planarians can use powerful stem cells to regenerate their entire bodies, an ability humans can only dream of. When we suffer a severe injury, the best we can hope for is that our wounds will heal. But our limbs don't grow right back if they are cut off, the way that planarians regenerate. (Quiros, 11/6)
The Washington Post:
CDC Director Warns That Congo’s Ebola Outbreak May Not Be Containable
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Monday that the Ebola outbreak in conflict-ridden Congo has become so serious that international public health experts need to consider the possibility that it cannot be brought under control and instead will become entrenched. If that happened, it would be the first time since the deadly viral disease was first identified in 1976 that an Ebola outbreak led to the persistent presence of the disease. In all previous outbreaks, most of which took place in remote areas, the disease was contained before it spread widely. The current outbreak is entering its fourth month, with nearly 300 cases, including 186 deaths. (Sun, 11/5)
Media outlets report on news from New Hampshire, Louisiana, Kansas, Texas, Michigan, Maryland and California.
New Hampshire Public Radio:
At UNH, Nurse Practitioners To Be Trained In Medication-Assisted Treatment For Addiction
UNH's nurse practitioner programs will now include training in medication-assisted treatments for addiction. Nurse practitioners, like doctors, can write prescriptions and can serve as a patient's primary care provider. Thanks to a new $450,000 federal grant, nurse practitioner students at UNH will now be trained in how to use medication to treat addiction. (Moon, 11/5)
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Tulane Partnering With Children’s Hospital To Train Next Generation Of Pediatricians
Children’s Hospital and Tulane University will partner to train aspiring pediatricians and conduct research, part of an effort to increase access to high-quality pediatric health care for children across Louisiana. Last week, Children’s and Tulane signed an affiliation agreement to work together on clinical, academic and research activities in pediatrics, according to a news release. Under the partnership, Tulane medical school students and residents will start caring for Children’s Hospital patients in 2019. (Nobles, 11/5)
Kansas City Star:
Shortage Of Shingles Vaccine Shingrix: Pain For Older Adults
Sean Clements, a spokesman for the pharmaceutical company, said Shingrix “has been met with an unprecedented level of demand from patients and health care professionals,” but GlaxoSmithKline, or GSK, is ramping up production and patients should keep checking with their providers to see if they have it in stock. ...Shingles is a painful skin condition caused by the herpes zoster, or chicken pox, virus. (Marso, 11/5)
Dallas Morning News:
Why Dallas' 66-Bed Promise Hospital Is Staying Open After Parent Company's Bankruptcy
The owner of the 66-bed Promise Hospital of Dallas filed for bankruptcy Monday in Delaware federal court and seeks to reorganize after years of financial losses. The long-term, acute-care hospital in Dallas specializes in "ventilator weaning and medically complex care," according to the hospital's website. The facility is on Harry Hines Boulevard, north of Dallas' medical district. (Mosier, 11/5)
Judge Wants Investigator To Probe Whistleblower Claims On Prison Psychiatric Reports
A federal judge in Sacramento said Monday that she intends to appoint an independent investigator to look into whether state corrections officials committed “fraud on the court” in reports they have submitted regarding the level of psychiatric care inside California’s prisons. The extraordinary move by U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller would give an investigator or law firm access to corrections records and witnesses to determine whether allegations leveled by the state’s chief prison psychiatrist have merit. (Stanton, 11/5)
Detroit Free Press:
Beaumont Announces New Mental Health Hospital In Dearborn
Beaumont Health announced details Monday about its plan to build a new mental health hospital in Dearborn in conjunction with Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services. Construction on the $40-million freestanding hospital is to begin in early 2019 on 8 acres of vacant land on Oakwood Boulevard near the Southfield Freeway. When it opens, the hospital — Beaumont's ninth — will have space for 150 beds and will be operated and managed by UHS, which also will be the majority owner. (Shamus, 11/5)
The Baltimore Sun:
Johns Hopkins Footprint In Saudi Arabia Raises Human Rights Concerns After Khashoggi Killing
Johns Hopkins doctors have set up shop and worked in Saudi Arabia, treating its citizen’s health needs, since at least 2010. The Baltimore medical system has thrived in the Middle Eastern nation under the auspices of spreading good health care throughout the world, but done so against a backdrop of human rights complaints about which Hopkins officials have largely stayed quiet. (McDaniels, 11/5)
San Jose Mercury News:
Trial Date Set For Lawsuit Over CalPERS Insurance Rates
A class-action lawsuit that could cost CalPERS $1 billion is headed to trial in June, and many of the 122,000 retirees who bought an insurance plan at the center of the case are receiving small checks from an agreement that settled a portion of the claims. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Friday set a date for the main trial, known as Sanchez. vs. CalPERS. The three- to four-week trial is scheduled to begin on June 10. (Ashton, 11/5)
Tempers Flare After Kansas City Health Department Shuts Down Homeless Food Handouts
Depending on whom you ask, health department officials on Sunday either stopped an unlicensed group from illegally handing out potentially bacteria-ridden food or destroyed the property of some “friends” having a “picnic.” According to official documents, the Kansas City Health Department stopped volunteers of Free Hot Soup Kansas City from handing out food at several Kansas City parks because they lacked the required food handling permits. The food was seized and discarded or was destroyed with bleach. (Smith, 11/5)
Editorial pages focus on these public health issues and others.
The Washington Post:
Since Parkland, We’ve Been Demanding Action. Now It’s Time To Join Us.
On Feb. 14, our lives were forever changed by a gunman who killed 17 of our classmates and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. In just 11 minutes, our childhood ended. Our eyes were opened to a harsh reality: Mass shootings happen more frequently in America than anyplace else on the planet, and the gun lobby buys the silence of too many of our elected officials. (David Hogg and Emma González, 11/5)
The New York Times:
A Profusion Of Diagnoses. That’s Good And Bad.
Since the 1980s, there’s been rapid expansion in the number and complexity of medical diagnoses — a trend known as “medicalization.” A recent study found that the cost of 12 newly medicalized conditions — things like irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, low testosterone, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — now approaches $80 billion a year, or about 4 percent of total health care spending. That’s about as much as we spend on heart disease or cancer, and more than we spend on public health initiatives. Our ever-expanding armamentarium of diagnoses no doubt offers comfort, attention and a path to treatment for many previously undiagnosed — and undiagnosable — patients. But we may also be medicalizing much of normal human behavior — labeling the healthy as diseased, and exposing them to undue risk of stigma, testing and treatment. (Dhruv Khullar, M.D., 11/6)
Medical Schools Are Failing To Teach Doctors To Discuss Abortion
Safe, legal abortion is an essential part of health care. Nearly one-quarter of American women will have an abortion in their lifetimes, despite barriers such as closed clinics, lack of insurance coverage, and various forms of stigma. Providing abortion care also has its barriers, due in large part to the anti-abortion activism that distorts this basic health service. But there are hidden contributors as well, which pose more insidious risks to abortion access: Aspiring doctors are learning harmful ways of discussing abortion and their medical schools are doing little to stop it. (Benjamin E.Y. Smith, 11/6)
The New York Times:
Peer Review: The Worst Way To Judge Research, Except For All The Others
Even before the recent news that a group of researchers managed to get several ridiculous fake studies published in reputable academic journals, people have been aware of problems with peer review. Throwing out the system — which deems whether research is robust and worth being published — would do more harm than good. But it makes sense to be aware of peer review’s potential weaknesses. (Aaron E. Carroll, 11/5)
The Washington Post:
Keep Your Secondhand Smoke Off My Nachos, Please
In 2003, Montgomery County’s landmark clean indoor air act took effect, ensuring smoke-free air protections in places such as schools, health-care facilities and county office buildings. Thanks to that law, the county also became the first in Maryland — and among the earliest on the East Coast — to ensure 100 percent smoke-free air in all indoor restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments. In fall 2018, we have the chance to make history again. Bill 35-18, introduced by County Council member Sidney Katz (D-District 3), would make Montgomery County the first county in Maryland to have a smoke-free outdoor dining law. (Adam Zimmerman, 11/2)
Los Angeles Times:
Preexisting Conditions, Dialysis, Rent Control And The Gas Tax: A Preelection Guide For Voters
Figuring out how to bestow your vote can be nerve-racking even in normal elections. Tuesday’s election may be especially fraught with tension, given that Donald Trump’s racist duck calls have sullied the very principle of representative democracy. Things are especially complicated in California, where voters are confronted not only with races for governor, U.S. Senate and Congress, but 11 ballot measures. We’ve looked into the pros and cons of four of these over the last year or so, so to help readers understand what’s at stake, here’s a digest of what we’ve found. We’ll start with one overarching issue to consider when casting a vote for the House of Representatives — healthcare — and move down the ballot from there. (Michael Hiltzik, 11/5)
Diabetes Awareness Month: What The Diabetes Community Wants You To Know
My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in December 2006. He wasn’t yet two years old and most of what we knew about diabetes came from Wilford Brimley commercials. In the 12 years since, I’ve tried to educate and advocate about all types of diabetes. I host a podcast, and with November being Diabetes Awareness Month, I asked my audience: What would you like people without diabetes to know? Here are their answers: Diabetes is no one’s choice. No one with any type of diabetes deserves it or wants it. Yes, people with type 2 diabetes may be able to control their condition with diet and exercise, but if it were just that easy, everyone would be a size two. There are genetic and environmental factors contributing to diabetes in ways we don’t yet understand. Stop the blame and shame. (Stacey Simms, 11/5)
The Star Tribune:
Business Community Lends Its Muscle To Improve Mental Health Care In Minnesota.
This finding in a new report on Minnesota’s health care outcomes is heartbreaking: Just 8 percent of adults who seek medical care for depression — one of the most common mental illnesses — will be in remission at six months. The situation is even grimmer when looking at past years’ findings from the nonprofit Minnesota Community Measurement (MCM) group, which gathers and reports information on health care quality, cost and patient experience to drive state improvement. (11/5)