- KFF Health News Original Stories 1
- Unwitting Patients, Copycat Comments Play Hidden Role In Federal Rule-Making
- Political Cartoon: 'Cheap At Twice The Price?'
- Elections 1
- Manchin Shoots ACA Lawsuit With Gun In Ad That Shows Even Deep Red State Dems See Health As Winning Issue
- Supreme Court 1
- Critics Seize On Kavanaugh's Use Of 'Abortion-Inducing Drugs' Terminology, But What Did He Really Say?
- Women’s Health 1
- Ruling That Blocked Enforcement Of Missouri's Strict Abortion Clinic Laws Overturned By Federal Appeals Court
- Capitol Watch 1
- Flood Of Fentanyl Coming In Through US Postal Service Targeted In Senate Opioid Package
- Opioid Crisis 2
- Doctors Are So Ill-Trained To Fight Opioid Crisis Experts Say It's Like 'Trying To Fight World War II With Only Coast Guard'
- Doctors Gave No Medical Explanations For Nearly 30% Of Opioid Prescriptions
- Health Care Personnel 1
- Veterinarian Who Developed Anesthetic, Champion Of Women In Science, And Genetics Researchers Win Coveted Lasker Awards
- Public Health 3
- The People Behind Suicide Hotlines
- DNA Can Curl Up To Keep Vulnerable Bits Away From Predators, Making CRISPR Technology Ineffective
- After Unplanned Pregnancies, European Regulators Set To Release Study Of 'Natural Cycles' App Approved By FDA
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: North Carolina's Senior Residents Brace For Oncoming Storm; Calif. Nurses Claim Restrictive Timekeeping Software Has Led To Unpaid Overtime
- Editorials And Opinions 3
- Perspectives: Kavanaugh, Conservative Supreme Court Would Put Women's Reproductive Rights At Severe Risk
- Parsing Policy: Health Law Protections Poised To Deliver Senate, House To Democrats. Even In Red States?
- Viewpoints: Congress Needs To Shut Down Illegal Pipeline Of Fentanyl; Tragic Lesson On Street Shootings
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
As HHS decided to cut $1.6 billion in drug payments to hospitals, it weighed thousands of comments generated by a pharmaceutical-funded advocacy group. (Sarah Jane Tribble, )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Cheap At Twice The Price?'" by J.C. Duffy.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
CRISPR TECHNOLOGY RUNS INTO HURDLE
DNA, just like
armadillos, can curl up
To protect itself.
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:
On the campaign trail, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has been focusing on the threat to preexisting conditions rather than explicitly talking about the Affordable Care Act. But it still shows how much of a change there's been in recent years when it comes to campaigning on health care.
Manchin Shoots Anti-ObamaCare Lawsuit With A Gun In New Ad
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) shoots an anti-ObamaCare lawsuit backed by his opponent in a new ad playing off his well-known 2010 spot shooting a climate change bill. The ad from Manchin, who is facing a competitive reelection race in a deep-red state, shows a shift in the politics of ObamaCare. (Sullivan, 9/10)
Shotgun-Toting Manchin Shoots Anti-Obamacare Lawsuit In New Ad For Re-Election Bid In West Virginia
"I haven’t changed," Manchin asserts in the ad. "I might be a few years older and I’ll still take on anyone that messes with West Virginia. Now the threat is Patrick Morrisey’s lawsuit to take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions. He is just dead wrong and that ain’t going to happen." (Karson, 9/10)
The Associated Press:
Republicans Lack Votes, And Appetite, To End 'Obamacare'
Arizona's new senator says he'd vote to repeal the nation's health care law. That's one additional Republican ready to obliterate the statute because his predecessor, the late Sen. John McCain, helped derail the party's drive with his fabled thumbs-down vote last year. It could well be too little, too late. After years of trying to demolish former President Barack Obama's prized law, GOP leaders still lack the votes to succeed. Along with the law's growing popularity and easing premium increases, that's left top Republicans showing no appetite to quickly refight the repeal battle. (Fram, 9/11)
The Washington Post fact checker compares Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's words during confirmation hearings last week, and his dissent in a case involving religious organizations being required to provided contraception coverage to their employees. Meanwhile, more Democrats are coming out publicly against Kavanaugh's nomination.
The Washington Post Fact Check:
Did Brett Kavanaugh Signal He Supports ‘Going After Birth Control’?
[California Sen. Kamala] Harris took aim at Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh for comments he made regarding “abortion-inducing drugs” when discussing a case brought by an anti-abortion religious group challenging Obamacare rules on providing employees health coverage for contraception. She is not the only Senate Democrat to claim that Kavanaugh might undermine access to birth control if he wins a seat on the court – here’s Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, and Dianne Feinstein – but we will focus on Harris because she tweeted out a video that snipped out a key part of his statement. (Kessler, 9/11)
More Dems Come Out In Public Opposition To Kavanaugh
Several Democratic senators are coming off the fence to announce they will oppose President Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) became the latest Democrats to say they will vote against Kavanaugh. Both senators announced their opposition on Monday. "While much of Judge Kavanaugh’s record remains a mystery, what we do know is extremely troubling and dangerously out of step with the American people, particularly on critical issues including executive power, abortion rights and pre-existing conditions," Shaheen said in a statement. (Carney, 9/10)
The Missouri laws require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, which can be difficult to obtain, and for abortion clinics to have costly hospital-grade facilities to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. The court wrote that it did not have enough information to decide whether the rules constituted an undue burden on the clinics.
Federal Appeals Court Rules In Favor Of Missouri Abortion Restrictions
A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that the state of Missouri could enforce laws that abortion rights groups argue will curb access to the procedure. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2017 ruling that blocked enforcement of the laws, which require doctors who perform abortions to be affiliated with hospitals and abortion clinics to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. (Hellmann, 9/10)
U.S. Appeals Court Says Missouri Can Enforce Abortion Laws
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overturned a 2017 ruling that blocked enforcement of those laws and opened the door for more abortion providers to operate in the state, which at the time had only one. Monday's decision comes in a 2016 lawsuit filed by affiliates of the women's health organization Planned Parenthood in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that year that struck down similar abortion restrictions in Texas. (Raymond, 9/10)
Kansas City Star:
Federal Court Strikes Down Missouri Abortion Injunction
Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in Missouri said the decision “could impact services within weeks” by forcing the groups to suspend abortion services in Columbia, delaying plans to expand into Joplin and Springfield and jeopardizing the Kansas City clinic’s efforts to regain its license, which expired last month after its doctor left in March. “These requirements do nothing to help Missouri women, and in fact actually hurt them,” said Brandon Hill, president and CEO of Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which serves the Kansas City area. “If these laws are allowed to take effect, women will now have to travel farther, wait longer, and use more of their own resources to access the health care they need most, if they can get care at all.” (Marso and Rizzo, 9/10)
“We are being overrun with fentanyl,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) “It is 50 times more powerful than heroin. It is very inexpensive. It is coming primarily from China and coming primarily through our U.S. Postal Service, if you can believe it.”
The New York Times:
Senate Poised To Pass Bill To Stop Flow Of Opioids Through The Mail
The Senate appears poised this week to pass a bill intended to shut a window through which fentanyl and other opioids pour into the United States from China through the mail, as lawmakers search desperately for ways to combat an epidemic affecting people of all ages and income levels across the country. The measure, part of a bipartisan package of legislation to fight the opioid crisis, requires the United States Postal Service to collect electronic information on merchandise arriving in this country, so customs inspectors can screen parcels for fentanyl and other contraband. (Pear, 9/10)
In other news from Capitol Hill —
The Wall Street Journal:
Congress Unveils Funding Deal In Race To Avoid Shutdown
Lawmakers struck a bipartisan deal Monday on a trio of spending bills they hope to pass this week in a rare example of Congress reaching an agreement over funding part of the federal government weeks before the next fiscal year begins. House and Senate negotiators announced Monday afternoon they had hammered out an agreement on three spending bills totaling almost $147 billion, including funding for the Energy Department, Veterans Affairs and the legislative branch of government. (Peterson, 9/10)
There has been little addiction training in medical schools across the country, but a decades-long push may be changing that.
The New York Times:
Most Doctors Are Ill-Equipped To Deal With The Opioid Epidemic. Few Medical Schools Teach Addiction.
To the medical students, the patient was a conundrum. According to his chart, he had residual pain from a leg injury sustained while working on a train track. Now he wanted an opioid stronger than the Percocet he’d been prescribed. So why did his urine test positive for two other drugs — cocaine and hydromorphone, a powerful opioid that doctors had not ordered? (Hoffman, 9/10)
And in other news on the epidemic —
Orexo Soars After Winning Opioid Drug Appeal Against Teva
A U.S. appeals court on Monday revived Swedish pharmaceutical company Orexo AB's lawsuit accusing a unit of Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd of infringing a patent for its opioid addiction drug Zubsolv. Shares of Orexo closed 30.9 percent higher in Stockholm after the decision by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., which handles intellectual property cases. (Stempel, 9/10)
Tennessee’s Pill Addiction Is Improving, But Fentanyl Looms
It’s a little hard to tell, but Tennessee may be turning a corner on prescription pill abuse. Although fatal opioid overdoses continue to rise throughout the state, deaths attributed specifically to prescription painkillers dropped for the first time in five years. The 12 percent decrease in 2017 is a rare sign of progress in a state ravaged by addiction. (Kelman, 9/10)
The Associated Press:
Meth Use Makes Comeback In Colorado As Opioid Epidemic Worsens
Recent data shows methamphetamine use made a deadly comeback across Colorado last year. Figures from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show meth ranked among the fastest-growing drugs in fatalities in the state from 2016 to 2017. (9/10)
What the researchers discovered during a study of prescriptions made between 2006-2015 gives rise to questions about physicians' prescribing process and the impact on the opioid epidemic.
Nearly 30% Of All Opioid Prescriptions Lack Medical Explanation
How large a role do doctors play in the opioid crisis? Nearly 30% of all opioids prescribed in US clinics or doctors' offices lack a documented reason -- such as severe back pain -- to justify a script for these addictive drugs, new research finds. In total, opioids were prescribed in almost 809 million outpatient visits over a 10-year period, with 66.4% of these prescriptions intended to treat non-cancer pain and 5.1% for cancer-related pain, according to a study published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. (Scutti, 9/10)
Study: 28.5 Percent Of The Time Doctors Don’t Write Down Why They’re Prescribing Opioids
Inappropriate prescribing, bad recordkeeping, or a combination of both were possible reasons for the missing data, according to the researchers from Harvard Medical School and the RAND Corporation. “Whatever the reasons, lack of robust documentation undermines our efforts to understand physician prescribing patterns and curtails our ability to stem overprescribing,” the study’s author, Tisamarie Sherry, a Harvard Medical School instructor who is also a RAND policy researcher, said in a statement. (Finucane, 9/10)
Nearly 30 Percent Of Patients Prescribed Opioids Had No Recorded Pain Diagnoses
The research team did not make a conclusion that these prescriptions were inappropriate, said Tisamarie Sherry, an associate physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the letter’s lead author. There was not enough information to make that judgment, Sherry said. ...In many cases, physicians prescribed opioids without a clear understanding of how addictive those medications were. Greater awareness of this risk in recent years, along with a nationwide prescription drug monitoring program that flags doctor-shopping, has led to decreased opioid prescriptions. (Santhanam, 9/10)
The awards are sometimes referred to as the "American Nobels" and are given to living persons who have made major contributions to medical science or who have performed public service on behalf of medicine.
The Associated Press:
Lasker Awards Honor Four Scientists For Genetic Research And Developing Anesthetic
Four scientists have won prestigious medical awards for genetics research and development of a widely used anesthetic nicknamed “milk of amnesia. ”Winners of the $250,000 awards from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation were announced Tuesday. The prizes will be presented later this month in New York. (Ritter, 9/11)
The New York Times:
Lasker Awards Given For Work In Genetics, Anesthesia And Promoting Women In Science
Dr. Glen, the recipient of the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, is only the second veterinarian to win a Lasker in 73 years, according to the foundation. A pharmaceutical career was an unlikely path for Dr. Glen, but the fact that he was interested in anesthesia was no surprise: for years, he had taught the subject to students at Glasgow University’s veterinary school. “I was anesthetizing dogs, cats, horses — whatever animals came around,” Dr. Glen said in an interview. Once he used anesthesia on a pelican to fix its beak. (Thomas, 9/11)
RNA Expert Wins 'American Nobel'
Joan Argetsinger Steitz, a scientist known for her pivotal discoveries about cell biology—and for her efforts to encourage women in science and engineering—has netted one of this year’s Lasker Awards, an accolade sometimes referred to as the “American Nobel.” The New York City–based Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced Tuesday morning it will confer the prize for special achievement in medical science on Steitz, a biochemist at Yale University who led work uncovering the details of “splicing”—a process in which noncoding information is removed from cells so that RNA can be translated into protein. She also discovered tiny particles essential to that process, called small ribonucleoproteins, or snRNPs, pronounced “snurps.” (Maron, 9/11)
Counselors must assess the crisis level of callers -- and protect their own mental health, as well. In other news: suicide in young children is inexplicably on the rise and the transgender community is particularly vulnerable to suicide, as are college students.
When Someone Is Thinking Of Suicide, These Are The People Who Talk Them Out Of It
The caller on the line is agitated. Minutes earlier, he'd grabbed a knife and held it to his body, threatening to kill himself. Staffers at the group home where he lives wrestled it away, but he still feels like he wants to do himself harm. So he calls a suicide hotline. A crisis counselor named Aaron answers. He listens intently. "Hey, you feeling any better?" Aaron asks after a minute. "Well, just try to hang out with the staff there, OK? Can you stay there with them?" (Criss, 9/10)
World Suicide Prevention Day: Child Suicides Rising; Reasons Unclear
Samantha Kuberski hanged herself with a belt from a crib. She was 6.Razy Sellars was 11 when he took his life. Gabriel Taye was 8. Jamel Myles was 9. Suicide in elementary school-aged children remains rare: 53 children aged 11 and younger took their lives in 2016, the last year for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has data. But medical professionals and researchers have noted alarming increases in the last decade – deaths more than doubled from 2008 to 2016 – and rising numbers of young children visiting emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts and attempts. (O'Donnell, 9/10)
Among Teens, Transgender Males Are Most Likely To Attempt Suicide, Study Says
Gender identity strongly influences the likelihood a teen will attempt suicide, a new study finds. Nearly 14% of teens who participated in a survey reported trying to kill themselves, with transgender teens reporting the highest rates of suicide attempts. Among female to male teens, the language the study uses for transgender male teens, more than half (50.8%) said they'd tried to take their lives, according to the study, published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics. (Scutti, 9/11)
1 In 5 College Students So Stressed They Consider Suicide
College can be so stressful that many students think about killing themselves, and some even try, a new study suggests. Among more than 67,000 students surveyed, over 20 percent said they experienced stressful events in the last year that were strongly associated with mental health problems, including harming themselves and suicidal thoughts or attempts, researchers found. (Reinberg, 9/10)
Portland Mental Health Center Failed To Stop Suicide After Problems Surfaced, Report Says
A patient died by suicide at the Unity Center for Behavioral Health two months after state investigators informed the psychiatric hospital that it was failing to safeguard patients, according to findings from the latest inspection released Monday. The suicide and other problems illustrate the Unity Center's seeming slowness to fix serious lapses. (Harbarger, 9/10)
But this problem is only the latest in an expanding list of challenges with the technology, including genomic havoc and concerns about cancer. Meanwhile, an appeals court has struck down a challenge to a CRISPR patent ruling.
CRISPR's Hedgehog Problem: Rolled-Up Genes Can't Be Edited, Study Finds
Sowbugs, armadillos, hedgehogs … and DNA? The same strategy that some animals use to avoid being attacked — roll into a ball and keep your vulnerable bits beyond predators’ reach — turns out to let genes avoid being sliced up by the genome-editing molecules of CRISPR, scientists reported on Monday. When a segment of DNA wraps itself around a protein into what’s called a nucleosome, CRISPR-Cas9 can no more cut it than a hungry hawk can bite a rolled-up hedgehog. (Begley, 9/10)
Appeals Court Upholds CRISPR Patents Awarded The Broad Institute
A federal appeals court on Monday struck another blow against the University of California’s hopes of invalidating key CRISPR patents held by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, ruling unanimously that a U.S. patent board correctly concluded that the Broad’s patents did not “interfere” with those that UC had applied for. Barring an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is highly unlikely to accept the case, or a request for the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to consider the case, the long and bitter legal saga is largely over, at least in the U.S. (The fight over CRISPR patents in Europe continues.) (Begley, 9/10)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Court: UC Berkeley Cannot Patent Gene Editing Research
A study published in 2012 by a team of scientists led by UC Berkeley biologist Jennifer Doudna was the first to show how the so-called CRISPR technology could be used to alter DNA. Six months later, a researcher with the Broad Institute, affiliated with Harvard and MIT, issued a study describing the use of the same genetic technology in human cells. UC argued that the publication had lifted the basic idea of its own earlier work and challenged Broad’s patent applications. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which oversees disputes over patents, said the UC research focused on bacteria and did not reveal an “obvious” application — the legal standard for patent infringement — of the same technology to plants and animals. (Egelko, 9/10)
While touted by the FDA as a safe and effective form of contraception if used carefullly, Natural Cycles is raising eyebrows overseas, highlighting the difficulties regulators face in different countries with new technologies. Public health news also examines health disparities and premature babies; implantable devices for treating mental health problems; teens who prefer online chatting to the real thing; and the causes of infants' projectile vomiting.
Controversial Contraception App Natural Cycles Drawing Scrutiny Overseas
European regulators are ramping up their scrutiny of a controversial app that its backers hail as a side-effect-free alternative to hormonal birth control pills — and which the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. just cleared last month. The Swedish Medical Products Agency is set to release the findings of a monthslong investigation into the app, Natural Cycles, as soon as this week. (Sheridan, 9/11)
Premature Birth Study Highlights Disparities In Health
A new study suggests that black and Hispanic premature babies, compared with white premature babies, had a two- to four-fold increased risk of four severe neonatal health problems. Those health problems included necrotizing enterocolitis, which impacts tissue in the intestine, and intraventricular hemorrhage, which is bleeding in certain areas of the brain, both of which can be deadly; bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a lung condition that might result in long-term breathing difficulty for some; and retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disorder that can be potentially blinding. (Howard, 9/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
Brain Data Could Read Moods, Potentially Treat Depression
Can mood be decoded from brain data? The work is part of a larger movement aimed at developing better, more personalized therapies for psychiatric conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder using deep brain stimulation, a procedure that requires surgery and is highly invasive. The approach is similar to treatments already in use for movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. (Hernandez, 9/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
Most Teens Prefer To Chat Online, Rather Than In Person
More than two-thirds of teens say they would rather communicate with their friends online than in person, according to a new study that comes as tech companies are trying to help parents and children monitor the time spent online. The study, from the nonprofit Common Sense Media, is an update of a similar survey conducted in 2012 that was one of the first to document the influence of digital media on teens. It lands as Silicon Valley’s technology titans—including Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google—are trying to address rising parental concerns about whether too much screen time can be hurtful. (Morris, 9/10)
Why Do Kids Vomit So Much? (And When Should You Be Worried?)
When Linda Tock heard her 5-year-old telling her he was going to be sick, she moved quickly. She sprinted for a trash can, ready to run upstairs to help her son, with her husband, Simon, close behind her. Then it happened: a rain of vomit from the balcony above. "I put the trash can over my head," Tock recalls. "We just got showered." Puke splashed onto every surface — and even into her unlucky husband's open mouth. (Blakemore, 9/10)
Media outlets report on news from North Carolina, California, Maryland, Missouri, West Virginia, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Washington, Ohio and Wisconsin.
North Carolina Health News:
When Hurricanes Threaten, Older People Need Special Assistance
Maria Brown and her friends at a Raleigh senior center weren’t too freaked Monday about the approach of Hurricane Florence — yet. “I’m not frightened,” said Brown, 71, a New York City transplant who was playing cribbage at the Five Points Center for Active Adults. “I’ve got gas and cash. That’s what we were told to get.” Several patrons’ plans were informed by distinct recollections of previous monster storms such as Hurricane Hazel, which in 1954 killed 19 people and destroyed 15,000 homes in North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service. (Goldsmith, 9/11)
Dignity Health Sued, Nurses Say Prep Work Is Unpaid Overtime
A recent lawsuit alleges that up to 1,200 Sacramento-area nurses with Dignity Health worked as many as 50 minutes per 12-hour shift of unpaid overtime, three times a week — and that Dignity’s restrictive timekeeping software was part of the reason those hours couldn’t be logged properly. Listing Dignity Health as the defendant, the class action complaint alleges that the plaintiffs were paid for exactly 12 hours of work per shift at hospitals in the greater Sacramento area, “regardless of when they actually clocked in or out,” attorney Bryan Lazarski wrote. (McGough, 9/10)
Gates Foundation Gives $20.5 Million To Hopkins Bloomberg Teen Reproductive Health Study
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been awarded a $20.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study adolescent and youth sexual health issues. The money will go toward research at The Challenge Initiative, which is run out of the Bloomberg School’s population, family and reproductive health department. The initiative was started in 2016 to look at reproductive health needs in poor communities around the world. (McDaniels, 9/10)
Zane Burke Steps Down As Cerner President
Cerner President Zane Burke will leave the company on Nov. 2 after five years in the role. John Peterzalek, Cerner's executive vice president of worldwide client relationships, will take on Burke's duties and become chief client officer. Burke helped oversee Cerner's $16 billion deal to replace the Department of Veterans Affairs homegrown electronic health record with one made by the Kansas City, Mo.-based company. (Arndt, 9/10)
The Associated Press:
Records: Behavioral Health Centers Deal With Staff Shortages
Complaints filed with a West Virginia state agency say ResCare Agency facilities are struggling with staffing shortages, causing problems such as missed doctors' appointments and incorrectly administered medication. The company provides care for people with extreme physical and mental disabilities, among other services. (9/10)
Analysts Praise HCA's Pick To Replace Retiring CEO
HCA Healthcare's Monday announcement that its top executive plans to retire at the end of the year came as no surprise to Wall Street analysts. It's par for the course at the for-profit hospital chain, which they say has made a practice of refreshing its CEO post every handful of years. (Bannow, 9/10)
Georgia Health News:
Abrams Health Plan Focuses On Premiums, Access; Kemp Fires Back
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams rolled out a multi-pronged approach to improving Georgia health care Monday, including a familiar push for Medicaid expansion and a new call for stabilizing insurance premiums for consumers. Abrams also advocated for steps to lower Georgia’s infant and maternal mortality rates, along with supporting access to reproductive health care. (Miller, 9/10)
The Star Tribune:
Judge Rules For UnitedHealthcare In Medicare Overpayment Case
A federal judge has backed UnitedHealthcare's argument that a 2014 Medicare rule designed to recover overpayments to insurers would have wrongly resulted in underpaying the health plans. As a result, Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C., vacated the rule, which she said violated a statutory requirement for actuarial equivalence while also departing from prior government policies. (Snowbeck, 9/10)
The Associated Press:
Many California Marijuana Products Failing Safety Tests
Nearly 20 percent of marijuana products in California have failed tests for potency and purity since the state started requiring the checks on July 1, a failure rate some in the industry say has more to do with unrealistic standards and technical glitches than protecting consumer safety. The testing has been especially tough on cannabis-infused cookies, candies and tinctures: about one-third have been blocked from store shelves. (9/11)
The Associated Press:
Stem Cell Transplant Cements Arizona Men’s Father-Son Bond
Thirty-five years after an Arizona man cared for his son when he was shot in their native Lebanon, the son is returning that devotion. Both the Rev. John Ibraham Sabbagh and his 54-year-old son, Ebby Sabbagh, are celebrating one year of going strong since the elder Sabbagh received a crucial stem cell transplant. After undergoing chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia, the 88-year-old opted to undergo the transplant in September, 2017, at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Phoenix. (Tang, 9/10)
The Texas Tribune:
Report: Texas Rules Lax On Cleanup Of Polluted Sites
The criteria Texas uses to determine how much — and whether — to clean up abandoned industrial facilities, waste dumps and other polluted sites are so lax that they may allow residential homes to be built in areas that neighboring states wouldn’t even consider safe for factories or oil refineries. (Collier, 9/11)
Confusion Leaves Low-Income Children In Health Care Limbo
Tania Alvarado’s 13-year-old daughter doesn’t smile much anymore. She doesn’t want anyone to see her front teeth, which are so crowded they’re nearly growing atop one another. The crowding makes it painful to eat; it also embarrasses her. “Am I going to get those braces this year?” the Los Angeles eighth-grader asks her mom, again and again. Alvarado always answers her the same way: “It’s still not happening.” (Wiener, 9/10)
Denver Coroner Rules Elderly Woman's Death Homicide
For the second time this year, the Denver medical examiner has declared an elderly woman’s death a homicide and pinned the blame on inadequate medical care. Mary Smith, 88, died May 22 at an area hospital, according to a news release from the medical examiner’s office. Her primary caretaker did not follow her care plan, seek medical attention or provide adequate nutrition or medications as required, the release said. (Phillips, 9/10)
The Seattle Times:
For 40,000 Homeless Students, It’s Back-To-School Season In Washington
Carly Cappetto’s fingers twisted into knots early Thursday as she scanned the crowd of students waiting to enter Evergreen Elementary. It was the first day of school. Cappetto, a family-resource coordinator, craned her neck to glance toward the back parking lot, where she hoped to spot one particular school bus unloading its solitary passenger: a fourth-grader, J, alone because she’s coming from a homeless shelter 30 minutes away. (Morton, 9/10)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Some Retailers Defying Ban On CBD Oil Sales
Under Ohio's new medical marijuana program, only state-licensed dispensaries - which aren't open yet - can sell products made with CBD, or cannabidiol, the state declared. Cannabidiol is one of hundreds of active ingredients in cannabis plants. CBD oils and other products have become wildly popular variants of medical marijuana. (Tucker and Saker, 9/10)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Maker Of Firefighting Foam Wants To Remove Chemicals Into The Bay
A Johnson Controls subsidiary in Marinette said it is planning to install pollution-control systems in two waterways to keep toxic chemicals now likely flowing into Green Bay from reaching the water. The efforts of Tyco Fire Products — a maker of fire suppression foam — to keep pollutants from seeping into Lake Michigan waters are believed to be unprecedented in Wisconsin, according to the Department of Natural Resources. (Bergquist, 9/10)
Opinion writers express views on the impact Brett Kavanaugh could have on the future of abortion rights.
Portland Press Herald:
Sen. Collins’ Legacy Faces Key Test With Kavanaugh
She has long prided herself on never missing a vote in the U.S. Senate. But of all the thousands she’s cast in her 21 years on Capitol Hill, this is the one on which Sen. Susan Collins’ legacy will hinge. She can vote later this month to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court and hope – no, make that pray – that he stands by his assurance to her that Roe. v. Wade is “settled law.” (Whatever that means.) Or she can open her eyes to what many others already see – that Kavanaugh represents the tipping point in the never-ending battle over a woman’s right to choose an abortion – and vote to keep him off the highest court in the land. (Bill Nemitz, 9/10)
The Boston Globe:
Senator Collins: Oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s Nomination
(Brett) Kavanaugh’s obvious hostility to abortion rights is alarming, but it’s what President Trump promised and what Americans voted for in 2016. Yet that doesn’t mean senators should rubber-stamp iffy nominees for lifetime appointments. Start with Kavanaugh’s dissembling answer about abortion. It’s become standard for nominees to avoid commenting on their views on Roe v. Wade. It is not standard to mislead senators, but that’s just what Kavanaugh did. (9/10)
The Detroit Free Press:
Brett Kavanaugh And The Future Of Reproductive Rights
The first appointments were at 8 a.m., which had me on the road to my old, east-side neighborhood no later than 6:45. The clinic was on Eight Mile, closer to Kelly than Gratiot. You could easily miss the plain brick building with its windows tucked near the roofline. I sometimes did. Every Saturday, eight to 10 of us gathered to escort unsuspecting women past the posters, prayers and pamphlets of anti-abortion activists. (Annmarie Erickson, 9/10)
The New York Times:
The Handmaid’s Court
It’s fitting that last week’s Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were regularly interrupted by the sound of women screaming. Again and again, protesters, most of them female, cried out for the preservation of their rights, and were arrested. Republican men were contemptuous. “What’s the hysteria coming from?” asked Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Let me answer. It is true, as Sasse said, that protesters have claimed for many years that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, women will die. It’s a fair prediction; women died before Roe, and where abortion is illegal, unsafe abortion leads to maternal death. In the past, however, Roe has been saved. Should Kavanaugh be confirmed, it will either fall or be eviscerated. (Michelle Goldberg, 9/10)
Opinion writers weigh in on the country's growing concerns about losing health care protections under President Trump.
The Washington Post:
A Remarkable New Ad From A Democrat Shows How Much Health Care Has Shifted
The fate of red-state Democratic senators is going to determine whether the Senate remains in Republican hands after November, or whether Democrats take over and potentially control all of Congress. What are those red-state Dems counting on to secure their victories? Protecting Obamacare. And this reveals just how far the debate over health care has shifted, both inside the Democratic Party — where the center of ideological gravity has shifted to the left on this and many other issues — and in the country as a whole. (Paul Waldman, 9/10)
The New York Times:
Democrats Are Credible On Health Care
Last week, Ted Cruz, the unexpectedly endangered Republican senator from Texas, warned that Beto O’Rourke, his Democratic opponent, would turn the state into California, with “tofu and silicone and dyed hair.” Does Cruz really think every blonde in Texas — and every middle-aged man with remarkably little gray — is natural, and nobody has had work done? (Paul Krugman, 9/10)
Trump Administration Turns Back The Clock On Health Care Reform
Last week, a federal court in Texas heard oral arguments in yet another lawsuit attacking the Affordable Care Act. The difference this time is that the Trump administration refused to defend the law — choosing instead to jeopardize the health care and financial well-being of tens of millions of Americans with pre-existing health conditions. (Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, 9/10)
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
A Pre-Existing Condition Called Republican Orthodoxy
Barb Fleming knows what it is to stand at the precipice of America’s health care system and look down. It’s a place she doesn’t want to be again.Fleming, 58, of Bel-Nor, a self-employed sales representative, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2008. Upon attempting to renew her health insurance, the company wouldn’t cover the cancer because it was a pre-existing condition. This was standard industry practice at the time. (Kevin McDermott, 9/8)
Los Angeles Times:
We Can't Make Economically Rational Choices On Healthcare. Our Brains Won't Let Us
Standing under a sign reading “pain relief,” I scanned the shelves, my legs throbbing after a 10K race that morning. I spotted a familiar red box: Tylenol Extra Strength, 100 pills for $7. Right next to it was the drug store’s generic version, offering 100 pills for $5. This should have been a no-brainer. I’m a physician, and I know the active ingredient, acetaminophen, is the same in both. It’s a simple molecule — a six-carbon hexagonal ring at the center with two side chains poking out — something any biochem major could manufacture in an afternoon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also makes certain that generic and brand-named drugs are identical. There were only two differences here: the packaging and the price. (Robert Pearl, 9/10)
Editorial pages focus on these health topics and others.
Fentanyl: America's Opioid Epidemic Takes A Darker Turn
America’s opioid crisis has shifted. As Congress and the White House have dawdled, the overdose death toll has continued its steady climb — reaching more than 49,000 in 2017, an increase of nearly 7,000 over the previous year, itself a record-breaker. But the primary agent of death is no longer ordinary prescription painkillers. It’s illicit fentanyl, often mixed with heroin or some other street drug. (9/10)
The Detroit News:
Health Care Leaders Must Fix Opioid Crisis
The Center for Disease Control recently released its annual report on drug overdose deaths in America, and it’s bad news for Michigan. According to the report, the Great Lakes State experienced an 8 percent rise in overdose-related deaths last year — overdoses in the state now claim more than seven lives a day, far outpacing the rate of suicides, traffic fatalities or gun deaths. As Michigan and other states are in the midst of a national discussion about the opioid epidemic, the conversation often focuses on users of prescription opioids who become addicted. But what many people don’t know is the impact the crisis has on our healthcare workers and our environment. The epidemic isn’t limited to patients — easy access to controlled substances can lead to addiction among healthcare employees, and discarded medications wreak havoc on the environment. Healthcare workers have easier access to opioids than anyone else. (Dave Shannon, 9/10)
The New York Times:
He Pleaded Against Gun Violence. Bullets Silenced Him.
When they staged a “die-in” at Stroger Hospital in Chicago earlier this year, Delmonte Johnson and his friends — who together formed GoodKids MadCity, a group dedicated to ending violence in urban communities — had a straightforward request. They wanted what their wealthier, whiter, more suburban peers already seemed to have: freedom from the oppressive fear of being gunned down in their own neighborhoods. (9/10)
Healthy Food Has Gone High End, But Is The Lifestyle Trend Worth The Cost?
Now, more than ever, it’s easy to find high-price, locally grown, organic produce alongside “superfoods” like pomegranate juice, acai berries and chia seeds. Toss it all together into a sleek $400 blender and you’ve got the cure for whatever ails, except for credit card debt. The notion that premium foods and superfoods drive better health obscures the fact that adding plain old fruits and vegetables — organic or GMO — into your diet is one of the greatest steps any of us can take to improve our well-being.According to the United States Department of Agriculture, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may lower blood pressure, reduce risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, and more. (David S. Seres and Nancy E. Roman, 9/10)
Raising The Smoking Age To 21 Would Reduce Addiction And Save Lives
Tobacco is the leading cause of illness and death in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly half a million people each year. That is equivalent to three 747 planes crashing in this country every single day. However, we have the opportunity to prevent today’s teenagers from the harms experienced by the Garson family. The question is, are we willing to seize it? (Stephanie Morain and Arthur Garson Jr., 9/11)
We Can Keep Synthetic Biology Miracles Coming By Investing In US Research
A medical miracle to treat phenylketonuria (PKU) may be on the horizon. In the U.S. and many other countries, babies are tested to see if they have the rare, inherited disorder that leaves them unable to break down the amino acid phenylalanine. For those who do have PKU, what follows is a strict diet without meat, cheese, fish, nuts, eggs, beans, or other dietary protein for the rest of their lives. If phenylalanine builds up in the blood major health problems will result: neurological problems, intellectual disabilities, psychiatric disorders, and other serious effects. While there is an Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication that can help some people with PKU (in conjunction with a strict diet and frequent blood testing), treatment options are incomplete and sparse. (Gigi Gronvall, 9/10)
Los Angeles Times:
California Is Sitting On Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars For Mental Health Programs. Let's Put It To Use
Like much of the rest of the nation, California went only halfway toward keeping its promise to improve mental health care. It closed psychiatric hospitals, some of which were really just costly warehouses for the sick rather than modern medical facilities offering effective treatment. But the state didn't follow through on its commitment to provide better alternatives, like community-based clinics that deliver the treatment and services needed to integrate patients into society, working and living independently where possible. We can see the result of those half-measures every day. (9/10)
Lexington Herald Examiner:
We Must Focus On Recovery, Not Incarceration
It is recovery, not incarceration, which allows people to become productive members of society — citizens with jobs and families who can contribute and make our communities better places to work, grow and live. It is recovery, not incarceration, which brings hope and peace into the lives of thousands of Americans and their families struggling with addiction. (Kelley Ashby Paul, 9/10)