Five Quick Ways A New HHS Secretary Could Change The Course Of Health Policy

Prospective Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, currently the chairman of the House Budget Committee, brings a distinctive to-do list to the agency.  And, if confirmed by the Senate, he will have tremendous independent power to get things done. While he will report to the president, heads of major agencies like HHS — with a …

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Viewpoints: Seeking Facts On Repeal And What Comes Next; Health Savings Accounts’ Problems

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country. Boston Globe: Repealing The Affordable Care Act — Fact Vs. FictionAs the new administration and Republican allies in Congress plan their agenda for 2017, repeal of the Affordable Care Act is front and center. Senate Republicans last week put out a policy statement reiterating …

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Research Roundup: Surgeons And Supply Costs; Medicaid And Dental Needs; HIV Diagnosis

Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs. JAMA Surgery: Association Between Surgeon Scorecard Use And Operating Room CostsQuestion: What is the association between providing surgeons with individualized cost feedback and surgical supply costs? Findings: In this case-control study, surgeons in the intervention group received cost feedback scorecards during …

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State Highlights: Ga.’s Rural Hospitals In Desperate Financial Need; Ariz.’s White Residents Dying Faster Than They’re Being Born

Outlets report on health news from Georgia, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maryland, Ohio, Florida and California. Georgia Health News: State Identifies Rural Hospitals In Biggest Need Of Donation HelpA South Georgia hospital has been ranked as the most financially stressed among 49 rural hospitals eligible for a new state tax credit program.State officials, after reviewing …

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Survey: 40% Of Transgendered Americans Have Attempted Suicide

A report released by the National Center for Transgender Equality shows that many still struggle with bias and prejudice that negatively affects their mental health, despite gains in transgender rights in the past few years. The Associated Press: Major Survey Of Transgender Americans Finds Pervasive BiasThe largest-ever survey of transgender Americans paints a grim picture …

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Despite Past Failures, ‘Personhood’ Advocates Hopeful New Leaders May Be Friendly To Cause

Rep. Tom Price, Donald Trump’s pick to head HHS, has twice co-sponsored federal legislation that would define fertilized human eggs as legal persons — one of which Vice President-elect Mike Pence co-sponsored. Stat: Fetal ‘Personhood’ Movement Seeks To Capitalize On GOP WinsThe push to confer full “personhood” status on every fertilized human egg has been …

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VA’s Private Quality Ratings Reveal Clinics Most In Need Of Improvement

The VA determines the ratings for 146 of its medical centers each quarter and bases them on dozens of factors, including death and infection rates, instances of avoidable complications and wait times. USA Today: Internal Documents Detail Secret VA Quality RatingsThe Department of Veterans Affairs has for years assigned star ratings for each of its …

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Evergreen Barred From Maryland Exchanges As It Tries To Convert To For-Profit Model

Evergreen, which started as a one of the health co-op insurers funded by the federal health law, ran into financial problems. Insurance regulators had hoped that it would work through the regulatory process for its conversion in time for the beginning of 2017 coverage, but it didn’t manage to do so. The Associated Press: Evergreen …

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Justice Department Challenges Aetna, Humana’s Plan To Sell Off Medicare Plans As Part Of Merger Proposal

At the ongoing antitrust trial, Justice officials raise concerns about the ability of Molina Healthcare, the proposed asset buyer, to keep the marketplace competitive for private Medicare plans. The Wall Street Journal: In Antitrust Trial, Justice Department Questions Aetna-Humana Asset Sale PlanThe Justice Department hammered away in court Thursday at the viability of a plan …

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Which Drugs Hit Taxpayers’ Wallets The Hardest?

CMS releases the list of drugs that contributed to higher Medicare spending in 2015. Meanwhile, payers predict drug prices will continue to rise between 3 and 6 percent over the next three years. Stat: These Drugs For Medicare Patients Cost American Taxpayers The MostDrugs to treat cancer, high blood pressure, and seizures experienced large price …

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Biogen Learns Lessons From Lilly’s Failed Alzheimer’s Drug

Meanwhile, in other pharmaceutical news, the U.S. solicitor general urges the Supreme Court to review a case on biosimilars. And news outlets report on developments from Bristol-Myers, Horizon Pharma and Endo International. Stat: Why Biogen Is Breathing A Sigh Of Relief With The Latest Alzheimer’s DataLilly’s treatment, solanezumab, had no significant effect on the buildup …

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5 Yoga-Inspired Shoulder Openers

Feel like you’re forever tightly wound? We feel you. You have a good reason to crave that deep-tissue massage after a stressful day at work. Research shows that we carry certain emotions, like anger and anxiety, in our head, neck and shoulders. Over time, that chronic stress leads to tense knots in our upper body. That’s why we designed this …

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Keep It Moving

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS December 9, 2016 By now it is pretty well accepted both that physical inactivity is bad — recently linked to 6 percent of all cases of heart disease worldwide and 11 percent of all premature deaths in the United States — and that exercise is good, because it tends to increase life span and …

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Many Parents With Job-Based Coverage Still Turn To Medicaid, CHIP To Insure Kids

Lower income parents who have health insurance through their employers are increasingly likely to forgo family coverage and enroll their kids in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) instead, a new study found. Working families’ growing reliance on these programs is something lawmakers should keep in mind when they consider whether to renew …

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From Syria, With Love

December 9, 2016 Modern Love By AMANDA AVUTU At first, I knew only that a family of refugees were coming to our Atlanta neighborhood. I had seen a community Facebook post asking for help cleaning the apartment they would use, and I volunteered my family for the effort. Secretly, irrationally, I already loved them. I …

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Retired Coal Miners At Risk Of Losing Promised Health Coverage And Pensions

Without congressional intervention, about 16,000 retired miners in seven states will lose their health care coverage by the end of the year. A proposal to temporarily extend the benefits is working its way through Congress. But two Senate Democrats, who have long been advocates for a more comprehensive plan, say the temporary provision isn’t enough. …

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The Tao of Matthew McConaughey

By STEVEN KURUTZ December 8, 2016 Matthew McConaughey has two movies out this month. In one, he gives voice to an animated koala who organizes a singing contest. In the other, he plays a schlubby dreamer turned jungle adventurer. The details are not important. The main thing is, the movies will keep him in the public eye …

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Interstate Health Insurance Sales Has A Tryout In Georgia But No Takers

Among Republican ideas to transform the health care system is a proposal to allow health insurers to sell their policies across state lines. President-elect Donald Trump and Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia congressman picked by Trump to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, have backed the proposal. They and other advocates see it …

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