Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes

The Friday Breeze Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes, who reads everything on health care to compile our daily Morning Briefing, offers the best and most provocative stories for the weekend. Happy Friday! Before we dive in to the harder news, please join me in enjoying this story about scientists dosing a shy breed of octopus with …

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State Highlights: Safety Allegations Against Manchester VA Unfounded, Internal Draft Report Shows; Colorado’s Mental Health System Riddled With Failures, Advocates Say

Media outlets report on news from New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Washington, Ohio, Connecticut, California, Minnesota and Kansas.

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Three Years After Anthrax Scare, Defense Department Still Behind On Biosafety Upgrades, Report Finds

“When it comes to reforming procedures, this is not a one-off thing that you can do once and take a vacation,” said Gigi Gronvall, a biosecurity expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. In other public health news: yoga and meditation, Alzheimer’s, germs, concussions, and food safety.

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CHIP Coffers Are Habitually Raided To Finance Other Parts Of The Budget. Take A Look At How It Survives.

Funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program are technically outside the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committees and don’t count against annual discretionary caps, and the pool of “contingency money” dedicated to the program has been tapped sparingly. Medicaid news comes out of Alabama and Maine, as well.

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‘A Lot Of Opportunities’ Exist For Cutting Drug Costs, Trump Health Official Tells Congress

Joe Grogan, OMB’s associate director for health programs, didn’t specify what lawmakers can do before year’s end to stem rising costs, but one bill with bipartisan support helps generic companies obtain samples of brand drugs as part of the development process. News on the industry also spotlights a new lobbying heavyweight for PBM and Medicaid …

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America’s Drug Death Trends Are More Complex Than The Current Narrative About Opioid Overdoses

Overdose deaths are on a sharp upward trajectory, but the roles different drugs play in that overarching epidemic has been simplified to focus on opioids. A new study reveals the depth of the crisis in America over the past four decades, and offers a grim picture of the country’s future. In other drug-related news: hospitals …

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Sloan Kettering Hit With Another Controversy Over Exclusive Deal With For-Profit Startup It Has Financial Stake In

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and its officials hold an equity stake in the artificial intelligence startup to which the center has granted exclusive rights to use its vast archives. The connections raised some eyebrows so soon after the resignation of the center’s chief medical officer over his failure to disclose financial conflicts.

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Massive Opioid Package Gives Congress Opportunity To Roll Back ‘Doughnut Hole’ Change That Pharma Hates

In February, Congress passed a provision forcing drug manufacturers to pay more for drugs used by Medicare beneficiaries. The industry has been railing about the change ever since, and the bipartisan opioid package might be lawmakers’ chance to hand pharma a big win.

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Alex Azar Came To HHS Ready To Execute A Four-Point Health Plan. Then The Zero-Tolerance Crisis Happened.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar became the public face of the crisis because his agency is responsible for housing the migrant children that were separated from their parents. The Washington Post looks at how he handled the pressure. Meanwhile, Azar plans to shift millions from public health programs to help pay to house detained migrant children.

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If Congress Can Assure Her Safety, Kavanaugh Accuser Says She’s Open To Testifying

Christine Blasey Ford originally said she wouldn’t testify about her allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh without an FBI investigation. While that’s still her preference, she said that she’s willing to come in next week “on terms that are fair.” Meanwhile, psychological experts dig into the complexities of memory.

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Bad Air And Inadequate Data Prove An Unhealthy Mix

WASCO, Calif. — Kira Hinslea wanted to play outside, but she knew she couldn’t until her mom checked an air-quality app on her phone. “Is it OK?” the 6-year-old eagerly asked her mother, Shirley Hinslea, one day late last month. Hinslea gave Kira the green light, and the child beamed with excitement. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” …

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As States Try To Rein In Drug Spending, Feds Slap Down One Bold Medicaid Move

States serve as “laboratories of democracy,” as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said. And states are also labs for health policy, launching all kinds of experiments lately to temper spending on pharmaceuticals. No wonder. Drugs are among the fastest-rising health care costs for many consumers and are a key reason health care spending …

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