First Edition: April 20, 2017

This post was originally published on this site
Apr 20 2017

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: With Drug Costs In Crosshairs, Health Firms Gave Generously To Trump’s Inauguration
Jay Hancock, Sydney Lupkin and Elizabeth Lucas report: “Facing acute risks to their businesses from Washington policymakers, health companies spent more than $2 million to buy access to the incoming Trump administration via candlelight dinners, black-tie balls and other inauguration events, new filings show. Drugmaker Pfizer gave $1 million to help finance the inauguration, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Amgen, another pharmaceutical company, donated $500,000. Health insurers Anthem, Centene and Aetna all gave six-figure contributions.” (Hancock, Lupkin and Lucas, 4/19)

Kaiser Health News: Stalking The ‘Unknown Enemy’: Doctors Turn Scope On Rare Diseases
Anna Gorman reports: “Lynn Whittaker stood in the hallway of her home looking at the framed photos on the wall. In one, her son, Andrew, is playing high school water polo. In another, he’s holding a trombone. The images show no hint of his life today: the seizures that leave him temporarily paralyzed, the weakness that makes him fall over, his labored speech, his scrambled thoughts. Andrew, 28, can no longer feed himself or walk on his own. The past nine years have been a blur of doctor appointments, hospital visits and medical tests that have failed to produce answers.” (Gorman, 4/20)

Kaiser Health News: How To Help Alzheimer’s Patients Enjoy Life, Not Just ‘Fade Away’
Judith Graham reports: “Alzheimer’s disease has an unusual distinction: It’s the illness that Americans fear most — more than cancer, stroke or heart disease. The rhetoric surrounding Alzheimer’s reflects this. People “fade away” and are tragically “robbed of their identities” as this incurable condition progresses, we’re told time and again.” (Graham, 4/20)

California Healthline: California Lawmakers Consider Mandatory Labels On Salon Products To Protect Workers
Pauline Bartolone reports: “Beauty salon workers who paint the nails and treat the hair of millions of Californians are regularly exposed to toxic chemicals — and they may not know it, advocates say. The advocates are asking California lawmakers to approve legislation requiring cosmetic companies to list the ingredients of beauty products used in professional salons. The bill, which passed the Assembly health committee Tuesday, will next be heard by the environmental safety committee.” (Bartolone, 4/20)

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Offer Early Sign Of ACA Exchange Plans For 2018
Anthem Inc. made preliminary filings indicating it will offer plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in Virginia and Kentucky next year, providing an early signal on the insurer’s exchange business. Cigna Corp.and Aetna Inc., which like Anthem have said they are reconsidering their exchange offerings, are among the insurers that made similar filings in Virginia. But one current Virginia ACA insurer, UnitedHealth Group Inc., didn’t file 2018 forms, and a spokesman confirmed it would leave the state’s marketplace next year. (Wilde Mathews and Radnofsky, 4/20)

The Washington Post: Trump Must Decide Whether To Support Or Undermine Obamacare
President Trump is pressuring Congress to sink parts of the Affordable Care Act. But now that the first attempt at a GOP health-care overhaul has failed, he must decide whether to throw the law a line. The White House and Republican lawmakers are facing key decisions that could either improve the insurance marketplaces established by the ACA next year or prompt insurers to further hike rates or withdraw from those marketplaces entirely. Republicans had hoped to protect those with marketplace coverage while lawmakers replaced Obamacare. (Winfield Cunningham, 4/19)

Politico: 5 Reasons The Government Might Shut Down
The deadline to keep the federal government open is just about here, but a deal is far from done. With just five workdays left until government funding expires, lawmakers return next week to all the same sticking points that have made full-year funding so elusive and now threaten a government shutdown.  … Democratic leaders declared that any spending bill must provide money for a key Obamacare subsidy program after Trump threatened to defund the cost-sharing subsidies; the president sees the program as a way to force Democrats to the negotiating table. (Scholtes and Ferris, 4/20)

The New York Times: Trump Inaugural Drew Big Dollars From Donors With Vested Interests
Documents released this week by Mr. Trump’s inaugural organizers provide a glimpse of the big-dollar frenzy of influence-seeking and peacemaking surrounding Mr. Trump’s swearing-in, which raised $107 million, twice as much money as any other inauguration. …  While Mr. Trump promised during the campaign to give Medicare and Medicaid the power to negotiate prices they pay for prescription drugs, two of the biggest drugmakers, Pfizer and Amgen, gave a combined $1.5 million in December. (Confessore, Fandos and Shorey, 4/19)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Signs Legislation Extending Private-Care Program For Veterans
President Donald Trump signed an extension of a Department of Veterans Affairs law on Wednesday to continue a program that helps veterans seek health care outside the VA system. The original legislation, commonly known as the Veterans Choice Act, was slated to expire in August. The measure signed Wednesday by Mr. Trump extends the program until the remaining funds are used, which is expected to happen by the end of the year. (Kesling, 4/19)

NPR: Veterans Gain Health Coverage Through The Affordable Care Act
Almost half a million veterans gained health care coverage during the first two years of the Affordable Care Act, a report finds. In the years leading up to the implementation of the ACA’s major coverage provisions, from 2010 to 2013, nearly 1 million of the nation’s approximately 22 million veterans didn’t have health insurance. (Boddy, 4/19)

The Wall Street Journal: Cybersecurity Startup Tanium Exposed California Hospital’s Network In Demos Without Permission
For years, cybersecurity startup Tanium Inc. pitched its software by showing it working in the network of a hospital it said was a client, according to people familiar with the matter and videos of the demonstrations. That and other efforts helped the company grow quickly, notching a valuation of $3.5 billion and a big investment from Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture firms. But Tanium never had permission to present the demos, the hospital said, meaning a company selling security actually was giving outsiders an unauthorized look at information from inside its customer’s system. (Winkler, 4/19)

The Washington Post: A Protein From Human Umbilical Cords Revitalizes Memory — At Least In Mice
You leave your car in a vast, crowded parking lot, and when you return, you have no idea where it is. The ensuing search is frustrating, time-consuming and a little embarrassing. That experience occurs more frequently as we get older, because the functions of the part of the brain that encodes spatial and episodic memories — the hippocampus — decline with age. But now neuroscientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown that — in mice — an infusion of plasma taken from human umbilical cords improves the hippocampus’s functioning, resulting in significant gains in memory and cognition needed for tasks such as finding a car in a full parking lot. (Bernstein, 4/19)

NPR: Blood From Human Umbilical Cords Helps Aging Mice Remember
From the beginning, the findings were exciting, complex and, sometimes, contradictory. For example, scientists have shown that young blood can restore cell activity in the muscles and livers of aging mice. They’ve also found that linking old mice to young ones helped reverse heart muscle thickening. On the other hand, researchers weren’t able to replicate some of the most eye-catching findings and another study concluded that, in mice that swapped blood without being connected surgically, the negative effects of being exposed to old blood outweighed the benefits of getting young blood. (Bichell, 4/19)

NPR: Opioid Addiction Complicates Pain Relief After Surgery
Nearly one and a half million Americans were treated for addiction to prescription opioids or heroin in 2015, according to federal estimates, and when those people get seriously hurt or need surgery, it’s often not clear, even to many doctors, how to safely manage their pain. For some former addicts, what begins as pain relief ends in tragedy. (Lemoult, 4/20)

The Washington Post: Antidepressants Not As Harmful During Pregnancy As Previously Thought, A New Study Shows
Women who take antidepressants early in pregnancy are not at a higher risk of having children who develop autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), contrary to earlier reports, a study published Tuesday found. The new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found only a slight increase in the risk of premature birth for infants of mothers who used antidepressants during the first trimester of their pregnancy. But the researchers found no increase in the risk of autism, ADHD or reduced fetal growth among children exposed to antidepressants during fetal development. (Naqvi, 4/19)

The Associated Press: Judge Blocks Missouri’s Abortion-Restricting Rules
A federal judge followed through on his promise Wednesday and blocked abortion-restricting rules in Missouri, saying he’s bound by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and that the state is denying abortion rights “on a daily basis, in irreparable fashion. “Missouri’s attorney general swiftly pledged an appeal, calling the ruling “wrong.” (4/19)

The Associated Press: Group: Rauner Deceived Illinois Voters On Abortion Stance
Campaigning as a pro-choice Republican in 2014, Bruce Rauner said he would sign legislation to ensure abortion remains legal in Illinois and to expand abortion coverage for state workers and Medicaid recipients. But last week Rauner said he would veto a measure pending in the Legislature that supporters say would do both, citing “sharp divisions of opinion of taxpayer funding of abortion.” (4/19)

The New York Times: De Blasio Backs Plan To Lift Base Price Of Pack Of Cigarettes To $13
Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged his support on Wednesday to a series of initiatives to cut tobacco use, proposing to raise the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes in New York City to $13 and vowing to sharply reduce, over time, the number of stores that may sell tobacco products. Raising the minimum price of a pack to $13, from the current $10.50 minimum, would make New York the most expensive place in the nation to buy cigarettes, city officials said. (Neuman, 4/19)

Los Angeles Times: Mother Of Baby Who Caught Superbug Says UC Irvine Hospital Didn’t Tell Her About The Outbreak
The mother of one of 10 infants hit by a potentially lethal superbug at UC Irvine Medical Center disputed this week the hospital administration’s claim that parents were told about the outbreak. Briana Walker of Mission Viejo said the hospital staff did not explain when her son tested positive for the bacteria last month that other infants were already being treated for the same infections. She had begun to believe, she said, that her husband or another family member had unknowingly brought the superbug into the intensive care unit from outside. (Petersen, 4/19)

The Associated Press: Audit: US Grant Funds Misused To Pay For Medical Marijuana
An audit by independent investigators with the U.S. Justice Department has determined a New Mexico program that helps crime victims allowed federal grant funds to be used to reimburse the purchase of medical marijuana by crime victims. The review released this week by the agency’s inspector general identified $7,630 in questionable costs for four marijuana purchases. (Bryan, 4/19)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.