California lawmakers are debating whether to tighten the rules on childhood vaccinations and give the ultimate say to state public health officials. But questions are emerging from unexpected quarters: the state medical board and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, 6/14)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Dr. Dissident?'" by John Deering from "Strange Brew".
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Trump Rule Will Allow Small Employers To Use Tax-Free Accounts To Help Workers Pay For Health Insurance
The health reimbursement arrangements are already available to employers and workers, but the administration finalized new rules that potentially could boost their popularity. Critics fear that some of the changes could undermine traditional workplace insurance, or raise premiums for individual plans.
The Hill: Trump Officials Issue New Rule Aimed At Expanding Health Choices For Small Businesses The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a rule aimed at expanding health insurance options for small businesses and others, the latest action stemming from President Trump’s health care executive order in 2017. The White House framed the move as part of its efforts to expand health care choices for people now that efforts to repeal ObamaCare have come up short. (Sullivan, 6/13)
The Associated Press: White House Expands Health Accounts Aimed At Small Firms The tax-free individual accounts are called "health reimbursement arrangements," or HRAs, and starting next year employees will be able to use them to buy their own individual health insurance plans. Employers that offer regular workplace coverage can also set up another type of HRA account — limited to $1,800 a year — that will allow workers to get additional benefits such as dental and vision care. This second type of account can also be used to purchase lower-cost, short-term insurance that comes with limited benefits and doesn't have to cover pre-existing medical conditions. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/13)
Modern Healthcare: Employers Can Fund Workers' Individual Plans Under New Trump Rule Employers will be able to hand their workers a chunk of tax-sheltered health reimbursement money and send them off to buy an individual health plan under a controversial rule issued by the Trump administration Thursday. The final rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, will prompt an estimated 800,000 large and small employers to fund individual coverage through health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) for about 10 million workers, nearly 800,000 of whom would be newly insured. (Meyer, 6/13)
The Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Expands Pre-Tax Accounts For Health Insurance Conservatives and employers have been pressing for the change, which the Trump administration said will increase consumer choice. The administration said the rule is expected to expand coverage by 2029 to an estimated 800,000 who were previously uninsured. According to the rule, some people could lose insurance if employers drop coverage or the influx of new consumers causes premiums on the individual market to rise. The rule is also expected to lead to a $51.2 billion drop in federal tax revenue between 2020 and 2029. (Armour, 6/13)
Politico Pro: Verma Warned Against Obamacare Changes In Confidential Memo A top Trump health official last summer privately warned that a trio of regulatory changes to Obamacare weighed by the administration could immediately push over a million people off coverage and disrupt the insurance markets, according to an internal memo obtained by POLITICO. CMS Administrator Seema Verma projected that Obamacare sign-ups would drop 10 percent in 2020 if officials followed through on proposals ending automatic reenrollment, banning a “silver loading” practice employed by insurers to keep premiums low and trimming the law’s subsidies. (Cancryn, 6/14)
2020 presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden's opinions on abortion have come under fire as of late when his campaign reiterated his support for the Hyde amendment and then reversed that stance following fierce pushback. A newly unearthed video of Biden from 2006 shows him saying that he does not view abortion as "a choice and a right." Meanwhile, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) opens up about her own abortion. News on abortion comes out of Maine and Rhode Island, as well.
The New York Times: Joe Biden Said He Did Not View Abortion ‘As A Choice And A Right’ In 2006 In a newly unearthed video from 2006, Joseph R. Biden Jr. said he supported Roe v. Wade but did not view abortion as “a choice and a right” — remarks that raise further questions about how he views abortion rights as he runs for the Democratic presidential nomination and faces pressure over his position on the issue. “I do not view abortion as a choice and a right. I think it’s always a tragedy,” Mr. Biden said in a videotaped interview with Texas Monthly, resurfaced on Thursday by CNN. “I think it should be rare and safe,” he added. “I think we should be focusing on how to limit the number of abortions.” (Saul, 6/13)
The Hill: Jayapal Opens Up About Her Own Abortion In NY Times Op-Ed Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) opened up about her own abortion in a column for The New York Times. In the Thursday op-ed, Jayapal describes her first pregnancy and how her child Janak was born weighing 1 pound, 14 ounces and faced complications due to undeveloped organs. (Budryk, 6/13)
The Associated Press: Maine Making Public, Private Insurers Cover Abortions A bill requiring public and private insurance companies to cover abortion is now law in Maine with Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' signature Thursday. The new law will take effect in 90 days and requires all insurers that cover prenatal care to include coverage of abortion. The proposal faced pushback from Republicans and a handful of Democrats who argued against taxpayer-funded abortions. (6/13)
Boston Globe: Rhode Island Abortion Rights Bill Headed To The Full Senate After two unsuccessful attempts, an abortion rights bill cleared a major hurdle Thursday, passing a state Senate committee just two days after being transferred from a less supportive committee. The bill now heads to the Senate floor on Tuesday, where supporters expect the vote to be close but favorable. (Fitzpatrick, 6/13)
The Hill: Texas Planned Parenthood Clinic To Remain Open Despite State Law Aimed At Closing It A Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin, Texas, is set to remain open until 2039 despite a new state law that prevents local governments from doing business with the organization. A bill signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbot last week bars cities from certain transactions with abortion providers, including leases and sales, going into effect Sept. 1. (Frazin, 6/13)
Austin American-Statesman: Despite New Law, Austin Planned Parenthood Clinic To Stay Open Senate Bill 22, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott last week, takes effect Sept. 1 and will ban cities from “any transaction” with an abortion provider or its affiliates — including leases, sales and donations of real estate, goods and services. However, SB 22 is not retroactive and cannot undo a 20-year lease extension that Planned Parenthood recently signed with Austin to continue operating the health center at 1823 E. Seventh St., according to the Texas attorney general’s office, which will enforce the law, and the bill’s author, Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels. (Lindell, 6/13)
The move, however, is mostly symbolic as the legislation is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate. The vote fell largely along party lines.
The Hill: House Democrats Vote To Overturn Trump Ban On Fetal Tissue Research House Democrats on Thursday voted to block the Trump administration’s recent ban on using federal funds to conduct medical research that relies on material collected from elective abortions. An amendment from Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) to a broader health care spending package passed 225-193, largely along party lines. (Weixel, 6/13)
Stat: House Votes To Overturn Trump Administration Ban On Fetal Tissue Research Democrats prevailed in a 225-193 vote divided roughly on party lines, slipping the amendment from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) into a broader 2020 spending package. But the maneuver is largely symbolic. With the Senate controlled by Republicans and the White House steadfast in its opposition to the controversial research practice, President Trump is unlikely to sign into law a spending bill that overturns his administration’s own directive. The White House announced on June 5 it would no longer allow government scientists to use fetal tissue for biomedical research. (Facher and Thielking, 6/13)
The Hill: Democrats Roll Out Proposal Requiring Insurance To Cover OTC Birth Control House and Senate Democrats rolled out a proposal Thursday that would require insurance companies to cover over-the-counter birth control at no cost to patients. The measure, introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would ensure birth control that is available to women without a prescription is covered by insurance companies. (Hellmann, 6/13)
House's $99.4B HHS Appropriations Bill Includes Amendment Reversing Ban On Developing Unique Patient PINs
Lawmakers previously argued a program to develop a national patient identifier could violate privacy issues or raise security concerns, while the medical community and insurers claimed the ban kept them from properly matching patients with the correct medical information--a major issue that health systems are struggling with.
Modern Healthcare: House Votes To Overturn Ban On National Patient Identifier The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $99.4 billion HHS appropriation bill with several amendments including reversing a longtime ban on developing a national patient identifier, money for hospital emergency departments dealing with opioid overdoses, and a nod to the anti-vaccination controversy. For decades, Congress has prohibited HHS from funding the development or promotion of any national program where patients would receive permanent, unique identification numbers. (Luthi and Cohen, 6/13)
Modern Healthcare: As The Care Continuum Expands, Patient-Matching Remains A Problem Without A Single Solution Matching patients with their medical information sounds like a simple concept, but it’s not. The practice is plagued by such issues as typos, missing data, similar names and new addresses—resulting in match rates as low as 80% within the same facility, according to the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. That means 1 in every 5 patients may not be linked with the correct record. It also leads to higher costs. Patient-matching remains a multi- billion-dollar problem in the U.S., with inaccurate patient identification accounting for $1,950 in duplicative medical care costs per inpatient and $1.5 million in denied claims per hospital each year, according to a survey by Black Book. (Cohen, 6/13)
Modern Healthcare: VA, Defense Propose New Office For EHR Projects The Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments plan to create a joint office that will have decision-making authority for their co-developed health record system, leaders told lawmakers on Wednesday. After months of congressional criticsm and requests for a proposed joint governance structure for the massive project, the agencies said they are creating Federal EHR Modernization Program Management Office as a "single point of authority" for EHR projects. (Cohen, 6/12)
Sanders, Cummings Urge Department Of Justice To Launch Criminal Investigation Into Generic Drugmakers' Prices
Rep. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said they are concerned about allegations that 20 major drug manufacturers conspired to artificially inflate and manipulate the prices of more than 100 generic drugs, with the companies making billions in the process. In other pharmaceutical and biotech news: how a photocopier mistake caused a major headache; an investigation into a biohacker; a questionable sickle cell disease drug heads to the FDA; and more.
Stat: Sanders And Cummings, Citing ‘Polite F-U Letters,’ Urge Feds To Step Up Probes Of Generic Makers As dozens of states pursue numerous generic drug makers for price-fixing, a pair of prominent lawmakers have complained to the Justice Department about a “lack of enforcement” and asked the agency to accelerate its own investigation into the companies. In a letter sent to the feds on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) also asked the Justice Department to probe whether 14 generic drug makers obstructed their own 2014 investigation into “suspicious” price increases for several generic medicines. (Silverman, 6/13)
CNN: Lawmakers Urge DOJ To Launch A Criminal Probe Of Generic Drug Makers "We urge the Department of Justice to investigate whether generic drug companies and executives violated criminal antitrust laws and ask that the Department of Justice pursue enforcement if warranted," the lawmakers said. The news comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed last month by a coalition of 44 states, alleging that 20 major drug manufacturers conspired to artificially inflate and manipulate the prices of more than 100 generic drugs, with the companies making billions in the process. (Drash, 6/13)
Stat: How A Mishap At A Photocopier Derailed Clinical Trials And A Development Deal Sometimes, small mistakes become big problems. Just ask Ferring Pharmaceuticals. Several years ago, an employee inadvertently switched dosage labels that were printed on a photocopier, triggering a series of events that undermined a pair of late-stage clinical trials and ultimately scrapped a development deal, according to a lawsuit filed by Elobix, its erstwhile partner. (Silverman, 6/13)
Stat: ‘It Felt Like An ’80s Criminal Drama’: What Happened When A Biohacker Met Bureaucrats Investigating Him A few weeks ago, the prominent biohacker Josiah Zayner took to Instagram to break some news: He had received a letter from the California Department of Consumer Affairs saying that officials were investigating him. The reason? A complaint had been made alleging that he had been practicing medicine without a license. Zayner runs the ODIN, a company here that sells equipment for do-it-yourself science, including a $159 DIY CRISPR kit. He got his own biotech training the conventional way — he has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics from the University of Chicago — but he’s since become a leader in the biohacking community. (Robbins and Feuerstein, 6/14)
Stat: Global Blood's Sickle Cell Disease Drug Heads To FDA, As Questions Linger Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) said Friday that its once-a-day pill for sickle cell disease boosted levels of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in a little more than half of the patients treated in a Phase 3 clinical trial — results that will allow the company to file soon for accelerated approval for the treatment in the U.S. Some outside experts, however, cautioned that it’s far from certain whether the results will translate into better health outcomes for patients themselves, even if the clinical trial achieved its main goal. (Feuerstein, 6/14)
Modern Healthcare: Washington Wins CMS Approval For Hepatitis C Drug Subscription Deals Washington became the fourth state to win a Medicaid state plan amendment allowing it to negotiate value-based purchasing agreements with prescription drug manufacturers. The CMS announced Wednesday that it approved Washington's proposal to let the state negotiate under a subscription model with makers of costly hepatitis C drugs. Under that model, the state would pay a fixed annual amount to a manufacturer to buy an unrestricted supply of hepatitis C drugs. (Meyer, 6/13)
After Patient Dies From Fecal Transplant, FDA Halts Trials Until Testing Improves For Drug-Resistant Bacteria
The transplants have come into increasing use to treat severe intestinal orders and sometimes work quickly in patients wasting away. But the procedure to use stool from a healthy donor to restore the normal balance of bacteria and other organisms in the intestine is considered experimental by the FDA.
Stat: FDA Warns Of One Patient Death From A Fecal Transplant The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that at least one person has died after a fecal microbiome transplant transmitted drug-resistant bacteria. The FDA said one other person was also sick from the transplant; both people had weaker-than-normal immune systems and received stool from the same donor. The stool was not tested for a type of bacteria that produces an enzyme called beta-lactamase. (Sheridan, 6/13)
The New York Times: Fecal Transplant Is Linked To A Patient’s Death, The F.D.A. Warns As a result, the agency is halting a number of clinical trials until the researchers conducting them can demonstrate that they have procedures in place to screen donated stool for dangerous organisms, said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the agency’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. In an interview, he did not specify how many trials would be suspended, but said it was “not just a few.” Fecal transplants have come into increasing use to treat severe intestinal disorders, particularly an infection caused by a bacterium called Clostridium difficile, which can be deadly and tends to occur in hospitalized patients who have been heavily treated with antibiotics. (Grady, 6/13)
USA Today: Fecal Transplant: FDA Warns About Drug-Resistant Bacteria C. Difficile Two adults with comprised immune systems who received a transplant from the same donor developed invasive infections caused by Escherichia coli (E.coli) that produced extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL), the FDA said. The donor stool was not tested for the drug-resistant bacteria prior to the procedure, the FDA noted. After the patients got sick, a stored sample from the stool donor was tested and found to contain the E. coli present in the two patients. (Yancey-Bragg, 6/13)
CNN: FDA Issues Safety Alert Over Fecal Transplants After Patient's Death The FDA will now require that all stool samples used in transplants be tested for drug-resistant microorganisms. All donors will also need to be screened for potential drug-resistant infections. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time." The CDC estimates that at least 2 million Americans develop drug-resistant bacterial infections every year, and at least 23,000 die. (Kounang, 6/13)
New York Eliminates Religious Exemptions In Face Of Measles Outbreak: 'Personal Opinions ... Do Not Trump The Greater Good'
Calling it a public health emergency, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) immediately signed the bill, adding New York -- which is at the heart of the current measles outbreak -- to a small list of states that do not allow exemptions on religious grounds that includes California, Arizona, West Virginia, Mississippi and Maine.
The Associated Press: New York Set To Cut Religious Exemption To Vaccine Mandates New York is set to eliminate a religious exemption to vaccine requirements in the face of its worst measles outbreak in decades. The Democrat-led Senate and Assembly voted Thursday to repeal the exemption, which allows parents of children to cite their religious beliefs to opt a child out of the vaccines required for school enrollment. (Klepper, 6/13)
The New York Times: Measles Outbreak: N.Y. Bans Religious Exemptions For Vaccinations The Legislature’s approval added New York to a small handful of states that do not allow exemptions on religious grounds, including California, West Virginia, Mississippi and Arizona. The issue is particularly germane in New York, where many measles cases have originated in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and in Rockland County, where so-called vaccine symposiums have featured speakers that encouraged people to shun vaccines. (McKinley, 6/13)
The Hill: New York State Senate Set To Advance Bills To End Religious Exemptions For Vaccines “The only way to stop the outbreak of measles — a dangerous and sometimes fatal disease — is to make sure as many children as possible are vaccinated,” said Dr. Linda P. Fried, dean of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “The New York Senate’s passage of critical legislation to eliminate non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccination requirements is a vital step towards protecting all New Yorkers — including vulnerable children — from this grave public health emergency.” (Axelrod, 6/13)
The Washington Post: New York, Epicenter Of Measles Outbreak, Bans Religious Exemptions For Vaccines All states have laws requiring various vaccines for students and all allow for medical exemptions. Many also grant parents the right to exempt their children from the vaccines for religious reasons, and a smaller number for philosophical reasons. But the tide of public opinion has been changing as measles cases this year have already surged to the highest levels since 1992. (Rosenberg, 6/13)
The Wall Street Journal: New York Ends Religious Exemptions For School Vaccinations The New York bill nearly died on Thursday during a vote in the Assembly’s health committee. The committee initially voted 13-13, but Assemblyman Nader Sayegh, a Democrat from Yonkers, switched his vote to be in favor of the bill, allowing it to advance to the floor. He voted against it in the chamber-wide vote. The Assembly passed the bill on a 77-53 vote and the Senate approved it 36-26. During the floor debate on Thursday, both Democratic and Republican Assembly members expressed concern over the scope of the bill, citing potential violations of constitutional religious-freedom protections. (Blint-Welsh, 6/13)
Jessica Biel Ignites Firestorm Of Criticism After Speaking Out Against Controversial California Vaccination Bill
The actress Jessica Biel spoke to lawmakers about a bill that would give the final exemption authority to a state official rather than a doctor. Biel said she's not opposed to the vaccines themselves, but rather the fact that the state would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. The move reflected one of the realities of anti-vaccine beliefs: They are held by individuals across the country who might have little else in common, politically or otherwise.
The New York Times: Jessica Biel Weighs In On Vaccine Fight, Drawing Fierce Pushback The public conversation over vaccines in America has been clouded by confusion, debunked scientific studies and unfounded claims over toxins and vaccine injury. But one image that spread widely on Thursday told a clear story: the actress Jessica Biel, sitting next to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has publicly questioned the safety of vaccines, on a trip this week to lobby the California Legislature against a bill that would toughen immunization requirements in the state. (Bosman and Levin, 6/13)
The New York Times: Here Is What Jessica Biel Opposes In California’s Vaccine Bill California requires every child who attends a public or private school to be immunized against a number of diseases, including measles. California is one of four states that do not allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children because of religious or personal beliefs (Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia are the others). But it does allow medical exemptions: A doctor can excuse a child from receiving some or all of the required vaccinations if there is a medical reason to do so. (Hassan, 6/13)
The Washington Post: Jessica Biel Lobbied With Anti-Vaxxer Robert Kennedy But Says She Supports Vaccines Biel, who is known for her role on the series “7th Heaven,” wrote on Instagram that she supports children getting vaccinations but is concerned that the bill’s medical exemption requirements are too strict. She said she worries about people such as her friends, whose child has a medical condition that requires exemption from vaccinations. (Iati, 6/13)
CNN: Jessica Biel Says She's Not Against Vaccinations SB 276, which is currently under review, is a California state bill that seeks to limit medical exemptions from vaccinations. The bill has been opposed by anti-vaccine advocates, as it effectively makes it harder for parents in the state to find a way around the strict rules that require children to receive vaccines before being enrolled in public or private elementary and secondary schools. "My concern with #SB277 is solely regarding medical exemptions. My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family's ability to care for their child in this state," Biel's post continued. (Gonzalez, 6/13)
Los Angeles Times: Jessica Biel, Facing Criticism, Explains Why She Opposes California Vaccine Bill Vaccination proponents have lambasted Biel for appearing with foes of childhood immunizations, and some of the heat is coming from fellow celebrities. Comedian Jen Kirkman harshly criticized Biel in a tweet Thursday morning that has since been removed. “People are dying due to anti-vaxxers and your ignorance will contribute to that death toll,” she wrote. The bill has passed the state Senate but now faces a more organized opposition effort, which includes Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a well-known critic of vaccinations. Biel quietly appeared with Kennedy at the Capitol on Tuesday, one week after Kennedy had lauded Gov. Gavin Newsom for critical remarks about the legislation. Newsom has stated he is not opposing the bill, but his remarks appear to have emboldened its critics. (Grad, 6/13)
California Healthline: A Proposal To Make It Harder For Kids To Skip Vaccines Gives Powerful Voices Pause As California lawmakers attempt to tighten the rules on childhood vaccinations, they’re getting pushback from unexpected quarters: high-profile officials who support vaccines. In the past few weeks, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and the members of the Medical Board of California have questioned a bill that would give the California Department of Public Health authority to decide whether a child can skip routine vaccinations. (Barry-Jester, 6/14)
'Our Lives Don't Matter': Flint Residents Left Stunned As Prosecutors Drop All Criminal Charges Against Officials
Some officials had been facing charges as serious as involuntary manslaughter in the case over the water contamination crisis that crippled the city of Flint, Michigan. The prosecutors say that the initial investigation was bungled and it is opting to launch a new but expanded probe. But the decision was a blow to residents who were already suspicious of the government.
The New York Times: Flint Water Prosecutors Drop Criminal Charges, With Plans To Keep Investigating Fifteen state and local officials, including emergency managers who ran the city and a member of the governor’s cabinet, had been accused by state prosecutors of crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter. Seven had already taken plea deals. Eight more, including most of the highest-ranking officials, were awaiting trial. On Thursday, more than three years after the first charges were filed, the Michigan attorney general’s office, which earlier this year passed from Republican to Democratic hands, abruptly dropped the eight remaining cases. Prosecutors left open the possibility of recharging some of those same people, and perhaps others, too. (Smith, 6/13)
The Associated Press: Charges Dropped For 8 People In The Flint Water Scandal Seven people pleaded no contest earlier to misdemeanors in deals that will leave them without a criminal record. Charges were dropped against the other eight Thursday when prosecutors announced they were restarting the investigation. (6/13)
Detroit Free Press: All Flint Water Crisis Criminal Charges Dismissed By AG's Office Flint residents reacted with shock and confusion. The statement from the Office of Attorney General Dana Nessel said the dismissals were a response to problems with the original investigation, launched in 2016 under former Attorney General Bill Schuette, and don't preclude recharging the original defendants or adding new ones. (Egan, 6/13)
NPR: Charges Dropped In Flint Drinking Water Investigation, Officials Vow New Probe Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the dramatic shift in a statement Thursday. "I want to remind the people of Flint that justice delayed is not always justice denied and a fearless and dedicated team of career prosecutors and investigators are hard at work to ensure those who harmed you are held accountable," Nessel said. (Gonzales, 6/13)
Have App, Will Find Research Recruits: More Than 20,000 People Sign Up On Facebook For 'Genes For Good'
Finding participants for research can be difficult, but it was relatively easy to find a large pool of people from across the country, the developers said, adding it's private, as well. Facebook doesn't have access to the data. New reports on public health news are on enteroviruses, time outdoors, insomnia, visual impairment, depression, Roundup and more.
Stat: Researchers Recruit 20,000 People For Facebook-Based Genomics Project One of the biggest challenges that researchers have traditionally faced is getting enough people to participate in studies. And patient recruitment also takes up a big portion of research funding. But one group’s model may have found a solution to that problem — by using social media and the promise of giving people their results as a recruitment tool. In a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the researchers behind the Genes for Good project share what they’ve learned since launching it in 2015. (Chakradhar, 6/13)
Stat: Study Points To Enteroviruses As Possible Cause Of Paralysis In Kids Researchers say they have strong new evidence that a virus is involved in a rare and puzzling polio-like condition that began affecting children in the U.S. about five years ago. The researchers hope their work will lead to a better test for the paralyzing condition, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which has been diagnosed in more than 500 kids since 2014. The scientists used an experimental method to pull evidence of viral infections from the spinal fluid of 42 AFM patients. (Fox, 6/14)
The New York Times: How Much Nature Is Enough? 120 Minutes A Week, Doctors Say It’s a medical fact: Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is good for you. A wealth of research indicates that escaping to a neighborhood park, hiking through the woods, or spending a weekend by the lake can lower a person’s stress levels, decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk asthma, allergies, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while boosting mental health and increasing life expectancy. Doctors around the world have begun prescribing time in nature as a way of improving their patients’ health. (Sheikh, 6/13)
The New York Times: That Sleep Tracker Could Make Your Insomnia Worse Are you sabotaging your sleep in your quest to improve it? Many new tools are becoming available to monitor your sleep or help you achieve better sleep: wearable watches and bands; "nearable" devices that you can place on your bed or nightstand; and apps that work by monitoring biometric data, noise and movement. They can remind you to start winding down, or generate a report on your night’s slumber. (Zraick and Mervosh, 6/13)
NPR: How Doctors And Researchers With Disabilities Are Changing Medicine Bonnielin Swenor has devoted her life to studying visual impairment in older adults. But for a long time, she didn't often discuss the motivation fueling her work — that she herself has low vision. Swenor, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University, has myopic macular degeneration, a condition that leaves her with extremely limited vision. (Neilson, 6/13)
Bloomberg: How Ketamine Opens A New Era For Depression Treatment Researchers have discovered that ketamine, a drug of choice for club-goers for decades, can be used to fight severe cases of the blues. For more than three decades, patients seeking treatment for depression in the U.S. have been steered primarily to one family of pharmaceuticals. Doctors have been looking for more treatments, particularly for patients who haven’t had success with drugs or who have had suicidal thoughts. (The U.S. suicide rate increased 30% from 1999 to 2016.) Could a party drug be the key to solving the nation’s suicide crisis? (Moore, 6/14)
Bloomberg: Bayer Dangles $5.6 Billion Olive Branch To Roundup Critics Bayer AG plans to invest about 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in developing alternatives to its weedkiller glyphosate as it battles more than 13,000 lawsuits claiming the herbicide causes cancer. The German chemical and drug company moved to ease concerns over the controversial chemical, saying it will open the safety certification process in Europe to public scrutiny. Bayer wants to offer farmers more options to combat weeds while standing behind glyphosate-based Roundup, which it acquired via its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto. (Loh, Kresge and Noel, 6/14)
The Washington Post: Neurofibromatosis: Paraguayan Patient Enrique Galvan Undergoes Surgery In California For Rare Skin Condition When Enrique Galvan was growing up in Paraguay, other children called him a monster. He had been diagnosed as a toddler with a rare genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis, causing benign tumors to form on his nerve tissue and create what appeared to be pieces of extra skin drooping from his head, neck and face. It wasn’t until he was old enough to go to school that he started to notice — and other children did, too. (Bever, 6/13)
'A Relief To Women': Injectable Birth Control Does Not Raise HIV Risk, Study Finds, And Is As Safe As Other Methods
The safety rating for the hormone shot Depo-Provera was lowered several years ago, frustrating women in Africa who found it an easier method to hide and sometimes the only option offered. In other news on HIV: a new documentary and harmful syringe practices.
The New York Times: Depo-Provera, An Injectable Contraceptive, Does Not Raise H.I.V. Risk For decades, many African women in need of birth control they could use in secret have relied on intramuscular hormone injections that prevent pregnancy for three months. But in recent years, women have been terrified — and family planning officials frustrated — as studies suggested that women using injectables were far more likely to get infected with H.I.V. (McNeil, 6/13)
The Associated Press: '5B' Documentary Tells Story Of Pioneering AIDS Caretakers The impact of San Francisco General Hospital's ward 5B — the first hospital division dedicated to treating people with AIDS — has far outlasted its existence. The ward, which opened in 1989, is the focus of a new documentary, "5B," which has nurses, patients, and supporters recount the fight for non-discriminatory health care for those diagnosed with AIDS until 5B transitioned to treating a broader spectrum of patients in the late 1990s. (6/13)
The Wall Street Journal: Reusing Syringes, Drips Infected Hundreds Of Pakistani Children With HIV Unsafe, but common, practices such as reusing drips and syringes caused hundreds of Pakistani children to be infected with HIV, according to a World Health Organization team investigating a sudden outbreak in a poor southeastern town. The WHO’s preliminary findings, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and presented to Pakistani health officials Friday, offer a window into how more than 650 children tested positive for HIV in one town over six weeks of government tests, while nearly all their parents tested negative. (Rana, 6/14)
ICE Has Only One Detention Facility For Transgender Immigrants, But As Numbers Swell Agency Considers Adding Another
About 300 migrants who identify as transgender have been booked into the custody of U.S. immigration authorities since Oct. 1 — the highest number since officials started keeping track in 2015.
The Associated Press: US Considers More Options For Detaining Transgender Migrants Behind a thick metal door and down a sterile hallway at a privately-run detention center in rural New Mexico, voices echo from the confines of a small outdoor recreation yard. It's a three-on-three volleyball match. The players, all clad in different colored jumpsuits, are transgender women awaiting the outcome of their cases while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Montoya Bryan, 6/13)
KFOX: ICE Says New Mexico Only State With Specific Detention Facility For Transgender Detainees New Mexico is the only state in the country that has a specific detention facility for transgender detainees by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. KFOX14 anchor Robert Holguin got an exclusive tour of the privately run facility. ICE currently has more than 53,000 people in detention centers across the nation. (Holguin, 6/12)
The fight against online drug sales often resembles the war on drugs in the physical world: There are raids. Sites are taken down. A few people are arrested. And after a while the trade and markets pop back up somewhere else. In other news on the epidemic: two teen brothers' fatal overdoses, looking to Europe for ways to handle the crisis, expanded treatment for Medicaid patients, and more.
The New York Times: Dark Web Drug Sellers Dodge Police Crackdowns Authorities in the United States and Europe recently staged a wide-ranging crackdown on online drug markets, taking down Wall Street Market and Valhalla, two of the largest drug markets on the so-called dark web. Yet the desire to score drugs from the comfort of home and to make money from selling those drugs appears for many to be stronger than the fear of getting arrested. Despite enforcement actions over the last six years that led to the shutdown of about half a dozen sites — including the most recent two — there are still close to 30 illegal online markets, according to DarknetLive, a news and information site for the dark web. (Popper, 6/11)
USA Today: Hockey: Two Teen Brothers, Hockey Players, Dead On Same Day Of Opioids There were chores to do that Sunday morning and Becky Savage had started them. She was plucking up pieces of clothes strewn about the house — a house full of four boys — to load a heap of laundry into the washing machine. Becky headed to her son Jack's room to gather what she could and to start rousting him awake. "It's time to get up. Dad has things he wants you to help with," she said to him. "Jack, it's time to get up. He wants you and Nick to help him." (Benbow, 6/13)
North Carolina Health News: As The Opioid Death Count Climbs, Will North Carolina Try What’s Worked Elsewhere? The United States is not the first country to be plagued by heroin and overdose deaths. Western Europe experienced spikes in opioid overdose deaths in the 1980s and 90s. But countries such as France and Switzerland have found ways to support drug users and rein in the problem. North Carolina Health News has dedicated hundreds of reporting hours to the opioid crisis and its socio-economic side effects in our state. Late last year, we traveled to Europe to see what others have done to address these issues before us. (Knopf, 6/12)
Arizona Republic: Opioid Dependence Treatments Expanded For Arizona's Medicaid Patients Arizona this fall will expand drug treatment options for Medicaid patients struggling with opioid dependence, a move some public health experts say will improve those patients' chances of recovery. With nearly four suspected opioid deaths per day in the state last year, the problem of opioid use disorder is a continuing, severe problem in Arizona. (Innes, 6/13)
St. Louis Public Radio: Page Wants To Require Doctors In St. Louis County To Report Non-Fatal Overdoses County Executive Sam Page plans to ask the County Council to require doctors to report nonfatal overdoses to the health department. Many people who overdose on opioids are surviving, thanks to the increased use of the opioid-reversal drug naloxone. Knowing how many people overdose — not just how many die — can help the county understand who needs help the most, Page said. (Fentem, 6/14)
The coalition will need to collect nearly 178,000 voter signatures to put the issue on the November 2020 ballot. "We're normal, everyday Oklahomans that care about this issue and we're growing every day," said Oklahomans Decide Healthcare spokeswoman Amber England. Medicaid news comes out of Louisiana and Ohio, as well.
The Associated Press: New Campaign Seeks To Put Medicaid Expansion Up For A Vote A statewide coalition has launched a campaign to put the question of whether to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of uninsured Oklahoma residents before voters. A group of medical professionals, patients, business leaders, nonprofits and health care advocates launched the Oklahomans Decide Healthcare campaign on Wednesday, The Oklahoman reported. "We're normal, everyday Oklahomans that care about this issue and we're growing every day," said spokeswoman Amber England. (6/13)
The Associated Press: After Thousands Booted From Medicaid Rolls, Louisiana Will Spend $400M Under Program's Projections Louisiana's Medicaid program will spend about $400 million less than expected in the nearly ended budget year, largely because tens of thousands of people were booted from Medicaid rolls amid bolstered computer checks of eligibility. The latest Medicaid forecast for the budget year that ends June 30 showed the program was expected to spend about $12 billion on the government-financed insurance coverage this year, rather than the $12.4 billion allocated for health services. (Deslatte, 6/13)
Modern Healthcare: ProMedica Blames Operating Loss On Sicker Medicaid Expansion Population Sicker and more expensive Medicaid enrollees who joined the program under Ohio's Medicaid expansion contributed to ProMedica's wider operating loss in the first quarter of 2019, the health system said Thursday. Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica's operating loss more than tripled during the quarter to $9.8 million, compared with $2.7 million in the first quarter of 2018. The 80,000 members who joined ProMedica's Paramount Health Care under Medicaid expansion are markedly more expensive to cover than the rest, Paramount president Lori Johnston said in an emailed statement. (Bannow, 6/13)
Judge Gives Preliminary Approval Of $215M Class-Action Settlement To Help Victims Of Former USC Gynecologist
The preliminary sign-off by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson is not expected to conclude USC’s payouts to female students and alumnae. More than 720 women are pursuing separate claims against the university in state court, and their lawyers have criticized the class-action agreement as paltry.
The Associated Press: USC Gynecologist Class-Action Lawsuit Gets Initial Approval A federal judge has given preliminary approval to a class-action settlement of claims against the University of Southern California stemming from sexual abuse allegations against a gynecologist who worked at a student health center for decades. U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson gave the initial approval Wednesday and set a hearing on final approval for Jan. 6, 2020. (6/13)
Los Angeles Times: Judge Signs Off On USC’s $215-Million Settlement With Patients Of Ex-Gynecologist Under the terms of the settlement, the approximately 17,000 women treated during the physician’s three-decade career would each be eligible to receive between $2,500 and $250,000. The amount would depend on the severity of the misconduct alleged and the women’s willingness to confidentially detail those experiences in written statements or interviews. (Hamilton and Ryan, 6/13)
State Highlights: Virginia Governor Plans Public Talks On Gun Control; Abuse Occurred To 20% Of Medicare Patients During ER Transports In Eight States, Report Finds
Media outlets report on news from Virginia, Florida, Maryland, California, New York, Arizona, North Carolina, District Of Columbia, Minnesota, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.
The Associated Press: After Mass Shooting, Virginia Gov To Host Gun Control Talks Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is announcing a series of public talks his administration will host in the run up to a July 9 special session on gun laws. Northam’s office said Thursday that Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey are hosting the roundtable discussions around the state. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine will join some of the events. (6/14)
Health News Florida: Medicare Report Points To Neglect And Abuse An estimated 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes who were transported to hospital emergency rooms in 2016 and treated for a variety of high-risk conditions had been potentially abused or neglected, a report released Wednesday by the federal government shows. The report also shows that nursing homes failed to report many of the incidents to state health care agencies as required by federal law. (Sexton, 6/13)
The Washington Post: UMMS Report: Lawmakers Condemn Self-Dealing Maryland lawmakers called Thursday for accountability regarding management failures at the University of Maryland Medical System and questioned why four board members who relinquished their duties after a self-dealing scandal was exposed in March were invited this week to rejoin the board. An outside review released Wednesday largely blamed former chief executive Robert A. Chrencik for hiring companies linked to board members to provide services to the system, ranging from computer software to ambulance transport to thousands of children’s books written and published by then-Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D). (Chason, 6/13)
Sacramento Bee/ProPublica: There Has Been An Explosion Of Homicides In California’s County Jails. Here’s Why. Deadly violence has surged in county jails across California since the state began sending thousands of inmates to local lockups instead of prisons, the result of a dramatic criminal justice transformation that left many sheriffs ill-equipped to handle a new and dangerous population. Since 2011, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to overhaul its overcrowded prisons, inmate-on-inmate homicides have risen 46% in county jails statewide compared with the seven years before, a McClatchy and ProPublica analysis of California Department of Justice data and autopsy records shows. (Pohl and Gabrielson, 6/13)
The Washington Post: 911 Upgrade Could Cost Californians Despite Budget Surplus A $214.8 billion budget approved Thursday by California lawmakers would upgrade the state’s aging 911 system following the most devastating wildfire season in state history and help middle class families pay their monthly health insurance premiums. To fund those changes, however, lawmakers want to impose a new monthly fee on phone bills and tax people who refuse to buy private health insurance, even though the state has a projected $21.5 billion surplus, the largest in at least 20 years. (Beam, 6/13)
The New York Times: Shuffled Among Homeless Shelters, And Not Told Why Patrice Joseph believed she was singled out when she complained about cigarette smoke and plumbing problems at the homeless shelter where she and her teenage son and daughter lived in Jamaica, Queens. Within days last month, the family was moved to a shelter in the Bronx. Ms. Joseph, who had two jobs, said she lost a position at a Queens pharmaceutical manufacturing company because she was often late for work or absent. (Stewart, 6/13)
Modern Healthcare: Kaiser Permanente Sues Queen's Health System Over Contract Dispute Kaiser Permanente is turning to the courts to try to resolve a contract dispute with Queen's Health System, alleging that it is unduly putting Kaiser members in the middle of the fight. Kaiser, an integrated healthcare system based in Oakland, Calif. that covers individuals at Queen's four hospitals in Hawaii, disputed Queen's alleged assertion that it would bill Kaiser members who receive emergency care at Queen's if Kaiser does not pay all the billed charges, according to a lawsuit Kaiser filed in federal court Wednesday. (Kacik, 6/13)
Arizona Republic: Behavior Of Hacienda Nurse Accused Of Rape Changed Months Before Birth Nathan Sutherland's co-workers at Hacienda de los Angeles health care facility in Phoenix realized something was different in the months leading up to his arrest on suspicion of raping and impregnating an incapacitated patient. During police interviews, they told investigators the nurse was once happy and energetic. Sutherland referred to them as his "family." Others thought he was a bit too friendly, recalling the time when he would touch female colleagues' shoulders and call them beautiful. But something seemed to change in the fall of 2018, according to the Phoenix police report provided to The Arizona Republic on Thursday in response to a public-records request. (Burkitt, 6/13)
North Carolina Health News: In State Health Report Cards, North Carolina Falls Below Average North Carolina has continued to perform below average in a national ranking of state health systems, moving from 35th in 2018 to 34th this year. On June 12, the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit health policy research foundation, released its annual report comparing state health systems based on 47 measures including health care access, cost, use and disparities. (Duong, 6/13)
Sacramento Bee: CA Senior Citizens Could Overburden State As Baby Boomers Age The Golden State is about to get a lot older. By 2030, the 60-and-over population will be 40 percent larger than it is now, according to the California Department of Aging. Seniors will be a larger share of the population than kids under the age of 18 by 2036, the state projects. (Jasper and Reese, 6/14)
The Washington Post: Smithsonian Is Trying To Help Disabled People Get Jobs — One Young Intern At A Time As a child, Mionna Smith’s dream was to work with animals when she grew up. Today, the 19-year-old from Fort Stanton in southeast Washington has an administrative role at the Smithsonian Institution’s office of finance and accounting, sorting mail, restocking supply caddies and scanning invoices — no furry creatures in sight. “I didn’t want to be in an office job,” she said. And yet, when she found out in April that the Smithsonian was offering her a role as an office automation clerk, she was so happy she doubled over with joy at her desk. Her mother, thrilled, cried when Mionna shared the news with her. (Smith, 6/13)
MPR: Nurses Authorize Strike At Twin Cities Children's Hospitals Nurses at Children's Minnesota in St. Paul and Minneapolis have rejected a contract offer from the health system and authorized their union leaders to call a strike. The vote doesn't mean a strike in imminent, but the strike authorization means union leaders could call a strike any time without going back to the rank-and-file.However, before walking out the nurses would have to wait out a 10-day notice period. (Zdechlik, 6/14)
Arizona Republic: University Of Arizona Medical Student Granted Check From Arizona Lottery The Arizona Lottery awarded one lucky medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix a $25,000 scholarship Thursday. Dario Alvarez, a fourth-year student studying to be a pediatrician, was surprised with a room full of people, balloons, cheerleaders and most importantly a large check, when he walked through the classroom door for a “meeting.” (Carpenter, 6/13)
The Associated Press: Columbine Survivor, Addiction Speaker Died Of Drug Overdose A Colorado coroner has determined a Columbine massacre survivor and addiction recovery advocate died of a drug overdose. The Denver Post reports the Routt County Coroner’s Office says an autopsy determined the death last month of 37-year-old Austin Eubanks resulted from a heroin overdose. Officials say Eubanks was found by his father May 18 in his Steamboat Springs home. (6/13)
St. Louis Public Radio: Flooding May Have Polluted More Than 140,000 Residential Wells In Missouri Recent flooding could have contaminated more than 140,000 private wells in Missouri, according to an estimate by the National Ground Water Association. However, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services only has about 130,000 registered in its database, said Jeff Wenzel, chief of the department’s environmental epidemiology bureau. Floodwaters can spread pathogenic bacteria, like E. coli and chemicals used in home gardening and agriculture. (Chen, 6/13)
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Woman Left Blind After Fall At Cuyahoga County Jail, Poor Medical Treatment, Lawsuit Says A Cuyahoga County Jail inmate is now legally blind in one eye after she slipped on a puddle of water inside the jail and received poor medical treatment, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday. Tammy Decosta’s attorney, Michael O’Shea, filed the lawsuit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court late Wednesday. (Ferrise, 6/13)
The Associated Press: Utility Will Remove Coal Ash From Pits Near Tennessee River The nation’s largest public utility on Thursday agreed to dig up and remove about 12 million cubic yards (9.2 million cubic meters) of coal ash from unlined pits at a Tennessee coal-burning power plant. Prompted by two environmental groups, the state sued the Tennessee Valley Authority in 2015 over pollution from coal ash dumps at the Gallatin Fossil Plant. According to court filings, pollutants leach from the ash into the groundwater and then enter the Cumberland River, a source of drinking water for Nashville. (Loller, 6/13)
The Associated Press: Outbreak Of Legionnaire's Blamed On Hot Water System An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at a newly opened hospital outside Columbus has been traced to its hot water system. The health department said at least 16 patients admitted to the 210-bed Mount Carmel Grove City hospital after its opening April 28 have been diagnosed with Legionnaires'. The disease is a severe form of pneumonia that's caused by inhaling tiny water droplets containing the legionella bacteria. One of the patients, a 75-year-old woman, died. (6/13)
Arizona Republic: Arizona's CBD And Hemp Industry Is Starting To Bud Phoenix resident Genevieve Hendricks is experimenting with CBD products to manage her chronic back pain.Hendricks has been a customer of Kaya Hemp Co. since it launched as an e-commerce site in January and went to its newly opened brick-and-mortar location at 6102 N. 16th Street on June 7. (Murdock, 6/13)
Vox: California Will Expand Health Care To Young Unauthorized Immigrants California is on the verge of becoming the first state to provide Medicaid to young adults who are unauthorized immigrants — a big deal in a state where unauthorized adults make up the largest group of uninsured people. (Catherine Kim, 6/12)
The Economist: Drone Deliveries Are Advancing In Health Care A few years ago Jeff Bezos made a prediction. By 2018 his e-commerce empire, Amazon, would be delivering items by drone. Prime Air has yet to launch. But startups are making progress—mostly in health care, where they are vying to tap into a lucrative, $70bn global market in health-care logistics. As they deal with regulators and investors, these firms are charting the course for other aerial deliveries. (6/11)
The Texas Observer: Inside Texas’ Failed Experiment To Replace Planned Parenthood With An Anti-Abortion Group The Heidi Group’s quick rise and fall is a cautionary tale of prioritizing politics over proven health providers. (Sophie Novack, 6/5)
The Atlantic: Alabama Approves Chemical Castration For Child Sex Offenders The new law will mean that those who abused children under the age of 13 will be injected with hormone-blocking drugs before leaving prison. The medication will have to be administered until a judge, not a doctor, deemed it no longer necessary. (James Hamblin, 6/11)
Viewpoints: Stopping Surprise Medical Bills Might Be Easier Than It Looks; Waiting To See Whatever Happens Next In Flint Water Cases
The Hill: Insurers Must Do More To Prevent Surprise Medical Bills At a time of hyper-partisanship, there is one issue around which both Republicans and Democrats have coalesced: protecting health-care patients and ending surprise billing. Since the beginning of the year, the House has held two hearings to discuss surprise billing, and this week, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will turn its focus on the issue. President Trump has also held several news conferences to highlight this problem. However, lost in all of the conversation is one critical element: The role that private insurers play in putting patients in the middle and jeopardizing access to life-saving care. (Carter Johnson, 6/13)
Detroit Free Press: Why New Prosecutor Wants A Do-Over In Flint To understand Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's decision to drop all criminal charges stemming from her predecessor's investigation of the Flint water crisis, you have to understand a couple of things: The first thing is that it wasn't Nessel's decision — although she'll certainly bear the blame, or reap the credit, for whatever happens next in Flint. (Brian Dickerson, 6/13)
The Hill: We Need Federally Funded Research On Gun Violence It’s been 20 years since 13 people were shot and killed at Columbine High School. It’s been even longer since our federal government conducted any real research into the public health epidemic of gun violence. Every day, 100 Americans are killed by gun violence, with another 210 injured. But as devastating as this public health epidemic is, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) haven’t received any substantial Congressional funding to study gun violence for more than two decades. (Kris Brown, 6/13)
The Wall Street Journal: The Perilous Blessing Of Opioids On a beautiful Memorial Day weekend four years ago, I left my home in Germantown, Md., on one of my rare motorcycle trips, but I did not get very far. A few blocks from the townhouse where I lived with my partner and our baby girl, a young man drove his large white van directly into the side of my bike. My left foot was crushed, and I was tossed to the ground. That day radically changed my life, and not just because of the injury itself. As a bioethicist at Johns Hopkins University, part of my job is to think about the moral quandaries raised by the practice of medicine. (Travis Rieder, 6/14)
The Hill: Democrats Constantly Overlook Conservative Solutions To Fix Our Broken Health Care Why do Democrats support small businesses grouping together to cut costs on retirement plans but oppose them doing so for health insurance plans? That's the question small business owners across the country are asking after the Democrats passed significant retirement legislation last month that allows small businesses to band together in association retirement plans (ARPs), yet remain opposed to association health plans (AHPs). Both vehicles let small businesses form associations to create the economies of scale necessary to negotiate cheaper plans enjoyed by their big business competitors. (Former Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Alfredo Ortiz, 6/13)
The New York Times: Republicans Once Supported Fetal Tissue Research. Not Anymore. President George H.W. Bush was staring down a tough re-election campaign in the spring of 1992, when he found himself caught in a shifting political debate. A ban on the use of federal funding for research using fetal tissue — which women can donate after terminating a pregnancy — had been in place for four years, despite two federal advisory panels deeming such a ban unnecessary. Mr. Bush vowed to continue the ban, a move that anti-abortion activists supported. (6/13)
Stat: Quitting Smoking Is Hard. Mindfulness Offers A New Approach Smoking kills. The science behind that stone-cold statement has been indisputable for decades. Yet smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and around the world. (Jud Brewer, 6/14)
Bloomberg: Young Blood To Reverse Aging? It's Quackery Now But Has Potential There are two kinds of quackery in medicine. There’s the kind that’s been tested over and over and never works, usually based on some outlandish hypothesis involving energy fields. Then there are practices that work in animals, or cells, or are predicted by a widely accepted theory, and might eventually be made to work in people. In that second category is the promise of retarding aging with infusions of blood from younger individuals. It works in mice – reversing not just physical but also cognitive decline. This month, scientists published a demonstration that two proteins isolated from young blood changed the behavior of human neurons in culture – stimulating them to grow new connections. The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – doesn’t show it will work in people, but leaves the possibility open. (Faye Flam, 6/13)
Stat: Many Americans Have Trouble Getting Lifesaving Oxygen Therapy What could a fit mountaineer scaling the world’s tallest peak possibly have in common with an obese store clerk living at sea level? Both need equipment that can deliver extra oxygen but may have trouble getting it. The New York Times recently published a harrowing story detailing how oxygen suppliers on Mount Everest have put climbers at risk by cutting costs to maximize profits. Some climbers have been harmed — the exact number is unknown — and some may have died due to a lack of oxygen. (Brian Block and Neeta Thakur, 6/14)
The Washington Post: Gillibrand’s Vilification Of Pro-Life People Proves How Hopeless She Is One measure of the seriousness of a Democratic candidate for president is his or her understanding of the importance of religion in our common life. I am not talking here of the perfunctory bow toward personal, sectarian belief, which is neither qualifying nor disqualifying in a prospective president. I refer instead to a candidate’s recognition that faith helps define compassion and justice for millions of Americans. (Gerson, 6/13)
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The New York Times: Rep. Pramila Jayapal: The Story Of My Abortion I call my child a miracle. Born unexpectedly in India at 26.5 weeks, shortly before I was due to come back to the United States, and weighing only 1 pound 14 ounces, Janak survived against all odds. Their early months were spent in Mumbai, in a neonatal intensive care unit that had only just opened. Many of their medications were too expensive and rare for the hospital to stock and had to be procured, by Janak’s father and me, from pharmacies around the city, whenever needed, often in the middle of the night. (Rep. Pramila Jayapal, 6/13)
Sacramento Bee: California Juveniles Should Not Be Incarcerated A central theme and focus of this movement has been to encourage California to shift its orientation from punishment to prevention in terms of how we treat young people who have been impacted by the justice system. Last year, California passed the Youth Reinvestment Fund, the first-ever state fund specifically dedicated to keeping young people out of the justice system and in the care of community-based organizations that are best able to provide guidance and support. (Chet Hewitt and Shane Goldsmith, 6/13)
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