The price of insulin keeps going up. For people with Type 1 diabetes, high prices can be a life-or-death issue. Now a grass-roots movement is pushing for change. (Bram Sable-Smith, Side Effects Public Media, 12/12)
Part of the reason so many people are eligible for plans under which they would pay $0 in premiums is because President Donald Trump eliminated key health law payments last year. This had the unintended effect of increasing financial assistance to many Americans. Meanwhile, although the enrollment numbers have been dragging this year, the federal health law site did experience a surge after former President Barack Obama encouraged people to sign up.
The Hill: Study: 4.2 Million Uninsured People Eligible For Free ObamaCare CoverageÂ A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 4.2 million uninsured people are eligible for ObamaCare coverage at no cost at all. The study, published Tuesday,Â finds that those people can find an ObamaCare plan for $0 in premiumsÂ due to the financial assistance under the health-care lawÂ being high enoughÂ to completely cover the cost of the cheapest ObamaCare options, known as bronze plans. (Sulliban, 12/11)
Des Moines Register: 34,000 Iowans Could Get Free Health Insurance Under Obamacare Nearly 34,000 Iowans who lack health insurance could get free policies under Obamacare, a new report estimates. Nearly half of all uninsured Iowans could qualify for no-premium insurance, according to the study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. But the IowansÂ would need to act fast: Saturday is the sign-up deadline for 2019 health insurance policies that qualify for federal subsidies. (Leys, 12/11)
The Hill: ObamaCare Signups Spike On Same Day Obama Tweeted Support The ObamaCare signup website healthcare.gov received its highest traffic on Monday, the same day former President Obama recorded a message urging people to sign up. A spokesperson from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not say what drove the spike, but noted the website always sees spikes closer to the Dec. 15 deadline to sign up for insurance coverage. (Weixel, 12/11)
Concord Monitor: Health Insurance Deadline Looms For Those Seeking Federal Subsidies The shortened signup period for Affordable Care Act health insurance ends Saturday, with the number of New Hampshire residents enrolling through the federal marketplace currently about 20 percent lower than at this time last year. As of Dec. 6, a total of 15,255 state residents had enrolled through Healthcare.gov, roughly 4,000 fewer than at this time last year, according to federal data. (Brooks, 12/11)
And in other health law newsÂ â
The Hill: Judge Sides With Religious Groups In ObamaCare Birth Control Mandate FightÂ A federal judge this week sided with three religious colleges and three Christian organizations in their challenge to the Affordable Care Actâs birth control mandate. Judge Philip Brimmer, a George W. Bush appointee on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, issuedÂ an orderÂ that permanently blocks the federal government from forcing the plaintiffs to cover sterilization drugs or contraception drugs devices, procedures, and related education and counseling in their health care plans. (Wheeler, 12/11)
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the expected incoming House Ways and Means chairman, signaled his willingness to hold hearings on “Medicare for all,” a popular priority for many progressive lawmakers in the party. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, health care costs are in the spotlight, as well as a bill aimed at reversing the country’s maternal mortality rates.
The Hill: Incoming Dem Chairman Open To Hearing On ‘Medicare For All’Â The incoming chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), said Tuesday that he is open to holding hearings on “Medicare for all” next year. … The comments, while not a firm commitment, are some of the most encouraging toward Medicare for all supporters from a top House Democrat to date. Democratic leaders and key committee chairmen have so far not given support to Medicare for all, despite a push from the progressive wing of the party. (Sullivan, 12/11)
Modern Healthcare: How Can We Lower Healthcare Costs? Key GOP Senator Seeks IdeasÂ Senate health committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) plans to have his panel next year work on legislation to address high healthcare costs. On Tuesday, the senator asked hospitals, insurers, patient groups, state regulators and think tanks to submit proposals for solutions by March 1, 2019. He sent a letter to the Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute and others he wants to hear from. (Luthi, 12/11)
CQ: Alexander Seeks Proposals For Health Costs Legislation Alexander said he is also seeking input from the health care industry and state officials who handle health issues, which could help shape legislation next year. In the letter, Alexander asked AEIâs James Capretta and the Brookings Institutionâs Paul Ginsburg to suggest specific ways Congress could âlower health care costs, incentivize care that improves the health and outcomes of patients, and increase the ability for patients to access information about their care to make informed decisions,â as well as how those would work and what Congress or the administration needs to do to implement such steps. He also asked about what shortcomings such steps could have, and why it may be worthwhile to implement them, anyway. (McIntire, 12/11)
The Hill: House Passes Bipartisan Bill Aimed At Reversing Rising Maternal Mortality RatesÂ The House on Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill aimed at reversing the maternal mortality crisisÂ in the U.S. in what supporters say is the strongest action yet that Congress has taken on the issue. The bill from Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) would support state-level efforts to track and investigate pregnancy-related deaths, and then look for ways to prevent future deaths from occurring. (Hellmann, 12/11)
Modern Healthcare: Congress Likely To Revive Earmarks, Signaling A Boon For HospitalsÂ A Democratic House leader on Tuesday predicted Congress will bring back earmarks early next year, raising the prospect of a windfall in targeted funding for hospitals with not-for-profit tax designation as well as university medical centers. The policy change could be especially significant for hospitals in states that did not expand Medicaid as they look for to fill in the revenue gaps stemming from uncompensated care. HHS has traditionally scored the second-highest amount of earmarks after the Defense Department, according to a former Senate appropriations staffer who worked on Capitol Hill when earmarks were the modus operandi. (Luthi, 12/11)
Politico Pro: Juul Tries To Make Friends In Washington As Regulators Circle The San Francisco company thatâs become synonymous with vaping â âjuulingâ is now a verb â has hired political hands in Washington and started a political action committee that has donated to members of Congress and state attorney-general candidates.Twenty years after four big tobacco companies reached a massive settlement with 46 states over smoking-related health problems and marketing issues â which was followed by a series of tighter restrictions and led to the rapid decline of the industry in the United States â Juul is frantically trying to avoid a similar fate. (Woellert and Owemohle, 12/7)
Hundreds of thousands of public opinions poured in about the policy during the open comment period, which closed Monday. The “public charge” rule would allow federal immigration officials to consider legal immigrants’ use of Medicaid, nutrition, housing and other programs as a strongly negative factor in their applications for legal permanent residency. Many health groups wrote in to say the policy would take both a financial and public health toll on vulnerable populations.
Modern Healthcare: Healthcare Groups Rip Trump Proposal Penalizing Legal Immigrants For Using Medicaid In a rare moment of consensus, healthcare industry groups uniformly blasted the Trump administration’s proposal to penalize legal immigrants for using Medicaid and other public benefit programs, warning it would have broad negative effects on the healthcare system, government budgets and public health. The Department of Homeland Security received 210,889 comments on its proposed “inadmissibility on public charge grounds” rule, issued in October, when the comment period ended Monday. Healthcare stakeholder groups, including hospitals, physicians, insurers and public health advocates, urged DHS to withdraw the rule entirely. (Meyer, 12/11)
Other health news from the administration comes from the VA and the Justice DepartmentÂ â
The Washington Post: Trump Loyalist At VA Forced Out After Collecting Pay But Doing Little Work The Trump administration has forced out a senior White House political appointee at the Department of Veterans Affairs who spent months on the federal payroll doing little to no work. Peter OâRourkeâs departure marks an unceremonious fall for a Trump loyalist once seen as a rising star at VA, where he nonetheless had a rocky tenure, first leading a high-profile office handling whistleblower complaints, next as chief of staff and then, for two months, as the agencyâs acting secretary. (Rein and Dawsey, 12/11)
Seattle Times: Justice Department Sues Washington State Over Law To Compensate Sick Hanford WorkersÂ The U.S. Justice Department sued Washington state Monday, alleging that a law approved by the Legislature to make it easier for ill Hanford workers to get compensation discriminates against the federal government and its Energy Department contractors. The lawsuit filed against the state in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington asks a federal judge to declare the law invalid and prevent enforcement. (Bernton, 12/11)
One trend that’s emerged in the opioid epidemic is both the public and police departments releasing footage or photos of people who are experiencing some of the bleakest moments in their lives. The views on such videos can total in the millions, and some argue it’s beneficial, but for those in the videos it can change their lives forever–not necessarily for the better. Meanwhile, experts wonder if fentanyl could become a weapon of mass destruction to be used against the United States, and the maker of an anti-overdose drug overs a generic of a fraction of the price.
The New York Times: How Do You Recover After Millions Have Watched You Overdose? The first time Kelmae Hemphill watched herself overdose, she sobbed. There she was in a shaky video filmed by her own heroin dealer, sprawled out on a New Jersey road while a stranger pounded on her chest. âCome on, girl,â someone pleaded. Ms. Hemphillâs 11-year drug addiction, her criminal record, her struggles as a mother â they were now everybodyâs business, splashed across the news and social media with a new genre of American horror film: the overdose video. As opioid deaths have soared in recent years, police departments and strangers with cameras have started posting raw, uncensored images of drug users passed out with needles in their arms and babies in the back seats of their cars. The videos rack up millions of views and unleash avalanches of outrage. Then some other viral moment comes along, and the country clicks away. (Seelye, Turkewitz, Healy and Blinder, 12/11)
Bloomberg: Killer Opioid Fentanyl Could Be A Weapon Of Mass DestructionÂ Fentanyl has emerged as the most dangerous of a group of drugs blamed for creating a U.S. public health crisis. American deaths linked to fentanyl grew more than 50 percent to 29,406 last year, from 19,413 in 2016, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Relatively easy to manufacture, the drug is turning up more on the streets as dealers strive to meet still-enormous demand for opioids in the U.S.Fentanyl is ever-evolving as suppliers try to avoid detection and still boost the potency of the drug using what are called analogues â essentially chemical cousins. (Edney, 12/12)
Stat: Kaleo, Maker Of $4,100 Overdose Antidote, To Offer Generic For $178Â A month after the drug maker Kaleo came under fire from lawmakers and public-health advocates for charging $4,100 for a device that reverses overdoses, the company has announced it will introduce a generic version for a small fraction of the price. The company announced Wednesday it has authorized its subsidiary IJ Therapeutics to produce a largely identical version of its automated naloxone injector for a retail price of $178 for a kit, which, like the $4,100 brand-name version, contains two doses. First responder groups and health departments will be offered the brand-name product Evzio at the same price. (Facher, 12/12)
And in other news on the opioid epidemicÂ â
The Associated Press: Meth Playing Bigger Role In US Drug Overdose Crisis A bigger share of U.S. drug overdose deaths are being caused by methamphetamine, government health officials reported. The number of fatal overdoses involving meth more than tripled between 2011 and 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday. The percentage of overdose deaths involving meth grew from less than 5 percent to nearly 11 percent. (Stobbe, 12/12)
The Washington Post: Cocaine Deaths Increase Amid Ongoing National Opioid Crisis Deaths from cocaine sharply increased from 2011 to 2016 across the United States, adding another dimension to a crisis of fatal overdoses that has primarily been driven by opioids, according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Overdose deaths from cocaine increased by about 18 percent each year during the five-year period. The data also showed a staggering rise in the number of deaths from fentanyl, with deaths from the powerful synthetic opioid increasing about 113 percent each year from 2013 to 2016. (Zezima, 12/12)
Boston Globe: Doctor Charged With Manslaughter In Opioid Overdose Death A Dracut physician has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2016 death of a woman who overdosed on opioids that he had prescribed, the first such indictment in the state, authorities announced Tuesday. Dr. Richard Miron is accused of continuing to authorize large doses of opioids and other drugs even though he knew the victim had overdosed in February 2016 on opioids he had prescribed. (Freyer, 12/11)
âWeâve heard frequent reports of patients rationing insulin, and in some cases dying because they canât afford the injections they need to survive,â said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. âThese tragic stories arenât isolated occurrences. And theyâre not acceptable for a drug thatâs nearly a century old.â
Stat: FDA Chief Blasts Insulin Prices, Touts Far-Off New Rules For The MarketÂ FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb blasted insulin makers Tuesday for what he called unacceptably high prices for a decades-old drug. And he rolled out a slate of new guidances for the industry he says will spur competition in the insulin market and bring down the drugâs cost when they take effect in 2020. But in a speech at this weekâs FDA/CMS Summit, Gottlieb stopped short of endorsing policies gaining steam on Capitol Hill that would dramatically change how insulin makers do business. (Florko, 12/11)
Kaiser Health News: âWeâre Fighting For Our Livesâ: Patients Protest Sky-High Insulin Prices Angela Lautner knew her thirst was unusual, even for someone directing airplanes, outside in the Memphis summer heat. âWe had coolers of Gatorade and water for people to always have access to,â Lautner recalled of her job as a ground services agent. âBut the amount of thirst that I felt was just incredible.â She had no appetite and she lost an unusual amount of weight. Then after a trip to the emergency room, Lautner, who was 22, was diagnosed withÂ Type 1 diabetes. The diagnosis was life-changing. (Sable-Smith, 12/12)
Pioneer Press: Diabetics And Their Families Urge MN Lawmakers To Address Rising Insulin Costs The cost of insulin has become a hot-button issue across the nation as the average price of the drug has nearly tripled in the past decade. The price hikes have not gone unnoticed in Minnesota, where more than 300,000 adults have been diagnosed with diabetes. Attorney General Lori Swanson sued three insulin manufacturers in October, alleging they price-gouged consumers who need the drug to live. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has called on Congress to take action. And state lawmakers who took up the issue at the Capitol on Tuesday vowed to do what they can to ease costs. (Faircloth, 12/11)
The Star Tribune: Soaring Insulin Prices Cause Minnesota Lawmakers To Draft RemediesÂ A group of state legislators said Tuesday that it is considering regulations â even price controls â to rein in the soaring cost of insulin, which has crimped the budgets of thousands of Minnesota families and caused some diabetics to ration the medication. With more than 460,000 diabetics in Minnesota, legislators say they are hearing many complaints from frustrated and worried constituents. Rationing insulin can lead to illness, even death. (Howatt, 12/11)
Prescription Drug Watch: For news on rising drug costs, check out our weekly roundup ofÂ news coverageÂ and perspectives of the issue.
The police have been investigating Dr. George Tyndall as part of what is believed to be the largest sex crimes investigation involving an individual in LAPD history. Hundreds of current and former USC students have made allegations against Tyndall’s behavior while performing medical examinations. In October, USC agreed to settle a federal class-action suit on behalf of Tyndallâs patients for $215 million.
Los Angeles Times: Police Found Trove Of Nude Images Of Women In Ex-USC Gynecologistâs Storage Unit Shortly after Los Angeles police launched an investigation into Dr. George Tyndall last spring, a team of detectives began surreptitiously following the former USC gynecologist. The 71-year-old passed most of his days inside a condominium he owns near Lafayette Park, but on at least two occasions, Tyndall drove to a self-storage facility and spent time inside a rental unit, police said. When investigators subsequently raided the unit, they found a trove of homemade pornography and a smaller set of photos of unclothed women in what appeared to be a medical exam room, according to LAPD Capt. Billy Hayes. (Winton, Ryan and Hamilton, 12/11)
The Associated Press: Nude Photos Linked To Ex-USC Doc In Sex-Abuse Investigation Hundreds of current and former USC students have made allegations against Tyndall to the university, filed police reports or taken part in at least a dozen pending state lawsuits against the school. In October, USC agreed to settle a federal class-action suit on behalf of Tyndallâs patients for $215 million. Tyndall, 71, resigned last year. He has denied wrongdoing and said any photographs he took were for legitimate clinical and other medical purposes. He has not been charged with a crime. (12/11)
Authorities say Target pharmacies knowingly and routinely enrolled MassHealth beneficiaries in the auto-refill program, then billed MassHealth. Meanwhile, in other Medicaid news, more conservative states are starting to explore expansion as it becomes popular among voters.
The Associated Press: Target To Pay $3M To Resolve Massachusetts Medicaid Claim Target Corp. has agreed to pay $3 million to resolve allegations that it violated rules of Massachusetts’ Medicaid program. Federal and Massachusetts authorities allege Minneapolis-based Target violated federal and state False Claims Acts by automatically refilling Medicaid recipients’ prescriptions and seeking payment from Medicaid. Massachusetts is among several states that prohibit pharmacies from automatically refilling Medicaid prescriptions without the beneficiary’s explicit request. The policy is designed to prevent unnecessary prescriptions from being reimbursed by taxpayers. (12/11)
Marketplace: Popular With Voters, More Conservative States Push For Medicaid Expansion Amanda Dabrowski visited the Health Partnership Clinic in Olathe, Kansas, at the end of November, to get help signing up for Medicaid. The 38-year-old has had a tough year â her husband died, sheâs disabled from a work injury, so she doesnât have a job, and sheâs caring for her seven-year-old daughter. Sheâd been on Medicaid during the last year, but now she was told she didnât qualify for it. âI make too much for Medicaid, but I donât make enough to get some assistance on the Marketplace, on Obamacare?â she said. âI donât understand how that happens.â (Lowe, 12/10)
Researchers have found that loneliness takes a physical toll, and is as closely linked to early mortality as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day or consuming more than six alcoholic drinks a day. Loneliness is even worse for longevity than being obese or physically inactive. In other aging news: exercise, strengthening your brain, and poverty.
The Wall Street Journal: The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone Danny Miner, a 66-year-old retired chemical plant supervisor, spends most days alone in his Tooele, Utah, apartment, with âGunsmokeâ reruns to keep him company and a phone that rarely rings. Old age wasnât supposed to feel this lonely. Mr. Miner married five times, each bride bringing the promise of lifelong companionship. Three unions ended in divorce. Two wives died. Now his legs ache and his balance is faulty, and heâs stopped going to church or meeting friends at the Marine Corps League, a group for former Marines. âI get a little depressed from time to time,â he says. Baby boomers are aging alone more than any generation in U.S. history, and the resulting loneliness is a looming public health threat. (Adamy and Overberg, 12/11)
The New York Times: Is Aerobic Exercise The Key To Successful Aging? Aerobic activities like jogging and interval training can make our cells biologically younger, according to a noteworthy new experiment. Weight training may not have the same effect, the study found, raising interesting questions about how various types of exercise affect us at a microscopic level and whether the differences should perhaps influence how we choose to move. There is mounting and rousing evidence that being physically active affects how we age, with older people who exercise typically being healthier, more fit, better muscled and less likely to develop a variety of diseases and disabilities than their sedentary peers. (Reynolds, 12/12)
Los Angeles Times: Your Aging Brain: Is It âUse It Or Lose Itâ? Yes, your brain is like a muscle: If you donât strengthen and stretch its capacities, it will not deliver high performance. But your brain is not like one of those forgiving muscles that lets you engage in a lifetime of indolence and then perks up willingly when you take up weight-training upon retirement. No, your brain is more like one of those muscles that will reward you for having worked it across the full length of your lifespan. (Healy, 12/11)
Philadelphia Inquirer: Poverty Among Older Philadelphians On The Rise About 23 percent of city residents aged 60 and above lived in poverty in 2017, three percentage points above 2013 numbers, according to new data from the Philadelphia Corp. for Aging, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of older residents. The figure is just below the cityâs overall poverty rate of 26 percent, the highest among the 10 most-populous U.S. cities. (Lubrano, 12/12)
The Allen Institute announced the new unit Wednesday, three months after Paul Allen died of septic shock stemming from non-Hodgkinâs lymphoma. Other public health news focuses on Islam and organ donations; reactions to the CRIPR babies; vitamin treatments for sepsis; the continuing short supply of Shingrix; and the high costs of animal attacks.
Stat: Allen Institute Announces $125 Million Gift To Probe Human Immunology This past July, philanthropist Paul Allen spent hoursÂ grilling his team about an ambitious plan they were hatching: Expanding the Allen Institute â the Seattle-based scientific research organization he founded and funded â to add a new division that would probe the mysteries of the human immune system. For Allen, the quest was personal (he had survived two cancers of the immune system) as well as intellectual (the Microsoft co-founder was fascinated with complex biological problems). Allen kept pushing his team to articulate how it was going to maximize the impact of the research, according to one of the participants in those July meetings. Finally satisfied with the plans, Allen decided to commit $125 million to fund the immunology division. (Robbins, 12/12)
Philadelphia Inquirer: When Religion Collides With Organ Donation, What Does Islam Say? It is a concern that counselors for the Gift of Life Donor Program repeatedly hear from Muslim families during the heartbreaking moments in a hospital when a loved one is declared brain dead, and the question of organ donation is broached â moments that will increasingly arise as the regionâs Muslim population, which community leaders estimate at more than 200,000, continues to grow. That has prompted the Philadelphia-based nonprofit to begin a series of eight public information seminars to answer questions about Islamic texts and offer scholars’ interpretations. (Holmes, 12/12)
Stat: China’s Global Reputation Shapes Public Reaction To ‘CRISPR Babies’ A member of the audience shouted âshame on youâ from the back of the International Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong as He Jiankui presented research that he proudly claimed led to the birth of the worldâs first gene-edited babies. That initial reaction two weeks ago was reinforced by official responses of a similar tenor from the Chinese government and scientific community. The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences quickly said He had violated laws, regulations, and ethical norms,Â while an official with the government science ministry called his research âshocking and unacceptable.â More than 100 Chinese scientists signed a blunt letter denouncing Heâs experimentation on humans as âcrazy.â (Tang, 12/12)
NPR: VICTAS Study Tests Vitamins For Sepsis Treatment Dr. Jonathan Sevransky was intrigued when he heard that a well-known physician in Virginia had reported remarkable results from a simple treatment for sepsis. Could the leading cause of death in hospitals really be treated with intravenous vitamin C, the vitamin thiamine and doses of steroids? “Hundreds of thousands of people die in the U.S. every year and millions of people in the world die of this,” says Sevransky, a critical-care physician at Emory University. “So when somebody comes out with a potential treatment that is cheap and relatively easily available, it’s something you want to think about.” (Harris, 12/12)
Stat: Lawsuit Alleges NIH, FDA Let Clinical Trial Sponsors Off The HookÂ A former top official at the Food and Drug Administration and a longtime science journalist are suing the agency and the National Institutes of Health, saying they let clinical trial sponsors off the hook for reporting nearly a decadeâs worth of important scientific data. Under a law passed in 2007, researchers involved in many clinical trials must report their results to the federal government. But the NIH and FDA only finalized a rule to ensure compliance in 2016. (Facher, 12/11)
NPR: Shingrix Vaccine Against Shingles Remains In Short Supply If you’re 50 or older, Judith Strull’s story might sound familiar. Told by her doctor last month to get the shingles vaccine, Shingrix, Strull went to her local CVS in Newton, Mass., expecting a quick in-and-out procedure â like getting a flu shot. The pharmacist, however, said the store had no Shingrix left in stock. (Wasser, 12/11)
CNN: Animal Attacks Cost Us More Than $1 Billion A Year Animal-related injuries lead to health care costs of more than $1 billion a year in the United States, according to a new study — and they’re happening more often. The rate of all animal attack injuries has increased over the past 10 years, according to Dr. Joseph Forrester, one of the authors of the study published Tuesday in the BMJ. He anticipates that it will continue to rise, partially because of climate change. (Thomas, 12/11)
Health experts hailed the announcement as an attempt to help reduce antibiotic resistance in humans, a public health issue that has lead McDonald’s and other fast food providers to eliminate the use of antibiotic-fed chickens. In other food safety news, Jimmy Dean sausage is recalled in 21 states.
Reuters: McDonald’s To Curb Antibiotic Use In Its Beef Supply McDonald’s Corp said on Tuesday it plans to reduce the use of antibiotics in its global beef supply, fueling projections that other restaurants will follow suit. The move by the world’s biggest fast-food chain addresses concerns that the overuse of antibiotics vital to fighting human infections in farm animals may diminish the drugs’ effectiveness in people. (12/11)
The Wall Street Journal: McDonaldâs To Trim Antibiotics From Its Beef McDonaldâs and many other fast-food chains already have eliminated the use of such antibiotics in chicken in the U.S., and McDonaldâs is aiming to do so in other markets around the world. Reducing the use of such antibiotics in beef has been more difficult for McDonaldâs, because of the companyâs scale and the smaller number of suppliers that produce beef without the medicine. (Jargon, 12/11)
Chicago Tribune: McDonaldâs Pledges To Reduce Antibiotics In Its Beef Supply By The End Of 2020Â âI think itâs a promising step forward to preserve antibiotics,â said Matthew Wellington, Antibiotics Program Director of U.S. PIRG and U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a public interest research group. …Use of antibiotics in livestock to not only treat sick animals but also prevent disease has raised concerns that overuse is causing more drug-resistant disease in humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated, conservatively, that 23,000 Americans die each year from antibiotic resistance, but other research puts the number much higher. A recent study from researchers at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis found 150,000 deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. in 2010. (Elejalde-Ruiz, 12/11)
The Washington Post: Jimmy Dean: Metal-Tainted Meat Sparks Recall Of 28,000 Pounds Of Sausage, USDA Says More than 28,000 pounds of Jimmy Dean sausage has been recalled over metal tainting fears in meat distributed to 21 states, the company said Tuesday, in a move to protect consumers from products that pose the greatest health risk under the Agriculture Departmentâs recall regulations. Five consumer complaints of metal-infused sausage led the agencyâs food safety office to trigger the alert, the USDA said, after the sausage left a Tennessee-based facility and was distributed across the country. No health impacts have been reported as of Tuesday, the agency said. (Horton, 12/11)
The plan for the 2019-21 budget comes after years of court orders and federal inspection findings that highlight the suffering and unlawful treatment of Washingtonâs mental-health patients at the hands of the state. Mental health news comes out of Illinois, Oregon, California, Massachusetts and Alabama.
Seattle Times: Inslee Unveils $675 Million Plan To Reverse Crisis In Washingtonâs Mental-Health System Seeking to reverse the multitude of crises that have engulfed Washingtonâs mental-health system, Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday released a plan that would radically reshape the care of patients. Insleeâs $675 million proposalÂ would fund hundreds of new community mental-health beds and create a partnership with the University of Washington to establish a new teaching hospital focused on behavioral health. It would boost the ranks of mental-health workers, who have been in short supply, and provide long-term housing options to ease the bed shortage. (O’Sullivan, 12/11)
ProPublica: Criminally Insane In Oregon Attack Twice As Many People Than Previously Known, New Data Shows People freed by Oregon officials after being found criminally insane are charged with new felonies more often than convicted criminals released from state prison, with family members and first responders often the targets of violence, a new analysis by the Malheur Enterprise and ProPublica shows. All told, 23 percent of people freed by the stateâs Psychiatric Security Review Board are charged with felonies within three years of their release, compared with 16 percent of those released from Oregon prisons. (Fraser, 12/12)
Boston Globe: Tech Firms Enter The Business Of Campus Mental Health Care At many college counseling centers therapists are overwhelmed and students are forced to wait weeks for an appointment, even as more of them seek help for anxiety, depression, and sleep and eating disorders. Christie Campus Health, a Lexington start-up that will be launched Wednesday, thinks it has a solution: technology. (Fernandes, 12/12)
The Washington Post: McKenzie Adams, Alabama 9-Year-Old Who Hung Herself, Faced Racist Bullying, Her Family Says McKenzie Adams wanted to be a scientist when she grew up. The 9-year-old excelled in math. But she also liked riding her bike, playing with dolls and PlayStation 4 and recording goofy home videos with her cousins, according to media reports in Alabama, where Adams attended elementary school in the city of Demopolis. Instead of making plans to gather McKenzie and her cousins for Christmas, the childâs family is preparing to bury her on Saturday after she hung herself. Her body was discovered at their home in Linden, Ala., on Dec. 3 by her grandmother, family members told the Tuscaloosa News. (Stanley-Becker, 12/12)
Media outlets report on news from Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia, Ohio, Virginia, California, Tennessee and New York.
The Associated Press: Florida Massacre Commission Considers School Safety Plans There were plenty of missteps in communication, security and school policy before and during the Florida high school massacre that allowed the gunman to kill 17 people. Now, the state commission investigating the shooting will consider a long list of recommendations addressing these problems statewide. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will consider proposals Wednesday and Thursday, including whether to arm trained, volunteer teachers; making it harder for outsiders to enter Floridaâs nearly 4,000 public schools; mandating armed security on all campuses with explicit orders to confront shooters; improving communication systems on campus; and imposing more statewide uniformity in how troubled students are identified, helped and, if necessary, dealt with by police. (Spencer, 12/12)
Tampa Bay Times: Top All Childrenâs Executives Resign Following Times Report On Heart Surgeries The CEO of Johns Hopkins All Childrenâs Hospital and two other hospital administrators have resigned following a Tampa Bay Times investigation that found dramatic increases in the hospitalâs mortality rates for heart surgeries, Johns Hopkins announced Tuesday. In a statement, the health system said All Childrenâs CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen, Vice President Jackie Crain and deputy director of the hospitalâs Heart Institute Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs had resigned. (McGrory and Bedi, 12/11)
Houston Chronicle: Patient Confusion Is Business Model For Free-Standing Emergency RoomsÂ Free-standing ERs dot the suburbs, where census data tells physician-entrepreneurs that most residents have private insurance or Medicare. Operators also like to locate where people have a lot of money and little patience for waiting.These for-profit ERs, which have no affiliations with hospitals, take advantage of the typical consumerâs ignorance of the difference between an urgent care clinic, a free-standing ER and a hospital ER. (Tomlinson, 12/11)
Boston Globe: Aetna Settles With State Over âGhost Networksâ Health insurer Aetna has agreed to vastly improve information for consumers, after an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general found that its provider directories are inaccurate and deceptive. The office filed a settlement agreement in Suffolk Superior Court Tuesday, closing its investigation into the company. (Kowalczyk, 12/11)
Boston Globe: Business Groups Aim To Curb Emergency Room Use, And Save Money, Too On Tuesday, a coalition of business groups representing thousands of employers kicked off an ambitious new effort to reduce these potentially avoidable emergency room visits, and in the process lower health care costs by up to $100 million. Companies in the coalition will pepper their employees with fliers, memos, and meetings about alternatives to emergency rooms, such as walk-in clinics and telehealth services. (Dayal McCluskey, 12/12)
The Associated Press: New Survey Finds 14 Percent Of Virginians Are Smokers A new state survey shows that about 14 percent of Virginians consider themselves regular smokers. A report by the Virginia Department of Health found that Southwest Virginia had the highest rate of smoking, with smokers making up more than 18 percent of the regionâs population. Smokers only make up less than 8 percent of the population of Northern Virginia. (12/12)
The Associated Press: Study: Virginia Poorly Supervises Its Foster Care Programs A legislative study says Virginia does a poor job of supervising local foster care systems and intervening when they donât deliver adequate services to children in their care. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Monday that the study says Virginiaâs 120 local foster care programs arenât good at recruiting foster parents, reuniting families or finding children permanent homes. It says this has led to an increased reliance on costly and often unnecessary institutional care such as group homes. (12/11)
California Healthline: Blue Shieldâs Trims To Out-Of-State Coverage Give Some Californians The Blues Denise Roberts is still coping with complications from a life-threatening bout of Valley Fever three years ago that claimed part of a lung. Roberts, who lives in Doyle, Calif., a tiny rural community near the Nevada border, typically drives to Reno for the care she needs. Specialists in her own state, she said, are too far away. But starting Jan. 1, Robertsâ insurer, Blue Shield of California, likely wonât cover the out-of-state care Roberts has come to rely on. (Feder Ostrov, 12/11)
Miami Herald: Patient Sues Nova Southeastern Over Use Of Dirty Equipment A South Florida woman whose young daughter was an orthodontics patient at a Nova Southeastern University clinic in Davie filed a lawsuit against the school this week for potentially exposing the girl to infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis, from dirty equipment used by dentists at the facility. (Chang, 12/11)
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Activists Speak Out Against Conditions At Cuyahoga County Jail At Council Meeting Dozens of activists protesting conditions in the Cuyahoga County Jail demonstrated Tuesday outside county headquarters before attending a Cuyahoga County Council meeting. Twenty-six people addressed council members directly, many of whom railed against the treatment of inmates in the jail, referenced the deaths of seven inmates between June 10 and Oct. 2, and cited findings from a U.S. Marshals Service report that identified âinhumaneâ conditions at the jail. (Astolfi, 12/11)
San Francisco Chronicle: Californiaâs Water Needs: A Balancing Act Sought By Feinstein, Brown Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining forces with House Republicans to try to extend a controversial law that provides more water for Central Valley farms, but with a sweetener for the environment: Help with protecting Californiaâs rivers and fish. The proposed extension of the WIIN Act, or Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, would keep millions of federal dollars flowing for new dams and reservoirs across the West. (Alexander, 12/11)
Nashville Tennessean: Aspire Health Says Hacked Emails Never Opened; Ends Hunt For Hacker A large Nashville-based healthcare company that was hacked earlier this year said TuesdayÂ an internal investigation has revealed theÂ stolen emails were intercepted before they were ever opened by the cyberattacker. Aspire Health, which offers in-home treatment in 25 states, has also abandoned its legal hunt for the unknown hacker that targeted them. (Kelman, 12/11)
The Associated Press: Elderly Man Evicted Over Medical Marijuana Hits Another Snag A 78-year-old New York man who was evicted from federally subsidized housing because he uses medical marijuana for pain said Tuesday that the conflicting state and federal pot laws that left him homeless are now threatening his medical care. âThe federal government has stepped in again and squashed it,â said John Flickner, who uses a wheelchair and has a doctorâs prescription for the drug. (Thompson, 12/11)
News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.
Stat: Will Democrats In Congress Keep The Door Open For Pharma â Or Slam It? With annual revenues of roughly $450 million and an army of some 160 lobbyists, PhRMA has long been described in near mythological terms by both awed opponents and reverent allies: Itâs untouchable, it never loses, it can kill a bill before the ink is dry on the first draft. Suddenly, however, the industry lobbying powerhouse looks far more vulnerable. More than a dozen current and former staffers and lobbyists connected to the drug industry told STAT that as Democrats take control of the House in January, PhRMA is struggling to preserve its clout. (Florko, 12/10)
The Hill: The Year Ahead: Drug Pricing Efforts To Test Bipartisanship A new Democratic majority is taking over in the House next year with a number of health issues taking center stage. Democrats will use their new power to try to shore up the Affordable Care Act and rein in high health care and prescription drug costs. But the party will also face its own internal debate, while insurgents on the left keep up their push to implement Medicare for All. (Hellmann, 12/11)
Politico: Democratic Divide On Drug Pricing Likely In House Congressional Democratsâ united front on curbing drug prices may soon change: A pair of senior lawmakers whoâve disagreed in the past on the pharmaceutical industry are in line to chair key health subcommittees in the next Congress. (Owermohle and Karlin-Smith, 12/10)
The Hill: House Passes Bill To Keep Drug Companies From Overcharging MedicaidÂ The House approved a proposal Tuesday cracking down on the tactics drug companies use to charge Medicaid. The bipartisan bill, from Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), comes after the Department of Health and Human Services last year accused Mylan, the maker of EpiPen, of overcharging the Medicaid program by as much as $1.27 billion over ten years by misclassifying the drug as a generic. (Hellmann, 12/11)
Stat: Dozens Of Groups Attack Trump Plan To Peg Drug Prices To What Other Countries Pay A controversial Trump administration plan to lower drug costs by pegging prices to what are paid by several foreign countries is getting pushback from dozens of groups. They argue the proposal would import price controls, restrict patient access, and reduce incentives for medical innovation. In a letter to House and Senate leaders, the groups maintain the proposal is misguided and would ultimately hurt millions of Medicare B beneficiaries. And so, they urged the lawmakers to end the proposed pilot program and instead consider implementing some of the ideas in a limited fashion. (Silverman, 12/10)
The New York Times: How To Cut Drug Prices: Experts Weigh In Americans are generally uncomfortable with pharmaceutical prices â which are the highest for brand drugs among wealthy nations â and with drug companiesâ profits. But if policies were adopted to reduce drug prices, could there be negative consequences? On balance, would such policies be good or bad? I asked three health policy experts to consider these questions in the context of four specific drug pricing policies. (Frakt, 12/10)
Vox: The Groundbreaking Lawsuit Over Generic Drugs Itâs the biggest lawsuit you might not know anything about: Generic drug companies stand accused of running a âcartelâ that rigged the market and fixed prices, costing patients and taxpayers, according to a complaint that has been joined by almost every stateâs attorney general. The scope just keeps getting bigger: The litigation started by focusing on two drugs but has since expanded to implicate 16 companies and more than 300 drugs, Connecticut assistant attorney general Joseph Nielsen, who has led the effort, told the Washington Post. âThis is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States,â Nielsen told the Postâs Christopher Rowland. Not mincing words. (Scott, 12/10)
Stat: Pennsylvania Auditor Urges Laws To Crack Down On PBM Contracts For Medicaid Amid rising scrutiny of pharmacy benefit manager practices, the Pennsylvania state auditor is recommending several steps that lawmakers should take to clamp down on these controversial middlemen in hopes of controlling prescription drug costs. The effort was prompted after Ohio recently ended contracts with two of the largest PBMs over pricing practices in the Medicaid program that cost the state tens of millions of dollars, a step that triggered increased interest among officials in other states over contracts and an alleged lack of transparency. (Silverman, 12/11)
Columbus Dispatch: Ohio’s Drug Setup Getting More Transparency In 2019 Ohio Medicaid will abandon its secretive prescription drug-pricing system in three weeks and move to a transparent system that for the first time will disclose exactly how billions in taxpayer dollars are being spent. State officials arenât promising any savings, but the move could lead to lower costs and spur more changes in the way Medicaid pays for drugs. (Candisky, 12/10)
Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Leads Way As States Take On ‘Pharmacy Benefit Manager’ Middlemen Officials in states across the U.S. showed little interest for years about looking into the black box of pharmacy benefit managers, the pharmacy supply-chain middlemen who have been shrouded in secrecy as they pour billions of dollars worth of prescription drug rebates into state coffers. That setup provided states with more than $20 billion in rebates last year alone, an average of $450 million for each state that uses the so-called PBMs to help manage their Medicaid programs, a three-month national survey by The Columbus Dispatch revealed. Rebates are meant to be a price concession intended to lower drug costs. (Candisky, Sullivan and Schladen, 12/8)
Stat: An FDA Inspection Report Shows Just How Troubled A Pfizer Plant Really IsÂ Yet another inspection by the Food and Drug Administration underscores the difficulties that Pfizer (PFE) is having with a key plant that has been responsible for severe shortages of injectables and other drugs. The problems at the McPherson, Kan., facility, which Pfizer inherited as part of its $16 billion acquisition of Hospira three years ago, include employees who lack training to manufacture, process, or package products; a failure to review unexplained discrepancies in batches of medicines; and inadequate procedures to prevent contamination, according to an agency inspection report last July and August and posted on the FDA web site on Thursday. (Silverman, 12/7)
Stat: Two Former Alexion Execs Launch New Company ElevateBioÂ Two former Alexion executives, both of whom resigned in the middle of a scandal two years ago, are starting a new biotech company â one with ambitious goals in cell and gene therapy, according to a new slide deck obtained by STAT. The presentation provides some of the first details about the secretive new company, which its founders, including David Hallal and Vikas Sinha, are calling ElevateBio. They havenât yet publicly discussed its existence or launched a website. (Sheridan, 12/11)
The Hill: How To Reduce Drug Costs For Over 266 Million Americans We have been monitoring the discussion of the price of prescription drugs. It is no secret that a pillar of Donald Trumpâs presidency and the newest members of the 116th Congress is the promise of lowering prescription drug prices for millions of Americans who pay far too much. Recently, HHS Secretary Alex Azar has indicated the administration might roll back the current prescription drug rebate program. However, there has not been a promise from drug companies to lower drug prices if rebates are taken away, nor has there been a promise to help patients afford their prescription medications. (Linda Goler Blount, 12/11)
Bloomberg: Gilead Needs More Than Steady Hand From New CEO Daniel O’Day Gilead Sciences Inc. has been in leadership limbo for five uncomfortable months; replacing aÂ CEO and chairman combinationÂ that turned the companyÂ into a giant isnât easy.Â So the hiring on Monday of Roche Holding AGÂ pharma head Daniel OâDay comes as a significant relief. ItÂ endsÂ uncertainty, for sure. More important, OâDay is clearlyÂ qualified. Heâs aÂ veteran of one of the worldâs most successful pharma firmsÂ and has deep expertise with cancer medicines, a priority for Gilead.Â Â (Max Nisen, 12/10)
Stat: Patent Abuse Is Driving Up Drug Prices. Just Look At LantusÂ A rare point of consensus following the midterm elections is that Americans are adamant about lowering drug prices. Bipartisan pledges to seek common ground on this vexing issue suggest we might finally see action to make medicines more affordable. What should this new common ground look like? Beyond important proposals like allowing drug importation or Medicare negotiation, policymakers should take a hard look at one of the key factors affecting market competition, transparency, and affordability: patents. (Tahir Amin, 12/7)
The Hill: Better Ways Than Trump’s Plan To Address Prescription Drug Prices The Trump administration has proposed several steps to address the cost of prescription drugs. Reaction mostly ranged from unimpressed to strong opposition. Rather than relying on bureaucratic micromanaging and price controls, we need to explore market solutions that expand access and encourage pharmaceutical innovation â and some are already here.The good news is that the large majority of prescription drugs are very affordable. Generics, which are much less expensive copies of original brand-name drugs, represent nearly 90 percent of prescriptions sold in the U.S. (Merrill Matthews, 12/9)
Stat: CVS-Aetna Deal Will Save Money By Cutting Supply Chain Negotiations With pressure mounting from the outside, the industry was left with no choice but to look within to reduce costs. Although the pricing scheme of pharmacy drugs and services is a closely guarded secret, weâve learned that the complexity of the industry is whatâs likely driving up costs. Insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, retail pharmacies, manufacturers, and wholesalers are all involved in the process to provide Americans with services and prescription drugs. For example, a brand-name drug is made by a manufacturer, then purchased and distributed by a wholesaler, who sells it to the pharmacy. Meanwhile, pharmacy benefit managers reimburse the pharmacy for the drug, and insurance companies reimburse the pharmacy benefit managers. With so many players involved in a single drug, it is clear to see the multiple points of pricing negotiations that take place. (Kathleen Iacocca, 12/12)
Opinion pages focus on these health insurance issues and others.
WBUR: The Trump Administration Is Still Trying To Gut Obamacare The administration two weeks ago announced that states could allow residents to use Obamacare subsidies to buy skimpy insurance: plans that donât cover the lawâs minimum benefits or that discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Voters, who just elected a Democratic House largely to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA), should tell their state leaders to keep hands off its protections. (Rich Barlow, 12/12)
The Wall Street Journal: âMeans Testedâ Welfare Means Nothing In Practice ObamaCareâs Medicaid expansion bears most of the blame. The new law made people earning up to 138% of the federal poverty line eligible to receive Medicaid. The Medicaid marketplace it created includes no mandatory verification processes, allowing people simply to declare their income and start receiving benefits. As described in a 2013 issue brief from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services touting âsimplified, real-time verificationâ: âEligibility will be verified primarily through self-attestation.â Simplified indeed. (Robert Doar, 12/11)
St.Â Louis Post Dispatch: Short-Term Health Plans May Cause More Pain Than Gain If youâre shopping for the best health insurance plan for you, itâs important to know that the current administration recently expanded access to health insurance plans that are not compliant with the Affordable Care Act. Traditionally, short-term plans have been used to provide health coverage for a couple months, typically for those in between jobs. Now, short-term plans can be purchased for a yearlong term, with the ability to renew for up to three years of coverage. While these plans are meant to offer a cheaper alternative to the plans offered in the Health Insurance Marketplace â where plans must comply with the ACAâs consumer protections â their restrictions could be detrimental to Missouriansâ health. (Tim Williams, 12/12)
Los Angeles Times: The Trump Administration Unveils A Stealth Attack On People With Preexisting Conditions Trump administration officials apparently are prepared to go to their graves insisting that they did everything possible to protect Americans with preexisting medical conditions, even as they pull out the stops to undermine those protections. The latest example of this subterfuge came in late October, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new rules for states contemplating alterations in the Affordable Care Act. (Michael Hiltzik, 12/11)
Philadelphia Inquirer: Black Children Are Suffering Higher Rates Of Depression And Anxiety. Whatâs Going On? The rates of anxiety, depression, and behavior disorders among black children doubled over the course of several decades, with prevalence rates among black Americans topping those of whites, found a recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology. Previous research examining racial differences in rates of psychiatric disorders have typically found that black Americans show lower rates than whites, despite experiencing higher rates of social adversity and stressors. The new study suggests that this may be changing for younger black Americans, at least with regard to psychiatric disorders that have their onset in childhood. (Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, 12/11)
Stat: The Military Pushed It. The FDA Went Along. Is The Newest Opioid Any Better? In the midst of a national opioid crisis, how badly do we need another formidable painkiller? This vexing question has been widely debated since the Food and Drug Administration set off a furor last month when it approved Dsuvia, a tablet version of a decades-old intravenous painkiller that is up to 10 times more potent than the highly addictive fentanyl. Critics argued that alternatives exists and that such a powerful opioid could easily be abused by being diverted, despite a prohibition on retail pharmacy sales. But the endorsement was championed by the military, which maintains that such a medicine is needed in combat zones. (Ed Silverman, 12/11)
Stat: Your Brain Hates The Flu Shot. Get One Anyway If humans were perfectly logical creatures, weâd all get flu shots. They are easy to find, usually free, and undeniably effective. In the 2016-2017 flu season alone, they preventedÂ an estimated 5.3 million cases of the flu. Yet less than half of Americans get the shot, proof positive of the enduring irrationality of our species. Some of that gap is due to misinformation. But rejection of the flu shot is about more than just celebrity retweets of bad science about vaccines in general. In many ways, the flu shot violates our understanding of how medicine works in ways that tickle the irrational parts of our brains. (Matt Wallaert, 12/12)
The Washington Post: Why A Lousy Dispute Between Two Health-Care Giants Could Cost Americans Bloomberg News reported Friday that UnitedHealthcare, the countryâs biggest health insurer, is in a contract dispute with Envision Healthcare, which employs â25,000 emergency doctors, anesthesiologists and other hospital-based clinicians.â If the two companies cannot agree on a contract by the end of the year, that would make the medical groupâs 25,000 hospital-based medical providers out-of-network for millions of people who receive coverage from the insurance giant. The likely result? âA flood of surprise medical billsâ for all too many Americans in early 2019. And Happy New Year to you, too! (Helaine Olen, 12/11)
The Washington Post: When It Comes To Helping Our Soldiers, Talk Is Cheap âWouldnât it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner?â President Trump mused last month. With that conjecture about the leadership of Admiral William McRaven, whom he succinctly dismissed as a âHillary Clinton fanâ and âObama backer,â Trump provoked yet another scandal about presidential comportment. Of course, itâs hardly news that Trump criticized someone seemingly unassailable; indeed, his swipe at Chief Justice John Roberts three days later largely displaced the McRaven story. (Rebecca A. Adelman, 12/11)
The New York Times: Reading Tea Leaves On Abortion Rights When the Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear cases brought by Louisiana and Kansas attempting to exclude Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from their Medicaid programs, legal soothsayers were out in full force opining about what it means for the future of abortion rights under the newly constituted court. (Louise Melling, 12/11)
The Washington Post: Support The Forgotten Adolescents Who âAge Outâ Of Foster Care Being removed from a family home and placed in foster care is one of the most wrenching events a child can experience, even when itâs absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, the number of children in foster care in the United States grew by 10 percent between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2016, reaching more than 437,000 in the latter year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. This rate of increase exceeded overall population growth for the period. A main factor, according to officials, is parental drug abuse due to the opioid epidemic. (12/11)
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia Is Failing Its Foster Care Children The study of the Virginia Department of Social Servicesâ foster care and adoption services essentially charges the state with failing to properly monitor its 120 local foster care programs and to adhere to federal and state requirements. As result, the safety and well-being of children in its care are at risk. (12/11)
Tampa Bay Times: Johns Hopkins All Childrenâs Resignations First Step Toward Restoring Trust The resignations of the CEO of Johns Hopkins All Childrenâs Hospital and two other hospital administrators Tuesday is the first meaningful step toward restoring the communityâs trust in the venerable institution. The next step should be a thorough public accounting of the factors that contributed to a surge in the death rate of patients in the St. Petersburg hospitalâs pediatric heart surgery unit — and of why the safety concerns were not addressed in a more aggressive, transparent manner. (12/11)