News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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As price of insulin soars, Americans caravan to Canada for lifesaving medicine
Washington Post

As their minivan rolled north, they felt their nerves kick in — but they kept on driving.

At the wheel: Lija Greenseid, a rule-abiding Minnesota mom steering her Mazda5 on a cross-border drug run.

Her daughter, who is 13, has Type 1 diabetes and needs insulin. In the United States, it can cost hundreds of dollars per vial. In Canada, you can buy it without a prescription for a tenth of that price.

So, Greenseid led a small caravan last month to the town of Fort Frances, Ontario, where she and five other Americans paid about $1,200 for drugs that would have cost them $12,000 in the United States.

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Big Drug Makers Sue to Block Mandatory Price Disclosures in TV Ads: Brainstorm Health
Fortune

In what may be one of the least unexpected lawsuits against a proposed federal rule in recent history, drug giants Merck, Eli Lilly, Amgen, and the Association of National Advertisers are challenging the Trump administration’s bid to require TV drug advertisements to include the products’ list prices.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized the proposed rule in May. It would force pharmaceutical companies to publicize a treatment’s list price tag but has been criticized by the industry for alleged shortcomings and free speech concerns.

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Manufacturers sue Trump administration over price disclosure
Modern Healthcare

Three drug companies sued the Trump administration over its mandate that they start disclosing their list prices in their ads.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, picks a fight with the top health officials even as the pharmaceutical industry is actively campaigning for the administration’s proposed ban on rebates for pharmacy benefit managers in Medicare Part D.

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Drug Prices Are a Populist Campaign Issue. Here Are the Latest Proposals to Lower Costs.
New York Times

It can be hard to find common ground in Washington these days, but furor over drug prices could be one exception. Many Americans continue to struggle to pay for the prescription medicines they need. And rising drug costs are a problem for insurers and taxpayers, too — treatments for some rare diseases are topping $2 million.

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California goes even bigger on Obamacare
POLITICO

California is beefing up Obamacare, restoring an individual mandate, expanding health insurance subsidies well into the middle class and covering some undocumented adults through Medicaid. It’s an incremental step toward universal coverage that can animate the Democrats’ party-defining debate over how best to cover everyone — through a mixed public-private system or through “Medicare for All.”

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State budget gives health care to some undocumented immigrants. Arambula wants to go further
Sacramento Bee

Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula intends to continue pushing to expand health care options for all undocumented immigrants in California even though the state’s new $214.8 billion budget provides coverage to a fraction of them.

Arambula’s comments this week were among the first he’s made publicly since returning to work in Sacramento following his May trial in Fresno, where a jury found him not guilty of child abuse charges.

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Federal Grants ‘A Lifesaver’ In Opioid Fight, But States Still Struggle To Curb Meth
Kaiser Health News

In his 40 years of working with people struggling with addiction, David Crowe has seen various drugs fade in and out of popularity in Pennsylvania’s Crawford County.

Methamphetamine use and distribution is a major challenge for the rural area, said Crowe, the executive director of Crawford County Drug and Alcohol Executive Commission. But opioid-related overdoses have killed at least 83 people in the county since 2015, he said.

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Healthcare staffing agencies’ outlook softens as providers control costs
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare providers’ financial pressure has dampened the outlook of staffing firms, according to a new report.

Staffing companies that serve hospitals—such as Envision, Team Health and Schumacher—are particularly vulnerable as emergency department volumes decline and health systems develop predictive tools to better measure demand, according to a new report from ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.

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Why Air Ambulance Bills Are Still Sky-High
National Public Radio

In April 2018, 9-year-old Christian Bolling was hiking with his parents and sister in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, near their home in Roanoke. While climbing some boulders, he lost his footing and fell down a rocky 20-foot drop, fracturing both bones in his lower left leg, his wrist, both sides of his nose and his skull.

A rescue squad carried him out of the woods, and a helicopter flew him to a pediatric hospital trauma unit in Roanoke.

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Healthcare breaches reported in May exposed data on 2 million people
Modern Healthcare

Nearly 2 million people had data exposed in healthcare breaches reported to the federal government last month, more than double the number whose data was exposed in April-reported incidents.

But May had fewer breaches reported than April, which marked the highest number of healthcare breaches reported in a single month since HHS‘ Office for Civil Rights began maintaining its database in 2010.

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A Year After Spinal Surgery, A $94,031 Bill Feels Like A Back-Breaker
Kaiser Health News

Spinal surgery made it possible for Liv Cannon to plant her first vegetable garden.

“It’s a lot of bending over and lifting the wheelbarrow and putting stakes in the ground,” the 26-year-old said as she surveyed the tomatillos, cherry tomatoes and eggplant growing in raised beds behind her house in Austin, Texas. “And none of that I could ever do before.”

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On the Doorstep With a Plea: Will You Support Medicare for All?
New York Times

Art Miller listened patiently as the stranger on his doorstep tried to sell him on the Medicare for All Act of 2019, the single-payer health care bill that has sharply divided Democrats in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail.

The visitor, Steven Meier, was a volunteer canvasser who wanted Mr. Miller to call his congresswoman, Abby Finkenauer, the young Democrat who took a Republican’s seat last year in this closely divided district — and press her to embrace Medicare for all.

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Sacramento County’s safety net is failing Medi-Cal and uninsured patients, report says
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento County has “historically lagged” in providing health care services for its Medi-Cal recipients and its poor and uninsured populations, according to a new report by California Health Access.

Released this week, the report by the patient advocacy group found that Sacramento County struggles or fails to provide basic safety net services that other counties in the state provide – there is no public hospital, fewer primary care doctors take on new Medi-Cal patients, and navigating available health care plans is complex and confusing.

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Pfizer to buy Array BioPharma in deal worth $11.4 billion
USA Today

Pfizer is buying the cancer treatment company Array BioPharma in a deal worth $11.4 billion.

Array has a combination therapy for BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma, along with a pipeline of targeted cancer medicines in development and a portfolio of other medicines that are expected to generate significant royalties over time.

It announced significant advancement in the treatment of colorectal cancer last month.

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