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Health Care Tops Guns, Economy As Voters’ Top Issue
Kaiser Health News

Health care has emerged as the top issue for voters headed into the midterm elections, but fewer than half of them say they are hearing a lot from candidates on the issue, according to a new poll released Thursday.

Seven in 10 people list health care as “very important” as they make their voting choices, eclipsing the economy and jobs (64 percent), gun policy (60 percent), immigration (55 percent), tax cuts (53 percent) and foreign policy (51 percent).

When asked to choose just one issue, nearly a third picked health care, according to the survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Still, midterm elections are traditionally a referendum on the president and his party, and that holds true this year as two-thirds of voters say a candidate’s support or opposition to President Donald Trump will be a major factor in their voting decision, the poll found.

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Why do California babies have syphilis in numbers rivaling those of poor nations?

Jeffrey Klausner has seen the damage congenital syphilis can do to newborns, and it makes him a little sick.

“It’s one of the horrible outcomes,” said Klausner, an infectious disease professor at UCLA’s medical school. “You have devastation of the newborn.”

It’s not just the neurological harm the illness causes, or the infant deaths or stillborn deliveries, he said, but the fact that it’s all preventable—with a single antibiotic shot.

About two decades ago, congenital syphilis was all but eradicated in California, the most populous state. But in the past six years, the number of cases has jumped from 33 to 283—almost a tenfold increase. It’s the highest number of cases in any state and accounts for the third-highest rate per live birth, behind Louisiana and Nevada.

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Hospital execs fail to reduce costs where needed, report says
Modern Healthcare

A new report suggests health systems are being too conventional in their approaches to cutting costs, which might be why they aren’t making much headway. 

Labor costs/productivity and the supply chain were the areas 72% of respondents to Kaufman Hall’s latest survey said they plan to target when it comes to cutting costs. 

But to succeed in a future that’s sure to be marked by disruption, it’s going to take a new mindset and a willingness to go well beyond the traditional areas of focus, the report said.

That could mean shuttering rural hospitals, reducing clinical variation and attempting to integrate the physician practices they’ve accumulated in recent years.

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Neanderthals Suffered a Lot of Traumatic Injuries. So How Did They Live So Long?
The Atlantic

Neanderthals suffered many gruesome injuries in their day. The precious remains of our ancient-human relatives reveal crushed limbs, fractured skulls, and broken ribs—relics from hunting accidents and warfare. That’s not to mention severe tooth abscesses and broken teeth that would have contributed to severe chronic pain.

Behind these gory details, however, lies the fact that many of these individuals appear to have survived for months or even years after their injuries. They lived to fight another day. This is at odds with some common assumptions about Neanderthals: Compared to modern humans, they are often thought to have lacked the necessary compassion or cognitive abilities to look after the sick. “We can infer from the fact that they survived that they must have been helped by others—and in some cases that help must have been knowledgeable and quite well planned,” says Penny Spikins, an archaeologist at the University of York in the United Kingdom. Their survival would have only been possible, in other words, if they had sophisticated health care.

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Big Pharma finally faces a foe in President Trump
Washington Examiner

The Trump administration has embarked on a new, ambitious angle to initiate healthcare reform, not by shifting who pays the costs, but by attempting to reduce the costs altogether. In a radical but economically obvious push for price transparency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is now pushing to require prescription drug manufacturers to advertise prices alongside their products. Between the CMS policy passed in August mandating that hospitals post prices online and this new attempt to empower the elasticity of patient demand, President Trump and his Department of Health and Human Services have repositioned themselves as consumer champions, much to the ire of Big Pharma.

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Private Medicaid Plans Receive Billions In Tax Dollars, With Little Oversight
National Public Radio

Health insurance wasn’t available through his job, so Jose Nuñez turned to Medicaid, the nation’s public insurance program that assists 75 million low-income Americans.

Like most people on Medicaid, the Los Angeles trucker was assigned to a private insurance company that coordinated his medical visits and treatment in exchange for receiving a set fee per month — an arrangement known as managed care.

But in 2016, when Nuñez’s retina became damaged from diabetes, the country’s largest Medicaid insurer — Centene — let him down, he says.  After months of denials, delays and erroneous referrals, he is claiming in a lawsuit, the 62-year-old was left nearly blind in one eye. As a result, he lost his driver’s license and his livelihood.

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Medicaid buy-in proposals prompt similar worries as ‘Medicare for all’
Modern Healthcare

State proposals to allow residents who don’t qualify for Medicaid to buy into the program are gaining steam, but providers are concerned that could cut deep into state budgets, drive physicians out of Medicaid’s already-skimpier networks and shift more costs to the commercial insurance market. Providers’ worries about state Medicaid buy-in options are similar to their unease over the “Medicare for all” plan pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), which is gaining steam with progressive Democrats in Congress.

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‘Medicare for All’ isn’t the answer. We need a basic health care safety net for all.
USA Today

When I was president of the American College of Cardiology nearly 20 years ago, I believed so firmly that everyone in the United States should have health coverage that I put “Health Care for all of U.S.” on bumper stickers. Two decades later, we’re not a lot closer to that goal.

While the Affordable Care Act helped millions of Americans gain health care coverage, the law has done little to control health care costs, and many Americans still can’t afford to buy insurance. As a result, many Americans are now calling for a dramatically different approach — “Medicare for All.” In fact, in our Texas Medical Center poll of 5,000 people throughout America this year, 59% of respondents supported the concept.

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Hospitals poised to report weak third-quarter admissions
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals’ upcoming earnings season is shaping up to be dominated by company-specific deals and turnaround plans rather than the usual broad industry trends.Analysts predict HCA Healthcare, the darling of the investor community, will outperform its peers in the third quarter of 2018, and they’re eager for updates on turnaround plans and pending deals at chains like Community Health Systems, Tenet Healthcare and Universal Health Services.

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GOP Gubernatorial Candidate John Cox: Limit Government In Health Care
Kaiser Health News

John Cox stood on a presidential debate stage and told the audience that he was glad abortion wasn’t legal in 1955.

If it had been, he said, he wouldn’t have been born.

“I wouldn’t be standing here before you today. This is personal to me,” Cox said in the 2007 GOP presidential primary debate, explaining that his biological father walked out on his mother.

“My mother took responsibility for me,” he said. “She’s glad she did, and I’m glad she did.”

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California’s most expensive proposition battle pits kidney dialysis providers against unions
The Desert Sun

The ballot initiative campaign with the highest price-tag in California’s 2018 midterm elections isn’t about rent control or the gas tax, it’s about kidney dialysis, and specifically, how much profit providers can make from the procedure.

Supporters and opponents of Proposition 8, the “Fair Pricing for Dialysis Act,” have contributed almost $120 million during the 2018 campaign season. The state’s largest kidney dialysis providers — including industry giants Davita Dialysis, Fresenius Medical Care and U.S.

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ACOs to stay in shared-savings program despite downside risk
Modern Healthcare

Accountable care organizations have experienced a change of heart and say they will likely stay in the Medicare Shared Savings Program even if that means taking on downside financial risk sooner, according to an association survey released Tuesday.

Nearly 50% of the ACOs surveyed by the National Association of ACOs said they would participate in MSSP if the CMS restructures the program and eliminates some tracks that don’t include financial risks for the organizations.

That’s a stark change from this spring, when 71% of early MSSP adopters said that they were likely to leave the program if forced to take on more risk. Now, only 36% say they’ll likely exit the program, and 16% are neutral on their future commitment.

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Distrust Of Health Care System May Keep Black Men Away From Prostate Cancer Research
National Public Radio

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men in the U.S.(other than non-melanoma skin cancer) and one of the most deadly. It’s especially deadly for black men, who are more likely to get it and twice as likely as white men to die from it. Yet black men tend to be underrepresented in research for prostate cancer treatment.

A study published Wednesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine captured a snapshot of the attitudes black men have regarding prostate cancer research and the evolving field of genomic testing, finding significant mistrust of the healthcare system and medical research. It builds on earlier research that has documented that African-Americans are less likely to trust clinical research than white Americans.

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Obesity surgery may lower heart attack danger in diabetics
Modern Healthcare

Obesity surgery may dramatically lower the danger of heart attacks and strokes in patients with diabetes, new research suggests, reinforcing evidence that benefits extend beyond weight loss.The study tracked about 20,000 severely obese patients with Type 2 diabetes.

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What is AFM? Everything you need to know about the polio-like virus suddenly affecting children acro
Los Angeles Times

It’s mysterious, it’s dangerous and it’s got parents on edge from coast to coast.

It’s a medical condition called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. The disease causes sudden, unexplained paralysis, usually in children. Its resemblance to polio has caused the public to take notice.

Federal health officials have confirmed 62 cases of AFM in the U.S. this year, and 65 more are under investigation. There are four suspected cases in California, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.

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Commentary: Building a talent pipeline for healthier minority communities
Modern Healthcare

There are turning points in every life. But for people from poor and minority communities, turning points are often devastating downward spirals. Mine came when I was just 11 and growing up in 1960s rural Arkansas. Like many Americans raised in poverty, it was rooted in healthcare—or, more accurately—the lack of it.My father was a strong, hard-working man who was diagnosed with cancer in his early 40s. Because we were poor and black, he did not receive medical attention appropriate for his condition. In 1968, I watched my father die at age 44.