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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Health and Fitness

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Judge sides with AIDS Healthcare Foundation, dismisses suit

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 13:24:59 UT

(AP) — A federal judge ruled in favor of one of the nation's largest suppliers of HIV and AIDS medical care, clearing it of wrongdoing in an alleged $20 million scam to bilk the federal government. Three former managers of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a federal lawsuit in South Florida in 2014 alleging the company paid employees and patients kickbacks for patient referrals to boost funding from federal health programs.



Trump administration opposing bid for syphilis study museum

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 12:33:09 UT

(AP) — The Trump administration opposes a bid to use unclaimed money from a legal settlement over the government's infamous Tuskegee syphilis study to fund a museum honoring victims of the research project. The Justice Department argued in court documents recently that providing the money to the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center would violate an agreement reached in 1975 to settle a class-action lawsuit. Fred Gray, a civil rights attorney who represented men in the study and made the funding request in 2016, declined comment on the government's position.



The Latest: Nevada's Heller opposes GOP health bill

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:53:42 UT

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller says he opposes the GOP bill scuttling much of the Obama health care law, complicating the effort by party leaders to guide the measure through the Senate. The Senate measure would make major cuts in the Medicaid program for poor and disabled people. A health insurance industry trade group says it's encouraged by provisions of the Senate GOP health care bill, but stopped short of voicing support. The group said in a statement Friday it's encouraged that the Senate bill would take immediate action to stabilize shaky insurance markets by guaranteeing billions of dollars in subsidies under jeopardy due to a legal dispute and political maneuvering. The estimate was released Friday by Arizona's Medicaid agency, which analyzed the effects of the legislation on the state health insurance program for low-income people. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst is suggesting Iowans would not be losing Medicaid coverage even as the Senate GOP health care bill would phase out financing to expand the low-income insurance program. The GOP-controlled Senate bill introduced Thursday would phase out federal money to states which opted to expand the low-income health insurance program.



5 GOP senators now oppose health bill — enough to sink it

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 22:13:45 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nevada Republican Dean Heller became the fifth GOP senator to declare his opposition to the party's banner legislation to scuttle much of Barack Obama's health care overhaul on Friday, more than enough to sink the measure and deliver a stinging rebuke to President Donald Trump unless some of them can be brought aboard. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he's willing to alter the measure to attract support, and next week promises plenty of back-room bargaining as he tries pushing a final package through his chamber. Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, McConnell can afford to lose just two of the 52 GOP senators and still prevail. Besides the five who've announced outright opposition, several other GOP senators — conservatives and moderates — have declined to commit to the new overhaul. The measure resembles legislation the House approved last month that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said would mean 23 million additional uninsured people within a decade and that recent polling shows is viewed favorably by only around 1 in 4 Americans. Democrats hope to use those rules to erase some language from the bill, including a section barring consumers from using the measure's health care tax credits to buy insurance that covers abortions.



Medicaid is biggest consumer story in 'Obamacare' rollback

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 21:22:55 UT

Not only would the GOP legislation scale back coverage through the insurance markets and phase out the Medicaid expansion, it would also make fundamental changes to the broader Medicaid program. The federal-state program covers low-income people, from newborns to elderly nursing home residents, from special-needs kids to young adults caught in the opioid epidemic. The GOP's biggest Medicaid change involves limiting future federal financing. Since its inception, Medicaid has been an open-ended entitlement, with Washington matching a share of what each state spends. [...] the GOP would phase out added financing that Obama's law provided as an incentive for states to expand the program and cover more low-income adults. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the House bill would reduce federal Medicaid spending by $834 billion over 10 years, and the program would cover about 14 million fewer people by 2026, a 17 percent reduction. Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a longtime GOP adviser, says the Republican approach is "180 degrees different in its economic and budgetary philosophy," from the course steered by Obama. [...] the uninsured rate may start climbing again, because both the House and Senate bills cut federal financing and repeal an unpopular requirement to carry health insurance. [...] doctors see a health insurance card as a ticket into the system, so patients can be screened for chronic conditions that can ultimately lead to serious illnesses.



Ex-official convicted of defrauding mental health clinic

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 21:08:03 UT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A member of a local politically connected family was convicted Friday of defrauding a nonprofit mental health clinic out of about $1 million for her personal benefit through a pattern of self-dealing when she was its landlord. Renee Tartaglione was indicted last year and charged with taking $1 million from the Juniata Community Mental Health Clinic between 2007 and 2012, when she was the clinic's landlord and president of its board of directors. A U.S. District Court jury convicted her of conspiracy, theft, fraud and tax evasion. Tartaglione also was accused of running a kickback scheme in which two clinic employees, Sandy Acosta and her daughter, Leslie Acosta, received supplemental paychecks, cashed them and turned over the money to Tartaglione so she could avoid paying taxes.



Prosecutors seek 35-year term in deadly meningitis outbreak

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:37:53 UT

BOSTON (AP) — Prosecutors say the co-founder of a Massachusetts pharmacy linked to a deadly nationwide meningitis outbreak should be sent to prison for 35 years for showing "an unconscionable disregard for the lives of the patients." Barry Cadden will be sentenced Monday on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and fraud in the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed more than 60 people and sickened more than 700 others in 20 states. Cadden's lawyers say prosecutors are trying to demonize Cadden and to "transform the jury's verdict into a murder case," despite the fact that he was acquitted of second-degree murder charges. Despite the defense claims, "the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated that Cadden was well-aware of these deficiencies in NECC's production processes, and the potential danger it could cause to patients, but chose to ship the deficient drugs anyway," Assistant U.S. Attorney George Varghese wrote in the government's sentencing memo. In their memo, prosecutors included excerpts from victim impact statements written to the court by relatives of people who were sickened or died from the contaminated steroids.