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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Health and Fitness Health News


Report says Obama administration failed to follow health law

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 21:49:50 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration failed to follow the president's health care law in a $5 billion dispute over compensating insurers for high costs from seriously ill patients, Congress' investigative arm said Thursday. The opinion from the Government Accountability Office is a setback for the White House and bolsters Republican complaints that administration officials bent the law as problems arose carrying out its complex provisions. Working in the background of the law's coverage expansion, the three-year program collects fees from employer and other private health insurance plans and channels the money to health plans that face large claims for treating patients with catastrophic medical problems. Reinsurance provides a safety net for insurers by helping to pay large claims, an important consideration for companies selling coverage to a customer pool they didn't know. The health insurance industry is concerned over the escalating dispute between Republicans in charge of Congress and the administration.

Ex-student gets year in prison for on-campus drug overdoses

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 20:49:10 UT

(AP) — A former Wesleyan University student who sold drugs involved in a series of on-campus overdoses was sentenced to a year and a day in prison on Thursday. U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly has called Lonergan a "dorm-room chemist" who counseled Wesleyan students on how to ingest the drugs and put lives at risk. Lonergan's lawyers said he is a brilliant but fragile young man who engaged in foolish and reckless behavior and suffered from depression.

Medicare sets new patient safety goals for hospitals

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 19:50:12 UT

A concerted effort by Medicare and hospitals around the country since 2010 has led to substantial progress reducing both problems. Medicare announced that it is awarding $347 million to hospital associations and other health organizations that will help meet the new goals.

Did landmark laws from Congress enable high drug prices?

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:42:34 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers are venting outrage over high prescription drug costs, but lawmakers and presidents of both parties may have set the stage for the startling prices that have consumers on edge. In the last 13 years, Congress passed major legislation that expanded taxpayer-financed coverage for prescription drugs but lacked explicit mechanisms for dealing with costs, instead relying mainly on market forces. Government-sponsored coverage injected more dollars into the market for medications, and new consumer protections curtailed some blunt instruments insurers used to control costs, such as annual and lifetime limits on the dollar value of coverage. Congressional indignation was on display recently as House members grilled Mylan CEO Heather Bresch about price increases for her company's EpiPens, prefilled syringes that deliver a rescue drug for people suffering life-threatening allergic reactions. —Obama's health care law provided makers of cutting-edge biologic drugs 12 years of protection from generic competitors, not a shorter period sought by consumer advocates. Having said that, it wouldn't surprise me if the significant increase in insurance coverage — and especially the catastrophic protection — contributed to the drug price increases. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Thursday shows strong support for requiring drug companies to disclose how they set prices (86 percent), Medicare negotiations (82 percent), price limits on costly drugs to treat cancer and diseases like hepatitis (78 percent), and allowing Americans to import medications from Canada (71 percent).

Herbal supplement maker agrees to quality control measures

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:43:11 UT

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's attorney general says the state has reached an agreement with an herbal supplement maker to implement new quality control measures to confirm the authenticity of its products.

Identical girl triplets born in Poland are doing well

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:20:29 UT

Marcinska told The Associated Press the mother, Anna Pohler, and her daughters were doing fine and would be going home in three to four weeks when the girls were stronger and weighed over 2 kilograms (4 pounds, 6 ounces).

Utah man may have contracted Zika from dying father's tears

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:32:05 UT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man who mysteriously contracted Zika from his infected father may have got it by touching his dad's tears or sweat with his bare hands, according to new research that found the unusual transmission method was likely caused by his dying father having 100,000 times the normal level of the virus. The research done by University of Utah doctors and published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, doesn't give definite answers to why the father's levels were so high or why the son contracted the virus in a way not documented anywhere else. In Mexico, he ate ceviche and soft boiled turtle eggs and went fishing in the ocean, but those food choices and activities played no role in coming down with the virus, Swaminathan said. Researchers in this new report concur with a previous assessment by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the son contracted the virus through a new method other than the two main sources: mosquito bites and sexual activity with an infected person.