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January 8 – January 25, 2019

The purpose of this bulletin is to compile a handful of articles relating to health care coverage in the United States that are most pertinent to LIUNA and its health and welfare funds. We hope you find this biweekly bulletin helpful and informative.

PBS NewsHour: Coal Miners Have Been Inhaling Deadly Silica Dust For Decades. Now They’re Dying

For decades, coal miners have been inhaling silica dust on the job. The extremely fine particles, generated when the quartz-rich limestone surrounding coal seams is cut, lodge in the lungs, obstructing respiration. According to a Frontline/NPR report, both the industry and the government understood the hazard for decades but did little to contain it.

 

The Washington Post: Federal Workers Affected By Shutdown Get Extension Before Being Billed For Dental, Vision Coverage

The federal government’s personnel office this week said employees affected by the partial shutdown will get additional time before being billed for their vision and dental coverage.

 

The Hill: GOP Seeks Health Care Reboot After 2018 Losses

Republicans are looking for a new message and platform to replace their longtime call to repeal and replace ObamaCare, after efforts failed in the last Congress and left them empty-handed in the 2018 midterm elections.

 

Kaiser Health News: Health Care Industry Spends $30B A Year Pushing Its Wares, From Drugs To Stem Cell Treatment

Hoping to earn its share of the $3.5 trillion health care market, the medical industry is pouring more money than ever into advertising its products — from high-priced prescriptions to do-it-yourself genetic tests and unapproved stem cell treatments.

 

CNN: US Cancer Death Rate Hits 25 Years Of Decline, Study Says

The rate of people dying from cancer in the United States seems to have dropped steadily for 25 years, a new study says, but disparities remain between the rich and the poor.

 

Stateline: Medicaid ‘Buy-In’ Could Be A New Health Care Option For The Uninsured

Even as calls for “Medicare for All” grow louder among Democrats in Washington, D.C., at least 10 states are exploring whether to allow residents to pay premiums to “buy in” to Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor.

 

WBUR: What You Should Know About Using Naloxone

Christmas. A time for gifting sweaters, books, board games, tech gadgets … and the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan? This happened at my Christmas celebration last month.

 

The New York Times: Hospitals Must Now Post Prices. But It May Take A Brain Surgeon To Decipher Them.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, responding to a new Trump administration order to begin posting all hospital prices, listed a charge of $42,569 for a cardiology procedure described as “HC PTC CLOS PAT DUCT ART.”

 

NPR: Get Fit — Faster: This 22-Minute Workout Has You Covered

Hard to fit exercise into your day? Then, maybe this workout is for you. It covers everything you need — from cardio to strength training to stretching.

 

The Associated Press: Filing: OxyContin Maker Forecast ‘Blizzard Of Prescriptions’

A member of the family that owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma told people at the prescription opioid painkiller’s launch party in the 1990s that it would be “followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition,” according to court documents filed Tuesday.

 

US News & World Report: Lower Prescription Drug Prices – For Everyone

The costs of prescription medications are at an all-time high, and implementation of a program to lower these costs for all Americans – not just the Medicare population – is long overdue.

 

CBS News: Rx Drug Prices Continue To Rise — Here's What You Can Do

The price you pay at the pharmacy is going up — again. Prices increased on more than 250 drugs in the beginning of the year, with an average jump of 6.3 percent, according to data from Rx Saving Solutions, a consultant to health plans and employers.

 

STATES IN THE NEWS

 

Chicago Tribune: Fed Up With High Prices, Drug Shortages, Advocate And Other Hospitals Create Not-For-Profit Drug Company

Advocate Aurora Health, one of the largest hospital systems in the Chicago area, has teamed up with a large group of hospitals intent on battling shortages of generic drugs and bringing down the cost of those medications by making their own.

 

The Star Tribune: Twin Cities Employers Dabble With Tighter Health Care Networks

Bloomington-based HealthPartners has carved out space within two existing clinics solely for subscribers who pick “SmartCare,” a new employee health plan with a relatively limited network of doctors and hospitals.

 

Health News Florida: Change Seeks To Remove ‘Stigma’ For Doctors

A committee of the Florida Board of Medicine gave preliminary approval last month to eliminate the questions about past treatment of mental health and substance abuse.

Austin American-Statesman: State Health Agency Ordered To Reimburse Home Health Providers

A state district judge Thursday ordered the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to accept reimbursement requests from in-home monitoring service providers after the agency had denied the requests since the beginning of the year.