Monday, May 15, 2017

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Happy Monday morning, everyone! I'm here to get you ahead of the day's health news. For more from STAT, follow us on Facebook and Twitter

A Mother's Day march takes on the AHCA 

Galvanized by the AHCA, moms and their families descended upon D.C. this weekend for a Mother’s Day march to shine a light on maternal health issues in the US. Today, they'll be lobbying policymakers to talk about paid family leave, racial disparities in birth complication rates, and the rising prevalence of maternal deaths. "People are so fired up. We've got dozens of people that are volunteering to lobby their own districts," says Dr. Need Shah, an organizer and obstetrician from Boston. 

At a rally yesterday, marchers spoke out against the possibility that the AHCA that would allow states to waive Obamacare rules designed to establish fair insurance premiums. That could allow insurers to charge women who’ve had a C-section — about one-third of mothers in the US — a higher premium or deny them coverage. The marchers’ message: Motherhood is not a pre-existing condition.

Diabetes groups go after official's Kimmel test comment

Diabetes advocacy groups are up in arms over a controversial comment made by Mick Mulvaney, who serves as President Trump’s budget chief. Mulvaney was asked at a Stanford forum whether he thought that the AHCA should pass the “Kimmel test,” a phrase coined after Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue about his newborn son’s heart condition went viral. Kimmel defines meeting the test as making sure that no family is denied medical care because they can’t afford it. Mulvaney agreed the plan should meet that test — but only for certain patients. "That doesn't mean we should take care of the person who sits at home, eats poorly, and gets diabetes. Is that the same thing as Jimmy Kimmel's kid? I don't think that it is," Mulvaney said

The American Diabetes Association says Mulvaney’s comments perpetuate the stigma that a person chooses to have diabetes by choosing an unhealthy lifestyle, and that he therefore ignores the diverse set of risk factors at play in developing the disease. “People with diabetes need access to affordable health care in order to effectively manage their disease and prevent dangerous and costly complications,” the association said in a statement.

UK hospitals left scrambling after cyberattack

Hospitals in the UK are still reeling from a massive cyberattack on Friday that forced the country’s health system to turn away some patients seeking care. The malware, which showed up on computers in dozens of countries, demanded ransom from users trying to log back into their computers. That left doctors and nurses unable to access patient medical records. The National Health Service says it hasn’t found any evidence yet that patient data was accessed or stolen. But experts warn there's still a threat to computers today that were logged off before the malware went into effect. For now, health officials in the UK are asking people to use health services “wisely” to prevent even longer delays for people in need of urgent care.

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Inside STAT: A vital organ transplant, but with a catch

Kiran Shelat received a donor kidney infected with hepatitis C. (Dominick reuter for stat)

Kiran Shelat spent 10 to 12 hours every night hooked up to a dialysis machine, often suffering excruciating muscle pain. He knew he’d have to stay on dialysis until he could get a kidney transplant, which might take up to 10 years. When a doctor offered him a transplant last summer, he jumped at the opportunity. But there was a catch: The donor had hepatitis C, and there was a good chance Shelat would contract the disease from the donated organ. As many as 1,000 kidneys with hepatitis C are thrown away each year. But with new medications that have made hepatitis C curable, it’s become possible to consider using infected organs for transplants. That could help cut down on long waiting lists not just for kidneys but for hearts and other organs, too. STAT contributor Karen Weintraub has the story here.

Missouri's prescription drug database bill fails again 

The effort to finally establish a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri — the only state without such a database — has failed again. The state Senate had passed a bill to create a PDMP which required prescribers to use the program, erased prescription data after 180 days, and didn’t include many drugs tracked in other state databases. The House had passed its own version of the bill, which didn’t include a mandate. Several state medical groups took issue with the prescriber mandate, and a House committee wasn’t able to find a compromise that would garner enough votes to pass the bill.

The failure comes after years of back-and-forth between state Senator Rob Schaaf and state Representative Holly Rehder. Rehder has introduced bills each session to set up a PDMP, and Schaaf has fought to make sure they don’t pass. Schaaf reluctantly announced his support for Rehder’s bill this year after it passed the House. For more on the fight over a drug database in Missouri, read this.

It's possible to meet HIV reduction goals by 2020

A new study out this morning highlights an ambitious pathway toward the end to the AIDS epidemic in the US. Public health researchers wanted to know what it would look like if we met the 2020 targets set forth in the national HIV/AIDS strategy. The goals: 90 percent of people living with HIV would know their status; 90 percent  of those diagnosed would be receiving quality care; 90 percent of those on antiretroviral treatment designed would have their virus kept in check. Researchers harnessed CDC data on HIV prevalence, transmission, and death rates to see whether that would actually be possible.

They found that if the health care system throws its weight behind those 90 percent goals to make them happen by 2020, new HIV cases would be slashed by 46 percent. That target is lofty but reachable, the study’s authors say. But it’s key that those goals are achieved across the board — which means making a robust effort to reach populations that have been disproportionately affected by HIV. 

What to read around the web today

  • Some Americans spend billions to have their teeth whitened. Others wait in line to get them pulled. Washington Post
  • A rare cancer linked to breast implants has had devastating effects on women. New York Times
  • State of emergency declared in Yemen's capital after cholera strikes. Reuters

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