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Morning Rounds Megan Thielking

Here's how many people signed up for insurance in the federal ACA marketplaces 

Nearly 8.5 million people signed up for health insurance in 2019 through federal Affordable Care Act marketplaces, according to new federal data that stretches through the Dec. 15 deadline. At this time last year, roughly 8.8 million people had enrolled. The number of new enrollees who signed up for plans fell by more than 15 percent. Experts expected enrollment numbers to drop this year for a handful of reasons, including the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, the increase in people working in jobs that offer health insurance, and the expansion of so-called short-term plans. One note: The total doesn't include people who signed up for plans through state-based marketplaces.

Trump administration releases plan to tackle lead exposure in kids

Trump administration officials have rolled out a new “roadmap to reduce lead exposure” among kids in the U.S. — but some experts say it doesn’t take enough action to make a meaningful impact. The CDC says at least 4 million kids in the U.S. are exposed to high levels of lead, which can cause serious health problems. Top officials from HHS, the EPA, and HUD unveiled the plan and announced four key goals: reduce lead exposure in kids, identify kids exposed to lead and improve their health outcomes, boost research on lead exposure and health, and communicate better with stakeholders such as property owners and parents. 

Meanwhile, President Trump just signed the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act into law. The measure supports federal research on premature birth and efforts to promote awareness about interventions that can prevent some instances of premature birth.

U.K. also investigating cases of polio-like condition

Public health officials in the U.K. say they're also investigating an uptick in cases of acute flaccid myelitis, the mysterious, polio-like condition that has stumped health officials in the U.S. There have been 28 cases of AFM reported in England this year, most of which have cropped up since September. U.K. health officials say they typically only see a handful of cases of AFM each year. In the U.S., AFM cases have been higher on alternating years since an increase was first seen in 2014. So far this year, there have been a record 165 cases confirmed in the U.S., according to the CDC. Scientists still don't know what causes the condition.

Inside STAT: Meet the planners who keep the Ebola response running


an ebola treatment center in mangina, DRC. (Nyka Alexander/WHO)

The holiday season is a huge inconvenience when you’re trying to keep an Ebola outbreak response up and running, which requires a mountain of logistical work. “Suppliers will tend to start shutting down for the holiday season. ... It just becomes a pain for me,” says Paul Molinaro, who is overseeing a team of several dozen logistical workers on the ground in DRC and at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Those logisticians are the people who make sure that outbreak response teams have everything from face shields and boots to beds to fall into at the end of exhausting days. STAT’s Helen Branswell has more on their role in the Ebola response — read here.

Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death among kids

A new study breaks down the most common causes of death among the 20,360 kids and teens who died in the U.S. in 2016. Here’s a quick look at the numbers:

  • Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for young people, accounting for 20 percent of all deaths.

  • Firearm-related injuries were responsible for 15 percent of deaths, making them the second most common cause among adolescents. Of those deaths, 59 percent were homicides, 35 percent were suicides, 4 percent were unintentional, and 2 percent were undetermined.

  • Cancer, which accounted for 9 percent of deaths among kids, was the third leading cause of death. It was followed by suffocation, which was responsible for 7 percent of deaths.

Why you shouldn't sleep with your contacts in

Here’s your semi-regular reminder to take your contacts out before hitting the hay. In the new Annals of Emergency Medicine, researchers detail  six cases of people who didn’t take their lenses out. One man who told doctors he slept in his contacts several times a week — and swam with them in — developed bacterial and fungal infections that left his eye inflamed. A young girl developed a corneal ulcer that left her with scarring after she slept in contacts she bought without a prescription at a drugstore. Another man wore the same contact lenses for two weeks straight, slept in them often, and didn't disinfect them every day. He developed an infection and ended up needing a corneal transplant.

What to read around the web today

  • Trump administration aims to toughen work requirements for food stamps recipients. Washington Post
  • The inside story of a huge lawsuit accusing nearly 20 big drug companies and others of cozying up to hike drug prices. Business Insider
  • As fatal heroin overdoses exploded in black neighborhoods, D.C. officials ignored life-saving strategies and misspent millions. Washington Post
  • Taking surprise medical bills to court. Kaiser Health News

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Thursday, December 20, 2018


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