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FYI: STAT's Helen Branswell is hosting a free chat on the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo next Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. Sign up here

Texas lawsuit to strike down ACA gets underway

Oral arguments are set to get underway today in a Texas case seeking to strike down Obamacare. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The background: In February, 20 Republican attorneys general and governors filed a lawsuit calling the law unconstitutional. Their argument: The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in 2012 as a legitimate use of taxation, but Congress repealed the tax penalty for not having health insurance late last year. They want a preliminary injunction to stop the law from being enforced while the case plays out.

  • The response: The Trump administration has said it won't fully defend the law, and has agreed that provisions requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions and not charge them more should be scrapped. A group of Democratic attorneys general will instead defend the law.

  • The public’s take: A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released this morning finds that 75 percent of people say it's very important that pre-existing condition protections stay in place, including a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

Inside STAT: After a cancer diagnosis, a young dad grapples with the uncertain time he has left3c3c03eb-ead2-4257-b1a7-8430ed411081.png

hayden plays with his son gideon. (ANNA POWELL TEETER FOR STAT)

It's been 27 months since Adam Hayden was diagnosed with glioblastoma, far longer than the median survival period for people with his kind of brain cancer. In the time since, he’s waded into cancer advocacy to help people get comfortable talking about death. Every two to three months, Adam and his wife Whitney head to a neurologist's office in Indianapolis to see whether his latest MRI showed any cancer activity. None of them has, but they know one ultimately will. That's left Hayden and his family grappling with a difficult question: How do you know how to spend the little time you have left when you don’t know how little time that might be? STAT’s Andrew Joseph has a moving profile of Hayden — read it here.

Complications during birth climb in U.S. hospitals

There’s been a sharp increase in the proportion of women who experience serious complications while giving birth in U.S. hospitals. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that the number of women experiencing severe issues during birth — including acute renal failure, shock, and sepsis — rose 45 percent from 2006 to 2015. That year, there were 147 cases of severe maternal complications per 10,000 births. Complications were particularly common among women who were uninsured or covered by Medicaid, those over age 40, and those who lived in large urban areas.

One in four adults doesn't exercise enough

More than one-quarter of adults worldwide weren't active enough in 2016 — and physical activity levels haven't improved in nearly two decades, according to a new analysis of self-reported activity levels among adults in 168 countries. Roughly one-third of women and one-quarter of men don't do enough physical activity — about 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous workouts a week — to stay healthy. Getting enough exercise was far less common in high-income countries than in low-income ones. The country with the least active adults: Kuwait, where 67 percent said they weren't exercising enough.

More people are going to urgent care clinics

(jama internal medicine)

A new study suggests that more people with minor health problems are seeking treatment at urgent care centers, rather than heading to the ER. Researchers looked at data on people insured by Aetna between 2008 and 2015. When it came to treatment for less acute conditions such as sore throats and minor injuries, visits to ERs fell 36 percent, while visits to other health care centers rose 140 percent. Use of retail clinics and telemedicine also rose, but still account for just a small slice of visits. Possible factors at play in the shift: More urgent care clinics are available, they have lower out-of-pocket costs, and their wait times might be shorter than at an ER.

Experts say all pregnant women should be screened early for syphilis

An expert panel is reaffirming its recommendation that all pregnant women be screened early for syphilis infection. Congenital syphilis — when an infant is born with the infection — is tied to stillbirth, neonatal death, and serious problems such as bone deformities. And while there aren't hard numbers on syphilis in pregnant women, congenital syphilis in infants and syphilis in young women are both on the rise. In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that all pregnant women be screened, but it recently went back to review the evidence and concluded it clearly supports screening as early as possible.  

What to read around the web today

  • What I learned about weight loss from spending a day inside a metabolic chamber. Vox
  • A medical school tradition comes under fire for racism. NPR
  • Opinion: All study participants have a right to know their own results. My lab has been doing that for years. STAT
  • Cities defiant after Justice Department’s threat on ‘supervised injection sites.' Washington Post
  • California edges closer to adopting a take-back law for medicines and needles. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Wednesday, September 5, 2018


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