Sponsored by


Morning Rounds Megan Thielking

Democrats propose making Medicare available to more people

Four Democrats just rolled out a bill that would let anyone over age 50 buy their health insurance through Medicare. Here's what you need to know:

  • The bill: The measure would let people ages 50 to 65 buy a private plan through Medicare. People who qualify for insurance subsidies under the ACA would be able to use them to pay for the coverage.
  • The goal: “What we find over and over again is that the people who are most likely to be paying higher premiums are people over 50,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), one of the bill’s sponsors, told Vox's Sarah Kliff. “This, to me, is a very important group of people to focus on as we expand affordable coverage.”
  • The context: The bill follows a string of plans to expand access to public insurance, and is less progressive than proposals that would let people at any age to have the option of buying in to Medicare. But that might make it more popular with a broader range of people. A KFF poll last month found that 77 percent of U.S. adults supports a plan that would let adults ages 50 to 64 buy into Medicare.

Insys sales reps rapped about fentanyl sales 

Jurors in a federal court in Boston were shown a video yesterday of Insys employees rapping about selling the company's fentanyl spray to the tune of an A$AP Rocky song. The video features someone dancing as a life-size bottle of Subsys — at the end of the video, that's revealed to be Alec Burlakoff, the former vice president of sales at Insys. The video was played during proceedings in a court case against five former Insys execs, including co-founder John Kapoor. They're charged with taking part in a nationwide racketeering scheme to allegedly push doctors to prescribe Subsys — a fentanyl spray approved for cancer-related pain — to patients who didn’t have cancer. Burlakoff and former CEO Michael Babich have pleaded guilty in the alleged scheme. Read more here

Can regular texts reduce suicide risk in the military?

Researchers hoping to bring down the high rate of suicide among military personnel tried a simple intervention: send caring texts every once in a while. The messages, called Caring Contacts, have been shown to reduce suicidal thoughts and deaths in other settings. The messages from clinicians are as simple as "hope you're having a good day today."  But a new trial in 657 military members with suicidal thoughts turned up mixed results. After a year, people who received texts were just as likely as those who didn’t to have been hospitalized for suicide risk or report current suicidal thoughts. But they were less likely to have attempted suicide or experienced suicidal thoughts during the study. Despite the shortcomings, the authors say the texts could be a tool to help curb suicide risk in the military.

Inside STAT: The tricks that make measles so infectious


(Alex hogan / stat)

Measles is an infecting machine — it’s skilled at finding people who are susceptible to it and making them sick. There’s a series of factors that give measles that power. For starters, you don’t need to be exposed to a lot of the virus to become infected. And when people are infected with measles, they emit a bunch of viruses when they cough or even exhale. That’s a bad combination. In a new video, STAT’s Alex Hogan explores the tricks that measles has up its sleeve. Watch here.

How small-team science differs from big group work

Here’s an interesting new finding that caught my eye: Science carried out by big teams can look a lot different than science produced by smaller groups. Researchers analyzed millions of papers, patents, and products from 1954 to 2014 and scored their “disruptiveness.” They found that small teams tend to disrupt science by exploring older, less well-known work. On the flip side, large teams flesh out recent scientific successes by sharpening and solving problems with them. Another observation: Papers that detail Nobel prize-winning work are among the most disruptive. “Both small and large teams are essential to a flourishing ecology of science and technology," the authors write.

Celebrate love — and health care! — with health policy Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day! It's time to celebrate the health Twitter way, with #healthpolicyvalentines. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “You’re all 10 of my essential benefits.” — Andy Slavitt

  • “Just like health care spending, my love for you increases every day.” —Health Affairs
  • “Roses are red, violets are blue. This Valentine’s Day, we’ve got Medicare for you, and for you, and for you!” — Emily Schlictling (Editor’s note: This tweet includes an Oprah GIF.)

What to read around the web today

  • Behind the failure of the first U.S. uterine transplant. Washington Post
  • Cleaning routine shows promise in curbing superbug infection. Associated Press
  • He went hunting for gold-standard research on artificial intelligence in medicine — and didn't find much. STAT
  • Malpractice case involving death of liver donor goes to trial. Boston Globe
  • E. coli-tainted romaine lettuce came from California farms, FDA report says. USA Today

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Have a news tip or comment?

Email Me

Thursday, February 14, 2019


Facebook   Twitter   YouTube   Instagram

1 Exchange Pl, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02109
©2019, All Rights Reserved.
I no longer wish to receive STAT emails
Update Email Preferences | Contact Us
5cP.gif?contact_status=<<Contact Status>>