Demand For Popular Short-Term Insurance Plans Could Surge If Health Law Is Relaxed

Short-term health plans have been around for decades, bridging coverage gaps for people who are between jobs or have recently graduated from school, among other things. After the health law passed, some people gravitated toward them because they were willing to trade comprehensive coverage for a cheaper sticker price — even if it meant paying a tax penalty for not having the comprehensive coverage required in the law. Sales increased.

Now, as Republicans look for ways to weaken the health law’s coverage requirements and explore the possibility of not enforcing the requirement that people have health insurance, short-term plans may be poised to grow even more. If that happens, consumer advocates warn it could be bad for consumers.

Trump pushes drugmakers for lower prices, more U.S. production

By Roberta Rampton and Deena Beasley

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday met with top executives from some of the biggest drugmakers, calling on them to boost U.S. production and lower prices, while he also promised to speed up approval times for new medicines.

Trump reiterated that the government was paying too much for medicines in its health programs for older, disabled and poor people and said he would soon appoint a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration leader.

Cambodia reports outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in southeast

Cambodia has reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus among backyard poultry in the southeastern part of the country, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Tuesday.

The virus was found in chickens in the region of Svay Rieng last week, killing 68 birds and leading to the destruction of 322 others, the Cambodian farm ministry said in a statement posted on the OIE website.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide. Editing by Jane Merriman)


'Mental Flossing' May Cut Cognitive Risk in Elderly

Action Points

  • Engaging in mentally stimulating activities even in late life may be protective against new-onset mild cognitive impairment (MCI), according to a prospective observational study.
  • Note that the associations of mentally stimulating activities with risk of MCI may vary according to carrier status of APOE ε4, a genotype that is a well-known risk factor for MCI and Alzheimer Disease.

Mentally stimulating activities may diminish the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in older people — even in apolipoprotein E ε4 (APOE4) carriers, researchers found.

Paracardial Fat a CV Risk Factor in Older Women

Action Points

  • Note that this observational study suggests that paracardial fat is linked to coronary artery calcification among postmenopausal women.
  • The relationship is not as strong in pre-menopausal women however, suggesting a role for estrogen in paracardial fat deposition.

Among postmenopausal women and women with low estrogen levels, high volumes of paracardial adipose tissue (PAT) were associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, researchers reported.

The presence of coronary artery calcification (CAC) among postmenopausal women was significantly associated with greater amounts of PAT, the fat surrounding the parietal pericardium of the heart (per 1 SD unit greater in Log PAT) (OR 2.02, 95% CI, 1.02-3.99; P=0.04), according to Samar R. El Khoudary, PhD, MPH, of the Epidemiology Data Center at the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues.

TSRI study offers first look at early stages of brain development in patients with Fragile X syndrome

A new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is giving researchers a first look at the early stages of brain development in patients with Fragile X syndrome, a disorder that causes mild to severe intellectual disability and is the most common genetic cause of autism spectrum disorder.

“We’re the first to see that these changes happen very early in brain development,” said TSRI Professor Jeanne Loring, who led the study, published this week in the journal Brain. “This may be the only way we’ll be able to identify possible drug treatments to minimize the effects of the disorder.”

Trying To Solve The Alzheimer’s Puzzle

Despite a 99 percent failure rate and another major setback last month, Alzheimer’s researchers are plowing ahead with hundreds of experiments — and a boost in federal money — to try to a crack a deadly disease that has flummoxed them for decades.

A law passed by Congress in December and signed by President Obama sets aside $3 billion over 10 years to fund research of brain diseases and precision medicine, a shot in the arm for Alzheimer’s research. The law, called the 21st Century Cures Act, also includes prize money to encourage Alzheimer’s experiments.

Drug Prices, Opioids, And Obamacare: A Conversation With Assemblyman Jim Wood

California policymakers are facing a busy year, as a Republican-controlled Congress inches closer to rolling back key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and debate over high drug costs continues.

Assemblymember Jim Wood, D–Healdsburg, helps set priorities for health policymaking as chairman of the Assembly Health Committee. The former family dentist represents a 300-mile Northern California coastal stretch that spans from Sonoma County all the way up to the Oregon border.

Menopause May Influence Risk for Seronegative RA

Action Points

  • Note that this large observational study based on administrative data suggests an increased risk of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis (RA) among women after menopause.
  • The effect of menopause on seropositive RA was much less pronounced.

Postmenopausal women have more than double the risk of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared with premenopausal women, with the highest risk found among those experiencing early natural menopause, a new analysis from the Nurses’ Health Studies (NHS) reveals.

The pooled hazard ratio for developing RA among postmenopausal women enrolled in the NHS and NHS II was 2.1 (95% CI 1.4-3), according to Camilla Bengtsson, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues.

D.C. Week: Partisan Jousting Marks Price Hearing for HHS Post

WASHINGTON — Earlier this week, Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-Ga.), President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, survived a second grilling by Senate Democrats. Committee members demanded answers regarding Price’s controversial stock trades and his views on Medicaid block grants.

Partisan Jousting Marks Price Hearing for HHS Post

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Health and Humans Services Department, Rep. Tom Price, MD, endured another round of aggressive questions from Democrats during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday.