First Edition: Jan. 25, 2023

First Edition: Jan. 25, 2023

Updated: 5 days, 16 hours, 10 minutes, 46 seconds ago
First Edition: Jan. 25, 2023

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

KHN: Wave Of Rural Nursing Home Closures Grows Amid Staffing Crunch
Marjorie Kruger was stunned to learn last fall that she would have to leave the nursing home where she’d lived comfortably for six years. The Good Samaritan Society facility in Postville, Iowa, would close, administrators told Kruger and 38 other residents in September. The facility joined a growing list of nursing homes being shuttered nationwide, especially in rural areas. “The rug was taken out from under me,” said Kruger, 98. “I thought I was going to stay there the rest of my life.” (Leys, 1/25)

KHN: Unmet Needs: Critics Cite Failures In Health Care For Vulnerable Foster Children 
One night last month, a 9-year-old boy who had autism and talked about killing himself was among about 70 foster care children and youth under state supervision sleeping in hotels across Georgia. Georgia’s designated health insurer for foster care, Amerigroup Community Care, had denied the boy placement in a psychiatric residential treatment facility, said Audrey Brannen, coordinator of complex care for Georgia’s child welfare agency. He stayed in a hotel for more than a month before receiving a temporary emergency placement in a foster home, she said. (Miller and Grapevine, 1/25)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Proposes Limits For Lead In Baby Food 
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took new steps Tuesday aimed at reducing young children’s exposure to lead in baby food. The FDA issued a draft proposal limiting how much lead should be present in some processed baby foods typically eaten by children under 2 years old. Consumer groups and a congressional committee had raised concerns over the level of heavy metals found in some baby foods, alarming parents worried about the possible health effects.  (Peterson and Newman, 1/24)

NPR: New FDA Guidance Calls For Lower Lead Concentrations In Baby Food And Cereals
The new FDA guidance calls for limiting lead concentrations in all processed foods intended for babies and children less than two years old. Lead concentrations should now be limited to 10 parts per billion in fruits, vegetables and meats packaged in baby food jars, pouches, tubs and boxes. The target is 20 parts per billion for dry cereals. (Aubrey and Greenhalgh, 1/25)

NPR: 6.8 Million Expected To Lose Medicaid When Paperwork Hurdles Return
Signing up for Medicaid correctly is about to become an important step for enrollees again after a three-year break from paperwork hurdles. In 2020, the federal government recognized that a pandemic would be a bad time for people to lose access to medical care, so it required states to keep people on Medicaid as long as the country was in a public health emergency. The pandemic continues and so has the public health emergency, most recently renewed on Jan. 11. (Yu, 1/24)

The Washington Post: House Republicans Eye Social Security, Medicare In Debt Limit Fight
House Republicans have started to weigh a series of legislative proposals targeting Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, part of a broader campaign to slash federal spending that could force the new majority to grapple with some of the most difficult and delicate issues in American politics. Only weeks after taking control of the chamber, GOP lawmakers under new Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have rallied around firm pledges for austerity, insisting their efforts can improve the nation’s fiscal health. They have signaled they are willing to leverage the fight over the debt ceiling — and the threat of a fiscal doomsday — to seek major policy concessions from the Biden administration. (Romm, 1/24)

Fox News: GOP Bill Would Stick Congress Members With Veterans’ Health Care Plan To Call Attention To Failing VA
A Republican bill introduced this week would force members of Congress and their staff to get health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, a change aimed at forcing lawmakers to recognize the longstanding problems with the VA. (Kasperowicz, 1/25)

The Hill: These Republicans Will Serve On Panels To Probe COVID-19, ‘Weaponization’ Of Government
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has released the names of the Republicans who will serve on a pair of subcommittees as part of the GOP’s promise to launch investigations into the Biden administration. McCarthy in a tweet Tuesday announced the GOP membership of two select subcommittees on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government” and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Gans, 1/24)

NBC News: McCarthy Blocks Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell From House Intel Panel
Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday blocked two Democrats from seats on the House Intelligence Committee and filled out the GOP rosters of newly created select subcommittees charged with investigating the politicization of the government and the origins of the Covid pandemic. McCarthy, R-Calif., made good on his promise to block former Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell — both D-Calif. — from serving on that panel. (wong, 1/24)

Politico: Newsom Renews Call For Federal Action On Gun Safety After 2 Mass Shootings In California 
Gov. Gavin Newsom angrily denounced Republicans for refusing to adopt gun safety measures as he renewed calls for federal action after two mass shootings in California left 19 people dead. Newsom also called out fellow Californian, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, for not making a public statement after the shootings in Monterey Park and in Half Moon Bay. “Where’s he been on gun safety reform? Where’s the Republican Party been on gun safety reform?” the governor said, appearing visibly shaken after meeting with families of victims of the second shooting. “Shame on them. Shame on those that allow and perpetuate that to be rewarded politically.” (Korte, 1/24)

San Francisco Chronicle: Newsom, California Leaders Demand Federal Action On Assault Weapons In Wake Of Half Moon Bay Shootings
State political leaders reacted with horror and demanded Congress help pass a ban on assault weapons and other gun-safety legislation after a series of mass shootings — including Monday’s in Half Moon Bay and Oakland — claimed the lives of 19 Californians over three days. “Where has the Republican Party been on gun-safety reform? They’ve blocked it every step of the way,” Newsom told reporters in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday. “Gun safety works, we will not back away from the resolve. But we can’t do this alone, and with all due respect, we feel like we are.” (Gardiner, 1/24)

The Hill: Biden Renews Call For Assault Weapons Ban, Citing Half Moon Bay Shootings
President Biden renewed his call for an assault weapons ban on Tuesday following a shooting in Half Moon Bay, Calif., that left several people dead. “Even as we await further details on these shootings, we know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action. I once again urge both chambers of Congress to act quickly and deliver this Assault Weapons Ban to my desk, and take action to keep American communities, schools, workplaces, and homes safe,” Biden said in a statement. (Gangitano, 1/24)

The Washington Post: California Shootings Came Despite Some Of The Nation's Toughest Gun Laws 
California’s efforts to reduce gun violence have long been a point of pride among the state’s liberal lawmakers. But a sense of futility and despair infused the response of many political leaders Tuesday in the bitter aftermath of three mass killings in as many days. At least 19 people have been fatally shot in mass attacks since Saturday evening, when a 72-year-old gunman here opened fire inside a dance studio popular with the elderly Asian American community. Eleven people died in this city on the edge of Los Angeles, and then on Monday, two shootings in the Bay Area killed eight others. (Wilson, Berman and Thebault, 1/24)

Los Angeles Times: Why Police Took Hours To Warn Public That Monterey Park Mass Shooter Was On The Loose
As the investigation into the Monterey Park mass shooting continues, police officials are facing scrutiny over how long it took them to notify the public that the gunman was still on the loose. For roughly five hours after 72-year-old Huu Can Tran opened fire inside Star Ballroom Dance Studio on West Garvey Avenue and fled late Saturday night, Monterey Park and Los Angeles County authorities made no announcements about the gunman’s location. (Winton, Fry, Mejia and Goldberg, 1/24)

San Francisco Chronicle: Half Moon Bay Shooting Suspect Once Tried To Suffocate Coworker, Court Docs Allege
The Half Moon Bay mushroom farm worker suspected of killing seven co-workers in a fit of workplace rage had previously been accused of threatening to split another co-worker’s head open with a knife and trying to suffocate the man a decade ago at another Bay Area job, according to court records obtained by The Chronicle. (Gafni, Hagemann and Moench, 1/24)

NPR: Mass Shootings Can Be Contagious, Research Shows
Three shootings with multiple victims shook California over the last few days. The shootings Monday at two farms in Half Moon Bay, Calif., closely followed a massacre over the weekend at a dance hall in Monterey Park, Calif. That's no surprise, say scientists who study mass shootings. Research shows that these incidents usually occur in clusters and tend to be contagious. Intensive media coverage seems to drive the contagion, the researchers say. (Chatterjee, 1/24)

Los Angeles Times: How To Talk With Children About Gun Violence
For parents, guardians and educators, the days following mass shootings require a delicate balance of answering children’s questions while protecting them from gruesome details of the most recent tragedy. Despite their young ages, kids are often resilient in the face of hardship, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t scared too as they hear news of killings in Goshen, Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. (Newberry and Cosgrove, 1/24)

News Service of Florida: Florida Supreme Court Keeps In Place The 15-Week Abortion Limit
The Florida Supreme Court on Monday rejected requests to halt a law that prevents abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Justices, in a 4-1 decision, turned down a motion by seven abortion clinics and a doctor for a stay of a ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal that kept the law in place. The one-paragraph decision did not detail the Supreme Court’s reasoning. (Saunders, 1/24)

Politico: New York Lawmakers Codify Abortion Rights In State Constitution, Sending It To Voters 
The next decision will be with voters on whether New York will enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. The state Assembly and state Senate voted Tuesday afternoon on the second passage of a resolution first passed last July that would protect abortion rights in the state constitution, giving it additional strength in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade last June by the U.S. Supreme Court. It passed both chambers by an overwhelming majority. (Spector, 1/24)

AP: South Dakota Gov. Noem Threatens Charges For Abortion Pills 
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, along with the state’s Republican attorney general, said Tuesday the state will prosecute pharmacists who dispense abortion-inducing pills following a recent Food and Drug Administration rule change that broadens access to the pills. The Republican governor and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley released a letter to South Dakota pharmacists saying they are “subject to felony prosecution” if they procure or dispense abortion-inducing drugs. The state bans all abortions except to save the life of the pregnant person. (1/24)

ABC News: 2 Charged By DOJ For Targeting Anti-Abortion Clinics In Florida 
Two people were charged on Tuesday with threatening reproductive health service facilities clinics in Florida, the Justice Department announced. Caleb Freestone, 27, and Amber Smith-Stewart, 23, were indicted by a federal grand jury for being "engaged in a conspiracy to prevent employees of reproductive health service facilities from providing those services." (Barr, 1/25)

San Francisco Chronicle: Once-A-Year Vaccine Plan Is Flawed, Say WHO Officials
Officials from the World Health Organization cast doubt on plans by U.S. health officials to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the annual flu shot. “For the time being, COVID hasn’t really come down to the usual seasonal seasonality that we see for other viruses,” Joachim Hombach, executive secretary of the WHO strategic advisory group of experts on immunization, told a  media briefing on Tuesday. (Vaziri, 1/24)

San Francisco Chronicle: WHO Head “Very Concerned” About Rising Death Count
The head of the World Health Organization told a media briefing on Tuesday that he is “very concerned” about the rising number of global COVID-19 deaths, which have steadily increased since December. Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said an estimated 170,000 people have died because of the virus over the past eight weeks. (Vaziri, 1/24)

Stat: Is WHO Ready To End The Covid Emergency? Maybe Not Just Yet
Three years ago, the World Health Organization declared that the mushrooming outbreak of a new coronavirus — later named SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19 — posed such a threat to global health that it merited designation as a public health emergency of international concern. On Friday, an emergency committee will meet again to deliberate whether the time has come to recommend to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that he declare the global health emergency is over. (Branswell, 1/25)

CNN: CDC Figuring Out 'Logistical And Legal' Aspects Of Testing Airplane Wastewater For Coronavirus Variants, Source Says 
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is ironing out the “logistical and legal” aspects of testing wastewater from airplanes for coronavirus variants as it continues to explore such a Covid-19 monitoring program. The agency is still “figuring out how to operationalize this program,” a person close to CDC discussions said, adding that there are “logistical and legal” hurdles that need to be sorted out before the program “would be operational.” (Howard, 1/25)

The New York Times: Long Covid Is Keeping Significant Numbers Of People Out Of Work, Study Finds 
Long Covid is having a significant effect on America’s work force, preventing substantial numbers of people from going back to work while others continue needing medical care long after returning to their jobs, according to a new analysis of workers’ compensation claims in New York State. The study, published Tuesday by New York’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, found that during the first two years of the pandemic, about 71 percent of people the fund classified as experiencing long Covid either required continuing medical treatment or were unable to work for six months or more. More than a year after contracting the coronavirus, 18 percent of long Covid patients had still not returned to work, more than three-fourths of them younger than 60, the analysis found. (Belluck, 1/24)

CIDRAP: MRI Study Reveals Fetal, Placental Anomalies In Pregnant COVID Patients 
A study of 38 COVID-infected pregnant women who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in Austria found an elevated rate of fetal and placental abnormalities. ... Globular, or jelly-like, placentas were observed in 30% of women infected pre-Omicron and 27.8% in the Omicron group, while controls had none. (Van Beusekom, 1/24)

USA Today: Doctor Destroyed COVID Vaccine, Sold Fake Vaccine Cards In Utah: Feds
A Utah plastic surgeon, his medical corporation and three others were accused of  fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards, destroying more than $28,000 worth of government-provided coronavirus vaccines and administering saline shots to children, prosecutors said. (Grantham-Philips, 1/24)

The Washington Post: Major Medical Schools Join Widening Revolt Against U.S. News Rankings 
Within the past few days, medical schools at the University of Pennsylvania and at Columbia and Stanford universities have declared that they would no longer provide U.S. News with data it uses to rank them. Their actions came after Harvard University’s top-ranked medical school on Jan. 17 announced a similar withdrawal from participation. As a result, four of the top 10 on the U.S. News list of best medical schools for research are on record in opposing the ranking process. (Svrluga and Anderson, 1/24)

Modern Healthcare: Hospital Price Transparency Improves, But Compliance With CMS Lags
Hospitals’ compliance with the 2021 price transparency law has improved over the past year, but some operators remain reluctant to publicize their pricing data or do not have the resources to do so. As of the end of September, 65% of U.S. hospitals had posted the rates they negotiated with commercial insurers, according to data from data aggregator Turquoise Health. (Kacik, 1/24)

The New York Times: Emailing Your Doctor May Carry A Fee 
Cleveland Clinic said that its email volume had doubled since 2019. But it added that since the billing program began in November, fees had been charged for responses to less than 1 percent of the roughly 110,000 emails a week its providers received. (Ryan, 1/24)

Modern Healthcare: More MA Insurer Audits Mean More Scrutiny On Providers
Tougher audits of Medicare Advantage insurers could lead them to more stringently review the patient codes providers submit and the physician-enablement companies that help clinicians take on patient risk. (Tepper and Berryman, 1/24)

Crain's New York Business: Mount Sinai, Montefiore Nurses Ratify Contracts With Wage Increase
Nurses who are members of the New York State Nurses Association at Montefiore and Mount Sinai Hospital have ratified their contracts, NYSNA announced this morning. The nurses and the hospitals reached tentative agreements earlier this month after the nurses went on strike for three days, demanding better wages and safe staff-to-patient ratios. (Neber, 1/24)

AP: Doctor Who Molested Patients Convicted Of Federal Sex Counts 
A gynecologist accused of molesting hundreds of patients during a decadeslong career was convicted of federal sex crime charges Tuesday in a victory for accusers who were outraged when an initial state prosecution resulted in no jail time. Robert Hadden, 64, of Englewood, New Jersey, was convicted after less than a day of deliberations at a two-week trial in which nine former patients described how he abused them sexually during examinations, when they were most vulnerable. (Neumeister, 1/25)

CNN: FDA Rejects Two Menthol Vuse E-Cigarette Products
The US Food and Drug Administration issued marketing denial orders for two menthol e-cigarette products marketed by R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company. The agency said Tuesday that Vuse Vibe Tank Menthol 3.0% and the Vuse Ciro Cartridge Menthol 1.5% should not be marketed or distributed. (Christensen, 1/24)

Stat: New Data Show Cassava Alzheimer's Drug Has Placebo-Like Efficacy
Cassava Sciences had long claimed that its experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s disease was capable of improving the cognition of patients — a benefit no other Alzheimer’s drug has ever shown. But mid-stage study results updated on Tuesday now show the cognitive status of patients worsening to the point where Cassava’s drug, called simufilam, doesn’t look any more effective than a placebo. (Feuerstein, 1/24)

Stat: Doctors' Group Files FDA Complaint Over Wegovy TV Segment
A physicians’ group has filed a complaint with the Food and Drug Administration alleging that a recent 60 Minutes segment about the Wegovy weight-loss drug was actually an advertisement and demanded the agency withdraw the report from circulation. (Silverman, 1/24)

Stat: Study Of Pancreatitis Surgeries Finds Steady Decline In Survival
For some people with chronic pancreatitis, surgery is the only hope. The condition can cause debilitating abdominal pain, and, sometimes, push people to turn to substances for relief. But the long-term results of pancreatic surgery, including removal of the shrimp-shaped organ behind the stomach, are not well-understood. (Cueto, 1/24)

Stat: Many Pediatric Drug Study Results Were Never Posted To A U.S. Government Database
Amid ongoing controversy over clinical trial transparency, a new analysis found that results of 43 studies involving thousands of children were never reported to a U.S. government database or published in the scientific literature. In some cases, medicines being studied were for such life-threatening conditions as congenital heart disease and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. (Silverman, 1/24)

The Washington Post: Ants’ Sense Of Smell Is So Strong, They Can Sniff Out Cancer 
A study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences highlights a keen ant sense and underscores how someday we may use sharp-nosed animals — or, in the case of ants, sharp-antennaed — to detect tumors quickly and cheaply. That’s important because the sooner that cancer is found, the better the chances of recovery. “The results are very promising,” said Baptiste Piqueret, a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany who studies animal behavior and co-wrote the paper. He added, however: “It’s important to know that we are far from using them as a daily way to detect cancer.” (Grandoni, 1/24)

The Washington Post: Only 4 Percent Of Men Who Want To Give Sperm Actually Do
Just 4 percent of men who indicate interest in becoming sperm donors typically complete the application process and have sperm samples approved for use in medically assisted reproduction, according to research published in the journal Human Reproduction. The finding came from an analysis of the donor application process for 11,712 men from the United States and Denmark who had applied to a large international sperm bank. (Searing, 1/24)

The Washington Post: Humans Still Have The Genes For A Full Coat Of Body Hair
Roughly a million years ago human beings lost most of their body hair, a key moment in evolution that involved major changes to the same set of genes that determined whether many of our fellow mammals kept or lost their coatings of fur, according to new research. ... The work also identified new genes and gene regulators linked to body hair, a discovery that may someday be used to treat millions of balding Americans. (Johnson, 1/24)

AP: No More Nuggets? School Lunch Goes Farm-To-Table — For Some
The food served at the school system outside San Francisco, Mount Diablo Unified, reflects a trend away from mass-produced, reheated meals. Its lunch menus are filled with California-grown fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats and recipes that defy the stereotype of inedible school food. Among American schoolchildren, these students are in the lucky minority. Making fresh meals requires significant investment and, in many areas, an overhaul of how school kitchens have operated for decades. Inflation and supply chain disruptions have only made it harder on school nutrition directors, widening gaps in access to affordable, high-quality food. (Gecker, 1/24)

North Carolina Health News: Firefighters Worry About Chemicals In Their Gear
Firefighter Jason Burns appreciates the attention that firefighting foam has received recently because long term exposure to it has been linked to cancer. However, he says he’s rarely used firefighting foam in his nearly 20-year career. “I tend to focus on our gear because most fire departments aren’t using foam on a regular basis, whereas I’m using my gear, firefighters are using our gear 10-14 times a tour, which is what we call our day of work,” he said. (Atwater, 1/25)

CNN: Women, Older Adults And Those With Lower Income Are More Likely To Use Sleep Medication, Survey Finds, Despite Potential Health Harms
Millions of Americans say they regularly turn to medications for help falling or staying asleep, a practice that experts say can be dangerous for their health. A new study found that roughly 8% of US adults reported taking sleep medication every day or most days, with use more common among those who are female, who are older or who have a lower income level. (Chavez, 1/25)

CIDRAP: Canadian Wastewater Polio Isolates Show US Links; African Countries Report More Cases
Genetic analysis of two wastewater samples from Canada that were positive for vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2) are linked to a cVDPV2 case from New York's Rockland County and to other environmental samples found in New York wastewater. (Schnirring, 1/24)

AP: Pope Francis: Homosexuality Not A Crime 
Pope Francis criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as “unjust,” saying God loves all his children just as they are and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church. “Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” Francis said during an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against the LGBTQ community, and he himself referred to the issue in terms of “sin.” But he attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds, and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone. (Winfield, 1/25)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription