Local feature news briefs


No AC? No Problem: 5 Cooling Tips for Summertime

By Jeffrey W. Carroll

If air conditioning your home seems like a far-off dream, you’re not alone. Each summer, thousands of Americans battle the heat in their homes, especially at night. Below are a few helpful tips to help you stay cool all summer, sans AC.

Point that fan out. It might feel good to have air blow over you as you sleep, but to cool your room quicker without AC, grab a boxy window fan and point it out, not in. This will pull warm air from the room and push it outside.

Reverse ceiling fans. In the summer, program your ceiling fans to run counter-clockwise. This will pull hot air up and out, instead of blowing the warm air on you.

Choose the right bedding. When it comes to staying cool during those hot summer nights, cotton is the way to go. Choose a light sheet made of 100 percent cotton, and avoid polyester and synthetics at all costs.

Frosty bottle. You’ve heard of a hot water bottle, right? Well these helpful toe warmers can also keep you cool during the summer. Stick the bottle in the freezer, and slide it between your sheets before bed.

Make use of your bathroom fan. Have a bathroom right off the bedroom? Turn on the overhead fan and leave the door open to let the fan pull the rising hot air out of your room as you sleep.

When push comes to injury: What pushing a wheelchair does to your back

COLUMBUS — When you push someone in a wheelchair, you may be hurting your back without knowing it.

Researchers at The Ohio State University Spine Research Institute measured the forces on the spine caused by pushing a wheelchair, and discovered that people aren’t good at judging when they’re exerting forces strong enough to hurt their back.

The study appears in the journal Ergonomics.

When asked to push a simulated wheelchair against increasing resistance, study participants typically exceeded the recommended limits to avoid back injury by nearly 20 percent before they decided to quit.

There’s no specific ergonomic standard when it comes to pushing wheelchairs, explained William Marras, director of the institute and Honda Chair Professor of Integrated Systems Engineering at Ohio State. Caregivers can judge only whether they can push a patient based on how their back feels. And, with rising obesity, patients are getting heavier and harder to push.

“Today, patient handling is one of the most dangerous jobs for your back. It’s more dangerous than working in construction, more dangerous than mining or any of the other jobs we typically think of as difficult,” said Marras, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We’ve studied the risks of lifting patients, but until now, nobody’s done a solid biomechanical assessment of what happens when you push patients in wheelchairs.”

Along with obesity rates in the United States, the average patient size has grown over decades. Wheelchairs are now offered in larger sizes to accommodate larger patients, but the basic design of the chair has stayed the same.

Based on the results of this study, there are simple design changes that could help make wheelchairs easier to push, the researchers said. If the handle height were adjustable, for instance, or the handles rotated 90 degrees to be more like a shopping cart, that would be a good start.

“We would also suggest building motor-assisted wheelchairs that could aid the person pushing when the pushing forces get too high,” said doctoral student Eric Weston, who performed the study for his master’s thesis.

For the study, 62 volunteers—31 men and 31 women, with an average age of around 25 years—pushed against a rig attached to an overhead braking system with adjustable resistance. The rig simulated the average height and placement of wheelchair handles. While the resistance started low, it increased until the volunteers felt like they couldn’t move the rig any farther. All the while, researchers measured the forces on the discs of their spine. The heaviest loads, though few participants reached them, corresponded to pushing patients weighing up to 485 pounds (220 kilograms).

The people in the study tended to keep pushing an average of 17 to 18 percent past the point where they should have stopped, based on the forces on their spine.

Pushing against a heavy object compresses the spine, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health sets a compression limit at a little over 760 pounds of force (3,400 newtons) to prevent injury.

While pushing against the simulated wheelchair, male volunteers pushed past this limit about 34 percent of the time.

Weston said that “pushing heavy weights is risky for both men and women, but for different reasons.” Men can push loads that are heavy enough to hurt them, while women more quickly reach a point where they just can’t push any more.

Also among the findings: Turning a wheelchair is harder on the back than pushing in a straight line.

Turning the simulated wheelchair increased spinal forces by roughly 40 percent, because the volunteers had to stabilize their back using their core muscles while they pushed with one hand and pulled with the other.

This is the first time researchers have measured either biomechanical loads across a wide range of wheelchair pushing forces or biomechanical loads during wheelchair turning. The only somewhat comparable study was done in the Netherlands in 1995, when volunteers were asked to push a chair of fixed weight up an incline.

“When you look at the part of the back that we’re concerned about—the disc—it doesn’t have a lot of nerve endings, so you couldn’t possibly know whether you’re doing damage or not. That’s why we wanted to do something quantitative,” Marras said.

This study shows that people won’t feel uncomfortable after they’ve exceeded the actual limits for avoiding injury by around 20 percent, he added.

Marras and Weston co-authored the study with Safdar N. Khan, the Benjamin R. and Helen Slack Wiltberger Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Spine Surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

This study was funded by the Spine Research Institute at Ohio State.

STUDY FINDS FLU SHOT DURING PREGNANCY HELPS MOM AND BABY

COLUMBUS – Pregnant women and young babies are among those most at risk for complications, hospitalization, and death from the flu. While doctors have long recommended flu shots for protection, experts weren’t exactly sure how the shots affect pregnancy.

“The flu shots help us develop antibodies to protect us from the flu virus. However, not everyone shows the same antibody responses to the vaccine. One key factor that can affect antibody responses is repeated vaccination. Growing evidence shows that those who received a flu shot in the prior year have lower antibody responses in the current year,” said Lisa Christian, associate professor and researcher from the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “We launched this study to not only track how prior vaccination affects immune responses in expectant mothers, but also to see whether it affects how well antibodies against the flu are transferred from the mother to the baby.”

Researchers administered flu vaccine to 141 pregnant women, 91 of whom received a flu shot in the previous year, 50 who had not. The results, published in Vaccine, found that women who hadn’t received a flu shot in the previous year had better initial immune responses to the vaccine. For those who had received a flu shot the previous year, their peak antibody responses were weakened.

To see how that might affect babies, researchers tested women throughout their pregnancy and, upon delivery, tested blood from the umbilical cord to see how well protection against the flu had been transferred to the baby while in the womb.

“The good news is that we found that the benefits of maternal vaccination for the baby were not affected by prior vaccination in the mothers,” said Christian. “Women who get a flu shot year after year will likely see their initial antibody response weakened over time, but these data suggest it does not meaningfully affect protection in their babies. This is of clinical importance because many people are vaccinated annually, as recommended.”

Although prior vaccination may modestly lower clinical protection from vaccination in the current year, annual vaccination is still the best way for people to protect themselves from the flu. All women should get the flu shot during pregnancy because it’s a time of high risk for complications from the flu and, until they are six months of age, babies can’t get their own flu shots, so the only way to protect them in the first few months of life is for the mother to get a flu shot during pregnancy.

In addition to getting a flu vaccine, pregnant women should avoid people who are sick and wash their hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs.

New Ad Council Campaign on Lifesaving Lung Cancer Screening Launched by American Lung Association

Availability of lung cancer screening poised to save thousands of lives, new ‘Saved By The Scan’ campaign and online eligibility quiz educate about lung cancer screening

DUBLIN OH (08/01/2017) (readMedia)— Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of both women and men, and according to the American Lung Association, the new availability of lung cancer screening for those considered at high risk can save thousands of lives. To educate the public about this breakthrough, the American Lung Association and the Ad Council launched the first-of-its-kind public service announcement campaign, “Saved By The Scan,” today on World Lung Cancer Day.

“Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths, and here in Ohio, an estimated 10,660 persons will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017 alone,” said Patricia Volz, vice president of communication for the American Lung Association locally. “To save lives, lung cancer screening for individuals at high risk is truly the breakthrough we need in Ohio and across the nation. Lung cancer screening is so promising because it allows us to diagnose the disease in the early stages when it is more curable.”

The American Lung Association encourages the estimated 9 million people in the U.S. who are at high risk for lung cancer to consult with their doctor about getting screened. Individuals at high risk are: anyone aged 55-80 who has a smoking history of 30 “pack years” (1 pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs for 15 years, or any combination of years and packs that equals 30) and is either still a smoker or has quit in the last 15 years.

Individuals who may be at high risk are encouraged to visit SavedByTheScan.org, to take the lung cancer screening eligibility quiz and find additional information about how to speak to their doctor about their risk and screening.

“Smoking is a serious addiction, and 46% percent of the population in Ohio are current or former smokers,” Volz said. “We encourage everyone to take steps to improve their health, which means not only quitting smoking but to also learn more about your risk and speak to your doctor about screening, whether you’re a current or former smoker.”

The “Saved By The Scan” campaign focuses on former smokers who often do not receive counseling on lung cancer screening from their doctors, even though they may be eligible for this lifesaving screening. The television spot features a former smoker climbing to the top of a vast mountain of cigarettes and ash, which is symbolic of the effort it took to quit smoking. After conquering the addiction, the former smoker is encouraged to take the extra step to get screened for lung cancer with the tagline, “You stopped smoking. Now start screening.” Academy-Award nominee Rodrigo Prieto, the cinematographer behind “Silence,” “Babel,” “Argo” and “Brokeback Mountain,” shot the creative.

The American Lung Association launched this new campaign through its LUNG FORCE initiative, a national movement to defeat lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of women and men. LUNG FORCE has three priorities: make lung cancer a cause that people care about and act on, educate and empower patients and healthcare providers, and raise critical funds for lung cancer research.

“Through this campaign, we hope to empower and motivate former and current smokers to advocate for themselves and learn more about whether lung cancer screening is right for them,” Volz said. “We have a powerful opportunity to save lives with the new availability of screening for those at high risk, and I hope that this campaign will build conversations in communities throughout Ohio about screening and encourage action.”

Learn more about the campaign at SavedByTheScan.org, including the option to take a lung cancer screening eligibility quiz. Media may access the “Saved By The Scan” materials, including the :15 and :30 TV PSAs, print materials and more at the “Saved By The Scan” Campaign Toolkit.

About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

View Online: http://readme.readmedia.com/New-Ad-Council-Campaign-on-Lifesaving-Lung-Cancer-Screening-Launched-by-American-Lung-Association/15043272

Supreme Court Rulings Can Signal a Shift in Societal Norms

PRINCETON, N.J.—When the Supreme Court issued its 2015 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, Americans understood the decision as a signal of Americans’ increasing support of same-sex marriage, according to a study published by Princeton University.

The researchers found that, regardless of political ideology, non-LGBTQIA Americans perceived stronger and increasing public support for gay marriage in the wake of the Court’s ruling than before the decision. This was in spite of the fact that personal attitudes and feelings toward gay marriage did not change in reaction to the decision.

Published in Psychological Science, the research, which features a time series survey of norms and attitudes toward gay marriage, showed that, regardless of how someone feels about an issue, a Court decision can alter the perceptions of the prevailing social norms — opinions or behaviors accepted by a group of people — around the issue. Trusted institutions like the Supreme Court are seen to represent societal collectives and, as such, its decisions may be perceived as a signal of where the public stands and where the public is headed.

“What we observed was a shift in perceived norms, or the perception of public support for gay marriage,” said study co-author Elizabeth Levy Paluck, professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “That shift matters because we know from decades of research in psychology that people’s behavior is often guided by their understanding of what others around them are doing and thinking.”

In addition to Paluck, the study was conducted by lead author Margaret Tankard, associate behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation.

In the months before and after the Supreme Court decision, 1063 participants were surveyed several times. Just after the ruling, the researchers observed a significant jump in participants’ belief that Americans support same-sex marriage, and in their belief that support would keep growing in the future. This uptick in perceptions of supportive social norms persisted weeks later.

The findings were also supported in an experimental study with 1,673 participants who were told prior to the SCOTUS decision that experts predicted a favorable versus an unfavorable ruling on the legality of gay marriage. Here too, the researchers found that participants who were led to believe that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of gay marriage estimated higher public support for gay marriage, compared to participants who read the opposite.

The researchers’ findings could be particularly timely given the recent announcement that the Court will hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the appeal of a state decision to uphold discrimination charges levied by a gay couple against a bakery that refused to make a cake for the couple’s same-sex wedding.

The paper, “The effect of Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage on social norms and personal attitudes,” was published online July 31 in Psychology Science. This research was made possible in part by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Princeton University funding.

Study: Average mom works 98 hours a week

By CBS – Chicago

Parents who are tasked primarily with raising their kids have an inherently difficult job. But can it be quantified into hours like a traditional workweek? A new study by Welch’s did just that, and their findings are astounding: the average mother works 98 hours a week.

The study of 2,000 American mothers with kids between five and 12 years old found that the average mother “clocks in” at 6:23 a.m. and “clocks out” at 8:31 p.m., for an average work day of 14 hours. Of course, there are no days off for mothers, so this includes the weekends, which means the average week comes out to nearly 100 hours.

“The results of the survey highlight just how demanding the role of mom can be and the non-stop barrage of tasks it consists of,” said Casey Lewis, MS, RD and Health & Nutrition Lead at Welch’s, via Yahoo. “Busy moms may identify with the list of ‘lifesavers’, which highlights not just a rigorous workload but a constant requirement to feed and fuel the family, week in and week out.”

Some items that moms consider to be lifesavers, according to the study, include iPads, Netflix, drive-thru food and coffee. Around 40 percent feel that their life has come to a never-ending list of tasks every single day.

Despite all that work, millions of women suffer from “Mommy Guilt,” worrying they’re still not doing enough or that they could be better parents.

According to recent survey, here’s what moms feel guilty about:

  • 50% worry about too much screen time for kids
  • 25% worry about allowing too much fast food
  • 25% worry about allowing too much sugar
  • 16% worry about not giving enough baths
  • 13% worry about favoritism

Survey: The top sources of “Mommy Guilt”

Ohio Falling Short on Cancer-Fighting Public Policies

Ohio Lawmakers Have Opportunities to Save Lives and Money Through Improving Access to

Affordable Health Coverage, Tobacco Control and Quality of Life Measures

Columbus – August 3, 2017 – Ohio is falling short when it comes to supporting policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer. According to the latest edition of How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, Ohio measured up to policy recommendations in just three of the nine issue areas ranked. The report was released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“This 15th edition of the report shows just how far we’ve come in the last decade and a half passing policies proven to reduce suffering and death from cancer. But now is certainly not the time to rest on our laurels,” said Jeff Stephens, Ohio government relations director. This year alone in Ohio, 68,180 people will be diagnosed with cancer. We owe it to them and everyone at risk of developing the disease, to do what we know works to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment. This report shows lawmakers a legislative path forward to improve cancer prevention efforts, curb tobacco use, prioritize the quality of life for patients and their families and increase access to critical health coverage.”

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including smoke-free laws, cigarette tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs and cessation coverage under Medicaid, funding for cancer screening programs and restricting indoor tanning devices for minors. The report also looks at whether a state has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life and offers a well-balanced approach to pain medications.

Additionally, the report offers a blueprint for how Ohio can work within the current federal health care law on a state-based approach to improving access to affordable and adequate health coverage for cancer patients and their families. It outlines opportunities to increase provider network adequacy, protect patients from surprise costs and increase access to care through Medicaid—and details the negative financial and human impact if Ohio fails to take action in these areas. For example, currently 31 states have increased access to health coverage through their state’s Medicaid program, as allowed through current law. Ohio was a leader in this area – the state broadened access to Medicaid that has resulted in more than 700,000 state residents gaining access to adequate and affordable health care coverage.

Passing and implementing the policy recommendations in the report would not only save lives in Ohio, but also save millions in long-term health care costs and in some cases would even generate additional, much-needed revenue.

A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green shows that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices; yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark and red shows where states are falling short.

How Ohio Measures Up:

  • Cigarette Tax Rates Yellow
  • Smoke-free Laws Green
  • Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding Red
  • Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services Green
  • Indoor Tanning Device Use Restrictions Red
  • Increased Access to Medicaid Green
  • Pain Policy Yellow
  • Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding Red
  • Access to Palliative Care Yellow

Specifically, alarming, is the state’s grades on tobacco, especially considering 30.1 percent of cancer deaths in Ohio are attributable to tobacco and this deadly product costs our state $5.64 billion in health care costs each year. We can reduce the toll of tobacco on Ohio through the combination of regularly and significantly increasing tobacco taxes and investing in tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

“As advocates, we have the opportunity to work with our state legislators on implementing policies and programs that prevent and treat cancer,” said Barb Diver, ACS CAN state lead volunteer. “Together, we can build stronger, healthier communities and ensure Ohioans have access to measures that prevent disease before it occurs, ultimately saving more lives from cancer.”

Nationally, the report finds that increased access to health coverage through Medicaid is the most met benchmark, with 32 states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, having broadened Medicaid eligibility to cover individuals under 138 percent of the federal poverty line. Smoke-free legislation is the second-most met benchmark with 26 states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, considered “doing well.”

To view the complete report and details on Ohio’s grades, visit www.acscan.org.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.

Potential Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) concern at Clendening, Leesville, and Piedmont

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Huntington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined that conditions exist in the outlet works area at Leesville Lakes in Bowerston, Ohio, Clendening Lake in Tippecanoe, Ohio, and Piedmont Lake in Piedmont, Ohio, that could result in the presence and possible release of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gases.

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas that can be easily recognized by its “rotten egg” odor. Symptoms of exposure vary depending on the level and duration of exposure. Low concentrations irritate the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory system. Asthmatics may experience breathing difficulties. Exposure to moderate concentrations can also cause fatigue, dizziness, nausea and headaches. Young children are at particular risk.

This problem is normally confined to the area adjacent to the outlet works and is not known to pose a problem to recreational users of the lakes. There is no indication that fish taken from these lakes pose a health risk if consumed.

The Corps will monitor H2S levels at the outlet works. Project employees will take readings to detect any presence of H2S gases around the outlet works and surrounding areas.

In the event that H2S gases at any public access site in these areas reaches levels that could pose a health risk to the public, those areas will be closed. Due to public safety, the area immediately adjacent to the discharge at Clendening, Leesville, and Piedmont Lakes has been closed and will remain closed until the problem naturally corrects itself.

Hydrogen sulfide forms when the concentrations of sulfates in the watershed immediately behind these dams are higher than normal. During the summer months, the sulfates are converted to hydrogen sulfide gas through microbial activity occurring in the bottom layers of the lake. As the water leaves the lake, the hydrogen sulfide gas is released into the air, creating an unhealthy situation in the tailwater areas.

Corps personnel will continue to monitor the situation for the presence of H2S and will notify appropriate agencies as well as the public if H2S concentration levels are determined to pose a threat to public safety.

For more information, please contact the Muskingum Area Office at 330-365-4255 or the Public Affairs Office at 304-399-5353.

Regrowing healthy skin

Ohio State — Scientists have developed a way to regrow healthy tissue in the body using a non-invasive procedure that simply touches a nanochip to a patient’s skin. Results of a study highlighting this regenerative medicine breakthrough just published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

In short, the device (which is about the size of a cufflink) is loaded with specific DNA then “tapped” on the skin. Once the DNA is injected into the tissue, it takes root and begins to reprogram cells.

Researchers expect the technology to be approved for human trials within a year and believe it could ultimately be used to treat conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

UPDATED: Trump’s Threat to Sabotage Insurance Markets Could Hurt Millions

Donald Trump’s threat to sabotage the country’s health insurance markets by ending cost sharing subsidies would devastate some of our country’s most vulnerable communities. Millions of Americans could see their premiums increase by as much as an average of 19 percent due to Trump’s recklessness. The mere suggestion to stop these federal payments has already created major uncertainty in the nation’s insurance market, causing insurers to raise premiums or leave markets entirely.

Below is more coverage from across the country:

*NEW*: Minnesota Star Tribune Editorial: Put consumers first by stabilizing, not sabotaging, health care law

“The CSRs are one possible executive branch action for doing this, which is why Trump has aired the possibility of cutting off funding. But this ill-advised move would backfire. Insurers are legally required to provide this aid, with reimbursement from the federal government. If the industry doesn’t get paid, it passes along these costs through higher consumer premiums — a reality that Thune’s position reflects.”

*NEW*: Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel Editorial: Payments crucial to ACA market must be maintained

“If Trump stops the payments, insurance companies offering plans through the exchanges would either raise premiums to account for lost funding, or leave the market altogether.”

“The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that premiums would rise an additional 19 percent on average, and 21 percent in states that have not expanded Medicaid, or MaineCare as it is known here.”

“The increases would have to be absorbed by individuals whose income is too high to qualify for premium subsidies through the ACA, provided they don’t drop insurance altogether.”

*NEW*: USA Today: OPINION: Trump doesn’t care about your health insurance

“After Senate attempts to repeal at least some of the Affordable Care Act plan went up in a poof of gray exhaust last week Trump vowed to ‘Let Obamacare implode,’ which means continue the sabotage of the ACA that has been one of his administration’s few accomplishments. Then the commander in grief tweeted a threat to withhold the ‘BAILOUTS for insurance companies,’ referring to cost-sharing reduction payments that reimburse insurers for services to low-income Americans that have already been rendered.”

“Without those payments, insurance premiums in the individual market can be expected to rise by 15 percent to 21 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And in exchange for these higher prices, the federal government — also known as ‘you’ — would end up paying out billions more for coverage than is projected now, as the need for higher subsidies cancels out any benefit of stiffing insurers.”

*NEW*: Detroit Free Press: Opinion: How Obamacare’s saboteurs are raising your health care cost

“The most imminent threat to the health of the individual insurance market, of course, is Trump’s threat to stop reimbursing insurers for the discounted co-pays they give to lower-income policyholders. The president’s cynical premise is obvious: If Republican lawmakers can’t figure out how to repeal Obamacare, maybe his administration can starve it to death.”

“More than four-fifths of Michiganders who purchase health insurance on the state exchange reap a tax credit for doing so. The cost-sharing reduction payments Trump keeps threatening to withhold, known in the insurance industry as CSRs, are designed to reduce the cost of coverage for lower-income policyholders further by subsidizing the deductibles they have to pay for prescriptions and medical services.”

“Policyholders who qualify for such discounts will continue to enjoy them through the end of 2017, no matter what the Trump administration does, because the discounts are baked into the coverage plans they signed up for.”

*NEW*: Washington Post: The first Affordable Care Act enrollment season of the Trump era is still a mystery

“As the fate of the Affordable Care Act dangled dramatically in the Senate last month, the Trump administration abruptly canceled contracts with two companies that have helped thousands of Americans in 18 cities find health plans under the law.

“The suspension of the $22 million contracts, which ends enrollment fairs and insurance sign-ups in public libraries, is one of the few public signs of how an administration eager to kill the law will run the ACA’s approaching fifth enrollment season.”

*NEW*: Albuquerque Journal: Local mom is one of the faces of Obamacare fight

“Chavez worries that Congress will cut Medicaid and end the expansion that made her eligible for health care. And on top of that, she worries that insurance providers won’t be required to cover people with pre-existing conditions, which she and her son both have.”

The Fresno Bee Editorial: Trump could sabotage health care. What California should do to protect its residents

“But Trump still could sabotage the individual market in a variety of ways by failing to pay to advertise the Affordable Care Act; failing to enforce the individual mandate requiring people to obtain health insurance; and failing to provide subsidies to help lower income people pay for their care.

“The feds provide about $700 million to help poor people in California cover the cost of their deductibles and copayments. That money, which flows to insurance companies, apparently could be cut without congressional approval. Such an irresponsible action would be a direct hit on insurance companies and disrupt what now is a functioning market.”

The Dallas Morning News: Trump’s threat to end Obamacare subsidies would hurt middle class the most, experts say

“President Donald Trump is threatening to further destabilize the health insurance market unless GOP lawmakers try — again — to pass an Obamacare repeal bill.

(…)

“Health policy analysts say even if Trump doesn’t act on his threat, imperiling the payments could cause insurers, who must set their rates for the following year by September, to hike premiums or leave the ACA exchanges altogether.

“‘To some extent, it doesn’t even matter if the Trump administration follows through on this threat,’ said Cynthia Cox, a healthy policy expert with the Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘We’re already seeing insurers raise the rates more than they otherwise would because of political uncertainty.’”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia leaders eye Medicaid waivers after Obamacare repeal fails

“The collapse of the GOP health care overhaul has Georgia’s leaders wrestling over whether to stand pat and let a funding crisis continue to threaten the state’s fragile hospital system or seek changes that could open the spigots for more federal dollars.

“Amid uncertainty about how insurance markets will be affected by the U.S. Senate’s inability to repeal the Affordable Care Act, influential conservatives in the state are already preparing for a debate next year over how to craft waivers to seek what could be vast changes to the state’s Medicaid program.

“They cast the waivers as a conservative effort to shave the state’s costs by imposing new standards on recipients. They note that state officials would turn to a familiar figure to sign off on the changes: former Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price, now Trump’s health secretary. And they steer well clear of the E-word — expansion — to describe how they might work.”

The Newman Times Herald: Health care ideas, questions multiply

“The first decision on the national level may involve the $7 billion in government subsidies to insurers, which enable those companies to reduce the out-of-pocket costs for lower-income consumers in the exchanges.

“President Trump has vowed to kill the subsidies, calling them insurer ‘bailouts.’ That would raise premiums for individuals in the exchanges, created by the ACA to offer insurance for people who don’t have job-based or government coverage.”

Florida Daily Post: Trump Isn’t Letting Obamacare Die; He’s Trying to Kill It

“In light of Republicans’ failure to undo the ACA, President Trump was quick to react on Twitter, stating that he would simply ‘let ObamaCare implode’ and have Democrats own the consequences. With Republicans holding all positions of power in Washington, D.C., these statements are startling by themselves.

“However, with Congressional efforts in limbo, the Trump Administration seems to be going a step further than ‘letting’ Obamacare fail. Indeed, it has emphasized an alternative strategy: actively sabotaging the Affordable Care Act.”

Florida Daily Post: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Needs a Helping Hand

“Consider the ramifications of ‘repealing and replacing.’ Even insurers have alerted our leaders that doing so will have intimidate impact on consumers. Low-income people who qualified for expanded Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act might be shielded for a year or two with the ‘repeal and replace’ plan. But then federal funding for their coverage would stop and states would have to decide whether to keep those able-bodied adults on the rolls.

“But most important of all, consider how dangerous the current administration and leading party have become to the health insurance of not just 12 million people, but almost an entire country.

“GOP candidates, including Trump, put repealing Obama’s statute at the top of their campaign pledges, contending it’s a failing system that’s leaving people with rising health care costs and less access to care.”

WLRN: Future Of The Affordable Care Act Remains Uncertain

“Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted, if a new health care bill is not approved quickly, bailouts for insurance companies and bailouts for members of Congress will end very soon. That’s a threat to end subsidies that benefit low-income Americans who are insured through the Affordable Care Act. It’s also a threat to end subsidies specific to health plans for members of Congress. Now this tweet, among others, adds more uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act after Friday’s failure to repeal and replace it.”

Star Tribune: Minnesota health insurance shoppers brace for new rates

“‘There is so much uncertainty from year to year, we have no idea what to anticipate,’ said Judith Kissner, 57, a Chisago County resident who’s purchased individual policies for more than a decade. ‘I haven’t seen anything at the state or federal level to suggest premiums will go down or that choices in coverage will improve.’

(…)

“Insurers complain that the market is still clouded by uncertainty since the Trump administration hasn’t committed to continuing ‘cost-sharing reduction’ subsidies for low-income consumers. In addition, health plans aren’t clear how actively the administration will enforce the individual mandate.”

Pioneer Press: MN’s individual market insurance premiums could go down — if feds help

“President Donald Trump has been considering two actions that could drive premiums up higher compared to the proposals released Monday. One would be to cancel some payments for insurers with lower-income customers. Cox said the loss of that money could increase rates by up to 20 percent, though Minnesotans could see a smaller effect. That’s because many lower-income Minnesotans get their insurance through the state-run MinnesotaCare program… ‘If the Trump administration signals they’re not going to enforce the individual mandate, you might see insurers going back and asking for bigger rate increases,’ Cox said.”

Des Moines Register: Trump’s threat to cut Obamacare funding could cause Iowa premiums to spike even more

“Iowans who buy their own health insurance could face even bigger premium increases next year if President Donald Trump follows through with a threat to cut off a major stream of Obamacare assistance, the state’s sole remaining carrier said Monday…On Monday, Medica’s spokesman said the company would propose another 12 percent to 20 percent in increases on top of that 43 percent if Trump stops payments from a low-profile but important part of Obamacare.”

Public News Service: Latest Trump Tweets Have NH Advocates on Obamacare “Sabotage” Watch

“Uncertainty in the health insurance market can hit New Hampshire consumers in the pocketbook, and that’s why local advocates say they are on ‘sabotage’ watch over declared efforts by President Donald Trump to ‘let Obamacare fail.’

“Apparently still angry over the failure of Republican lawmakers to pass a new health care bill, the president tweeted this weekend: ‘If a New HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for insurance companies and BAILOUTS for members of Congress will end very soon!’

“Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, says attention needs to be paid to efforts by Trump and the U.S. House to undermine the Affordable Care Act.”

Connecticut Mirror: Even with Obamacare’s survival, a shakeup in CT healthcare system threatens

“Nearly 48,000 Connecticut residents benefit from the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) program, which subsidizes co-payments and deductibles for individuals and families who earn less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level. An end to the CSR payments would mean that moderate-income people would have larger out-of-pocket costs next year, even if the Affordable Care Act remains unchanged.

“The president’s threat to end CSR payments also might prompt Connecticut’s two remaining insurers to quit Access Health CT. Those insurers – Anthem and ConnectiCare – said the continuation of the payments will be a factor in their decisions whether to remain in the exchange.

“If both insurers leave Access Health CT, about 74,000 Connecticut residents whose monthly premiums are subsidized by the federal government would lose that help.”

Los Angeles Times: Here’s how Trump could sabotage Obamacare

“If he wanted to, however, Trump could drop the appeal with little more than a stroke of a pen, in which case the ruling would go into effect and the payments would have to end immediately.

“That move would throw the exchanges into chaos. Insurers that counted on federal money could go bankrupt, leaving their enrollees without coverage. Many of those that weathered the immediate storm would eventually leave the exchanges anyway: How could they afford to do business with a faithless federal partner? Those that remained would have to hike their premiums to make up for the lost federal money.”

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Staff Reports