Health Highlights: Aug. 10, 2017

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Trump-Caused Uncertainty May Trigger Health Insurance Increases: Report

Many Americans may face double-digit increases on their health insurance policies in 2018 because President Donald Trump has triggered uncertainty “far outside the norm,” a Kaiser Family Foundation report suggests.

As a result, insurers want higher premium increases next year than otherwise would have been the case, the report added.

After Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed, Trump insisted they try again. He claims the law is collapsing, but has also threatened to sabotage it by halting billions of dollars in payments to insurers, the Associated Press reported.

“The vast majority of companies in states with detailed rate filings have included some language around the uncertainty, so it is likely that more companies will revise their premiums to reflect uncertainty in the absence of clear answers from Congress or the administration,” the Kaiser researchers wrote.

Their analysis of proposed premiums for a benchmark silver plan in major cities in 20 states and Washington, D.C. showed that 15 of those cities will have increases of 10 percent or more next year.

The highest premium increase will be a 49 percent rise in Wilmington, Del. The only city with a decrease will be Providence, R.I., where premiums will fall by 5 percent, the AP reported.

Consumers who may be affected include about 10 million people who buy insurance through and state-run markets, and another 5 million to 7 million who purchase individual policies on their own.

While many consumers who buy insurance in government-sponsored markets qualify for tax credits to help pay premiums, off-marketplace customers have to pay the full price and this would be the second straight year of major premium increases. Many of these people are self-employed business owners, the AP reported.

The Kaiser analysis also said that insurer participation in health insurance markets next year will be lower than at any time since they were launched in 2014. On average, 4.6 insurers in the states studied will participate in 2018, compared with an average of 5.7 this year.


Mexican Papayas Linked to U.S. Salmonella Outbreak

Papayas from a farm in southern Mexico are the cause of a salmonella outbreak in the United States that’s sickened 109 people in 16 states, U.S. health officials say.

Thirty-five people have been hospitalized, and one person in New York City died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Associated Press reported.

The outbreak, which began more than two weeks ago, has been traced to papaya from the Carica de Campeche farm in Campeche, Mexico, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Papayas from the Carica de Campeche farm tested positive for five different strains of salmonella bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and fever, the AP reported.

Since July 21, cases in New York have nearly tripled to 36 and cases in New Jersey have more than doubled to 26. There have been 11 cases in Virginia, seven in Pennsylvania, six in Maryland.

Connecticut and Minnesota have each had four cases, Massachusetts has had three, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oklahoma have each had two cases, and Delaware, Louisiana Michigan and Wisconsin have each one one case.

The FDA said it is working on the outbreak with Mexican food safety officials, the AP reported.


New Hampshire Sues Purdue Pharma Over OxyContin

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Purdue Pharma over what the state called the company’s role in the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit charges that New Jersey-based Purdue has continued its deceptive marketing of OxyContin in New Hampshire, which has been called the “ground zero” of the opioid epidemic, the Associated Press reported.

This is the latest in a number of lawsuits by state, county and local governments in the United States accusing prescription opioid makers of fraud and deceptive marketing.

The New Hampshire lawsuit alleges that Purdue minimized the risk of addiction posed by OxyContin, exaggerated its effectiveness, claimed the drug is virtually abuse-proof and did not report suspicious prescribers, the AP reported.

New Hampshire had nearly 500 overdose deaths in 2016, nearly 10 times higher than in 2000. For the past two years, the state’s attorney general’s office has been investigating half a dozen drug companies and their marketing practices.

“To defeat the epidemic, we must stop creating new users, and part of that is making sure these highly addictive and dangerous drugs are marketed truthfully and without deception, and in such a way as not to minimize addiction risks or overstate benefits to patients,” said Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice, the AP reported.

Purdue denies the allegations in New Hampshire’s lawsuit, but said it shares the state’s concerns about the opioid crisis and is committed to finding solutions, according to company spokesman Robert Josephson, the AP reported.

In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges for deceptive conduct. However, the New Hampshire lawsuit alleges that Purdue has not halted those practices.

In recent months, Missouri’s attorney general sued Purdue and two other drug companies, Ohio’s attorney general sued five companies in May, and three district attorneys and the guardians of a baby born dependent on drugs sued three companies in Tennessee, the AP reported.

Leave a Reply