RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 03/21/2016

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Nurses Are Slowly Winning Fight with Doctors
Lydia DePhillis, Wonkblog
Amid a flurry of legislation to pass in the final days of spring state legislative sessions last week, nurses won two more victories in a long war for independence. For decades, most of the country has required physician oversight for nurses to conduct certain procedures, and especially to prescribe drugs. But that’s slowly changing, as the nation’s health-care needs rise, and nurses fight for the right to practice everything they learned in school.

What's the Cost of a Return to House Calls?
Soumya Karlamangla, LAT
Doctors have advocated for more in-home care for seniors and the chronically ill, who may have trouble with transportation and would benefit from having their medical providers work together in one place. At-home visits have also become a sort of novelty service for the wealthy, known as concierge medicine. But some are wary of scaling up that model for everyone when there's a limited supply of physicians.

A New Role For Veterans Health Administration
Joel Kupersmith, HA
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is transforming into a major health care payer in addition to its role as a provider. In 2014, in response to scandals in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) related to access to care, Congress opened the door to a marked expansion of VA-paid care in the community with its “Choice” program and a $10 billion appropriation. A 2015 law then mandated consolidation of the VHA’s many established community care programs into one – the Veterans Choice Program.

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Preserve Medicare Advantage to protect those with chronic conditions who need the quality, coordinated care it provides. Learn more.

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In Okla., Prisons Have Become Mental Hospitals
J. Cosgrove, Oklahoman
Oklahoma spends among the least in the nation on its mental health system, despite having some of the highest rates of mental illness and substance abuse in the United States. Even the lead prosecutor of the largest county in Oklahoma openly and adamantly admits: We're doing this wrong.

CDC: 116 Cases of Zika in U.S. Residents
Steven Reinberg, HealthDay
During the first two months of this year, 116 U.S. residents have tested positive for infection with the Zika virus, and all but one were linked to travel to regions endemic for the virus. That's according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts there say that of the 116 cases confirmed between Jan. 1 and Feb. 26, 110 involved travel by the patient to a Zika-endemic area, while five involved sexual contact with a person who had recently traveled to such areas.

Barriers to Health Care Common for LGBT
Andrew Seaman, Reuters
People who are lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) are more likely to run into obstacles when trying to get healthcare than their straight peers, according to a number of new studies. "I think we know or at least we’ve suspected that LGBT people have had trouble reaching healthcare broadly," said Dr. Mitchell Lunn of the University of California, San Francisco, an expert on sexual and gender minority health who was not involved with the new studies.

VC Firms Are Pouring Money into Health Insurance
Bob Herman, MH
Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs have been investing and building new health insurance and related companies at a torrid pace—which may seem odd, because the industry is highly regulated and has relatively low profit margins. But widespread consumer dissatisfaction with dominant carriers and the Affordable Care Act's new marketplaces for individual plans has created an opening for innovators to come up with alternative approaches and has primed investors to take a chance on what they're pitching.

Janus Launches 'Obesity ETF' for Investors
Bob Bryan, Business Insider
Janus Capital has a new way to invest in, or bet against, the future health of Americans. Their offerings include a new obesity-based investment vehicle. The asset manager is launching 4 new exchange traded funds (ETFs) that are designed to track companies that are involved in health-related activities, according to a filing.

How ACA Is Changing the Startup World
Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Fortune
A better way to evaluate the ACA is to look forward—to assess whether the law is setting the framework for a higher quality and lower-cost system. The best window on the future is the health care start-up sector. These are the companies that will shape the care we all receive in the next decades. And the picture provides good reasons to be optimistic.

Why Scientific Fraud Hurts People
Ivan Oransky & Adam Marcus, Stat
We can all agree — we hope — that fraud is bad, whether it’s in government, sports, or academia. But it can sometimes be easy to forget that fake scientific data can have real consequences for public health.

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Millions are facing new cuts to Medicare Advantage that will undermine chronic care management for those who don’t qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. That means fewer choices and higher costs. Proposed changes to Medicare Advantage should be delayed to find a solution that works for everyone. Learn more.

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