California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Medicare Could Go Broke Due To Mounting Costs Of Alzheimer’s Care, Report Says

Today's other public health news stories cover gestational surrogacy costs, employers' rights to demand genetic testing, a link between Zika and heart troubles, bird flu worries and contaminated groundwater.

Miami Herald: Caregiving Costs Associated With Alzheimer's Could Bankrupt Medicare, According To New Report 
While Washington discusses potential cuts to Medicare, a new report says that the growing number of Alzheimer’s patients could bankrupt the national insurance program that provides healthcare to more than 55 million Americans. As the baby boomer generation enters the high-risk years for the degenerative brain disease, the cost of care has already reached $259 billion, according to the report by the Alzheimer’s Association. (Veciana-Suarez, 3/9)

NPR: States Wrestle With Legalizing Payments For Gestational Surrogates
The battle over womb rights is brewing in Minnesota. Last month, state legislators proposed a bill that would regulate gestational surrogacy — potentially adding legal oversight to fertility clinics that facilitate these pregnancies, when one woman carries a pregnancy for another. Minnesota's surrogacy legislation and the debates that surround it echo the larger national debate on reproductive rights. (Sohn, 3/10)

Stat: House GOP Would Let Employers Demand Workers' Genetic Test Results
A little-noticed bill moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information. Giving employers such power is now prohibited by legislation including the 2008 genetic privacy and nondiscrimination law known as GINA. The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a “workplace wellness” program. (Begley, 3/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Zika Linked To Heart Problems
The Zika virus has already been linked to severe brain damage in babies and other conditions in babies and adults. Now there is evidence it may cause heart problems too. In a study conducted at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Caracas, Venezuela, researchers identified nine patients who developed heart rhythm disorders and other serious cardiovascular complications while they had Zika. Only one had had cardiac problems previously—high blood pressure. (McKay, 3/9)

The Associated Press: Bird Flu Cases Revive Fear Of Repeat Of Major 2015 Outbreak
The detection of a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu at a Tennessee chicken farm has poultry farmers stepping up security in an attempt to prevent an outbreak like the one in 2015 that required the destruction of millions of chickens and turkeys in the Midwest. The appearance of milder forms of bird flu at a Wisconsin turkey farm and another Tennessee chicken farm has heightened concern. (Karnowski, 3/9)

Newsweek: Why The EPA Is Allowing Contaminated Groundwater To Go Untreated
The remains of the George Air Force Base on the edge of California’s Mojave Desert are little more than a dusty sprawl of squat buildings, their roofs riddled with holes, their hinged windows flapping open and shut in the dry wind. The George H.W. Bush administration decommissioned the base in 1992, but this crumbling ghost town carries a worrisome legacy—a stew of toxic waste that has been the target of a federal cleanup, which is still under way after two decades of work and more than $100 million in spending. (Ross, 3/9)

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