Good morning ... If I have to endure one more stupid day of stupid jokes about IHOP's stupid, fake "name change," I'm going to IHO-burn it all to the ground.
Private equity firms have a seemingly insatiable appetite for health care companies, Axios' Bob Herman reports. We saw two new examples just yesterday: KKR's $10 billion deal to take Envision Healthcare private, along with Bloomberg's deep dive on the billing tactics of air ambulances.
The big picture: Physician groups, emergency room staffing, and air and ground ambulances can (and in most cases do) make a lot of money because people will use their services regardless of the price.
Looking ahead: Private equity owners don't have incentives to eradicate out-of-network practices, which Cooper called the "ugly pockets of the U.S. health care system."
Driving the news: Before the KKR-Envision deal, private equity flocked to health care knowing the profit potential.
If the Trump administration successfully convinces a court to strike down the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions, the law’s premium subsidies could also be collateral damage.
The details: Subsidies are tied to the cost of a specific “benchmark” plan, and the law requires insurers to charge sick and healthy people the same price. But that’s one of the provisions the Justice Department now wants to see struck down.
Why it matters: The ACA was conceived as a “three-legged stool” — the individual mandate, the subsidies, and coverage for pre-existing conditions. The market is still figuring out how to adapt to the loss of the mandate, but now the Justice Department has implicated the other two legs, too.
The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan has spent almost a year exploring the wide health disparities within different neighborhoods of Baltimore — one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States.
By the numbers: Life expectancies are 20 years shorter in Baltimore’s poorer, mostly African American neighborhoods than in wealthier, predominantly white areas.
The details: There’s not much evidence those disparities are genetic. Instead, they are largely the side effects of engrained discrimination, especially in housing.
The bottom line: Health research is increasingly aware of, and focused on, the “social determinants of health” — things like access to housing, community services and transportation, that affect our health even though we think of them as separate from the health care system. And it’s hard to ignore the acute racial disparities in many of those factors.
A police officer outside Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Two years after the Pulse nightclub shooting, the first responders who witnessed the gruesome scene are still struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. ProPublica has a deep dive into five of their stories.
The details, per ProPublica:
Professional support varied. Some were encouraged to get treatment and therapy; other had to fight for reassignments and benefits. One was fired for a subsequent infraction and is suing the Orlando fire department for wrongful termination. Some say they were told that seeking help for PTSD was a sign of weakness.
Therapy worked for some, but not for everyone.
Almost half of the people who get the popular Lasik eye surgery develop new “visual aberrations,” the New York Times reports. Those include dry eyes, double vision and sensitivity to light.
Why it matters: “The F.D.A. keeps promising to do a better job of post-market surveillance, but there is no evidence of real improvement,” Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, told NYT.
What we're watching today: HHS Secretary Alex Azar testifies before the Senate HELP Committee on President Trump's plan to lower drug prices (10am; livestream). Senate Finance Committee considers an opioids bill (2pm; livestream). The House begins voting on a slew of opioids bills.
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