Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
As the looming threat of a government shutdown hangs in the air, Congress faces a budget-funding deadline regarding a bill that must pass to keep the government running. According to Kaiser Health News, debates surrounding the new spending bill focus on an esoteric issue affecting the Affordable Care Act: cost-sharing subsidies. Back in 2014, the House of Representatives filed suit against the Obama administration, citing that Congress had not specifically appropriated money for the cost-sharing subsidies, meaning the administration was providing illegal funding. Last year, a federal district court judge ruled in favor of the House and ordered the payments to be stopped. But the ruling was put on hold while the Obama administration appealed. If the appeal is dropped by the Trump administration, the funding would stop, but Congress could opt to approve funding the payments, which Democrats are pushing for in the spending bill, KHN reported. If the subsidies are stopped mid-year it would cause a serious disruption in the insurance market, with many experts predicting that some or all insurers may leave the market entirely.
The fungus Candida auris is gaining traction in US hospitals and appears to be acting like a superbug bacteria, the New York Times reported. The fungus is a harmful form of yeast that first appeared in Japan in 2009. Since then it has spread to more than a dozen countries worldwide, with 66 reported cases in the United States; most of which were reported the last year. The CDC reported at a conference this week that hospitals in New York and New Jersey have been affected the most. Forty-four cases have been reported in New York, 43 of which were in 15 New York City hospitals and physicians’ offices. Although 17 patients in NY have died, officials said all of the patients had other illnesses and their deaths may not necessarily be a result of the fungus. According to the CDC, New Jersey has had 15 cases, Illinois has had 4, and there has been 1 case each in Indiana, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
Physicians have long known that alcohol consumption can cause heart problems. In a study published in the European Heart Journal, investigators found a link between binge drinking and heart arrhythmias. Using smartphone-based breathalyzers and ECG instruments, the investigators collected data on blood alcohol concentration and heart rate for 3028 individuals attending Oktoberfest in Munich. The average blood alcohol content was 0.85 g/kg, or 0.09% using the US BAC system, NPR reported. The results of the study showed “a profound association” of acute alcohol consumption with sinus tachycardia, which is an increased heart rate with no justification. Furthermore, the investigators found that although the heart rate generally varies as the breath rate changes, this ability decreased as individuals drank more. The findings indicated that the more alcohol consumed, the more likely individuals would experience both symptoms.