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Wednesday, Sep 18th

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OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Files for Bankruptcy to Wipe Out 2,000 Lawsuits

Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcyPurdue Pharma, the company that made billions selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy in White Plains, New York, days after reaching a tentative settlement with many of the state and local governments suing it over the toll of opioids.

The filing was anticipated before and after the tentative deal, which could be worth up to $12 billion over time, was struck.

“This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation,” Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’s board of directors, said in a statement, “and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis. We will continue to work with state attorneys general and other plaintiff representatives to finalize and implement this agreement as quickly as possible.”

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Rise in health uninsured may be linked to immigrants’ fears

Health insurance descreaseWhen the Census Bureau reported an increase in the number of people without health insurance in America, it sent political partisans reaching for talking points on the Obama-era health law and its travails. But the new numbers suggest that fears of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown may be a more significant factor in the slippage.

Overall, the number of uninsured in the U.S. rose by 1.9 million people in 2018, the agency report this past week. It was the first jump in nearly a decade. An estimated 27.5 million people, or 8.5% of the population, lacked coverage the entire year. Such increases are considered unusual in a strong economy.

The report showed that a drop in low-income people enrolled in Medicaid was the most significant factor behind the higher number of uninsured people.

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Trump official urges end to medical exemption for deportations

Memo to end medical exemptionsAn internal memo prepared by a top Trump immigration official recommends that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services be stripped of its authority to delay deportations for undocumented immigrants receiving treatment for serious medical conditions.

The Trump administration in August quietly halted its processing of such requests, which are known as "deferred action." Democrats and activists argued that the move put vulnerable people at risk of deportation and possibly even death.

The memo, obtained by POLITICO, clarifies that the agency would prefer to see its authority removed altogether to grant relief from deportation in such cases.

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EPA announces repeal of Obama-era clean water regulation

Clean water act repealed by TrumpThe Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it has finalized a repeal of the Obama-era clean water rule that spells out protections for large and small bodies of water. The EPA will create a new rule to replace the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation, which was established in 2015. The Trump administration rule is expected to cover fewer waterways than the current one and weaken existing protections.

Soon after he was inaugurated, President Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA and the Army to "review and rescind or revise" the regulation. The order said that it's in the nation's interest to keep waterways free of pollution, while still promoting economic growth and cutting regulatory uncertainty.

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Ahead of election year, more Americans lack health insurance, incomes stall

Health and human services

In a closely watched annual release of survey data detailing healthcare and economic trends in 2018, the Census Bureau painted a mixed picture of how households fared during President Trump’s second year in office, a time of strong economic growth and low unemployment.

Earnings grew a solid 3.4%, the percentage of people in poverty fell to 11.8% last year from 12.3% in 2017, and women in particular saw strong employment gains.

But growth in household income, which includes earnings and all other sources of cash, largely stalled after three years of steady growth. Census officials said they could not readily identify the cause.

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CDC suggests vapers stop vaping as lung disease numbers rise

CDC warns about dangers of vapingCDC officials Friday suggested that people stop vaping until officials get a better handle on an epidemic of serious lung disease that has sickened as many as 450 people, with three deaths, in 33 states.

Indiana this morning confirmed a third death related to the vaping illness, following deaths in Illinois and Oregon, the latter a man who bought marijuana vapor from a dispensary, state officials said. A possible fourth U.S. death is being investigated, CDC said.

"We believe a chemical exposure is likely associated with these illnesses...but more investigation is needed,” said Dana Meaney-Delman, who heads the CDC's response to the epidemic. So far, no device, product or substance has been linked to all cases, she told reporters on a call.

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Family planning clinics watch their safety nets vanish

Family planning clinics watch safety nets vanishSome health clinics that quit the federal family planning program over Trump anti-abortion policies are cutting staff, charging for services that had been free and making other austerity moves to avert a major hollowing out of reproductive health care for poor women.

At least four state health departments, hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinics and dozens of independent providers have withdrawn from the more than $250 million Title X program. Some have literally had to box up and return unused supplies bought with a government discount. They’re leaning on emergency funds, private donations and in some instances, state assistance.

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