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October 11, 2018

MYSTERY DISEASES

Finding answers for patients with rarest of rare diseases

WASHINGTON (AP) — Patients whose mysterious symptoms have stumped other experts are getting a new chance at diagnosis through a network of hospitals that tackles the rarest of rare diseases.

It’s called the Undiagnosed Diseases Network, set up by the National Institutes of Health. Wednesday, researchers with the network published a snapshot of their early findings: Doctors diagnosed about a third of the first patients to complete evaluations. In less than two years, they’ve discovered 31 new syndromes.

A diagnosis doesn’t necessarily change someone’s day-to-day medical care, but researchers say naming their ailment brings some relief. As for patients who still didn’t get answers, the program will revisit their cases as science advances in hopes of improving the diagnosis rate.

The report was published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

TRUMP-DRUG PRICES

Trump signs bills to help patients stop overpaying for drugs

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed into law two bills that would allow pharmacists to tell consumers when paying cash would be cheaper than using insurance for their prescriptions.

Under bipartisan legislation he signed Wednesday, health plans or middlemen can no longer prohibit pharmacists from telling customers when they would be better off not using their insurance plans.

Trump complained that drug prices are “way out of whack” and “way too high.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the bills give patients the right to know about ways to pay the lowest price.

Under pharmacy “gag” rules, pharmacists have been prohibited from proactively telling consumers when their prescription would cost less if they paid for it out-of-pocket rather than using their insurance plan. Pharmacists who disobeyed faced penalties.

AT&T-WARNERMEDIA-STREAMING SERVICE

AT&T, WarnerMedia to offer their own streaming service

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T and WarnerMedia are joining the ever-expanding list of companies offering a streaming video service.

They say the service due to launch in late 2019 will include films, TV shows, documentaries, animation and other offerings. No pricing was announced.

It’s the second product AT&T has unveiled since its $81 billion acquisition in June of Time Warner, which owns Warner Bros. studio and such channels as TBS and HBO. That same month it launched WatchTV, a cable-like package of more than 30 TV channels delivered over the internet.

More people are switching to streaming video from traditional cable bundles. Other streaming services include Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, CBS All Access, Showtime, Amazon, YouTube Premium and others. And Disney is set to launch its own service later next year as well.

TV-DIRECTORS DIVERSITY STUDY

Study: Women make TV directing job gains, minorities lag

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A study says more women are being hired to direct TV series episodes, but progress for minority directors is lagging.

The Directors Guild of America study released Wednesday says women directed a record 25 percent of episodic television in the 2017-18 season. That’s an increase of 4 percent from the previous season.

African-Americans directed 13 percent of series TV in 2017-18, unchanged from last season.

There was a 1 percent increase in the hiring of both Asian-Americans and Latinos for TV directing work.

The president of the Directors Guild calls it a “bright spot” that doors are opening wider for women in TV directing, but it’s disappointing the same can’t be said for directors of color.

HOLIDAY HIRING-STRUGGLES

Scramble for holiday season workers already near fever pitch

WASHINGTON (AP) — Across the country, America’s retailers and shipping companies are looking happily forward to a robust holiday shopping season. There’s just one concern: Who will stock the shelves, pack the orders and ring up customers?

The U.S. job market is the tightest it’s been in five decades, consumer confidence is near an 18-year high and online shopping is surging. Companies that depend on holiday season sales need more workers at a time when the ranks of the unemployed have dwindled to their lowest level since the recession.

Envisioning an even tougher struggle than they’ve had in recent years, many companies are taking steps they’ve not tried before. More of them are offering higher pay. They’re holding national hiring days. They’re dangling bonuses. They’re providing more full-time, rather than part-time, work.

RONALD REAGAN HOLOGRAM

Ronald Reagan returns as hologram at presidential library

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — Ronald Reagan has returned, in hologram form.

A hologram of the nation’s 40th president was revealed Wednesday at his namesake library in Southern California.

The Reagan Library says it worked with the same Hollywood special effects wizards who helped bring singers Michael Jackson, Maria Callas and Roy Orbison back to life on stage.

Officials say the goal is to allow visitors to see Reagan back in the Oval Office, campaigning or at his beloved ranch.

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