What We're Reading: Azar Open to Gun Research; Advocates Speak Out; $17,850 Urine Test in Texas

February 16, 2018

HHS Secretary Alex Azar is open to the CDC conducting research into the causes of gun violence; advocates for those with mental illness spoke out against making assumptions about links between mental health issues and gun violence; a doctor's settlement of $5000 for a $17,850 urine test with a Texas lab on behalf of his daughter has given rise to a complaint with the state attorney general.

Azar Open to CDC Conducting Research About Gun Violence Causes

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said he would allow the CDC to conduct research into the causes of gun violence, The Hill reported. Democrats want to end a provision that keeps the CDC from conducting research into gun violence as part of their response to the mass shooting at a Florida high school this week. Azar, appearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he thought the CDC already has the ability to conduct gun violence research and said the provision Democrats are trying to change only prohibits advocacy.

Advocates Warn Against Making Links Between Mental Illness, Mass Shootings

Advocates for those with mental illness spoke out against making assumptions about links between mental health issues and gun violence after President Donald Trump said the suspect in a mass shooting at a Florida high school was "mentally disturbed." Officials from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, and American Mental Health Counselors Association told Politico relatively few violent acts are attributable to mental health issues.

A $17,850 Urine Test in Texas Shines Spotlight on Lab

A doctor in Texas paid $5000 to settle a $17,850 bill for a disputed urine test given to his daughter after she had back surgery. The patient's insurer refused to pay the bill for the urine test, which was a follow-up after the patient was prescribed opioids following her surgery, according to Kaiser Health News. After paying the bill, her father filed a complaint with the Texas attorney general’s office. According to state records, the laboratory, Sunset Labs, is part of a network of pain clinics and other medical businesses founded by Houston anesthesiologist Phillip C. Phan, MD. Court records say Phan’s companies also own the facility where the daughter had her operation.