Different Takes: How To Improve US Maternal Health Outcomes; Rethinking Labels For Disabilities
Editorial pages tackle these public health issues.
Tackle Maternal Health Disparities, Mortality With Data And Better Care
I’ve been working to expand access to affordable health coverage for children and families for more than two decades. After the birth of my daughter, I heard with different ears the story of my own birth – the nurses sent my dad home “to rest” and left my mother laboring overnight without checking on her because they didn’t want “to disturb the doctor on Sunday.” (Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, 12/7)
Labels Can Harm, But They Also Can Help: See 'Profound Autism'
Labels are a divisive subject. When used inappropriately, they have the power to misrepresent and dehumanize people. As the mother of a child with autism, I have seen numerous instances in which hurtful or inaccurate labels have been applied to my daughter. Yet there are times when using accurate labels can dramatically improve the lives of those with autism. The specific label I’m thinking of is “profound autism” — and it’s one being embraced by an increasing number of autism researchers and advocates. (Alison Singer, 12/7)
The Boston Globe:
No One Taught Me That Epidemiology Is Political — But It Is
As scientists-in-training, we are taught the parable of people drowning in a river. Medicine extends her hands to pull each person out while public health runs upstream to prevent people from falling into the water. The idea that some of these lives matter less than others is so unspeakable that we don’t name it. But the recent naming of the COVID-19 variant Omicron places health inequity in headlines once again. Across pathogens and places, pandemics are nothing if not socially driven: Widespread global efforts to control spread reach a tipping point after which the burden of infectious diseases is shifted to the shoulders of the poor. Slowly, the lettered plagues — TB, HIV, COVID — recede from the front page. One might argue that their unfolding is not newsworthy, since we have tolerated the poverty traps of these plagues for centuries, decades, and years, respectively. (Rachel R. Yorlets, 12/6)
Tampa Bay Times:
A Drug Price Safety Net Is Fraying For Medicaid And Uninsured Patients In Florida
Millions of Floridians can pick an insurance plan this enrollment period with the peace of mind that federal law defends their health care rights. Floridians also know that their state legislators have worked diligently to defend them from harmful practices like step therapy and the unnecessary burden of prior authorizations. But what about those Floridians — many of them elderly — who are still falling through the gaps in our health care system? (Brian Nyquist, 12/6)
It's Time To Open Up Health Care's Secret Use Of Consumer Data
Each year as older adults begin choosing between traditional fee-for-service Medicare and Medicare Advantage, they are bombarded by ads and mailings aggressively pitching health plan perks like dental and vision care or gym membership. Unadvertised, though, is how some plans use consumer data to quietly address more fundamental needs. Join the right plan and you could get food when you’re hungry, companionship when you’re lonely and even — during the height of the pandemic — home delivery of toilet paper. The goal is to prevent issues like food insecurity, depression, and shopping while unvaccinated from developing into issues needing expensive medical care. But there’s a hidden catch to this comforting scenario. One way that Medicare Advantage plans find those who might need help is by secretly analyzing members’ detailed information ranging from their credit scores and shopping habits to how they vote. (Michael L. Millenson, 12/6)
Fixing U.S. Drug Pricing Starts With USPTO Confirmation Hearing
The Senate began its confirmation hearing last week for President Biden’s nominee to head the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), intellectual property attorney Kathi Vidal. While this is one of the more obscure U.S. agencies, it is pivotal in influencing the U.S. health system — from global vaccine equity to the country’s drug pricing crisis. The latter issue touches the lives of the two-thirds of Americans who rely on pharmaceuticals for everything from controlling blood pressure to battling cancer, few of whom know that, as head of the Patent and Trademark Office, Vidal would oversee a system that is being gamed to line the pockets of pharmaceutical companies at the expense of patients. (Tahir Amin and Priti Krishtel, 12/6)