Viewpoints: A Divided Government Doesn’t Have To Mean Health Care Can’t Move Forward; Lobbying Juggernaut That Is The NRA Has Not Fared Well In Trump Era
Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
3 Obamacare Fixes Even The GOP Could Love
The Republican loss of the House last November brought an official end (at least through 2020) to the party’s long campaign to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The Democrats, despite their new majority, won’t be able to pass their health care agenda either, because the Republican president and Senate will block it. That political stalemate could mean nothing gets done on health care for several years. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are pressing problems that need attention—problems both parties agree on, such as inadequate coverage for many people below the poverty line, high premiums and an unstable market for individual insurance, and rising costs across the board. (Lanhee J. Chen and James C. Capretta, 2/12)
The New York Times:
How Trump Has Hurt The Gun Lobby
Last Valentine’s Day, a year ago this Thursday, classes were wrapping up at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a former student with a semiautomatic rifle murdered 17 people and wounded 17 others. It so happens that this Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will move to advance legislation requiring background checks on all firearm sales. The killer in the Parkland, Fla., school massacre passed such a check, but this measure would close a loophole exploited by other killers that exempts unlicensed gun sellers from conducting background checks. Support for such a change is overwhelmingly popular, even among gun owners. The bill has an excellent chance of passing the Democrat-led House. Its prospects in the Senate, controlled by the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, are bleak. (2/11)
Los Angeles Times:
Measles Is Deadly. Vaccines Are Not. We Need Our Laws To Reflect This Reality
In American political life, the right and the left exist in largely separate spheres. But there is at least one place where the two sides of the divide overlap: the anti-vaccination movement. Despite overwhelming evidence that vaccinations are safe and protect against dangerous disease, small groups of Americans, on both the left and right, have chosen to reject vaccines for themselves and their children. Their decisions have consequences, as we have seen in Washington state’s Clark County recently. A measles outbreak there has already infected 50 people with no end in sight. (Wendy Orent, 2/10)
The E-Cigarette Epidemic — Recognizing Big Tobacco's Trojan Horse
Nearly every authority agrees; we are in the midst of a public health epidemic. In November, the American Medical Association, representing the nation’s physicians, called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action against the “urgent public health epidemic” of skyrocketing e-cigarette use. ... What’s made this epidemic so dangerous — besides recent vape-pen malfunctions — is the soaring adoption rate by youth. (Dr. Jonathan Fielding, 2/11)
Profiling Embryos To Choose Those With Higher IQs Is Almost A Reality
When He Jiankui announced that he had “edited” two embryos in hopes of ensuring they would become immune to the virus that causes AIDS, he also announced his opposition to using the same gene-editing technologies to enhance children’s IQs. As scientists were quick to point out, the pathways from genes to intelligence are just too complex for such enhancement to be feasible. For the foreseeable future, editing embryos to enhance IQ is a sci-fi fantasy. A different approach aimed at enhancing IQ is far less fantastic. We’re calling it embryo profiling, and it could be done today. (Erik Parens, Paul Applebaum and Wendy Chung, 2/12)
The IRS And Hospitals Need To Better Define What It Means To Be A Not-For-Profit Hospital.
In the most recent legal battle pitting healthcare providers against their hometown governments, two Pennsylvania municipal agencies last month sued two not-for-profit hospital systems. The goal was to regain property taxes by proving the not-for-profits operate very much like for-profits. It's played out in state after state. Cash-strapped local officials eye the behemoths taking up blocks of valuable land while paying zero taxes year after year, despite turning a profit. They start questioning what those hospital systems have done for them lately. Health fairs usually don't cut it. (Aurora Aguilar, 2/9)
VA Continues To Fail Male Victims Of Military Sexual Trauma
The problem of sexual harassment and assault in the United States military has been widely reported, often — though not always — framed as predominantly women’s issue. However, more than half of survivors are men (though a higher percent of military women are assaulted, the total number of men is higher since men make up 85 percent of the total force). How do these men fare if they subsequently develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of being harassed or assaulted and file a claim with VA? (Kayla Williams, 2/11)
How Can We Make The J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference Better?
I have been watching with great interest the reactions to Bruce Booth’s thoughtful observations about this year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. He noted the number of ways the conference has changed and that its value to his company, Atlas Venture, has greatly diminished. Booth’s thoughts have been echoed on Twitter and elsewhere by a number of attendees. ... I’d like to offer some historical perspective on its evolution and my thoughts on where it is today, and also ask for your ideas on how to make it better. (Dennis Purcell, 2/12)
‘Thousands’ Of Separated Migrant Kids Are Lost, Feds Can't Find Them
The child separation "zero tolerance" policy was even more cruel and inhumane than we thought, apparently, it went on for a lot longer than we thought it did, and the government now says that it may not be possible to completely fix it. Which means that America may be known as a country that separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the border, doesn't know how many there are out there, and may not be able to reunite them all. (EJ Montini, 2/9)
Transgender Sex Change Regret: Transitioning Won't Heal Real Issues
I started my transgender journey as a 4-year-old boy when my grandmother repeatedly, over several years, cross-dressed me in a full-length purple dress she made especially for me and told me how pretty I was as a girl. This planted the seed of gender confusion and led to my transitioning at age 42 to transgender female. I lived as “Laura” for eight years, but, as I now know, transitioning doesn’t fix the underlying ailments. (Walt Heyer, 2/11)
The Inconvenient Truth Behind 'Medicare For All'
“Medicare for All” sounds good, but it’s a phony name. Beware of the bait and switch. The “Medicare for All” legislation, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and cosponsored by many high-profile Democrats, keeps the name “Medicare” but nothing else. The legislation actually abolishes Medicare and Medicare Advantage, and outlaws employer-provided coverage and the private insurance people buy for themselves. Everyone automatically will be enrolled in the same one-size-fits-all public coverage, whether they work or not. Children will be signed up at birth. (Betsy McCaughey, 2/11)
Bangor Daily News:
We Need Equality In Health Care. Will Medicare For All Deliver It?
Credit Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with the vision to see universal health care as a public issue whose time has come, and for the bumper sticker slogan, Medicare-for-All. As income inequality widens, equality in health care takes on a new urgency. We have excellent technological breakthroughs in medicine. In my 23 years as a registered nurse we have gone from X-rays with leaded vests to non-invasive 3D Echo, an ultrasound imaging done at bedside and producing three-dimensional pictures a grade schooler could interpret. Laboratory diagnostic provide fast and amazing analyses of blood, tissue and other fluids. With laser and laparoscopy surgery, 12-inch incisions and two-week recoveries are a thing of the past. (Tom Deegan, 2/11)
Racial Bias Influences Healthcare — And Solutions Start In The Examination Room
We are now nearly two decades out from the original publication of many of the studies examined by the IOM, yet we are still grappling with stark disparities in both disease outcomes and treatment. And, although “the incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer in the United States has steadily declined” over the years, according to the 2016 study, “reductions have been strikingly much slower among African Americans.” (Monica Maalouf, 2/11)
Child Care Fixes Must Bring Stronger Rules And More Funding
In December, the American-Statesman’s Unwatched investigative report detailed those findings and highlighted glaring gaps in state oversight of child care facilities. We argued then that Texas needs to impose stiffer penalties for facilities with dangerous violations, raise the standards for the least-regulated kind of day cares and make more information available to parents deciding where to enroll their kids. (2/8)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Philly City Council Could Have Fought Opioids By Placing Limits On Pharma Reps
Does over-prescribing of opioids lie at the heart of the addiction crisis? Some members of Philadelphia City Council along with many public health experts think so. Last week, a bill came before City Council to limit the activities of pharmaceutical sales representatives, also known as detailers, who promote prescription drugs to physicians. (Robert Field, 2/11)
Arizona School Safety Bill Could Put More Students At Risk
Arizona needs a school safety bill that includes age-appropriate trauma-informed training for school resource officers (SROs). It’s important because the role of schools is to provide a safe environment for everyone every day. Students that are young, disabled, have special needs or are disruptive don’t always get this freedom. (Katie Paetz, 2/11)