Viewpoints: Lessons On Ways The Spending Bill Seriously Undermines The Health Law; Public Health At Risk By Government’s About-Face on Dangerous Pesticide
Opinion writers weigh in on these health care issues and others.
The Washington Post:
Why Are Democrats In Congress Undermining Obamacare?
The $1.4 trillion spending bill now making its way to final passage in time to meet a Friday deadline will banish the specter of a partial government shutdown for the foreseeable future. That’s the good news. Otherwise, it is a monumental exercise in fiscal looseness that may add $500 billion to the federal debt over the next decade, according to estimates by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. President Trump and his fellow Republicans deserve much of the blame for this situation, given that, under Mr. Trump, the party has abandoned any pretense of concern over balanced budgets. Yet many of the worst reported provisions enjoy significant Democratic support, too — even though they will undermine the signature policy accomplishment of the Obama administration. (12/17)
The New York Times:
How Has This Pesticide Not Been Banned?
The pesticide known as chlorpyrifos is both clearly dangerous and in very wide use. It is known to pass easily from mother to fetus and has been linked to a wide range of serious medical problems, including impaired development, Parkinson’s disease and some forms of cancer. That’s not entirely surprising. The chemical was originally developed by Nazis during World War II for use as a nerve gas. (12/17)
The Washington Post:
Some Drug Users Are Making Their Way Through Recovery, But They Could Use Some Help
Attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in Washington, and you’ll see the illicit drug scourge being vanquished — one roomful of recovering addicts at a time. In hospitals, church basements, homeless shelters and community centers, messages of hope are being heard. “You don’t have to die from the disease of addiction,” a woman who had been clean for 15 years said to an NA group that meets on Sundays at Howard University Hospital. Neither heroin nor cocaine could get the best of her. (Courtland Milloy, 12/17)
How The Next Big Supreme Court Abortion Case Highlights Anti-Abortion Harassment
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in June Medical Services v. Gee, the next big abortion rights case. Attorneys at Pennsylvania’s Women’s Law Project coauthored and filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief highlighting the significant role antiabortion harassment and violence play in this case.At issue in June Medical Services is Louisiana’s Act 620, which forces Louisiana abortion providers to obtain a type of business contract called “admitting privileges” with a local hospital. The primary purpose of such contracts is for hospitals to secure business. Ironically, because abortion is a safe procedure with a very low medical complication rate, admitting privileges have been denied to abortion providers because they don't generate enough patients for hospitals to bother with unnecessary paperwork. (Tara Murtha and Christine Castro, 12/17)
Abortion Pills Are Safe And Could Ease Growing Access Crisis For Women
Abortion access is facing a monumental crisis, as states across the nation continue to advance and enact restrictive abortion laws, the Trump administration puts in place reproductive health policies that ignore science, and the Supreme Court is set to decide a major case on abortion regulations next year. Amid this treacherous landscape, two key factors will help determine the future of abortion in the United States: the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, and the outcome of ongoing efforts to make medication abortion (also called the abortion pill) easier for people to get. So far, the Democratic presidential candidates have not engaged in a robust conversation about their views on the crucial issue of expanding access to medication abortion. But they should. And fortunately, that is starting to change. (Daniel Grossman, 12/18)
Alcohol And Cancer Risk: Clinical And Research Implications
Ample evidence has been available for some time indicating that alcohol use is a preventable risk factor for cancer, and the World Health Organization deemed alcohol a carcinogen more than 30 years ago. In the United States, it is estimated that 5.6% of incident cancer cases (approximately 87 000 each year) are associated with alcohol, including cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, liver, esophagus (squamous cell carcinoma), female breast, and colorectum. Type of alcohol does not appear to matter; all alcoholic beverages include ethanol, which increases levels of acetaldehyde and in turn promotes DNA damage. Moreover, even moderate levels of consumption (often defined as approximately 14-28 g/d, the equivalent of about 1-2 drinks) appear to be associated with higher risk of some cancers, including cancers of the female breast. A protective association has emerged for some cancers, with the most evidence for kidney, Hodgkin lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Nonetheless, the overall cancer burden associated with alcohol use is substantial and comparable with that of other preventable risk factors such as UV exposure and excess body weight. (William M. P. Klein, Paul B. Jacobsen, and Kathy J. Helzlsouer, 12/13)
The New York Times:
Men Call Their Own Research ‘Excellent’
Women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the highest levels. Only one out of four full professors at American research institutions is a woman, despite the fact that equal numbers of men and women earn doctoral degrees in science each year. In the life sciences, women are less likely either to receive major grant funding or to be promoted to full professor — and they are paid less even when they produce the same amount of scholarly output as men. (Anupam B. Jena, Marc Lerchenmueller and Olav Sorenson, 12/17)
Call The Midwife — But Not If You Live In Georgia
Debbie Pulley is a midwife, but if she told you that, the Georgia Board of Nursing would fine her $500. That’s because the board has barred the use of the title “midwife” by anyone who doesn’t hold a nursing license — even people like Pulley, who has spent the past 40 years delivering more than 1,000 babies. Now she is fighting back with a federal lawsuit to protect her First Amendment right to describe herself honestly. (Jim Manley and Caleb Trotter, 12/16)
Trenton Wrong To Bow To ‘Anti-Vaxxers’
Weeks of lobbying and hours of protest by vociferous groups of “anti-vaxxers” helped delay Monday’s planned vote by the New Jersey Senate on a sensible and necessary bill to eliminate the state’s long-standing faith-based exemption from common pediatric vaccinations. Supporters said they’ll try again before the legislature’s lame-duck session concludes on Jan. 14, 2020.The N.J. Assembly approved its version of the bill by a comfortable margin Monday, and Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday he intends to be guided by science showing immunization’s efficacy and safety. Let’s hope the governor gets the opportunity to sign a bill as soon as possible because the spread of the spurious anti-vaccination gospel is putting public health at risk. And the true believers chanting, praying, and taunting lawmakers in Trenton Monday seem unlikely to be deterred, despite the dozen cases of measles earlier this year in Ocean County. (12/18)