Viewpoints: Tougher Work Rules For Poor People Getting SNAP Creates Fatter Government; Get Med Students Up To Speed On Addiction Treatment
Opinion writers look at these and other health topics.
The Washington Post:
Republicans Want Big Government, Too. They Just Want It To Help Fewer People.
Leave it to Congress to take food away from 2 million poor people and somehow save no money in the process. The House farm bill, scheduled for a vote Friday, contains a major overhaul to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as food stamps). In many ways, the legislation — which, in a break with tradition, was written entirely by Republicans — contains objectives shared by people on both sides of the aisle. These include helping low-income people find more stable work and encouraging noncustodial parents to contribute financially to their kids’ upbringing. However noble such goals are, though, the actual consequence of the bill would be a gigantic, expensive new government bureaucracy — one that eats up nearly all the “savings” from kicking people off food stamps, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. (Catherine Rampell, 5/17)
Los Angeles Times:
Tougher Work Rules For Food Stamps Won’t Help Poor People — Or Save Much Money
Unemployment is at a record low. The U.S. economy has logged nine straight years of slow-but-steady growth. Yet somehow, 40 million Americans need help from the government just to put food on the table. Although that figure is down from its post-recession peak of 47.6 million in 2013, it's still far above where it was in 2007, when only 26 million Americans were enrolled in food stamps (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Congressional Republicans are right to believe that there's something terribly out of whack here. How can so many Americans have jobs yet so many still qualify for food stamps? But their solution — adding tougher work requirements to the program — rests on a faulty premise that people are gaming the system, rather than the reality that so many of the jobs added since the recession are low-wage. (5/18)
Med Students To Congress: Help Us Be The Generation To Solve The Opioid Crisis
Heart attacks and opioid overdoses are both acute exacerbations of chronic medical illnesses and are seen daily in emergency departments across the nation. While every medical student graduates with the preparation needed to treat heart disease, fewer than 6 percent of physicians in the U.S. are trained and certified to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication that has been scientifically proven to halve the overdose death risk for patients with opioid addiction. (Helen Jack, Siver Sundaram and Melanie Fritz, 5/17)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
'Be Prepared, Get Naloxone,' The Surgeon General Says. It's Not Easy.
It was a scheduling mishap that led Kourtnaye Sturgeon to help save someone’s life. About four months ago, Sturgeon drove to downtown Indianapolis for a meeting. She was a week early. “I wasn’t supposed to be there,” she said. Heading back to the office, she saw people gathered around a car that had veered to the side of the road. Sturgeon pulled over to see if she could help. A man told her there was nothing she could do, Sturgeon said. Two men had overdosed on opioids and appeared to be dead. “I kind of recall saying, ‘No man, I’ve got Narcan,’” she said, referring to the brand-name version of the overdose antidote Naloxone. “Which sounds so silly, but I’m pretty sure that’s what came out.” Sturgeon had the drug with her because she works for Overdose Lifeline, a non-profit devoted to distributing naloxone. She sprayed a dose of the drug up the driver’s nose, and waited for it to take effect. About a minute later, she said, the paramedics showed up. (Jake Harper, 5/17)
Health Insurance Premium Increases Are Not Trump’s Fault
Health insurers are beginning to announce their 2019 premium increases for the dwindling number of Americans who participate in ObamaCare exchanges and it isn’t a pretty picture.Most increases in Virginia and Maryland appear to be in the 20 percent to 35 percent range, through CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. The insurer also is seeking a 91 percent increase for its PPO plans in Maryland and a 64 percent increase in Virginia for 4,500 members, who participate in the exchange. The left is claiming the premium hikes are President Donald Trump’s fault. But under ObamaCare the individual health insurance market began to collapse long before Trump became a factor. (Merrill Matthews, 5/17)
Trying To Navigate The Cold, Confusing Health Insurance Maze
If you are young and on medication, and the approval of your peers is your life nutrient, then an unsightly side-effect — in this case, drooling — is unacceptable. Fortunately, there is a common and generic treatment; according to GoodRX, it costs $23 a month. I phoned it into the patient’s pharmacy. A day later, the pharmacy called: Insurance had rejected the claim. I called the insurance line and spoke to a pleasant representative. She explained that my patient would need to try three other medications for peptic ulcer disease first. The patient didn’t have peptic ulcer disease; she had schizophrenia. Salivation was a side-effect of the only drug that had helped her. I filled out a Prior Authorization form with details. (Elissa Ely, 5/17)
Los Angeles Times:
Vulnerable Young Women. A Gynecologist Accused Of Violating Them. Where Was USC?
You take off your clothes, and put on a thin cotton gown. You sit on a padded table covered with a crisp white piece of paper that crackles every time you move. Your bare feet dangle. You stare at the walls and wait. And wait. Then the doctor walks in. If the doctor is a man, he comes in with a female chaperone. The doctor tells you to lie back, put your legs in the metal stirrups on either side of the table and scoot down. Toward him. (Robin Abcarian, 5/17)
Los Angeles Times:
Why Are So Many Misconduct Complaints Falling On Deaf Ears At USC?
For the second time in less than a year, the University of Southern California is drawing scrutiny not just for the alleged misconduct of one of its doctors, but also for the way campus leaders handled the situation. Any organization the size of USC is bound to have problematic employees. The issue is how the organization responds: Is it bad luck? Bad supervision? Or a bad organizational culture? (5/17)
Hospitals Are Soft Targets: Nurses And Staff Need More Training To Deal With Violence
One year ago, Tywon Salters, a convicted robber and car thief who’d been on parole, was in the Kane County Jail on new charges that would have likely sent him back to prison. Salters, of Chicago, ate a piece of his jail sandal and was taken to nearby Delnor Hospital for treatment. He was there five days. On the fifth day, he overpowered a Kane County sheriff’s deputy and took the deputy’s gun. He took two nurses hostage and tortured them. He raped one of the nurses for hours before he was shot to death by police. (John Kass, 5/17)
Des Moines Register:
Iowa's Abortion Ban Destroys Lives To Save Them
In the days since Gov. Reynolds signed SF 359 into law, attempting to make abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy illegal in Iowa, I’ve had many women express sympathy for me, assuming my future employment is at the front of my mind. I assure you, it’s not. Every time a woman has expressed her concern for me, I find my mind turning to Luke 23:28-30: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me but for yourselves and your children ... For if men do these things while the trees are green, what will happen when it is dry?” The tribulation Planned Parenthood may experience as a result of SF 359 is not my immediate concern. My concern is for the women Planned Parenthood cares for and for the children of Iowa who will have their futures changed by this despicable attempt to control women’s bodies at the most fundamental level. (Katie Spicka, 5/17)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Save PEP Connections Via Closer Look At Ohio's Reliance On Medicaid Managed Care
Short-sighted thinking by Ohio officials imperils a wildly successful mental-health program for kids (Greater Cleveland's PEP Connections) and could mean Ohio is missing out on Medicaid prescription coverage savings. At the root of both issues appears to be the $100 million or more in extra annual taxes Ohio can get by using Medicaid managed care programs. (5/18)
The Detroit News:
Our Public Health Is At Risk
I thought the smell in my neighborhood in southwest Detroit was normal. It wasn’t. After years of working on the right to breathe clean air, we are now being faced with the biggest setback in oversight over polluting industry. The state and the Republican-led Legislature is proposing to give Gov. Rick Snyder the power to appoint a panel to rewrite the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality rules, and another to veto permit decisions made by MDEQ.Get this. The appointees who can veto permit decisions will be engineers, not public health officials. They are not qualified to protect public health, safety and welfare. Such a move would be catastrophic for our public health. Like our MDEQ director, the board members likely would come from the very industries environmental permits are supposed to regulate. (Rashida Tlaib, 5/17)
The Shortage Of Normal Saline In The Wake Of Hurricane Maria
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. In the wake of this devastating storm, more than 1000 people died and tens of thousands were displaced from their homes. In early 2018, one-third of Puerto Rico remained without electricity. Before the hurricane crippled infrastructure and created a humanitarian crisis, 33% of Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product came from its pharmaceutical sector, with approximately 50 firms producing medications and 40 making medical devices. The multifaceted response by both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and hospital systems to the ongoing national shortage of normal saline makes clear how a storm hitting 1000 miles off Florida’s coast can affect public health across the United States. (Chana A. Sacks, Aaron S. Kesselheim and Michael Fralick, 5/14)
The Washington Post:
Why The Seattle ‘Head Tax’ Is Relevant To The Nation
Let’s talk about this “head tax” on large businesses — those with gross revenue above $20 million — that the Seattle City Council unanimously passed this week to help deal with the city’s worsening homelessness problem. ...But the reason I want to talk about it comes from the question raised by two tax analysts — Steve Rosenthal and Richard Auxier (R&A) — in this commentary on the idea: “How are fiscally constrained cities supposed to find revenue as their populations and services grow?” (Jared Bernstein, 5/16)