- KFF Health News Original Stories 2
- The $109K Heart Attack Bill Is Down To $332. What About Other Surprise Bills?
- Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Ask Us Anything!
- Political Cartoon: 'Come To Pass?'
- Health Law 1
- All Eyes Are On ACA Lawsuit Slated For Arguments Next Week, As Midterms Inch Ever Closer
- Supreme Court 1
- Public Health Advances, Modern Medicine Mean Longer Lives And Longer Terms For Supreme Court Justices
- Marketplace 1
- 'The System Is Failing': More Than Half Of Americans Have Received A Surprise Medical Bill Despite Transparency Efforts
- Public Health 2
- When Emergency Services Are Overwhelmed By Disaster, Medical Emergencies Can Fall Through The Cracks
- CRISPR Makes Strides Forward In Tackling Gene Mutation For Muscular Dystrophy In Beagles
- Health IT 1
- When Specialists In Genetic Disorders Get Stumped, They're Now Turning To Facial Recognition Software
- Opioid Crisis 1
- Guards, Nurses And Inmates At Ohio Jail Treated For Drug Exposure Following Possible Overdose By Prisoner
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: Calif. Lawmakers Deal Blow To Dialysis Industry With Bill To Cap Reimbursement Rates; Second Nurse Attacked At Troubled Wash. Psychiatric Hospital
- Health Policy Research 1
- Research Roundup: Smoking In Adolescents; Transgender Patients; And Preexisting Conditions
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
“I don’t feel any consumer should have to go through this,” says Drew Calver, who faced a life-changing surprise bill from an Austin hospital after a heart attack last year. After attention as a "Bill of the Month" patient, he paid the hospital $332. But he worries about other patients with surprise bills. (Chad Terhune, )
In this episode of KHN’s “What the Health?” Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Joanne Kenen of Politico answer listeners’ questions about health policy and politics. ( )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Come To Pass?'" by Mike Peters.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
Rest In Peace
John Sidney McCain —
The health of the Republic
Always his concern.
- Mark A. Jensen
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if we can include your name. Haikus follow the format of 5-7-5 syllables. We give extra brownie points if you link back to an original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KFF Health News or KFF.
Summaries Of The News:
The lawsuit will be heard starting next Wednesday. The case is providing Democrats with talking points on the campaign trail over a potential threat to preexisting conditions protections. Meanwhile, Medicare ACOs saved CMS more than $1 billion in 2017.
Washington's Fall Agenda: Pre-Existing Conditions Fight Takes Center Stage In Midterms
Health care is one of the issues taking center stage in this November’s midterm elections as Democrats press Republicans on preserving protections for pre-existing conditions under ObamaCare. But there is also plenty of unfinished work for Congress and the administration this fall, from passing opioid legislation to tackling drug costs. (Hellmann and Sullivan, 8/30)
The CT Mirror:
Study: 24 Percent Of Hartford Area Residents Have Pre-Existing Health Problem
Nearly one-in-four residents of the Hartford metropolitan area have a pre-existing medical condition that might make it difficult for them to obtain insurance coverage for that illness if a key provision in the Affordable Care Act is overturned, a new study says. Protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions has become a hot-button issue in the midterm elections as the Trump administration has moved to undo some ACA provisions. (Radelat, 8/30)
Medicare ACOs Saved CMS $314 Million In 2017
The CMS made a profit from the Medicare Shared Savings Program last year as more accountable care organizations moved to risk-based contracts and gained experience, new federal data show. About 60% of the 472 Medicare ACOs generated a total of $1.1 billion in savings in 2017, according to the CMS data set released Thursday. The CMS paid $780 million in bonuses to the ACOs, but the agency still scored a $313.7 million gain from the program. (Castellucci and Dickson, 8/30)
The New York Times looks at how advances in medicine are shaping the high court, often allowing justices to pass the baton when they choose. Meanwhile, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh preps for his confirmation hearings that start next week.
The New York Times:
How Modern Medicine Has Changed The Supreme Court
Two related health trends mean that each Supreme Court nomination now has the potential to shape the nation’s highest court for far longer than in the past. One is that Americans live decades longer than they did when the country was founded. At the same time, medical and public health advances have changed the dominant causes of death from infectious to chronic diseases. Infectious diseases typically kill fast, while chronic ones have a longer course. This shift toward a longer and slower decline, as opposed to more rapid death, means that justices are more able to select the administrations and political environments in which to end their terms — to, in effect, pass the baton. (Khullar and Jena, 8/31)
Inside Kavanaugh's Hearing Prep: Mock Hearings And Faux Protesters
The White House is making last-minute preparations for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings next week, holding final prep sessions and setting up a pair of rapid-response war rooms. Kavanaugh, a Washington veteran who worked for President George W. Bush and helped write the Starr Report, has called on his vast network to help him get ready for the hearings. His former clerks, lawyers from the conservative Federalist Society and even Republican senators have participated in nearly a dozen practice sessions designed to mimic the conditions of the often grueling hearings, according to a White House official. (Restuccia, Schor and Woellert, 8/30)
Out-of-network services end up costing patients big. And as insurance designs become more complicated with more tiered or narrow networks, medical bills are only going to get more tricky.
More Than Half Of Americans Have Received A Surprise Medical Bill
More than half of American adults have been surprised by a medical bill that they thought would have been covered by insurance, according to a new survey. The surprise charges were most often for physician services (53%), followed closely by laboratory tests (51%), per a survey facilitated by the research institute NORC at the University of Chicago that represents more than 1,000 Americans, 57% of whom received a surprise medical bill. Other charges were related to hospitals or other healthcare facility charges (43%), imaging (35%) and prescription drugs (29%). Twenty percent of their surprise bills were a result of a doctor not being part of the network. (Kacik, 8/30)
Kaiser Health News:
The $109K Heart Attack Bill Is Down To $332. What About Other Surprise Bills?
A Texas hospital that charged a teacher $108,951 for care after a heart attack slashed the bill to $332.29 Thursday — but not before the huge charge sparked a national conversation over what should be done to combat surprise medical bills that afflict a growing number of Americans. The story of Drew Calver was first reported by Kaiser Health News and NPR on Monday as part of the “Bill of the Month” series, which examines U.S. health care prices and the troubles patients run up against in the $3.5 trillion industry. (Terhune, 8/31)
Even if cities and states have plans in place for natural disasters, storms like Hurricane Harvey -- which brought once-in-a-thousand-years rain -- can plunge emergency services into chaos. In other public health news: car seats, sperm donors, pesticides, diets and more.
The New York Times:
Lost In The Storm
Wayne Dailey sat in a waiting area at a Houston hospital, anxious for word about his wife. He and his sister stared at the television to distract themselves. It was Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, and broadcasters described a large storm moving off the Yucatán Peninsula with Texas in its sights, potentially bringing historic flooding to Houston that weekend. Wayne, who as a child in Galveston County spent hours watching the cloudscapes drift over the Gulf of Mexico, kept multiple weather apps on his phone and had already been tracking the storm. “It’s going to get us,” he told his sister. But coastal storms were a part of life that he had prepared for, and they did not concern him. (Fink, 8/30)
Pediatricians Drop Age Limit For Rear-Facing Car Seats
Children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they reach the height or weight limit for the seat, according to updated recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This changes the academy's previous guidance, which said children should ride in rear-facing seats until at least age 2. The new recommendation eliminates the age-specific milestone to turn a child's car seat around. (Gumbrecht, 8/30)
The New York Times:
A Fertility Doctor Used His Sperm On Unwitting Women. Their Children Want Answers.
To couples at the end of their ropes who wanted children but could not conceive them for medical reasons, Dr. Donald Cline was a savior of sorts, offering to match the women with sperm from anonymous men resembling their partners. Many couples sought Dr. Cline out at his Indianapolis-area fertility clinic during the 1970s and ’80s. They had children, who grew up and had children of their own. (Zaveri, 8/30)
This Harvard Doctor Has Worn Both A Hospital Gown And A White Coat
[Shekinah] Elmore is a lot of things: She is both a cancer doctor and a “cancer person” — she’s not keen on the word “survivor.” Now 36 and a fourth-year resident in the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, Elmore has Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a genetic disorder that puts her at high risk for a range of cancers. Having worn both a hospital gown and white coat, she moves through her work with a kind of double vision, seeing through the eyes of a patient and of a provider. The two views are hard to reconcile, and leave her wondering what can be done to bridge the gaps that exist between doctors and their patients. (Farber, 8/31)
The Wall Street Journal:
Your DNA, Your Diet: How Nutrition Is Being Personalized
Cynthia Fife-Townsel, a Chicago librarian, had been researching nutrition and DNA profiling to help her understand her body and improve her health. So when she saw an advertisement offering an at-home DNA and blood-test kit from a company called Habit for just $200, she decided to give it a try. (Ostroff, 8/30)
The New York Times:
The Bugs Are Coming, And They’ll Want More Of Our Food
Ever since humans learned to wrest food from soil, creatures like the corn earworm, the grain weevil and the bean fly have dined on our agricultural bounty. Worldwide, insect pests consume up to 20 percent of the plants that humans grow for food, and that amount will increase as global warming makes bugs hungrier, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. That could encourage farmers to use more pesticides, which could cause further environmental harm, scientists said. (Pierre-Louis, 8/30)
The New York Times:
Too Many Chinese Children Need Glasses. Beijing Blames Video Games.
It started this week with a call to action from China’s leader, Xi Jinping. Too many of the country’s children need glasses, he said, and the government was going to do something about it. It ended on Friday with billions of dollars being wiped from the market value of the world’s largest video game company. (Zhong, 8/31)
While many companies pursue strategies to treat the disease caused by a lack of production of dystrophin, the gene-editing tool attempts to change the underlying cause. The scientists programmed the CRISPR system to cut the dogs’ DNA at a precise spot on the dystrophin gene. The cells repaired the cut, enabling dystrophin production to be restored.
The Wall Street Journal:
Crispr Used To Repair Gene Mutation In Dogs With Muscular Dystrophy
Researchers used a gene-editing tool to repair a gene mutation in dogs with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an important step in efforts to someday use the tool to edit DNA in people with the same fatal disease. In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the Royal Veterinary College in London reported that they used the Crispr gene-editing system in four dogs to restore production of dystrophin, a protein crucial for healthy muscle function. (Marcus, 8/30)
CRISPR Fixed Duchenne In Dogs. Will This Tool Best An Older Gene Therapy?
It is the first published account of delivering CRISPR systemically (that is, throughout the body) in a large mammal. ...The UT study used up to 10 trillion adeno-associated viruses to ferry CRISPR into the muscles of two beagle puppies and into the bloodstream of two more; all the dogs had been born with a Duchenne-causing mutation very similar to one in people. After eight weeks, the beagle that received the highest dose of CRISPR had dystrophin levels in its muscle cells that were 25 percent to 70 percent of normal. Dystrophin levels in heart muscle reached 92 percent of normal. (Begley, 8/30)
Of the more than 7,000 known rare diseases, up to half are believed to cause changes to the shape of the face or skull. Uploading a picture of the person's face to an app can be a new tool to help doctors with a diagnosis.
Facial Recognition Zeroes In On Genetic Disorders
Founded in 2011 by two Israeli entrepreneurs around the same time they sold a facial tagging system to Facebook for $70 million to $80 million, the firm designed the software to more quickly point medical geneticists in the right direction. ...Through crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence, the software ranks the 10 most likely causes of a genetic disorder on the basis of facial patterns — what the app calls the “gestalt.” (Saltzman, 8/30)
In other health and technology news —
Technology Is Changing The Way You See A Doctor, But Is That Good For Your Health?
One morning, Charlie Latuske woke up feverish and somewhat delirious in his home in Surrey in the UK, leaving him unable to function and in need of a doctor. He'd endured a sore throat and general malaise for a few days, believing it would get better, but that morning in August 2017, he knew that he had to do something about it. "I was quite out of it," said 27-year old Latuske, who was also due to go on vacation with his wife in just three days. (Senthilingam, 8/30)
Sacramento Doctors Making House Calls With New Technology
New technology is getting Sacramento doctors back into the business of making old-fashioned house calls, employing a mobile application in an attempt to extend the amount of time they can spend on interviewing and bonding with their patients. Sacramento residents can schedule a doctor’s visit at their homes within two hours, using the Heal app or website. (Anderson, 8/30)
On the same day, Pennsylvania state prisons were put on lockdown after employees at 10 prisons recently required treatment from exposure to an unidentified substance.
The Associated Press:
Heroin-Fentanyl Mix Led To Drug Exposure Concerns At Prison
A substance that led to nearly 30 people at an Ohio prison being treated for drug exposure or suspected exposure was a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, the State Highway Patrol said. Prison guards, nurses and inmates at Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe were treated Wednesday with the anti-overdose drug naloxone after an inmate showed signs of a drug overdose, and some people experienced symptoms consistent with exposure to the opioid fentanyl. Medical officials said symptoms such as nausea, sweating and drowsiness were reported. (Cornwell, 8/30)
The Washington Post:
Fentanyl Exposure Sickened Ohio Prison Staff
In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, a statewide prison lockdown was ordered Wednesday after an uptick this month in the number of staff members who have become mildly sick while on duty, corrections spokeswoman Amy Worden said. She said 29 employees at 10 prisons have fallen ill since early August. One of the employees was accidentally exposed to synthetic marijuana, Worden said. Although the causes of the other illnesses are unknown, she said, officials think the staff members might have been exposed to the residue of dangerous substances, including opioids, while handling inmates. (Duggan, 8/30)
Media outlets report on news from California, Washington, New York, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, Oregon and Illinois.
Calif. Legislature Passes Bill To Cap Dialysis Reimbursement
In a major blow to dialysis giants DaVita Healthcare Partners and Fresenius Medical Care, the California State Assembly and Senate passed a bill to crack down on third-party premium assistance for dialysis and cap providers' reimbursement to Medicare rates if they don't comply with the mandate. The legislation now has a good chance of getting signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. It would serve as a landmark victory for insurers and unions in the long-brewing battle with the dialysis industry. The bill takes aim at the American Kidney Fund, a not-for-profit that subsidizes individual market premiums for dialysis patients who are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. DaVita and Fresenius are major contributors to the organization, and insurers accuse them of using Obamacare's guaranteed issue provision to game the system and steer patients into plans that will bring in more profits. (Luthi, 8/30)
The Associated Press:
Hospital Staff Question Officials After 2nd Attack In A Week
Staff say another nurse was attacked at Washington state's troubled psychiatric hospital this week, just days after an incident Sunday in which a patient is accused of punching a nurse, knocking her to the floor and stomping on her head. Workers at Western State Hospital rallied Thursday to demand changes in the way officials assign dangerous patients to wards and to call for an increase in staffing. Newly appointed CEO Dave Holt and Tonik Joseph, deputy assistant secretary of the state's Behavioral Health Administration, spent about two hours hearing grievances from more than 80 workers gathered in an amphitheater. The workers shouted out or raised their hands to question the leaders. (8/30)
Conditions For Mentally Ill Women At Fulton Jail Called ‘Barbaric’
Mentally ill women are being detained in isolation for weeks at a time at a south Fulton County jail inside filthy cells that reek of feces, a civil rights attorney has told county officials in a letter that calls for change. Many of the women, held in chaotic and unsanitary conditions, are not receiving proper medical treatment and are deteriorating into states of psychosis, Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, wrote. (Rankin, 8/30)
The New York Times:
Little Decline In Number Of Children In Public Housing With High Lead Levels, Report Says
For more than a decade, New York City made steady progress in reducing the number of children living in public housing who have tested positive for lead, but that trend ended about the same time that the city’s housing authority stopped inspecting its apartments for lead-paint hazards. That was one upshot of a report on lead poisoning released on Thursday by the city’s Department of Health. Overall, the report showed the number of city children with elevated levels of lead in their blood had dropped to a record low of about 5,300. (Sadurni, 8/30)
Health Officials, Worried About Outbreak, Investigate HIV Cluster In North Seattle
A cluster of eight people in North Seattle, described as heterosexuals, drug users, and recently homeless, have been diagnosed with HIV infections since February, and health officials worry their cases could represent a new pattern of transmission for the virus that has been in steep decline. Officials suspect changes in drug use are to blame. ...The diagnoses are among 19 HIV cases reported so far this year among heterosexuals in King County. For all of last year, that number was seven, according to the health agency. It has averaged 10 for the past decade. (Bush, 8/30)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Medical Abortions Would Be Offered At CA Public Universities If Brown Signs Bill
California would be the first state to mandate that public universities offer their students medical abortions — pills that women take to end pregnancies — under a bill the Legislature approved and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown. The Senate passed the bill Thursday by 26-13, one day after the Assembly approved it on a 52-25 vote. (Gutierrez and Asimov, 8/30)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio Bill Would Give Advance Practice Registered Nurses Independence From Doctors
A new Ohio General Assembly bill would allow advanced practice registered nurses to work independently of physicians, an idea the Ohio State Medical Association calls potentially dangerous to patients. Rep. Theresa Gavarone, a Bowling Green Republican, said House Bill 726 addresses primary care physician shortages throughout the state. But the medical association disputes there are shortages. (Hancock, 8/30)
Diabetes: Prison Inmate, Suing Over Lack Of Care, Dies Of Drug Overdose
A Tennessee inmate who was suing the state’s largest and newest prison for allegedly mistreating diabetic prisoners died earlier this year from a drug overdose while behind bars, according to official documents made public this week. John Randall Young, 56, was once one of six inmates who accused Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility of endangering diabetic prisoners with unhealthy food, unpredictable meal times and undependable access to insulin shots. (Kelman, 8/31)
'Death Certificate Project' Terrifies California Doctors
Brian Lenzkes, MD, got a letter last December from the Medical Board of California that left him shocked and scared. The licensing agency told him it had received a "complaint filed against you" regarding a patient who died of a prescription overdose in May 2013 -- four and a half years earlier. (Clark, 8/30)
Cuts To Oakland Free Dinner Program Felt By Thousands Of Students As School Resumes
Cuts to Oakland Unified high school sports have riled up district parents and raised legal questions, but the elimination of a dinner program that serves low-income kids has gotten far less attention. The cuts to the dinner program impact at least 3,000 students, according to program staff, while the sports cuts initially affected about 500 students. (Rancano, 8/30)
The Associated Press:
Last Heart Transplant Doctor Leaves Oregon Hospital
The only remaining doctor in Oregon's only heart transplant program has resigned, leaving the state with no medical facilities that can perform the life-saving procedure. Oregon Health & Science University is now working to transfer the 20 patients on its waiting list to other transplant centers, including those in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Thursday. (8/30)
San Francisco Chronicle:
SF Could Hold More Mentally Ill People For Care Under Bill Headed To Brown
San Francisco officials would have more control over who can be involuntarily held for mental-health treatment, under a bill to expand conservatorship laws that is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown. The state Senate passed SB1045 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, in a 39-0 vote on Thursday. The Assembly passed it 61-0 on Wednesday. (Gutierrez, 8/30)
South Dakota-Based Health System Eyes Chicago-Area Hospital System
A South Dakota-based hospital system is looking to enter the Chicago area — with its eye on at least one local player, according to reports. Sanford Health, which has 45 hospitals and 289 clinics in nine states, is in talks to merge with a Chicago-area health system, its CEO told digital news organization SiouxFalls.Business earlier this week. (Schencker, 8/30)
Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.
Adolescent Tobacco Smoke Exposure, Respiratory Symptoms, And Emergency Department Use
Different TSE measures uniquely increased the risk of TSE-related symptoms, but any TSE increased the risk of having a higher number of ED and/or UC visits. The providers at these high-volume settings should offer interventions to adolescents who are exposed to tobacco smoke and their families to decrease these symptoms and related morbidity. (Merianos, 8/31)
Adolescent E-Cigarette, Hookah, And Conventional Cigarette Use And Subsequent Marijuana Use
Noncigarette tobacco products may confer a risk of marijuana use similar to combustible cigarettes. We examined whether adolescent electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), hookah, or combustible cigarette use is associated with initiating and currently using marijuana as well as using both tobacco and marijuana concurrently. (Audrain-McGovern et al, 8/31)
JAMA Internal Medicine:
Acute Clinical Care For Transgender Patients: A Review
Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe individuals whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from assigned sex at birth. There are an estimated 1.4 million transgender adults in the United States, and this number is increasing. Clinicians will increasingly be caring for transgender patients. Topics considered in this narrative review include terminology, how to address transgender patients, obtaining an inclusive history that takes into account gender-affirming surgery, managing hormone therapy and other clinical issues, consideration for hospitalized patients, interpreting laboratory values in the setting of hormone use, legal issues, and considerations for health systems. (Rosendale et al, 8/27)
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:
New Analysis Maps Prevalence Of Pre-Existing Conditions By Metro Area
A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis maps rates of pre-existing conditions across 129 metropolitan and micropolitan areas in the U.S., finding that even within the same state, the prevalence of such conditions can vary substantially. For example, 34 percent of residents of Florence, South Carolina have a pre-existing condition, but further south in Charleston and Hilton Head, the rate is 24 percent. The share of non-elderly adults with a pre-existing condition ranges from 41 percent in Kingsport, Tennessee to 20 percent in Logan, Utah and Rochester, Minnesota. (8/28)
Prescription Medication Use Among Children And Adolescents In The United States
Many US children and adolescents use prescription medications with nearly 1 in 12 concurrent users of prescription medications potentially at risk for a major DDI. Efforts to prevent adverse drug events in children and adolescents should consider the role of interacting drug combinations, especially among adolescent girls. (Qato et al, 8/31)
Editorial pages express views on reproductive issues.
The New York Times:
How Abortion Rights Will Die A Death By 1,000 Cuts
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s voluminous record, his opinion of the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion ruling, Roe v. Wade, and his views on legal precedent have deservedly been scrutinized in the lead-up to his confirmation hearings next week. But the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, more than Roe, holds the key to understanding the stakes of Judge Kavanaugh’s potential confirmation. It is Casey that now protects women’s access to reproductive health care in states whose restrictions on health care providers and patients threaten to close clinics or ban abortions outright. And the political lesson conservatives learned from Casey all but guarantees that a vote for Judge Kavanaugh is a vote not only to endanger abortion rights but to turn back the clock on a century of progressive reforms. (Serena Mayeri, 8/30)
Overturning Roe Threatens So Much More Than The Right To An Abortion
Roe goes beyond the right to choose to have an abortion. Overturning Roe threatens so much more than the right to an abortion. Roe’s importance enumerates, to use Rehnquist’s own words, the right to both personal choice and privacy in matter of marriage and family. And while Roe hangs precariously by a thread if Kavanaugh is confirmed, we need to start thinking beyond the judiciary to the states to do the right thing for women. We need the states to act and protect our right to abortion. (Julie A. Burkhart, 8/30)
San Francisco Chronicle:
California Public Universities Should Make Abortion Pill Available To Students
College students seek abortion at a higher rate than other age groups, demonstrating the need for accessible and affordable care. For nearly 20 years, students have safely and effectively used the abortion pill. They’ve just been forced to do so off campus, which for some involves significant — and unnecessary — obstacles. (Daniel Grossman, 8/30)
Opinion writers express views on these and other health topics.
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
A Better Way To Keep Guns Away From The Severely Mentally Ill
David Katz should never have been able to legally purchase two handguns before embarking on his deadly shooting spree in Jacksonville, Fla., where he killed two and wounded 10 others before taking his own life on Sunday. The killer in Florida’s latest mass shooting had a documented history of severe psychiatric problems yet was able to purchase his weapons from a licensed dealer in Maryland.While mentally ill people are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it, existing laws and procedures don’t do enough to keep guns out of chronic patients’ reach — for their own good as well as everyone else’s. (8/30)
Hurricane Maria: Republicans Ignore Lessons From Federal Failures
There’s a new official death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and it’s ugly: The island now estimates that 2,975 people died. Donald Trump, however, is still telling everyone his administration did a “fantastic job” and making excuses for the things that did go wrong, which he somehow also doesn’t acknowledge. And Congress? They don’t seem very interested in the subject. (Jonathan Bernstein, 8/30)
Betsy DeVos, Deny Schools Wanting To Arm Teachers With Federal Grants
Just in time for those back-to-school preparations, the federal government is considering financing firearms for teachers. The Department of Education would act as arms dealer, dispensing cash for guns. As ludicrous as this might sound, it has not been rejected out of hand by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who once famously suggested some K-12 campuses might need guns to ward off grizzly bear attacks. Texas educators have asked DeVos to see whether federal Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants could be tapped for arming teachers or other school staff in the wake of America's infamous mass shootings. The state is one of at least nine that explicitly allow school staff to carry guns on campus. (8/30)
In Case Of School Shooting: Armed Staff Make Our School A Safe Place
Shootings in our schools are taking place too regularly to be considered coincidence. Causation can be debated, but facts remain; shootings happen, and after they happen, copycat shooting emergencies spread across the country. As the Harrold School superintendent, I believe guns are tools that can be used for good to stop these horrible atrocities. (David Thweatt, 8/30)
Kansas City Star:
Kansas On The Wrong Side Of Transgender Supreme Court Case
Kansas has joined with 15 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn employment protections for transgender Americans. The state’s position is wrong-headed and counterproductive. Kansas should rethink its approach to this issue. (8/30)
The Washington Post:
Canada Shows How Overdose Prevention Sites Can Help Tackle The Opioid Crisis
These sites (beginning with Insite in Vancouver in 2003) reduce HIV rates, hospital admissions and ambulance calls. They link users to health care, social services and addiction treatment. There are no fatalities. Despite persistent assertions that the sites encourage or perpetuate drug use, there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, we need more of these sites. There is no treatment for addiction if the patient is dead. Also, the lives of people who use drugs are valuable whether or not they seek treatment. (Carlyn Zwarenstein, 8/30)
Treat Opioid Addiction As A Health Crisis And Pass A Senate Bill Now
If this were any other public health crisis, decisive action would have been taken long ago. Three hundred and fifty of our sons, daughters, brothers, daughters, husbands, and wives are lost every day to alcohol and other drugs, including opioids.The House passed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act on June 22 — a package of more than 50 individual opioid bills designed to help communities in dire need. They cover everything from stronger guidance for sober living facilities to ensuring treatment for those who overdose to studying new pain management protocols and treatments. And, yet despite the overwhelming 396-14 vote in the House 10 weeks ago and the death toll rising in our communities, the Senate is still mulling details and trying to reach an agreement. (Michael King, 8/30)
The New York Times:
The Continuing Tragedy Of The Separated Children
While family separations have slipped from the spotlight — allowing Mr. Trump to enjoy his morning executive time without enduring televised images of sobbing migrant children — the crisis itself is far from over. Hundreds of children remain separated from their parents. Many of those who have been reunited bear the scars of trauma. Migrant families continue to be rounded up into government detention centers, though now at least they are being held together. (8/30)
Securing The U.S. From Its Most Dangerous Invader: Infectious Disease
As the Democratic Republic of Congo works to contain the latest outbreak of Ebola, in what could be a test of the world’s ability to contain the disease since the calamitous outbreak in West Africa in 2014 and 2015, it’s a good time to think about the global infectious disease pandemic that happened in May. In case you didn’t hear about it, that pandemic killed 150 million people around the world, including 15 million Americans, within a year and caused the U.S. stock market to crash. Fortunately, the deaths and economic cataclysm were just on paper — or in electrons — the result of a daylong simulation with a group of high-ranking U.S. government officials that was organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. (Ashley Arabasadi, 8/31)
The New York Times:
Our Coronary Complacency
I thought about Ally many times as I was writing about heart disease over the past few years. In particular I wondered why, despite its still being the major killer in the United States — responsible for about 610,000 deaths according to the American Heart Association — it seems to generate less fear among the public than cancer, which is expected to take 609,000 lives this year, or even the opioid epidemic, which killed 72,000 people in 2017. (Mimi Swartz, 8/30)
Regenerative Health Is A Door We Can Open Together
“I once was blind, but now I see” is an inspirational phrase we often hear sung in church, but it is very rare that anybody gets to declare it as literally true, especially if they’re talking about being restored from an untreatable, incurable disease. But I can, and even more amazingly, it turns out the treatment for my blindness came from within: Yes, my own adult stem cells gave my sight back. I went from legally blind, walking with a stick and prohibited from driving, to getting my driver’s license once again and ceremoniously gifting my now-unnecessary walking stick to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander after we worked hard together to write and pass the 21st Century Cures Act into law. (Doug Oliver, 8/30)
Medicaid Expansion Has Improved Ohioans' Health
The recent report on Ohio’s Medicaid expansion shows that the program is working as intended and is cost-effective, pointing the way for the General Assembly and next governor to support its continuation. The expansion’s positive health and economic outcomes resulting from increased access to care — all of which are documented in the report — are welcome news to Ohio’s philanthropic community, which focuses on the same goals of improved health status and economic security for all residents of Ohio. Of particular note among the report’s findings is the expansion’s contribution to addressing substance-use disorders, as enrollees diagnosed with opioid addiction received medication-assisted therapies and psychosocial treatment. (Claudia Y.W. Herrold, 8/30)
LA Daily News:
How You Can Stop Sacramento From Raising Your Water Rates And Property Taxes
On Thursday, August 30, at 8:00 a.m., an obscure committee in Sacramento will hold an informational hearing that will commit you, your children and your grandchildren to paying higher rates and higher property taxes to cover the cost of the proposed boondoggle known as WaterFix. Under state law, the Department of Water Resources can finalize a long-term contract for water from the State Water Project through a unique process that doesn’t require a vote of the Legislature or any legislative committee. The DWR simply sends over a copy of the contract, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee holds an informational hearing, and 60 days later, the contract can be finalized. (Susan Shelley, 8/29)