- KFF Health News Original Stories 2
- Death By 1,000 Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong
- Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ The Karma Of Cutting Medicare
- Political Cartoon: 'Comeback Tour?'
- Capitol Watch 2
- As House Dems Assemble Budget, A Health Care Reckoning Is On The Horizon Between Centrists And Progressives
- Democrats See An Opportunity In Amendment That Has Effectively Put The Kibosh On CDC's Gun Research
- Administration News 1
- Medicare Advisers Say 'Donut Hole' Changes To Part D Program Could Lead To Spike In Costs For Everyone But Insurers
- Health IT 2
- In 'Promising' Study Apple Watch Did Detect Heart-Rhythm Disorder In Some, But False Alarms Show 'We Have A Ways To Go'
- Electronic Consults With Specialist Doctor Can Free Up Capacity In Crowded Health Systems
- Quality 1
- Procedure To Replace Heart Valve That Used To Be Reserved For Old, Sick Patients Can Work In Younger Ones Too
- Public Health 3
- So, Eggs Are Bad Again? New Study Offers Link Between Eggs, Increased Risk Of Heart Disease
- Where Pharma Has Failed To Offer Hope For Alzheimer's Treatment, Medical Devices Have Shown Promise
- The Road To Curing HIV In South Dependent On Tackling Racism, Poverty And Homophobia
- Environmental Health And Storms 1
- Consumer Use Of Popular But Deadly Paint Stripper Banned By EPA--But Advocates Say Agency Should Have Gone Further
- Veterans' Health Care 1
- Hidden Cost Of Immigration Enforcement Battle: Veterans Drug Court Could Become Casualty In Sanctuary City Standoff
- Women’s Health 1
- FDA Orders European Seller Of Online Abortion Pills To Immediately Cease Delivery To U.S. Customers
- Opioid Crisis 1
- Woman Going To Jail Sues For Access To Methadone Treatment: 'I Will Lose Control Of My Addiction... I Will Die.'
- Marketplace 1
- Billionaire-Backed Health Venture 'Haven' May Find Itself Facing Legal Challenges Over Name
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: Advocates Push For Better Health Care Access For Transgender Patients In Md., Va.; Oregon Houses Nearly 400 Foster Children In Institutional Settings
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
KFF Health News Original Stories
Death By 1,000 Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong
The U.S. government claimed that turning American medical charts into electronic records would make health care better, safer and cheaper. Ten years and $36 billion later, the system is an unholy mess. Inside a digital revolution that took a bad turn. (Fred Schulte and Erika Fry, Fortune, )
Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ The Karma Of Cutting Medicare
Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal, Alice Ollstein of Politico and Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss the suggested cuts to health programs in President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, the latest on lawsuits challenging work requirements for Medicaid enrollees and the FDA’s crackdown on e-cigarettes. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week. ( )
Political Cartoon: 'Comeback Tour?'
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Comeback Tour?'" by Mike Luckovich.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
Electonic Health Records Were Supposed To Be A Virtual Magic Bullet
How the EHR
Became such a mes.
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:
As House Dems Assemble Budget, A Health Care Reckoning Is On The Horizon Between Centrists And Progressives
Where to move forward with health care has become a sharply dividing issue with the Democrats. Moderates want to make improvements to the health law, while the left-wing is charging full-tilt toward "Medicare for All." With their budget, Democrats will signal what their health care priorities are, and the road to decide that will likely be far from smooth.
The New York Times:
Democrats Pledged To Lower Health Costs. They Just Haven’t Figured Out How.
No issue animated the Democrats’ 2018 congressional campaigns like health care and the promises to expand access to insurance and to lower costs. But as House Democrats sit down to draft their vision of governance in the coming weeks, lawmakers find themselves badly divided on the issue that delivered their majority. Centrists from swing districts, with the tacit support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, favor incremental moves to shore up the Affordable Care Act and to lower the out-of-pocket costs of prescription drugs and medical care. They are pushing a variety of measures, such as shutting down cheap, short-term insurance plans that do not cover pre-existing medical conditions and allowing people to buy into Medicare at age 50 or 55. (Stolberg and Pear, 3/18)
In other news —
O'Rourke Faces Pressure From Left On 'Medicare For All'
Beto O'Rourke has offered conflicting messages on 'Medicare for all,' drawing fire from progressive activists who accuse him of backing off an idea they say he once supported. The issue has become an important litmus test for those on the party's left and an early question for O'Rourke, who announced his presidential run on Thursday. (Sullivan, 3/117)
Beto O'Rourke Works To Find His Footing On Health Care During Iowa Tour
Beto O'Rourke has long advocated for "universal, guaranteed, high-quality health care for all." But how exactly does he think the country should get there? It is a question that hung over O'Rourke's first few days as a presidential candidate here in this crucial early voting state, where voters and reporters sought more clarity on his approach to arguably the biggest issue in the Democratic primary. (Stivek, 3/17)
Democrats See An Opportunity In Amendment That Has Effectively Put The Kibosh On CDC's Gun Research
Instead of trying to get rid of the Dickey amendment, which effectively halted much of CDC's research into gun violence, Democrats want to change the narrative and deem it a "guardrail" that could help get other funding through a Republican-controlled Senate. “There’s always been a question as to what the Dickey amendment prohibits and allows,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) “If you set up a specific fund, it will be clear about what it allows without having to repeal it.” More news on gun violence looks at the aftermath of the New Zealand shooting and a place in North Carolina that wants to declare itself a "gun sanctuary county."
Dems Shift Strategy For Securing Gun Violence Research Funds
Congressional Democrats are shifting tactics in their effort to secure gun violence research funds for the first time in 23 years by drawing on a decades-old policy initially backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). House Democrats are abandoning their goal of getting rid of the Dickey amendment, a policy rider that’s discouraged federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from studying ways to prevent gun-related deaths. (Hellmann, 3/16)
What The New Zealand Shootings Tell Us About The Rise In Hate Crimes
The New Zealand attack that left dozens dead is shocking, but far from an isolated event amid the growing number of hate crimes against Muslims, advocacy organizations say. The attack appears to be motivated by white supremacy and anti-immigrant ideology and is being investigated as a terrorist attack. (Frazee, 3/15)
Kansas City Star:
NC County Declares Itself A ‘Gun Sanctuary’ With Ordinance
A sparsely populated mountain county in North Carolina has declared itself a “gun sanctuary county” and intends to defy attempts by federal or state government to enforce strict gun control measures. Cherokee County passed the three-page resolution with a slim 3-2 vote, after resolution author Dan Eichenbaum told fellow commissioners that the “first thing dictators do is confiscate guns,” reported the Cherokee Scout. (Price, 3/15)
Medicare Advisers Say 'Donut Hole' Changes To Part D Program Could Lead To Spike In Costs For Everyone But Insurers
MedPAC said that the way Congress made changes to the Medicare Part D program disincentivizes insurers from trying to manage high drug costs because it puts pharma on the hook for a higher percentage of the drugs. In other news, MedPAC advisers are also expected to call on Congress to boost payments to hospitals, and Medicaid advisers will urge lawmakers to rethink cuts to hospitals.
MedPAC Criticizes Congress For ‘Donut Hole’ Changes
Congress’ Medicare advisers are chiding lawmakers for a controversial change they made to the Medicare prescription drug program’s so-called donut hole last year. The group, known as MedPAC, argued in its annual report Friday that the change — which puts drug makers, rather than insurers, on the hook for a higher percentage of the cost of some Medicare drugs — disincentivizes insurance companies from managing high drug costs. (Florko, 3/15)
MedPAC Wants To Boost Medicare Acute-Care Hospital Payments 2.8%
Medicare payment advisors are expected to call on Congress to boost payments to hospitals by 2.8%, with some of the raise going to fund a revamped quality program. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission made the recommendation in its March report to Congress expected to be released on Friday, the executive director of the commission said. It is rare for MedPAC to call for a payment above current law, but the panel was concerned that high-quality hospitals were losing money under Medicare. (King, 3/15)
MACPAC Urges Congress To Retool Medicaid DSH Cuts
Federal Medicaid advisors in their extensive annual report urged Congress to rethink Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts to nudge the money toward hospitals that need it most. The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) recommended that this serve as a step for lawmakers to recalibrate the DSH allotments which now "have little meaningful relationship to measures meant to identify those hospitals most in need." (Luthi, 3/15)
In 'Promising' Study Apple Watch Did Detect Heart-Rhythm Disorder In Some, But False Alarms Show 'We Have A Ways To Go'
A massive study on the effectiveness of Apple's product had mixed results, but many experts find them promising. Still others see a long road ahead for wearable health technology.
The Wall Street Journal:
Apple Watch Has Mixed Results In Big Heart Study
A massive new study found that the pulse sensor in Apple Inc.’s watch helped detect a heart-rhythm disorder in a small number of users but may have caused false alarms for others. The study’s mixed findings hinted at the potential of “wearable” gadgets to detect asymptomatic health conditions in people that might otherwise go unnoticed. But doctors said the potential false positives and other aspects of the study show that people should be cautious about relying on the technology as diagnostic tools. (Loftus, 3/16)
Apple Watch App Could Save Your Life By Detecting Irregular Heartbeat, Study Says
Has a new bar been set for wearable technologies? An Apple Watch may detect heart rate irregularities that subsequent medical tests confirm to be atrial fibrillation, according to preliminary findings from a new study. AFib is often undiagnosed since it might not cause noticeable symptoms, but it contributes to 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations in the United States each year. (Scutti, 3/16)
Major US Study Finds Apple Watch Can Detect Heart Issues
“The results of the Apple Heart Study highlight the potential role that innovative digital technology can play in creating more predictive and preventive health care,” Lloyd Minor, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, said in a statement. (Frazin, 3/16)
Apple Watch: Massive Study Spots Heart Issues, With Limits
“The findings are exciting and encouraging, but clearly there is a lot more to be done,” said Lloyd Minor, dean of Stanford’s medical school. The study could help pave the way for more research into how modern digital tools can help improve health. (Langreth, 3/16)
Giant Study Shows Apple Watch Can Spot Important Heart Rhythm Changes
“The important thing here is that only 0.5 percent of people were getting notified,” said Dr. Marco Perez, an associate professor at Stanford University and one of the lead investigators of the study. “If you look at the young people, it was 0.16 percent. The notification rates are really low. These are needles in a haystack.” (Herper, 3/16)
Next For Apple Watch: A Clinical Trial With J&J To Track Heart Health
Results from a study conducted by Stanford researchers working with Apple showed that using the Apple Watch to detect atrial fibrillation probably won’t cause an epidemic of worrisome diagnoses. But it didn’t really answer most of the questions doctors or consumers have about using the watch in this way. But Apple is taking the next step, teaming with Johnson & Johnson to a conduct a study of 180,000 people over the age of 65 to get a better understanding of the Apple Watch’s impact on health. (Herper, 3/16)
Electronic Consults With Specialist Doctor Can Free Up Capacity In Crowded Health Systems
The first place in the U.S. to adopt an eConsult system, in 2005, was the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Wait times fell, and a large majority of primary care doctors said it improved care. “A safety net system can’t afford to hire enough specialists to meet demand — eConsults get around that problem by increasing access through enhancing efficiency,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, who was director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health when eConsults began there.
The New York Times:
When Email Comes To The Doctor’s Office, Wait Times Decrease
The kind of thing we have done instinctively in our workplaces for two decades — sending a quick email instead of setting up a meeting — has until recently eluded many doctors. Electronic consultations, or eConsults (sometimes called eReferrals), are a growing way for primary care doctors and specialists to communicate with each other securely. They can help patients avoid additional visits to specialists and free up capacity in crowded health systems, reducing waiting times for others. (Frakt, 3/18)
In other health technology news —
Kaiser Health News:
Death By A Thousand Clicks
The pain radiated from the top of Annette Monachelli’s head, and it got worse when she changed positions. It didn’t feel like her usual migraine. The 47-year-old Vermont attorney turned innkeeper visited her local doctor at the Stowe Family Practice twice about the problem in late November 2012, but got little relief. Two months later, Monachelli was dead of a brain aneurysm, a condition that, despite the symptoms and the appointments, had never been tested for or diagnosed until she turned up in the emergency room days before her death. (Schulte and Fry, 3/18)
Two Million Affected By Healthcare Breaches Reported In February
Providers, health plans and their business associates reported 31 data breaches to HHS' Office for Civil Rights in February. All in all, these breaches compromised data from more than 2 million people. That's up more than 500% from the 309,644 people affected by healthcare breaches reported in February 2018. (Cohen, 3/15)
Procedure To Replace Heart Valve That Used To Be Reserved For Old, Sick Patients Can Work In Younger Ones Too
Surgery for certain bad heart valves may soon become a thing of the past. New studies suggest it can often be better to have a new valve placed through a tube into an artery instead. “Is it important? Heck, yes,” said Dr. Robert Lederman, who directs the interventional cardiology research program at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The findings “were remarkable,” he added.
The New York Times:
Tens Of Thousands Of Heart Patients May Not Need Open-Heart Surgery
The operation is a daring one: To replace a failing heart valve, cardiologists insert a replacement through a patient’s groin and thread it all the way to the heart, maneuvering it into the site of the old valve. The procedure, called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), has been reserved mostly for patients so old and sick they might not survive open-heart surgery. Now, two large clinical trials show that TAVR is just as useful in younger, healthier patients. (Kolata, 3/16)
The Associated Press:
Newer Heart Valves May Let More People Avoid Surgery
A decade ago, expandable aortic valves were developed that can be guided to the heart through a catheter into a blood vessel and placed inside the old valve. But they're only used now in people at high or moderate risk of dying from surgery. The new studies tested these valves in people at low risk for the operation, as most patients are, and found them as good or superior to surgical ones. "This is our last frontier" to make these devices a standard of care, said Dr. Joseph Cleveland, a University of Colorado heart surgeon with no role in the studies or ties to the companies that sponsored them. "It's a great thing" for patients to be able to avoid major surgery, he said. (3/16)
The Wall Street Journal:
Smaller Hospitals Press For Chance To Offer Heart-Valve Procedure
TAVR has transformed treatment of certain heart-disease patients by giving them an alternative to open-heart surgery. Many of these patients are too sick to undergo the risks of open-heart surgery; yet patients undergoing TAVR also are at risk of complications, including stroke. To ensure safety, TAVR’s use has been effectively limited to bigger hospitals performing at least 20 of the procedures annually. That is because the federal Medicare health insurance program for the elderly, the biggest payer of TAVR bills in the U.S., has limited reimbursement to hospitals that would perform higher volumes of the procedures. (Loftus, 3/16)
So, Eggs Are Bad Again? New Study Offers Link Between Eggs, Increased Risk Of Heart Disease
But experts say the study doesn't offer enough justification to drop eggs from your diet. Just don't overdo it, scientists say.
The New York Times:
Are Eggs Bad For Your Heart Health? Maybe
Some nutrition experts say eggs are good for you, even though they are high in cholesterol. Others are sure they are bad. A large new study may help resolve at least some of the confusion. The new analysis looked at data from six large prospective studies involving almost 30,000 participants, with an average follow-up of more than 17 years. It found that for each additional 300 milligrams a day of cholesterol in the diet, there was a 17 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease and an 18 percent increased risk of premature death from any cause. (Bakalar, 3/15)
The Associated Press:
Are Eggs Good Or Bad For You? New Research Rekindles Debate
The researchers say the culprit is cholesterol, found in egg yolks and other foods, including shellfish, dairy products and red meat. The study focused on eggs because they're among the most commonly eaten cholesterol-rich foods. They can still be part of a healthy diet, but in smaller quantities than many Americans have gotten used to, the researchers say. U.S. dietary guidelines that eased limits on cholesterol have helped eggs make a comeback. (3/15)
Cholesterol Redux: As Eggs Make A Comeback, New Questions About Health Risks
What we found in this study was that if you consumed two eggs per day, there was a 27 percent increased risk of developing heart disease," says researcher Norrina Allen, an associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University. "It was surprising," Allen says. (Aubrey, 3/16)
In other heart health news —
Heart Guidelines Often Based On Evidence That Falls Short
Doctors turn to professional guidelines to help them identify the latest thinking on appropriate medical treatments, but a study out Friday finds that in the realm of heart disease, most of those guidelines aren't based on the highest level of evidence. A paper in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, that was released online ahead of print, finds that less than 10 percent of cardiovascular guidelines are based on the most carefully conducted scientific studies, known as randomized controlled trials. A lot of the rest are based on much weaker evidence. (Harris, 3/15)
The Wall Street Journal:
New Guidelines Advise Against Aspirin To Prevent Heart Disease
Most healthy people shouldn’t take aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or cardiovascular disease, major heart-health organizations now recommend, saying the risk of serious bleeding outweighs the benefits. Aspirin, the pain reliever, became increasingly used for the purpose of preventing a first heart attack after studies in the 1980s and 1990s showed a benefit. (Loftus, 3/17)
Where Pharma Has Failed To Offer Hope For Alzheimer's Treatment, Medical Devices Have Shown Promise
A new study shows that a combination of lights and buzzing activate cells to start cleaning up the brain of mice who have Alzheimer's, stimulating activity throughout many parts of the brain.
Los Angeles Times:
Light And Sound Stimulus Therapy Generates A Buzz In Alzheimer’s Research World
The often-discouraging search for ways to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease may have flickered to life this week with a bright new idea — and a buzzy new soundtrack as well. In experiments conducted on mice, scientists used light and sound to orchestrate a series of episodes that were marked by an unusual state of electronic synchrony inside the animals’ brains. Prompted by a gently flickering light and a pulsating buzz — both timed to fire 40 times per second — their brains began to hum to the same frequency. The results, published this week in the journal Cell, are already yielding some powerful insights about what may go wrong in Alzheimer’s disease, and how that process might be halted or reversed. (Healy, 3/15)
In other news on dementia and aging —
Diagnosis Of Dementias Other Than Alzheimer's Can Affect Care
In the U.S., older people with dementia are usually told they have Alzheimer's disease.But a range of other brain diseases can also impair thinking, and memory and judgment, according to scientists attending a summit on dementias held Thursday and Friday at the National Institutes of Health. These include strokes, a form of Parkinson's disease, and a disease that damages brain areas that regulate emotion and behavior. (Hamilton, 3/18)
San Francisco Chronicle:
UCSF Study Suggests Novel Treatment For Fending Off Chronic Age-Related Diseases: Moisturizer
University researchers in tandem with the San Francisco Veterans Administration (VA) Health Care System now have reason to believe that inflammation of the skin may further the development of multiple chronic diseases, and one way to help fix the issue is by applying reparative moisturizer. The study's authors write that as skin begins to lose moisture and deteriorate around age 50, it begins to experience a breakdown of the "permeability barrier." (Pereira, 3/15)
The Road To Curing HIV In South Dependent On Tackling Racism, Poverty And Homophobia
Drugs already exist to prevent and contain the virus. But there are formidable social obstacles that have to be conquered before there can be meaningful headway made. In other public health news: depression, having children, terminal illnesses, immunotherapy, Ebola, antibiotics, TV's effect on the aging brain, and more.
Racism, Poverty And Homophobia Are Still Big Obstacles To Ending HIV
Ending HIV transmission in America within the next decade — a stated goal of the Trump Administration — isn't a question of coming up with new medication. The medicines to prevent and treat HIV infections already exist. But the road to eliminating HIV and AIDS runs through the deep South, where racism, poverty, and homophobia can be formidable obstacles to testing and treatment, particularly for black gay men. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in 2017, more than half the new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. were in Southern states, where gay and bisexual black men make up a disproportionate share of people with HIV. (Shapiro and Blanchard, 3/16)
The Washington Post:
Depression May Respond To Exercise
I hear it often: A friend swears that her running practice staves off bouts of low spirits. Another says going to the gym before work keeps him mentally steady. Perhaps you’ve heard similar stories; perhaps you believe it for yourself. Those anecdotes prompt some questions. Is there evidence to support the idea that exercise can have an effect on depression? (Adams, 3/17)
The Washington Post:
Deciding Whether To Have Kids Has Never Been More Complex. Enter Parenthood-Indecision Therapists.
They arrive anxious for an answer. Or maybe, finally, a sense of peace. They arrive because they haven’t been able to resolve the biggest question of their lives: Do I want to be a parent? And so they come to the California therapy practice of Ann Davidman — by plane, by car, by phone — in the hope that the self-titled “motherhood clarity mentor” might deliver an epiphany. Next comes a simple instruction: Write down every fear, every loaded question, every disapproving comment and every panic-inducing headline that has coalesced into a stranglehold of indecision. (Gibson, 3/17)
The New York Times:
Talking To Children About Terminal Illness
“One of the most difficult things we ever have to do is to tell a child he or she has a very serious condition and may not survive it, or that a parent has a condition they may not survive,” said Dr. Alan Stein, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Oxford. Dr. Stein is the senior author on two articles published last week in the British medical journal The Lancet, which suggested guidelines for talking to children about life-threatening illness, one on when the illness is the child’s own and the other on when a parent is ill. (Klass, 3/18)
China Is Reviving A Discredited AIDS Immunotherapy — For Cancer
American surgeon Henry Heimlich is best known for inventing a way to rescue choking victims, but a quarter-century ago, he was vilified for promoting a fringe treatment for AIDS and Lyme disease. Called malarial therapy, it involved injecting patients with the malaria-causing parasite, supposedly to stimulate their immune systems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report saying the procedure “cannot be justified,” and another critic compared its use to the discredited practice of bleeding patients with leeches. Despite the criticism, Heimlich launched trials of the therapy in HIV patients in Mexico and China in the 1990s. Now, the scientist who led the Chinese study is using malarial therapy again — this time to treat cancer patients. And the still-unproven intervention is being hailed in China as a miracle cure. (Qiu, 3/18)
The New York Times:
Ebola Epidemic In Congo Could Last Another Year, C.D.C. Director Warns
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not under control and could continue for another year, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview on Friday. “Let’s not underestimate this outbreak,” he said. (Grady, 3/16)
The New York Times:
Older Americans Are Awash In Antibiotics
Last month, Caryn Isaacs went to see her primary care doctor for her annual Medicare wellness visit. A patient advocate who lives in Manhattan, Ms. Isaacs, 68, felt perfectly fine and expected a clean bill of health. But her doctor, who’d ordered a variety of blood and urine tests, said she had a urinary tract infection and prescribed an antibiotic. “The nurse said, ‘Can you take Cipro?’” Ms. Isaacs recalled. “I didn’t have any reason not to, so I said yes.” (Span, 3/15)
As Parents And Grandparents Age, More And More Millennials Are Family Caregivers
According to a study by the AARP, there are some 40 million people in the United States considered to be family caregivers. Of the 40 million, 1 in 4 are millennials and more than half of those caregivers identify as African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic. (Mendoza, 3/16)
The New York Times:
Can TV Dumb You Down?
Experts generally agree that watching a lot of television is bad for children. Now a new study suggests it may not be very good for adults, either. The British study, in Scientific Reports, included 3,590 people, average age 67, who were free of dementia at the start of the study. All reported their TV watching time at the study’s start. Participants took two tests. One was of verbal memory, in which they were asked to recall, after a short delay, a list of spoken words. (Bakalar, 3/15)
The Wall Street Journal:
No Gym Can Match Her Hula Hoop
Marah Kabaservice jokes that she’s a closet exerciser. You won’t find the 50-year-old nurse practitioner at the gym or in spin class. She finds more motivation hula hooping and doing jumping jacks in the privacy of her home in Rutledge, Tenn., a town near Knoxville. As an unathletic teen, Ms. Kabaservice was turned off from fitness by the forced activities of high school gym class. She flailed through dodgeball, softball, even warm-ups. “I nearly flunked P.E. because I couldn’t run four laps around the track,” she says. “By my 20s, I was a complete slug, smoking a pack of cloves a day.” (Murphy, 3/16)
If Mouth Noise Like Chewing Or Swallowing Drive You Mad, You May Have Misophonia
For 18-year-old high school senior Ellie Rapp of Pittsburg, the sound of her family chewing their dinner can be ... unbearable. "My heart starts to pound. I go one of two ways. I either start to cry or I just get really intensely angry. It's really intense. I mean, it's as if you're going to die," she says. Rapp has been experiencing this reaction to certain noises since she was a toddler. She recalls a ride home from preschool when her mother turned on the radio and started singing, which caused Rapp to scream and cry hysterically. (Fulton, 3/18)
Environmental Health And Storms
Consumer Use Of Popular But Deadly Paint Stripper Banned By EPA--But Advocates Say Agency Should Have Gone Further
The EPA will still allow commercial use of the lethal chemical. The Trump administration “will be partly to blame when the next worker is injured or dies as a result of being exposed to this extremely dangerous chemical,” attorney Melanie Benesh of the Environmental Working Group said.
The New York Times:
E.P.A., Scaling Back Proposed Ban, Plans Limits On Deadly Chemical In Paint Strippers
The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Friday new limits on a lethal chemical found in paint stripping products that has been linked to more than 50 deaths since the 1980s. Chemical safety activists called the plan a significant scaling-back of the ban that the Obama administration had proposed. In 2017 the Obama administration concluded the chemical, methylene chloride, represented an “unreasonable risk” and moved to ban it from commercial as well as consumer use. (Friedman, 3/15)
The Associated Press:
EPA Bans Consumer Use Of Deadly Paint Stripper, In Rare Step
The EPA cited "the acute fatalities that have resulted from exposure to the chemical" and an "unreasonable" risk to consumers. Retail stores have until later this year to remove the product from sale. Many big chains already stopped sale of products with methylene chloride in recent months, amid a campaign led by environmental groups and families of men overcome and killed by fumes from the paint stripper. (3/15)
Hidden Cost Of Immigration Enforcement Battle: Veterans Drug Court Could Become Casualty In Sanctuary City Standoff
The Trump administration in 2017 threatened to withhold law enforcement grants from 29 cities, counties or states it viewed as having “sanctuary” policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration agents. Today, all those jurisdictions have received or been cleared to get the money, except Oregon, which is battling for the funds in federal court. Some of that money is slated for veterans courts that help servicemen and women who are addicted to drugs get help.
The Associated Press:
Veterans Court May Be Collateral Damage In Immigration Fight
Three decades ago, Lori Ann Bourgeois was guarding fighter jets at an air base. After her discharge, she fell into drug addiction. She wound up living on the streets and was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. But on a recent day, the former Air Force Security Police member walked into a Veterans Treatment Court after completing a 90-day residential drug treatment program. Two dozen fellow vets sitting on the courtroom benches applauded. A judge handed Bourgeois a special coin marking the occasion, inscribed with the words "Change Attitude, Change Thinking, Change Behavior." (3/17)
In other veterans' health care news —
The New York Times:
Two Veterans Groups, Left And Right, Join Forces Against The Forever Wars
The relationship began in the most Washington way ever: on the set of C-Span. Will Fischer, then the director of government relations for VoteVets, the liberal political action committee, was tapped to face off with Dan Caldwell, the executive director of the conservative Concerned Veterans for America. It was a continuation of a yearslong and contentious dialogue over veterans issues, including disputes over health care, which candidates care more about matters important to veterans, as well as their dueling views on the nefarious nature of the Republican or Democratic parties. (Steinhauer, 3/16)
In New $122M Building, Seattle VA Hospital Hopes To Push Frontiers Of Medicine For PTSD, Brain Injuries And More
The VA Puget Sound next week will open a $121.6 million building to house researchers and offer mental-health services for some 9,000 veterans. The showcase facility includes vaulted ceilings, sweeping views of the rugged Olympic Mountains and rooftop gardens that collect rainwater for reuse. In a Friday dedication ceremony, VA officials hailed the project as a big step forward in taking care of the region’s veterans. They also set some lofty goals for pushing the frontiers of medicine in traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, prosthetics and other fields. (Bernton, 3/15)
FDA Orders European Seller Of Online Abortion Pills To Immediately Cease Delivery To U.S. Customers
The FDA says the "unapproved new drugs pose an inherent risk to consumers." In other news on abortion: Tennessee judge rebuked for denying a women on house arrest to travel to get an abortion; Indiana takes steps toward allowing nurses and physician assistants to object to playing role in abortion procedure; and Maine governor wants to allow medical professionals besides doctors to be able to provide the service.
Online Abortion Pill Provider Ordered To Cease Delivery By FDA
A European organization that provides doctor-prescribed abortion pills by mail is under order by the US Food and Drug Administration to stop deliveries. The federal agency sent a warning letter to Aid Access this month requesting that it "immediately cease causing the introduction of these violative drugs into U.S. Commerce." "The sale of misbranded and unapproved new drugs poses an inherent risk to consumers who purchase those products," the letter says. "Drugs that have circumvented regulatory safeguards may be contaminated; counterfeit, contain varying amounts of active ingredients, or contain different ingredients altogether." (Ravitz, 3/17)
The Associated Press:
Tennessee Judge Rebuked For Nixing Out-Of-State Abortion
A Tennessee judge has been rebuked for denying the request of a woman on house arrest to travel to Atlanta for an abortion. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the 23-year-old woman was at least 10 weeks pregnant with twins when accepted into General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom's Mental Health Court in February. The woman, who had pleaded guilty to theft and domestic assault, asked for permission to get the abortion last week, while on house arrest. (3/15)
The Associated Press:
Indiana Moves To Expanding Religious Objection To Abortion
Indiana lawmakers are moving closer to allowing nurses, physician assistants and pharmacists to object on religious or other grounds to having any role in an abortion. The Indiana House voted 69-25 on Thursday in favor of the legislation, which would expand the statute for medical professionals who don't want to perform an abortion or participate in any procedure that results in an abortion. That includes prescribing, administering or dispensing an abortion-inducing drug, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. (3/15)
Maine Governor Submits Bill Allowing Medical Professionals Who Aren't Doctors Perform Abortions
Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) submitted a bill to expand the number of medical professionals besides physicians who could perform abortions, The Bangor Daily News reported. The bill was sponsored by House Speaker Sara Gideon (D) Thursday and would allow a physician assistant, an advanced practice registered nurse, certified nurse-midwives or other medical professional to perform the procedure. (Gstalter, 3/16)
And in other women's health news —
The Associated Press:
Maryland House Advances Bill On Trump Family-Planning Rule
Maryland would become the first state to stop participating in a federal family planning program known as Title X due to a new Trump administration rule, under a measure that has advanced in the state's House of Delegates. The House gave the bill preliminary approval Friday. (3/15)
Woman Going To Jail Sues For Access To Methadone Treatment: 'I Will Lose Control Of My Addiction... I Will Die.'
The federal prison does not allow anti-craving medications as ongoing treatment for opioid addiction except for pregnant women, who can take methadone. Meanwhile, Massachusetts advocates want hope to revolutionize the way the criminal justice system treats people who are addicted.
The New York Times:
Methadone Helped Her Quit Heroin. Now She’s Suing U.S. Prisons To Allow The Treatment.
A Massachusetts woman recovering from heroin addiction sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Friday over its policy prohibiting methadone treatment, which she wants to continue when she starts a yearlong sentence next month. Her suit comes four months after a federal judge ordered a county jail outside Boston to let an incoming inmate stay on methadone instead of requiring him to go through forced withdrawal, as was its policy. It adds to growing pressure on the criminal justice system to provide methadone or other evidence-based treatments to the staggering number of inmates with opioid addiction. (Goodnough, 3/15)
Legislators Seek To Bar Judges From Sending Drug Users Who Relapse To Jail
Last summer, the state’s highest court ruled that judges could continue to order jail time for defendants who violate probation by using drugs, dismaying public health advocates and addiction specialists who had hoped to revolutionize the way the criminal justice system treats people with substance use disorders. Now, they are asking the Legislature to do what the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would not: Prevent courts from incarcerating defendants who are in treatment and fail a mandatory drug test while on probation. (Cramer, 3/17)
In other news on the crisis —
Will Fewer Opioid Prescriptions Help Kick The Crisis?
Doctors are less likely to write first-time opioid prescriptions to patients than they were nearly seven years ago, a recent study suggests. The data offers a rare glimmer of good news in the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis, but it’s unclear whether this shift in physician practice could help lower historic rates of fatal drug overdoses nationwide. (Santhanam, 3/15)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Pennsylvania Opioid Cases Are Bottled Up In Delaware County, And Some Want Out
In the 18 months since Delaware County became the first county in Pennsylvania to sue opioid makers, it has become the statewide center for litigation against the manufacturers and distributors of opioids. More than 40 suits across the state – including complaints filed by Philadelphia city government and District Attorney Larry Krasner – have been corralled in the county courthouse in Media, where litigants didn’t have a digital system to file documents until mid-2018. (Dunn, 3/17)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
$200M Proposed For Opioid Addiction, Mental Health: Gov. Mike DeWine’s Budget
Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday he wants the state to spend $200 million on new initiatives aimed at addiction and mental health. Around 13 people in Ohio die a day from drug overdoses, as the state’s opioid epidemic rages on. (Hancock, 3/15)
Billionaire-Backed Health Venture 'Haven' May Find Itself Facing Legal Challenges Over Name
There are already dozens of companies named "Haven," with a large handful that deliver or facilitate health services. “It seems very risky to me,” said Jonathan Bell, managing director of Want Branding, a firm that advises companies on name selection. In other health industry news: health savings accounts, hospitals' religious policies, cost disclosures, and minimum wage increases.
What's In A Name? For Haven, Maybe Another Legal Fight
By naming their company Haven, leaders of the health venture formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. sought to create a brand unlike anything else in American medicine — a business uniquely capable of sheltering customers from insurance hassles and unreasonable costs. There’s just one hitch: Dozens of other companies already use the same name, including a large handful that deliver or facilitate health services, according to a review of registrations on file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. (Ross and Sheridan, 3/18)
The New York Times:
Health Savings Accounts Can Reduce Tax Bills. But Beware The Paperwork.
At this time of year, many people are looking for ways to reduce their tax bills. One option may be to make a contribution to a health savings account. You can still make contributions for the 2018 tax year to an H.S.A. until the federal tax filing deadline in April, if you qualify. “It’s not too late to save on your 2018 taxes,” said Todd Berkley, vice president of BenefitWallet, a division of Conduent that manages H.S.A.s and other employee benefits. “Most people don’t know that.” (Carrns, 3/15)
Most Catholic Hospitals Don't Disclose Religious Care Restrictions
A large majority of U.S. Catholic hospitals do not disclose on their websites that they have religious policies limiting the types of reproductive and end-of-life services offered at their facilities and by their affiliated physicians, a new study found. Only 28% of 646 Catholic hospitals listed in the Catholic Health Association's directory specified how their religious affiliation might influence patient care, according to a new research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Meyer, 3/15)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Hospital Price Lists Not A ‘Silver Bullet,’ But First Step Toward Empowering Patients
Under new federal regulations, hospitals have to post a list of service prices, called chargemasters, on their websites. However, these lists don’t reflect the final costs most patients pay. (Christ, 3/17)
MetroHealth Raising Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour
MetroHealth has raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all employees, effective immediately. The hourly wage increase affects 928 employees, with an average wage increase of 12.1%. Of the affected employees, 203 will have their wages increased to $15 an hour, while the rest will see adjustments above that rate, according to a news release. Employees will see the adjustment in their paycheck next month, which will include the wage increase backdated to Feb. 3. (Coutré, 3/15)
Harvard Pilgrim’s New CEO Seeks To Improve Insurer’s Health
Harvard Pilgrim lost $78.8 million on operations in 2015, $91.3 million in 2016, and $28.3 million in 2017. For last year, the company reported operating income of $70.9 million on revenue of $3.2 billion. That financial turnaround comes as the company appears, at least for the foreseeable future, determined to go it alone. (Dayal McCluskey, 3/17)
State Highlights: Advocates Push For Better Health Care Access For Transgender Patients In Md., Va.; Oregon Houses Nearly 400 Foster Children In Institutional Settings
Media outlets report on news from Maryland, Virginia, Oregon, Connecticut, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Missouri.
The Washington Post:
Transgender Healthcare Gaps Persist In Maryland. These Activists Are Trying To Change That.
For seven years, Kyndra Purnell could find no clinic near her home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that would prescribe the hormones she desperately needed. She was forced to rely on the black market, buying estrogen injections from the few other transgender women she knew in the area. Then, about three years ago, she found Chase Brexton Health Services, a medical provider in Baltimore that offers hormone replacement therapy and other types of health care for the transgender community. But the clinic was more than two hours from Purnell’s home in Ocean City. Still, every three months, she made the drive, taking time off from her full-time job. (Schmidt, 3/17)
Oregon Sends Hundreds Of Foster Kids To Former Jails, Institutions, Not Families
A move to improve the care of foster children relegated to living in hotels has resulted in 25 percent more children removed from their families being housed in institutions such as former juvenile jails, The Oregonian/OregonLive has found. The children being sent to cinderblock facilities are often the most traumatized and difficult to care for. Most are teens but the state is looking at expanding institutional programs for children as young as six. (Borrud, 3/15)
The CT Mirror:
Family Members Plead For Passage Of Aid-In-Dying Bill
Edwards is one of dozens of Connecticut residents imploring lawmakers to support a bill that would give terminally ill patients access to medication to end their lives. A public hearing on the so-called aid-in-dying legislation is scheduled for Monday at the Legislative Office Building. (Carlesso, 3/18)
Flu Kills Portland Woman, 37, And Unborn Child
A late-season surge of influenza A -- a strain of the flu that has made up about 99 percent of all flu cases this year -- has sickened thousands of people across the country. In Portland, it left two young girls motherless when it killed a 37-year-old woman and her unborn child. ...Pregnancy weakens the immune system so that the mother’s body doesn’t fight off the baby growing inside her. So even though she was immunized for the flu this year, she faced an increase risk. The flu shot this year also has little protection against the strain influenza A, which has contributed to its spread and severity since mid-February. (Harbarger, 3/15)
Colorado Court-Ordered Mental Health Evaluation Dispute Reaches Agreement
The state and disability advocates reached a new agreement Friday in a longstanding legal battle over long waits for court-ordered mental health evaluations and treatment that will create a system of fines to penalize Colorado when it fails to meet deadlines. The consent decree filed Friday ends eight years of legal disputes between the Colorado Department of Human Services and Disability Law Colorado, a nonprofit that in 2011 sued in federal court over wait times. The two parties settled the case the next year but reopened it in 2016 when the state failed to meet the terms of the settlement. (Schmelzer, 3/15)
Imprisoned Texas Women Face Numerous Challenges
Many women who have spent time in the state’s prisons have similar stories. In a survey of over 400 incarcerated women conducted by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition last year, more than half said they didn’t have access to enough pads and tampons each month, and that the quality of products was poor. It’s just one of many issues that make it difficult to be a woman in prison, and one of many that advocates and lawmakers are hoping to address this legislative session. (Marfin, 3/18)
DeWine Calls For Raising Ohio's Legal Age To Buy Cigarettes To 21
Ohio would become the latest state to increase the legal age to buy cigarettes under Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed two-year operating budget. DeWine wants to increase the threshold from 18 to 21 for tobacco products in Ohio. (Siegel, 3/15)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
How Dangerous Is Childbirth In The Philadelphia Area? Here Are The Rates Of Severe Complications.
Every year in this country, about 700 women die during or soon after giving birth, making this the most dangerous nation in the developed world to have a baby. Far more women – 50,000 – narrowly survive childbirth. And women who are poor or African American are at greatest risk of life-threatening complications such as hemorrhage or stroke. (McCullough, 3/18)
More LSU Health Medical Grads Staying In State And Going Into Primary Care
Half of the 181 graduating medical students from LSU Health New Orleans who participated in Match Day this year will remain in Louisiana to finish their training. The National Resident Match Program is a pivotal day in a medical student’s career when the location of their post-graduate medical training is revealed. Applicants across the United States are matched to residency programs with available positions at U.S. teaching hospitals and academic health centers. These results are an indicator to the future of the healthcare workforce, as higher number of physicians end up setting up their practice in states they trained in. (Clark, 3/15)
Senior Who Refuses Chickenpox Vaccine Sues NKY Health Department
An 18-year-old Catholic high school student who has not been vaccinated against chickenpox filed a lawsuit this past week against the Northern Kentucky Health Department. Jerome Kunkel, a senior at Assumption Academy in Walton, claims health officials violated his freedom of religion and other rights by ordering students without the vaccine to not attend school or extracurricular activities. (Londberg, 3/16)
This Year's Flu Season May Be Winding Down
The Georgia Department of Public Health said 4.2 percent of patient visits to doctors were for the flu during the week ending March 9. That’s the same percent of visits during the week before, according to the most recent report released on Friday. (Oliviero, 3/15)
Patient On Ventilator Cannot Find Florida Nursing Home
Under normal circumstances, a frail elder such as Robinson would transfer to a nearby nursing home. But because Florida’s reimbursement rate for nursing home patients who require ventilators is so low, only two homes in the state were willing to take Robinson. (Miller and Chang, 3/15)
New England Public Radio:
6 Months After Springfield Casino Opens, Gambling Addiction Services Roll Out ... Slowly
Half a year since the opening of the MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, some mental health counselors are seeing an uptick in gambling among clients — though not necessarily an increase in people seeking addiction treatment. The Gandara Center is a mental health clinic in the North End of Springfield, where daytime TV plays continuously in the waiting room. (Brown, 3/18)
The Star Tribune:
With Suicides And ER Visits On The Rise, North Metro Group Forms New Collaboration
Rising numbers of suicides and emergency room visits due to mental health crises are prompting leaders in the north metro to join forces to address the problems. The North Metro Mental Health Roundtable held its first meeting in February, on the hope that greater collaboration among medical providers, law enforcement, social service agencies, homeless shelters and others can reverse some troubling trends. (Olson, 3/16)
The Associated Press:
Puzzling Number Of Men Tied To Ferguson Protests Have Died
Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose. Six deaths, all involving men with connections to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play. Police say there is no evidence the deaths have anything to do with the protests stemming from a white police officer's fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and that only two were homicides with no known link to the protests. (3/17)
Viewpoints: Count The Ways Trump Is Undermining His Own Initiative To End HIV; Harmful Title X Rule Shows Callous Disregard For Patients
Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
The New York Times:
Trump Wants To Eliminate H.I.V. But Some Of His Policies Do The Opposite.
The H.I.V. outbreak in Scott County, Ind., which began in late 2014 and ultimately resulted in some 200 new infections, was almost entirely avoidable. As far back as 2008, health officials had advised the state to implement needle exchange programs in light of growing injection drug use. Those calls went unheeded. By 2011, it was clear that an H.I.V. outbreak was brewing in the region, but elected officials did not change course. Nor did they take other basic steps — like expanding access to evidence-based treatment programs for opioid use disorder, or increasing government funding for H.I.V. testing — that might have brought the problem under control. (3/16)
The Consequences Of X-Ing Out Title X
The Trump administration has made several attempts to disrupt access to family planning and sexual health care and its efforts to fundamentally alter the Title X family planning program put our nation’s poor and low-income populations particularly at risk. By finalizing its harmful Title X rule, the administration is aiming to drastically change the nearly 50-year-old program that facilitates access to free or low-cost, high-quality family planning and sexual health care to millions of women, men and teens who otherwise might go without care. (Clare Coleman, 3/15)
Court Orders Parity Coverage For Mental Health, Addiction Treatment
For far too long, health insurers have been treating people with mental health and substance use disorders like second-class citizens. A federal court recently ruled that this must stop. Employers and regulators, take note. The ruling came in the case of Wit v. United Behavioral Health (UBH). A federal court in Northern California found that UBH, which manages behavioral health services for UnitedHealthcare and other health insurers, rejected the insurance claims of tens of thousands of people seeking mental health and substance use disorder treatment based on defective medical review criteria. In other words, the largest managed behavioral health care company in the country was found liable for protecting its bottom line at the expense of its members. (Former Reps. Patrick J. Kennedy and Jim Ramstad, 3/18)
Georgia's Heartbeat Abortion Bill Is Dangerous For Women Nationwide
Late on Thursday, March 7th, minutes before a key legislative deadline, the Georgia House of Representatives advanced HB 481, which proposes to outlaw nearly all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Now with the bill headed towards the Georgia Senate, women and girls may have to revert to unsafe ways to end their pregnancies if voters and lawmakers don’t act. Given that many women will not even realize they are pregnant prior to six weeks, common sense tells us the bill effectively bans abortion in Georgia. This policy is potentially lethal for women and girls across the state and it goes against medical and public health science. (Laura M. Gaydos, Elizabeth A. Mosely and Subasri Narasimhan, 3/16)
My Abortion Not Your Business, Politicians
The choice belongs to women who desperately want their babies, but cannot, for whatever reason, bring them into this world. It belongs to victims of sexual assault, whose babies were formed under violent circumstances. It belongs to the sister or cousin whose abortion you don’t know about and might not have approved of; for the coworker or friend-of-a-friend who had to drive to another state or borrow money just to get the health care they needed. (Chelsea McIntosh, 3/16)
Preventive Health Is The Key Improving Our Health Outcomes
During the 20th century, America’s commitment to preventive health efforts such as water purification and vaccinations all but eradicated many deadly illnesses and, in the process, extended the average life expectancy by three decades, from 47 years in 1900 to 77 in 1999. The historic success of public health initiatives invites an obvious question. Why in the 21st century do we accept a “sick-care” system that drains our treasure after disease strikes while giving prevention the short shrift? (Ed Greissing, 3/16)
In America, The Process Of Becoming A Doctor Can Prove Fatal
In America, becoming a doctor can prove fatal. Suicide is estimated to be the second leading cause of death among medical residents, after cancer. (In contrast, the leading cause of death in the general population for that age group — 25 to 40 — is trauma.) Suicide statistics for young doctors are difficult to track because many deaths go unreported as such. (Amitha Kalaichandran, 3/15)
The New York Times:
Is Pain A Sensation Or An Emotion?
The United States uses a third of the world’s opioids but a fifth of Americans still say they suffer from chronic pain. The only demonstrable effect of two decades of widespread prescription of opioids has been catastrophic harm. With more than 47,000 Americans dying of opioid overdoses in 2017 and hundreds of thousands more addicted to them, it was recently reported that, for the first time, Americans were more likely to die of opioids than of car accidents. This has forced many to take a step back and ponder the very nature of pain, to understand how best to alleviate it. (Haider Warraich, 3/16)
Liquid Biopsy Research Should Include The Perspectives Of Patients Like Me
Eleven years ago, I was shocked to be diagnosed with advanced lymphoma. To offer an informed second opinion, an oncologist recommended that I have a standard-of-care CT-guided thoracic biopsy. The goal was to collect a tissue sample from one of the nodules on my lung or from the mass in the middle of my chest that an earlier PET scan had detected.I hope I never have to undergo a biopsy like that again. It’s why I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of what are being called liquid biopsies. These are essentially blood tests used to collect a sample of cancer cells or pieces of DNA from them. (Grace Cordovano, 3/18)
The Washington Post:
The World’s Second-Worst Outbreak Of Ebola Is Underway In Congo. Where Is The Concern?
Five years ago, the United States was gripped with fear and awash in news coverage as the worst Ebola outbreak in history spread in West Africa. Today, the world’s second-worst outbreak of the deadly disease is underway in Congo, but most Americans seem unaware or unconcerned. Why such a difference? (Ronald A. Klain, 3/15)
The New York Times:
The Death Of Compassionate Democracy
NASHVILLE — — The 111th General Assembly of Tennessee convened on Jan. 8, and it will disperse on April 26, not a moment too soon. Already, its Republican supermajority has introduced bills that would further weaken lax gun laws, increase campaign-donation limits and undermine a progressive Nashville law passed by public referendum, among other assaults on democracy and good sense. Tennesseans should get down on their knees and thank God for the citizen-legislator model of government, because there’s no telling how much damage these people could do if they met all year. (Margaret Renkl, 3/18)
San Jose Mercury News:
What Rights Should Teens With Anti-Vax Parents Have?
While aggressively fighting vaccine misinformation is key, it will likely take decades to turn the anti-vax cultural tide. This week, New York state introduced legislation allowing teens to vaccinate themselves. Every state that lacks a path to early teen vaccination should follow suit. (Alyssa Burgart, 3/17)