- KFF Health News Original Stories 3
- As Trump Targets Immigrants, Elderly Brace To Lose Caregivers
- Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Health Law Fix Misses The Spending Bill Train
- The Juul’s So Cool, Kids Smoke It In School
- Political Cartoon: 'The Real Thing?'
- Health Law 1
- With Premiums Likely To Spike Just Before Midterms, Lawmakers Are Bracing For Blame Game Battle
- Administration News 3
- Trump Wants Shulkin Out As VA Continues To Be Rocked By Turmoil And Rebellion, Sources Say
- Some Transgender Troops Can Continue To Serve Under Trump's New Policy, But New Recruits Are Banned
- Administration's Focus On High-Skilled Immigration Puts Personal Health Care Services In Jeopardy
- Public Health 3
- Change To Ban On CDC Gun Research 'Meaningless' Without Funding, Researchers Say
- Funds Included In Spending Bill To Fight 'Cataclysmic' Opioid Crisis Not Nearly Enough, Advocates Say
- Public Education Efforts Not Moving The Needle In Fight Against Obesity
- Quality 1
- From Nightmarish Scenarios To Inspirational Moments: Experts Share Stories About Quality Of Care In U.S. System
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: Bill Allowing Family Members To Visit Ill Relatives Makes Strides In States; New N.J. Medical School Aims To Reverse Talent Drain
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
Families and nursing homes say Trump administration policies threaten to drive immigrants away from caring for older and disabled patients, intensifying a shortage in these low-wage jobs. (Melissa Bailey, )
In this episode of KHN’s “What the Health?” Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times discuss the apparent demise of bipartisan legislation aimed at shoring up parts of the Affordable Care Act. They also discuss aggressive new efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists offer their favorite health policy stories of the week. ( )
The teenage smoking sensation appearing on high school campuses across the country is an easy-to-hide, high-nicotine device called the Juul. Educators and health care advocates fear that vulnerable young people may become addicted. (Ana B. Ibarra, )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'The Real Thing?'" by Hilary Price.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
A Fountain Of Youth In Pill Form?
Pill makes mice youthful
Mice lobby for coverage
Pharma smiles with glee.
- Ernest R. Smith
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:
Language on abortion threw a wrench in both sides' plans to add money to stabilize the marketplace into the sweeping spending bill that Congress passed last week. Now they'll have to deal with the potential fallout. Meanwhile, some Americans are opting to take a chance they'll stay healthy over paying astronomical insurance bills.
The Wall Street Journal:
Health-Insurance Premiums Loom As Election Issue
Health-insurance premiums are likely to jump right before the November elections, a result of Congress’s omission of federal money to shore up insurance exchanges from its new spending package. Lawmakers from both parties had pushed to include the funding in the $1.3 trillion spending law signed Friday, but they couldn’t agree on details. A battle has already begun over how to cast the blame for the expected rate increases. Democrats blame GOP lawmakers for the failure of negotiations over the funding, saying Republican leaders demanded the inclusion of abortion restrictions they knew would be unacceptable to Democrats. Republicans say that they negotiated in good faith and that Democrats rejected reasonable rules on abortion. (Armour, 3/25)
Why Some Americans Are Risking It And Skipping Health Insurance
Across America there are thousands of people like the Buchanans, the Owenses and the Bobbies making the same hard decision to go without health insurance, despite the benefits. They’re risking it—betting that they’ve got enough savings, enough of a back-up plan, or enough luck to get them through a twisted knee, a cancer, or a car wreck. Bloomberg is following a dozen of these families this year in an effort to understand the trade-offs when a dollar spent on health insurance can’t be spent on something else. Some are financially comfortable. Others are scraping by. (Tozzi, 3/26)
And in other news —
The Baltimore Sun:
Maryland Lawmakers Set To Do What Congress Can't: Protect Obamacare With Tax On Insurers
Maryland’s Republican governor and Democratic legislature have forged a striking bipartisan proposal to accomplish what Washington has failed to do: stabilize Obamacare. Given the stakes — 150,000 Marylanders potentially losing health insurance in an election year — lawmakers in the General Assembly worked quickly and quietly to try to avert the crisis by agreeing on a new $380 million tax to stabilize the individual insurance market. (Cox and Dance, 3/23)
Obamacare: Bipartisan Push For Health Insurance Fix Unravels In The Senate
No one thought it would be easy to get Democrats and Republicans on board with a plan to stabilize the nation’s volatile health insurance markets. But no one thought those efforts would collapse like this.Months of health-insurance negotiations led by two senators with a track record of producing bipartisan bills ended abruptly last week amid a flurry of finger-pointing and bitter charges by each side that the other was playing politics. (Collins, 3/25)
Kaiser Health News:
Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Health Law Fix Misses The Spending Bill Train
Congress passed a bill to fund much of the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year just hours before its March 23 deadline. But not included in that legislation is a bipartisan bill aimed at stabilizing premiums for individuals who buy their own health insurance. That proposal collapsed in partisan rancor after lawmakers were unable to resolve a fight over abortion and other issues. (3/23)
Speculation over Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin's fate has been simmering for several weeks after a a watchdog report cited inappropriate travel spending. Shulkin has also made waves by accusing those within the agency of trying to undermine him.
The Associated Press:
AP Sources: Trump Plans To Oust Shulkin As VA Secretary
President Donald Trump is planning to oust embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin amid an extraordinary rebellion at the agency and damaging government investigations into his alleged spending abuses, three administration officials told The Associated Press on Sunday. Two officials said an announcement on Shulkin could happen this week, subject to Trump's final decision as the White House hones in on possible replacements to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. (Yen and Thomas, 3/25)
The Washington Post:
Trump May Be Preparing To Make More Administration Personnel Changes
At his coastal resort here, Trump told associates he wants to oust Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax, talked to the president Saturday and then said on television Sunday that Shulkin is “likely to depart the Cabinet very soon.” Ruddy, who speaks to Trump frequently, said on ABC News’ “This Week” that the president thinks the White House is operating “like a smooth machine” and that he has been “perplexed” by news reports of chaos. “He did say that he’s expecting to make one or two major changes to his government very soon,” Ruddy said. (Wagner and Dawsey, 3/25)
Under the new policy, troops who require or have had gender reassignment surgery or those with “gender dysphoria” would be disqualified from service — but with some exceptions. The move was promptly assailed by congressional Democrats and civil rights groups, and legal challenges are all-but certain.
The New York Times:
Trump Approves New Limits On Transgender Troops In The Military
Transgender troops who are currently in the United States military may remain in the ranks, the White House said late Friday, but the Pentagon could require them to serve according to their gender at birth. The policy recommendation that President Trump approved flatly states that “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service.” But it also largely gives the Pentagon the ability to make exceptions where it sees fit. (Cooper and Gibbons-Neff, 3/24)
The Associated Press:
Trump Order Would Ban Most Transgender Troops From Serving
"This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards — including those regarding the use of medical drugs — equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday. The new policy was promptly assailed by congressional Democrats and civil rights groups. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted, "No one with the strength & bravery to serve in the U.S. military should be turned away because of who they are. This hateful ban is purpose-built to humiliate our brave transgender members of the military who serve with honor & dignity." (Thomas, 3/24)
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump Allows Current Transgender Troops But Bans Future Recruits
The administration decision comes amid federal court rulings requiring the Pentagon to maintain a policy of open transgender service. The Justice Department was expected to file at least one motion Friday evening in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington state to argue the court should lift an injunction that prevented the Pentagon from banning transgender service members. The Trump administration faces a number of court orders that require the Pentagon to maintain the previous policy until they are reversed. “DoD will continue to comply with court rulings and continue to assess and retain transgender service members,” said Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman. (Lubold, 3/24)
In 2017, 26 percent of personal care aides and home health aides were foreign born, and as baby boomers age, the demand for workers in the fast-growing field is only going to increase.
The New York Times:
When The Elderly Call For Help, A ‘Chain’ Immigrant Often Answers
Irma Mangayan was lathering and rinsing a 92-year-old woman in Room 413 one recent afternoon when she received a page from another room. An incontinent resident had an accident, and Ms. Mangayan would have to clean it up. Before her shift was over at Belmont Village Senior Living, Ms. Mangayan would hoist women and men into their wheelchairs, escort residents using walkers downstairs to the dining room and then back and perform myriad other tasks that they once could do for themselves. (Jordan, 3/25)
Kaiser Health News:
Trump Immigration Policies Put Immigrant Caregivers And Their Elderly Patients At Risk
After back-to-back, eight-hour shifts at a chiropractor’s office and a rehab center, Nirva arrived outside an elderly woman’s house just in time to help her up the front steps. Nirva took the woman’s arm as she hoisted herself up, one step at a time, taking breaks to ease the pain in her hip. At the top, they stopped for a hug.“Hello, bella,” Nirva said, using the word for “beautiful” in Italian. (Bailey, 3/26)
Despite a measure in the spending bill that will allow the CDC to study the public health risks associated with guns, top appropriators in Congress say they have no interest in funding new research. With no additional funds, public health experts are pessimistic there will be any changes from the supposed victory.
Spending Bill Lets CDC Study Gun Violence; But Researchers Are Skeptical It Will Help
Government health agencies have spent more than two decades shying away from gun violence research, but some say the new spending bill, signed by President Trump on Friday, will change that. That is because, in agency instructions that accompany the bill, there is a sentence noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence. "I think this is a huge victory for our country and our communities and our children. This is one step in many to help stop gun violence in this country," says Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat from the Orlando, Fla., area, where a mass shooting left 49 dead at a gay nightclub in 2016. But researchers who study gun violence are unimpressed. (Greenfieldboyce, 3/23)
Funding Bill Won't Prompt New CDC Gun Research, Experts Say
Public health experts and former CDC officials say that, unless Congress actually appropriates money for that research, no progress will be made. Democrats have frequently railed against the fact that a 1996 amendment has effectively stopped CDC from researching gun violence. The mass shooting at a Florida high school in February reignited the debate in Congress. Democrats had pushed for a full repeal of the so-called Dickey Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funding to promote or advocate for gun control, but Republicans did not agree. (Weixel, 3/25)
Top Appropriators Say They See No Need To Specify Funding For Gun Research
Top appropriators in the House and Senate on Thursday said they are not interested in funding new federal research into the causes of gun violence. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said in separate interviews they don’t see the need to give federal research agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) additional money meant to study the causes of gun violence. (Weixel, 3/22)
Dem Calls For CDC To Immediately Begin Gun Violence Research
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to begin research into gun violence immediately, following a new clarification from Congress. Markey is calling for the research, long a priority for Democrats, after the new government funding legislation passed by Congress included language clarifying that existing restrictions do not prevent the agency from researching the causes of gun violence, only from actively advocating for gun control (Sullivan, 3/23)
The Washington Post:
Tenacious New Gun Researchers Are Determined To Break Cycle Of Mass Shootings
Yifan Zhang was finishing her PhD in biostatistics at Harvard five years ago when news broke of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. As a graduate student from China, specializing in highly technical design of clinical drug trials, she had little connection to America’s long-running debate over gun violence. But even now, she said, the anguished faces of those parents she saw on television remain seared in her memory.So when she heard about a gun-violence research project at Stanford University that could use the statistical skills she had honed on pharmaceuticals, she jumped at the chance. (Wan, 3/24)
The $4.6 billion allocated is a record amount for the government. But, by comparison, the U.S. is spending more than $7 billion annually on discretionary domestic funding on AIDS, an epidemic with a death toll that peaked in 1995 at 43,000. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has directed federal prisons to use one particular treatment that would benefit a single drugmaker in his plan to battle the crisis, and rural areas are struggling because of a dearth of methadone vans.
The Associated Press:
States: Federal Money For Opioid Crisis A Small Step Forward
The federal government will spend a record $4.6 billion this year to fight the nation's deepening opioid crisis, which killed 42,000 Americans in 2016. But some advocates say the funding included in the spending plan the president signed Friday is not nearly enough to establish the kind of treatment system needed to reverse the crisis. A White House report last fall put the cost to the country of the overdose epidemic at more than $500 billion a year. (Mulvihill, 3/25)
Trump Opioid Plan Writes In Favoritism To Vivitrol Over Other Medications
The White House’s national strategy to combat the opioid crisis, unveiled last week, would expand a particular kind of addiction treatment in federal criminal justice settings: a single drug, manufactured by a single company, with mixed views on the evidence regarding its use. Federal prisons should “facilitate naltrexone treatment and access to treatment” to inmates as they transition out of incarceration, according to a fact sheet circulated by the administration. A White House spokesman later confirmed to STAT that the document referred specifically to naltrexone in its injectable form. (Facher, 3/26)
Federal Ban On Methadone Vans Seen As Barrier To Treatment
From California to Vermont, mobile methadone vans have served people with opioid addiction in rural towns and underserved inner-city neighborhoods for nearly three decades. But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which regulates dispensing of the FDA-approved addiction medicine, has refused to license any new methadone vans since 2007 over concerns about potential diversion of the medication. Now, in an unrelenting opioid epidemic that is killing more than a hundred Americans every day, some state and local addiction agencies are asking the federal government to lift its moratorium as quickly as possible. (Vestal, 3/23)
And in other news on the epidemic —
Penny-Per-Pill Fee To Combat Opioid Crisis Pulled From House Bill
The sponsor of a House bill to boost Minnesota’s fight against opioid abuse has stripped a penny-per-pill fee from the plan in hopes of keeping the legislation alive. State Rep. Dave Baker, a Republican from Wilmar whose son Dan died of a drug overdose, has been a strong advocate of such a fee on prescription opioids to help battle the growing problem of overdoses. (Magan, 3/23)
Opioid Shortages Leave Minnesota Hospitals Looking For Alternatives
Hospitals across Minnesota have been scrambling to cope with a nationwide shortage of injectable opioid painkillers. “The supply is just inconsistent,” said Gina Lemke, pharmacy director at St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth. “We can’t place an order and trust that it’s going to arrive.” Given the effort to cut down on the number of opioids that are prescribed, it may seem ironic that there’s a shortage of some opioids used in an injectable form. But in that setting, opioids still perform a needed function, pharmacists say. (Lundy, 3/23)
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Louisiana House To Consider Bill Helping Infants Born Addicted To Opioids
The youngest victims of the opioid epidemic in Louisiana could be helped by a proposal headed for a full vote at the House of Representatives on March 29. Authored by Sen. Walt Leger, HB 658 proposes the creation of a neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) pilot project within the state's Department of Health. Infants born with this condition often experience withdrawal after birth, resulting in side effects such as sweating, trembling, vomiting, seizures and trouble sleeping. The project aims to establish a multi-disciplinary team within the department that will guide best treatment options for babies born in withdrawal from opiates. (Clark, 3/24)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Federal Funding Boost For Opioid Crisis Not Nearly Enough, Critics Say
The federal government will spend a record $4.6 billion this year to fight the nation’s deepening opioid crisis, which killed 42,000 Americans in 2016. But some advocates say the funding included in the spending plan the president signed Friday is not nearly enough to establish the kind of treatment system needed to reverse the crisis. (Mulvihill, 3/25)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Research, Jobs Among Opioid Crisis Solutions Touted In Ohio
Days after President Donald Trump announced he wanted tougher penalties for drug dealers and stronger border protection, two Trump administration officials announced new federal money for addiction research and job training for people affected by the opioid crisis and those working in mental health and addiction services. Meanwhile, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine touted the benefits of chiropractic care and alternative therapies to manage pain. (Borchardt, 3/23)
“Most people know that being overweight or obese is unhealthy, and if you eat too much that contributes to being overweight,” said Dr. James Krieger. “But just telling people there’s a problem doesn’t solve it.” In other public health news: why certain people don't get sick, baby talk, birth control apps, suicide, and worker death.
The New York Times:
American Adults Just Keep Getting Fatter
American adults continue to put on the pounds. New data shows that nearly 40 percent of them were obese in 2015 and 2016, a sharp increase from a decade earlier, federal health officials reported Friday. The prevalence of severe obesity in American adults is also rising, heightening their risks of developing heart disease, diabetes and various cancers. According to the latest data, published Friday in JAMA, 7.7 percent of American adults were severely obese in the same period. (Richtel and Jacobs, 3/23)
The Wall Street Journal:
Why Do Some People Get Sick Less Often?
You know who you are: the person who had perfect attendance, the one who never gets the nasty cold going around the office. Some people seem to be immune to whatever’s taking hold of their friends and neighbors, while others move from one bout of cold to another with little reprieve. Two experts, Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and Robert Atmar, a professor of medicine in the Section of Infectious Diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, explain how your family’s home ownership during early childhood may come into play and why loners may fare worse. (Mitchell, 3/24)
The Washington Post:
Why It's Good To Talk 'Baby Talk' To Your Child
All around the world, parents talk differently to babies than they do to adults. With their young kids, parents switch into a mode of communication known to linguists as “motherese” or infant-directed speech, and known more commonly as baby talk, a form of speech featuring long pauses and a roller coaster of pitch changes. For example, picture the upward swing in pitch that our voices take toward the end of a question (“Do you want to go to the park today?”): It’s much more dramatic when we address young children than adults. (Piazza, 3/25)
Apps Selling Prescription Birth Control Do Well In 'Contraception Deserts'
Rachel Ralph works long hours at an accounting firm in Oakland, Calif., and coordinates much of her life via the apps on her phone. So when she first heard several months ago that she could order her usual brand of birth control pills via an app, and have them delivered to her doorstep in a day or two, it seemed perfect. She was working 12-hour days. "Food was delivered, dinner was often delivered," Ralph says. "Anything I could get sent to my house with little effort — the better." (McClurg and Lopez, 3/26)
The Washington Post:
Wellness Is Made Easier With Some Simple Tips
What’s wellness?Sure, it involves your physical form and your ability to deal with disease and other challenges. But wellness also has a lot to do with how you approach the world. Your relationships, your physical surroundings and your habits all affect your body and mind. (Blakemore, 3/25)
As Youth Suicides Rise, How Can You Help Your Kids?
Although state data on the deaths of Ohioans in 2017 is still incomplete, the department has recorded 111 suicides of young Ohioans during the year. That’s the most in any year since at least 2007, the earliest for which data is available in the department’s online data warehouse. (Viviano, 3/25)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Worker Death, Serious Injury Would Be A Felony Under Baldwin Bill
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and five other lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday to beef up punishment for companies and their leaders that knowingly commit violations resulting in worker deaths or severe injuries. Citing dangerous conditions at a chain of barrel reconditioning plants, Baldwin said the bill would give the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration stronger tools to go after offenders and extend its jurisdiction to government workers and others currently not covered by OSHA. (Diedrich, 3/23)
The experts talk with Modern Healthcare about the quality and safety of patient care in the country. “Are we better? Yeah, no question,” said Dr. Brent James, former chief quality officer at Intermountain Healthcare. “Are we as good as we can be? Not nearly."
No One Is Free From Harm: Quality And Safety Stories From Healthcare Industry Experts
Many people have harrowing stories to tell about their encounters with the U.S. healthcare system, involving issues of quality, safety or cost. That’s particularly true for physicians and other healthcare insiders, who can spot problems that a layman might miss.“Every health policy person, especially doctors, has a story or multiple stories to tell,” says Dr. Robert Berenson, a fellow at the Urban Institute and former member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. (Meyer, 3/24)
Media outlets report on news from New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Texas, California, Florida, Colorado, Ohio, Nebraska, Arizona, Wyoming and Missouri.
Family Members Fight For Right To Visit Ailing Relatives
Experiences like [Toby] Davidow’s have prompted at least 11 states to enact laws that would provide a legal remedy, besides seeking guardianship, which can be costly and complicated, for relatives who have been prevented from seeing infirm or disabled family members. Under the laws, relatives can seek a court order permitting visitation and communication. The order must be granted, unless the ailing relative is found to be mentally competent and objects to contact. (Ollove, 3/26)
The Wall Street Journal:
New Jersey Venture Aims To Stop ‘Exodus’ Of Medical Students
Years in the making, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University is finally ready for students. The school, located at the former Hoffmann-La Roche campus in Nutley, N.J., is a joint venture of Seton Hall University and Hackensack Meridian Health. The college began accepting applications this week for its first class of 55 students, who will begin studies this July. (West, 3/24)
Texas Wants Back Family Planning Funds It Lost Under Obama For Defunding Planned Parenthood
Texas is asking for federal family planning funding to be returned to the state five years after it was pulled by the Obama administration for defunding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. In a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked HHS to reverse the Obama administration's exclusion of Texas from the Title X family planning grant program, which helps fund reproductive health care services for low-income women. (Hellmann, 3/23)
CA Assembly Pitches Alternative To Single-Payer Health Care
California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is refusing to advance this year a controversial single-payer health care bill that would dramatically reshape the state's health care financing and delivery system. Instead, he's orchestrating an alternative, narrower approach that seeks to achieve universal coverage and make Obamacare more affordable. (Hart and Luna, 3/26)
Experts Praise Centralizing Health System Control
When it comes to health system governing boards, for the most part, experts agree: Less is more. It's an important message for the hospital industry, which has been slow to shed its bureaucratic layers. Industry gurus praised St. Joseph Health's recent move to strip key decision making authority from four California hospital boards and shift that control to a regional board, saying it aligns with a governance style that keeps health systems nimble and efficient, even as they add new hospitals. (Bannow, 3/24)
Tampa Bay Times:
Should Florida Law Require School Kids To Get The HPV Vaccine?
A bill called the "Women’s Cancer Prevention Act" would have required children entering Florida public schools to receive the vaccine that protects against cervical and other cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. While it didn’t get much traction in the Capitol this time around, the bill is likely to pop up again next year as other states begin to pass and consider similar legislation. (Griffin, 3/26)
Uber Is Taking A Larger Role In Transporting People To Colorado Hospitals. Does That Promote Inequality?
But people who can’t afford the ride, who don’t use a smartphone or who require specially equipped vehicles are often left out — even though they form the group most in need of transportation help. Advocates for those with disabilities argue that the disparity violates the law. Uber has been sued at least twice nationwide over accessibility. ...There are other medical transportation services in Colorado — the Regional Transportation District offers one, and there are others available to people who qualify for Medicaid — but those services need to be scheduled well in advance and aren’t as conveniently on-demand. In lieu of better options, patients sometimes call for expensive ambulance rides, even if it’s not an emergency. (Ingold, 3/23)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Cleveland Officials To Place Signs On Homes With Lead Hazards Starting April 2
Cleveland officials will begin posting warning signs on homes with lingering lead hazards and where children have been poisoned. The signs, known as home placards, are mandated by Ohio law and will begin April 2. (Madden, 3/26)
More States Move To End 'Tampon Tax' That's Seen As Discriminating Against Women
So far, nine states have exempted menstrual products from their sales tax, and seven have introduced legislation aimed at doing the same. Three of the seven — Nebraska, Virginia and Arizona — introduced their legislation this year. (Sagner, 3/25)
Wyoming Public Radio:
Special Education Funding Cap Sets Hard Deadline For Innovations
In an effort to curb the rising costs of K-12 education, the state legislature voted to cap spending on special education during the 2018 Budget Session. Lawmakers also directed the Wyoming Department of Education to come up with efficiencies. While educators agree there’s room for improvements, they say Wyoming’s rural nature complicates things. (Watson, 3/23)
St. Louis Public Radio:
Inside the Workhouse: Conditions, Treatment And Time Served Remain Under Scrutiny
St. Louis public safety officials want city residents to know people jailed at the St. Louis Medium Security Institution are treated humanely despite allegations to the contrary. In March, the mayor’s spokesman invited reporters to tour the jail — commonly known as the Workhouse — after weeks of requests for access from local press. (Lisenby, 3/26)
Chicago Sun Times:
Synthetic Pot Linked To Several Cases Of Severe Bleeding In NE Illinois
State public health officials have linked synthetic marijuana to four cases of severe bleeding that have been reported this month in northeast Illinois. The first case was reported to the Illinois Poison Center on March 10, according to a statement released Friday by the Illinois Department of Public Health. In total, the “unusual cluster of cases” has left four people hospitalized. Each person has suffered severe bleeding from a condition that reduces the blood’s ability to clot. (Schuba, 3/24)
Opinion writers expressed views on the public health crisis caused by gun violence.
NRA Created The March For Our Lives That Now Threatens It
You had to be there. As Americans took to the streets Saturday, defying a political order that, in Washington and many state capitals, has allowed extremists to write gun laws, the bodies -- of both the dead and the living who marched in their honor -- mattered a lot. Hundreds of thousands in cities big and small showed up. It was an extraordinary coming-out party for a movement that is now, at long last, undeniably mass. ...The confluence of those forces -- opposing sexism, racism, corruption -- into the March for Our Lives is only the latest confirmation of how spectacularly the National Rifle Association has gone awry. As one handwritten poster in Los Angeles, drawing on the slogan against sexist exploitation in Hollywood, stated: “Hey NRA Time’s Up.” (Francis Wilkinson, 3/24)
Anti-Gun Marches Were A Triumph Of Passion And Commitment, However Advocates Need To Take The Long View
They made the case in Washington, D.C, in Miami, in New York, in Buenos Aires and in scores of other cities. At the March for Our Lives, Saturday, they spoke as one: “Enough is enough.” ...And, of course, Emma Gonzalez, the dominant face and voice of what fellow students are calling “the revolution” demonstrated the enormous eloquence of not speaking at all. Her six minutes and 20 seconds of silence were riveting. (3/25)
The March For Our Lives Is A Worthy Cause
The U.S. loses more than 30,000 people to gun violence each year not because Americans are uniquely bad people, but because America has uniquely flawed laws. Other nations -- America's peers around the world -- have laws that elevate human beings over guns. Today, in towns and cities across the U.S., Americans will march with the goal of bringing their own laws, which render life cheap and tragedy abundant, better in line with their values. (3/24)
The Washington Post:
The March Of The Hope-Mongers
For several hours on Saturday, cynicism was banned from the streets of what on many days seems to be the most cynical city in the world. Throngs estimated to number up to 800,000 gathered because a group of determined, organized, eloquent and extremely shrewd high school students asked them to come, and because too many Americans have been killed by guns. Suddenly, hope-mongers were stalking the nation’s capital. They believed, against so much past evidence, that the National Rifle Association could be routed. (E.J. Dionne Jr. , 3/25)
Detroit Free Press:
What If TV News Showed The Truth About What Guns Do?
Perhaps, after the next massacre — following the “thoughts and prayers,” of course — some television network should have the guts to show the reality that ( Rick) Sanchez described. Show the blood, brains, guts and gore. Let honest video tell the truth about our routine human slaughters. Just the facts, ma’am. (Joe Lapointe, 3/25)
March For Our Lives Shows The Power Of Youth Activism
On Saturday, students from the Florida high school that was the scene of a mass shooting in February inspired more than 800 “March for Our Lives” rallies demanding better gun laws. The marches came on the heels of national school walkouts organized by students on March 14. Of course, Americans have been talking about the need for gun reform for a very, very long time. But the way young people have now taken the lead, demanding that the shooting result in change and creating a playbook for other kids to copy, is likely to finally force lawmakers to take action. (Kara Alaimo, 3/26)
Ban Assault Weapons? That Won't Stop School Violence, But This Will
Gunmen who shoot up “gun-free zones” have radically different backgrounds and motivations from those who engage in other forms of gun violence. A full-spectrum approach is required, addressing not only guns, but several other factors. (Jon Gabriel, 3/24)
The Arizona Republic:
March For Our Lives Generation Will Make Gun Control A Reality
At its core, the nationwide March for Our Lives campaign is an anti-war movement. It’s trying to put an end to a war we’ve been waging — and continue to wage — against ourselves. Whenever there are large public demonstrations, such as this weekend’s student-led March for Our Lives protests, we ask ourselves whether they represent the beginning of something big, or the end. Are the protests simply a noisy expression of our exasperation over gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and all the others, or are they the first step in what could be a long, bipartisan legislative process over gun laws? (EJ Montini, 3/25)
Editorial pages focus on these health topics and others.
The New York Times:
An Ohio Bill Would Ban All Abortions. It’s Part Of A Bigger Plan.
While Donald Trump once said he was “very pro-choice,” since the start of his presidential campaign his stance on abortion has been consistent: It should be banned, no matter the consequences to women. At times, he has even veered to the right of the mainstream anti-abortion movement, as when he said during a primary season town hall event that women who seek abortions should face “some form of punishment.” Most anti-abortion politicians profess to want to protect women, even when they pass laws that harm them. Now legislators in one state want Mr. Trump’s cruel vision to become reality. Ohio lawmakers have proposed legislation to ban all abortions, period, with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest or to save a woman’s life. (3/25)
As Voters Lead On Medicaid, Health Care Could Be The Next Gay Marriage
Since the day Donald Trump took office, he and Republicans in Congress have had government health care programs like Medicaid in their sights. And reactions across the country, highlighted by recent special elections in Pennsylvania and Alabama, suggest this is backfiring in a spectacular way. Their policies are so out of line with public thinking that the more they push them, the higher the likelihood that they put the country on an inevitable path to Medicaid, Medicare or some other health care plan that is ubiquitous and available to all. (Andy Slavitt and Jonathan Schleifer, 3/26)
The New York Times:
Why It’s So Hard To Reform Canadian Health Care
Too many Canadians and Americans are negatively fixated on each other’s health systems — and the distortions that accompany so many conversations about health reform make it harder to improve care on both sides of the border. Canadians staunchly support our universal health care system, according to polls over many years. We live longer, healthier lives than Americans, and our survival rates for cancer and other diseases are comparable. The father of universal health coverage in Canada, Tommy Douglas, is considered a national hero. (Danielle Martin, 3/23)
Small Businesses Hurt From Trump's Health-Care Sabotage
Though the ACA has been far from perfect for small business owners since it was signed eight years ago, it did offer stable, single-digit increases in premiums from year to year. But for more than a year, President Trump and his Republican allies have been actively sabotaging our health-care system. After repeatedly failing to repeal and replace the ACA in the face of overwhelming public opposition, they’ve instead resorted to dismantling our health care piece by piece. (Amanda Ballantyne, 3/25)
It's Time To Close The Health Care Gap In Virginia
Virginia lawmakers have an opportunity to adopt a health-care coverage plan with conservative reforms that help people and give them a stake in their own success. It’s a deal they should make. (Bill Bolling, 3/24)
The New York Times:
What We Know (And Don’t Know) About How To Lose Weight
The endless array of diets that claim to help you shed pounds tend to fall into two camps: low fat or low carbohydrate. Some companies even claim that genetics can tell us which diet is better for which people. A rigorous recent study sought to settle the debate, and it had results to disappoint both camps. On the hopeful side, as The New York Times noted, people managed to lose weight no matter which of the two diets they followed. The study is worth a closer look to see what it did and did not prove. (Aaron E. Carroll, 3/26)
The Wall Street Journal:
What’s A Single Mom To Do During A Week In The Hospital?
Eleven days after the birth of her daughter last September, Charlotte—who asked me not to use her last name—began to have complications from pre-eclampsia, a serious pregnancy-related disorder that causes high blood pressure. She had to be readmitted to the hospital for almost a week. But as a recent immigrant from Senegal with no family or friends living nearby, she did not know what to do with her new baby. If no one was available, she feared child protective services would take the girl into custody. (Naomi Schaefer Riley, 3/23)
Don't Make Women Choose Between A Job Or Pregnancy
To be sure, not every pregnant woman will be able to work up until her due date, but if we do not at least have laws on the books encouraging pregnant women to safely stay in the labor force, then we are inviting injuries on the job, serious health risks to both mother and baby, and increased state spending on things like public benefits. For these reasons, I urge our legislators to vote on and pass the Kentucky Pregnant Workers’ Rights Act, so that no other woman in Kentucky has to go through what I did. (Lyndi Trischler, 3/23)
Georgia Health News:
Legislators Have Chance To Rein In Excesses Of Step Therapy
Georgia has an opportunity this legislative session to cut through the secretive red tape surrounding insurance practices and ensure that the sickest and most vulnerable among us have the care they need. House Bill 519, which unanimously passed the state House this session and is also pending as Senate Bill 325, would limit step therapy – also known as “fail first” – protocols, whereby patients are forced by their insurance providers to try and fail on a series of treatments before they can obtain the medication prescribed by their physician. (Dorothy Leone-Glasser, 3/25)
Kentucky Should Help Imprisoned Mothers, Pregnant Inmates Through The 'Dignity Bill'
In the midst of a tumultuous, partisan and often disappointing legislative session here in Kentucky, one bill has persevered that could offer some hope to our most vulnerable, and often forgotten citizens: incarcerated mothers and their babies. Kentucky is facing an epidemic of incarcerated women, many of whom are pregnant, struggling with addiction, or suffering from a trauma that led them down the wrong path. I filed Senate Bill 133, now dubbed the “Dignity Bill,” to specifically address these important issues. (Julie Raque Adams, 3/23)
California Values All People — Until They Need Housing
Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, has introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 2925, that would begin to address this by requiring landlords to show “just cause” before terminating anyone’s lease. His team is still working on the language, but it would create a set of valid reasons, such as failing to pay rent, that would have to be used as justification. It's a modest bill that, if nothing else, would add a layer of transparency to what is often a murky rental process, with tenants not understanding their rights. (Erika Smith, 3/25)
Congress Must Lead On Cannabis Reform And Stand With The American Public
I was dismayed to see Attorney General Jeff Sessions (AG) recently rescind the Cole Memo, a United States Department of Justice (DOJ) document providing guidelines to United States attorneys in states that have chosen to legalize cannabis. This memo provided protection to states whose voters and duly elected legislatures have legalized some form of marijuana use. While I may not be in favor unfettered adult use for individuals over 21 years of age, I am a strong supporter of medical marijuana. Numerous friends and acquaintances benefit from the medicinal properties and pain relief provided by cannabis. I favor state-based access to medical marijuana from both a philosophical and policy standpoint. I also support the reform of our federal cannabis laws to bring conformity to federal regulations and state laws. (Michael Steele, 3/23)
The Wall Street Journal:
California’s experiment in marijuana legalization is spurring some radical thinking on the political left. Lo, high taxes and over-regulation are bad for the economy—or at least the pot economy.Golden State voters in 2016 legalized recreational marijuana on the promise that this would reduce the black market. While marijuana remains a banned substance under federal law, nine states including Washington, Nevada, Oregon and Colorado have legalized consumption and production within their borders. Many are still struggling to draw cannabis businesses out of the shadows, none as much as California. Less than 1% of the state’s 68,150 marijuana cultivators had obtained licenses as of last month, according to a recent report by the California Growers Association. The problem turns out to be the heavy hand of the state. “The incredible volume of regulation is part of the issue,” the report notes, adding that “consultants and attorneys are often a major cost for small businesses.” (3/23)
Arizona Pension Fund Could Cost You A Lot More Without This Fix
From the beginning, the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System has been doing exactly that concerning a serious problem that is not getting the attention it deserves — the financial crash facing Arizona’s Elected Officials Retirement Plan, also known as EORP. As chairman of the PSPRS Board of Trustees, let me again be clear in addressing this looming crisis: Unless the Legislature takes action, EORP will go broke within nine years. (Brian Tobin, 3/23)