- KFF Health News Original Stories 1
- Seniors Steamed Over Cuts To SilverSneakers Fitness Program
- Political Cartoon: 'Nerves Of Steel?'
- Government Policy 1
- HHS Says Reporting 'Inaccurate' About Potential Changes To Fetal Tissue Research Funding For UCSF
- Marketplace 3
- Hospitals Serving The Sickest And Poorest Patients Worry About New Federal Ratings
- Nearly A Third Of Physicians Working In U.S. Born Abroad, Analysis Of Health Workers Finds
- Debt, 'Ballooning' Rents Lead Texas' Biggest Nursing Home Provider To File For Bankruptcy
- Public Health 3
- Some Of Most Vulnerable Slip Through N.Y. Program That Helps Those With Mental Illness Live Independently
- Shackling Women Prisoners During Childbirth Could Be Outlawed In New Federal Legislation
- Flu Shot Still Left Off To-Do List For 40 Percent Of Adults Even After Last Year's Deadly Season
- Opioid Crisis 1
- In Wake Of Opioid Epidemic, Missouri Governor Urges Passage Of Database Monitoring Bill To Identify People At Risk
- Women’s Health 1
- USC Gynecologist Charged With Sexual Abuse Is Now Center Of Grand Jury Investigation
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: Concerns In Oregon About Housing For People With Mental Illness; Faith Community In Indiana Pushes Universal Health Care
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
KFF Health News Original Stories
Seniors Steamed Over Cuts To SilverSneakers Fitness Program
UnitedHealthcare has put the skids on offering SilverSneakers, the nation’s fitness program for seniors, as part of its benefit packages. A look at why and some alternatives. (Judith Graham, )
Political Cartoon: 'Nerves Of Steel?'
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Nerves Of Steel?'" by John Deering from "Strange Brew".
Here's today's health policy haiku:
A SAFEGUARD FOR SENIORS
This watch tells more than
Just time. It warns when Grandma
Is at risk of falls.
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:
Sen. Manchin Presses Trump To Support Senate Compromise To Help Stabilize ACA Markets
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) last year reached an agreement aimed at reducing Affordable Care Act premiums, but the deal faltered amid a dispute over restrictions on funding going to abortions. Manchin, a moderate Democrat, wants to revive the deal. Also, officials in Minnesota are concerned that the Trump administration may change a funding formula for a reinsurance program that has helped reduce premiums there.
Manchin Pitched Trump On Reviving Bipartisan ObamaCare Fix
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pitched President Trump on reviving a bipartisan fix to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when the two had lunch on Monday. “I said he's the one who can make a difference,” Manchin told reporters on Wednesday, describing his message on health care in his meeting with the president. “We already have a bipartisan agreement. If he signs onto it, it would be great.” (Sullivan, 12/5)
The Star Tribune:
Federal Government Reduces Estimate For Minnesota's Reinsurance Funding
State lawmakers raised alarm Wednesday over a reduced estimate on federal funding for the state’s reinsurance program, which has helped stabilize premiums in the market where individuals buy health insurance. The change has no impact on the current program, which is helping slow the rate of growth in premiums for 2018 and 2019. But it sets the stage for a debate in the Legislature about whether to extend the reinsurance program to 2020 and beyond. (Snowbeck, 12/5)
HHS Says Reporting 'Inaccurate' About Potential Changes To Fetal Tissue Research Funding For UCSF
No decision has been made yet about federal funding for a University of California at San Francisco's research laboratory, the Department of Health and Human Services says about a story yesterday from The Washington Post. The lab in question has been instrumental in testing virtually all HIV therapies subsequently approved by the Food and Drug Administration since the 1990s.
HHS Contradicts Reports On Fetal Tissue Research Contract
Anonymous reporting led to an "inaccurate" story about federal funding of controversial fetal tissue research, the US Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. HHS's National Institutes of Health has made no decision on whether to extend a University of California, San Francisco contract for controversial research involving fetal tissue, said Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for HHS. Her statement contradicts Washington Post reporting Tuesday that the "Trump administration has thrown into doubt a multimillion-dollar research contract" with UCSF to test new treatments for HIV. (Scutti, 12/5)
Hospitals Serving The Sickest And Poorest Patients Worry About New Federal Ratings
A new analysis of preliminary data by Modern Healthcare raises concerns.
New CMS Star Ratings Ignore Socio-Economic Factors
Hospitals with a high percentage of dual-eligible stays do worse than other hospitals in the readmissions category of the CMS star ratings, hurting their overall star rating, according to a Modern Healthcare analysis of CMS data. In the latest preview of the CMS star ratings that will be released on Hospital Compare in February, the agency didn't risk-adjust hospitals by peer groups based on their dual-eligible population as it currently does in the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. (Castellucci, 12/5)
In other hospital and industry news —
The Washington Post:
House Democrats Want More Aggressive Scrutiny Of Health-Care Mergers
Add “hospital consolidation” to the list of health-care problems on which Democrats want to pressure the Trump administration once they take control of the House in January. High drug prices have recently captured much attention in Washington, and will probably be the subject of multiple oversight hearings in Congress next year. But the rapid pace of mergers and acquisitions in the health-care industry is also looming large as health systems consolidate, pushing prices upward and potentially reducing quality of care. (Cunningham, 12/5)
The Washington Post:
Critics Say New Transplant Rules Will Benefit Big City Medical Centers
The organization that controls the distribution of livers for transplant revised its controversial allocation policy for the second time in a year, further limiting transplant centers’ access to organs collected in their areas. The new plan eliminates geographical boundaries drawn years ago that had largely given transplant centers first shot at livers collected from brain-dead donors in hospitals nearby. It moves the liver transplant system farther toward a “sickest-first” model that would send organs to recipients more than 500 miles away if they demonstrate the greatest need. (Bernstein, 12/5)
Memorial Sloan Kettering Business Deals Created A Web Of Conflicts
In forging partnerships with a New Jersey hospital and a data analytics startup, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has created a web of interlocking financial interests and conflicts that, ethics experts told STAT, raise doubts about whether the prominent New York City hospital can always put its patients’ interests first while using information in their medical records to make money. In late 2016, Memorial Sloan Kettering signed a deal with Hackensack Meridian Health, one of New Jersey’s largest hospital systems, giving the cancer center access to a larger pool of patients and a bulwark against encroaching competition from other national players in cancer care. (Ross and Swetlitz, 12/6)
Nearly A Third Of Physicians Working In U.S. Born Abroad, Analysis Of Health Workers Finds
A new study breaks down the number of doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and other health care experts working in the U.S. who are foreign-born or who are not U.S. citizens.
New Study Shows 1 In 6 U.S. Health Care Workers Are Immigrants
According to a new research letter published Tuesday in Journal of the American Medical Association, about one out of six medical professionals are foreign-born. And like [Archana] Chatterjee, they often fill health care jobs in rural or underserved communities, places that have a harder time attracting U.S.-born medical school graduates. (Santhanam, 12/5)
Debt, 'Ballooning' Rents Lead Texas' Biggest Nursing Home Provider To File For Bankruptcy
Senior Care Centers operates more than 100 facilities in Texas and a handful more in Louisiana. In other news out of Texas, Little River Healthcare closes facilities following apparent lab test billing scheme.
Dallas Morning News:
Texas' Largest Nursing Home Operator Files For Bankruptcy, Sparking Concerns About Patients, Jobs
Texas' largest nursing home provider, Senior Care Centers, has filed for bankruptcy in a serious setback for the Dallas-based company that drew fire last year for not evacuating patients before Hurricane Harvey struck. Senior Care Centers, which operates more than 100 facilities in Texas, filed for reorganization in U.S. bankruptcy court for the Northern District of Texas on Tuesday, reporting more than $100 million in debt. It's at least the second troubled nursing care giant in the Dallas area to file for bankruptcy since late last year. (Hacker and Ambrose, 12/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
Senior Care Centers Files For Bankruptcy
Senior Care Centers LLC, which operates about 110 facilities in Texas and Louisiana, filed for bankruptcy, blaming “ballooning” rents and “significant cuts” in reimbursements from government agencies and private insurers. (Yerak, 12/5)
Provider With Ties To Lab Scheme Shutters Texas Clinic
An embattled Texas provider that's slated to shutter two hospitals on Friday closed an outpatient clinic in Temple Wednesday. Little River Healthcare's primary- and specialty-care clinic King's Daughters Clinic was closed to patients Wednesday. The clinic's voicemail greeting did not say why the clinic was closed. (Bannow, 12/5)
Some Of Most Vulnerable Slip Through N.Y. Program That Helps Those With Mental Illness Live Independently
ProPublica, PBS' Frontline and The New York Times investigate the project and find that for some residents, the sudden shift from an institution to independence has "proved perilous, and even deadly."
ProPublica/Frontline/The New York Times:
Living Apart, Coming Undone
Adult home residents are given a subsidized apartment, called scattered site supported housing, and assigned a team of social workers and others to help navigate bureaucracies, housing problems and everyday tasks. But more than 200 interviews and thousands of pages of medical, social work and housing records reviewed by ProPublica and the PBS series Frontline, in collaboration with The New York Times, show that for some residents, the sudden shift from an institution to independence has proved perilous, and even deadly. (Sapien and Jennings, 12/6)
In other news on health care officials who are focusing on social factors: combatting homelessness in Minnesota and food insecurity in Wisconsin —
The Star Tribune:
Minneapolis Homeless Camp Inspires Interfaith Developer To Plan 70-Unit Affordable Complex
A St. Paul developer of affordable housing is making plans for a 70-unit apartment building for people who are homeless, after its leaders became increasingly troubled by the sight of a large homeless encampment in south Minneapolis. Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, a group of 90 congregations working to end homelessness, said Wednesday that it has launched a campaign to raise up to $1.5 million in private funds to develop a building in Minneapolis with intensive support services. (Serres, 12/5)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Free Meals Help Combat Student Food Insecurity Throughout Wisconsin
Although Milwaukee Public Schools indicate nearly 90 percent of the students qualify for such meals, state statistics from the 2016-17 school year show more than half of the students in West Allis, Cudahy and South Milwaukee school districts alone are signed up for government-subsidized school meals because their household incomes fall below poverty-level guidelines. In comparison, wealthier suburban districts further west and north of the Milwaukee area have fewer students enrolled in meal programs, according to state Department of Public Instructions statistics. (Enriquez and Johnson, 12/5)
Shackling Women Prisoners During Childbirth Could Be Outlawed In New Federal Legislation
A criminal justice bill under consideration by Congress would stop the practice of using handcuffs, ankle chains or shackles on incarcerated women giving birth in a federal facility. News on prison health care also comes out of Ohio, California, Maryland and Arizona.
Federal Legislation Seeks Ban On Shackling Of Pregnant Inmates
As Congress prepares to adjourn for the holidays, one piece of legislation that's still on the table is a bipartisan criminal justice bill known as the First Step Act. It aims to improve federal prison conditions and reduce some prison sentences, a sticking point for some lawmakers. But the bill also contains a less controversial provision: a ban on shackling pregnant women. (Cohen and Chang, 12/5)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
How Did The U.S. Marshals And Ohio Corrections Inspectors Reach Such Different Conclusions For The Cuyahoga County Jail?
State jail inspectors failed to uncover routine inhumane treatment of inmates in the Cuyahoga County Jail during their four inspections of the facility in the last three years. Yet, the U.S. Marshals Service found dozens of instances of inmate mistreatment, including the denial of food, water and constitutional rights. (Ferrise and Astolfi, 12/5)
San Francisco Chronicle:
2 More Death Row Inmates Die; San Quentin Officials Probe Possible Contraband Drugs
San Quentin prison officials called an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss a possible connection between contraband lethal drugs and the unexplained deaths of two Death Row inmates on Monday and Tuesday, according to an internal prison document obtained by The Chronicle. Joseph A. Perez Jr., 47, was found unresponsive in his cell at 9:11 p.m. Tuesday, prison officials said in a statement. (Cassidy, 12/5)
The Washington Post:
To Lower Prison Health-Care Costs, Maryland Is Trying Something New: Serving Healthier Food
Not long after taking over as warden of the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, Margaret M. Chippendale noticed a sizable problem: Women were leaving the system a lot heavier than when they arrived. (Cohn, 12/5)
Threatening Emails, Visits Led To Shooting Of U.S. Marshal In Tucson
Court records reveal the menacing emails the man charged with shooting and killing a U.S. marshal sent to Tucson police in the days and months leading to the deadly altercation. Ryan Schlesinger, 26, expressed in his own words his willingness and readiness to use violence against police officers who were trying to provide him with mental health assistance over three emails andother supporting documents that officers filed as evidence in their harassment cases against him. (Carranza, 12/5)
Flu Shot Still Left Off To-Do List For 40 Percent Of Adults Even After Last Year's Deadly Season
At the heart of their decision are worries about the shot giving them the flu and suffering from other side effects. Public health officials warn about a repeat of last year when the virus killed 80,000 people, and they stress that side effects are mild. Other public health news focuses on the outcry over the first CRISPR babies; climate change and the rise of mosquito-born illnesses; a potential link between infections and mental illness; more raw beef recalls; the impact of childhood trauma on pain; the decrease in American life expectancy; and cuts to the SilverSneakers programs.
41 Percent Of Adults Don't Plan To Get Flu Shot Despite Last Year's Deadly Season
More than 40 percent of American adults have not received a flu shot this year and don't plan to do so, according to a new poll released Wednesday. The survey from NORC at the University of Chicago found that, as of mid-November, 41 percent of adults said they haven't been vaccinated and have no plans to change that, despite last season's record-high death toll. (Hellmann, 12/5)
The New York Times:
Why Are Scientists So Upset About The First Crispr Babies?
A Chinese scientist recently claimed he had produced the world’s first gene-edited babies, setting off a global firestorm. If true — the scientist has not yet published data that would confirm it — his actions would be a sensational breach of international scientific conventions. Although gene editing holds promise to potentially correct dangerous disease-causing mutations and treat some medical conditions, there are many safety and ethical concerns about editing human embryos. Here are answers to some of the numerous questions swirling around this development. (Kolata and Belluck, 12/5)
Climate Change Means A Rise In Mosquito-Borne Illnesses Like Eastern Equine Encephalitis
The number of people who got sick in the United States from an infected mosquito, tick, or flea tripled between 2004 and 2016. More than 640,000 cases over that time, according to the CDC. In Florida, changing climate and a lack of good diagnostic tools, make it easier for insect-borne diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis to spread. The personal and financial costs of even one case of this disease can be catastrophic. (Prieur, 12/5)
Infections May Raise The Risk Of Mental Illness In Children
Researchers have traced a connection between some infections and mental illnesses like schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. New research from Denmark bolsters that connection. The study, published Thursday in JAMA Psychiatry, shows that a wide variety of infections, even common ones like bronchitis, are linked to a higher risk of many mental illnesses in children and adolescents. (Chatterjee, 12/5)
More Raw Beef Recalled After Nationwide Salmonella Outbreak
More than 2,500 tons of raw beef are being added to a recall in connection with a salmonella outbreak that federal officials say has sickened hundreds of people across 25 states. The Arizona-based JBS Tolleson processing plant initially recalled about 3,500 tons of potentially contaminated beef in October. JBS, the top global meatpacker that owns the plant, still maintains the move ensured all of the affected product had already been removed from store shelves. (Held, 12//5)
Doctors Look To Childhood Trauma For Roots Of Puzzling Chronic Pain
About one in five adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, and in a lot of cases, there’s no clear reason why or treatment that works. As the dangers of opioids are becoming clearer, many doctors are looking at other ways to address pain, including addressing childhood trauma. ... At a lab at the University of Kansas Medical Center, liquids stir in flasks, centrifuges whirl, and associate professor of anatomy and cell biology Julie Christianson leads researchers working to understand the links between stress and pain in mice. Christianson explains that pain generally works in two stages. First we have an injury and feel pain, then – just as importantly - our brains dial the pain back down. (Smith, 12/6)
Dr. Halberg: Life Expectancy Drop In U.S. Could Be Partly From Diabetes
Life expectancy in the U.S. declined last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many factors contributed to the decline, and the increased rate of diabetes may be one of them. Diabetes remains one of the top 10 leading causes of death, but the disease can be managed, says Dr. Jon Hallberg of the University of Minnesota. (Crann and Shiely, 12/5)
Kaiser Health News:
Seniors Steamed Over Cuts To SilverSneakers Fitness Program
John Garland Graves was taken aback when he walked into his McKinleyville, Calif., gym in October and learned that his SilverSneakers membership was being canceled. Since 2014, Graves, 69, has enjoyed free access to the gym through SilverSneakers, the nation’s best-known fitness program for seniors. He was disturbed by the news, as are many other people who have recently learned they’re losing this benefit. (Graham, 12/6)
In Wake Of Opioid Epidemic, Missouri Governor Urges Passage Of Database Monitoring Bill To Identify People At Risk
Gov. Mike Parson is hopeful his proposal to allow doctors to see patients' records will move ahead next year. Every other state has a state-wide drug monitoring database. Other opioid news focuses on illegal sales of fentanyl, disclosing lobbying efforts and a push for prescription heroin.
St. Louis Public Radio:
Missouri Governor Calls For 'Long-Overdue' Drug-Monitoring Database To Curb Opioid Abuse
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson thinks the state is “long overdue” for a statewide prescription-monitoring database for doctors. Parson, a Republican, said Wednesday he hopes state legislators will pass a bill legalizing such a program next year. Missouri remains the only state without such a database, which proponents say helps cut down on opioids being sold on the street. (Fentem, 12/5)
China's Agreement On Fentanyl Could Curb Opioid Flow In Florida
Local experts are hoping for a break in Florida’s opioid epidemic after China’s decision to criminalize fentanyl sales to U.S. customers. Orange County emergency room doctor Christian Zuver says it’s likely the new policy will make it harder for dealers to get fentanyl in Florida. (Prieur, 12/5)
Investor Activists Win Again And Persuade Endo To Catalog Opioid Risks
Amid complaints from shareholder activists, Endo International (ENDP) has issued a report about the risks of selling opioid painkillers and agreed to expand a so-called clawback policy for executive compensation when negligence occurs. The company will also beef up disclosure of its lobbying efforts. The move is the latest victory for Investors for Opioid Accountability, a coalition of institutional investors that has been pushing drug makers, wholesalers, and pharmacies to take steps to rein in the opioid crisis by changing business practices. Previously, Assertio Therapeutics (ASRT) agreed to monitor opioid risks, but Endo is the first large drug maker to take a more comprehensive step. (Silverman, 12/5)
Is America Ready For Prescription Heroin?
The U.S. drug crisis does not appear to be letting up. The nation experienced a shattering 47,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2017. Driving the surge are potent, cheap synthetics like fentanyl. They've spread into the illicit drug supply, and in response communities have been trying a range of interventions, from increasing naloxone trainings to upping treatment resources. (Gordon, 12/6)
USC Gynecologist Charged With Sexual Abuse Is Now Center Of Grand Jury Investigation
While deputy district attorney Reinhold Mueller Jr. declined to comment on the grand jury examining evidence about Dr. George Tyndall, he said, “Our office is thoroughly reviewing all complaints that have been presented to us.” In other women's health news, California universities might make abortion pills available, and Iowans are having to travel out of state for abortions.
Los Angeles Times:
Grand Jury Investigating USC Gynecologist Accused Of Sexually Abusing Hundreds Of Patients
Los Angeles County prosecutors have convened a grand jury to hear evidence about Dr. George Tyndall, the USC gynecologist accused of sexually abusing hundreds of patients during three decades at a campus health clinic, according to two sources familiar with the case. (Ryan and Hamilton, 12/5)
San Jose Mercury News:
Abortion Pills Could Be Given Out At Universities In California
Hoping for support from California’s new governor, an Inland state senator has re-introduced legislation requiring on-campus health centers at the state’s public universities to offer abortion-inducing pills to students seeking to terminate their pregnancies. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, is similar to legislation vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September. (Horseman, 12/5)
Iowa Public Radio:
Hundreds Of Iowans Traveling Out Of State To Get An Abortion
Hundreds of Iowans are traveling out of state to get an abortion. Advocates say the relative cost of the procedure, and the lack of available appointments and providers are pushing some to travel hundreds of miles to get care. (Payne, 12/5)
State Highlights: Concerns In Oregon About Housing For People With Mental Illness; Faith Community In Indiana Pushes Universal Health Care
Media outlets report on news from Oregon, Indiana, California, Ohio, Texas and Florida.
Mental Health Advocates Blast Oregon Health Authority
A leading advocacy group has asked Oregon to halt a key component of its massive effort to move people into less restrictive housing for people with mental illness, citing serious concerns about people’s safety. Disability Rights Oregon highlighted problems with a state contract with Kepro, a company hired to review medical needs of people with mental illness. Neither Kepro nor the state has tracked outcomes to ensure people remain healthy after moving out of locked or other specialized facilities for people with mental illness. (Zarkhin, 12/5)
Indiana's Religious Left Flexes Its Political Muscle
The group, consisting of a broad political spectrum of Muslims, Jews and Christians, has organized in minority communities on issues like immigration, universal health care, criminal justice reform, and early childhood education. They're offering a new call to action for religious voters, says Nicole Barnes, Faith in Indiana's voter engagement director. (Chapman 12/6)
San Francisco Chronicle:
California High Court Signals Possible Agreement With State On Worker Pension Rollback
Confronting a public pension system with rising deficits, the California Supreme Court seemed inclined Wednesday to approve some legislative reductions in future retirement benefits for hundreds of thousands of state and local government workers, but not the far-reaching cuts backed by Gov. Jerry Brown.The justices heard arguments in Los Angeles on the right of public employees to buy additional retirement credits while still employed. (Egelko, 12/5)
More Suburban Cincy School Kids In Poverty, Census Estimates Show
Poverty for school-age children rose in 39 of 48 Southwest Ohio school districts from 2007 to 2017, an Enquirer analysis of U.S. Census Bureau estimates released earlier this week shows. In Northern Kentucky, poverty rose in 7 of 14 districts. The recession officially started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. (Curnutte and DeMio, 12/6)
South Texas DA Will Seek Death Penalty Against Border Patrol Agent Accused Of "Serial Killing Spree"
The United States Border Patrol agent who authorities say went on a killing spree in September on the Texas-Mexico border will face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder, the Webb and Zapata County District Attorney’s office announced Tuesday. Juan David Ortiz, an intelligence supervisor for the Border Patrol, was arrested in the pre-dawn hours Sept. 15 after local and state law enforcement say he allegedly murdered four Laredo-area sex workers, including one transgender woman. (Aguilar, 12/5)
American Airlines Workers In Miami Making Below Living Wage
First passed in 1999, the living wage applied to companies working directly for Miami-Dade, including airline subcontractors like Eulen America, which provided wheelchair transportation for airline passengers. American Airlines used to pay Eulen for wheelchair service, but recently moved hundreds of attendants to its own subsidiary, Envoy, which is exempt from the living-wage law. One of those workers, who spoke to the Miami Herald anonymously for fear of retribution, said she went from making $16.15 per hour to making $9.50 per hour when the switch happened in November. (Dolven, 12/5)
Viewpoints: Laws Needlessly Hurt Patients In Pain Who Really Need Opioids; #ThisIsOurLane Rightfully Aims To Resume Science Of Gun Safety
Opinion writers weigh in on these health care topics and others.
How The CDC's Opioid Prescribing Guideline Is Harming Pain Patients
During the recent Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association, the organization’s president, Dr. Barbara McAneny, told the story of a patient of hers whose pharmacist refused to fill his prescription for an opioid medication. She had prescribed the medication to ease her patient’s severe pain from prostate cancer, which had spread to his bones. Feeling ashamed after the pharmacist called him a “drug seeker,” he went home, hoping to endure his pain. Three days later, he tried to kill himself. Fortunately, McAneny’s patient was discovered by family members and survived. This story has become all too familiar to patients who legitimately use opioid medication for pain. (Kate M. Nicholson, Diane E. Hoffman and Chad D. Kollas, 12/6)
New England Journal of Medicine:
#ThisIsOurLane — Firearm Safety As Health Care’s Highway
The hashtag’s power reflected some existing momentum — the pump had been primed for a strong response to the NRA’s misguided assertion. Over recent years, health care and public health professionals and others have concertedly built a consensus that it’s essential to resume the science of firearm-injury prevention. This science had all but stalled in the United States, owing to a 1996 rider on an omnibus spending bill, the Dickey Amendment, prohibiting the use of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds for advocacy or promotion of gun control. (Megan L. Ranney, Marian E. Betz, and Cedric Dark, 12/5)
The Washington Post:
George H.W. Bush’s Biggest Failure? The War On Drugs.
When Bush took office, the federal drug control budget was around $5 billion. When he left office in 1993, it was over $12 billion. This was the sharpest escalation in the history of the drug war and it locked the country into a strategy of punishment, deterrence and intolerance. Based on instinct rather than evidence, Bush’s approach did little to alleviate the public health crisis of addiction or halt the flow of drugs to American shores. And we remain trapped within this largely punitive approach today. So while we remember Bush as a “gentle soul,” we should also remember his role in fomenting a drug war that harmed millions of American citizens, particularly in communities of color. (Matthew R. Pembleton, 12/6)
New England Journal of Medicine:
The Future Of Health Care Reform — A View From The States On Where We Go From Here
We reached out to state leaders to find out how they view this critical moment and to identify potential paths to consensus that would span the ideological spectrum. Our first step was a nationwide survey asking all state legislators serving on committees related to health to rank their policy priorities. We then went to Colorado and Kansas to have conversations with legislators, executive-branch leaders, and key stakeholders about our survey results. We chose Kansas to represent the 26 states led entirely by Republicans and Colorado to represent the 18 with split control. Both states had a high response rate on our survey and a health policy institute offering logistic support. (David K. Jones, Christina Pagel and Christopher F. Koller, 12/6)
AI In Pharma, Health Care: At The Crossroads Of Hype And Reality
Artificial intelligence is at the forefront of the minds of many pharmaceutical and health care executives. We know this because, as life sciences consultants, our clients frequently ask us for advice on how best to navigate AI. ...Now is an appropriate time to ask: What is holding back artificial intelligence in health care and the life sciences? And what can organizations do to get the most from AI and minimize the risks? (Grant Stephen and Michale Jacobson, 12/6)
Veterans Affairs Needlessly Burdens Caregivers Of Disabled Veterans
Caregivers like me are supporting catastrophically wounded veterans all over the country. All too often, we're carrying out that mission alone, with insufficient help from the very government that sent our husbands, wives, sons and daughters off to war. My husband proudly volunteered to serve and wanted to go to the front lines. Never did we think that the greatest fight would occur once home. (Sarah Verardo, 12/5)
New England Journal of Medicine:
Politics And Pandemics
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the deadliest event in U.S. history: the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918, which killed more Americans than World Wars I and II combined. Although science and technology have advanced tremendously over the past century, the pandemic peril remains: a recent exercise at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security showed that an epidemic of an influenza-like virus could kill 15 million Americans in a single year. The medical community’s response to this danger is, understandably, focused on research and response — discovering new vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics and fighting ongoing epidemics, such as the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But these urgent undertakings are not sufficient. (Ron Klain, 12/6)
We Can’t Talk About Vaccines Without Talking About Community
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate a downward trend in vaccine coverage in the United States. Although we still need to learn more about the factors causing this shift, it’s clear that public health professionals and healthcare providers need to more explicitly make the importance of community and how much we are connected to each other, a part of the conversation. (Nicole Alexander-Scott, 12/5)
New England Journal of Medicine:
Toward Precision Policy — The Case Of Cardiovascular Care
Our experience with policies that offer incentives to physicians and hospitals to deliver higher-value care teaches us that before policies are implemented widely, rigorous studies should be conducted to determine whether they achieve their goals. (Rishi K. Wadhera and Deepak L. Bhatt, 12/6)
How “Femicide” Drove The Caravan
Many of the Central American refugees now making their way toward the United States are female. They have special reasons to flee. In Honduras, which is the size of Ohio, a woman is murdered every 16 hours. (Stephen Kinzer, 12/5)