- KFF Health News Original Stories 2
- Are You And Your Primary Care Doc Ready To Talk About Your DNA?
- Middlemen Who Save $$ On Medicines — But Maybe Not For You
- Political Cartoon: 'Equal Measure?'
- Health Law 1
- Uninsured Rate Remains Basically Flat Despite Republicans' Attempts To Chip Away At Health Law
- Health Care Personnel 1
- Women Sue University Of Southern California Over Its Alleged Failure To Address Gynecologist's Behavior
- Public Health 4
- Lack Of Cohesive National Health Records Database Stymies Cancer Research
- Can We Live Forever? One Scientist Has Devoted Much Of Her Life To Extending Humans' Years On Earth
- Chinese Hospital Told Woman She Had To Pay Charges Before She Was Allowed To See Her Twin Babies
- Hospital Team That Handled Las Vegas Shooting Imparts Hard-Earned Wisdom To Others
- State Watch 2
- Aid-In-Dying Law Falls Within Scope Of Improving Californians' Health, AG Argues In Appeal Of Judge's Decision
- State Highlights: California's AG Suggests Filing Lawsuit To Defend Abortion Services; Elder Care Advocates Cite 'Train Wreck' As Minnesota Reforms Come Up Short
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
The Pennsylvania-based health chain Geisinger plans to offer DNA sequencing as part of regular patient care. (Michelle Andrews, )
Guess who’s back grabbing headlines? Pharmacy benefit managers — those companies that serve as middlemen in the prescription drug pipeline. (Francis Ying and Julie Appleby and Stephanie Stapleton, )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Equal Measure?'" by Darrin Bell.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR?
The sweet smells of spring
Then suddenly, a smoker
That ends the haiku.
- Ed Dalton
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if we can include your name. Haikus follow the format of 5-7-5 syllables. We give extra brownie points if you link back to an original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KFF Health News or KFF.
Summaries Of The News:
The numbers from the government survey suggest a surprising resilience of the health law and its expansion of insurance coverage.
The New York Times:
Despite Attacks On Obamacare, The Uninsured Rate Held Steady Last Year
Last year, Trump administration officials declared Obamacare “dead,” pulled enrollment ads offline, distributed social media videos critical of the law and sent signals that the law’s requirement to buy health insurance was no longer in effect. But the number of Americans with health insurance stayed largely unchanged. The results of a big, government survey on health insurance status were published Tuesday, and they show that the uninsured rate remained basically flat at 9.1 percent in the first year of the Trump presidency. (Sanger-Katz, 5/22)
The Associated Press:
US Clings To Health Coverage Gains Despite Political Drama
Overall, the survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 9.1 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2017, or a little more than 29 million people. After nearly a year of Trump, that was almost the same as toward the end of the Obama administration. For perspective, the uninsured rate dropped from 16 percent since the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010, which translates roughly to 19 million people gaining coverage. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 5/22)
Uninsured Rate Saw Small Rise In 2017, Survey Shows
Younger adults between the ages of 25 and 34 were nearly twice as likely to not have insurance coverage than older adults between the ages of 45 and 65, the survey found. The Obama administration had sought to pull more “young invincibles” into the insurance exchanges to improve the healthiness of the population of people purchasing coverage there in an effort to drive down premium costs. Adults in states that relied on HealthCare.gov for its coverage under the health law were more likely to be uninsured than adults in states that ran their own marketplaces or had a federal-state partnership last year, the survey showed. The study found that adults between ages 18 and 64 were less likely to be uninsured if they lived in a state that had expanded eligibility for Medicaid under the 2010 law than if they lived in a state that hadn’t. (McIntire, 5/22)
Dr. George Tyndall has been accused of inappropriate behavior under the guise of medical exams. USC acknowledges that administrators had reports about misconduct by Tyndall dating back to at least the early 2000s.
Los Angeles Times:
6 Women Sue USC, Alleging They Were Victimized By Campus Gynecologist
Six women filed civil lawsuits Monday alleging that a longtime gynecologist at the University of Southern California sexually victimized them under the pretext of medical care and that USC failed to address complaints from clinic staff about the doctor's behavior. One woman alleged Dr. George Tyndall forced his entire ungloved hand into her vagina during an appointment in 2003 while making "vulgar" remarks about her genitalia, according to one of the lawsuits. Another woman alleged that Tyndall groped her breasts in a 2008 visit and that later he falsely told her she "likely had AIDS." A third woman accused the doctor of grazing his ungloved fingers over her nude body and leering at her during a purported skin exam, the lawsuit states. (Hamilton, Ryan and Winton, 5/21)
The Associated Press:
USC Sued Over Clinic Gynecologist Accused Of Misconduct
Dr. George Tyndall routinely made crude comments, took inappropriate photographs and forced the plaintiffs to strip naked and groped them under the guise of medical treatment for his "sexual gratification," the civil lawsuit said. Tyndall, who worked at a USC clinic for 30 years, denied wrongdoing in interviews with the Los Angeles Times. He didn't return phone calls and it wasn't known Monday if he has an attorney. The complaint accuses the university of failing to properly respond to complaints about Tyndall. USC said in a statement that it was aware of the lawsuit. (5/21)
The New York Times:
5 Women Sue U.S.C., Alleging Sexual Abuse By Campus Doctor
“There will be other women coming forward,” said Louanne Masry, a lawyer at Taylor & Ring, a law firm in Manhattan Beach, Calif., that represents one of the women. “We’re getting lots of calls in. This is only going to grow.” A second lawsuit, filed on behalf of four unnamed women, called the former gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, a “serial sexual predator” and blamed the university for “actively and deliberately” covering up Dr. Tyndall’s predations for years. (Arango, 5/21)
USC Sued For Failing Student Victims Of Abuse By Gynecologist
USC issued a report last week in which it admitted that complaints dating back to 2000 were sufficient to terminate the gynecologist. The doctor worked at the university since 1989 and examined as many as 16 women a day, according to the complaint. The former student seeks to represent the hundreds, if not thousands, of other women who were examined by the gynecologist at USC. The university said in a statement that it was aware of the lawsuit. (Pettersson, 5/21)
The court ruled that businesses can block employees from joining together to file claims for wage theft and other work-related violations. "The virtues Congress originally saw in arbitration, its speed and simplicity and inexpensiveness, would be shorn away and arbitration would wind up looking like the litigation it was meant to displace" if workers gathered their complaints under class action lawsuits, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court.
Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Epic In Arbitration Case
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that companies can prohibit workers from using class-action litigation to resolve workplace disputes, handing Epic Systems Corp. and other employers a win. In a 5-4 decision on three consolidated cases, the justices said companies can include clauses in employment contracts that require employees to use individual arbitration to resolve disputes. That decision could affect about 25 million employees. (Arndt, 5/21)
The Wall Street Journal:
Supreme Court Imposes Limits On Workers In Arbitration Cases
The decision, which overturns the position of the National Labor Relations Board and resolves a split among federal appeals courts, gives teeth to employment contracts drawn to minimize corporate exposure to public trials and class actions filed by their own employees. Tens of millions of employees currently work under contracts limiting redress to claims filed before a private arbitrator on an individualized basis. With the issue clarified, employers are expected to impose such limits on millions more. (Bravin, 5/21)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Supreme Court Arbitration Ruling Could Slow #MeToo Movement
As more employees feel empowered by the #MeToo movement to discuss workplace sexual harassment claims in public, some experts worry that Monday’s Supreme Court ruling could undermine that effort. Under the 5-4 ruling, employers can limit workers’ ability to band together in court to pursue redress for labor violations. (Thadani, 5/21)
In other news —
Supreme Court Allows Lawsuit Over Eyedrop Bottles To Proceed
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case in which consumers alleged drug makers caused them to waste money by designing prescription eyedrop bottles that dispense unnecessarily large drops. The decision, which was announced Monday morning, is a setback for several companies — including Allergan (AGN), Pfizer (PFE), and Novartis (NVS) — because they must now face a lawsuit in a federal district court in New Jersey. The drug makers had argued the consumers did not have proper legal standing, but an appeals court had ruled the consumers suffered economic injury and so they did have the right to press their case. (Silverman, 5/21)
As New York mulls supervised injection sites, officials can look to Canada for a real-life example of how the idea plays out beyond theoretical discussions. And in other news on the national drug crisis: elder abuse; and death rates may have crested in Ohio.
The New York Times:
Opioid Crisis Compels New York To Look North For Answers
An aging construction worker arrived quietly in the building’s basement, took his seat alongside three other men and struck his lighter below a cooker of synthetic heroin. A woman, trained to intervene in case of an overdose, placed a mask over her face as his drug cooked and diluted beneath a jumping flame. He injected himself, grew still and then told of the loss of his wife who died alone in her room upstairs — an overdose that came just a few months before this social service nonprofit opened its doors for supervised injections. (Goodman, 5/21)
Elder Abuse And Opioid Deaths: What Did Lawmakers Do About It?
Lawmakers learned last year that the state Department of Health investigated too few complaints of abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults at long-term care facilities. There was bipartisan support to strengthen protections for seniors and increase oversight of care providers. But advocates say the changes in the supplemental budget bill are watered down and in some cases are a step backwards. Minnesota leaders do plan to continue to study the issue with several task forces and working groups. (Magan, 5/21)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Have Opioid Deaths In Northeast Ohio Finally Crested? Evidence Suggests Yes
The number of deaths attributed to heroin and other opioids dropped in recent months in what medical and law enforcement officials say is the first sign of optimism that the fight against the deadly opioid epidemic might be working. The decline comes after eight years where deaths climbed dramatically, caused by the wide availability of pain pills, heroin abuse and the emergence of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. (Ferrise, 5/21)
The Dana Farber Cancer Institute has invested millions of dollars into determining the genetic sequences of patients’ tumors, but until patients’ medical records are linked to the genetic data, life-or-death questions cannot be answered.
When Working For The U.S. Government Is A Cancer Risk
Located on the National Mall just steps from the Washington Monument, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s imposing headquarters include employees who monitor the health and safety of America’s food supply. But some people who work there are beginning to worry about their health. According to a union representing USDA employees, officials are exposing them to risks from cancer-causing asbestos and lead paint. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened a probe of the building March 29 in response to an employee complaint. The union accused management of failing to provide sufficient notice about asbestos and lead abatement or to maintain secure, sealed physical barriers between ongoing work and staff at nearby desks. (Eidelson, 5/22)
In other news —
The New York Times:
New Cancer Treatments Lie Hidden Under Mountains Of Paperwork
Dr. Nikhil Wagle thought he had a brilliant idea to advance research and patient care. Dr. Wagle, an oncologist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and his colleagues would build a huge database that linked cancer patients’ medical records, treatments and outcomes with their genetic backgrounds and the genetics of their tumors. The database would also include patients’ own experiences. How ill did they feel with the treatments? What was their quality of life? The database would find patterns that would tell doctors what treatment was best for each patient and what patients might expect. (Kolata, 5/21)
Laura Deming is excited about the possibilities and the results already achieved in experiments on animals. In other public health news: racial disparities in suicide rates; doctor burnout; the difference between HPV and HIV; DNA; barbershops and health care; and more.
At 23, Laura Deming Is Investing Millions In The Quest To Defy Death
It’s an audacious, absurd-sounding vision, the sort of comment you might chalk up to her youth. Yet she’s got plenty of company in the pursuit of this idea. Money is pouring into the longevity space, much of it coming from Silicon Valley investors who’d like to extend their time on Earth. Google alone put $1 billion into its startup, Calico Labs, wooing Kenyon as a vice president. On May 2, one of the life-extension companies in [Laura] Deming’s portfolio, Unity Biotechnology, closed an $85 million public stock offering and is now trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange. (Waters, 5/22)
The Washington Post:
Suicide Rates For Black Children Twice That Of White Children, New Data Show
African American children are taking their lives at roughly twice the rate of their white counterparts, according to a new study that shows a widening gap between the two groups. The 2001-2015 data, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, confirm a pattern first identified several years ago when researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio found that the rate of suicides for black children ages 5 to 12 exceeded that of young whites. The results were seen in both boys and girls. (Nutt, 5/21)
Doctor Burnout Fueled By Denying Immigrant Care
One patient's death changed the course of Dr. Lilia Cervantes' career. The patient, Cervantes says, was a woman from Mexico with kidney failure who repeatedly visited the emergency room for more than three years. In that time, her heart had stopped more than once, and her ribs were fractured from CPR. The woman finally decided to stop treatment because the stress was too much for her and her two young children. Cervantes says she died soon after. Kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease, is treatable with routine dialysis every two to three days. Without regular dialysis, which removes toxins from the blood, the condition is life threatening: Patients' lungs can fill up with fluid, and they're at risk of cardiac arrest if their potassium level gets too high. (Harper, 5/21)
Los Angeles Times:
Yes, President Trump, There Is A Difference Between HIV And HPV. Here's A Handy Tipsheet
In the early days of his presidency, Donald Trump famously declared that "nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated." At the time, he was talking about health insurance. But perhaps he was also thinking about two potentially life-threatening viruses — HIV and HPV. In a video that came to light this week, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates described two meetings with Trump where the men discussed a variety of issues related to innovation, science, education and global health. (Kaplan, 5/18)
The New York Times:
Every Cell In Your Body Has The Same DNA. Except It Doesn’t.
James Priest couldn’t make sense of it. He was examining the DNA of a desperately ill baby, searching for a genetic mutation that threatened to stop her heart. But the results looked as if they had come from two different infants. “I was just flabbergasted,” said Dr. Priest, a pediatric cardiologist at Stanford University. The baby, it turned out, carried a mixture of genetically distinct cells, a condition known as mosaicism. Some of her cells carried the deadly mutation, but others did not. They could have belonged to a healthy child. (Zimmer, 5/21)
The New York Times:
What Barbershops Can Teach About Delivering Health Care
Heart disease is the most common killer of men in the United States, and high blood pressure is one of the greatest risk factors for heart disease. Despite knowing this for some time, we have had a hard time getting patients to comply with recommendations and medications. A recent study shows that the means of communication may be as important as the message itself, maybe even more so. Also, it suggests that health care need not take place in a doctor’s office — or be provided by a physician — to be effective. (Carroll, 5/21)
Previous KHN coverage: Black Men’s Blood Pressure Is Cut Along With Their Hair
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Essential Oils: Why 'Natural' Doesn't Always Mean Safe
While some individuals may have favorable outcomes from using these oils, it is very important to research and make sure that you are using them properly. If you are thinking of using essential oils on infants or young children, even in a diffuser, consult your pediatrician or healthcare provider for guidance first. (Berrier and Pierre, 5/22)
Kaiser Health News:
Are You And Your Primary Care Doc Ready To Talk About Your DNA?
If you have a genetic mutation that increases your risk for a treatable medical condition, would you want to know? For many people the answer is yes. But such information is not commonly part of routine primary care. For patients at Geisinger Health System, that could soon change. Starting in the next month or so, the Pennsylvania-based system will offer DNA sequencing to 1,000 patients, with the goal to eventually extend the offer to all 3 million Geisinger patients. (Andrews, 5/22)
Although China now has near universal coverage, for those who lack insurance, the system can make you pay up front before you get treatment. In other international news: the World Health Organization has named certain lab tests as "essential," and Ebola's death toll continues to grow.
The New York Times:
Want To See Your Baby? In China, It Can Cost You
A day after Juliana Brandy Logbo gave birth to twins this month through an emergency cesarean section in a Chinese hospital, she thought the worst was over. Then the demands for money began. First, Ms. Logbo said, the hospital told her that she had to pay $630 in hospitalization fees if she wanted to see her girls. Three days later, she said, the amount rose to nearly $800. She didn’t have the money. The demands left her weeping outside the newborn department in the hospital. (Wee, 5/22)
The New York Times:
For First Time, W.H.O. Names Some Lab Tests ‘Essential’
For the first time, the World Health Organization has published a list of diagnostic tests that it considers essential to every health care system in the world. The list, published Wednesday, is similar to the agency’s essential medicines list, which the W.H.O. launched in 1977. In its day, the medicines list was revolutionary because it was both a global guide to rational treatment regimens and because it fostered the idea that certain medicines were so important that they should be available to the whole world, regardless of price. (McNeil, 5/21)
Ebola Vaccine Reaches Congo As Death Count Grows
A massive vaccination campaign began in Congo on Monday in an effort to stem an outbreak of the Ebola virus that has spread for more than a month. The World Health Organization (WHO) and a nongovernmental organization that delivers vaccines, Gavi, said Monday that more than 7,500 doses of a new vaccine had been deployed to the Equator Province. (Wilson, 5/21)
Scientists Who Toiled On Ebola Vaccine Watch As Their Work Is Put To The Test
An Ebola outbreak has once again commanded global attention, eliciting feelings of dread, anxiety, and concern. But for a small community of researchers who have toiled for years to develop a vaccine against Ebola — one that is being used for the first time to try to contain an outbreak — it is also thrilling. These scientists take no joy in knowing as they do the devastation that the virus can wreak. But after years of frustration with the global response to Ebola outbreaks — and a sense of helplessness in the face of so much misery — they see what’s happening now in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a possible watershed moment, one that could forever shape the way in which health officials respond to Ebola epidemics. (Branswell, 5/22)
Workers talked to staff at New Orleans' University Medical Center about the lessons they learned after the mass casualty event. They said that when faced with that number of patients, it was impossible to follow their standard practices, so they resorted to tactics used by the military in active combat. News on guns comes out of Texas, as well.
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
After Las Vegas Shooting, UMC Gets Advice From Responding Medical Team
Two years before 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire into a crowd of over 20,000 concertgoers in Las Vegas last fall, the staff at New Orleans' University Medical Center already began developing a "multiple casualty incident plan." Work began on it after UMC doctors treated 12 of the 17 victims injured in the Bunny Friend shooting in November 2015. Last Wednesday (May 16), those developing UMC's plan were given the opportunity hear from two parts of the Sunrise Hospital team that treated dozens of Paddock's victims suffering from gunshot wounds. (Simoneaux, 5/21)
The New York Times:
Texas Governor Scraps Campaign Contest To Give Away Shotgun
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas’ re-election campaign scrapped its plan to give away a shotgun in a contest after a high school student used a shotgun and a handgun to kill 10 people in the state on Friday. The campaign created its contest in early May, well before Santa Fe High School, about 35 miles southeast of Houston, became the nation’s latest scene of bloodshed inside a school. Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, has been charged with capital murder in the killing of 10 people. (Victor, 5/21)
The Washington Post:
Cynthia Tisdale’s Death At Santa Fe Shooting Led Strangers To Help Her Husband, William
Cynthia Tisdale gave everything to the people around her. When her granddaughter needed help after a severe accident, Tisdale was there. The mother of three and grandmother of 11 was at her side during physical therapy for weeks in the past year, Cynthia’s son Recie wrote. It was as if her love and support helped will her granddaughter back to health, and Recie said his daughter can walk again. (Horton, 5/21)
A judge recently overturned the legislation, saying it was passed illegally in a special session that was supposed to focus on specific health care issues. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra cited Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown's statement from when he signed the bill into law as an example of how the measure fits into the scope of the special session.
Los Angeles Times:
California Attorney General Appeals Judge's Decision To Overturn Physician-Assisted Suicide Law
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Monday filed an appeal against a judge's recent ruling overturning the state's physician-assisted suicide law. The controversial law, which allows terminally ill patients to request lethal medications from their doctors, has been the subject of litigation since it was enacted two years ago. Last week, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia ruled that the law's passage was unconstitutional and the law should be overturned. (Karlamangla, 5/21)
California Attorney General Appeals Assisted Death Ruling
Nearly two years after the law took effect, a judge in Riverside County ruled last week that the Legislature improperly passed the bill during a special session on health care funding. Becerra argued in court documents that the reversal "contradicts both the deference owed the Legislature and an earlier finding by the same court that the act was within the scope of the special session," called to improve the efficiency of the health care system and improve health in California. He said laws enacted during a special session can be broadly germane to the subject matter. (Luna, 5/21)
The Mercury News:
California Defends Right-To-Die Law, Files To Block Ruling
The news was welcomed by Dr. Lonny Shavelson of the Berkeley-based practice Bay Area End of Life Options, who faced the prospect of suspending or canceling a long-planned death that is scheduled for Wednesday. “This is a tremendous relief to me and those patients,” said Shavelson, a former emergency medicine physician who works with patients who cannot find a doctor to write a prescription to end their lives. (Krieger, 5/21)
Media outlets report on news from California, Minnesota, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Virginia and Colorado.
California's Top Cop Moves To Defend Planned Parenthood
California's top cop hinted last week that the state will file another lawsuit against the federal government, potentially taking on the Trump administration over its plan to strip funding for Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortions. At issue is funding for family planning and abortion services through the Title X program, expected to cost $260 million. (Hart, 5/21)
The Star Tribune:
Effort To Reform Elder Care System Falls Short At Capitol
In a blow to Gov. Mark Dayton and families of elder abuse victims, the 2018 Legislature adjourned without adopting a series of broad-based reforms to Minnesota’s flawed system for protecting vulnerable seniors from maltreatment. Weeks of intense negotiation involving the Dayton administration, Republican legislators and a coalition of senior organizations over a bipartisan deal collapsed over the weekend, leaving few new protections for the estimated 85,000 Minnesotans who live in senior care facilities across the state. (Serres, 5/22)
A Death In Slow Motion
As detailed in an investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle, St. Luke’s has performed an outsized number of heart transplants resulting in deaths or unusual complications, has lost several top physicians and has scaled back its ambition for treating high-risk patients, all the while marketing itself based on its storied past. ... Taken together, excerpts from their social media feeds show how loved ones coped after Lee’s transplant — his shot at deliverance — went seriously wrong. (Hixenbaugh and Ornstein, 5/22)
Iowa Public Radio:
Iowa Officials Approve Hiring Of Conservative Law Firm To Defend Abortion Law
Iowa’s Executive Council voted Monday to approve the hiring of a Chicago-based conservative law firm to represent the state in a lawsuit challenging the fetal heartbeat abortion law. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU of Iowa and the Emma Goldman Clinic sued the state last week, and Iowa’s attorney general refused to defend the law that bans most abortions after about six weeks into pregnancy. (Sostaric, 5/21)
The Star Tribune:
Lawmakers Approve Expansion Compromise At Regions Hospital
Lawmakers approved an expansion plan at Regions Hospital in St. Paul that would provide licenses for 55 more inpatient beds, a relatively rare example of new hospital capacity in Minnesota for patients with medical and surgical needs. Late last year, Regions put forward a plan for 100 additional beds, saying it was straining with capacity limits and needed more room to handle growth in the east metro area. (Snowbeck, 5/21)
St. Louis Public Radio:
FDA Approves A UTI Test From A St. Louis Startup That Could Help Reduce Antibiotic Resistance
A St. Louis biotech startup has secured approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell a device that helps doctors quickly diagnose urinary tract infections. ...A faster diagnosis can help doctors avoid over-prescribing medications that contribute to antibiotic resistance, said Dana Marshall, president and CEO of Bacterioscan. (Chen, 5/21)
VCU Receives $21.5 Million Grant To Bring Research To Patients
The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $21.5 million grant to Virginia Commonwealth University in an effort to advance research and deliver new discoveries to patients as quickly as possible. VCU’s C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research will use the money to improve access to treatments for diseases such as cardiac and pulmonary conditions and addiction. (O'Connor, 5/21)
Federal Inspectors Fault National Jewish Health For Treatment Of Guinea Pigs During Smoking Study
The study was supposed to expose guinea pigs to cigarette smoke a few hours a day, five days a week inside a specially designed “smoking machine.” But, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a routine inspection of the lab at National Jewish Health in Denver earlier this year, it discovered research that had gone off the rails. One group of guinea pigs had been exposed to more smoke — five hours a day for six days — than the study’s approved guidelines called for. Two guinea pigs were described in research records that an inspector reviewed as having bloody discharge from the nose. One of those had to be euthanized after also being observed with labored breathing and displaying “vocalization.” And medicine that was supposed to be administered to the guinea pigs during the study had been given after the animals’ exposure to smoke ended because the researcher didn’t obtain it in time. (Ingold, 5/21)
Opinion writers express their views on President Donald Trump's plans to cut Title X funding from facilities that offer abortion services or make referrals for them.
Los Angeles Times:
Once Again, The Trump Administration Is Out To Mess With Women's Healthcare
In announcing a new effort to limit access to federal family planning dollars, the White House said its proposed rule would fulfill President Trump's promise "to continue to improve women's health." That's laughable. The proposal outlined Friday would deny federal Title X family planning funds to organizations that provide abortions — most notably, Planned Parenthood — unless they do so through physically separate offices with separate staffs. Rather than improve women's health, this rule would do the exact opposite — it could end up destabilizing the community health providers and clinics that are a lifeline for low-income women across the country. (5/22)
Reject Back-Channel Attempt To Defund Planned Parenthood
Women should be informed of all their options when they seek reproductive health care, including their ability to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. But a new proposal from President Donald Trump’s administration would threaten this basic flow of information, while simultaneously cutting off money for clinics to provide vital preventive health care and access to contraceptives. (5/21)
Trump Tries Restricting Abortion By Other Means
The Trump administration is proposing to withhold Title X family planning funding from any facility that provides abortion services or makes referrals for them. It’s a sideways attack on abortion rights, taken after abortion opponents have failed to convince either the legal system or their fellow citizens of the rightness of their cause.Federal funding — from both Title X and Medicaid — is never used for abortions in the U.S., except in very rare cases involving rape or maternal life endangerment. This has been the case for more than 40 years. To help low-income women afford the service, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers use only private funding. Separately, many of these clinics also provide the kind of family planning and health services that Title X funds help pay for — including birth control and screening for cancer and HIV. Trump is using that funding as leverage to persuade the clinics to stop providing abortions altogether, apparently betting that they will care more about preserving the other women’s health services than he does. (5/21)
The Washington Post:
Neil Gorsuch Might Not Handle An Abortion Case The Way Conservatives Want
On Friday, the White House pleased the pro-life Republican base, and enraged pro-choice opponents, by announcing plans for new regulations on health clinics funded by Title X, the 48-year-old federal program that assists family-planning services for low-income people. President Trump was set to give a speech about them Tuesday night at a pro-life fundraiser. The policy would require a “bright line” of physical as well as financial separation between these entities’ family-planning programs and any program that provides or supports abortion. Title X recipients could not refer clients to abortion clinics and could even opt out of the current regulatory requirement that they provide neutral, “nondirective” counseling about abortion to clients who request it. (Charles Lane, 5/21)
Kansas City Star:
Unnecessary Assault On Women With Anti-Abortion Gag Rule
The Trump administration’s decision last Friday to implement a dangerous “domestic gag rule” is an unprecedented move that will devastate the health care of millions of women across the country, including here in Missouri. The rule will strip any clinic of Title X federal family planning funding for offering, referring or even mentioning abortion to patients. This is a direct attack on free speech and health care, which women have a constitutional right to receive. It is downright terrifying that the Trump administration is dictating to doctors what they can and cannot tell their patients about their health care options, holding much-needed federal funding over their heads. (Alison Dreith, 5/21)
The National Review:
Planned Parenthood's 3 Percent Lie Exposed With Title X Funding
The Trump administration’s Health and Human Services Department will announce a new proposal this week to remove Title X funding from health-care providers that perform abortion procedures. The policy, as described in our editorial last week, is an effort to bring administrative policy in line with existing legislation, which already stipulates that federal dollars cannot be used to fund abortion. The resounding backlash from abortion-rights groups has been, predictably, both vicious and deceptive. Activists have incorrectly labeled the new policy a “gag rule,” despite the fact that it will explicitly permit health-care providers to discuss abortion with patients (though it disallows direct abortion referrals). (Alexandra Desanctis, 5/21)
How To Take Down Planned Parenthood Now That Trump Landed A Punch
President Trump’s administration is bringing back a Reagan-era rule that would pull federal birth control funds from clinics that sell abortion. Planned Parenthood, which is by far the nation’s largest and wealthiest abortion provider, has the most to lose. It is the largest single recipient of Title X funds, to the tune of about $80 million per year. The new regulation is a good start. It is a bigger blow to Planned Parenthood than anything the establishment Republicans have ever done. But more action is needed to take PP down. (Willis L. Krumholz, 5/21)
Editorial pages focus on these and other health topics.
The Washington Post:
Can Americans Ditch Guns The Way We Ditched Cigarettes?
Not that long ago, cigarettes were completely woven into American culture. The Marlboro Man, posters telling us: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette,” even the armrests on planes and all our cars were designed for smokers. And now? Not so much. Can it work like that with guns? Because after another horrific school shooting — eight students and two teachers massacred at Santa Fe High School outside Houston on Friday — we are nearly out of fresh ideas. (Petula Dvorak, 5/21)
Santa Fe School Shooting, Ritalin And The NRA's Culture Of Convenient Excuses
It’s not enough religion, and too many violent video games. Those, we’re told, are the things causing America’s almost rhythmic school shootings. That’s where the blame was placed — again — this weekend as students and families and pundits and lawmakers grappled with Friday’s slaughter of 10 people at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. ...The “our culture is causing mass shootings” argument is compelling and can sound reasonable on a visceral level. But it’s based on emotion, not reality. (Rex Huppke, 5/21)
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
Another School Mass Shooting, Another Tired Recitation Of NRA Talking Points
The National Rifle Association wants to make Friday’s high school shooting in Texas all about building security. The answer, as robotically recited by various officials, is to harden schools, establish airport-style security checkpoints, add more armed guards and allow teachers to pack heat. But apparently no number of young people’s corpses and grieving parents will move the organization to discuss the real issue: reducing shooters’ access to their mass-killing weapons of choice. (5/21)
Vulnerable Patients — Easy Targets For Companies Willing To Sacrifice Ethics For Profits
A small medical device has just become embroiled in a large controversy, suggesting violations of fundamental ethical norms and settled principles of scientific research. At first glance, the Bridge — a neuro-modulation device that attaches behind the ear — resembles a hearing aid with wires. The Bridge received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in November 2017 for easing opioid withdrawal symptoms during detoxification; before, it was approved only for acupuncture. (Jody Lynee Madeira, 5/21)
'Right To Try' Should Focus On Regulatory Changes That Embrace The Fast Pace Of Precision Medicine
The “right to try” bill (S. 204), which suddenly resurfaced when the House scheduled it for committee meetings this week, was designed to allow patients with a terminal diagnosis — who have run out of effective treatment options — access to try a drug that just might help, even without Food and Drug Administration approval. This legislation — a priority for President Trump — sounds like a no-brainer. As the clock runs out, with a patient facing hospice as the next and last step, what could be wrong with giving an unproven drug a chance? Nothing, if it’s done right. (Mark M. Souweidane and Jeffrey P. Greenfield, 5/21)
The Washington Post:
Watching But Not Treating Cancer Can Be Hard. Sometimes It’s The Right Approach.
My sister just finished 18 weeks of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, a slog that started six months ago when she underwent an eight-hour procedure to remove all visible signs and cells of her malignancy. From the moment her primary-care doctor suspected the diagnosis, Julie’s calendar has been chock-full of appointments: scans, bloodwork, chemo treatments and a transfusion. Now that she’s done with chemo, Julie can either enroll in a clinical trial or sit tight and participate in what is called “watchful waiting,” which includes regular bloodwork, scans and doctor visits. I call it Hope. Pray. Wait. (Steven Petrow, 5/20)
Chicago Health Commissioner: Big Tobacco Is Targeting Our Youth And We Must Stop Them
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced a crackdown on e-cigarette sales to minors, but before then, the city of Chicago had already taken matters into its own hands. The City Council passed an ordinance to require tobacco dealers to post warning signs at their doors about the health risks of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. These signs, once designed and distributed, will also contain quit-line numbers to help our residents beat a nicotine addiction. (Julie Morita, 5/21)
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Lawsuit Against The Nation’s Largest Drug Makers
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of sparking the deadly opioid epidemic through sham marketing that reaped the defendants “billions of dollars” while causing “immense harm to the state of Florida.” This is an important step in holding an industry accountable for the incredible damage that has wracked communities and families. (5/22)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
A Healthier Food Stamp Program Should Be On The Menu
Trying to push more people to work for food stamps by adding harsh provisions to the farm bill has sharply divided Congress, even though the high-stakes bill failed to pass the U.S. House Friday, mostly over unrelated issues. Congress can take the food stamp work-requirement dispute off the table entirely. Instead of punitive, ill-considered measures likely to hurt hungry children, Congress should instead take aim at the unhealthy foods that are contributing to the obesity epidemic among our young people. (5/22)
Restore California's End Of Life Option Act
A California Superior Court judge’s decision to strike down California’s “End of Life Option Act” is wrong as a matter of law. The California statute provides death with dignity for terminally ill patients. The California Court of Appeal should overturn this decision and failing that, the Legislature should quickly reenact it in a manner that addresses the judge’s concerns. (Erwin Chemerinsky, 5/21)