Tucked away in an obit on a physicist’s death this week was the latest reality check-slash-gut punch on the state of spending in our health system. Leon Lederman, aka the man who coined the phrase “God particle,” died Wednesday at 96. A few years back, he auctioned off his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 to help pay for his health care costs. What happens when you don’t have one of those lying around?
Do you need a mental break from following the play-by-play of the Supreme Court battle? Well here’s what you may have missed in health care.
If you think you can escape the phrases “Medicare-for-All” or “preexisting conditions” over the next few weeks, I’m sorry to break the bad news. Both sides have homed in on those key talking points, and we’ll be hearing a lot on both topics for the foreseeable future.
On the Republican side: Candidates are urging voters to believe they’ll preserve the popular insurance protections on preexisting conditions, but it’s difficult to convey that message while there’s a GOP lawsuit underway that would strip them away. To try to get ahead of the issue, some Republican lawmakers released a (non-binding) resolution vowing to keep the guarantees. But with no details on how they’ll accomplish it (turns out it’s hard to get insurers to just offer desserts without eating your veggies, too), the topic remains a thorn in their side.
(Side note: President Donald Trump did offer a way to cover costs for guaranteed preexisting conditions coverage: getting “a little more money from China.” From The Washington Post.)
Over to the Dems, who have their own vulnerabilities: “Medicare-for-All” has become something of a litmus test for Democrats, especially for progressive candidates, but that doesn’t mean the plan hasn’t left them open to attack from the right. At the same time, moderates in the party would prefer to focus on shoring up the health law.
And, if you’d like a blast from the past (or a peek into the future?), check out the preexisting conditions checklist for Iowa Farm Bureau plans (the ones the state can sell that don’t fall under health law restrictions).
A lot of news coverage these days focuses on the individual marketplace, but a look at shifting costs for people who receive insurance through their employers paints a grim picture of why health care matters to many voters. Not only has the number of workers who face an annual deductible grown, but the average deductible has crept higher and higher for more than a decade.
So, I’m not a negotiator. But apparently, if you can haggle, there are all sorts of lucrative clauses, side deals and kickbacks baked into the system that you can use to your advantage to get lower costs for care. Good luck! I’ll be over here wondering why we can’t all get that price.
Hundreds of detained migrant children are being roused in the middle of the night for under-the-cover-of-darkness journeys to a tent city in West Texas. Advocates are alarmed that they’re being moved from shelters with formal schools and visits from legal representation to a pop-up tent city that has few such regulations in place.
Meanwhile, a disturbing inspector general report found numerous safety violations at an immigration detention center in California, including nooses made from bedsheets in 15 of 20 cells (which were “not a high priority” to remove, guards said, per LAT’s coverage); detainees’ rotting teeth from delays to see dentists (and suggestions that they use string from their socks to floss); and more.
Pharma failed to attach to the fast-moving opioid legislation its much-desired “doughnut hole” change, which would have let companies off the hook for paying to cover more drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries. But the industry is not giving up — and Congress might be more willing to play ball in the lame-duck session post-midterms.
One street over. That’s all it took in a Washington state neighborhood for children to have a better chance of being lifted out of poverty. One street. A new, detailed (and very interesting) map looks at how location plays a part in the economic outcomes of children in low-income families. It’s also leaving advocates and city planners wondering if offering incentives to move into the neighborhoods with better statistics would be enough to change these families’ futures.
In the miscellaneous must-read file:
• Missouri is now down to one abortion clinic, and some of its laws are poised to land in the Supreme Court. Understanding the high-stakes legal developments that got the state to where it is a roller-coaster ride.
• Is a little radiation good for you? Like sunlight? That’s at least what Trump administration officials are betting on.
• The lawsuits against Purdue Pharma have been likened to Big Tobacco’s reckoning in the 1990s. But experts see a big difference: The painkiller-maker will likely not have to pay nearly as much in the expected settlement.
• Time and again, following the money proves pretty interesting. Here’s a look at the industry behind “hardening” schools for mass shootings, and how it had stalled before the massacre in Parkland, Fla.
• Australia is on track to all but eliminate cervical cancer in the coming decades. How did they do it? (Hint: It has to do with aggressive vaccination policies.)
Speaking of vaccinations, here’s your reminder to get your flu shot! Winter is coming.
Have a great weekend!