Welcome back to the Friday Breeze, where I can offer you a break from the Comey memos with a quick look at what you need to know about this week’s health care news.
Some recent abortion laws and legislative proposals in the states seem so strict they’re almost begging for a court challenge. And they are. Activists who think the Supreme Court is one Donald Trump-appointed justice away from overturning Roe v. Wade want to have a legal challenge in the pipeline ready to go. Others in the movement would rather focus on incremental changes, which is getting on the nerves of the more aggressive activists. “They’re standing in the way,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) says in Politico’s story. “I’ve said, ‘Please lead, or get out of the way.’”
Tying performance and costs is a bit of a Hot Strategy these days, as everyone talks about ways to bring down health care spending. But Italy, which has been trying this approach for more than a decade, serves as a cautionary tale that, at least for drug prices, the efforts don’t really move the needle. Mostly because there’s a wide range of opinions on what exactly “success” looks like.
And in a look ahead: President Donald Trump is planning a big speech on drug prices next week. But don’t get excited— no new policies are expected to be announced.
There was a lot of movement on the opioid crisis again this week (nursing homes turning away patients who are recovering from addiction; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wanting pharma execs to go to jail; and scientists working on a drug that could end addiction). But a deeper recurring theme was how ethics would play into combating the epidemic. What role does the industry that helped create the crisis play in fixing it? Does it matter that advocates who are lobbying for more spending are going to profit from that newly opened congressional wallet? It’s a tricky minefield to navigate.
Dr. Ronny Jackson, Trump’s nominee for VA secretary, is eager to please, well-liked and ambitious, according to a telling background profile by The Washington Post. But notably absent from the heaping of bipartisan praise were endorsements on his ability to lead the sprawling, troubled agency.
In the miscellaneous file for this week: There’s a disturbing pattern of leniency and forgiveness toward doctors who are accused of sexual assault, and not even the #MeToo movement seems to be changing it; livers like to be kept “warm and happy” instead of put on ice (which led to my favorite lede from the week about how livers are not beers that you pack in a cooler for your camping trip); nefarious profiteers are persuading women to get surgeries they might not need just because that makes them better plaintiffs; and what happens when the teaching hospitals that are supposed to train new doctors instead pass off their bad habits?
And former first lady Barbara Bush’s decision to stop medical treatment and seek comfort care this week stirred a debate over the emotionally charged topic of end-of-life decisions.
Have a great weekend, and maybe skip the salad? I know, such a hardship.
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