Opinion writers weigh in on these health care topics and others.
Stat: A Frigid Night Puts Compassionate Care On Trial In A Crowded ED
If there were plenty of beds in the emergency department, we could attend to patients with acute medical problems and make space for those with social ones. But there aren’t. So making a compassionate decision for Mr. Green means making a risky decision for patients in the waiting room. Crowding and prolonged waits in the ED have been linked to higher inpatient mortality, longer length of stay in the hospital, increased medical errors, more harmful cardiac outcomes, and delayed treatment for pain. (Jay Baruch, 2/1)
The Hill: Public Health Programs Are Working To Address Drugs At The Border — A Wall Won’t Help
Trump has asserted that a border wall is key to solving America’s drug and overdose problems, a claim that has little basis in fact. Synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, are the drugs most commonly involved in overdose deaths in the United States and the main source of these drugs is China. When drugs are smuggled from Mexico, it’s usually in cars, trucks and fishing boats at legal ports of entry — something a wall would do nothing to stop. By comparison, harm reduction endeavors in Mexican border towns like Juárez and Tijuana have a long record of stopping deadly consequences of opioids and connecting people to living-saving treatment. (Marc Krupanski, 1/31)
USA Today: Vaccine Hesitancy Threatens Health As Washington Measles Outbreak Shows
It might come as a surprise that vaccine hesitancy appears on the World Health Organization’s 2019 list of the top health threats, which include HIV, pandemic influenza and antimicrobial resistance, among others. Surely, vaccine hesitancy — a voluntarily chosen human behavior — cannot be in the same category as HIV, a virus that has killed 35 million people. However, if one thinks about the full context of vaccine hesitancy and what it represents, the WHO’s inclusion of this outrageous phenomenon is completely justified. Vaccines are incontrovertibly one of the greatest achievements of mankind; they have quite literally added decades to lifespans and prevented millions of people from acquiring infections and suffering early infection-related deaths. (Amesh A. Adalja, 2/1)
San Francisco Chronicle: Time Is Now For Talk About Vaccinations
Anti-vaccination propagandists also tend to rely on people’s fears about government intervention, which is why it’s important for them to hear accurate information from people with whom they have something in common, like a religious community. …Will this be enough to save us from the next disease outbreak? Who knows. (Caille Millner, 1/31)
The Washington Post: You Can’t Have It All — Even With Medicare-For-All
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), a freshly minted presidential candidate, sketched an appealing picture of Medicare-for-all at a CNN town hall on Monday. Yes, she said, the plan would require doing away with insurance companies. But, she argued, who would miss them? “Who of us has not had that situation where you’ve got to wait for approval and the doctor says, ‘Well, I don’t know if your insurance company is going to cover this’? Let’s eliminate all of that, let’s move on.”
The Hill: Medicare Star Ratings Perpetuate Health Disparities
Visit a hospital in rural Alabama and one in suburban Virginia, and you’ll likely have two different experiences given differing populations and resource levels. This is one of the problems of our healthcare system: the great promise that all Americans have equal opportunity to succeed doesn’t translate when it comes to our health. For older Americans, Medicare Star Ratings System is supposed to help. (Sophia Chang, 1/31)
Stat: The Downside Of Inflammatory News About Cancer
If the Jerusalem Post and other news outlets that carried the story had looked beyond their quest for hype, the headline would have been “A theory that might lead to a curative therapy for some cancer patients perhaps in the next decade.” But that’s not exciting. Heck, it’s not even news. Promising research is going on in labs all over the world, and little of it makes the news. Which begs the question: Why was the story was written in the first place? Promising research? Maybe. Breaking news? No. A near-term cure for cancer? Not even close. (Dena Battle, 2/1)
JAMA: ‘It’s Cancer’ —The Malady Of All Emperors.
I walked into room 3501, my least favorite examination room. The problem—it is too big. It was meant to be a procedure room, so it is twice the size of my cozy rooms down the same hallway. The patient chairs sit some 3 yards from where my computer is tethered to the wall. Invariably, patients are ushered into the chair farthest away. Howard sat alone in that chair. I had seen him a few times in the last 2 years—enough to recognize his face, and remember that I enjoyed those encounters, but no specifics. Howard is a 78-year-old man, heavyset, 5 feet 6 inches tall, with thick hands. He is serious-minded but knows how to laugh. He lost his wife a year or so ago, and it took a lot out of him. (Brent W. Beasley, 1/28)
The Washington Post: A Federal Law Is Hurting Native American Children. It Must Be Struck Down.
In June 2016, Texas couple Chad and Jennifer Brackeen took a 10-month-old Native American foster child into their home. The boy, referred to as A.L.M. in court documents, had been the victim of parental neglect and drug abuse from birth. He soon became part of the Brackeens’ family. After caring for him for more than a year, the Brackeens — with the support of A.L.M.’s biological parents and the court-appointed guardian overseeing his welfare — decided to adopt him. Little did they know that, instead of encouraging the adoption, an obscure federal law would force state child-welfare officials to try to tear the boy from the family. (Ken Paxton, 1/31)
WBUR: As Drug Prices Rise, Is Boston’s Prosperity Based On A Moral Crime?
Prescription drug prices have become a high-profile issue, with a growing clamor from politicians, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, seeking to take action. There are many laudable elements in Baker’s proposal to negotiate prices directly with drug makers, despite its narrow focus, but such efforts are doomed to become little more than window dressing. (Vikas Saini, 1/31)
The CT Mirror: New Food, Medicine Taxes Prove CEOs Can Have Terrible Ideas
The idea of taxing food and medicine is so distasteful and so outside the national norm that we hope it is not a real proposal. Sometimes horrible possibilities are only voiced to make some unpleasant alternative seem relatively palatable by comparison. (Janet Stolfi Alfano and Joane Samuel Goldblum, 1/31)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.