Longer Looks: A K Street Renegade; Dismantling Obamacare & Opioids In Sierra Leone

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Each week, KHN’s Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.

The Wall Street Journal: The Rise And Fall Of A K Street Renegade
Few outside Washington had ever heard of Evan Morris. Yet in the capital of wheeling and dealing, he was one of its most gifted operators. From his start as an intern in the Clinton White House, he made powerful friends and at age 27 became a top Washington lobbyist for Roche Holding AG of Switzerland, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. (Brody Mullins, 2/13)

Vox: No Limits 
Timmy Morrison was delivered by emergency C-section, weighing in at 3 pounds, 9 ounces. Doctors put him under anesthesia within a week and into surgery within a month. Parts of his stomach sometimes made their way to his lungs. Workers in the intensive care unit frequently needed to resuscitate him. He arrived seven weeks premature — but, in a way, just at the right time. (Sarah Kliff, 2/15)

The Dallas Morning News: Severely Disabled Kids’ Lives At Risk, Parents Say, As Texas Enacts Medicaid Cost-Savings Plan
Amy Pratt drove her severely disabled son, Quinten, four-plus hours to Children’s Medical Center Dallas only to learn the insurance company that Texas hired to care for him had suddenly denied payment for an important procedure, one that could potentially save the 9-year-old’s life. In El Paso, 11-year-old Rudy Smith lost most of the therapy services that helped him cope with cerebral palsy and a severe form of epilepsy, which plagues him with 50 to 100 seizures a day. His mother says she’s having trouble getting prescriptions filled, and the insurance company keeps sending her incorrect or faulty medical supplies. (J. David McSwane, 2/13)

The New York Times: Will Obamacare Really Go Under The Knife?
Six days after he was sworn in as America’s 45th president, Donald J. Trump traveled to Philadelphia to address Republican lawmakers at their annual retreat. Standing behind a lectern emblazoned with the presidential seal, Trump predicted, “This Congress is going to be the busiest Congress we’ve had in decades.” Being Trump, he could not resist ad-libbing a superlative: “Maybe ever. Maybe ever. Think of that.” (Robert Draper, 2/14)

The Atlantic: Universal Health Care And The Future Of The Affordable Care Act 
The Senate confirmed Tom Price as secretary of health and human services at 2 a.m. on Friday. After a contentious confirmation process, the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress had finally installed one of the leading generals in its war on Obamacare in the department that oversees its programs. Price is a titan in the GOP camp that wants to repeal the health law, and is perhaps one of the few Republican lawmakers with both the vision and the experience needed to begin the daunting task. (Vann Newkirk, 2/14)

The New Yorker: Another Planned Parenthood Protest Showdown
In January, 1993, the New York City Council moved unanimously to erect a sign at the intersection of Bleecker and Mott streets designating the small corner on the eastern edge of the West Village as Margaret Sanger Square. The bill, introduced by Kathryn Freed, noted that Sanger had opened America’s first birth-control clinic, in Brooklyn, in 1916, and that when she was arrested and jailed on obscenity charges she had taught her fellow-inmates about contraception. Her second birth-control clinic eventually became part of Planned Parenthood in New York City, which now serves more than fifty thousand patients each year and has been headquartered at the corner of Bleecker and Mott since 1992. (Jia Tolentino, 2/13)

Vox: How Repealing Obamacare Could Splinter Neighborhoods
Sure, it was billed as a policy that would make individual people healthier — and it ended up insuring 20 million people. But it also made neighborhoods healthier. It meant communities no longer had to fight over local tax dollars to care for the uninsured. It also meant there were fewer uninsured people who felt cast out and dehumanized by their communities. It lifted up our poorest and most vulnerable neighbors. (Alvin Chang, 2/13)

Al Jazeera: Opioids: Sierra Leone’s Newest Public Health Emergency
The dark street corner would have been silent if not for the grumble of a motorbike. It was nearing midnight, but for Ibrahim Sesay – a 27-year-old motorbike taxi driver in Freetown – the evening had just begun. He pulled four small pills from his breast pocket, gulped them down without water and set off into the night. (Cooper Inveen, 2/13)      

The Wall Street Journal: Computers Turn Medical Sleuths And Identify Skin Cancer
When it comes to melanoma, early detection is a matter of life and death. But it takes a trained eye to distinguish a harmless blemish from cancer, and many people around the world lack ready access to a dermatologist.Scientists have been seeking a solution for some time. In the latest sign that they’re succeeding, researchers at Stanford University have found a way to get a computer to identify skin cancer as reliably as board-certified dermatologists can. The hope is that, eventually, scientists can get this to happen on a smartphone anywhere in the world. (Daniel Akst, 2/10)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.