Longer Looks: Puerto Rico’s Health Care; Cancer Drugs In Africa & Undermining Obamacare

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

FiveThirtyEight: If Puerto Rico Were A State, Its Health Care System Would Recover Faster From Maria
Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane, health care providers are still struggling. Almost all of the community health centers — which are a lifeline for the poorest people — on the western half of the island were still closed Friday or operating at partial capacity. There are serious concerns about how they and other health service providers will begin even basic recovery in many places where diesel is still scarce and communication almost nonexistent. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, 10/9)

The New York Times: As Cancer Tears Through Africa, Drug Makers Draw Up A Battle Plan
In a remarkable initiative modeled on the campaign against AIDS in Africa, two major pharmaceutical companies, working with the American Cancer Society, will steeply discount the prices of cancer medicines in Africa. Under the new agreement, the companies — Pfizer, based in New York, and Cipla, based in Mumbai — have promised to charge rock-bottom prices for 16 common chemotherapy drugs. The deal, initially offered to a half-dozen countries, is expected to bring lifesaving treatment to tens of thousands who would otherwise die. (McNeil, 10/7)

WIRED: The Speculum Finally Gets A Modern Redesign
That the speculum is old is not, on its face, a problem. It’s that the design is neither optimal for patients nor physicians. Doctors have to stretch the speculum’s bills wide in order to see as far back as the cervix, and even then, it’s not always possible to get a good look inside. (Some specula come with built-in lights, but the problem has more to do with tissue falling in than the darkness of the vaginal canal.) All of that pressure causes discomfort; one review of the medical literature found that some women even avoid the gynecologist because of the dreaded device. (Arielle Pardes, 10/5)

Vox: I’m An OB-GYN Who Had A 2nd-Trimester Abortion. The 20-Week Ban Bill Is Dangerous.
For women who choose to end a pregnancy in the second trimester — medically defined as between the 13th and the 27th week of gestation — the reasons often involve medical complications. As an obstetrician and a woman who has had a second-trimester abortion, I must emphasize the damaging effects of this bill. Without my procedure, I would have been condemned to carry to term a baby doomed to suffer and die — even as I continued to see patients and delivered other people’s healthy babies. (Cheryl Axelrod, 10/9)

The New York Times: Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?
The disintegration of Jake’s life took him by surprise. It happened early in his junior year of high school, while he was taking three Advanced Placement classes, running on his school’s cross-country team and traveling to Model United Nations conferences. It was a lot to handle, but Jake — the likable, hard-working oldest sibling in a suburban North Carolina family — was the kind of teenager who handled things. Though he was not prone to boastfulness, the fact was he had never really failed at anything. Not coincidentally, failure was one of Jake’s biggest fears. He worried about it privately; maybe he couldn’t keep up with his peers, maybe he wouldn’t succeed in life. The relentless drive to avoid such a fate seemed to come from deep inside him. He considered it a strength. (Denizet-Lewis, 10/11)

Huffington Post: Trump Has A New Plan To Undermine Obamacare And It Doesn’t Need Congress 
President Donald Trump has already done a lot to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, whether it’s slashing the program’s advertising budget or threatening to cut off some payments that insurers need to cover their costs.Now Trump is thinking about using his executive authority to do something that could be even more damaging to the law ― and, arguably, more threatening to people who depend on it for coverage. (Jonathan Cohn, 10/9)

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