Opinion writers and medical experts from around the country express views on a number of health care issues.
The New York Times: The Case For The Health Taxes
The politics of soda has changed pretty radically. Just a decade ago, virtually no countries or cities had a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.Then Mexico enacted a substantial tax in 2014, and it started a trend. Soda taxes now exist in India, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. A tax will go into effect this year or next year in South Africa, Britain and Ireland. In the United States, Philadelphia, Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle are among the cities that have such a tax. The argument for these taxes is compelling. Sweetened beverages are the single largest contributor to the obesity epidemic, scientists say, and that epidemic exacts a big toll, in both health problems and medical costs. (David Leonhardt, 1/18)
New England Journal of Medicine: Redefining Hypertension — Assessing The New Blood-Pressure Guidelines
Like physical guidelines designed to ensure that hikers stay on the safest path through tricky terrain, expert medical guidelines aim to steer clinicians toward best practices. The new Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults issued by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) tries to accomplish this task by extending the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee (JNC7) and the Expert Panel Report to include updated data from clinical trials and by accentuating previously underemphasized sections of the 2003 and 2013 reports. (Dr. George Bakris and Dr.Matthew Sorrentino,1/17)
USA Today: Is Trump Losing His Marbles? The World Deserves To Know.
After a year in office, President Trump keeps trying to show that he’s up to the job. He did all right last week during an hour-long immigration meeting with congressional leaders — and with the media he detests brought in to capture his starring performance. Then he tossed it away by regressing to typical gutter behavior with his low-class “shithole” remark. Given his numerous attacks on women, the disabled, Muslims and many others, I don’t know why folks were shocked. You know what shocks me? When he makes it through to sundown without making a fool of himself. (Paul Brandus, 1/17)
USA Today: Don’t Diagnose Our President. Diagnose Our Enemies Instead.
Some of President Trump’s tweets and off the cuff comments may seem disinhibited, exhibiting a lack of good social judgment and calling on a need for restraint. But linking this pattern of behavior to a possible larger neuropsychological issue is pure speculation and a dangerous leap to take. There has been way too much doctor and pundit-driven speculation in the news media already about Trump’s supposed mental health deficiencies. I endorse the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater Rule, which advises members not to armchair diagnose or assess public figures they’ve never met or received consent from. (Marc Siege, 1/17)
Reuters: Nursing Home Study Raises Questions On Medicare Managed Care Networks
Managed care is the hot trend in Medicare, with the number of seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans projected to soar over the coming decade. These plans offer simplicity by combining all the different parts of Medicare into a single buying decision – and they can save you money. But before you sign up, ask this question: What happens if I get really sick? … But like any type of managed care coverage, there is a trade-off: you must use in-network healthcare providers. … Now, a new study raises questions about the quality of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) that are included in Medicare Advantage provider networks. (Mark Miller, 1/18)
The Wall Street Journal: Review: Living ‘With The End In Mind’
Death is the last thing most people want to think about, yet nothing could be more important—especially with advancing age or after a bleak diagnosis—than preparing for the end and understanding how it can happen. These days, such thinking is likely to include learning about palliative care, a specialty that began with the hospice movement in Britain in the 1960s and has become a growing branch of Western medicine.In “With the End in Mind,” Kathryn Mannix, a British physician, chronicles her career spent in the field. … Dr. Mannix imparts valuable lessons for anyone who faces the loss of a family member or a personal reckoning with impending demise. As it happens, the U.S. health-care system is embracing palliative care more and more as an alternative to the relentless and costly treatment that is so common toward the end of life. (Laura Landro, 1/18)
New England Journal of Medicine: Elimination Of Cost Sharing For Screening Mammography In Medicare Advantage Plans
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) required most insurers and the Medicare program to eliminate cost sharing for screening mammography. … Conclusion: The elimination of cost sharing for screening mammography under the ACA was associated with an increase in rates of use of this service among older women for whom screening is recommended. (Amal N. Trivedi, Bryan Leyva, Yoojin Lee, Orestis A. Panagiotou, and Issa J. Dahabreh, 1/18)
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Is Ohio’s Newest Killer – But We Can Combat This Scourge
Fentanyl has started killing cocaine users in Ohio at a faster pace than the death toll for heroin. The drug’s movement into the cocaine supply is an enormous public health threat and likely will cause another record overdose death toll in Ohio in 2017 when all data are in, and possibly 2018. (Dennis Cauchon, 1/19)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.