Opinion writers tackle these and other health issues.
The New York Times: Another Disability Disaster In The Making
On Nov. 18, the Social Security Administration announced its proposal to conduct roughly 2.6 million additional eligibility reviews of adults and children currently receiving Social Security disability benefits in the next decade. If undertaken, the change would be likely to result in the loss of benefits for many thousands of disabled citizens of all ages — raising the specter of a failed attempt by the Reagan administration in the early 1980s to shrink federal spending on assistance programs. For reasons both political and humane, President Trump and his policymakers should not make the same damaging mistake. (Jonathan M. Stein, 1/16)
The Washington Post: Elizabeth Warren And Bernie Sanders Are Pulling Apart In More Ways Than One
If you watched the debate closely, however, you realized that they’re also pulling apart in other ways. Despite similar-sounding critiques of corporate power, and nearly identical Medicare-for-all plans, the two of them actually offer quite different theories of politics, government and power — and of what sort of coalition the Democrats might put together to oust President Trump from the Oval Office. The distinction was clearest in their answers on health care, where Sanders issued yet another rousing defense of Medicare-for-all. (Megan McArdle, 1/15)
Stat: Why Black Doctors Like Me Are Leaving Academic Medicine
Adecade ago, the Department of Health and Human Services made “to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups” one of its goals for Healthy People 2020. It didn’t come close. Black Americans continue to experience some of the worst health outcomes of any racial group. Black men have the shortest life expectancies. Black women have the highest maternal mortality rates. Black babies have the highest infant mortality rates. (Uche Blackstock 1/16)
The Hill: Reframing The Antimicrobial Resistance Crisis
Antimicrobials are special amongst classes of pharmaceuticals for several reasons, including their use in the treatment of infections and prevention for myriad medical procedures that range from chemotherapy to organ transplantation. Antimicrobials also have a national security role as they are a vital component of the medical countermeasures to be used during a biological attack. The public health police power of the government may also require antimicrobials to intervene during contagious infectious disease outbreaks effectively. (Dr. Amesh A. Adalja and Greg Salmieri, 1/15)
The Hill: Improving Federal Law For Pregnant Workers
Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act 41 years ago, but as we enter a new decade, pregnancy discrimination is still alive and well. Across industries — from retail workers to police officers — unfair treatment is all too common. The reality is that pregnant workers, especially those in low-wage and physically demanding jobs, are still being treated like second class citizens, facing unique — and often insurmountable — legal hurdles to get the modest accommodations they need to remain healthy and on the job. (Dina Bakst, 1/15)
Los Angeles Times: Despite Almost No Evidence Of Abuse, Trump Plans To Narrow Medicaid Eligibility
For all that President Trump loves to portray himself as a protector of Americans’ healthcare — witness his fatuous new claim to have “saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare,” when he’s actually undermined those safeguards — perhaps the most consistent administration healthcare policy has been an attack on Medicaid. The new year brings the opening of a new front in this war on the government program specifically aimed at bringing coverage to low-income households. The White House says it’s planning to tighten eligibility rules for Medicaid. (Michael Hiltzik, 1/14)
Health Affairs: Cutting Medicaid Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Will Harm Community-Level Public Transportation
Medicaid’s non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) benefit is stuck in the crosscurrents of competing trends: On the one hand, the value of the benefit is increasingly apparent due to recent research and the increasing interest in NEMT as a tool to address social determinants of health. On the other, the Trump administration is persistently taken actions (including a Request for Information scheduled for this year and a regulation projected for 2021 that will have the effect of curtailing Medicaid NEMT) even as the administration advances policies to promote NEMT in other health care markets (including as a transportation supplemental benefit in Medicare Advantage). (Michael Adelberg, Scott Bogren and Alexandra King, 1/14)
The New York Times: How To Turn Depressing Social Media Into A Positive Influence
A friend of mine digitally disappeared recently. Dropped all social media. Several others mentioned they might do the same. No doubt you’ve seen similar posts from people you know (and people you don’t) about needing a break from their digital lives. On one hand, I can sympathize. The current state of the modern world is a billion voices screaming for your attention, and it’s easy to let the most negative ones filter through and bring you down. It can be exhausting, and if your real life is already a struggle, adding digital gloom can be overwhelming. (Geoffrey Morrison, 1/15)
The Washington Post: How Small Family Rituals Can Help Combat Too Much Screen Time
Every day after school when I was a teenager, my family performed this quirky little ritual of standing in the kitchen, snacking and talking about our day. It evolved from our mutual love of snacks, and from our shared hatred of having to put things on plates and walk more than two feet to enjoy them. I used to balance on one leg, tree pose-style, and regale my parents with school play gossip while they complained about their respective co-workers. The ritual would end with us fighting over whether to cook dinner or get delivery. (Ally Hirschlag, 1/15)
CNN: Reading Is Fundamental — To The Family’s Happiness
A couple of years ago, when my older daughter was 8, she gently told my wife and me that she’d gotten too old for us to read her books anymore. We didn’t try to talk her out of it or numerate the many benefits of reading aloud to a child (even after they can do so themselves). We were disappointed but respected her agency. When she was a toddler, we began a nearly daily ritual called Milk & Books. It quickly became the best part of any ordinary day as we devoured picture and chapter books that ranged from hilarious Shel Silverstein poetry to the dramatic prairie recollections of Laura Ingalls Wilder. (David Allan, 1/16)
Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader: Insulin Price Hikes Are Killing Kentuckians. The General Assembly Needs To Stop Them.
One in four Americans with diabetes admit to rationing insulin due to cost. For some, the cost of insulin was the cost of their lives. For others, sacrifices of life savings, money budgeted for rent, mortgage, utility bills, college education, and dream jobs are all too common. Kentucky #insulin4all advocates are asking the legislature to pass three bills in the 2020 session to ensure that every Kentuckian who needs insulin has it without searching for coupons or applying for assistance programs that rarely grant requests for help. (Sarah Ferguson and Angela Lautner, 1/14)
Louisville (Ky.) Courier Journal: We Won’t Accept Extremist Kentucky Politicians Trying To Ban Abortion
Pregnant Kentuckians already face numerous abortion restrictions passed during the 2019 legislative session, and extremist politicians are working hard to make things worse in 2020, specifically with Kentucky’s own version of President Donald Trump’s “gag rule,” presented in pre-filed bills for our Republican supermajority to consider: House Bill 142 is a “gag rule” in Kentucky that prevents public funding recipients (read: clergy, therapists and counselors) from referring patients for abortion care. This bill places an unconstitutional barrier on providers and is only meant to shame and harm pregnant people. (Kim Greene, 1/15)
Los Angeles Times: An Empty Hospital. An Exploding Homeless Crisis. Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?
When I texted L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday night to ask about the chance of snapping up St. Vincent, he said he’d just gotten that same question in a supermarket parking lot. The problem, he said, is that the city and county don’t have enough cash sitting around to buy the place. But Garcetti said it wasn’t out of the question for the city, the county and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to jointly lease or rent St. Vincent, and his staff is researching the possibility. (Steve Lopez, 1/15)
Huffington Post: Child Care Is Expensive. So Is Not Fixing Its Problems.
America’s child care system costs the country hundreds of billions of dollars every year, according to a new report. But Americans don’t realize it, the report says, because a big chunk of those costs come in the form of lost wages and opportunities for working parents and child care providers ― and shoddy care for the kids. (Jonathan Cohn, 1/15)
Health Affairs: Patient Influencers Paid By Pharmaceutical Companies Should Be Required To Disclose Industry Ties
An industry niche of vendors who identify, vet, and maintain patient recruits has developed; WEGO Health, for example, boasts of “a network of over 100,000 Patient Leaders spanning virtually every health condition and interest area” who “have a profound influence on how others navigate their health and health care.” … An article on WEGO Health’s website defines individuals with 1,000 to 100,000 social media followers as micro-influencers who “may have a recognizable, celebrity-like reputation within a specific niche.” … One problem is that corporate support gives patients with industry-friendly views more visibility, allowing them to drown out opposing views. Another is that industry-aligned positions shared by patient leaders may be misleading and not based on evidence. A third problem is that for patient leaders, who have built their trusted communities without any outside resources, revenue from — and warm relationships with — industry may in fact influence what they believe. (Judy Butler and Adriane Fugh-Berman, 1/10)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.