Opinion writers weigh in on these health care issues and others.
The Hill: USDA Abandons America’s Schoolchildren
In his State of the Union message, President Trump focused on giving all American schoolchildren the chance to succeed. Unfortunately, Sonny Perdue, his secretary of Agriculture, is doing just the opposite. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed “School Meals Flexibilities” rule for school menus is a disaster for millions of children. It is a full retreat from science-based health and nutrition principles, is severely misaligned with today’s research, and could be considered a human rights violation of young Americans. In context, America is facing a health epidemic of biblical proportions. The explosion of lifestyle-related diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, stroke and cancer is adding trillions of dollars to our national health care costs, and much of it is preventable and can be traced to the food choices made by Americans, which are adopted at a young age. (Casey Means and Grady Means, 2/12)
New England Journal of Medicine: The Climate Crisis And Clinical Practice
A wave of heat hit us as we opened the door, like we were in the Sahara Desert!” Sweat was beading on the forehead of the emergency medical technician as he wheeled in an elderly man with a reported fever, whose apparent confusion had led his wife to call 911. In the midst of a record-breaking heat wave, the pair was found in a top-floor apartment with no air conditioning and only one partially open window. The man was transferred to a bed, where a rectal thermometer registered nearly 106°F. We diagnosed heatstroke and rushed him to our highest-urgency area to begin cooling him. Increasingly, such patients are becoming the human face of the climate crisis, as recognition of its health harms grows. (Renee N. Salas, 2/13)
The Hill: Who’s Hungry: Erasing Food Insecurity
When I suggested to my patients during their regular visits that they buy fresh vegetables or 1 percent fat milk for a healthier diet, many stated those items were not available close to where they lived. They spoke of food deserts on the South Side of Chicago years before any reports had been published. Despite efforts to eradicate food deserts in Chicago, they persist. The same geographical areas also correlated with high rates of obesity, congestive heart failure, hypertension and obesity, and diabetes. Fresh food was not grown or sold there, but diseases, nourished by racism, were. The food that people bought was not healthy and did not last until the end of the month. They did not have money and access to buy healthy food. (Irene Martinez, 2/12)
St. Louis Post Dispatch: Trump’s Budget Proposal Would Take From The Poor To Prop Up The Rich — Again
President Donald Trump on Monday released a $4.8 trillion fiscal 2021 federal budget proposal that would cut food stamps, tighten Medicaid and other safety-net programs and reduce environmental protection spending, while extending tax cuts that have already added $1 trillion to the deficit. The GOP, which spent the entire Obama era harping that deficit spending was irresponsible even in those dire economic times, is now proposing far deeper deficit spending in a strong economy. Trump and the GOP are sending a clear message with this budget: They think they can ride to reelection on the growing economy that they inherited. Meanwhile, they’re banking on voters not recognizing that the overwhelming beneficiaries of that growth are the already-rich. (2/11)
Philadelphia Inquirer: Overdose Prevention Sites Promote Public Health And Don’t Increase Crime
In Philadelphia, 1,116 people died of a preventable drug overdose in 2018. When the city Department of Public Health released this data last May, many community members saw a success: an 8% reduction in deaths from the year prior. But we cannot neglect the loss of 1,116 sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors when overdose deaths are preventable. The reported decrease is not only from fewer individuals experiencing overdose — it happened because more overdoses were nonfatal, thanks to the access and distribution of naloxone throughout the city. From July 1, 2017, to June 6, 2018, the Department of Public Health distributed more than 37,000 doses of naloxone throughout Philadelphia. Because naloxone is available without a prescription, can reverse an overdose, and lower the fatality risk of fentanyl exposures, it is a highly successful strategy for harm reduction. (Brittany Salerno and Jeanmarie Perrone, 2/12)
The New York Times: An Army Doctor’s First Loss Of The Vietnam War: The Woman He Loved
I was 26 when I was sent to Vietnam, along with 2.7 million men and women of my generation. As an infantry battalion surgeon, I cared for soldiers’ wounds and helped treat their pain — but for me, going to war was also tied to the distress of leaving my first love. I was a doctor and she was a licensed practical nurse at a hospital in Hartford, Conn. Our work had brought us together. Going to war would break us apart. Medical school was the academic equivalent of military boot camp. My fellow hospital interns and I endured a draconian schedule that left us in a constant state of sleep-deprived exhaustion; we might enter the hospital on Thursday morning and not leave until early Saturday. (Jeffrey Brown, 2/13)
Stat: Federated Learning Offers Safer Collaborations For Health Research
What if we could learn from massive collections of data while avoiding the privacy and other risks typically associated with sharing such information? The Mayo Clinic has taken a step toward making that possible with its announcement that the first venture of the Mayo Clinic Platform will use federated learning as a foundational technology of if its privacy model. (Marielle S. Gross and Robert C. Miller, Jr. 2/13)
Boston Globe: Mental Health Care Is A Vital To Routine Health Care
According to a 2018 report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, nearly 1 in 4 adults sought mental health or substance use disorder care for themselves or a family member, and over half experienced difficulty obtaining that care. That is unacceptable, and would never be tolerated for traditional medical or surgical services.There is virtually no area of our economic, civic, and personal lives that is not touched by the need for mental health and wellness care. (Karen E. Spilka, Julian Cyr, and Cindy F. Friedman, 2/13)
The Washington Post: New Mothers Don’t Get Enough Sleep. That Needs To Change.
“He only sleeps if he’s being held,” I told my pediatrician at my son’s 2-week checkup. “Or,” I paused, fearful of shame, “in the swing.” Without looking up from his doctor computer thing, my pediatrician immediately lectured me about safe sleep and SIDS. When I told him we had tried everything and nothing else worked and sleep deprivation had plunged me into postpartum depression after the births of my two older kids, he lectured me about therapy. When I told him I was on Zoloft and in weekly communication with my therapist, he told me to hang in there. (Sara Petersen, 2/12)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.