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Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

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Political Cartoon: Permission To Pig Out

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: Permission To Pig Out" by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker, from 'Dustin'.

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Health Law Issues And Implementation

Early Effort By Rubio To Limit Federal Payments To Insurers Is At Heart Of Current Turmoil

Some of the co-op failures and the threat from UnitedHealthcare about a possible pull-out in 2017 are prompted by low levels of federal payments to help shield insurers from losses in the exchanges. Rubio helped lead an effort to stop those payments. Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell says she is trying to get more information about costs to consumers.

The Hill: Rubio Budget Win Is Dealing Heavy Blow To ObamaCare
Sen. Marco Rubio may have dealt the biggest blow in the GOP’s five-year war against ObamaCare. A 2014 budget measure inspired by the Florida senator and presidential hopeful is pushing some insurers to drop out of the ObamaCare exchanges, experts say. ... This fall, more than a dozen health insurers representing 800,000 people have dropped out of the ObamaCare exchanges, many out of fear that the administration no longer has the cash to cushion their losses in the costly early years of the marketplace. ... The angst in the industry centers on an obscure program in the healthcare law known as “risk corridors” that was designed to shield insurers against losses. Rubio in 2013 went on the warpath against the program, decrying it as a “taxpayer bailout.” (Ferris, 11/24)

Bloomberg: Top Obamacare Official Makes Tweaks As Insurer Complaints Grow
To reduce turbulence in Obamacare’s fledgling insurance markets, the Obama administration’s top health official is pushing to get more information to consumers about what they’ll actually pay for health care, which can include out-of-pocket costs as well as premiums. The changes are meant to help people choose coverage that fits their needs when up-front premiums and out-of-pocket costs are added together, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said during an interview at Bloomberg News’s Washington bureau. Cases of patients signing up, paying for a time, and then dropping out of Obamacare have plagued insurers like UnitedHealth Group Inc., which is debating whether to exit the government-run market to avoid more financial losses. (Tracer and Winkler, 11/24)

Kaiser Health News: As HMOs Dominate, Alternatives Become More Expensive
Consumers seeking health policies with the most freedom in choosing doctors and hospitals are finding far fewer of those plans offered on the insurance marketplaces next year. And the premiums are rising faster than for other types of coverage. The plans, usually known as preferred provider organizations or PPOs, pay for a portion of the costs of out-of-network hospitals and physicians. They are the most common type offered by employers, and some consumers in the individual marketplaces find them more appealing than health maintenance organizations and other policies that pay only for medical facilities and doctors with whom they have contracts. (Appleby and Jordan, 11/25)

News outlets also report on state developments -

The Associated Press: Health Co-Op Failure In NY Leaves Doctors Owed Millions
The sudden collapse of the largest nonprofit insurance cooperative created by President Barack Obama's health care law is causing headaches in New York, especially for medical providers owed millions of dollars for treating the failed plan's patients. More than 200,000 people insured through Health Republic Insurance of New York have until Monday to sign up with another company if they want to maintain coverage in December. State regulators ordered the insurer to shut down at the end of the month because of severe financial problems. They are also investigating what they say were inaccurate financial filings by the company. (Caruso, 11/24)

The Associated Press: Arizona Health Insurance Co-Op To Close Shop Dec. 31
Executives with Arizona's nonprofit health insurance co-op said Tuesday that they have failed to come up with additional financial backing and the insurer plans to shut down all operations Dec. 31. The announcement by Meritus Health Partners means 59,000 Arizonans it now covers need to find a new insurer by Dec. 15 if they want coverage on Jan. 1. The decision comes nearly a month after the state Department of Insurance suspended its right to sell new policies or renew current ones and placed it under formal supervision. Federal officials also pulled its policies from the health insurance marketplace website late last month. (Christie, 11/24)

The Associated Press: MNsure Says More Qualifying For Subsidies This Year
More Minnesota residents are qualifying for financial help this year to buy coverage on the state's health insurance exchange. MNsure announced Monday that more than 70 percent of the customers buying private insurance so far this month have received federal subsidies. That's up from roughly 50 percent last year. (11/23)

The Tampa Bay Times: Tampa Again Opening Recreation Centers To Obamacare Navigators
For a third straight year, Tampa is opening its recreation centers to health care navigators so residents can get advice about signing up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. This year, Tampa is competing with 20 other cities in a White House-sponsored Healthy Communities Challenge competition to see which can sign up the highest percentage of people who lack coverage. The winning community will get a visit from President Barack Obama to highlight its success. (Danielson, 11/24)

Study Finds Link Between Early Cervical Cancer Detection And Young Women's Increased Health Coverage

Researchers find a substantial increase in the number of women under the age of 26 who get a diagnosis of early-stage cervical cancer since the implementation of the health law, which allowed young adults to stay on their parents' plans until that age.

The New York Times: Rise In Early Cervical Cancer Detection Is Linked To Affordable Care Act
Cancer researchers say there has been a substantial increase in women under the age of 26 who have received a diagnosis of early-stage cervical cancer, a pattern that they say is most likely an effect of the Affordable Care Act. Starting in 2010, a provision of the health law allowed dependents to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. The number of uninsured young adults fell substantially in the years that followed. The share of 19- to 25-year-olds without health insurance declined to 21 percent in the first quarter of 2014 from 34 percent in 2010 — a decrease of about four million people, federal data show. (Tavernise, 11/24)

USA Today: Early Detection Of Cervical Cancer Increased After ACA Expanded Coverage
The Affordable Care Act may have helped more women get early treatment for cervical cancer, according to a preliminary new study. The fraction of young women whose cervical cancers were found and treated early -- when women have a better chance of survival -- increased after 2010, when the ACA expanded insurance coverage to young people by allowing them to remain on their parents' health plans. (Szabo, 11/24)

In Some Cities And States, Medicaid Expansion Funds Provide Help To Homeless People

Meanwhile, in Alabama, a recent state task force recommendation gives the idea of Medicaid expansion additional momentum. Obamacare Medicaid Expansion Could Cover 290,000 In Alabama
John Dunnam of Warrior works 12 to 20 hours a week as a janitor. He collects a small salary that barely covers rent, food and other bills. It certainly wouldn't cover the monthly cost of health insurance on the federal exchange. ... Dunnam falls into the Medicaid gap, a group of patients who were supposed to be covered by an expansion of Medicaid – the health care program for low-income adults under Obamacare. ... On Wednesday, the Health Care Improvement Task Force unanimously recommended that the governor and legislature reverse their earlier decision and close the coverage gap for nearly 300,000 patients like Dunnam. (Yurkanin, 11/24)

Capitol Hill Watch

GOP Readies For Hill Fight On Health Law And Planned Parenthood

The Associated Press examines the tactics and issues that will be involved in the Republican push to overturn the 2010 health law and federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Also, Politico Pro looks at competing congressional strategies on mental health overhauls.

The Associated Press: GOP Sets Senate Push Against Health Law, Planned Parenthood
Congressional Republicans hope a post-Thanksgiving drive to obliterate President Barack Obama's health care law and block Planned Parenthood's federal funds will spotlight their fierce support for top-tier conservative causes. The certain veto waiting at the White House will only help them sharpen their stance for voters, they say. Yet even as GOP leaders express optimism that they'll push the bill through the Senate, the run-up to the debate reveals the tightrope they face to win the needed votes. (Fram, 11/24)

Politico Pro: Mental Health Bill Collides With Guns — Again
The spate of mass killings over the past year reignited mental health reform efforts in both chambers of Congress. A bipartisan bill is gaining momentum in the Senate, with the HELP committee likely to take it up early next year. The House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee recently approved a similar bill and Speaker Paul Ryan this month said on “60 Minutes” that he wants Congress to move ahead on mental health. But the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, has been working behind the scenes to drum up support for his own mental health legislation, which includes language endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Cornyn says his bill would boost the federal background check system to prevent guns from getting into the hands of those with serious mental illness. His critics say the legislation actually loosens restrictions on gun purchases, under the umbrella of mental health reform. (Ehley, 11/24)

Campaign 2016

Carson's Early Universal Care Plan Failed To Take Flight; O'Malley Unveils Health Proposal

Before entering GOP politics, Dr. Ben Carson tried to develop a nonprofit that would provide financial assistance to patients without insurance, but it didn't work. In other campaign news, Democratic presidential contender Martin O'Malley offers his plan for health care, and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio refines his comments about abortion.

Politico: Carsoncare: The Doctor's Ill-Fated Dream Of Solving America's Health Care Woes
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson thought he had a way to create a system of universal health care to cover millions of uninsured Americans. ... Long before he considered a presidential bid, the world famous neurosurgeon envisioned building Angels of the OR into an endowment that would generate enough interest income to cover uninsured patients expenses for neurological surgeries and other medical costs. He even pitched the idea to a congressional subcommittee in 2006 .... But it didn't work out that way: The national fund did not materialize, and over nine years of operation, Angels of the OR [Operating Room] generated less than $150,000 for patient care and helped 34 patients cover portions of their medical bills, according to its tax forms. (Arnsdorf and Cheney, 11/25)

CBS News: Martin O'Malley Unveils His Healthcare Plan
Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley on Tuesday unveiled a healthcare plan that would seek to expand healthcare coverage to 95 percent of people in the U.S. over the next few years. The 10-page plan would build on ObamaCare and crack down on prescription drug costs, among others things. (Shabad, 11/24)

The Hill: O'Malley Unveils Healthcare Plan As He Looks To Revive Campaign
Vowing to crack down on the nation’s pharmaceutical industry while expanding coverage to 95 percent of all people, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley on Tuesday laid out his healthcare plan. The former Maryland governor pledged to protect poorer Americans by tackling drug “price gouging,” rising deductibles and healthcare mergers in a platform that largely resembles his Democratic presidential rivals. (Ferris, 11/24)

The Associated Press: Rubio Finesses Abortion Stance Criticized By Democrats
When Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio staked out a hard-line position on abortion in the first GOP debate, Hillary Rodham Clinton took notice. The Democratic front-runner quickly blasted Rubio's assertion that he did not support abortion exceptions for victims of rape and incest as "offensive and troubling." ... Since then, Rubio has been finessing his statements. In an interview with The Associated Press, Rubio said he unequivocally backs abortion exceptions when the life of the mother is in danger. He said he also would back legislation with allowances for cases of rape and incest — even though he personally doesn't support those exceptions. (Pace, 11/25)


Drugmaker Will Cut List Price To Hospitals For Anti-Parasitic Drug But Not For Consumers

Turing Pharmaceuticals says hospitals can earn a discount of up to 50 percent depending on how much of the drug they use. But the price will still be well above what the drug sold for before Turing bought the rights to the drug in August.

The Wall Street Journal: Turing To Discount Daraprim Anti-Parasitic Drug As Much As 50%
Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, which drew the ire of patient groups and politicians after raising the price of an anti-parasite tablet more than 50-fold, said it will discount the drug as much as 50% to hospitals and take other steps to help patients afford the cost. ... The amount of the discount Turing announced on Tuesday will depend on how much of the drug hospitals use. Even at the full 50% off, however, the drug will still cost far more than before Turing increased its price. In addition, health insurers would have to pick up the tab for patients who keep taking the drug after leaving the hospital. (Rockoff, 11/24)

The New York Times: Turing Refuses To Lower List Price Of Toxoplasmosis Drug
Turing Pharmaceuticals, which sparked a fury two months ago by sharply increasing the price of a 62-year-old drug, said on Tuesday that it would not reduce the list price of that drug after all. But it said it would offer discounts of up to 50 percent to hospitals and would take other measures to help patients afford the medicine. (Pollack, 11/24)

Bloomberg: Drugmaker Turing Suggests It Won't Cut List Price Of Daraprim
Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, the drugmaker that raised the price of an anti-infective drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent, suggested that it won’t cut the drug’s list price, instead offering to negotiate discounts with hospitals. “A reduction in Daraprim’s list price would not translate into a benefit for patients,” Nancy Retzlaff, Turing’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement. The company did say it would negotiate discounts with hospitals of as much as 50 percent. (Langreth, 11/24)

In other drug industry news -

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Panel: BioMarin Muscular Dystrophy Drug Trials Didn’t Prove Effectiveness
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel concluded that a new drug from BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. hasn’t been proven to effectively treat the fatal disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy, saying studies simply didn’t prove the medicine worked in most patients. The outside panel found that trials of the drug, called drisapersen, fell short of proving it helped children with the illness, which is progressive, crippling and afflicts male children. But some panelists left open the possibility that individual children might yet respond to the drug, despite the overall negative finding. (Burton, 11/24)

Bloomberg: After Pfizer-Allergan Deal, Large Inversions May Be Hard To Find
Pfizer Inc.’s $160 billion megadeal with Allergan Plc, which comes with the benefit of an overseas tax address, is likely to be envied by competitors who won’t be able to do much to mimic it. The idea is certainly alluring. Many large drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co., are flush with cash and under pressure from investors to continue to grow quickly. Doing an “inversion” deal to relocate their legal domiciles abroad would give them a lower tax rate and let them use cash earned overseas in the U.S. without having to pay a 35 percent levy to repatriate the money. (Chen, 11/24)

Public Health And Education

Feds Propose Major Changes To Rules Protecting People Participating In Medical Tests

While many of the revisions are seen as long overdue, others are triggering debate among scientists who say the language is overly complex or vague. In other public health news, The Marshall Projects reports on the benefits of giving new hepatitis C treatments to inmates, and NPR separates flu-shot fact from fiction.

NPR: A Controversial Rewrite For Rules To Protect Humans In Experiments
Throughout history, atrocities have been committed in the name of medical research. Nazi doctors experimented on concentration camp prisoners. American doctors let poor black men with syphilis go untreated in the Tuskegee study. The list goes on. To protect people participating in medical research, the federal government decades ago put in place strict rules on the conduct of human experiments. Now the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a major revision of these regulations, known collectively as the Common Rule. It's the first change proposed in nearly a quarter-century. (Stein, 11/25)

The Marshall Project: Testing For Hepatitis C In Prisons Could Save Many Lives On The Outside
Around the country, prisoners are clamoring to be cured of a potentially deadly disease, while prison administrators are reeling from the treatment’s price tag. Hepatitis C, a virus that can eventually cause cirrhosis, liver cancer, and other serious outcomes, affects some three million Americans, one-third of whom pass through U.S. prisons and jails each year. One 12-week treatment course can cost upwards of $90,000. With a constitutional obligation to provide medical care to inmates, prison officials—whose health-care budgets are a zero-sum proposition—are struggling to treat even a fraction of those with the disease. (Schwartzapfel, 11/24)

NPR: Worried About The Flu Shot? Let's Separate Fact From Fiction
Every year before influenza itself arrives to circulate, misinformation and misconceptions about the flu vaccine begin circulating. Some of these contain a grain of truth but end up distorted, like a whispered secret in the Telephone game. But if you're looking for an excuse not to get the flu vaccine, last year's numbers of its effectiveness would seem a convincing argument on their own. By all measures, last season's flu vaccine flopped, clocking in at about 23 percent effectiveness in preventing lab-confirmed influenza infections. But that's not the whole story, said Lisa Grohskopf, a medical officer in the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Haelle, 11/24)

CDC Updates Guidelines On Who Should Take HIV Prevention Drug Truvada

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pushing to increase awareness of the medication, also known as PrEP, since less than 1 percent of at-risk Americans are taking it. And USA Today reports that one-third of primary care doctors don't know about the drug, according to a not-yet-published national survey.

USA Today: A Daily Pill Can Prevent HIV Infection, But Few Take It
Although a daily pill can prevent HIV infection, very few people actually take it. About 1.2 million Americans are at high risk for HIV and could benefit from taking the pill, sold under the brand name Truvada, in a strategy that doctors call “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies in men who have sex with men show that taking PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV by 92%. Studies in injection drug users have found that PrEP reduced the risk of infection by more than 70%. Yet only about 21,000 people – less than 1% of those who could benefit – are taking PrEP, the CDC’s Jonathan Mermin said. (Szabo, 11/24)

The Washington Post: CDC On HIV Prevention Pill: How To Tell Whether You Should Be Taking The Medication
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is making a big push to get more people at "substantial" risk of getting HIV to start on a daily pill that has been shown to dramatically reduce their risk of infection. Known as PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis, the therapy involves taking a daily pill — Truvada — that makes it more difficult for the virus to establish a permanent infection when a person is exposed to it through sexual contact or injectable drug use. Studies have shown that it can reduce risk by 70 to more than 90 percent. (Cha, 11/24)

ACLU, Abortion Providers File Lawsuit To Press MaineCare To Fund Abortions

The legal challenge argues that depriving low-income women of abortion coverage is against the state's constitution. Meanwhile, in Missouri, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia has stopped performing abortions, leaving only one clinic in the state that continues to do the procedure.

Bangor Daily News: ACLU, Abortion Providers Sue Maine Over Medicaid Access
Abortion providers and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state on Tuesday in a bid to overturn a longstanding rule limiting low-income women’s access to a state-funded abortion. It’s buried in a set of rules developed in 1981 and last revised in 2010, before Gov. Paul LePage took office. However, it could set up a politically charged court fight with the anti-abortion Republican, whose spokeswoman called the lawsuit “little more than a frivolous public relations stunt.” (Shepherd, 11/24)

The Associated Press: ACLU Of Maine Sues To Force MaineCare To Fund Abortions
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine has filed a lawsuit seeking to force MaineCare to provide funding for abortions. The group filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in Cumberland County Superior Court and says that depriving women of abortion coverage violates the state's constitution. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of three women's health care providers against the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. (11/24)

The Associated Press: Missouri Down To 1 Abortion Clinic After Columbia Stops Them
A Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia has stopped performing abortions, leaving only one clinic in the state still offering them. The clinic on Monday stopped offering non-surgical abortions, which are induced with a pill, because a clinic doctor was set to lose a crucial hospital privilege on Dec. 1. State law requires physicians or centers providing abortions to have certain agreements with local hospitals for patient care, although lawmakers and health department officials are at odds over what specific privileges meet that requirement. (11/24)

In other news, the Food and Drug Administration will release its findings about a much-debated contraceptive implant by the end of February -

The Associated Press: FDA Aims To Publish Essure Safety Review In February
Federal health officials aim to release their findings on a much-debated contraceptive implant by the end of February. The Food and Drug Administration posted a brief statement online about its review of the metallic device, Essure, which has been subject to thousands of complaints by women reporting chronic pain, bleeding and headaches. (Perrone, 11/24)

Key Scientist At Coke Retires After Memos Show Ties To Anti-Obesity Group

The revelations showed the soda giant helped fund research that critics say minimized the effect of sugary drinks on obesity.

The New York Times: Coke’s Chief Scientist, Who Orchestrated Obesity Research, Is Leaving
Coca-Cola’s top scientist is stepping down after revelations that the beverage giant initiated a strategy of funding scientific research that played down the role of Coke products in the spread of obesity. Rhona S. Applebaum, Coke’s chief science and health officer, helped orchestrate the establishment of a nonprofit group known as the Global Energy Balance Network. The group’s members were university scientists who encouraged the public to focus on exercise and worry less about how calories from food and beverages contribute to obesity. (O'Connor, 11/24)

State Watch

State Highlights: Insurers Fight Calif. Medicaid Managed Care Tax; Auditors Say Minn. Health Officials Handled Bids Properly

News outlets report on health care developments in California, Minnesota, Washington and Florida.

Kaiser Health News: Fight Over Medicaid Managed Care Tax Punches Hole in California Budget
California lawmakers are staring down a $1.1 billion hole in next year’s health budget after failing to come up with a way to replace the state’s 'managed care organization tax' on health insurance plans that serve Medi-Cal managed care recipients. It’s a hole big enough that state Gov. Jerry Brown recently used it as a reason to veto 15 health care and other bills sent to him by the state legislature. And unless it’s filled, Brown, a Democrat, is expected to issue a preliminary state budget in January with sizeable cuts to health and human services programs. (Feder Ostrov, 11/25)

The Pioneer Press: Medicaid, MinnesotaCare Bids Handled Correctly, Audit Says
The Minnesota Department of Human Services's recent competitive bidding of its public health programs could save the state hundreds of millions of dollars, but prompted lawsuits and accusations of unfairness from health plans that came out on the losing end of the bid process. Now the Office of the Legislative Auditor, in a preliminary review of the program, has concluded DHS followed applicable laws in how it formulated and scored the health plan bids for the state's MinnesotaCare and Medicaid programs. But the review said changes to state law are needed to address problems that emerged in the bidding process. (Montgomery, 11/24)

The Associated Press: 5 Charged In $580M Southern California Kickback Scheme
Five people, including a former hospital executive and two surgeons, are charged with a massive kickback scheme that resulted in billing $580 million to the government and insurance companies, authorities announced Tuesday. Two already pleaded guilty and the others have agreed to plead guilty in connection to the scheme, which involved paying tens of millions of dollars to dozens of doctors, chiropractors and others to refer patients to two Southern California hospitals for spinal surgeries, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office. (11/24)

The Associated Press: Officials: Psychiatric Hospital Has Made Progress On Safety
State officials said Tuesday that federal officials are satisfied with the progress made at Washington state's largest psychiatric hospital, which had been at risk of losing millions of dollars in federal funding later this week over concerns about patient safety. Officials with the state Department of Social & Health Services said regulators with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services visited the Lakewood facility this week before determining that the hospital will be able to move forward on long-term improvements. (11/24)

The Tampa Bay Times: Florida Approves 5 Nurseries To Grow Medical Marijuana
Five Florida nurseries were selected Monday to cultivate and distribute the first legal marijuana in the state, opening the door to the sale of the noneuphoric strains to treat patients with seizure disorders and cancer by June. The decision moves the state closer to implementing the 2014 law that allows for marijuana extracts that are low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabidiol, or CBD. The law was intended to treat patients with intractable epilepsy and people with advanced cancer. To qualify for the low-THC-based cannabis treatment, patients must obtain permission from a qualified doctor and be added to the Compassionate Use Registry. (Kias, 11/24)

Editorials And Opinions

Viewpoints: Prostate Cancer Screening; Another Abortion Review; Successful Ebola Vaccine

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.

The New York Times: A Better Way To Screen For Prostate Cancer
With prostate cancer, as with other diseases, there has been a vigorous debate about who should be tested. Screening too many people leads to unnecessary treatment, too few and you miss cancers that could have been stopped. A new study points to what may be a better approach: “screen smarter.” (11/25)

USA Today: The Supremes Take Up Abortion Rights, Again
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the most significant case on abortion access in more than two decades. In doing so, it has set the stage for a decisive clash between two disparate conversations about abortion in America that have been on a collision course since Roe v. Wade settled the issue as a matter of law nearly 43 years ago. (Nancy Northup, 11/25)

The New York Times: Amid Failure And Chaos, An Ebola Vaccine
Ebola lingers. A 15-year-old boy in Monrovia, Liberia, his father and his brother are sick with the disease, the first cases in Liberia since June. How the boy caught Ebola is a mystery, but it is likely he had contact with an Ebola survivor. The virus also lingers in the body — and can sicken its host and infect others — even months after recovery. There will most likely be more cases in this epidemic. But now, greater awareness and new tools are in place to contain them better, including a tool we have never had before: an effective vaccine. (Tina Rosenberg, 11/24)

The Wall Street Journal: A Cure For ‘Antibiotic’ Confusion?
Last week the World Health Organization organized the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week with a campaign warning about the perils of antibiotic resistance—when germs become immune to standard treatments, sometimes through misuse of the drugs. Confronting dangerous misconceptions about antibiotics is noble, but could part of the problem be with the word “antibiotic” itself? (Ben Zimmer, 11/24)

The Washington Post: Talking To Dad About Moving From His Home Went Badly, But I’ll Keep Talking
While Dad was in Washington to celebrate his 91st birthday a few weeks ago, my sister Marilyn and I decided to ­show him an independent-living facility. I thought the tour went well. But at a restaurant for lunch afterward, I realized too late that Dad had been unnerved by the experience. Asked to be more specific about his plans for downsizing, he exploded. “I’ve had enough of this,” he said, rising abruptly from his seat. He paid the tab and exited the restaurant so fast that his walking cane barely touched the floor. (Courtland Milloy, 11/24)

The New York Times: Why Punish Drug Users At All?
This interview, the latest in a series on political topics, discusses philosophical issues concerning the criminalization of drug use. My interviewee is Douglas Husak, professor of philosophy at Rutgers University. He is the author of “Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law.” (Gary Gutting, 11/24)