KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: March 20, 2017

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

The New York Times: Trump Plan Eliminates A Global Sentinel Against Disease, Experts Warn
Nobody in the United States has ever died from an intercontinental missile strike. Over the past 50 years, hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on silos, submarines, bombers and satellites to ensure that does not happen. During the same period, nearly 2 million Americans have died from intercontinental virus strikes. The toll includes one American dead of Ebola, 2,000 dead of West Nile virus, 700,000 dead of AIDS, and 1.2 million dead of flu — a virus that returns from abroad each winter. (McNeil, 3/17)

The Washington Post: Proposed Federal Budget Would Devastate Cancer Research, Advocates Say
Cancer researchers and advocacy groups are denouncing President Trump's proposed budget, warning that its 19 percent cut for the National Institutes of Health could cripple or kill former vice president Joe Biden’s cancer “moonshot” initiative and other important biomedical efforts. “Forget about the moonshot. What about everything on the ground?” said George Demetri, an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “Fundamentally, this is so extreme that all I can think is that it’s pushing two orders of magnitude off the grid so that when people come back to less extreme positions it looks normal.” (McGinley, 3/17)

The New York Times: Rural Areas Brace For A Shortage Of Doctors Due To Visa Policy
Small-town America relies on a steady flow of doctors from around the world to deliver babies, treat heart ailments and address its residents’ medical needs. But a recent, little-publicized decision by the government to alter the timetable for some visa applications is likely to delay the arrival of new foreign doctors, and is causing concern in the places that depend on them. (Jordan, 3/18)

The Washington Post: Poison Control Centers Receive 32 Calls A Day About Children Exposed To Opioids
The phone rings once approximately every 45 minutes — that is how often poison control centers in the United States receive calls about children being exposed to prescription opioids, according to a study published Monday. Over a span of 16 years, from January 2000 until December 2015, about 188,000 calls were placed to poison control centers regarding pediatric and teenage exposure to opioids, the study published in the journal Pediatrics found. Sixty percent of the children exposed to opioids were younger than 5, while teenagers accounted for 30 percent. (Naqvi, 3/20)

The Associated Press: No Opioids, Please: Clearing The Way To Refuse Prescriptions
The ease of relapsing into opioid addiction has led a growing number of states to help residents make it clear to medical professionals they do not want to be prescribed the powerful painkillers. Connecticut and Alaska are two of the latest considering legislation this year that would create a “non-opioid directive” patients can put in their medical files, formally notifying health care professionals they do not want to be prescribed or administered opioid medications. (Haigh, 3/19)

The Washington Post: As Opioid Crisis Intensifies, One Md. School System Looks At A ‘Recovery’ School
Kevin Burnes thinks his school saved his life. He arrived there at 14 years old, just out of rehab, and says it was exactly what he needed: a place where kids with drug and alcohol problems could stay on a path of recovery as they worked toward high school graduation. “I have no question that it changed the course of everything I was doing,” said Burnes, now a music teacher and musician. (St. George, 3/19)

NPR: Common Blood Tests Can Help Predict Disease Risk
A score based on common blood tests may someday help people gauge their risk of developing a chronic disease like diabetes or dementia within three years of taking the test. The Intermountain Chronic Disease Risk Score was 77 to 78 percent accurate in predicting whether someone would be diagnosed with diabetes, kidney failure, coronary artery disease and dementia, among other illnesses. It's based on the results of a comprehensive metabolic panel, which includes tests for blood glucose and liver function, and complete blood count, which measures the quantity of different types of blood cells. (Hobson, 3/17)

The Washington Post: A Father Went To The Hospital With Stomach Pain. He Left Without His Hands And Feet.
When Kevin Breen first complained about feeling achy and tired, his wife couldn't help but wonder whether he was trying to wiggle out of a busy day of family responsibilities. It was Christmas Day, and Breen — an active 44-year-old whose idea of relaxing is going water skiing on Lake Michigan or playing pickup basketball — is rarely short on energy. But the Grand Rapids, Mich., resident insisted he really was feeling ill. And two days after his vague, flulike symptoms had begun, they'd taken on a strange new form: a razor-sharp stomach pain so powerful that Breen could no longer walk. (Holley, 3/18)

The New York Times: Marijuana Industry Presses Ahead In California’s Wine Country
In the heart of Northern California’s wine country, a civil engineer turned marijuana entrepreneur is adding a new dimension to the art of matching fine wines with gourmet food: cannabis and wine pairing dinners. Sam Edwards, co-founder of the Sonoma Cannabis Company, charges diners $100 to $150 for a meal that experiments with everything from marijuana-leaf pesto sauce to sniffs of cannabis flowers paired with sips of a crisp Russian River chardonnay. (Fuller, 3/18)

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