KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Creating An HIV-Free Generation; Postal Service’s Struggle Over Retiree Health Benefits

Politico Pro: The Next Steps To An HIV-Free Generation
HIV forces us to deal with so much: sex, drugs, poverty, racism, homelessness, homophobia, sexism, illness and death. While our nation's response has been imperfect, we have gotten a lot right. And we are now at a pivotal moment where science has led us to imagine the possibility of an HIV-free generation. But how do we turn hope into reality? There is no easy path to ending HIV. Here at home, however, a rare convergence of factors is making more progress possible than ever before (Jeffrey S. Crowley, 7/20).

Politico: Does Homophobia Impact AIDS Funding?
HIV/AIDS remains one of the biggest health issues that the U.S. is confronting today. Hundreds of millions of dollars in private and public funding go to combat the disease each year. But to be effective, far more must be allocated to the specific populations at greatest risk. One reason we are falling short is that homophobia still channels HIV prevention funding away from the group that most needs it: gay men (Sean Cahill, 7/20.)

Politico: U.S. Indispensable In AIDS Fight
The good news is that the fight against AIDS has shifted radically in the past two decades. Thanks largely to support from Americans of all stripes – Democrats, Republicans, religious leaders, college students, public health officials and the business community – 8 million HIV-positive people around the world now have access to life-saving treatment. Before Bush’s historic commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS through the creation of The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – and Obama’s support and expansion of the program – that number was just 300,000 a decade ago (Tom Hart, 7/20).

The Washington Post: The Postal Service Is Struggling, But Not Because Of The Mail
There is indeed red ink, but the reasons are unrelated to the mail. In 2006 Congress required that, within the next decade, the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years — a burden no other agency or company faces. That accounts for 85 percent of all of the agency's red ink since — and more than 90 percent of the $6.46 billion shortfall from the first half of fiscal 2012. Before pre-funding began in 2007, the Postal Service had annual profits in the low billions. It's this unaffordable payment that the Postal Service is "simply not capable of making" next month, a spokesman said this week (Fredric Rolando, 7/19).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Merger's Failure Is Good Medicine
The decision by Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System to call off their short-lived plans for a merger is positive news for women's health care in the Philadelphia region. ... But what was most striking about the merger ... was that it held out the prospect of immediately reducing vital services for women (7/20).

The New York Times: Abortion In D.C.
House Republicans didn't do away with purely symbolic legislation all together, however. Bills with absolutely no chance of becoming law, introduced only to express ideology (as opposed to appreciation), are rampant. Take, for instance, a bill the House Judiciary Committee approved today that would ban abortion in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no health exception. It will advance to the full House for a vote, but will never pass the Democratic-controlled Senate (Juliet Lapidos, 7/19).

Los Angeles Times: CVS Should Require Signatures For Automatic Prescription Refills
All businesses want people as repeat customers. And when it comes to drugstores, that means they want you to keep refilling prescriptions. But you'd think they'd ask first before signing you up for automatic refills and billing your insurer. In the case of CVS Pharmacy, the country's second-largest drugstore chain, after Walgreens, the official policy is that customers' approval is always sought before people are enrolled in the company's ReadyFill program. But B.G. Stine, 52, of Torrance had a decidedly different experience (David Lazarus, 7/20).

Baltimore Sun: The Hidden Health Risks Of Fracking
Imagine you are a nurse working in an emergency room, and a worker on a gas fracking well comes in covered in chemicals used in the drilling process. You call the gas company to find out what chemicals are being used to help in your assessment of possible health risks to your patient, and even yourself, but find out they don't have to disclose this information. … As nurses, we strongly support our right to know in order to protect the health of our communities and the environment. That's why the American Nurses Association House of Delegates last month passed a resolution highlighting the important role nurses play in advocating for the health of their patients and communities when faced with fracking (Kate Huffling, 7/19).

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