KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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‘Largest Doctor’s Office In The World’: Nonprofit ‘Pop-Up’ Clinics Expand Medical Safety Net

Volunteer-based events allow patients to see a doctor or dentist — even if it’s only for a day. Meanwhile, news outlets report on more public health stories on employee weight loss incentives, genetic testing, growing income-based health care disparities, palliative care and heartburn treatment risks.

The Wall Street Journal: Pop-Up Health Clinics Fill A Void In Care
Nicole Lamoureux needs about 1,200 volunteers to help complete her mission: transforming a Dallas convention center into what she calls “the largest doctor’s office in the world—for the one day it’s open.” This temporary mega-doctor’s office—a pop-up clinic, if you will—is part of a growing trend representing an increasingly important piece of the medical safety net in the U.S. Such clinics, staged by nonprofits and funded mostly by individual donors, are an opportunity for doctors to care for patients without worrying about insurance, and for those patients to see a doctor they wouldn’t otherwise get to see. (Simon, 2/15)

STAT: Consumers Aren't Wild About Genetic Testing -- Neither Are Doctors
Only a small number of Americans have undergone genetic testing to detect their or their future children’s disease risks, according to a new STAT-Harvard poll, but a majority say they would be interested in one day taking a genetic test that showed their risk of developing Alzheimer’s or cancer. (Begley, 2/12)

The Washington Post: What Do You Do When You Have One Of The Rarest Diseases Around?
Next-generation sequencing technology became commercially available only recently, after the first test was given approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 2013. But scientists and clinicians say it has already identified multiple cases where a patient’s puzzling symptoms turned out to be signs of a rare disease. As this technology gets cheaper and faster, experts say more patients will get tested and find they have rare diseases. They will have the satisfaction of finding out what is causing their symptoms but then will often face a frustrating question: What do you do when diagnosed with a rare disease that has been studied little and has no known treatment, and few other patients to turn to for support? (Mullin, 2/15)

The New York Times: Disparity In Life Spans Of The Rich And The Poor Is Growing
Experts have long known that rich people generally live longer than poor people. But a growing body of data shows a more disturbing pattern: Despite big advances in medicine, technology and education, the longevity gap between high-income and low-income Americans has been widening sharply. The poor are losing ground not only in income, but also in years of life, the most basic measure of well-being. (Tavernise, 2/12)

The New York Times: In Palliative Care, Comfort Is The Top Priority
Perhaps it’s not surprising that many families know little about palliative care; it only became an approved medical specialty in 2007. It has grown rapidly in hospitals: More than 70 percent now offer palliative care services, including 90 percent of those with more than 300 beds. But most ailing patients aren’t in hospitals, and don’t want to be. (Span, 2/12)

NPR: Popular Heartburn Pills Can Be Hard To Stop, And May Be Risky
When Marcella Lafayette started having really bad heartburn, she went to her doctor to see if there was anything that might help. Her doctor diagnosed her with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and prescribed a drug called a proton pump inhibitor, or PPI. The drug worked, but Lafayette soon started having other problems, such as muscle weakness and severe leg cramping. ... Many people have trouble discontinuing PPIs because the amount of acid in their digestive systems surges when they stop taking the drug. (Stein, 2/15)

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