KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Examining The Danish Fat Tax And Anti-Cheese Billboards; Prioritizing Kids’ Vaccines

The New York Times: How About A Little Danish?
Well lookee here: the inevitable move toward taxing unhealthful foods to raise income and discourage damaging diets has begun. Last month, Hungary, almost unnoticed, began taxing foods with high levels of fat, salt and sugar. And earlier this week, with just a little more fanfare, Denmark instituted an excise tax on foods high in saturated fat (Mark Bittman, 10/4).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Science Behind Anti-Cheese Billboard
Journalists finally found a use for all the cheese-related puns they've been saving up. Radio and TV stations and newspapers nationwide have covered the commotion caused by a new billboard calling out cheese for contributing to obesity. The billboard — sponsored by our organization, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — features the Grim Reaper and says: "Warning: Cheese Can Sack Your Health." … As a dietitian, I want to explain that we aren't trying to single out Packers fans or even Wisconsinites. … Our organization is simply trying to increase awareness of the serious health risks associated with eating so much cheese (Susan Levin, 10/4).

Arizona Republic: Vaccinating Kids Must Be Priority
On movie screens, scientists race to find a vaccine for a mysterious virus in "Contagion." In real life, we're in danger of potentially deadly outbreaks from familiar diseases for which we have vaccines. Too many parents are failing to get their kids properly immunized. A new survey, appearing in the November issue of Pediatrics journal, found that 13 percent of parents had not gotten their children vaccinated on schedule (10/5).

Houston Chronicle: Childhood Vaccines Offer A Sure Shot
Studies on vaccine safety continue to show a troubling picture of parents, fearful of possibly harming their children, who are delaying or forgoing vaccinations against childhood diseases, some of which, especially in infants, can be fatal. … And parents should remember that vaccination also protects those kids' baby siblings, their grandparents, their friends and families — the whole community. Cost, often a major reason to forgo preventive care, need not be an issue when it comes to vaccinations. Thanks to Texas Vaccines for Children and local health departments, free and low-cost vaccinations are plentiful (10/4).

Los Angeles Times: Taking Medi-Cal To Court
California and the Obama administration urged the Supreme Court this week to bar doctors and their patients from suing states over the amount paid to health care providers for treating Medicaid patients. Several justices seemed to agree when the case was heard Monday, noting that the federal law that created Medicaid didn't give individuals the right to sue. But that's too restrictive a view of who should have access to the courts (10/5).

Chicago Tribune: Broadcast Doctors
Today, television loves medicine, with fictional doctors (and nurses) in situation comedies, detective dramas and soap operas. Meanwhile, real doctors are medical reporters, talk-show guests and infomercial hosts touting pharmaceuticals and hospitals. ... There is plenty to be learned about your health from television. But it is not to be confused with reality. Find a trusted physician or health care provider and discuss everything you hear about medicine on television. That's the best way to get the straight story on treatments that can save your life — and allow you to avoid those that might harm you (Cory Franklin, 10/5).

Kansas City Star: For A Healthy Future, KU Cancer Center Deserves National Status
Kansas has the potential to become a thriving research powerhouse for medical, pharmaceutical and technological advancement. To do so, we must educate and prepare a skilled workforce, create an entrepreneur-friendly environment to attract high-tech companies, and strengthen research and technology infrastructure. Such efforts are under way at the University of Kansas Cancer Center. … The KU center is poised to significantly affect cancer research, drive economic development in our state well into the future — and, most importantly, offer hope to thousands of patients in Kansas and across our country  (Sen. Jerry Moran, 10/4).

Huffington Post: The Moneyball Approach To Health Care
New Yorkers spent a higher percentage of their income for nursing home care than residents of almost every other state (only Alaskans had higher rates). But we don't get better care for that money: New York ranks 44th in the nation for nursing home residents with pressure sores, a key indicator of health-care quality, and we offer very few services to support the family caregivers who are central to helping frail elders. More care isn't always better care, and more money doesn't always buy better health (James R. Knickman, 10/4).

Georgia Health News: Target Waste And Fraud, Not Medicare Patients
Unfortunately, as some in Congress search for savings within our besieged Medicare program, home health care could become a target for funding cuts (Clay Campbell, 10/4).

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