KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: U.S. Health Care: Expensive And Deficient; GOP Threat To Gun Violence Research

The New York Times: How Health Care Systems Stack Up
Britain and Switzerland were top scorers in a study examining the quality and efficiency of health care systems in 11 advanced nations by a leading American research organization. As usual, the United States finished last overall and last on several important measures of cost and health outcomes, despite having the most costly system in the world (6/16).

The New York Times' The Upshot: The Trouble With Apple's Health App
Earlier this month, Apple made news with the introduction of Health, an iPhone app that will allow users to collect biometric information like heart rate and blood pressure and send it automatically to doctors or hospitals. The company also announced a partnership with Epic Systems, one of the largest suppliers of electronic medical record systems in the United States. This has led many to speculate that a new age is upon us, with patients having much greater access to health information, as well as the ability to share it with their doctors. ... I'm very skeptical we will see any great changes in the near future because of this development (Aaron E. Carroll, 6/16). 

The New York Times: Legislating Ignorance About Guns 
Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican of Georgia and leader of the House subcommittee that sets the C.D.C. budget, told ProPublica that "the president’s request to fund propaganda for his gun-grabbing initiatives through the C.D.C. will not be included in the FY2015 appropriations bill." Mr. Kingston does not have the last word; the full appropriations committee has yet to finalize the C.D.C. budget. But his stance does not bode well for gun-violence research or for science-based policy making more broadly. The aim of such research is the same as research into any other health threat, like car crashes or smoking: to use scientific methods to chart the dimensions of a threat, identify remedies and address the problem collaboratively (6/16). 

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Speech Victory
Whatever its mistakes (ObamaCare), the current Supreme Court deserves praise for its willingness to police the growing regulation of political speech. The latest example was Monday's 9-0 decision allowing the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List to challenge a politician's claim that it criticized him falsely during an election campaign (6/16). 

Journal of the American Medical Association: Direct-To-Patient Laboratory Test Reporting
In February 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a landmark ruling allowing patients direct access to completed medical laboratory reports. ... Although this recent change ... empowers patients by removing access barriers to personal health information, it raises a variety of clinical and ethical questions .... clinicians will need to proactively counsel patients to ensure that patients do not engage in detrimental self-interpretation of test results, especially because of the abundance of information and misinformation made available through the Internet and other sources (Michael J. Young, Ethan Scheinberg and Harold Bursztajn, 6/16).

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