KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Karl Rove Says GOP Reluctance Isn’t Hampering Exchanges; CDC’s Efforts On ‘Sugary’ Snacks Assailed

The Wall Street Journal: Steaming Toward the ObamaCare 'Train Wreck'
In congressional testimony last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blamed Republican governors for her department's failure to create a "model exchange" where consumers could shop for health-insurance coverage in states that don't set up their own exchange. Nice try, but GOP governors aren't the problem. Team Obama's tendency to blame someone else for its shortcomings is tiresome (Karl Rove, 4/17). 

The Wall Street Journal's Wonderland: Clinging To Guns—And Abortion 
Everyone clings to something. But when it comes to criticizing unseemly political dependencies, it's almost always liberals accusing [conservatives] of clinging to positions and ideas that an enlightened society would have abandoned. But what do liberals cling to? Recent events have revealed two things. Gun control and abortion (Daniel Henninger, 4/17). 

Politico: CDC Needs Balance
Following the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more commonly known as the stimulus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was allocated taxpayer dollars to award grants for wellness efforts — on its face, a worthy effort. However, these taxpayer funds are being used to run ads attacking and singling out legal American products and industries; attacks that will slow job growth and cost our communities jobs. ... In many cases, the grant recipients have used these federal dollars to run advertisements against "sugary products" or other food and beverages that they believe have an adverse impact on the health of American citizens, regardless of the quantity consumed. We are talking about hundreds of millions of tax dollars that are being used to discourage the consumption of lawfully marketed American-made products (Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill, 4/17).

Oregonian: Oregon Should Regulate Vending-Machine Snacks
One of government's primary goals is protecting the health and safety of its people. The Oregonian editorial board agrees that state lawmakers have a role in "encouraging good health." It's time to look for innovative strategies to make it easier for Oregonians to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Obesity-related diseases drive up health care costs and cause unnecessary disability and suffering. As the Oregon Legislature struggles to find the revenue to cover the costs of providing health care to government employees and others, it just makes sense to find ways to prevent disease and promote health (Mary Lou Hennrich, 4/17).

The New England Journal of Medicine: Government's Role In Protecting Health And Safety
What is the appropriate role of governmental public health action? Law and public opinion recognize protection of health and safety as a core government function, but public health actions are sometimes characterized as inappropriately intrusive. Such criticism has a long history, but today we accept many public health measures that were once considered misguided, intrusive, or controversial (Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, 4/18).

The New England Journal of Medicine: Assessing Competency For Concealed-Weapons Permits — The Physician's Role
Shortly after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, two of us received letters from our county sheriff in North Carolina asking whether one of our patients had medical or physical conditions that would preclude issuance of a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Uncomfortable with our limited knowledge about such permits and our expected role, and fearing that our participation could affect our relationships with patients, we began exploring the ethical, legal, and policy considerations regarding physician involvement in this process. ... Although denying weapons to people with prior convictions seems relatively straightforward, it's more difficult to assess mental competence and current or future risk for violence (Adam O. Goldstein, Kathleen K. Barnhouse, Anthony J. Viera, James A. Tulsky and Barak D. Richman, 4/18).

The New England Journal of Medicine: The Nursing Workforce In An Era Of Health Care Reform
The foundation of the health care delivery system is its workforce, including the 2.8 million registered nurses (RNs) who provide health care services in countless settings. The importance of RNs is expected to increase in the coming decades, as new models of care delivery, global payment, and a greater emphasis on prevention are embraced. These and other changes associated with health care reform will require the provision of holistic care, greater care coordination, greater adherence to protocols, and improved management of chronic disease — roles that are inherently aligned with the nursing model of care. Will the nursing workforce be ready to respond to these challenges? (David I. Auerbach, Douglas O. Staiger, Ulrike Muench and Peter I. Buerhaus, 4/18).

Sacramento Bee: Stereotyping In Medical Settings – Ouch
'Could you help me get the cirrhotic liver in bed 403B down for his CT scan?" … "You know what the sheik admitted yesterday morning? Well, he needs some additional blood tests." Hearing comments such as these is not uncommon in hospitals across the nation. The people who speak them are probably not biased, nor are they bad people. They are selecting these quick descriptors as short cuts in language to quickly convey a message to a co-worker. But to many of those people being assigned these labels, the descriptors are stigmatizing and even offensive. Such comments are perceived as taking away a person's individual identity. The labels can even have adverse consequences (Dr. Michael Wilkes, 4/18).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): A Role Model Inspires A Model Health Care System
To her patients and their families, Dr. Allers was a warm, soft-spoken woman who inspired confidence. She took time to talk to me and offer support to my single Mom rearing three kids in the shadow of her incorrectly diagnosed mental illness. No hospital owned Dr. Allers or told her how much time she could spend with her patients, now called consumers by insurance companies. ... What happened to this beloved profession?  It has become a profit-driven financial institution owned by the medical equivalent of the big Wall Street banks.  These "owners" are insurance companies and corporate hospital entities all about profits. ... Medicine has been hijacked and held hostage by corporate control and greed (Dr. Shelley Dworet, 4/17).

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