KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: A Plea For Medical Research Funding; The Politics Of Planned Parenthool

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Increase Funding For Medical Research
As doctors who treat patients devastated by cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and infectious diseases, we urge Congress and the White House to adopt a budget for the 2017 fiscal year before government funding expires at the end of this month, and to increase, not slash, funding for fiscal 2018 for the National Institutes of Health so that the incredibly important work the NIH supports can move forward. (Timothy J. Eberlein, Victoria J. Fraser and David M. Holtzman, 4/21)

The New York Times: Science Needs Your Cells
It’s often portrayed as a story of exploitation. In the early 1950s, Henrietta Lacks, a poor, young African-American woman, learned she had terminal cancer. Cells collected from a biopsy of her cancer were cultured without her knowledge or permission to develop a cell line, called HeLa. Over the ensuing decades, research using HeLa cells led to scores of medical advances, saving lives — and making a lot of money for a lot of people, though not for Ms. Lacks’s family. (Holly Fernandez Lynch and Steven Joffe, 4/21)

The New England Journal of Medicine: Reevaluating Eligibility Criteria — Balancing Patient Protection And Participation In Oncology Trials
Eligibility criteria for clinical trials are designed to protect patients from undue harm, define the study population, and permit collection of safety and efficacy data specific to the intended population. But too frequently, eligibility criteria are simply duplicated from protocol to protocol without due consideration of differing drug classes or patient populations; investigators thus lack a sound clinical rationale for excluding certain patients. Unnecessarily restrictive inclusion and exclusion criteria limit accrual and access to trials and result in studies that fail to capture the heterogeneity of the patient population that will use the drug after approval. (Julia A. Beaver, Gwynn Ison and Richard Pazdur, 4/20)

Detroit Free Press: Hey, GOP: Your Constituents Use Planned Parenthood
Michigan Republicans hot to defund Planned Parenthood should slow their roll. At least long enough to understand exactly who they’ll be sticking it to if their persistent efforts are successful: Their own constituents, women in small Michigan cities or rural Michigan counties with few options for care, tens of thousands of whom who visit Planned Parenthood – in Petoskey or Brighton or Big Rapids or Jackson or Livonia – each year. (Nancy Kaffer, 4/20)

Stat: Successful Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Threatened By Funding Cuts
Many teens want to avoid getting pregnant. Thanks to supportive communities and innovative programs, many are succeeding. The birth rate among teens in the United States is at an all-time low. But one key federal program, whose work has driven some of this progress, is now in danger of losing half of its funding. The program is the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program, which lives within the little-known Office of Adolescent Health. The Obama administration established this pregnancy prevention program in 2010 as part of its broader, unprecedented embrace of evidence-based initiatives. (Christine Dehlendorf, 4/20)

Chicago Tribune: Rauner Has His Finger To The Political Winds On Abortion
Three years ago this month, private equity investor Bruce Rauner, then running for governor as a socially liberal Republican, underscored his commitment to abortion rights when filling out a candidate questionnaire. "I dislike the Illinois law that restricts abortion coverage under the state Medicaid plan and state employees' health insurance because I believe it unfairly restricts access based on income," he wrote when submitting answers to Personal PAC, a leading abortion rights organization. "I would support a legislative effort to reverse that law." Rauner, who was elected governor that fall, is now under fire for doing a complete 180 on this point. (Eric Zorn, 4/20)

Kansas City Star: There's No Silver Bullet For Kansas City's Violent Crime Problem 
Don’t think that just one part of the community needs to shape up and suddenly fly right to curb the crime rate. No, to “solve” the issue of violence, Kansas City first must approach it as a public health issue. And the challenge must be embraced by everyone: civic leaders and average folks, white and black, gay and straight, rich, poor and those whose finances fall somewhere in the middle. (4/20)

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