KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: A Status Check On What’s In The GOP’s Current Repeal-And-Replace Effort; Crowdfunding For Medical Expenses

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

The Charlotte Observer: Another Obamacare Repeal Fail - Or Is It?
It seemed unlikely that U.S. House Republicans could propose something worse than the American Health Care Act, the Obamacare replacement that collapsed under its own unpopularity just weeks ago. It seemed implausible that Republicans would craft a bill that took the parts of the AHCA that were awful for Americans – higher premiums and deductibles plus 24 million fewer people getting insurance coverage – and make something even harsher. And yet, House Republicans did exactly that last week. (4/29)

Vox: An Interview Suggests Trump Doesn't Know What's In His Health Bill
[John] Dickerson is the first journalist I have seen grill Trump on what, exactly, is in the Republican plan. He isn’t asking about the politics of the bill and whether it will pass. Rather, he focuses on what are arguably basic questions: what elements are in this bill, and what do you think of them? Trump stumbles. He says that people with pre-existing conditions will be protected. Under the latest amendment to the American Health Care Act — the one that got the Freedom Caucus on board — they won’t be. He says that deductibles will go down under the Republican plan. Non-partisan analysis expects deductibles would go up. (Sarah Kliff, 4/30)

The Huffington Post: Trump Still Thinks Obamacare Repeal Will Cover People ‘Beautifully’
That bill would definitely help some people ― in particular, younger, healthier and wealthier people who buy insurance on their own today and end up paying high prices because they get little or no financial assistance from the Affordable Care Act. But the proposal would cause real hardship for many millions of Americans ― whether by raising their premiums or deductibles or both, or depriving them of coverage altogether. And it’d be the poor and the sick struggling the most, even as the wealthiest Americans walked away with a sizable tax break. (Jonathan Cohn, 4/30)

Los Angeles Times: Crowdfunding For Medical Expenses Is Rising — When It Should Be Eradicated
It should be obvious as a fundamental principle that in a civilized country, crowdfunding for direct medical expenses should be utterly unnecessary. You get sick or injured, your medical care should be covered by the community at large. Yet public appeals by families or individuals for help paying basic medical bills seem to be on the rise in the United States. Crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe.com report that medical expenses rank as their largest single category of appeals; other sites such as HelpHopeLive have sprung up specifically for medical expense appeals. (Michael Hiltzik, 4/28)

The Wall Street Journal: Personalized Medicine Is Here
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved 10 of the personal-genomics company 23andMe’s screening tests for genetic health risks, including one for Alzheimer’s and one for a rare blood disorder. The decision represents a turning point in the democratization of personalized medicine. It’s also a turnaround for the FDA, which had pulled the tests from the market in 2013. The company had blamed itself for that episode, admitting that it failed to follow up on promised communications with agency staff. (Peter Huber and Paul Howard, 4/30)

KevinMD: Telemedicine: A Cure For Physician Burnout?
At the end of my daughter’s first week of preschool, she came home with a burning question: “Mom, my friend at school says that she has two days in a row when she and her mommy and daddy are all home at the same time. They call it a weekend. Will we ever have a weekend?” I was floored. That simple question encapsulated the only life she had known as a doctor’s daughter. In the four years since she was born, she had never had a consistent, secure time when I would be home. I had her while I was still in residency, and 80-hour workweeks were more common than 40-hour ones. When I graduated from residency, in an effort to spend more time with my family, I took a shift work position in a hospital. Working 12- and 24-hour shifts meant that I could be home on my off days, but it also meant that nights, weekends, and holidays were all fair game. In addition, driving to the hospital required significant commuting time; my drive home after a 24-hour shift could easily be over an hour, compounding my exhaustion. (Sylvia Romm, 4/29)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Deficiencies In Ohio Nursing-Home Inspections Must Be Addressed
[A]s The Plain Dealer's John Caniglia and Jo Ellen Corrigan recently reported after a monthslong investigation, Ohio's nursing homes don't measure up, ranking well below national averages in quality of care. Not only did federal officials recently rate two of every five Ohio nursing homes substandard but at least 31 Ohio nursing home deaths in the last three years have been attributed by federal officials to issues of care. There could be many reasons for this. Some in the industry say it's because of the challenges of caring for the sickest in skilled nursing facilities. But Caniglia and Corrigan also have found that Ohio is fourth worst in the United States (tied with Massachusetts) in terms of the average interval between inspections of the same nursing facility. (4/30)

Los Angeles Times: To Right Their Political Ship, Democrats Need To Welcome Pro-Life Liberals
The Democratic Party is in serious trouble. It has lost more than 900 state legislative seats, 12 governors, 69 House seats and 13 Senate seats over the last decade, and a recent poll indicates that it has a lower approval rating than President Trump. To right this political ship, it must recapture pro-life liberals such as my mother, who was a loyal Democrat until 1996, when President Clinton vetoed the bill banning partial-birth abortions. (Janet Robert, 5/1)

The Chronicle of Social Change: Pregnant Women, Newborns On Front Lines Of Arizona’s Opioid Epidemic
When Jessica Sanchez tested positive last year for heroin, her probation officer sent her to an Arizona detox center for treatment. But before Sanchez could be admitted, she needed to take a pregnancy test. That’s how Sanchez, 25, discovered she was expecting her first child. She was four and-a-half months pregnant and had been abusing heroin for four years, following two years of opioid pain pill abuse. The surprise pregnancy gave Sanchez a deep desire to get clean. (Jonathan Polakoff, 4/26)

San Jose Mercury News: Alzheimer's Research Endangered By Trump Budget Cut
Today, Alzheimer’s ranks as the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. In California, 630,000 have the disease and it is estimated that the number will grow to 840,000 by 2025. ... Cuts to our scientific institutions will harm us all, but the NIH is one of our best resources for responding to the Alzheimer’s epidemic. (Diana Hull, 4/30)

The Chronicle of Social Change: Pregnant Moms Face Generations Of Poverty And Addiction In New Mexico
From 2004 to 2013, the proportion of infants born exposed to drugs — mainly opioids — increased nearly sevenfold in rural counties, almost double the increase in urban areas, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2017. While the rate of drug-exposed babies born in New Mexico soared, so did the number of children entering foster care, which rose 16 percent from 2012 to 2015. Though seemingly connected, the correlation between pregnant moms struggling with addiction and children entering the foster care system is difficult to untangle in a majority rural state plagued by cycles of poverty and addiction. (Zachary Siegel, 4/27)

WBUR: How Yogurt Science Could Lead To A Cure For Sickle Cell Anemia 
A very few people with sickle cell anemia have successfully been cured with a transplant. ... But there is basic research going on right now -- here in Boston and in labs across the United States and around the world -- that has the potential to revolutionize how we treat sickle cell anemia. (Julie Losman, 4/28)

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