KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: ‘Biomedical Ecosystem’ Requires Care; How Smart Phones Could Revolutionize Medical Care

A selection of public health opinions from around the country.

Boston Globe: Nurturing The Biomedical Ecosystem
There is no better example of the power of the innovation produced by this biomedical ecosystem than Massachusetts, which is the envy of the world. ... But like any ecosystem — on a local or national scale — care is required. If we nurture and support it through continued NIH funding, meaningful intellectual property protections and appropriate rewards for breakthrough innovations, great things will happen for patients, the health care system and our economy. If we don’t, the opportunity in front of us to cure the next wave of serious diseases will be lost. (Jeffrey Leiden and David Torchiana, 5/16)

RealClear Health: Paging Dr. Siri
Smart-phone apps are about to revolutionize medical care. These technologies can predict when cancer patients are about to relapse, detect rare side effects of experimental drugs, and prod patients to maintain healthy behaviors. Pharmaceutical firms could temper widespread concerns about high drug prices by incorporating these technologies into treatment regimens. Doing so would unlock the full potential of existing treatments. It would result in healthier patients and lower medical spending. (Vidya Ramesh and Sandip Shah, 5/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump And Christie’s First Steps To Solving The Opioid Crisis
President Trump has tapped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to tackle America’s opioid crisis—a complicated task to say the least. Because the root cause of rising addiction and overdose is still unclear, any government response must be flexible and nuanced. The single biggest question regarding the opioid epidemic remains: Is it driven mainly by patients who become addicted to their prescriptions? Or are recreational users the underlying cause? This is difficult to figure out. Among the many heartbreaking personal anecdotes, hard data is scant and contradictory. (Josh Bloom and Alex Berezow, 5/15)

The Des Moines Register: Anti-Abortion Law Disrespects Women, Tramples On Rights
Now Iowa is left to deal with the aftermath of the 2017 legislative session. For understaffed state government, that means writing administrative rules, changing policies and enforcing new laws. State attorneys will try to muster a legal defense for Senate File 471, a morally indefensible Republican-crafted statute that imposes significant restrictions on access to abortion. (5/15)

Sacramento Bee: California Must House Its Mentally Ill 
A report by the nonpartisan Stanford Justice Advocacy Project finds that 30 percent of California state inmates receive treatment for serious mental disorders, a 150 percent increase since 2000. ... Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, one of the few current members of the Legislature to take an interest in the issue, is carrying Senate Bill 142 to require that judges consider a defendant’s mental health history when imposing sentences and provide counties incentives in the form of payments if they can find ways to reduce the number of mentally ill felons they send to state prison. ... For the bill to work, however, there must be places to house people in need. Too few humane options exist. (5/15)

The Kansas City Star: Secondhand Smoke’s Hidden Risks For Kids
With the recent push to increase the tobacco tax in the state of Kansas by a dollar or more per pack of cigarettes, citizens should remember that this issue is not just about reducing the number of people who smoke and improving their health. It is also about the children who are involuntarily exposed to tobacco smoke. (David A. White, 5/15)

Los Angeles Times: No Sanctuary For Marijuana In California
When Californians approved Proposition 64 to legalize marijuana in California last November, it was no secret that the drug would remain illegal under federal law. But that fundamental contradiction seemed manageable at the moment .... Now, however, we have President Trump, who seems to have forgotten his laissez faire stance on marijuana, and Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, who comes from the “Reefer Madness” school of law enforcement. Proponents of Proposition 64 ... rightly worry that the federal government may decide to crack down on cannabis operators even if they fully comply with state rules. It’s understandable that state lawmakers want to resist potential federal intervention. But a proposal to make California a so-called sanctuary state for marijuana is not the way to go. (5/16)

Stat: An End To Pandemics Is Within Reach, But We Must Redouble Efforts Now
At the end of May, World Health Organization member states will convene their annual meeting in Geneva and elect a new director-general. This leadership transition at WHO unfolds at a defining moment, when shifting demographics are forging a new global public health landscape. Competing priorities — from non-communicable diseases to universal health coverage and polio eradication — will drive the agenda. But perhaps none is more suited to the health mandate of a community of nations as the existential threat of a pandemic. When the new director-general takes the helm on July 1, at the top of his or her list should be a focused and targeted approach to ending the pandemic era. (Daniel Schar, 5/15)

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