KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Cancer Drug Revolution; When The Cause Of Death Is ‘Inequality’

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

The Columbus Dispatch: New Cancer Drug Revolutionary?
The Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment last month for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, an aggressive disorder of the blood and bone marrow that is the most common childhood cancer in the United States. On its face, this may not seem like big news. The government is approving it for use only on young people, only 3,100 of whom are diagnosed with the disease every year. So a relatively small number of Americans stands to benefit. (9/14)

Los Angeles Times: Prostate Cancer: Patience And Prevention
For more than a decade, we’ve known that prostate cancer is over-diagnosed and over-treated, putting men at risk of incontinence and sexual dysfunction to remove what might have been a slow-growing, non-lethal cancer. When active surveillance of prostate cancer was first proposed over a decade ago, men weren’t racing to be the first to try it. Active surveillance is the careful monitoring of cancer for signs of progression. Unlike lung, breast and colon cancer, there are indolent forms of prostate cancer that do not require surgery or radiation. (Jeffrey Yoshida, 9/13)

JAMA Forum: Long-Term Care: Investing In Models That Work
President Trump and the US Congress have promised to reduce federal spending, through tactics that include cutting Medicaid and Medicare. What they fail to take into account is that sometimes investing in programs that work well can reduce spending while improving the health and well-being of people. A case in point: programs that help older adults and those who are disabled remain in their homes and out of long-term care facilities. (Diana Mason, 9/13)

The Des Moines Register: In A Medical Emergency, WHERE You Live May Determine IF You Live
Did you know the majority of urban ambulance services are paid, while rural ambulance services are mostly volunteers? Sixty-seven percent of all ambulance services in Iowa are staffed by volunteers who receive no compensation. The majority of our higher level care hospitals are in urban areas served by paid ambulance services, most of which are at a paramedic level. In contrast, Iowa’s rural areas have community hospitals, accounting for 79 percent of the hospitals in our state. These hospitals can only stabilize and transfer critical patients to higher level care hospitals, typically located a significant distance away. Nine counties in Iowa have no hospital. (Sandy Heick, 9/12)

JAMA: What Should I Do When I Hear The Call For Medical Assistance In A Plane?
If there is a doctor on board, would you please make yourself known to a member of the cabin crew?” Reflexively, my hand shoots up to press the button. Seven times I have responded to such requests. Mostly it has worked out well. Twice I thought the passenger had had too much alcohol. Once I comforted an anxious woman. Another time a young army recruit heading for basic training had unexplained arm pain. Sometimes it was more serious. A man with abdominal pain told me he had cancer and he needed my attention and reassurances. A woman had a cardiac emergency, and I had to request an unscheduled landing. Another emergency on a trans-Pacific flight required the extended care of several physicians. (Gregory L. Eastwood, 9/12)

Stat: It's Time To Give Those With Severe Brain Injuries The Civil Rights They Deserve
Several colleagues and I had proposed a project to study the legal rights of people with severe brain injury. Their plight is terrible: They are often dispatched from the hospitals where their lives had been saved to nursing homes where they receive what is euphemistically called custodial care rather than skilled medical care. (Joseph J. Fins, 9/13)

RealClear Health: It’s Time To Tackle Suicide Rates Smartly
September is Suicide Prevention Month and well-meaning suicide advocates are out in force calling for a greater effort to reduce it. But can we reduce suicide? While researching, “Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill,” I learned that mortality from strokes, AIDS, heart disease, and leukemia have decreased dramatically since the 1960s, but in spite of all we’ve spent on suicide, suicide mortality has remained the same. (DJ Jaffe, 9/14)

The Wall Street Journal: The Campus Left Vs. The Mentally Ill
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro is scheduled to speak Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley, and school officials are prepared. A campuswide announcement promised “support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty” who feel Mr. Shapiro’s presence threatens their “sense of safety and belonging.” (Clay Routledge, 9/13)

The Kansas City Star: Josh Svaty May Be Pro-Lifeish. Will Kansas Democrats Allow Such A Thing?
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Svaty got the question of the night, and of the year, from a man in suspenders in the third row: “For a lot of Democrats, particularly Democratic women, choice is a threshold issue. Can you say why, as a pro-choice Democrat, I should get enthusiastic about you?” Svaty, a 37-year-old farmer, former EPA official and ag secretary who successfully ran for the Kansas statehouse out of his college dorm room, voted with his heavily Republican, rural district on the abortion issue. He began the answer that will matter most to his candidacy this way: “That was part of being responsive to constituents. (Melinda Henneberger, 9/13)

The New York Times: The Economic Case For Letting Teenagers Sleep A Little Later
Many high-school-agechildren across the United States now find themselves waking up much earlier than they’d prefer as they return to school. They set their alarms, and their parents force them out of bed in the morning, convinced that this is a necessary part of youth and good preparation for the rest of their lives. It’s not. It’s arbitrary, forced on them against their nature, and a poor economic decision as well. (Aaron E. Carroll, 9/13)

Stat: Study On Flu Shot-Miscarriage Link Shows Science Prioritizes Vaccine Safety
[T]here is a scientific reason to think that the new findings may be a true signal we need to take seriously. While multiple studies in the past have found that women who received flu vaccine during pregnancy did not have a higher rate of miscarriage than women not vaccinated, this is the first study to focus on three important variables: 1) vaccines that contained the 2009 H1N1 flu virus strain, the virus that caused the 2009 influenza pandemic; 2) the 28 days after vaccination; and 3) the impact of repeat flu vaccination over two flu seasons. (Michael T. Osterholm, 9/13)

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