KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Determining The Appropriate Government Response To The Opioid Crisis; Putting Some Teeth In Iowa’s Medicaid Program

Here's a review of editorials and opinions on a range of public health issues.

The Wall Street Journal: Government Opioid Abuse
Opioid abuse ranks among the nation’s biggest public health challenges with drug overdoses now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50. While the causes are complex and multiple, politicians and their trial lawyer friends aren’t letting the crisis go to waste. (7/31)

USA Today: Declare Opioid 'National Emergency'
If 1,000 people in America were dying in plane crashes or terrorist attacks each week, the country would be horrified, demanding an end to the carnage. Well, 1,000 people are dying each week of drug overdoses, driven largely by addiction to opioids. (7/31)

USA Today: With Opioids, Government Is The Problem, Not The Solution
To paraphrase President Reagan, in this present opioid crisis, "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." The never-ending War on Drugs has led to a proliferation of counterfeit opioids widely available on the black market. Oftentimes, these drugs are laced with more dangerous and powerful opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil that cause death by cessation of breathing. Many times, the actual strength of the dose of opioids purchased from illegal drug dealers is unknown or greater than expected. (Jeffrey A. Singer, 7/31)

The Des Moines Register: Got Medicaid? Good Luck With Your Teeth
For years, Iowa dentists have complained about the low rate of payment they receive from the Medicaid program. When treating a Medicaid patient, dentists can typically expect to collect just 30 percent of what they’d normally receive for providing the same care to a privately insured patient. As a result, many Iowa dentists have capped the number of Medicaid patients they’ll see — assuming they see any at all. (7/31)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Social Factors Contribute To Infant Mortality
Too many children in our community never see their first birthday. The release of a three-year strategic plan by First Year Cleveland, a city-county collaborative to reduce the high infant mortality rate in Cleveland, brings new focus to the issue. Although fewer infants died In Cuyahoga County in 2016 than in 2015, the infant mortality rate of 8.6 deaths per 1,000 births is still one-third higher than the national average. African-American infants have a mortality rate three times that for Whites. (Joseph Ahern, 7/30)

WBUR: Mass. General Chief Decries Transgender Ban, As More Doctors Speak Out Politically
The explanation for this trending away from political neutrality seems clear: many of the most critical current threats to our health — including poverty, lack of access to affordable health care, gun violence, the opioid epidemic — cannot be eliminated by individuals, no matter how well-meaning. Many clinicians, frustrated by their inability to solve these problems for their own patients, have taken to writing op-ed pieces, marching, and lobbying Congress in hopes of effecting broader change. (Suzanne Koven, 7/31)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.