KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: From The White House To City Hall, It’s Time To ‘Double Down’ On Efforts To Counter Opioid Epidemic; Examining The Human Relationship With Microbes

A selection of opinions from around the country.

Detroit Free Press: 'Double Down' In Fight Against Opioid Abuse
Over the course of his campaign, President Trump heard from many Americans whose lives have been devastated by our widespread opioid abuse epidemic. The stories they were telling — specifically the growing rates of opioid use, addiction and death — were heartbreaking. We’ve witnessed scenes splashed across the news media this past year of a child strapped in to the back seat of a car while the parents lay motionless and dying in the front; or the gut wrenching video of a crying toddler pulling at her overdosed mother on the floor, frantically pleading for her mother to wake up. Now, even deadlier drugs have been showing up on our streets courtesy of bad actors in China and Latin America. (Mary Bono, 3/6)

Lexington Herald Leader: City Must Fight Evils Of Drug Addiction
The hear-no-evil, see-no-evil monkeys? How did they end up in a conversation about the impact of and possible solutions for drugs and heroin in our fair city? We began our Together Lexington-sponsored Courageous Conversation perusing postcards of random images designed to stimulate conversation. And they did. We introduced ourselves to our table by relating our chosen postcard to the impact of drugs on our city. We quickly found that most of us had a personal story of being impacted by addiction. (Shelley Elswick, 3/6)

The New York Times: Exciting Microbe Research? Temper That Giddy Feeling In Your Gut
While we have long known about the existence of microbes — the tiny bacteria, fungi and archaea that live all around, on and in us — our full relationship has become one of the hottest topics for research only in recent years. Scientists believe that every person contains as many independent microbial cells as human cells. This collection of life, known as the microbiome, provides useful functions for us. Indeed, some of the things we think our bodies do are actually the abilities and enzymes of life-forms living within us. They can help with digestion, vitamin synthesis and even immunological responses. (Aaron E. Carroll, 3/6)

Arizona Republic: Want To Live Longer? It Involves A Lot More Than You Think
Access to health care matters, but not as much as we tend to think it does. Regardless of what happens regarding calls to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Act, we still need to face the significant effects our local policies, systems and environments produce. Local health providers and hospitals are crucial partners, but they are far from the sole guardians of our longevity – as the maps so clearly illustrate. (Kate Gallego, 3/6)

The New York Times: A Public-Health Crisis That We Can Fix
The federal judge and legal scholar Guido Calabresi likes to pose a conundrum to his law students. He asks them to imagine a deity coming forth to offer society a wondrous invention, one that would make everyday life more pleasant in almost every way. This invention comes with a cost, however. In exchange, the deity would choose 1,000 young men and women and strike them dead. (David Leonhardt, 3/7)

Forbes: Reinstituting RAC Medicare Audits Would Add $40 Billion Per Year To The Federal Budget
Medicare wastes more taxpayer dollars than any other program government-wide, with more than $40 billion lost annually to provider misbilling. ... The ability to stop hemorrhaging taxpayer dollars from the Medicare FFS program exists, is in place and tested—it’s just barely being used. After seeing its success in the private sector, Congress mandated the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) Program in 2009 to review post-payment Medicare FFS claims, identify improper payments and return misbilled funds back to the program. Since the RAC program began, more than $10 billion has been returned to the Medicare Trust Funds, all while auditing a mere 2% of a provider’s claims. (Kristin Walter, 3/6)

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