KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Health Care Pricing Shouldn’t Be A Closely Held Secret; The Responsibility That Comes With Patients’ Medical Data

A selection of opinions on public health issues from around the country.

RealClear Health: Health Care Pricing Shouldn’t Be Like Nuclear Codes
Ask just about anyone what the most closely held secret is in America, and odds are they’ll either say the nation’s nuclear codes or the formula for Coca-Cola. Yet running a close third is the actual selling price of pretty much everything in health care. The health care industry, especially the large players that dominate the landscape today, keep the actual dollars paid for care hidden amongst themselves, often obscured within complex contract language. Yes, there are “published” prices, but they bear little resemblance to the reimbursements providers and payers are agreeing to behind the curtain. (Greg Borca, 8/29)

The Wall Street Journal: Sharing Medical Data Is Noble, But Not Without Patients’ Consent
The 21st Century Cures Act was hailed as the biggest health-care reform since ObamaCare. It’s easy to see why: The law, which passed both houses of Congress by unanimous consent last December, increased the budget of the National Institutes of Health, designated nearly $2 billion for cancer research, and set aside $500 million in 2017 alone to address the opioid crisis. Unfortunately, the legislation also weakened patients’ privacy rights. (Twila Brase, 8/28)

USA Today: Stop Telling People They're Fighters Who Will 'Beat' Their Unsurvivable Disease
Ever since Sen. John McCain announced he had brain cancer, a chorus of voices from around the globe has urged him to “fight the cancer.” But McCain reminds us that in the face of life-limiting illness, it's not that you're a fighter that's important. It's what you are fighting for. Families, friends and, yes, doctors of patients with serious or critical illnesses would do well to get clear on the difference. (Kathryn B. Kirkland, 8/28)

WBUR: Why Doctors Need To Remember That Sick Patients Were Once Healthy People
A rainbow of thin wires were tangled up in his matted hair, each one connected to a small probe that would measure the electrical activity in his brain. We weren’t sure if Mr. S was having a seizure, or if he was unable to respond to us for some other reason. As he had been for many days, he lay in his hospital bed, frail and slouched, unable to communicate, often asleep with IV lines dutifully carrying his fluids. Standing around his bed with six other doctors, discussing what was looking to be a poor prognosis, I couldn’t help but wonder -- not why Mr. S was so sick -- but who Mr. S had once been. (Abraar Karan, 8/28)

The Star Tribune: Mayo's Treatment Of Albert Lea Is A Case Study In Profit Motive
In its recent assessment of the Mayo Clinic’s treatment of the hospital in Albert Lea, Minn., the Star Tribune Editorial Board makes several great points — Mayo’s heavy-handed pronouncements to stakeholders and the community leave much to be desired, and its decision to eviscerate the only hospital in a sizable rural community calls into question Mayo’s commitment to our state and rural communities. But the Editorial Board misses the bigger issue: a seismic shift in our nation’s health care system from a patient motive to a profit motive. (Matthew Keller, 8/28)

Georgia Health News: Governor’s Action On PAs Is A Setback For Georgia Patients
Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of legislation to allow PAs (physician assistants) to treat pain more effectively (Senate Bill 125) is an unfortunate setback for Georgians suffering from injuries and other medical emergencies. ... The governor’s veto means that patients with such painful ailments as broken arms and kidney stones will  face unnecessary delays in getting the pain medications they need. (L. Gail Curtis, 8/28)

The New York Times: Who Decides Whether Trump Is Unfit To Govern?
The mental health of Donald Trump has been under scrutiny since he began running for president. Now 28 Democratic Congress members have signed on to a bill, introduced in April, that could lead to a formal evaluation of his fitness. The bill seeks to set in motion a part of the 25th Amendment that empowers Congress to establish a body to assess the president’s ability to govern. The commission created by the bill would have 11 members, at least eight of whom would be doctors, including four psychiatrists. If the commission doctors found Mr. Trump unfit to govern and the vice president agreed, the vice president would become acting president. (Peter D. Kramer and Sally L. Satel, 8/29)

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