KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Health Policies Roar Back Onto The Campaign Trail; Uber, Starbucks Offer Lessons For The Health Industry

A selection of opinions from around the country.

The New York Times' Upshot: Debate Prep: Fact-Checking The G.O.P. Candidates On Health Care
The Republican debates have included very little discussion of health care policy. But the issue has roared back into the conversation, and is likely to come back again at the Detroit debate on Thursday. The Republican field is united in wishing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 law known as Obamacare. But the remaining candidates have not developed detailed proposals about what would come next, though they have less comprehensive ideas that they speak about on the stump. Here’s our look at a few favorite talking points and how well they match up with the evidence. All quotations come from last week’s debate in Houston. (Margot Sanger-Katz, 3/3)

STAT: What Hospitals Could Learn From Starbucks
If you are at all like us, the odds are good that you have a loyalty card to buy coffee, groceries, or hardware, or plug in your frequent flyer number when booking flights. Health care organizations haven’t adopted such customer loyalty programs, but they should. (Laurence F. McMahon Jr, Renuka Tipirneni and Vineet Chopra, 3/2)

The New England Journal Of Medicine: Uber’s Message For Health Care
Unreliable service, inconvenience, uncomfortable surroundings, and high prices make customers unhappy, and given the opportunity, they will go elsewhere. Uber, Silicon Valley’s response to the shortcomings of urban taxi and limousine services, has managed to upend an established industry by offering an appealing alternative. Uber’s technology-enabled incursion into a highly regulated market suggests that if consumers gain enough from a new solution, it can overcome powerfully entrenched economic and political interests. Is U.S. health care ripe for disruption by a medical Uber? (Allan S. Detsky and Alan M Garber, 3/3)

Forbes: Silo-Busting Telemedicine Is Too Being Siloed
When we say healthcare operates in silos, we mean a patient’s cardiologist, psychiatrist and general practitioner have no idea what each other are doing ... “Connected care” is supposed to break down these silos. Is telehealth doing it? Probably not. (John Graham, 3/2)

Health Affairs Blog: Health Care Consumerism: Can The Tail Wag The Dog?
In September 2012, The Los Angeles Times ran a story suggesting that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would usher in a new age of health care consumerism powered by on-line tools, cost calculators, and armies of engaged consumers. In the intervening years, what has been repeatedly pronounced is that we want consumers to “have skin in the game” and for them to “buy value” by considering both price and quality when purchasing health care services. (Amanda Frost, David Newman and Lynn Quincy, 3/2)

The New York Times: Bring Back The Autopsy
I recently attended an autopsy at the hospital where I work, in a room in the basement adjoining the morgue. The corpse, a newborn baby, was lying peacefully, as if napping, on a steel table with rusted wheels. He had succumbed to hypoxia, low oxygen levels in the blood, a few minutes after a full-term delivery. Did he have a heart defect? Had the umbilical cord been compressed? Had he breathed meconium, the first stool, into his lungs? The purpose of the autopsy was to find out. (Sandeep Jauhar, 3/3)

The Baltimore Sun: Drug-Resistant Bacteria A Growing Threat
I introduced a bill with Sen. Paul Pinsky earlier this month to fight back, starting right here in Maryland. Our bill (SB 607) takes aim at one of the main drivers behind the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in humans: overuse of antibiotics on livestock that are not even sick. (Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, 3/2)

The New York Times' Upshot: Fighting Drug Addiction With Drugs Works, but Only if Doctors Sign On
Almost one million American physicians can write a prescription for an opioid painkiller like Vicodin and OxyContin — one pathway to opioid addiction. But, because of regulatory hurdles and other factors, fewer than 32,000 doctors are permitted to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication to treat such addiction. That’s a statistic worth thinking about since opioid painkillers and heroin contributed to the deaths of nearly 30,000 Americans in 2014, triple the number in 2000. Perhaps many of these lives could have been saved with buprenorphine. The Obama administration intends to increase access to it — and its proposed budget would commit hundreds of millions of dollars to do so — but it won’t be easy. (Austin Frakt, 3/2)

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