KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Is Poor Health Status A Campaign Issue?; The Clash Between Policy Wonks And Bernie Sanders

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

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Will Poor Health Status In The South Be An Issue In 2016 Primaries?
Before the New Hampshire primary, Democratic and Republican candidates talked a lot about the state’s opioid epidemic, an issue that ranked high among public concerns in Granite State polls. The 2016 campaign has moved south, with South Carolina’s Republican primary on Saturday and votes to follow in 10 more of the 17 southern states by March 15, but there has been little discussion of poor health status in the region. (Drew Altman, 2/18)

The New York Times' Upshot: Why Left-Of-Center Wonks Are Skeptical Of Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders has a problem with the liberal wonkosphere — or, more precisely, the liberal wonkosphere has a problem with Bernie Sanders. ... On Wednesday, it took the form of a joint letter from four people who led the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton and Obama administrations. They criticized projections by Gerald Friedman, an economist who has advised Mr. Sanders, of what the candidate’s policy proposals would achieve. ... Behind the critiques: Mr. Sanders’s advisers have often worked off assumptions that their policies would sharply increase economic growth, reduce health care costs and create other salutary effects, making the policies in question look more affordable and desirable than they would with more cautious assumptions. (Neil Irwin, 2/18)

Los Angeles Times: Pope Francis Says What You Thought He Would Never Say About Birth Control
Forget the kerfuffle over Pope Francis insinuating that Donald Trump isn’t Christian. The real news from the pontiff: He appears to have given his blessing to artificial contraceptives. At least as used by women in countries where they fear they have been exposed to the Zika virus and getting pregnant would put them at risk of delivering babies with severe deformities linked to the disease. (Carla Hall, 2/18)

Bloomberg: Don't Live In Flint? Lead Is Your Problem, Too
The crisis in Flint, Michigan has focused attention on lead-tainted water flowing through taps in the U.S. as well as lead paint exposures that continue to plague cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. While there’s skepticism surrounding recent claims that lead poisoning rates are higher in Philadelphia than in Flint, there’s no disputing that there’s a serious problem in both cities and many others. The term “poisoning” is the source of some confusion. Since Flint switched to a more corrosive source of water in 2014, bringing lead from pipes into the drinking supply, some residents have reported rashes, hair loss, fatigue and other classic symptoms of lead poisoning. But scientists now believe that exposures too low to cause people to feel sick can do serious and possibly permanent neurological damage, especially in children. (Faye Flam, 2/19)

The News & Observer: Why NC Pharmacists Should Be Able To Sell Syringes, No Questions Asked
North Carolina law allows pharmacies to sell syringes without a prescription, but prohibits the sales if it is known they will be used for illicit drug purposes ... The law does not define the burden of proof. That has led to a patchwork of pharmacy policies regarding syringe sales, leaving legitimate patients unable to obtain syringes without abridging their rights to privacy and self-determination. (Brian N. Decker, 2/17)

Los Angeles Times: Is The Call For Zika Virus Abortions The New Eugenics?
When the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a global emergency, it also claimed that the disease was tied to increased cases of microcephaly in babies. A day later, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, which actively promotes the view that “access to abortion is a matter of human rights,” was putting pressure on countries in Central and South America to change laws that protect prenatal children from violence. (Charles C. Camosy, 2/19)

The Baltimore Sun: 'Wake Up,' Women
A bill proposed by Kentucky lawmaker Mary Lou Marzian would prevent doctors from prescribing erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra to anyone other than married men who have their partner's written consent. Ms. Marzian said she was trying to "wake up women" after her state passed a law requiring medical consultations for them 24 hours prior to having an abortion. (Tricia Bishop, 2/18)

The Denver Post: Support For Colorado Drug Pricing Legislation
Kudos to state Rep. Joann Ginal for taking on the pharmaceutical industry and its pricing policies. Those of us who saw Martin Shkreli s appearance before Congress were appalled by his smugness and refusal to answer questions about usurious pricing of medications. He is the poster child for what is wrong with the industry. Congress also should be answering questions about drug pricing. Given the costs of health care, Congress continues to uphold the law that makes it impossible for Medicare to negotiate drug prices. This is the gift that keeps on giving to the pharmaceutical industry. (Michael Hobbs, 2/18)

The Baltimore Sun: Paid Sick Leave Laws Are A Win-Win For Md. Families, Business
For the more than 700,000 Marylanders who are unable to earn paid sick days, abiding by a doctor's orders to stay home and rest can mean forgoing groceries or rent. The choice is even more heart-wrenching for working parents who must decide between sending a sick child to school or day care, versus staying home and missing out on necessary income. (Luke Clippinger, 2/18)

The Los Angeles: Finally, Some Action On Exide From Jerry Brown
Gov. Jerry Brown listened. After residents, local officials and activists criticized his administration's excruciatingly slow pace in cleaning up lead-tainted homes near the shuttered Exide plant, the governor has stepped up with a proposal to spend $176.6 million to test and decontaminate affected properties within a year. (2/18)

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