KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: ‘Last-Ditch’ Efforts At Repeal; DACA’s Little-Recognized Impact On Anxiety, Mental Illness

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

USA Today: Health Care Smackdown: Last-Ditch Repeal Drive Threatens Bipartisan Fixes
While America has been distracted by Russia, North Korea, Charlottesville and Hurricane Harvey, two opposing forces have been gathering steam and are likely to bring the health care debate to an explosive head by the end of the month. On one side, powerful Republican Senate committee chairs and their Democratic counterparts are leading an effort this week to move health care reform in a bipartisan direction by focusing on small improvements to the Affordable Care Act. ... But not so fast. There is competition — yet another partisan effort to repeal the ACA, led by Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Dean Heller of Nevada. (Andy Slavitt, 9/6)

The Washington Post: The Little-Known Benefit Of DACA: It Reduced Mental Illness In Dreamers’ Children
Among the many dramas of the Trump presidency has been whether he would fulfill his campaign promise to dismantle the DACA program. Months of speculation and mounting anxiety among immigrants and their advocates culminated Tuesday, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would rescind DACA protections in six months’ time. The program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, provided temporary relief from deportation and the right to work for unauthorized immigrants who had been brought to the United States as children. To date, some 800,000 of these “dreamers” have successfully applied for the deferred action. (David D. Laitin, Linna Martén and Jens Hainmueller, 9/6)

The Wall Street Journal: Teen-Pregnancy Subsidy Panic
Progressives defend some government programs as so inexpensive they aren’t worth cutting (the National Endowment for the Arts) and the rest as too large and important to touch (Medicaid). Witness the meltdown over the Trump Administration’s decision to redeploy funding for teen-pregnancy prevention. Earlier this summer the Health and Human Services Department decided to wind down the Obama Administration’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which offers grants to localities and organizations, ostensibly to import proven methods of preventing teen pregnancy or experiment with fresh approaches, mostly through education about birth control. HHS certifies “evidence-based” curricula for teens or underwrites new ideas. The program has handed out more than $800 million since its start in 2010. (9/6)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri Lawmakers Should Hold A Special Session To Help Elderly And Disabled
About 8,000 elderly and disabled residents in Missouri are facing grim prospects that their in-home health care and medical services will be drastically reduced because $35.4 million was slashed from a tight state budget. Advocates are trying to persuade lawmakers headed back to Jefferson City for a veto session on Sept. 13 to hold a special session to stave off an impending health crisis. (9/6)

The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Targets Killer Epidemic
Action by Gov. John Kasich last week to slow down the flood of painkillers in Ohio and prevent abuse and addiction, by limiting overprescribing, could have significant impact. It won’t be immediate, but it may mark a turning point in a state that has become the epicenter of the nation’s opioid crisis. (9/6)

JAMA: Delivering Emotions
Becca, push a little more. Come on. You can do this,” I said softly, encouraging the mother to deliver. I tried to focus on the task at hand. By doing so, I could push my emotions deep within me. Because if I thought about the details surrounding Becca’s current circumstances, I knew I might start to cry. “Stay strong,” I then said, for both of us. Keep it together, I muttered to myself. (Elizabeth Corey, 9/5)

JAMA: Using Outreach To Improve Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with more than 50 000 deaths expected in 2017. Screening can reduce CRC mortality, and several methods of screening are available and recommended for average-risk adults aged 50 years to 75 years. Modeling studies suggest that several different methods of screening produce relatively similar levels of mortality reduction if there is good adherence to the underlying screening program. (Michael Pignone and David P. Miller Jr., 9/5)

Stat: I'm An Expert On Diagnosing Mental Illness. Trump Doesn’t Meet The Criteria
Confusing Trump’s behavior with mental illness unfairly stigmatizes those who are truly mentally ill, underestimates his considerable cunning, and misdirects our efforts at future harm reduction. And the three most frequent armchair diagnoses made for Trump — narcissistic personality disorder, delusional disorder, and dementia — are all badly misinformed. (Allen Frances, 9/6)

JAMA Forum: Science And The Trump Administration
In its first 6 months, the Trump administration has sent a few different signals to the scientific community. On one hand, President Trump has proposed major budget cuts to scientific funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Health. On the other, the administration has announced some promising initiatives, such as the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) effort to reduce nicotine in cigarettes to nonaddictive levels. (Joshua M. Sharfstein, 9/6)

Lexington Herald Leader: Call On Congress To Adequately Fund Global-Health Programs
This week, the U.S. Senate is expected to make some serious decisions on funding levels for global health programs. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is even on the key subcommittee. Such foreign assistance — less than one percent of the total U.S. budget — was cut by 32 percent in President Donald Trump’s first budget request. Our elected officials need to hear from the American people — and especially Americans of faith — advocating for helping those most in need, especially in fighting devastating epidemics. Voters’ expressions of support for global health could then help sustain U.S. leadership in the 2018 appropriations bills, a process which has markedly reduced the scourges of AIDS, TB and malaria over the past 15 years. (Josh Rouse, 9/5)

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