KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Living Free But Addicted To Opioids; The Challenges Women In Medicine Face

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

The Wall Street Journal: Live Free Or High In The Granite State
New Hampshire residents enjoy the national spotlight that shines on them every four years during their first-in-the-nation presidential primary. They are less fond of the attention generated by their state’s reputation as an epicenter of the opioid epidemic. “It’s in every corner of the country, but I have to tell you, I think the Northeast, in particular New Hampshire, is ground zero,” Jack Riley, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s deputy administrator, said last fall. Only West Virginia has more opioid-related deaths per capita. (Matthew Hennessey, 8/21)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Conundrum In Treating Opioid Addiction
The treatment of opioid addiction remains outside the realm of mainstream medicine and further segregated from the treatment of other addictions including to alcohol, methamphetamine or cocaine. The two dominant medications used in the treatment of opioid addiction, methadone and buprenorphine, are subject to considerable restrictions and best suited for patients who are actively using opioids. Methadone can only be administered in a clinic, and doctors need to obtain a DEA waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. Less than 5 percent of physicians in the U.S. have obtained the required waiver. (Percy Menzies, 8/22)

Stat: I Wish Someone Had Told Me About The Challenges Of Being A Female Doctor
Last week, I spent 75 minutes with a new patient and, after we had discussed his assessment and treatment plan, he asked to “speak with a physician.” Last month, a different patient told me he preferred male physicians because he felt he could “trust them more.” Each time I’m not recognized as a doctor, or a patient dismisses my advice in favor of a male physician’s, I question myself. (Julia M. Reilly, 8/21)

The Washington Post: It’s Time To Talk About Trump’s Mental Health
How unstable and divorced from reality is President Trump? We’ve reached the point where the nation has the right and the need to know. We’re not accustomed to asking such questions about our presidents. We don’t know how to even begin inquiring into a president’s mental health, so we rationalize aberrant behavior as being part of some subtle strategy. We say that Trump is cleverly playing to his base, or employing the “madman theory” of foreign relations, or simply being unpredictable to gain an advantage by keeping everyone off balance. (Eugene Robinson, 8/21)

Lincoln Journal-Star: Jails Not Fit To House Mentally Ill For Months
With long wait times to get into the limited number of beds at the Lincoln Regional Center, men and women with mental illnesses often end up in the Lancaster County jail. Briefly holding someone at the jail isn’t new, as people have long been booked before being transported to the regional center later that day. But the length of time those committed spend in jails statewide awaiting a bed to open up has grown significantly in recent years. (8/22)

The New York Times: Live In A Poor Neighborhood? Better Be A Perfect Parent.
Eline’s children feared going to sleep in the closet of their studio apartment, but it was the only place they would be safe from the rats. Covered in blankets from neck to toe, Eline would keep an eye on the kitchen entrance and followed the sounds of the rodents rummaging in the cupboards. I represented Eline (I can’t disclose her real name), a mother of two, in Bronx Family Court when she was charged with neglect. Her younger son had been deemed undernourished because of faltering weight. Eline had struggled to keep up the feeding regimen prescribed by the kids’ pediatrician. Doctors are required by law to report suspected neglect, so the pediatrician reported her to the Administration for Children’s Services. The agency filed a case in family court, and the children went into foster care for three years. (Emma S. Ketteringham, 8/22)

The New York Times: Sex Education Based On Abstinence? There’s A Real Absence Of Evidence
Sex education has long occupied an ideological fault line in American life. Religious conservatives worry that teaching teenagers about birth control will encourage premarital sex. Liberals argue that failing to teach about it ensures more unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. So it was a welcome development when, a few years ago, Congress began to shift funding for sex education to focus on evidence-based outcomes, letting effectiveness determine which programs would get money. But a recent move by the Trump administration seems set to undo this progress. (Aaron E. Carroll, 8/22)

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