KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Medicare’s Art Of Compromise; Consumerism And Health Care

A selection of opinions from around the country.

Health Affairs Blog: Today’s Medicare Is Built On 50 Years Of Robust Compromise. Now What?
If the Presidential race is any guide, many Americans do not like “politicians.” Weak-kneed and compromised by campaign contributions, “politicians” imperil our virtuous Republic. Or so we are told by ideologues on the Right and Left and by a distressing number of citizens whose interest in politics is but a quadrennial event. “Compromised.” A troubling word. Yet our system of government, with its divided powers, cannot function without “compromise” among competing interests and philosophies. Can we “compromise” without being “compromised”? Yes, and the resulting hybrid may even be superior to ideologically pure alternatives. (Glenn Hackbarth, 3/8)

Modern Healthcare: Why Consumerism Is No Panacea For Our Healthcare Problems
American politicians and policymakers often tout consumer-based approaches, such as price transparency, comparison shopping, retail clinics, and high-deductible health plans featuring health savings accounts as answers to the nation's pressing healthcare cost and access problems. But recent evidence suggests that these types of market-based solutions have severe limits. (Harris Meyer, 3/8)

STAT: Health Care Quality Measures Should Matter To Patients
Defining and measuring quality in health care isn’t easy. New yardsticks from the Core Quality Measurement Collaborative are a step in the right direction ... They include things like whether a doctor has done a specific test or recommended a specific treatment. But they ignore things that matter to most of us. (Mitch Rothschild, 3/8)

The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Mexican Imports
Mr. Trump released a 10-paragraph health plan last week, perhaps in response to the criticism that he has no policy details ... one detail that leapt out for comment is his endorsement of foreign pharmaceutical importation—an idea even liberals left for dead a decade ago. (3/8)

Bloomberg: Will Congress Get Serious About Zika?
The more doctors learn about the Zika virus, the more dangerous it appears. Is it too much to hope that this research will prod the U.S. Congress to take action? Of course, congressional action on any issue has been hard to come by lately. In the case of Zika, however, it’s worth examining what science says about its potential for harm. (3/8)

The Columbus Dispatch: Needle Exchanges Curb Disease
Coping with a public-health issue such as drug addiction is complicated, and when success is achieved in one area, new problems can arise elsewhere as a result. This is the case with efforts in recent years to shut down “pill mills,” in which some unscrupulous doctors made a practice of prescribing opioid painkillers to virtually anyone. When government and law enforcement successfully cracked down on such operations and increased monitoring of painkiller prescriptions, many of those who were addicted to pain pills turned to illegal drugs such as heroin instead. (3/9)

JAMA: The Ethical Challenges Of Compassionate Use
Granting access to drugs, vaccines, biologics, and devices that have not yet been approved by governmental regulatory authorities is a growing challenge for physicians, public officials, patient advocacy groups, institutional review boards (IRBs), and patients.1 Although the issue of rapid access to investigational agents is not new, tracing back to the early days of the human immunodeficiency virus pandemic, the pace of requests has increased. This is attributable to many factors, including greater awareness of compassionate use on the part of patients and their physicians; more information available through the Internet and websites describing clinical trials; an increase in promising interventions, including genetic markers, immunotherapies, and recombinant vaccines; threats from potential epidemics such as Ebola, cholera, and influenza; and an increased willingness to try novel agents by patients who are chronically ill or dying. (Arthur R. Caplan and Amrit Ray, 3/8)

The Washington Post: New School Lunch Standards Are Working. So Why Does Congress Want To Knock Them Down?
The new standards are among the most important efforts to improve children’s health in the past two decades. Since 1980, obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. Nearly a third of children and adolescents are either obese or overweight. In some states, the combined rate is close to 40 percent; among African American and Latino children, these rates are particularly high. And millions more children consume more sugar and empty calories than is healthy. (Steven Czinn, 3/8)

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