KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Pharma Execs Embrace Trump’s Pick To Head FDA As One Of Their Own; What About ‘Good Eugenics’?

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

Los Angeles Times: Farewell To Drug Regulation? Trump Nominates A 'Bona-Fide Pharma Shill' To Head The FDA
Lots of people in the healthcare field heaved a sigh of relief last week when President Trump nominated Scott Gottlieb, a physician, venture investor and former official of the Food and Drug Administration, to be the FDA’s next commissioner. Some healthcare experts were relieved that, whatever Gottlieb’s particular qualities, at least he wasn’t someone from the camp of “we-have-to-destroy-the-agency-to-save-it” species of Trump appointee like, say, Environmental Protection Agency boss Scott Pruitt. (Michael Hiltzik, 3/16)

Los Angeles Times: Is There Such A Thing As Good Eugenics?
We entered a new phase as a species when Chinese scientists altered a human embryo to remove a potentially fatal blood disorder — not only from the baby, but all of its descendants. Researchers call this process “germline modification.” The media likes the phrase “designer babies.” But we should call it what it is, “eugenics.” And we, the human race, need to decide whether or not we want to use it. (Adam Cohen, 3/17)

Boston Globe: Trump NIH Cuts Threaten Mass. 
Lawmakers need a stark reminder that advances in medicine and cures for human disease often come only after decades of painstaking scientific research — much of it funded by government grants. That’s why the $5.8 billion cut proposed for the National Institutes of Health on Thursday is as short-sighted as it is devastating for the nation’s researchers, doctors, and patients. (3/16)

The New England Journal Of Medicine: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind — Behavioral And Developmental Care For Rural Children
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just offered further evidence that American children — and rural children in particular — are in trouble. Previously, the CDC had noted that poor U.S. children 2 to 8 years of age have higher rates of parent-reported mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders (MBDDs) than their wealthier counterparts. Now, in the latest of a series of reports, the agency documents the finding that rural children from small communities are more likely to have MBDDs than those living in cities and suburbs. (Kelly J. Kelleher and William Gardner, 3/16)

WBUR: Doctor: Boston Evictions Tantamount To A Public Health Crisis 
Evictions can lead to many health problems. According to a nationally representative study published by Harvard and Rice University researchers, evicted mothers are more likely to have depression and report worse health for themselves and their children. Disruptive life events like eviction and homelessness at a young age may have lifelong health impacts for developing children. (Lara Jirmanus, 3/16)

The Des Moines Register: Profit-Seeking Medicaid Insurers Vs. Iowans
Iowa has been victimized by Gov. Terry Branstad’s Medicaid privatization for nearly a year. Handing over a $4 billion government health insurance program to profit-seeking companies did not make sense in theory, and in practice, it has been a nightmare for health providers and low-income Iowans. Enough is enough. It is time to return to the state-managed Medicaid system that had low administrative expenses, timely reimbursement for providers and consistency in coverage for patients. (3/16)

San Jose Mercury News: Too Many Health Plan Choices Mean Worse Care
I appreciate that the healthcare system within which I work accepts most insurance plans, but when my patients change jobs, move, become eligible for Medicare, or their insurance plan switches networks, they are forced to get new doctors and establish care within a new system. Many critics of universal healthcare argue that it limits patient choice. However, in my experience there are overlooked negative consequences of having too many health insurance options. (Tenessa MacKenzie, 3/16)

The New England Journal Of Medicine: Clarifying Stem-Cell Therapy’s Benefits And Risks
The current excitement over the potential for stem-cell therapy to improve patient outcomes or even cure diseases is understandable. We at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) share this excitement. However, to ensure that this emerging field fulfills its promise to patients, we must first understand its risks and benefits and develop therapeutic approaches based on sound science. Without a commitment to the principles of adequate evidence generation that have led to so much medical progress, we may never see stem-cell therapy reach its full potential. (Peter W. Marks, Celia M. Witten and Robert M. Califf, 3/16)

Arizona Republic: Trust These Folks To Apply Anesthesia To Patients
There is – Senate Bill 1336.This simple, commonsense measure benefits Arizona patients and health-care professionals. We write as surgeons who recognize the critical service provided by our nursing colleagues, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). In many facilities, especially in rural or underserved communities, it is a CRNA – not an anesthesiologist – who is in charge of making sure the patient is asleep and comfortable for their procedure. (Eric Nelson, Robert Schuster and Steven Washburn, 3/16)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.