KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: The High Cost Of Insulin; Drug Companies’ Role In The Opioid Epidemic

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

The Washington Post: Insulin Is Too Expensive For Many Of My Patients. It Doesn’t Have To Be.
At age 15, I developed an unquenchable thirst and frequent urination, and lost 20 pounds. I had developed Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that destroyed my body’s ability to produce insulin. Without insulin, I would have eventually developed a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, which is lethal without (and even sometimes with) treatment. Years later, I’m a practicing endocrinologist. I could never have imagined back when I first started taking insulin that one day I would have so many patients who could not afford the medication because of skyrocketing prices. When the drug was discovered in 1921, the original patent was sold to the University of Toronto for $1 so that no one else could patent it and “secure a profitable monopoly.” (David M. Tridgell, 6/22)

Chicago Tribune: If Sweet Drinks Are So Bad, Stop Subsidizing Them
Grrocery stores can't tax SNAP purchases. That makes total sense. SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, informally known as food stamps — is funded with public money, so the government would simply be taxing itself. This simple rule has greatly complicated the rollout of Cook County's new sweetened beverage tax and prompted a flurry of rule changes in the a penny-an-ounce levy set to take effect July 1. (Eric Zorn, 6/22)

Reuters: Big Social Security COLA Will Be Offset By Medicare Premiums
Retirees can look forward to the largest Social Security cost-of-living adjustment next year since 2012 -- but don’t break out the champagne just yet. For many, higher Medicare premiums will take a big bite out of their raise. The 2018 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will not be announced until October, but inflation trends point toward an increase of about 2 percent, according to a recent forecast by the Senior Citizens League. That would be a welcome change compared with the 0.3 percent bump in 2017, and 2016 when no COLA was made. (Mark Miller, 6/22)

The Des Moines Register: Iowa’s CON Job: How The State Prevents Competition In Health Care
What if you wanted to start a business, but first you had to convince a government board that there was a need for your services? And to top it off, your potential competitors could show up to a hearing and argue that nobody needs your business? It sounds unfair and absurd, but that is exactly what Iowa and 27 other states do to doctors. Iowa makes it a crime for doctors like me to open up a new surgery center without obtaining special permission known as a “certificate of need” or CON from the state’s Health Facilities Council. (Lee Birchansky, 6/22)

RealClear Health: The Digital Health Hope: Transforming Outcomes In Health
There are more than 50 petabytes of data in the health care realm today. Analysis and the creative use of big data may likely hold the answers to solving many public health problems and curing chronic disease. Today, new technologies are rapidly being developed for the collection of biometric data directly from patients. Digital health has become the new frontier in medicine and billions of dollars are being invested every year by both government agencies as well as the private sector. Emerging digital health tools collect and archive big data and provide opportunities for researchers to ask important questions that will likely lead to the development of new and improved treatments. (Kevin Campbell, 6/23)

Kansas City Star: New System Will Modernize VA Record Keeping
Recently, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin announced that the VA will overhaul its decades-old electronic patient record system. Rather than simply revamping the old system, and in an effort to provide better, more streamlined care for veterans, the VA will upgrade to a commercial system. (Todd Graves, 6/22)

Lincoln Journal-Star: Spike In Cardiac Arrest Saves Stunning
For someone suffering cardiac arrest, saying “every second counts” may seem trite – but it’s true. Every minute without CPR and defibrillation decreases the person’s chance of survival between 7 percent and 10 percent, according to the American Heart Association. Accordingly, quick action is imperative to save as many lives as possible. (6/22)

The New England Journal Of Medicine: Effective Legislative Advocacy — Lessons From Successful Medical Trainee Campaigns
“What is the best way for me to get involved politically?” Since last November’s election, I have fielded this question frequently from fellow residents as well as medical students. Many of them have never been politically active, having assumed that the arc of progress would continue uninterrupted, and so, understandably, have focused instead on a demanding training process that largely treats advocacy as extracurricular rather than as a core competency. Now, recognizing the myriad ways in which politics and policy influence the health care we deliver, many trainees feel a new sense of urgency to get involved. (Elizabeth P. Griffiths, 6/22)

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