KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Those Tired Old Politics Of Birth Control; Doctors’ Responsibility To Respond To Climate Change

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

The Des Moines Register: Stop The Tired Politicizing Of Birth Control
The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance offered by employers to cover birth control. The provision has saved women millions of dollars and is credited with helping reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions. Yet some religious groups objected to the mandate. The Obama administration responded by creating a “workaround,” allowing women to obtain coverage for contraception if their employers refused to pay for it. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a case brought by Hobby Lobby, that “closely held” private companies can invoke religious objections to avoid covering contraception. The issue was settled. (8/22)

Louisville Courier-Journal: U Of L Hospital Board Could Clear Path For Planned Parenthood To Offer Abortions
The new managers of University of Louisville Hospital are considering the politically charged question of whether to grant two local clinics an agreement the state says they need to provide abortions. Ken Marshall, hospital president and CEO, on Tuesday told members of the board who took over management July 1 that both Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. and EMW Women's Surgical Center have requested "transfer agreements" under which they could transfer patients to the hospital in an emergency. (Deborah Yetter, 8/23)

Stat: Doctors Must Respond To Changes In The Politics Of Climate Change
Public health research is one of the casualties of the recent partisan policy debates on climate science and the war over international agreements. Because mortality and morbidity estimates show dire connections with climate change indicators like heat waves, episodes of unexpected flash flooding, extreme storm events, and the like, this retreat from the climate reality is a critical mistake that will cost this country lives and billions of dollars. (Gary W. Yohe and Kristie L. Ebi, 8/22)

The Wall Street Journal: We Need A DUI Test For Marijuana
Cheyllyn Ranae Collinsworth, an 18-year-old Washington state resident, died in May following a car crash. The person responsible was driving under the influence of marijuana and has been charged with vehicular manslaughter. In states where marijuana is legal, car collisions are up 3%, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. Although marijuana impairs driving ability, police knew the driver in Washington had been using the drug only because he confessed. (Ethan Siegel and Alex Berezow, 8/22)

RealClear Health: A Law And Order Approach To Opioids Won’t Work
President Trump announced on Aug. 8 that the federal government will adopt a law and order mindset to deal with heroin and prescription opioid abuse, calling it “a problem the likes of which we have never seen.” He said that the United States needs stricter law enforcement and a southern border wall to keep drugs out of the country. Unfortunately, harsh laws that target nonviolent drug users have never worked, and this crackdown will fail as well. (Dylan Moore, 8/23)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Protect College Students From Meningitis B
Preparing a child for college begins years before he or she sets foot on campus. Money is saved for tuition, hours are spent on homework and extracurricular activities, and visits are made to campuses. And while it may seem a small detail, one act of early preparation is vital, and that is being up-to-date on immunizations, and particularly for meningitis. Meningitis is a serious and sometimes deadly disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. (Swagata Banik, 8/23)

USA Today: After Battling Prison And Addiction, Mother Stops Women From Returning To System
Just as Susan Burton was getting her life back together, it fell apart again. It was 1981 when her 5-year-old son was killed in a car accident. The young mother began drinking to cope with her depression. She started taking Valium, then cocaine and crack. A year after her son's death, she was in federal prison, serving 13 months for drug possession. When Burton was released, she says, a prison guard predicted her return. As she walked out, the guard told her that the system had a "bed waiting for you, Burton," she recalled years later. "You'll be back." (Lottie Joiner, 8/22)

Stat: Not All Vegan Or Plant-Based Diets Are Equally Healthy
Move over, low-fat diets. More and more experts are recommending plant-based diets to reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes and cancer. But are all plant-based diets equally beneficial? And must they be all-or-none eating strategies, or is there a role for a semi-vegetarian or “flexitarian” approach? (Hena Patel and Kim Allan Williams Sr., 8/22)

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