KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Unlocking Understanding Through Genomics And Precision Health; Alzheimer’s Gender Gap

A selection of public health opinions from around the country.

JAMA: Introducing “Genomics And Precision Health”
The US health care system has seen significant changes over the last decade resulting from diverse factors including the widespread adoption of electronic health records, the opioid crisis, and the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. Such changes have buffeted the day-to-day work of physicians and other health care practitioners, leaving many finding it challenging to address demands placed on them. Looking forward in 2017, it seems that the future will hold more turbulence. In this milieu, it is easily possible to overlook that medicine has been undergoing a much more gradual and deeper transformation. This shift is inexorably moving medicine from an endeavor in which care for individual patients is driven by trial and error informed by studies designed to measure population outcomes to one in which care is selected based on a deep understanding of health and disease attributes unique to each individual. (W. Gregory Feero, 5/9)

Stat: Gender Gap In Alzheimer's Disease Rates, Caregiving Needs More Attention
Women make up nearly two-thirds of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. A woman in her 60s is now about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as breast cancer during her lifetime. And as described in a Viewpoint article published this week in JAMA Neurology, women shoulder the majority of caregiving for those with dementia. In fact, two and a half times as many women as men reported living full time with a person with dementia. The prevailing theory for why Alzheimer’s disease disproportionately affects women is that they generally live longer than men. However, mounting evidence suggests that longevity alone may not account for the difference. (Roberta Diaz Brinton, 5/10)

The Washington Post: When It Comes To Vaccines, Rich Parents Get Away With Child Neglect
Public health experts once again must defend the safety — and necessity — of vaccination, this time in response to misinformation spread among the Somali community in Minnesota by anti-vaccine activists. The rising skepticism about vaccines is dangerous on its own, of course. Last year, a study in the journal Pediatrics found that more parents than ever believe vaccines are simply unnecessary to prevent childhood diseases. But the anti-vaccine movement highlights another, troubling aspect in the world of child health: Wealthy people are more likely to be let off easy when they do things that can harm their children than low-income people are. (Linda C. Fentiman, 5/10)

Stat: Why Autistic People Like Me Need To Help Shape Autism Science
This week I will join roughly 2,000 scientists and autistic advocates in San Francisco for IMFAR — the International Meeting for Autism Research. As an autistic adult, I feel it’s important to be in the midst of this gathering and to offer scientists my opinions about research, unmet needs, and unanswered questions. We have a saying in the disability advocacy community, “Nothing about us, without us.” When it comes to autism research, if we want science to address our concerns, we first need to make sure that researchers know what those concerns are. (John Elder Robison, 5/10)

The Columbus Dispatch: Daily Exercise Crucial For Kids
Dr. Stanley Herring, director of the University of Washington Sports Health and Safety Institute, says exercise is essential to a child’s long-term health. The concussion protocols published last month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine are designed to keep athletes as safe as possible and all youth sports programs should adopt them. But parents also need to keep their kids active. (5/11)

The Washington Post: Don’t Blame Democrats’ Problems On Support For Abortion Rights
Like a steady drip from a broken faucet, a lot of blame has been thrown around since Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss in November. Predictably, and without any evidence, some have begun drawing connections between Clinton’s loss and her support of abortion rights, specifically her call to end the Hyde Amendment, the law first passed in 1976 that effectively denies low-income women insurance coverage for abortion. A common thread has emerged: Women’s issues and racial justice — both of which intersect in support of abortion rights — are being positioned as a key vulnerability of today’s Democratic party, rather than part of its core. (Destiny Lopez, 5/10)

Georgia Health News: Veto Will Have Painful Consequences For Rural Patients 
Rural Georgians are once again bearing the brunt of myopic health care policy decisions coming from Atlanta. On Tuesday, just days after the Jenkins County Hospital closure announcement, a bill designed to restore delegated prescriptive authority to Georgia’s board-certified physician assistants (PAs) treating painful injuries and other medical emergencies was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal. The legislation, Senate Bill 125, sponsored by Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough), would have authorized a physician to delegate to a PA the authority to prescribe hydrocodone compound products, with suitable restrictions and controls. (Jason Spencer, 5/10)

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