Longer Looks: AHCA Fallout; Phage Therapy; And A Measles Outbreak
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
Republicans Sign Up For Political Pain
Through the troubled seven-year history of the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama’s health-care law, most Americans have agreed on one thing. They like the provision which ensures that people with pre-existing medical conditions can buy health insurance at the same price as everyone else. Even when more than half of Americans disapproved of “Obamacare”, more than four in five supported this bit of it. That simple political fact explains why the latest Republican attempt to rewrite the health-care law, which seemed likely to come to a vote in the House of Representatives soon after The Economist went to press, is probably doomed. (5/6)
Her Husband Was Dying From A Superbug. She Turned To Sewer Viruses Collected By The Navy.
Scientists have long dismissed “phage therapy” for severe infections as a fringe idea pushed by eccentrics who enjoy fishing in sewage. But now the Navy is betting on it. (Azeen Ghorayshi, 5/6)
A Conservative Wonk Makes The Case For The AHCA
Many conservatives have come to see the AHCA as a vessel, albeit a still imperfect one, for the kind of health reforms they have waited for years to achieve. Now that it has passed the House, they are one step closer to that goal. (Dylan Scott, 5/9)
Profit Motive — And Scant Evidence — Propel Dire Warnings About 'Surgical Smoke'
Just breathing the air in an operating room where hot surgical tools are being used to slice and cauterize tissue — emitting puffs of caustic smoke in the process — is said to be the equivalent of smoking up to 30 unfiltered cigarettes a day. The smoke contains an array of carcinogenic toxins. And nurses regularly exposed to it report they are are twice as likely as the general public to suffer congestion, coughing, and asthma. Citing such data, health care workers have launched national campaigns to push hospitals to require the use of devices that suction up surgical smoke as it’s produced. (McFarling, 5/11)
As U.S. Life Expectancies Climb, People In A Few Places Are Dying Younger
A series of papers published over the last couple of years showed a disturbing increase in mortality among white people without a college degree. In the wake of the divisive presidential election, that work drew grim headlines about the death of middle-aged whites. Some argued in response that the focus on whites was misplaced, given that mortality rates for black people and Native Americans are higher than those of other racial groups. But combining these socioeconomic and racial disparities with the variation in geographical outcomes paints a harrowing picture of a stark U.S. reality: The wealthiest country on earth, which also spends the most money on care for the sick, has far from the best health outcomes. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, 5/8)
The Deaths Of Millions Of California Trees Endanger The Lives Of Thousands Of California Humans
Dead trees mean dead people, and scientists are finally starting to figure out why. In the 1990s, spurred by a program to plant half a million trees in Chicago, researchers started trying to quantify the value of a tree beyond the fact that one is, like, at least slightly more lovely than a poem. It’s a field of study today called ecosystem services. (Adam Rogers, 5/9)
Minnesota Is Fighting Its Largest Measles Outbreak In Nearly 30 Years. Blame Vaccine Deniers.
Anti-vaccine groups have helped fuel Minnesota’s largest outbreak of measles in nearly 30 years, with 44 confirmed cases since the outbreak was identified in April. Most of the cases are occurring among unvaccinated Somali-American children in Minneapolis, whose parents have been the targets of anti-vaccine propagandists, according to the state health department. (Julia Belluz, 5/8)
Will Texas Republicans Suffer For Their Obamacare Vote?
The Republicans had voted for the American Health Care Act, a health reform bill of dubious character. If the legislation gets through the Senate—which is a big if—millions of Americans will likely lose their health insurance or have to pay exorbitant prices in a high-risk pool. But, in this moment, once again the two major political parties that control the greatest legislative body on the planet demonstrated that to them this isn’t about improving the lives of most Americans, but rather a zero-sum game of political winners and losers. (R.G. Ratcliffe, 5/8)