Longer Looks: The Tax Bill; Medical Device Corruption; And Bariatric Surgery
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
“I Hope They See My Humanity”: Activist Ady Barkan On How The Tax Bill Would Make His Life With ALS Worse
Ady Barkan sat in a wheelchair on Capitol Hill, his words amplified by a human megaphone. His voice weak from the effects of the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, the 34-year-old activist was flanked by fellow organizers protesting the GOP tax bill in the Hart Senate building, who repeated him in unison. (Ella Nilsen, 12/19)
The Daily Beast:
Congress Quietly Abandons Its Help For Diabetic Kids
For months now, a program dedicated to funding critical breakthroughs in diabetes research has been on hold, set off to the side amid Congress’ obsessive focus on repealing and replacing Obamacare.Now, as a fix is on the horizon, advocates fear that legislative gridlock may get in the way again. (Sam Stein, 12/19)
Exposing Corruption In The Medical Device Industry
Award-winning journalist Jeanne Lenzer discusses her new book The Danger Within Us: America's Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man's Battle to Survive It. She investigates the medical device industry. An estimated 10 percent of Americans are implanted with medical devices like pacemakers, artificial hips, cardiac stents, etc. She exposed the corruption, cover-ups, profiteering, and lack of oversight, which threatens the safety of devices implanted into our bodies. (12/19)
The ‘Frequent Flier’ Program That Grounded A Hospital’s Soaring Costs
On a recent afternoon at Parkland Memorial Hospital, social worker Sheryl Abraham and senior vice president Marilyn Callies reviewed a sheath of graphs, each representing a special kind of visitor to the hospital—the “frequent fliers,” as the nurses call them, or more politely, “high utilizers.” Sitting in Callies’ office—a shrine to the Louisiana native’s beloved New Orleans Saints—they worked through a list of 96 people who had visited the hospital at least 10 times over the previous month. Some had run up annual tabs of over $100,000 in unpaid bills. Nearly all of them were homeless at least part of the year. (Arthur Allen, 12/18)
Flu Season Is Here Early. Why Didn't We See It Coming?
Influenza viruses quietly circulate year-round in the US, but every winter they go big, triggering a seasonal epidemic of sniffles, sweats, and sore throats. And this year it’s come earlier than usual, just in time for a potential peak over the holidays. (Megan Molteni, 12/18)
Jewel’s Story: How One Teen Battled Obesity With Medicine’s Best — And Most Underused — Tool
Like millions of other Americans with obesity, Jewel has been fighting a war she can’t win. Over the years, research has piled up demonstrating that diets fail most people in the long run, and that exercise isn’t very helpful for weight loss either — particularly for people like Jewel with severe obesity, defined as a BMI of 40 or more. (Jewel’s BMI in April was 52.)As more and more people find themselves with no real options for weight loss, doctors are turning to bariatric surgery, which involves permanently altering the stomach to restrict the amount of food it can hold. (Julia Belluz, 12/18)