Views On Ebola: Blame Misplaced; Conspiracy Theories Abound; ‘Nasty’ Politicization
Politico: What the CDC Got Wrong About Ebola
Anybody who has been following the travails of our dysfunctional health-care system can find plenty of reasons to criticize American hospitals. Many are grossly inefficient and tragically unsafe. They’re quick to deliver unnecessary procedures, so long as they’re profitable, and slow to implement less lucrative procedures, like making sure patients understand what they must do to care for themselves once they are discharged. And most of them, whether they’re for- or non-profit, charge increasingly outrageous prices. But if there’s one thing our hospitals shouldn’t be dinged for, it’s being unprepared to take care of Ebola patients (Shannon Brownlee, 10/19).
The New York Times: The Ebola Conspiracy Theories
The spread of Ebola from western Africa to suburban Texas has brought with it another strain of contagion: conspiracy theories. ... The notion, for example, that health officials are conspiring with Big Pharma to consciously spread — and then cure — Ebola as a profit-making venture might sound like the plot to a cheesy summer thriller, but in fact it touches on a genuine aspect of our health care system, said Mark Fenster, a professor at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and the author of "Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture" (Alan Deuer, 10/18).
USA Today: Is U.S. 'Stuck On Stupid' On Ebola Outbreak?
Watching the U.S. Ebola story develop might well cause Hurricane Katrina flashbacks, triggered by the same sort of dramatic music on cable news networks announcing a return to breathless coverage of the latest details. ... Recall the political positioning, the press conferences from operations centers, the impassioned media coverage, the official reassurances that the situation was under control. Recall emergency and medical officials lacking appropriate communications or rescue equipment. Recall the angry mayors, governors and members of Congress with their declarations of outrage about how the situation was being mishandled (Emily Metzgar, 10/18).
The Washington Post: The Nasty Politicization Of Ebola
Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, administered a dose of truth to political Washington this week. For this honest service, Collins was pilloried. In an interview published Sunday night, Collins shared with the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein his belief that, if not for recent federal spending cuts, "we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this" Ebola outbreak. ... Collins admits it's a mistake to think "throwing money at a medical problem automatically results in breakthroughs." But there are a few major research projects on the cusp of success that could bring financial benefits far beyond the cost (Dana Milbank, 10/17).
Politico: Yes, Ebola Is Scary. But the System Is Working.
Ebola is truly scary. It has so far killed nearly 4,500 people, overwhelmingly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—societies that had already experienced more than their fill of sorrow. There are only three confirmed cases in the United States .... In Africa, it’s a disaster; within the United States, however, Ebola is a tragic, but eminently containable public health threat that requires a calm, methodical response. The words "calm and methodical" don't quite match what we're seeing. If you're just tuning in, you might believe that America has lost its mind (Harold Pollack, 10/19).
Los Angeles Times: A Political Crisis Called Ebola
Until last week, Ebola was merely a humanitarian disaster and a threat to global health. Now it's a U.S. political crisis too. And that's not just because of the heightened vitriol between the two parties in an election year. The Obama administration's handling of the Ebola crisis has prompted legitimate questions (Doyle McManus, 10/18).
The Wall Street Journal: Ebola Isn't A Messaging Problem
Much public skepticism about the government's response to Ebola stems from the dogmatic pronouncements of Obama administration officials. In a video message early last month on stopping the virus, for example, President Obama asserted that "we know how to do it." He was wrong. The world has learned that dealing with Ebola in remote African villages is a very different challenge from confronting an unfamiliar virus in large cities and modern hospitals (Scott Gottlieb and Tevi Troy, 10/19).
Bloomberg: Ebola Czar Should Be A General Not a Pol
I've know Ron Klain for years, respecting him as a smart operative who understands the nexus of politics and policy. His selection yesterday by President Barack Obama as the "Ebola czar" is a bad choice that will not stop the Democrats' political problems on this issue. It is what it appears: A political decision forced on the president by political posturing and careless talk about a crisis. It appears that Klain doesn't even report directly to the president, but to National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Obama's homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco. There was a near perfect choice for Obama: David Petraeus (Albert R. Hunt, 10/19).
Reuters: Hospital Turns To PR To Fight Ebola
I've found, however, that despite the way nonprofit hospitals and their boards like to refer to their mission in terms of providing quality care, even to those who cannot afford it, the metrics these boards typically set mostly — if not completely in some cases — have to do with two cold, hard business numbers: revenue and operating profit. How, in fact, are the bonuses at Texas Health determined? How much does the quality of the care — for which federal regulators now have multiple, comparative measures — count? One of the most important of those measures has to do with the rate of infections contracted in the hospital. Is any executive's compensation in any way based on that? Is there a separate board quality-control committee that monitors this aspect of the hospital’s performance? (Steven Brill, 10/16).