KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Health Law Does Not ‘Guarantee’ Better Health; Electronic Health Records Sound Good–Until You Try To Use Them

Forbes: Can Obamacare Save Your Uninsured Friends?
As evidence of a need for universal health care, [New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof] cites his own friend—Scott Androes who died this month of prostate cancer after he put off seeking medical attention in part due to lack of health insurance. ... Kristof argues that President Obama's health care reform will keep others like Scott from befalling the same fate. ... However, evidence shows that government-funded care is by no means a guarantee of better health outcomes. ... On average, a 52-year-old American such as Scott would have nearly four times the chance of getting the PSA test used to screen for prostate cancer than his "modern" European counterpart with national health insurance (Chris Conover, 10/22).

Los Angeles Times: Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens Refill Drugs Without OK, Patients Say 
[S]ome people may fail to take their medications regularly, and that can have serious healthcare repercussions. CVS and other pharmacies are behaving responsibly when they take the initiative in encouraging compliance with doctors' orders, which might include automatic refills. But CVS seems to have taken this objective to a different level by creating metrics that measure nearly every activity undertaken by a pharmacist (David Lazarus, 10/23).

The Washington Post: Disparity In Pay Divides Doctors
Recently, a medical student confided in me a thought that few in our profession would dare say aloud: "We may have come to medical school to help people, but we choose our specialty careers based on potential salaries." ... [Specialists] train longer and in many cases pay higher insurance rates, but these factors don’t fully explain the chasm. We've now reached a critical point where the income disparity is harming the general population (Dr. Manoj Jain, 10/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Physician, Steel Thyself For Electronic Records
The electronic medical record, or EMR, is a computerized system that allows physicians to record patient information electronically instead of using paper records. ... At first I thought EMR sounded like a good idea. Then our practice started using one. ... With all the data entry the electronic system requires, my laptop presents a barrier between my patient and me, both physically and metaphorically. It's hard to be both stenographer and empathetic listener at the same time (Dr. Anne Marie Valinoti, 10/22).

The Star-Ledger: Will Chris Christie Wing It On Health Care Reform?
Republican governors are being urged to thwart Obamacare by refusing to sign on to those exchanges. The political implications are obvious for the governor whom many Republicans see as the front-runner for the 2016 presidential nomination in the event Barack Obama is re-elected. That’s Chris Christie, and last week, the Democrats acted to force his hand on Obamacare. They passed a new version of a bill they passed last spring that would have created an insurance exchange in New Jersey. Christie vetoed that bill in May on the grounds that the court had not yet decided on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. That has since been decided in Obama’s favor. But Christie’s stalling for time again (Paul Mulshine, 10/23).

The New York Times: We Need to Talk About Our Eggs
OB-GYNs routinely ask patients during their annual exams about their sexual histories and need for contraception, but often missing from the list is, "Do you plan to have a family?" OB-GYNs are divided on whether it's their responsibility to broach the topic with patients. ... [We must] expect OB-GYNs to bring up family planning at every annual visit, so that women have the information they need to choose to take charge of their fertility. Perhaps more women will think about freezing in their early to mid-30s, when their chances of success are greater (Sarah Elizabeth Richards, 10/22).

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