KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: The Legacy Of The Surgeon General’s Smoking Report; One Solution For Hospitals That Dump Patients

The New York Times: Fitful Progress In The Antismoking Wars
Fifty years ago this Saturday, on Jan. 11, 1964, a myth-shattering surgeon general’s report on smoking and health brushed aside years of obfuscation by tobacco companies and asserted, based on 7,000 scientific articles, that smoking caused lung cancer and was linked to other serious diseases. Those findings expanded as more data was gathered (1/9).

The Wall Street Journal: The Disability Double Standard
In the 23 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I have watched its most celebrated ideals crumble under a double standard. Apparently, when it comes to people with disabilities having a right to live the fullest life possible, some disabilities are more deserving than others. ... When such fear is allowed to influence legislation to allow people with disabilities to kill themselves, the notions of personal autonomy, freedom and dignity that the ADA championed take on a grim irony (Joni Eareckson Tada, 1/9). 

Los Angeles Times: Want To Stop Hospitals From Dumping Poor Patients On Skid Row? Try This.
"In 2005 and 2006, patient dumping on L.A.'s skid row grabbed national headlines with images of mentally ill patients in hospital gowns, one holding a colostomy bag, being dropped off in ambulances, taxis and vans," The Times' Richard Winton writes. ... Most people thought the problem had abated since hospitals got slapped with major fines. Alas, we were wrong. "In a settlement announced Friday, the 224-bed Beverly Hospital in Montebello agreed to pay $250,000 in civil penalties and legal fees after it was accused of taking a patient by taxi to skid row and leaving her there without making any arrangements with a shelter," Winton reports. ... From now on, therefore, I humbly suggest that when cops and homeless shelters come across a case of patient dumping, they take the person to the hospital's CEO (Ted Rall, 1/9).

The New York Times: Rubio Demands States' Right To Ignore The Poor
For a senator who likes to hold himself out as the future of the Republican brand, Marco Rubio has come up with a remarkably retrograde contribution to the party's chorus of phony empathy for the poor: Let the states do it. ... One of the great achievements of the War on Poverty programs was to extend the safety net to the South, where white legislators saw little reason to spend taxpayer dollars on the basic needs of poor citizens, most of whom were black. ... If you think those days of recalcitrance are over, take a look at the map of the states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (David Firestone, 1/9).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): The Only Way Out
The Affordable Care Act, while providing some short-term benefits, is, on the whole, unworkable. Quite apart from website failures, its approach to healthcare is fundamentally flawed. It is exceedingly complex. It perpetuates and entrenches the inefficient insurance model of payment for healthcare. It does nothing to address the rapacious pricing of pharmaceuticals. It ignores hospitals' "medical arms race"  (Dr. Louis Balizet, 1/9).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Costs Go Up. Costs Go Down. What Does It All Mean?
Being a glass-half-full person, though, I believe that even when we see the rate of increase in health spending tick back over the 4 percent mark, we can keep it from growing as fast as it has in many previous years. BUT – only if we maintain momentum on reforming health care payment and delivery (Edie Sonn, 1/9).

JAMA: ICU Bed Supply, Utilization, And Health Care Spending
Intensive care is a substantial financial burden on the US health care system, with spending ... nearly 1% of the gross domestic product. In contrast, the United Kingdom spends only 0.1% of its gross domestic product on critical care services, with no evidence of worse patient outcomes and similar life expectancies as in the United States. Although there are many differences between these 2 countries, one significant difference is intensive care unit (ICU) bed supply. ... In the United Kingdom, the majority of ICU patients are at high risk for death, whereas in the United States, many patients are admitted to the ICU for observation (Dr. Rebecca A. Gooch and Dr. Jeremy M. Kahn, 1/9).

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