KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Cancer Doctors Reject ‘Phenomenally Expensive’ New Drug; Protecting Patients’ Rights

The New York Times: In Cancer Care, Cost Matters
At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, we recently made a decision that should have been a no-brainer: we are not going to give a phenomenally expensive new cancer drug to our patients (Drs. Peter B. Bach, Leonard B. Saltz and Robert E. Wittes, 10/14).

CNN: Protect Patients' Rights, Protect Patients' Lives
We are facing a medical malpractice crisis in our country. More than 98,000 people die every year because of preventable medical errors. That is equivalent to two 737s crashing every day for a whole year. Preventable medical errors are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and cost our country $29 billion a year. Lawsuits are only a symptom of the disease. The root of the medical malpractice problem is medical malpractice itself. ... In his October 5 piece, Dr. Anthony Youn states that the American Association for Justice "is opposed to malpractice tort reform." We absolutely are. Not just because it violates the Constitution and is an infringement on patients' rights but, more important, because when no one is accountable, no one is safe (Mary Alice McLarty, 10/12). 

The Wall Street Journal: Let Doctors Cure Health-Care Costs
For years the efforts to cure the health-care system's ailments—including runaway costs, less time physicians can spend with patients, and the rules and reports that consume more time of physicians and hospital staff—have failed. They've failed because they ignored a basic fact: The delivery of care is shaped largely by the way care is paid for (Mitchell T. Rabkin and John S. Cook, 10/14). 

The Boston Globe: Prescription: Streamline Patient Transfer Process
Mr. M himself was in no condition to provide a medical history. He failed to respond to my voice, and his eyes barely opened as I pressed my knuckles into his sternum. I had no idea what his latest blood tests showed, or how recently his mental state had deteriorated. Making sense of the disorganized pile of papers would have to wait. This scenario is, unfortunately, all too common. Complicated patients who require specialized clinical expertise or interventions unavailable at many smaller hospitals are often sent to large academic medical centers. Ironically, however, in seeking better care these "transfers" are often exposed to significant new risks in the very process of moving from one institution to the next (Dr. Kiran Gupta, 10/15).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Three Tsunamis Driving Innovation In Health Care
Broad consensus exists that our current dysfunctional health care system needs to change dramatically to reach our  objectives of better health, better care and lower costs. The difficult part is making the transformation happen. At the Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC), we call these objections our "Triple Aim," and we believe that efforts need to be informed by awareness of the three tsunamis of change that will alter the landscape of health care over the next decade. They are: Financial instability … availability of data … consumerism (Phil Kalin, 10/12).

The Tennessean: Medicaid Reform Offers Hope To Mentally Ill
State policymakers are considering whether Tennessee will reform Medicaid to cover all legal residents with incomes at or below 138 percent of poverty as permitted under the Affordable Care Act. In observation of Mental Illness Awareness Week, a better question would be to ask whether we can afford NOT to give Tennesseans with mental health conditions the opportunity to recover and contribute to their communities (Roger Stewart and Sita Diehl, 10/13).

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