Viewpoints: Health Costs And Income Inequality; Vital Matters When Approaching Life’s End
The Wall Street Journal: Income Inequality And Rising Health-Care Costs
Government data show that health costs are the biggest driver of income inequality in America today. Most employers pay workers a combination of wages and benefits, the most important of which is health coverage. Economic theory says that when employers’ costs for benefits like health coverage rise, they will hold back on salary increases to keep total compensation costs in check. That’s exactly what seems to have happened: Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that from June 2004 to June 2014 compensation increased by 28 percent while employer health-insurance costs rose by 51 percent. Consequently, average wages grew by just 24 percent (Mark J. Warshawsky and Andrew G. Biggs, 10/6).
The New York Times: The Best Possible Day
Medicine has forgotten how vital such matters are to people as they approach life’s end. People want to share memories, pass on wisdoms and keepsakes, connect with loved ones, and to make some last contributions to the world. These moments are among life’s most important, for both the dying and those left behind. And the way we in medicine deny people these moments, out of obtuseness and neglect, should be cause for our unending shame (Dr. Atul Gwunde, 10/5).
The New York Times: Closing Down Abortion Clinics, Giving Fetuses Lawyers
Radical ideologues in state legislatures, doctrinaire Congressmen and complicit judges are using craftily written technical restrictions to undermine a constitutional right. You’d think conservatives, like the Republicans in Congress and governor’s mansions around the country would be in a state of outrage. But this is not about owning firearms or putting nativity scenes in town squares -- constitutional issues that inflame the American right and fill Fox News’s 24-hour appetite. It is about women’s health care, so those strident forces are silent (Andrew Rosenthal, 10/3).
The Washington Post: In Texas, An Undue Burden On Women Seeking Abortions
Last year the [Texas] state legislature passed, and Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed, a law requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and that facilities at which abortions are performed meet the hospital-level standards for ambulatory surgical clinics. All this, supposedly, in the interest of protecting women’s health. Hogwash. If anything, the law endangers women by making access to abortion more difficult, leading to later-term -- and consequently riskier -- procedures (Ruth Marcus, 10/4).
Bloomberg: Georgia's Unexpected Senate Nail-Biter
Michelle Nunn, the Democratic Senate candidate, stated her case cogently in Columbus, Georgia, last week: If elected, she vowed to "change Washington in a collaborative way." Her Republican opponent, businessman David Perdue, also is running as the "change" candidate, but he's skipping the collaborative stuff. ... [Nunn] needs to appeal to the base by embracing pay equity for women, a higher minimum wage, immigration reform, and mend, not end, the Affordable Care Act (Albert R. Hunt, 10/5).
Los Angeles Times: We're Not Getting The Federal Government We Deserve
The Secret Service can't protect the White House. Public health authorities can't get their arms around a one-man Ebola outbreak. The army we trained in Iraq collapsed as soon as it was attacked by Islamic extremists, and our own veterans can't get the care they need at VA hospitals. And, lest we forget, it was only a year ago that the White House rolled out its national health insurance program, only to see its website grind to a halt. Yes, you can argue that these problems all have different causes. But it's hard not to conclude that something basic is amiss in Washington (Doyle McManus, 10/5).
Los Angeles Times: The Latest Bogus Attack On Obamacare: It's Anti-Innovation!
As the Affordable Care Act takes hold as a flag carrier for U.S. healthcare reform, assertions of its deleterious effects become more threadbare and repetitious by the day. One of the hoariest chestnuts was resurrected Wednesday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, which purported to analyze Obamacare's "threat to innovation." ... [The] op-ed follows the pattern of many other conservative critiques of the ACA. It combines questionable data with irrelevant claims, and blames the ACA for trends that have nothing to do with the act. The heart of the article -- quite possibly its chief motivation -- is an attack on the act's medical device tax, which is detested by the medical device industry (naturally) (Michael Hiltzik, 10/3).
The New York Times: When Higher Education Doesn’t Deliver On Its Promise: Medical-Assistant Programs: A Case Study
America’s aging population and growing health care sector have created a strong demand for medical assistants, who check vital signs, schedule appointments and perform other tasks. More than 500,000 medical assistants were employed in 2012 and, as the poster correctly noted, the Labor Department projects growth of around 30 percent over the next 10 years. ... But new federal data that track college graduates into the job market tell a far more sobering story. The market for medical-assistant education is deeply troubling (Kevin Carey, 10/4).
Bloomberg: Containing Ebola, And Ebola Panic
The Ebola virus may be easier to handle in the U.S. than the Ebola panic. The first case of an Ebola victim traveling to the U.S. has not been handled perfectly, but the U.S. health care system is well-poised to keep the disease under control. Now the U.S. political system has to work with health officials to help ease panic about the virus (10/5).