Viewpoints: The Loss Of Berwick; A Market For Kidneys; Abusing Painkillers
The New York Times: Dr. Berwick's Pink Slip
Dr. (Donald) Berwick, I'm here to tell you, was the most qualified person in the country to run Medicare at this critical juncture, and the fact that he is no longer in the job is the country's loss. ... By refusing to confirm him, Republicans won a pointless victory against the president. But, if the day ever comes when they — and the country — truly get serious about reforming Medicare, they may regret giving a pink slip to the best man for the job (Joe Nocera, 12/5).
The New York Times: Mr. Romney's Missing Details
Mr. Romney's plans for Medicare are too vague to evaluate. For workers not yet close to retirement, he would turn the existing Medicare program into a "premium support" system in which enrollees would be given fixed amounts of money to buy private health insurance or a version of traditional Medicare. His campaign says beneficiaries would receive coverage "at least as good" as what seniors receive today. But the crucial question is how fast the premium support would be allowed to rise from year to year to keep up with increasing costs. Mr. Romney provides no clue about that (12/5).
The New York Times: Why Selling Kidneys Should Be Legal
On Thursday, I will donate one of my kidneys to someone I've never met. ... People should not have to beg their friends and family for a kidney, nor die while waiting for one. Donating a kidney is one way to help. But it isn't enough. The only way to really change the terms of the debate and end the waiting lists is to end the ban on compensation and create a legal market for kidneys (Berger, 12/5).
Los Angeles Times: 'Obamacare' To The Rescue
Fortunately for me, I've been saved by the federal government's Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, something I had never heard of before needing it. It's part of President Obama's health care plan, one of the things that has already kicked in, and it guarantees access to insurance for U.S. citizens with preexisting conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months. ... It's not perfect, of course, and it still leaves many people in need out in the cold. But it's a start, and for me it's been a lifesaver — perhaps literally (Spike Dolomite Ward, 12/6).
Market Watch: How To Pay Less For Your Medications
If you take prescription or over-the-counter medicine, you could be overpaying if you're not part of a store discount program. These programs, run by grocery, pharmacy and big-box chains, offer a 30-day supply of several hundred kinds of generic drugs for as low as $4, or a 90-day supply starting around $10. Some stores include certain over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen and loratadine on their $4 lists, and some extend discounts to pets' medications (Gerencher, 12/5).
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Helping Doctors Prevent Painkiller Abuse
Prescription opioid use rose 403 percent from 1997 to 2007, when there were more than 300,000 ER visits for opioid misuse. Last year, enough hydrocodone was prescribed to give every American adult 5 milligrams (essentially one Vicodin) every four hours for a month. With only 5 percent of the world's population, the United States now consumes 80 percent of the global opioid supply. Of American deaths not caused by illness, drug overdoses are a leading cause, surpassing car crashes in 2009. And prescription drugs cause the majority of fatal drug overdoses, more than heroin and cocaine combined (Drs. Peter Sananman, Hallam Gugelmann and Jeanmarie Perrone, 12/6).
McClatchy/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Obama Builds On Bush's AIDS Project
I have given much praise to (former President George W. Bush) for his bold efforts in 2003 in creating the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a $15 billion plan to provide treatment and prevention programs in countries hit hardest by the AIDS epidemic. Five years later, Congress increased the funding to $48 billion over a five-year period. Obama's announced proposals build on what Bush started, and the president was right to credit his predecessor for what has turned out to be a very successful project (Bob Ray Sanders, 12/6).
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine: Can We Ensure That Children With Public Insurance Have Access To Necessary, High-Quality Pediatric Specialty Care?
While there are many reasons that physicians refuse to care for Medicaid-enrolled children, studies carried out over the past 3 decades have consistently identified low Medicaid payments as the most influential reason. As the proportion of children with public insurance increases, AMCs and affiliated children's hospitals struggle to maintain an appropriate "patient mix" of private insurance–to public insurance–covered patients (Dr. Stephen Berman, 12/6).
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine: The Next Century Of Children's Health Care
The last 100 years of improvements in pediatrics and adolescent care have occurred almost exclusively on the basis of insights from basic and clinical science, akin to mining the same vein of precious investigative ore. As pediatrics addresses the leading challenges for the next century, other domains of research expertise must be tapped. Chief among the challenges to be faced are disparities in children's health and health care, the lack of a clinical workforce in pediatrics designed to meet children's needs in an efficient way, and the failure to coordinate children's health care (Dr. Matthew M. Davis and Dr. Meredith P. Riebschleger, 12/6).