Viewpoints: Abortion Rights Under Trump; False Hope For NIH
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
The New York Times:
Rolling Back Abortion Rights After Donald Trump’s Election
Two 20-week bans have been struck down in federal courts as unconstitutional. But abortion opponents in Ohio believe the new law will withstand legal challenges, perhaps even at the Supreme Court. Robert Cupp, a Republican state representative, says he thinks the court will be swayed by medical advances allowing more very premature babies to survive. A victory at the Supreme Court could open the door for a federal 20-week ban, which was introduced last year but blocked by Senate Democrats. (12/13)
Merry Christmas: The 21st Century Cures Act Doesn't Offer Promised Gift To The NIH
No element of the 21st Century Cures Act received greater public acclaim than the $4.8 billion in new funding for the National Institutes of Health, which Congress may parcel out to the agency over the next 10 years to pursue a “moonshot” to cure cancer, investigate brain chemistry and develop individualized or precision medicine. ... The $4.8 billion over 10 years (assuming it is appropriated) is in addition to the regular increases that NIH may or may not get. It's always tough to make assumptions about what future Congresses will do. But its record over the past 10 years—most of which was under Republican control as it is now—leaves little room for hoping that major increases are in the offing. The average annual ... increase over the last decade was 1.3%. (Merrill Goozner, 12/13)
San Antonio Press Express:
If Republicans Repeal Obamacare, They Own The Results
What if Republicans abruptly repealed Obamacare, chaos ensued and Democrats sat on their hands and watched? Democrats would be doing the right thing, both for the American people and for themselves. Donald Trump has vowed to repeal Obamacare on day one of his administration. What would he replace it with? “Something terrific.” Vice President-elect Mike Pence concurs: “We’re going to repeal Obamacare lock, stock and barrel.” Good luck to them. And they’ll need it. (Froma Harrop, 12/13)
Wichita (Kan.) Eagle:
Medicaid Expansion Should Be Priority For Legislature
As state legislators prepare for the 2017 session, they should place Medicaid expansion near the top of their agenda. Legislators have for too long put politics above the health of our state’s residents, the well-being of our communities, the security of our health care institutions and the protection and creation of jobs. (12/13)
Will Recovery Audit Contractors Program Fully Recover Under Trump?
RACs [recovery audit contractors] hold hospitals accountable for overbilling Medicare patients—a huge problem in an industry with as little transparency as health care. As compensation for their good work, auditors receive a small portion of the money they help save. The RAC program is one of those shockingly effective policies of the Bush administration that didn't get much attention but helped make government more accountable. After its pilot program from 2005 to 2008, RACs corrected more than $1 billion in improper Medicare payments, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). (Jared Whitley, 12/13)
The Washington Post:
Is The Surgeon General Endangering America’s Youth?
Last week, the U.S. surgeon general released an extensive report on the use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products by youth and young adults. The report urges greater restrictions on youth access to vaping products and received substantial media attention, which largely focused on the report’s central message of discouraging e-cig use among youth. Unfortunately, the report is misleading in key respects — indeed, “scientifically dishonest,” according to one public health researcher — and could actually do more harm than good. (Jonathan H. Adler, 12/13)
The Washington Post:
Black Women Defy Trend Of Declining Life Expectancies. What Explains This Miracle?
The results are in, the conclusion inescapable: Black women are exceptional, phenomenal even. The latest evidence is perhaps the most compelling: While the life expectancy for everybody else in the country declined last year, the black woman held her own.Ironic, isn’t it? White men, white women and black men took a hit, according a report last week by the Centers for Disease Control. As a result, the nation’s overall life expectancy has declined. (Courtland Malloy, 12/13)
Don’t Cut A Program That Helps Disadvantaged Students With Health Careers
The litany of problems that beset the very poor is daunting: high unemployment and underemployment, lack of educational opportunities, addiction, crime, homelessness, abuse. It can be hard to rise out of these circumstances and pursue a career as a scientist, doctor, or any profession for that matter. Yet I’ve seen for myself that there’s a proven way to equip talented and determined students with the tools they need to do just that. It’s called the Health Careers Opportunity Program. Administered through the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the program provides grants to universities to help them recruit qualified individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds into health-related fields, meet their academic and social needs, and ensure that future health care providers are familiar with the needs of underserved communities. Despite the program’s success for thousands of students and their communities, its modest funding is in danger of being cut from the fiscal year 2017 budget. (Douglas Robinson, 12/13)
Actuaries Are Bringing Netflix-Like Predictive Modeling To Health Care
If you’ve ever bought something on Amazon or watched movies on Netflix, you’ve been the beneficiary — or the target — of predictive modeling: If you liked “Shrek,” you might like “Kung Fu Panda.” In health care, predictive analytics are used to identify leading indicators of disease, spot patient trends, and help health care providers establish effective treatments. And as the health care industry embraces precision medicine to provide customized treatment, it will need to adopt more precise predictive models to identify high-risk patients and tailor interventions to meet their needs. Actuaries are well-suited for this role, as they know how to mine data and provide near real-time surveillance that can improve health care quality, costs, and outcomes. (Gary Gau, 12/13)