Viewpoints: Americans Are Saying Improve Obamacare Not Kill It; Getting Tough On Opioid Epidemic Is No Cure
Editorial pages focus on these and other health topics.
The Washington Post:
Americans Are Sticking By Obamacare. If Only The GOP Would Stop Trying To Kill It.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has endured attack after attack, yet it has not collapsed. Instead, it proves repeatedly that it fills a substantial gap in the U.S. health-care system. This should finally cause some reflection among those who have been trying to kill it. President Trump’s Health and Human Services Department admitted this month that 11.8 million people signed up for private insurance plans through the Obamacare marketplaces this year, despite slashed funding for advertising and an open-enrollment period that was shortened by half. HHS played up a rise in premiums relative to last year’s, but most people on the Obamacare exchanges receive federal subsidies, keeping their costs steady. The average subsidized premium is only $89 per month. (4/15)
The New York Times:
Would Americans Accept Putting Health Care On A Budget?
If you wanted to get control of your household spending, you’d set a budget and spend no more than it allowed. You might wonder why we don’t just do the same for spending on American health care. Though government budgets are different from household budgets, the idea of putting a firm limit on health care spending is far from unknown. Many countries, including Canada, Switzerland and Britain, pay hospitals entirely or partly this way. (Austin Frakt, 4/16)
Longer Sentences Won’t Stop The Opioid Epidemic
More than 60,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2016 — most of them due to opioids like fentanyl — and no region in America has escaped this tragedy. The numbers now show that the epidemic has struck both rural and urban parts of this country. This is first and foremost a public health crisis. But it’s also a major challenge for law enforcement and one that calls for fresh solutions. As we confront this surge in deaths, we must be careful not to repeat the mistakes of past drug epidemics. (Ronal Serpas, 4/16)
The Washington Post:
The Facts About Work Requirements Are Being Ignored. Here’s Why.
Poor able-bodied adults already work, although they’re often less consistently connected to the job market than the nonpoor. But adding work requirements, as opposed to measures that support existing work efforts of the poor, is likely to hurt their present living standards and their kids’ future mobility. Programs such as nutritional, health and housing support often make it easier for a low-income person to be able to hold a job, and children who grow up in families that receive these benefits tend to have better adult life outcomes that comparable kids who don’t receive the supports. (Jared Bernstein, 4/16)
The Washington Post:
Have You Noticed How Poor People Are Bankrupting The Government? Neither Have We.
Have you noticed how spending on welfare and other benefits for the poor is bankrupting the federal government? Neither have we. On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office forecast a vast increase in the federal debt over the next decade, due in large part to the GOP’s recent $1.5 trillion tax cut, most of which goes to businesses and wealthy households. On the domestic spending side, the biggies remain middle-class programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Yet President Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress are on an election-year campaign to “reform” means-tested safety-net programs. The day after the CBO released its figures, in fact, Mr. Trump ordered federal agencies to review all such programs — with an eye toward toughening work requirements for their recipients. On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee unveiled a proposed 2018 farm bill that would make it harder for non-working adults to get food-buying aid under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). (4/15)
Los Angeles Times:
Tax Policy Is A Bore, Until They Take Your Social Security And Medicare Away
Tax cuts do not pay for themselves — not the Trump tax cuts, nor in any other case in modern U.S. practice. So we face only two possible courses of action: Either we tax ourselves more, or we dismantle the social safety net (in particular, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) that protects Americans from destitution or disability. Which is the right direction for our country to pursue? One political movement has its answer at the ready: Slash the safety net. (Edward Klein, 4/15)
When Tax Cuts Are Disguised Future Tax Increases
Neither party has shown much willingness recently to address government’s biggest spending problem: benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare, whose costs rise automatically each year based on how many people retire and what health care providers think they should be paid. Where does that leave us? By (Morton) Friedman’s analysis, it leaves some of the biggest tax hikes in history waiting for the next generation of tax payers, many of whom can't even vote yet. (4/15)
We Want Gun Dealers To Conduct Instant Background Checks Before Selling Ammunition
Nearly anywhere in America, a felon with a violent criminal history can walk into a gun store and walk out minutes later – no questions asked – with hundreds of rounds of ammunition for an assault weapon. We already have laws on the books designed to prevent such sales, but the disturbing truth is that we do not require enforcement. (Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Debbie Wasserman, 4/13)
I Am Mentally Ill. Why Should My Gun Rights Come With An Asterisk?
To even begin this essay, I’m going to have to admit something uncomfortable. I am mentally ill. I won’t bore you with the details, but I’m one of hundreds of thousands of Americans with a tough-to-treat, life-affecting neurosis known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). (Peter Mandel, 4/14)
Let's Follow These Celebrities And Create Safe Spaces For People To Discuss Their Mental Health
In last week’s People magazine cover story, Mariah Carey disclosed that she has Bipolar II disorder. ...In recent months, Black Panther star Letitia Wright, Prince Harry and rapper Logic have spoken out about their personal experiences with depression and suicide. These public disclosures are critically important in normalizing mental illness and eradicating mental illness stigma. We must follow these celebrities lead and create safe spaces for people to discuss their mental health and get the support and treatment that they need. (Inger E. Burnett-Zeigler, 4/16)
Make An End-Of-Life Plan Or Lose Money And Choices In Your Dying Days
Kaiser Health News reports that in 2011, Medicare spent $554 billion and 28%, or about $170 billion, on patients’ last six months of life. After $170 billion is spent, those patients are still dead. That is simply what Medicare spent. What about the families of those in this study? What might they have spent? Hard dollars can go to diapers, co-pays for prescription drugs, in-home care giving help, travel to specialists, hotels and parking at the famous acute care hospitals. Hard dollars are lost when working family members have to quit work to care for the ill. In my own extended family I have horror stories. (Hattie Bryant, 4/13)