Viewpoints: Argument For Individual Mandate Repeal; CHIP Stalemate Highlights Senate Dysfunction
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
Repealing The Obamacare Mandate Now Makes Sense
They may not have succeeded in repealing and replacing Obamacare, but Republicans are close to undoing the law’s least popular feature. The Senate has passed a tax bill to abolish Obamacare’s fines on people who go without health insurance -- the so-called individual mandate. House Republicans are very likely to agree on that provision. (Ramesh Ponnuru, 12/6)
The Columbus Dispatch/The Canton Repository:
Senate Stalls CHIP Reauthorization
Two decades ago, lawmakers created a joint state-federal health insurance program designed to assist low- to moderate-income children and pregnant women who are not eligible for Medicaid. Within three years, every state opted into the program. Today, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, commonly known as CHIP, provides access to comprehensive, affordable coverage to more than 8 million children nationwide. ... For reasons known only to a fractured U.S. Senate more interested in ramming through an ill-conceived and widely denounced major overhaul of the federal tax code, CHIP has languished for months. It now sits at risk of running out of money. (12/6)
The Washington Post:
No Reason Kellyanne Conway Won’t Make A Fine Opioid Czar. Except For Trump.
Far be it from me to suggest that Kellyanne Conway could not possibly be the opioid czar. When I was named Ebola response coordinator in October 2014, the outrage over a “political operative” taking on such an assignment was widespread. I like to think I had more qualifications than Conway: three stints in two White Houses, chief of staff at a Cabinet agency and leadership of the team implementing a $787 billion federal program — but crucially, like her, I lacked domain expertise in epidemic response. Thus, just as I hoped at that time to be judged by my performance on the job and not my résumé, I take a similar view of Conway’s appointment. (Ronald A. Klain, 12/5)
What A Technophobe Doctor Shows About Future Of Work
What if your profession has never required much computer literacy -- and then all of a sudden it does. Should you be fired? Should your license be yanked? That’s the question raised by the bizarre case of Anna Konopka, a physician who claims that New Hampshire has barred her from the practice of medicine because she does not know how to use the Internet. Konopka, 84, received the bulk of her medical training overseas. She voluntarily surrendered her license this fall after allegations that she was not participating in New Hampshire’s new mandatory system for reporting opioid prescriptions. Why not? Because to do so she would have to go online -- something for which she lacks the requisite skill. (Stephen L. Carter, 12/5)
The New York Times:
I Use A Wheelchair. And Yes, I’m Your Doctor.
I have been a wheelchair user since early childhood, when I sustained a spinal cord injury in a farming accident. I am now a practicing physician in the field of rehabilitation and sports medicine. In my busy outpatient clinical practice, I witness the spectrum of patients’ reactions when they find out that their doctor is, herself, disabled. Typically those first few seconds after entering an exam room — before the patient’s guard goes up — are the most informative. (Cheri A. Blauwet, 12/6)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Missouri’s Attack On Women’s Reproductive Rights
This summer, the Missouri Legislature decided that landlords and employers should have a louder voice in women’s reproductive health choices than the women themselves. On July 25, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 5, an anti-abortion bill that enforces highly restrictive and time-consuming regulations on abortion providers that would prevent women from receiving the services they need in a timely manner. (Namita Kansal, 12/5)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Big Tobacco Finally Comes Clean — Under Court Order
Big tobacco is spending millions of dollars to inform Americans of the truth about their products — truth that those same companies spent decades denying and trying to litigate to death. News media companies spent millions defending themselves against Big Tobacco in court simply for having reported the very truths that Big Tobacco now must spend millions to advertise themselves. (12/5)
When Will Legislators Learn That Sin Taxes Don’t Work?
In October, Philadelphia won the distinction of being the first major city in the United States to introduce a tax on sugary carbonated drinks. Proponents of the tax contend that it’s a wonderful way to bridle Philadelphians’ sugar cravings while simultaneously bolstering the city’s revenues. Across the Atlantic in Lithuania, legislators took the same approach with regard to alcohol and adopted legislation substantially increasing taxes on beer and wine. The intentions held by legislators who champion these sorts of taxes, often termed “sin taxes,” are generally admirable. However, the technical merits of taxes like these are lacking and, worse, they’re often liable for inadvertent harm. (Michael Shindler, 12/6)
Xi Jinping Thought Doesn't Mention China's Health Care Crisis. It Should
There is a crisis brewing in China. I’m not talking about anything military or political. The newly constitutionalized Xi Jinping Thought, a set of principles meant to guide Chinese economic, political, and military expansion in the next two decades, has been silent on the issue of national health care, which may threaten the long-term stability of China. The first highly public sign of trouble came in a 2013 report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Chinese scientists from Peking University and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Their survey of more than 170,000 Chinese adults showed that 10.9 percent have diabetes, higher than the U.S. rate of 9.4 percent. (Justin Fendos, 12/5)
'Smart Pill' For Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder Raises Tricky Ethical Questions
Sticking to a medication regimen is as important for people with mental illness as it is for those with physical illness. But what makes Abilify MyCite, a high-tech version of aripiprazole, problematic is that it could easily be incorporated into forced treatment, which ignores the values and preferences of people with mental illness. Involuntary treatment has a long and painful history in mental health. Without their consent, people with mental illness can be committed to inpatient or outpatient treatment, and sometimes forced to take medications. Only in the 1970s did the U.S. Supreme Court first address the lack of rights for people hospitalized against their will. (Tia P. Powell, 12/5)