Viewpoints: CDC’s ‘Smart’ Ebola Strategy; Legacy Of Vaccine Fears; Unfair Transplant Law
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
The New York Times:
Beyond Screening For Ebola
The new monitoring rules to be placed on travelers coming into the United States from three Ebola-affected countries in West Africa form a smart and workable response to a complex public health question. The measures should be more effective than a misguided ban on all travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which many in Congress have been demanding. (10/23)
The Washington Post:
The World Is In Denial About Ebola’s True Threat
It is such a relief about that Ebola thing. The threat of a U.S. outbreak turned out to be overhyped. A military operation is underway to help those poor Liberians. An Ebola czar (what is his name again?) has been appointed to coordinate the U.S. government response. The growth of the disease in Africa, by some reports, seems to have slowed. On to the next crisis. except that this impression of control is an illusion, and a particularly dangerous one. (Michael Gerson, 10/23)
The New Republic:
Craig Spencer Probably Never Thought He'd Get Ebola Himself: Doctors Really Do Make The Worst Patients
It is dismaying to learn that the two most egregious violations of voluntary self-quarantine for Ebola in the U.S. were committed by health care professionals. The first was the Dallas nurse, Amber Vinson, who ... broke her quarantine to board a flight shortly before developing Ebola. And on Thursday night we learned about Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old physician who had just returned home to New York City after heroically treating Ebola patients in Guinea. Astoundingly, the night before, he boarded a subway bound for Brooklyn, bowled ten frames with his friends, and returned to his apartment in Harlem that evening by taxi. The following morning, he developed a fever of 103 degrees and, shortly thereafter, found himself in the isolation unit at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital Center. (Howard Markel, 10/24)
CDC Lost Its Ebola Gamble
CDC has found itself in a Catch-22. It's a nearly impossible balancing act to provide accurate information without unnecessarily frightening the public. Whether CDC said too much or too little, it was going to be criticized by the news media. The outbreak spread, so the CDC was condemned for being unprepared. But if the outbreak had fizzled, it would have been chastised for fear mongering. Likely aware of this, the CDC chose the worst possible action: In an effort to keep the public calm, the CDC pretended to know more about Ebola than it actually does. (Alex Berezow, 10/24)
Los Angeles Times:
An Updated Map: The Devastating Toll Of The Anti-Vaccination Movement
Marking Friday as World Polio Day, the Council on Foreign Relations has released an updated map showing the global prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases. ... As one would expect, diseases such as polio are still rife in Africa and other parts of the Third World. But the United States and Great Britain deserve badges of shame for the resurgence of measles and whooping cough, which are almost entirely due to the ignorance and fear spread by the anti-vaccine movements in those countries. (Michael Hiltzik, 10/24)
Governor's Races Show Obamacare Is Safe
There's more evidence Obamacare is here to stay. Take a look at the governor's races in nine states where Republican candidates have a decent chance of replacing Democratic incumbents. All of these states have carried out Medicaid expansions, a major part of the Affordable Care Act. But no matter how strongly these Republican candidates claim to hate Obamacare, check out their websites: Not a single one of the nine reveals any plans to roll back Medicaid expansion. (Jonathan Bernstein, 10/23)
Should State Medicaid Programs Pay $239,000 Per Patient Year For A Medication?
Last week, an advisory board recommended that Arkansas’s Medicaid program cover Kalydeco, a cystic fibrosis drug whose wholesale cost is $311,000 per patient a year. ... But because “Arkansas appears to be the only state preventing patients who meet the eligibility criteria established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration” the state is being sued on grounds that its policy violates a federal statute requiring state Medicaid programs to pay for all medically necessary treatments. This case illustrates some deep flaws in current Medicaid policy. (Chris Conover, 10/23)
Are Patients To Blame For The High Cost Of Healthcare In McAllen, Texas?
For several decades now, healthcare researchers have documented often dramatic differences in the type and amount of medical care Americans receive as a result of where they live. ... But what explains these differences? Researchers have an incomplete understanding. They are pretty confident that the supply of hospital beds partly explains these geographic differences. ... New research shows that patients now, too, deserve credit (or blame) for a portion of these geographic differences. In an elegant study, three healthcare economists linked data on healthcare spending with a national survey of people’s attitudes towards healthcare, and discovered that the two were linked to each other in ways that do not appear random. (Peter Ubel, 10/23)