KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Cutting The Potential For Cures; The Opioid Epidemic’s Real-Life Impact

A collection of opinions from around the country.

Morning Consult: Drastic Cuts To NIH Would Hamper Progress In Finding Cures
The National Institutes of Health is in the business of curing diseases. For more than a century, NIH scientists have improved American lives by making important discoveries that benefit public health. That is why we remain extremely wary of any budget proposals that impose dramatic cuts to NIH. The administration recently requested budget cuts to NIH in fiscal year 2017 and FY 2018. The proposed cuts would slash NIH research and Institutional Development Award grants by more than $1.2 billion for the remainder of this year. And for next year, the proposed cuts would amount to $5.8 billion – roughly 20 percent of NIH’s budget. (Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), 4/12)

The Columbus Dispatch: We Can’t Deny Opioid Crisis
For those lucky enough not to have had a child, friend or other loved one afflicted by the deadly rampage of opioids, reports of the epidemic might seem overblown. But it’s not: Addiction to heroin and other opioids is so widespread that it is afflicting American workers and students alike. That this crisis is all around us is driven home by two stories in Tuesday’s Dispatch. In the first story, The Washington Post reports colleges are being given free 40,000 doses of Narcan nasal spray, a life-saving antidote, by the Clinton Foundation and Adapt Pharma. (4/12)

RealClear Health: The Growing Opioid Crisis: Spotlight On New York Private Claims Data
From 2007 to 2014, private insurance claim lines with opioid abuse and dependence diagnoses increased 487 percent in New York State. The greatest increase occurred in the New York City suburbs (Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester), where the rise was 1,459 percent—compared to 324 percent for New York City and 310 percent for the rest of the state. These dramatic trends were identified when we investigated recent opioid-related data from New York State in our FAIR Health database of over 23 billion privately billed healthcare claims, the largest such repository in the country. (Robin Gelburd, 4/12)

Miami Herald: Let’s Just Tell Attorney General Sessions No To A New War On Drugs
Looks like the War on Drugs is back. The Washington Post reported Sunday that the new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is preparing a return to the same hardline strategies that have so spectacularly failed to reduce drug use since 1971. Indeed, the nation has spent over a trillion dollars, made itself the biggest jailer on the planet and yet seen the use, availability and quality of drugs rise like a rocket from a launch pad while the cost dropped like a watermelon from a skyscraper. (Leonard Pitts Jr., 4/11)

Sacramento Bee: Planned Parenthood Not Deterred By Illegal Tapes 
The right of privacy is a constitutional right in California. The law prohibiting taping of private conversations without consent was enacted 50 years ago. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt broke the law not once but 14 times. Anyone who breaks the law in California should be held accountable. (Kathy Kneer, 4/11)

The New York Times: Q&A: How Democrats Can Stop Being Perceived As The Abortion Party
Thomas Groome’s op-ed, “To Win Again, Democrats Must Stop Being the Abortion Party,” argued that Hillary Clinton lost the Catholic vote in part because of her stance on abortion, which did not do enough to address moral and religious concerns. “If Democrats want to regain the Catholic vote, they must treat abortion as a moral issue, work for its continued reduction and articulate a more nuanced message than, ‘We support Roe v. Wade,’ ” Groome wrote. (Thomas Groome and Steven A. Krueger, 4/11)

The Charlotte Observer: Trumpcare 2.0 Might Be Rising From Grave
With TrumpCare’s ignominious defeat in March, countless North Carolinians breathed a sigh of relief. Under that legislation, tens of millions of Americans would have lost access to health care, basic protections would have been cut, and out-of-pocket expenses would have risen for many. However, just when we thought we were done with this poorly conceived bill, its reanimated corpse seems to have risen from the grave. Recent reports indicate that Rep. Mark Meadows of Asheville has been meeting with the White House and congressional leadership to devise an even more draconian piece of legislation that could attract the support of the far-right Freedom Caucus. (Wayne Goodwin, 4/11)

Topeka Capital Journal: Brownback Evades Blame On Medicaid
After Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed a Medicaid expansion bill at the end of March, an override vote in the House failed (the final tally was 81 to 44). The possibility of Medicaid-related hospital closures – particularly in rural parts of the state – has long been a major concern for legislators, the Kansas Hospital Association (KHA), health care providers and hospital administrators. Kansas is one of 19 states that didn’t expand Medicaid, and KHA says this has cost more than $1.8 billion in federal funds since 2014. Much of this wasted money would have been funneled into the state’s hospitals. (4/11)

The Lexington Herald: Kentuckians Support Statewide Smoke-Free Law
Give House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell credit for honesty, if not integrity. He shrugs off smoking’s intolerable toll on Kentucky because, as he told the Associated Press’ Adam Beam, tobacco “has bought and paid for everything (in) my life. My house, my education.” Shell, 29, part of a Garrard County farm family, is following in the steps of Kentucky politicians before him who defended the tobacco industry on economic grounds, while it killed their constituents at the nation’s highest rate from cancer and one of the highest rates from heart disease. (4/12)

The New York Times: How Many Pills Are Too Many?
The point of prescription drugs is to help us get or feel well. Yet so many Americans take multiple medications that doctors are being encouraged to pause before prescribing and think about “deprescribing” as well. The idea of dropping unnecessary medications started cropping up in the medical literature a decade ago. In recent years, evidence has mounted about the dangers of taking multiple, perhaps unnecessary, medications. (Austin Frakt, 4/10)

The New York Times: Seeing Outside The Disability Box
Not long ago I had an experience that most authors wish for. Someone recommended my book. A librarian at the Toronto Public Library had included my book on a list, along with five others, in celebration of International Day of Persons With Disabilities. Two of the other authors have autism, one is deaf, one was born without legs, and the fifth, a woman who has cerebral palsy, endured a 16-month escape from her native Syria in a wheelchair. I should have felt proud to be in their company. I should have sent the link to my parents, as I’ve done with other lists my book has made. But I didn’t. I felt confused. (Howard Axelrod, 4/12)

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