Viewpoints: Lessons On Additional Options For Abortions; Is There Danger In Normalizing The Opioid Epidemic?
Opinion writers focus on these and other health issues.
Abortions After Roe V. Wade Wouldn't Be Just Like The Bad Old Days
Experts disagree on the likelihood that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, the legal case that established a right to abortion in the U.S. But they agree that even if that remains federal law, state-by-state regulations could continue to prevent women from receiving an abortion in a clinic or doctor’s office. That won’t end abortions, of course. Some women will undergo illegal and dangerous procedures outside the legitimate medical system, as was once common in the U.S. But now many women will have an additional option: abortion pills. Pills have become the predominant form of illegal abortion in Latin America, and they seem likely to become more common in the U.S. as abortion access is restricted further. (Faye Flam, 7/20)
As Use Of Overdose Antidotes Spreads, Is Extreme Empathy For Addicts Normalizing The Opioid Culture?
The heroin epidemic that is sweeping America no longer seems to have racial, economic or geographic barriers. With increasing numbers of white people, including affluent ones, shooting up or sniffing opioids, parents have good reason to wonder if the next drug overdose that police respond to could be their own child’s. As the fear mounts, many Americans — including parents, lawmakers, health professionals and policymakers — have responded with resounding empathy toward such drug addicts. Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves if we have gone too far. (Dahleen Glanton, 7/20)
The New York Times:
What If A Study Showed Opioids Weren’t Usually Needed?
Promising health studies often don’t pan out in reality. The reasons are many. Research participants are usually different from general patients; their treatment doesn’t match real-world practice; researchers can devote resources not available in most physician offices. Moreover, most studies, even the gold standard of randomized controlled trials, focus squarely on causality. They are set up to see if a treatment will work in optimal conditions, what scientists call efficacy. They’re “explanatory.” (Aaron E. Carroll, 7/23)
Relaxing Patient Privacy Protections Will Harm People With Addiction
The nation is in the midst of a staggering opioid epidemic. Over 115 people die from an overdose each day – and all signs indicate that the problem is getting worse. Unfortunately, of the more than 20 million Americans who need treatment for addiction, it’s estimated that only about 7 percent of them will actually receive specialty care. Ending the opioid crisis will require a multifaceted and sustained public health response – but increasing access to affordable quality treatment and encouraging patients to seek and sustain recovery must be the first priorities. We would expect policymakers and medical providers to do everything possible to increase the number of people entering treatment, not take actions that will discourage individuals from seeking treatment. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act would do. (Deborah Reid and Mark Parrino, 7/22)
Des Moines Register:
Insurers Set Up Elaborate Barriers To Deny Health Care
The caregivers in our union at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) got an ominous letter in the mail late last month. You can see it by scrolling to the bottom of this piece. It ordered them to send documents proving the identity of their spouses and children on the hospital’s health insurance plan. If they fail to do so, their loved ones’ coverage will be cut off. (Cathy Glasson, 7/20)
The New York Times:
A Fear Of Lawsuits Really Does Seem To Result In Extra Medical Tests
Back in 2010, Tom Price, then a congressman, said he knew the chief reason health care cost so much: “Defensive medicine” was costing the United States $650 billion per year — about 26 percent of every dollar spent. The widely dismissed estimate from Dr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon who went on to become President Trump’s health and human services secretary before resigning last fall, was memorable for its magnitude. But American doctors often rail against the country’s medical malpractice system, which they say forces them to order unnecessary tests and procedures to protect themselves if a patient sues them. (Margot Sanger-Katz, 7/23)
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
Anthem Denies Coverage, Then Reverses Itself After Bad Publicity. There's A Lesson Here.
The health insurance company Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield knows fully well the crucial role it plays in the lives of health care-strapped Missourians. The company, America’s second-largest health insurer, appears to be exploring every possible option to milk its advantage and maximize profits on the backs of patients. The only thing that appears to put the brakes on Anthem’s exploitative practices is the bad publicity it receives when those practices are exposed, such as when customers report being denied coverage for emergency room visits clearly necessary for the patient’s survival. An inquiry led by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., determined that the numbers on denied coverage were far more than a handful. In the last half of 2017, Anthem denied the emergency-room claims of 12,200 patients in Missouri, Kentucky and Georgia, McCaskill’s inquiry found. During the final quarter of 2017, Anthem’s profits jumped 234 percent, to $1.2 billion, over the same period in 2016. (7/22)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
How Just Listening Can Be A Very Powerful Tool For Suicide Prevention
While the issue of suicide can seem emotionally overwhelming or beyond what one person can do, studies show that demonstrating our humanity, reaching out and listening to others can have a lifesaving impact on people considering suicide. How to get help: If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division crisis line at (414) 257-7222. (John Schneider, 6/20)
The New York Times:
The Children Of Flint Were Not ‘Poisoned’
Words are toxic, too. Labeling Flint’s children as “poisoned,” as many journalists and activists have done since the city’s water was found to be contaminated with lead in 2014, unjustly stigmatizes their generation. Let’s be clear. It’s unacceptable that any child was exposed to drinking water with elevated lead concentrations. We know that lead is a powerful neurotoxicant, that there is no safe level, that the very young are particularly vulnerable and that long-term exposure to low to moderate levels of lead is associated with decreased I.Q.s and other cognitive and behavioral problems, including criminal behavior. (Hernan Gomez and Kim Dietrich, 7/22)
The Missing Piece In N.C.’s Opioid Fight
I was taken aback by a collage of photos that a high school classmate recently posted. Instead of fond high school memories, it was filled edge-to-edge with faces of former friends. ...North Carolina has designed an Opioid Action Plan to address the problem, and there have been moves towards limiting opioid prescriptions and suing opioid distributors. But opioids will be prescribed as long as people have pain. In its plan, the government omitted a key underlying factor in opioid use: mental health. Drug abuse and mental health are intimately intertwined, and I believe that timely, accessible addiction and mental health services would give these kids a chance at life. (Rolvix Patterson, 7/20)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Safe Injection Site In SF Would Address Drug Use And Discarded Needles
One proposal is for safe injection sites — facilities where drug users can go to inject without fear of arrest, violence, robbery or other problems of living on the street. ...Having evaluated the evidence and the need, the board of directors of the San Francisco Marin Medical Society voted unanimously in 2017 to support piloting safe injections sites here, and were soon joined by the AMA. (John Maa and Steve Heilig, 7/22)
Good Health Reforms For Mass. — And One Big Disagreement
There is a possible pathway to a compromise on community hospitals, too — but time is short, the disagreements are deep, and neither the House nor the Senate bill would be adequate on its own. If the negotiators can’t bridge their differences before the end of the legislative session, they shouldn’t let the reforms contained in the bills become a casualty. (7/23)
The New York Times:
Health Secretary Defends Actions On Drug Prices
Drug pricing is a complicated issue, but that is no excuse for the media to misunderstand the changes currently taking place in drug markets. Your editorial ignores the significant reforms that have already taken place during President Trump’s time in office, and the much more fundamental shifts that are on the way. The Times misleads on the administration’s strong support for tougher drug negotiation by state governments. The paper chides us for disapproving a Massachusetts pilot program, but the model Massachusetts proposed involved implementing new negotiation powers while keeping federally negotiated rebates. This fact was left out by The Times and renders the proposal an attempt at double-dipping. (HHS Secretary Alex Azar, 7/20)