Viewpoints: Lessons On Why Opposition To Medicaid Expansion Lost Ground In Even Red States; In The U.S., Expensive Breakthrough Therapies For Certain Cancers Have Vastly Improved Life
Opinion writers weigh in on health care reform issues and other health topics.
The Washington Post:
Have Republicans Lost The Argument Over The Medicaid Expansion?
In all, 37 states have now expanded Medicaid — many of them red — while 14 have not. It’s true that a handful of the biggest states — such as Texas, Florida and North Carolina — still have not expanded Medicaid, and that’s a big obstacle to progress. But in North Carolina, Democratic governor Roy Cooper — whose efforts to expand Medicaid have been tied up by Republican legislators — and Democrats are vowing to make the issue central in the 2020 statewide and legislative elections. If that produces more victories, that could portend another big breakthrough. (Greg Sargent, 1/9)
The Wall Street Journal:
Where You Want To Get Cancer
Cheer up, folks. For all the political grousing about health-care costs, the good news out this week is that cancer survival rates have improved enormously over the last three decades. The chances of beating most types of cancer are increasing, and that’s especially true if you live in the United States. The American Cancer Society reported this week that the cancer mortality rate in the U.S. has plunged nearly 30% since its peak in 1991, with the biggest annual decline occurring in 2017. Fewer Americans are smoking, which has reduced the incidence of lung cancer in particular. (1/9)
Over 65? Smoked Even A Little In Your Lifetime? You Might Want To Get Screened For This
If you’re male, between the ages of 65 and 75, and have smoked as few as five packs of cigarettes in your lifetime, a federal task force is now recommending you get screened for a condition that is often fatal. Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur when the aorta ruptures. It can be catastrophic, but catching the weakened artery before it ruptures and repairing the damage is relatively easy. (Tom Crann and Jon Hallberg, 1/8)
Roe V. Wade Abortion Right Threatened By New Republican Strategy
More than 200 members of Congress, almost all of them Republicans, have signed a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics. In case that wasn’t provocative enough, the senators and representatives suggested that the justices might also consider overturning the court’s two most important decisions on abortion: Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). While the argument they make may not prevail this year, it is a strong one that could eventually prove decisive. The legislators are going after Roe where it’s apparently strongest: They are attacking its force as a precedent. (Ramesh Ponnuru, 1/9)
The Buprenorphine Practitioner Locator Doesn't Work Like It Should
Recovering from opioid addiction isn’t easy. The pull of the drug is strong. Asking for help to kick an addiction can be difficult for many people, in part because of the stigma associated with addiction. One of the most effective means of beating an opioid addiction is to use a prescription medication, buprenorphine, which binds to the same receptor as opioids and reduces the craving for them. But finding a clinician who prescribes buprenorphine can be a challenge. Some people ask their primary care physician for a reference. Others ask friends or acquaintances who they’d recommend. Many others, though, consult the Buprenorphine Practitioner Locator, a database curated by the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that lists clinicians who can prescribe buprenorphine. (Lila Flavin and J. Wesley Boyd, 1/9)
The Washington Post:
For Gen X Women, Middle Age Is Exhausting. Here’s Why.
More than a decade ago, I was on the phone with a demographer. The call got rescheduled more than once, thanks to me. I was working freelance, but I was also a parent to two small children and, well, I don’t even remember what went wrong. Was it a playground fight? A child home sick? A medical emergency with my parents? When we finally managed to connect, she told me, “You know what the problem with your generation is? You are expected to do more than twice as much as your parents and grandparents, with less than half the support.” (Helaine Olen, 1/9)
Should Access To Life-Saving Medicines Be Determined By Economic Evaluations?
Trikafta was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2019 for patients 12 and older. It is the fourth iteration of a class of medications called CFTR modulators, and it is appropriate for treating up to 90 percent of people with cystic fibrosis based on their genetic profiles. While Trikafta is not a cure for cystic fibrosis, it has proven to be a life-changing medication for countless people in the United States. We must preserve our access to Trikafta. A disturbing trend is washing over the United States, though. Insurers are using economic analyses based on a discriminatory cost-effectiveness metric called Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALY) as negotiating leverage to limit access to life-changing medications. (Gunnar Esiason, 1/9)
Welcome To The Bioengineering Culture Clash
Bioengineering, once viewed primarily as an academic discipline, is growing up. Our ability to engineer biology is on the verge of changing the landscape of health and health care. Tools and treatments that are engineered, not discovered — CAR-T therapies for cancer, CRISPR for gene editing, stem cell therapies, and more — are now making their way not just into new startups but into established industry. Just look at the first-generation CAR-T companies that have been acquired by major biopharma companies, like Bristol-Myers Squibb/Celgene acquiring Juno or Gilead acquiring Kite. (Vijay Pande, 1/10)
The Washington Post:
In D.C., Getting Rid Of Tents And Benches Used By Homeless Won't Make Homelessness Go Away
The man sleeping on a sidewalk mattress, next to his jar of urine and beneath a glimmering art installation of light created to brighten a city underpass, is not going away. “We’ll come right back,” he vowed, after peeking out from under his blanket fort on a section of M Street. “I’ve been here my whole life, and I’m not going away.” (Petula Dvorak, 1/9)