Viewpoints: Many Oppose Right-To-Try Drug Law For All The Right Reasons; Where’s The Cure For Runaway Drug Prices? Not In Trump’s Plan.
Editorial pages focus on these and other health care topics.
'Right-To-Try' Drug Law Offers No Miracle Cure
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this week that will give terminally ill patients access to unapproved experimental drugs. President Donald Trump will likely sign it into law soon. This national “right-to-try” legislation seems like a sensible idea at first blush. Dying patients could get treatments that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them until it’s too late. But it’s far more likely that the measure will foster false hope in desperate families, while potentially saddling them with costs for drugs that aren’t likely to do much good. This explains why patient groups, past FDA commissioners, and a variety of other organizations oppose it. (Max Nisen, 5/24)
FDA Commissioner Gottlieb And Implementing 'Right To Try'
In his first year as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb has managed to surprise early critics with bold public health moves, such as a plan to limit nicotine in cigarettes, while also keeping many industry supporters and the president on his side. But Gottlieb may soon face his toughest balancing act: implementing the Right to Try Act. President Trump is expected to sign the bill, which passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday. (Michael D. Becker, 5/24)
We Need A Cure For Runaway Drug Prices — But Not The One Trump Is Prescribing
Drug prices are part of our highest-in-the-world medical prices generally, and there are two proven ways to control that: a single-payer system, with government paying all the bills and setting a hard-and-fast health care budget, or (as I’d favor) the German and Japanese system of gathering all the payers and providers in a region together to hammer out reasonable, standardized prices. ...Unfortunately, this administration isn’t interested either in real reform or promise-keeping. (Rich Barlow, 5/25)
The Health Care Industry Is Being Transformed, One Deal At A Time
More than 200 health care deals representing $72.6 billion were announced in the first quarter of 2018, kicking off what will be an active year for deal making in the U.S. Consolidation plans, pent up private equity demand, new entrants, and other market forces will continue to motivate industry players to reflect, reevaluate their business models, and make strategic bets on deals and partnerships. New business models are emerging. Their common goal is to drive down costs, create value, and compete more effectively. These deals position major players to transition to a system based on value of care versus the volume of services — a system that better aligns with what consumers have come to expect from their health care experience. (Thad Kresho, 5/25)
During Times Of Crisis Our Health-Care Delivery Is Still Lagging
When a disaster strikes — whether a hurricane, Ebola, or a mass shooting — health-care providers and the health systems are expected to jump into action to treat the ill and injured. Unfortunately, much remains to be done to improve our nation’s ability to save lives in the aftermath of large-scale emergencies. After providing more than $5 billion in federal healthcare preparedness grants to states since 2001 our health-care systems and communities are still not sufficiently prepared to respond to mass casualties. A key problem is our current approach. National policy separates health-care delivery during crisis and everyday health-care delivery. (David Marcozzi, 5/24)
Should The President Undergo Independent Medical Evaluations?
The American Psychiatric Association’s controversial “Goldwater rule” says it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization. Whether Trump is unfit should not be decided by cavalier critics. A mandated independent and objective medical evaluation could be the best answer. (David Steinberg, 5/24)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Medicine Leads The Professions In Suicide. What Can We Do About It?
A study reported earlier this month at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association revealed that among U.S. professionals, physicians have the highest suicide rate. According to the researchers, the suicide rate in medicine is more than twice that of the general population, resulting in at least one physician suicide per day in the U.S. (Richard Gunderman and Peter Gunderman, 5/24)
The Washington Post:
Legalizing Marijuana Is Fine. But Don’t Ignore The Science On Its Dangers.
Three decades ago, I would have been over the moon to see marijuana legalized. It would have saved me a lot of effort spent trying to avoid detection, constantly looking for places to hide a joint. I smoked throughout my teens and early 20s. During this period, upon landing in a new city, my first order of business was to score a quarter-ounce. The thought of a concert or a vacation without weed was simply too bleak. ...These days it’s hard to find anybody critical of marijuana. ...Now, as a scientist, I’m unimpressed with many of the widely used arguments for the legalization of marijuana. (Judith Grisel, 5/25)
If We Want Better Health Care At A Lower Cost, Primary Care Must Become A Policy Priority
Early last year, dozens of leading health organizations, including the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC), called on the Trump administration to push forward on value-based reforms in the Medicare payment system. We believe that “putting our foot on the gas” to accelerate the shift to a system where incentives are aligned for better delivery and provider payment is essential to a more affordable health system for all of us. (John Rother, 5/24)
The New York Times:
Have You Ever Seen Someone Get Killed?
Researchers with the Boston Reentry Study were one year into their interviews, following 122 men and women as they returned from prison to their neighborhoods and families, when they asked the kind of question that’s hard to broach until you know someone well. They prompted the study’s participants to think back to childhood. “Did you ever see someone get killed during that time?” Childhood violence, including deadly violence, kept coming up in the previous conversations. The references suggested a level of childhood trauma among people leaving prison that standard survey questions don’t capture. (Emily Badger, 5/25)
The Detroit News:
Michigan Families Deserve Access To Affordable Prescription Medication
What patients pay for medications is soaring. Michigan families don’t need to watch the news, read newspapers, or follow financial trends to know this; they just have to show up to the pharmacy counter. Many individuals living with serious health challenges, like epilepsy, require specialty medicines for which lower-cost generics either do not exist or are not as effective for the individual. Epilepsy medications are not “one size fits all,” and saving money on prescription medication is not as easy as just switching to a generic — if one exists at all. (Brianna Romines, 5/24)
Los Angeles Times:
California Should Fight The Good Fight Against Bad Health Insurance Policies
This one should be a no-brainer: California lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban so-called junk health insurance policies — short-term plans that do not comply with the consumer protections set out in Obamacare. These cheap plans typically offer no protection against the risk of bankrupting medical bills; instead, they cover just a limited number of doctor visits and days in the hospital, with glaring gaps in coverage, huge out-of-pocket costs and comparatively low caps on total benefits. Yet this is precisely the sort of policy that the Trump administration and some congressional Republicans have been promoting as a way to lower health insurance premiums. That's all the more reason for the Legislature to approve the bill imposing a ban, SB 910 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa). (5/25)
Des Moines Register:
Iowans Receive More Fuzzy Medicaid Math
A thistle to the Iowa Department of Human Services and Gov. Kim Reynolds for treating Iowa taxpayers like a bunch of fools. The administration has again failed to produce credible estimates and methodology on calculating supposed savings from the privatization of Medicaid. Yet it continues to insist handing over the $4.8 billion health insurance program to for-profit companies has magically and inexplicably saved millions. (5/24)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio Bill Would Improve Physician Assistants' Ability To Deliver Health Care
As an executive director overseeing the largest population of PAs in Ohio, I process the necessary paperwork required for my PAs to be able to practice. ...This filing requirement has become a huge burden and a workforce hurdle which, at times, keeps PAs from being able to see their patients. (Josanne Pagel, 5/24)
The Detroit News:
Lead Screenings Offer Hope For Flint Children
A major milestone has been achieved in the struggle to vindicate the rights of Flint students. In response to a class-action lawsuit filed by Flint children and their families, a federal court in Detroit approved a settlement agreement making universal screening, and in-depth evaluations when necessary, available to every Flint child exposed to lead in the water supply.(David Sciarra and Kary Moss, 5/25)
Why EPA’s Drop In Pollution Cases Is So Scary
Law enforcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fell significantly in 2017. It’ll be worse in 2018. EPA is failing to conduct wide-ranging investigations to protect human health. ...PFAS chemicals now contaminate the drinking water systems serving 16 million Americans in 33 states. EPA has dragged its feet on regulating PFAS chemicals, despite convincing evidence that they are hazardous at very low doses. EPA failed to set a PFAS legal limit in 2017. Instead, it proposed an ineffectual non-enforceable lifetime health advisory level. (Michael Mikulka, 5/24)