Viewpoints: Ohio’s Abortion Bill; Reducing Teen Pregnancy; Paying Hospitals For Quality
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
The Washington Post:
Ohio’s New Abortion Law Is An Assault On Roe. Here’s Why It Won’t Work.
Last June, abortion rights supporters groups celebrated what many viewed as the movement’s most important victory in decades. The Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt rejected a carefully crafted argument about the harm done to women by abortion. ... But before anyone had time to close the books on 2016, the opposing movements appear to have switched places. Antiabortion activists are now the ones with ambitious plans, as news from Ohio this Tuesday made clear. Energized by Trump’s election, the Ohio legislature passed a measure outlawing abortion when physicians could detect a fetal heartbeat — at roughly six weeks. (Mary Ziegler, 12/9)
Asking A Single Question Can Help Reduce Teen Pregnancy
"Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?” Asking teenage girls that question is one simple way to prevent unplanned pregnancies. The remarkable drop in birth rates among teenagers hides a large gap between urban and rural teens. Between 2007 and 2015, teen birth rates dropped 50 percent in large urban counties and just 37 percent in rural counties. We can do better. Most teen pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted. Increased use of birth control is the primary driver of fewer teenage pregnancies in urban and rural areas. So what explains the demographic difference? Formal sex education for teen boys and girls has fallen off since 2006, more in rural than urban areas. (Elise DeVore Berlan, 12/9)
Watch Out Hospitals: Medicare's Planning To Punish You If You Misbehave
Soon, a significant chunk of hospital revenue will be at risk, under a series of Medicare pay-for-performance programs. The idea behind P4P (as the cool kids call it) is simple. ... High quality providers will receive more money than low quality ones, thereby giving providers an incentive to improve the quality of care they provide. ... Some people might think these programs should be abandoned, for being too flawed for prime time. For example, the programs hit a small percent of hospitals pretty hard. ... But it is too soon to abandon Medicare’s pay-for-performance programs. ... P4P seems to be doing what it expected – it’s motivating hospitals to improve the quality of care they provide. Rather than abandon these programs, we should improve them. (Peter Ubel, 12/9)
E-Cigarettes Aren’t Safe For Our Kids
Contrary to the belief of many, the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes is not harmless water vapor — it often contains nicotine and other chemical compounds that can have harmful effects on the user as well as those who inhale it secondhand. We know that nicotine can cross the placenta and have toxic effects on the developing fetus. Additionally, some say that use of e-cigarettes might protect young people from becoming cigarette smokers. But there is no evidence to support this claim. Instead, there is evidence that millions more children are being exposed to nicotine through e-cigarettes. (Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, 12/9)
Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger:
Keep People Healthy, Out Of Hospital To Cut Costs
The Legislative Budget Recommendations are out with a planned cut for Mississippi Medicaid for fiscal 2018 of 2.5 percent or almost $100 million. State leaders say they want to rein in state health care costs, or at least cost increases. However, since Mississippi gets 74.17 percent of our Medicaid dollars from the federal government, a full $1 billion state allocation would bring down $3 billion in matching federal funds to support the Mississippi health care system. It is hard to see how our state could pay our health care bills without those federal dollars, or reimburse the sorely needed new physicians going into practice around the state. (Lynn Evans, 12/11)
Ethicist Dad: Passage Of 21st Century Cures Act Fills Me With Both Hope And Dread
But in 2008, after my daughter was officially declared cured and we’d used heparin for the last time, contamination in the supply from China killed 19 Americans and harmed many others. ... That heparin contamination was in part due to lax oversight of the drug supply chain. It reminds me why I do not want to see the work of the Food and Drug Administration compromised by overeager drug companies taking advantage of the hopes of desperate patients, and taking shortcuts on safety. The “giant piñata” of a bill, as science blogger Derek Lowe aptly described the 21st Century Cures Act, is destined to explode in unexpected ways. (Paul McLean, 12/9)
Richmond Times Dispatch:
Why Care About Palliative Care?
Like any new physician, when I first became an Internal Medicine specialist about 20 years ago, I sometimes experienced mixed emotions. My enthusiasm for taking care of patients with complex medical problems was tempered by apprehension. Had I made the right diagnosis? Had I prescribed the right drugs? ... But with the support of colleagues and the encouragement of my many wonderful and loyal patients, these concerns seemed to fade over time. Yet even as my confidence increased, I realized there was one distinct gap in training and experience I needed to bridge: Helping to manage the pain and symptoms of patients with serious illnesses, and at times, caring for those under my care who were nearing the end of their lives. (Egidio Del Fabbro, 12/10)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Heroin Addiction Continues To Drive Record Demand For Needles In Cuyahoga County
Last year, I wrote about another statistic to gauge the opiate problem in the county: The number of clean needles distributed by Circle Health Services, which has been operating Ohio's first syringe-exchange program since 1995. (Circle Health Services was formally known as the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland, and changed its name recently to reflect changes to its health care offerings.) Circle Health Services' needle program allows drug users to trade used syringes for new ones. Cutting down on addicts' need to share dirty needles reduces the potential spread of blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV. (Mark Naymik, 12/9)