Viewpoints: State Reviews Shed Important Light On Trends Behind Maternal Mortality; Short-Term Plans Expand Health Care Choices
Editorial pages focus on these health topics and others.
State Review Boards Can Help Reduce Pregnancy-Related Deaths In The U.S.
Despite having the most advanced medical technology in the world, the U.S. has the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths of any high-income nation — and the problem has gotten worse even as the rate has declined globally. When a woman dies from pregnancy-related causes in this country, the factors that led to this tragic event often go unexamined. We need better data to understand what happened, and then use what we’ve learned to save women’s lives. Promising efforts underway are helping states get to the root causes of these deaths and determine what can be done to prevent them in the future. Several states are taking bold steps to establish review committees to examine every pregnancy-related death, identify trends, and use the findings to change policy and clinical practice. (Mary-Ann Etiebet, 8/16)
The Washington Post:
Obamacare Forgot About You. But Trump Didn’t.
For all the discussion of Obamacare since its passage, it is too rarely known that the law effectively split the United States’ individual insurance market in two. One group of Americans — about 8 million enrollees in 2017 — now pay, on average, less than a quarter of the cost of their health insurance, receiving ever-growing taxpayer subsidies to insulate them from Obamacare’s high premiums. But there is a second group of Americans who have faced the full premium increases driven by the law’s broken regulations. Roughly 5 million Americans, as of 2017, have chosen to pay those premiums without any subsidies, while 28 million other Americans remain uninsured, many priced out of coverage entirely. (HHS Secretary Alex Azar, 8/15)
National Debt Growing Due To Social Security And Medicare
The debate about the presidency of the President Donald Trump distracts us from other important issues. One such issue on August 14, which marked the 83rd birthday of Social Security, is whether its record of paying full benefits will make it to the 100th birthday. When the first Gen Xers retire in the 2030s, they may well be the first generation to get fleeced. The Social Security trust fund is currently in deficit yet will receive enough general revenue transfers (financed annually by your taxes) to pay full benefits until 2034. Medicare’s trust fund will go belly up in 2026. (David Schoenbrod and Brian Riedl, 8/15)
Health Insurers Are Using Diabetes Drug Coupons To Pad Profits
Health insurance companies have complained they are burdened with the high cost of diabetes care as a way to justify new programs that shift more of the cost of care to patients themselves. But these programs are actually padding profits in the insurance industry and placing a huge strain on diabetes patients already struggling to meet their health care needs.Insurance companies are hiding this new effort behind opaque and confusing jargon. They call their new policies “copay accumulators,” “Out-of-Pocket Protection Programs” or “Coupon Adjustment: Benefit Plan Protection Programs.” (Christel Marchand Aprigliano, 8/15)
Dallas Morning News:
Don't Let Fear Of Concussions Keep Kids Out Of Sports
Headline-grabbing media coverage about the serious effects of concussions on professional football players has made some parents hesitant to let their kids play football or other sports. Nationwide, the number of teenagers playing high school football has declined about 5 percent since 2008, according to a study published this year in JAMA Pediatrics. And even in Texas, home to Friday Night Lights, we have seen a falloff in participation. As both a researcher who studies brain injuries and as a parent, I believe these fears have become somewhat overblown. While every head injury must be taken seriously, most concussions result in short-term symptoms that typically go away within a couple of weeks. (Munro Cullum, 8/16)
New England Journal of Medicine:
Parenteral Opioid Shortage — Treating Pain During The Opioid-Overdose Epidemic
The opioid shortage is not expected to be resolved in the near future, so hospitals will need to implement mitigation strategies. The shortage has serious consequences for patients and physicians. Parenteral opioids provide fast and reliable analgesia for patients admitted to the hospital with poorly controlled pain, patients who have undergone painful procedures such as major surgery, and those who were previously on oral opioid regimens but are unable to continue treatment by mouth. Shortages of the three best-known parenteral opioids may increase the risk for medication errors when it becomes necessary to switch a patient to a less familiar drug or to use opioid-sparing drug combinations. Opioids are already among the drugs most frequently involved in medication errors in hospitals. There are also increased risks of delayed time to analgesia and of side effects resulting in unnecessary patient suffering and delayed hospital discharge. Physicians’ burden and stress increase when they are forced to make sudden changes in practice.
San Jose Mercury News:
California Must Seize Opportunity For Bail Reform
This week, the California State Assembly is likely to vote on Senate Bill 10, a bill that we had hoped would bring an end to the unjust money bail system and significantly reduce the number of people incarcerated in California’s jails. But the final version of SB 10 trades in the exploitative money bail system for a new pretrial regime — one that will lead to more incarceration and entrench racial, gender, and socioeconomic bias in our system. (Gina Clayton-Johnson and Raj Jayadev, 8/15)
Study Pokes Huge Hole In Assertions That California Is An Obamacare Success Story
Liberals have cited California as the prototypical Obamacare success story for years now, but a new study puts that assertion very much in doubt. ... The study, conducted by the California Health Care Foundation, examined emergency department usage over the ten years from 2006 to 2016. While the report, perhaps quite deliberately, didn’t highlight this conclusion — it mentioned Obamacare once, and only in passing — the data indicate that emergency department usage since Obamacare has not only not decreased, it has accelerated, rising at a faster rate than in prior years. (Christopher Jacobs, 8/14)
Portland Press Herald:
Ignoring Climate Change Puts Mainers In Danger
Policy driven by research works better than science driven by politics. Witness Maine, which experienced a historic explosion in its tick population, and not coincidentally, a 20-fold increase in Lyme disease diagnoses between 2000 and 2016 – going from 71 cases a year to 1,487. Lyme is spread by a single species of tick that has been common in parts of southern New England, but was unknown to most of Maine just 20 years ago. Even though science has established a clear link between a warming climate and the spread of tick-borne disease, the state has demonstrated a terminal lack of interest in conducting any research that touches on man-made climate change. (8/15)