Viewpoints: Take Another Look At Opioid ‘Conspiracy;’ Qualities HHS Secretary Needs
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
The Wall Street Journal:
A Bipartisan Drug Cartel?
Perhaps you’ve heard that President Trump’s drug office nominee colluded with pharmaceutical companies to worsen the opioid crisis, based on a press dispatch this month. The resulting panic could result in reversing a useful law, so allow us to fill in the real story of this grand non-conspiracy that included 535 Members of Congress and Barack Obama. (10/24)
Los Angeles Times:
The Opioid Crackdown Is Making Life Untenable For Chronic Pain Patients Like Me
President Trump recently said that he intends to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency. If he makes good on that promise, it will be the country’s first official state of emergency for a drug epidemic. That designation would make more federal funding available for curbing the crisis, and likely result in stricter limitations on new and existing opioid prescriptions. When I hear the words “opioid” and “emergency” in the same sentence, I panic: Is my prescription running out? I have stage-3 neuroendocrine cancer. For me, not having opioids would be an emergency. (Melissa Sanders-Self, 10/25)
For His Next Health Secretary, Trump Needs A Domestic Jim Mattis
As much as anyone in the Cabinet, HHS secretaries have the day-to-day fate of ordinary Americans in their hands, particularly at vulnerable times in people's lives. What millions of Americans deal with on a daily basis — the high cost of prescription drugs, the safety of their food and medicine, finding a high quality nursing home for their parents, stemming the spread of outbreaks such as Zika or Ebola — this is the real day job of the HHS secretary. Trump would do well to appoint someone who has empathy for what it's like to be vulnerable and at the mercy of a health care system because of a chronic illness, disability, or the inability to afford care. Despite the headlines, much of the important work is not political but deeply personal. Someone who understands and can speak for and to the concerns of the public would make a good candidate. (Andy Slavitt, 10/25)
Obamacare Deal Is A Band-Aid, But It's What We Need Now
The Alexander-Murray health-care bill is a rare bipartisan effort on a topic that has generated white-hot political controversy. ...The bill isn’t perfect. It isn’t the final fix for Obamacare. But it deserves support for what it is: a needed quick fix and an opening to further bipartisan reform later. (10/24)
The Right To Choose Isn't Just For Citizens
There is a range of penalties for illegally crossing the U.S. border. Being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term should not be one of them. Yet that is precisely the penalty that the federal government seeks to impose on Jane Doe, an undocumented 17-year-old who, after being seized by immigration authorities, is being prevented from obtaining an abortion. ... The government's effort to force J.D. to bear a child before, presumably, it seeks to kick her out of the country altogether is a cruel parody of ideological obsession and bureaucratic myopia. J.D. has made her choice. American law, which confers rights on people in the U.S. regardless of citizenship, guarantees her right to do so. The federal government must abide by it. (10/24)
The Washington Post:
The Trump Administration’s Attack On Family Planning Is An Attack On Women’s Economic Well-Being
Family planning is essential to women from an economic standpoint. It has been shown to dramatically reduce unintended pregnancy, thereby allowing women to decide when and how frequently to have children. That choice has improved economic (and health and educational) outcomes for the women and their children. ... Let’s be clear about this: There can be no successful, comprehensive anti-poverty agenda for women here or abroad that doesn’t include sufficient investment in effective forms of family planning. By rolling back years of progress on this issue, much of which was bipartisan, the Trump administration would be attacking millions of women’s economic well-being and darkening their prospects. (Jared Bernstein and Hannah Katch, 10/25)
Why Are American Women Only Half-Liberated?
For me, the conservatism of U.S. health care (and the defunding of Planned Parenthood) illustrates a continued stifling of feminism eradicated long ago in other developed nations. Until America solves its abortion and women’s health issues, even independent American women remain stymied by a divisive instrument in American politics: control over their own bodies. (Heidi Legg, 10/25)
Continue The Pursuit Of Value In Healthcare
While the future of the Affordable Care Act is still uncertain, a number of initiatives that began under the law have shown the kinds of results that transcend politics and will keep the focus on value over volume. Yes, we have seen that there are barriers to transitioning to a value-based approach, such as interoperability and organizational culture change, but there are also potentially huge gains to be made by including social determinants of health, for example. And we know U.S. healthcare provider organizations still receive the majority of their revenue from fee-for-service contracts. However, for these organizations to thrive under any circumstances, a focus on the quality of outcomes, efficiency of care delivery and reduction in cost should remain imperative. (Mike Boswood, 10/24)
Des Moines Register:
Guarantee Vulnerable Iowans The Right To Use Video Cameras In Nursing Homes
A Des Moines Sunday Register investigation by Clark Kauffman told the story of Cheryll Scherf. The 82-year-old widow from Farmersburg suffers from Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue and anxiety. Her family was concerned about the care she was receiving at the Elkader Care Center where she lived. So they installed a motion-activated camera in her room. This captured, among other incidents, staff repeatedly leaving Scherf in bed, naked from the waist down, with the door to the room left open. The video also showed she wasn't given her prescription medication. ... The story of this Iowa woman underscores the need to ensure all residents in long-term care facilities are guaranteed the explicit right to possess and use cameras in their rooms. (10/24)
The Washington Post:
I Survived Cancer. So Why Was I So Sad?
I’d been cancer-free for nine months when I found myself weeping over poorly made eggs-over-easy. The yolks were hard, instead of dripping and lovely and orange. Those rigid yokes were the proverbial last straw. I’d had cancer for God’s sakes, and I was crying over eggs? I was supposed to be a survivor. ... We survivors are supposed to be happy and grateful, to embrace our second chance at life. Many survivors can point to decidedly good changes in their lives and outlooks since staring down that black tunnel called cancer. But that’s not how the story ends for some of us. (Pam Parker, 10/24)
Los Angeles Times:
New-Age Medicine Star Andrew Weil Defends UC Irvine Against Charge That It's Partnering With Quacks
Dr. Andrew Weil, perhaps the nation’s best-known purveyor of “New Age” medicine, has written The Times to “take umbrage” at my recent column warning that UC Irvine risks becoming a haven for quacks if it’s not careful about deploying a $200-million gift from the Samueli family. (Michael Hiltzik, 10/24)