Viewpoints: Tax Law Changes Are Already Undermining Health Law, Causing Prices To Jump
Editorial pages focus on changes impacting the health law and other health care issues.
Here’s How Trump’s Tax Law Is Raising Health Insurance Premiums
Approximately six months ago, Congress passed a tax law designed to benefit corporations and the wealthy while repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty. Today, we’re already seeing the consequences: Premiums in the individual market are rising, often by double digits. As more and more states hit their deadlines for insurers to file preliminary premium rates, the headlines tell the same story, with average premiums going up by 30 percent in Maryland, 19 percent in Washington, and 24 percent in New York. This is no surprise — and no accident. The repeal of the mandate penalty was the latest in a long line of actions that the Trump administration has taken to deliberately undermine the ACA marketplaces. (Thomas Heulskoetter, 6/20)
Add A Dose Of Harvard To The Bezos-Buffett-Dimon Health Mix
Everything about Amazon.com Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.’s enigmatic effort to reduce health-care costs has been unusual. On Wednesday, the triumverate stuck to their strange guns by picking renowned surgeon, writer and Harvard public-health researcher Atul Gawande to run their new company. (Max Nisen, June 20)
New England Journal of Medicine:
Why The VA Needs More Competition
Despite independent studies showing that clinical quality in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system is often as good as or better than that in the private sector, numerous areas for improvement remain. Moreover, going forward, VA reform efforts will have to focus on building systems that ensure high quality standards for both VA medical centers and private-sector providers that care for veterans. The agency has long relied on the private sector to augment its capacity to meet veterans’ health care needs, and private-sector providers are often the only practical option for veterans in rural areas or those requiring specialty services not offered by their local VA medical center. (David J. Shulkin, 6/20)
Release VA Nursing Homes Data. Veterans Deserve Nothing Less.
Most Americans, when they think of the VA, envision a vast bureaucracy of care centers for millions of the nation's veterans. That it is. But who knew the agency also runs a network of nursing homes? Well, it does, and it turns out — thanks to recent coverage by USA TODAY and The Boston Globe — that many of those nursing homes suffer from health delivery concerns similar to those that plague some VA hospitals and clinics. About 46,000 veterans annually are cared for in 133 of these homes nationwide. Some are located on Department of Veterans Affairs hospital campuses, and some are separate facilities. (6/20)
VA: USA TODAY's Article Is Misleading
USA TODAY’s misleading Sunday article, “Secret VA nursing home ratings hide poor quality care from the public,” is a prime example of why the phrase “fake news” has gained such prominence. Let’s start with the headline. The VA publicly released these nursing home ratings on June 12. Calling them “secret” is false and irresponsible. So is this paper’s focus on a single, cherry-picked sub-metric — rather than overall rankings — to paint a misleading picture of how our facilities actually compare with the private sector. (6/20)
New England Journal of Medicine:
Keeping Your Cool — Doing Ebola Research During An Emergency
Two key international actors, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors without Borders) and the World Health Organization (WHO), are testing an Ebola vaccine during the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in collaboration with the ministry of health (see map). They must act in a state of extreme uncertainty: the situation is evolving by the hour, information is hard to come by, and the ethical dilemmas and practical hurdles are abundant. And they are using slightly different approaches. (Charlotte J. Haug, 6/21)
Medical Schools Need To Care About Doctor Burnout. Should The Rest Of Us?
The medical profession is waking up to the fact that too many doctors are burned out in their jobs with plenty of public handwringing. There’s no question it’s a big issue for physicians. But should the rest of us care about it? I’m not sure, and I study doctors and how they work. There isn’t a lot of systematic research linking burnout among physicians to the health of their patients. I’m not saying that physician burnout doesn’t matter for patients. It likely does. If my auto mechanic is burned out, it probably affects the quality of repairs I get, just as an emotionally exhausted clinician may not be at the top of his or her game. (Timothy J. Hoff, 6/21)
Climate Change Puts South Floridians’ Health At Risk
Today is the first day of summer, and in South Florida that means warmer temperatures, rain and mosquitoes. Just two years ago, mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus were first identified in Wynwood before spreading across Florida. Vector-borne diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya are re-emerging because temperatures are rising. As the planet warms, habitats that support mosquito vectors expand, allowing these diseases to spread faster and further beyond neighborhood, state and national borders. Climate change has also sparked extreme weather events, which can spur a rise in illnesses. Hurricane Harvey showed us that standing water and flooding from slower and wetter storms can create breeding grounds for water-borne diseases. As we know all too well, hurricanes can also cause damage to vital infrastructure, making it more difficult to contain outbreaks. (Julio Frenk, 6/20)