KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Trump, Science And Vaccines; Firsthand Experience With The Opioid Epidemic

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.

The Wall Street Journal: Ignore Anti-Vaccine Hysteria, Mr. Trump
The environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a vaccine skeptic, told reporters Tuesday in the lobby of Trump Tower that the president-elect has asked him to lead a commission “to make sure we have scientific integrity in the vaccine process for efficacy and safety effects.” Mr. Kennedy also suggested that Donald Trump “has some doubts about the current vaccine policies” and that “we ought to be debating the science.” This is insane. (Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell, 1/10)

Bloomberg: Trump's Dangerous Ideas About Vaccines
Donald Trump's views on vaccines have long been out of sync with science. Childhood vaccines cause autism, he asserted at a debate in 2015, echoing statements he had made in 2014 and 2012. But now the president-elect is poised to do more than just pass along misinformation: He has asked a die-hard "anti-vaxxer" to lead a commission on "vaccination and scientific integrity." (1/10)

The Washington Post: I’ve Seen The Opioid Epidemic As A Cop. Living It As A Patient Has Been Even Worse.
A year ago, I woke in the night with pain so severe I was crying before I was fully aware what was going on. A 50-year-old cop sobbed like a child in the dark. It was a ruptured disc and related nerve damage. Within a couple of months, it became so severe that I could no longer walk or stand. An MRI later, my surgeon soothingly told me it would all be okay. He would take care of me; the pain would end. After surgery, I never saw that surgeon again. A nurse practitioner handed me a prescription for painkillers — 180 tablets, 90 each of oxycodone and hydrocodone. (Nick Selby, 1/11)

Green Bay Press Gazette Media: Fighting Opioid Abuse Takes Innovation
As a former deputy sheriff, state legislator and director of the Door/Kewaunee Drug Task Force, I have seen up close the impacts of the opioid abuse crisis and efforts to combat it. Unfortunately, the crisis has reached epidemic proportions here in Wisconsin. Opioid abuse-related deaths have more than tripled since 2003, and more than 600 people died in the last year from an overdose. Law enforcement, from police and correctional officers to forensic crime labs and court prosecutors, are on the front lines of this battle. (Garey Bies, 1/10)

Fortune: MIA In The Medical Revolution: A Sense Of Urgency
There was a moment yesterday when Vice President Joe Biden’s words got caught in his throat. ... Beau Biden had been the state of Delaware’s attorney general and a decorated veteran who had served in Iraq. In 2013, a few years after returning from the war, the forty-four year old was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma, a diagnosis that the vice president said his entire family “knew was the equivalent of a death sentence.” So Joe, the Dad, set out to learn everything he could about the disease during his son’s year-and-a-half fight to survive. “The most important thing I learned,” he recounted, “was that we’ve reached — you all have reached in science — an inflection point in cancer …. I found myself realizing that maybe, although we couldn’t save our son, that maybe we could …" That’s when the words disappeared for a long moment and a father’s grief took over. (Clifton Leaf, 1/10)

The New York Times: A Fix For Gender Bias In Health Care? Check.
When Dr. Elliott Haut and his team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore designed their blood clot prevention protocol back in 2006, they didn’t expect to discover systemic gender bias. But the data were clear and the implications were alarming: Women who were trauma patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital were in considerably greater danger of dying of preventable blood clots than men. Why? Because doctors were less likely to provide them with the appropriate blood clot prevention treatment. (Jessica Nordell, 1/11)

The New York Times: My Life With Paralysis, It’s A Workout
The alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. Groggy, I turn on the lamp on my night stand and try to sit up. I put my right hand on the wall next to my bed to steady myself, and push my left into the bed. Right away, my abs and back seize up and my legs spasm and kick out straight, forcing me back down onto the bed. Clearly my body thinks it is too early to get up, but I don’t have time to argue with it. I have to get physical therapy out of the way so I can be on time for my medieval history class. (Valerie Piro, 1/11)

Miami Herald: Shut The Door On Medicare Scammers 
Miami-Dade will present President-elect Donald Trump’s administration with a unique international crime-and-punishment problem. The crime is the defrauding of taxpayer-funded Medicare. The corruption is being carried out here in Miami-Dade County by Cuban nationals recently arrived from their homeland. But the ability to punish these scammers is elusive. (1/10)

Arizona Republic: Season For Sharing: Giving Veterans The Help They Need
The average rental subsidy provided to military veterans through a Season for Sharing grant is about $200, which may not seem like much. But it was enough for a veteran to cover rent when he had a heart attack. It was enough for another veteran to purchase an airline ticket home. The support meant being able to recuperate and not have to worry about where the rent would come from, and being able to attend a daughter's funeral. (Carrie Walters, 1/10)

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