Viewpoints: Update Medicare Part D To Pay For New Cancer Therapies; Lessons On Columbine’s 20 Year Anniversary That Fail To Be Heeded
Editorial writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
Medicare Part D Must Evolve To Help People Fight Cancer
In the past five years, we have witnessed the emergence of revolutionary scientific innovations for treating cancer such as immunotherapies, targeted oral cancer medicines, gene therapies, and more. These new approaches are turning many daunting cancers into manageable conditions. These new advances won’t realize their full potential, however, unless patients have access to them. As long as patients struggle to pay out-of-pocket costs or are unable to access medicines that may save their lives, the promise of these new therapies goes unfulfilled. This is particularly true for older Americans, who are more likely to develop cancer than younger individuals and who may be living on fixed incomes. (Percival Barretto-Ko, 4/18)
Los Angeles Times:
In The 20 Years Since Columbine, We Have More School Security — And More School Shootings
While full-scale massacres like the one at Columbine remain rare, school shootings generally are becoming more common and more deadly. According to statistics maintained by the Naval Postgraduate School, 349 people have died in school shootings since Columbine. Among the most horrific were the killings of 26 people, mostly young children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and the deaths of 17 people, mostly students, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. ...So what are the solutions? Limiting access to firearms and providing better preventive help for troubled students are the obvious ones. (4/18)
20 Years After Columbine, School Safety Still Eludes Us
The columbine is a perennial flower often seen growing wild in the Rocky Mountains. But since April 20, 1999, the word has been a universally recognized reference to what was then the worst mass shooting at a school in American history. Thirteen people were shot to death and 21 were wounded by a pair of Columbine High School students who then killed themselves. The massacre in Littleton, Colo., was a singularly shocking event. (4/16)
NRA Wields New Power In Federal Courts
In an 86-page decision in March, U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez prevented the state of California from banning large capacity magazines for semiautomatic firearms. In the process, the judge demonstrated both the reflexive gun worship associated with the National Rifle Association and why the NRA’s grip on President Donald Trump – and some of the federal judges appointed by him -- promises to wreak havoc for years to come. (Francis Wilkinson, 4/17)
Employer Wellness Programs—A Work In Progress.
Approximately 4 of 5 large US employers offer a wellness program as part of their employees’ health benefits. Workplace wellness programs include a coordinated set of activities that support employees in making changes to health behaviors that may reduce their risk for certain chronic conditions and enable employees with existing diagnoses to manage them more effectively. Comprehensive, multicomponent programs typically include health assessments and biometric screening to quantify risk factors; education and coaching for lifestyle behavior modification (eg, tobacco cessation, physical activity promotion, stress reduction, and weight management); and in some cases, chronic disease management. (Jean Marie Abraham, 4/19)
The Washington Post:
I Beat Breast Cancer. Then I Found Out My Implants Could Cause Lymphoma.
In the fall of 2016, I was relishing the fact that I had won the cancer lottery: After the initial diagnosis of breast cancer (yes, I had to lose that lottery first), my biopsy results indicated I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation, just surgery. One operation and I would wake up cancer-free with reconstructed breasts and be back to regular activities in a few weeks. Sign me up for the worry-free BMX! (The acronym for bilateral mastectomy even sounded cool.) But several months later, things weren’t going as planned. I had skin necrosis from the mastectomy, a muscle torn off my sternum from the reconstruction and chronic pain; both shoulders were so frozen that I couldn’t pull up my pants or hug my kids. (Ridgeley, 4/17)
Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-For-All Burns UnitedHealth (UNH), CVS
Health-care stocks have been under pressure for months as Democrats have proposed aggressive health-care reforms, once-friendly Republicans targeted drug prices, and both parties harangued industry executives in Congressional hearings. This week, the sector took a further hit, and it was partly self-inflicted. The catalyst for the rout was health-insurance giant UnitedHealth Group Inc., which used its earnings call to engage with the biggest threat to the status-quo out there: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s proposal to eliminate private insurance in favor of government-run universal coverage. It’s a key part of his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. (Max Nisen, 4/17)
We Are Cutting Government Regulation At The Expense Of Patients' Lives
Last week the White House released a memo, which put forth a directive that potentially threatens the future of many scientific innovations that could save patients’ lives. The memo outlined that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would now need to review all non-binding guidance documents from all federal agencies. These guidance documents would then be subject to a congressional vote. Guidances are intended to convey an agencies position on processes, policies and emerging questions of the field in which a specific agency regulates. Their use and impact vary significantly agency-by-agency; a nuance that this memo ignores completely. (Ellen V. Sigal, 4/17)
What Is The Path To Quality Nursing Home Care?
America’s population is aging rapidly: 10,000 baby boomers will reach age 65 each day until 2030. Nursing home care is, and will continue to be, a crucial component of our country’s health care system. Nursing home care and oversight has been a topic of congressional concern and media attention in recent months. (Katie Smith Sloan, 4/17)
Homelessness Often Means Sleep Deprivation. Here's Why That Matters
Sleep deprivation haunts unhoused people, worsening trauma and mental and physical illnesses. Bobby Watts, who heads the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, says that “sleeplessness in homelessness is a public health crisis.” (Lori Teresa Yearwood, 4/17)
The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com:
Philly’s Latinx Girls Need More Mental Health Support
Recently, I worked with the National Women’s Law Center on its newly released report to figure out a way forward for Latinx students dealing with mental-health issues because, unfortunately, the situation is dire. Currently, 46.8 percent of all U.S. Latina high school girls felt persistently sad or hopeless to the point of being unable to engage in usual life activities, according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Angela Calderon, 4/18)
San Francisco Chronicle:
California Must Save This Source Of Housing For The Severely Mentally Ill
Since 2012, San Francisco has lost more than a third of its board-and-care homes serving clients younger than 60 who suffer from serious mental illness. It’s lost more than a quarter of those serving older clients. Most of the loss is in small facilities, often homes. (4/16)
San Francisco Chronicle:
SF General Sees Light After Public Pressure, Revises System That Produced Big Bills
After months of intense media coverage of its unfair billing system, San Francisco General Hospital officials on Tuesday announced major changes aimed at protecting patients’ financial health as well as their physical well-being. Patients will no longer be “balance billed” for the difference between what the hospital charges and what their insurance companies will pay. (Heather Knight, 4/16)