Viewpoints: Zero Politics Involved In Calculation Of Deaths From Hurricane Maria; Thumbs Up To The FDA On E-Cig Crackdown
Editorial pages look at these health topics and others.
The Washington Post:
We Calculated The Deaths From Hurricane Maria. Politics Played No Role.
Last December, a week before the holiday break, I received a call from the government of Puerto Rico seeking a meeting to discuss Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. In the cab on the way to meet Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, I knew the number of Puerto Rican lives lost was, and would continue to be, a highly charged issue. But I had no idea that after the Milken Institute School of Public Health, of which I am the dean, released our independent study, the issue would be the subject of several presidential tweets. The tweets suggested a political motive for our study’s finding of 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. To set the record straight, our study was carried out with no interference whatsoever from any political party or institution. (Lynn R. Goldman, 9/16)
The Washington Post:
The FDA Is Cracking Down On E-Cigarettes. This Is What Responsive Policymaking Looks Like.
The youth use of e-cigs is rising very sharply,” Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday, as he issued the federal government’s most forceful warning yet that these electronic nicotine-delivery devices are hooking a generation of teenagers. He promised that “everything is on the table” to arrest the trend. The rest of the Trump administration should take note: This is what responsive, evidence-driven government looks like. (9/16)
FDA Should Drive A Wedge Between Teens & Vaping
For those in favor of tighter regulations on everything from student loans to carbon emissions, there's not a lot of joy coming out of the federal government. But credit the Food and Drug Administration for ordering Juul Labs and other vaping device-makers to find a way to keep electronic cigarettes away from teens. (9/17)
The World Health Organization's Misguided Effort To Stop Americans From Vaping
While the WHO claims it wants to reduce smoking, its actions contradict its goals. WHO continues to turn a blind eye to new harm-reduction technologies, such as vaping or heat-not-burn products, that help people wean themselves from smoking and if desired, addiction to nicotine. (Elizabeth Wright, 9/14)
Russian Bots Are Taking Aim At U.S. Public Health
It almost makes sense, in a most devious way, that the Russian government used a disinformation campaign to try to sway the 2016 elections. That campaign has been front and center in many news cycles. But a disinformation campaign that has garnered little attention was aimed at the public health of the United States. This week we learned that nearly 600 Russia-linked Twitter accounts broadcast disinformation aimed at seeding dissent and confusion about insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. This campaign not only sought to exacerbate political tensions, but it was also implicitly aimed at depressing enrollment in viable health insurance coverage. (David Beier and Andrew Sullivan, 9/14)
The New York Times:
Can Paying For A Health Problem As A Whole, Not Piece By Piece, Save Medicare Money?
Among the standard complaints about the American health care system is that care is expensive and wasteful. These two problems are related, and to address them, Medicare has new ways to pay for care. Until recently, Medicare paid for each health care service and reimbursed each health care organization separately. It didn’t matter if tests were duplicated or if a more efficient way of delivering care was available — as long as doctors and organizations were paid for what they did, they just kept providing care the way they always had. (Austin Frakt, 9/17)
Apple’s Watch And The Future Of Medical Care
Many practicing physicians like me are therefore glad to see the release of the new Apple Watch Series 4, which includes health applications that monitor not just your heart rate but also whether you are breathing properly or not. An alert that you aren’t breathing properly can be very useful for sleep apnea and chronic lung conditions, such as COPD, or even for overdose victims of medications (including opioids) that suppress breathing. Another application of the watch uses Siri to automatically call 911 if you fall and remain unmoving for more than one minute. I am concerned this feature could prompt an overreaction, if you decide to rest or collect yourself before rising. On the other hand, it is bound to save lives if the fall is due to a blackout, seizure or stroke. (Marc Siegel, 9/16)
The Detroit News:
Better Community Health Leads To Better Individual Health
Not every health care problem can be addressed with a prescription pad. In fact, we know that a person’s health is more often influenced by the health of – and how they interact with – their community. ...For example, a recent study by WalletHub found that Detroit is the most stressed out city in the United States. Many people might not think about the link between stress and health, but research shows that long-term stress seriously affects a person’s long-term well-being. Solving such health concerns can’t be done alone. Health insurers must keep working hand-in-hand with hospitals, doctors, community leaders and employers to build healthier communities. (Terri Kline, 9/16)
The New York Times:
Many Ways To Be A Girl, But One Way To Be A Boy: The New Gender Rules
Girls have been told they can be anything they want to be, and it shows. They are seizing opportunities closed to previous generations — in science, math, sports and leadership. But they’re also getting another message: What they look like matters more than any of that. Boys seem to have been largely left out of the conversation about gender equality. Even as girls’ options have opened up, boys’ lives are still constricted by traditional gender norms: being strong, athletic and stoic. (Claire Cain Miller, 9/14)
Police Brutality Is Damaging Black Community's Mental Health
Boston University and University of Pennsylvania researchers concluded that their findings support “recent calls to treat police killings as a public health issue.” They noted that failure to do so produces mental health issues and health problems: “The observed adverse mental health spillover effects of police killings of unarmed black Americans could result from heightened perceptions of threat and vulnerability, lack of fairness, lower social status, lower beliefs about one’s own worth, activation of prior traumas, and identification with the deceased.” We suggest going a step further and incorporating a public health perspective into 21st-century policing. (Lisa H. Thurau and Johanna Wald, 9/15)
The New York Times:
23andMe Said He Would Lose His Mind. Ancestry Said The Opposite. Which Was Right?
In many ways, Matt Fender, a 32-year-old resident of New York City, is the prototypical 23andMe customer: tech-savvy, educated, a bit of a worrier. But he wasn’t worried last December when he clicked a button to dump all the raw data from his 23andMe genetic test into a DNA search engine called Promethease, which sorts through data for gene variants that have received a mention in the medical literature. Mr. Fender didn’t expect any revelations. He had already spent $5 on a Promethease report in 2016, which he’d found interesting but not life changing. But the company had recently emailed customers asking them to re-enter their data to be used for future research and quality control. In return, they were offered a free update. (Laura Hercher, 9/15)
Changing The Dialogue Around Suicide
Suicide has increased nearly 30 percent since the turn of the century and is at an all time high. The numbers prove that it is a problem, but how might suicide be considered a public health issue? (Hannah Kemble, 9/14)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
The Death Penalty Isn't Really A Conservative Ideal
Fondness for (or at least tolerance of) capital punishment is a position usually associated with conservatives. Yet, the entire concept of the state executing a human being flies in the face of conservative principles. With good reason, we express doubt that the government can get it right with health care, road construction or, let's face it, dog catching. (Maggie Brady, 9/16)
Taxing Distribution Of Opioids Doesn't Spell End Of Epidemic
As we continue debating the best policies to reduce addiction, it’s extremely important that we are intentional about the outcomes, and cautiously consider the unintended consequences of the actions we take. I, for one, am concerned about my fellow lawmakers renewing interest in legislation that imposes new taxes on the distribution of opioids – similar to the proposal that failed for good reason last legislative session. (Kim Moser, 9/14)
San Jose Mercury News:
Prop. 3 Is Pay-To-Play Water Bond For Billionaires
Proposition 3 is an irresponsible approach to California’s water problems. The nearly $8.9 billion bond was crafted behind-the-scenes, contains critical elements that could directly harm the environment and turns important water policies on their head. (Eric Parfrey, 9/15)