Viewpoints: Zika Virus Raises Questions About Pandemic Readiness; Cheers And Jeers For Obamacare
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
We're Not Ready For Next Zika Virus
In the aftermath of the anthrax attacks of 2001, the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and now Zika, it is no longer a question of if but when the next biosecurity threat will occur. In fact, experts believe a pandemic, not nuclear terrorism or climate change, is most likely to cause 10 million or more deaths in a single event. (Tom Daschle and Ron Klain, 4/26)
JAMA Forum: Reports Of Obamacare’S Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated
Recent developments have once again prompted some to declare that the insurance marketplaces developed as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are unsustainable and collapsing. And once again, these reports are overstated. What has prompted this latest round of recriminations is the report that UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest health insurance company, will be pulling out of the ACA’s marketplaces except in a “handful of states” in 2017. The company cites financial losses in its plans sold to individuals as the impetus for its withdrawal. The insurer is still quite profitable overall, earning $3 billion in operating profits in the first quarter of 2016. (Larry Levitt, 4/26)
Obamacare’s Taxpayer-Subsidized Failure
Here’s some bad news for the insurance industry: Unexpectedly generous corporate subsidies didn’t save companies selling Obamacare policies from bleeding red ink. The worse news: Those subsidies are set to expire in 2017, meaning that insurers will have to make ends meet without billions in handouts. (Doug Badger, 4/26)
Des Moines Register:
Repeal Obamacare And Replace With ... Nothing?
It has been more than six years since the Affordable Care Act became law. During that time, Republicans in the U.S. House have voted dozens of times to repeal, defund or dismantle it. Never have they voted on a bill to replace the health reform law. Now we know why: They’re still working on coming up with a plan. (4/26)
The New York Times:
Don’t Blame Silicon Valley For Theranos
Three years ago, Walgreens (b. 1901) arrived in Silicon Valley for the same reason many old economy companies do: to hurry and join the digital vanguard before it was left behind. Walgreens quickly made a deal with Theranos (b. 2004), the medical diagnostics company and media darling that promised a revolutionary approach to blood tests. (Randall Stross, 4/27)
Trump Wins Big In States With High Disability Rates
The $150 billion federal disability program is a mess. It almost went broke (Congress had to give it an emergency infusion). It discourages employment and can be gamed. But woe to the office-seeker who tries to fix it. (Paula Dwyer, 4/26)
Capping The Tax Exclusion Will Not Destroy Employer Health Insurance
If we hope to move to an efficient healthcare system that is fair to everyone, Congress will have to take on the largest subsidy in the tax code. Despite strong opposition from unions and employers, it is possible to reform the tax break for employment-based health insurance without destroying that market. (Joseph Antos, 4/26)
Hospitals Prosper On Commercial Payers As Medicare Margins Sink To -9%
Margins on hospital Medicare business are expected to deteriorate this year, bottoming out at a negative 9% on average, according to a report by the commission that advises Congress on Medicare payments. But the good news is that hospitals are making healthy profits and surpluses overall on the strength of productivity gains, cost-cutting and their commercial business, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission said in a little-reported study in March. (Dave Barkhotz, 4/26)
I Told My Story About Racism In Medical School. Here'S What Readers Taught Me.
I remember driving to the hospital with my mother when I was 6 or 7. We pulled up to the physician parking lot, but the attendant refused to open the gate, telling my mother the lot was for physicians only. “I am a physician,” she said, “and I work here.” (Jennifer Adaeze Anyaegbunaum, 4/27)
The Washington Post:
Want To Know What It’s Really Like To Have A Child With Autism?
I’m not always the best spokeswoman for autism. I toggle between wanting people to understand our daughter and wanting to behave like a normal family running errands on a Saturday. Some days I don’t feel like having to explain to strangers in line at the grocery store that she doesn’t speak, or having to identify myself at a school board meeting as a parent of a special-needs child. (Katherine Osnos Sanford, 4/26)
The Washington Post:
House GOP Conference Chair: Wait Time Is Up For VA Fix
Imagine a veterans’ hospital with no waiting list to see a doctor. One where veterans can book their appointments online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Where the red carpet is rolled out for our heroes to receive world-class care for their world-class service the very next day — before it’s too late. And where the men and women who accepted the call of duty can choose to continue seeing the doctor they’ve seen their entire lives. (Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, 4/26)
The Arizona Republic:
Quit Stalling And Pass KidsCare
KidsCare is not a trap or a trick or part of some sinister federal strategy to undermine Arizona’s independence. It is a trip to the doctor for a sick child. It is a well-baby check for an infant. It is ongoing care for a chronic childhood ailment, like asthma. (4/26)
The Arizona Republic:
Tax Cuts For Business; No Health Care For Poor Kids - #Priorities?
You knew this was coming. The governor promised tax cuts so there were going to be some form of tax cuts, no matter what. Perhaps because somewhere down the line when he is running for something else he'll be able to say he cut taxes. (E.J. Montini, 4/26)
Lexington Herald Leader:
Insurers Must Cover Treatment For Eating Disorders
Up to 30 million Americans are suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. Kentucky is 25th in the nation, with approximately 149,000 individuals afflicted with such devastating disorders. For those seeking treatment, there are zero inpatient facilities and there is only one outpatient therapy program in this state. (Kristy Klueh, 4/26)
The Washington Post:
The Paradox At The Heart Of Our Marijuana Laws — And How To Fix It
As Congress and the Drug Enforcement Administration weigh whether marijuana should be rescheduled, public faith in the drug classification system continues to erode. Debate rages between those who emphasize the strangeness of marijuana being on the highly restrictive Schedule I alongside far more harmful drugs like heroin, and those who emphasize how strange it would be to put crude plant matter on a less restrictive schedule alongside well-specified FDA-approved medications. (Keith Humphreys, 4/26)