Longer Looks: Drug Withdrawal, Accessing Your Doctor’s Notes; ‘Good’ Abortions?
Each week KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The Boston Globe: When Withdrawal Is The Hardest Part
Doctors say benzodiazepines are effective for short-term stress, as in the days following the death of a loved one or another emotionally difficult event. But problems can arise when use continues for more than a few weeks. The federal Food and Drug Administration requires warning labels that describe dependency risks — the Ativan label lists 35 reported withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, and seizures. But doctors and patients say physicians often prescribe benzodiazepines with no discussion of the dangers and the drugs' declining effectiveness over time (Jeremy C. Fox, 9/8).
Reason.com: Are Republican Going Soft On Obamacare?
In March of last year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stood on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference and declared that "Obamacare should be repealed root and branch." But in May, when he was asked about whether Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, Kynect—the local face of Obamacare—should be dismantled, he insisted that the two weren't related. "I think that's unconnected to my comments about the overall questions here," he said. More recently, when McConnell was questioned by The New York Times about what to do with people in his home state who now receive coverage through the law’s Medicaid expansion, he responded, "I don’t know that it will be taken away from them" (Peter Suderman, 9/5).
The California Health Report: Reading Your Doctor's Notes
Patients across California now have easier access to their medication lists, lab results, upcoming appointments and messaging through secure online systems. But one key aspect of the medical record is not typically available online: the candid notes a physician writes about you during and after an appointment. Those notes are part of a patient's medical record and include anything from descriptions of a patient's demeanor to diagnosis and treatment plans. ... As electronic medical records become more widespread, a movement to grant patients more immediate online access to those notes is gaining momentum nationwide. Numerous health systems across the country are testing the concept, despite hesitation from some caregivers who fear full online transparency might leave patients unnecessarily worried or confused (Kellie Schmitt, 9/4).
Modern Healthcare: IT Entrepreneurs Rush Into Healthcare, But Will Human Touch Be Missing?
The vision of providing better, faster, cheaper and more consumer-friendly healthcare is shared by many digital health and telehealth startups. Such health IT companies have received $2.3 billion in investment money the first half of this year, according to a report from digital health accelerator Rock Health. These entrepreneurs are seeking to take advantage of a number of trends in U.S. healthcare, including more consumer cost-sharing and greater accountability by healthcare providers for costs and outcomes. Still, shifting healthcare services to the digital realm involves new challenges in ensuring quality and appropriate utilization (Darius Tahir, 9/6).
The Daily Beast: Wendy Davis And The 'Good Abortion' Myth
When female politicians like [Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy] Davis describe their abortions, they generally fit this narrative: a tortured, loving mother acting out of almost pure medical necessity. After Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) revealed on the House floor that she'd had an abortion, she made it abundantly clear that it was due to the fact the fetus "could not survive." Her candor was a purposeful rebuke to Republican accusations that abortion is "a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly, or done without any thought," she said. Her speech was powerful—and it also conveyed the attitude that abortion wasn't a real choice for her. ... But there are also many reasons for having abortions that generate far more judgment and stigma (Emily Shire, 9/10).
PBS Newshour: What Is The Best Strategy For Taking Care Of Your Aging Parents At Home?
When Barbara T. made her usual Sunday visit to her mother, she was alarmed to see her 80-year-old mom with a black eye and large bruises on her arm. She had tripped on the stairs. Fortunately, she was not seriously injured, at least not this time. ... She had lived alone since her husband died three years before, and she was having trouble managing the upkeep of the family home. Clearly, Barbara thought, something needed to change. ... Barbara’s first instinct was to suggest that her mother move in with her and her family (Bonnie Lawrence, 9/4).
The New York Times' Upshot blog: Baby's Drug Co-Pay Jumps, And A Health Reporter Is Stumped
It's not easy being an educated health care consumer. I was reminded of this when I went to refill a prescription this month for an asthma and allergy medication for my 9-month-old son, Holden. The first time I filled his prescription for Montelukast granules — the generic version of Singulair from Merck — my insurance co-payment was $15. A month later, the co-payment had risen to $30 (and my insurance was paying $85.94, rather than $118.53). Why? My insurance coverage hadn't changed. My son's prescription hadn't changed. Our pharmacy was the same. Why was I now asked to pay twice as much out of pocket? (Charles Ornstein, 8/29).