- Kaiser Health News Original Stories 1
- Want To Reduce Suicides? Follow The Data — To Medical Offices, Motels And Even Animal Shelters
- Political Cartoon: 'For the Soul?'
- Elections 1
- UAW Strike Points To Divide Among Union Groups -- And Democratic Candidates -- On Health Care Policies
- Capitol Hill Watch 1
- Aggressive Lobbying Effort Creating A Drag On Legislative Momentum Behind Surprise Medical Bills
- Medicare 1
- Medicare's Effort To Pay For Value Instead Of Volume Is Popular But Questions Remain About Effectiveness
- Public Health And Education 4
- Retail Giant Walmart Announces Plan To Stop Selling E-Cigarettes
- FDA Tells San Francisco Official It Is Probing Whether Juul's Political Ads Violate Rules On Tobacco Claims
- 'No One Is Impervious:' College Counselor's Suicide Sends Up Warning About Importance Of Professionals Also Seeking Help
- 'Closely Associated With People:' Species Of Mosquitoes That Can Transmit Zika Is Spreading Out In Parts Of California, Health Official Warns
- Opioid Crisis 1
- Lack Of Urgency: Former U.S. Senator Discusses Surprise About Early Failures By Congress To Fight Rise Of Fentanyl Deaths
- State Watch 4
- Jury Selection To Start In California's Antitrust Lawsuit Against Sutter Health
- Fierce Behind-The-Scenes Fight Over California's Vaccine Law Centered On Governor
- Legal Challenge To Georgia's 'Heartbeat Bill' To Kick Off In Court
- State Highlights: Nurses Strike At 12 Tenet Healthcare Hospitals; Fla. Seeks Increase In Funding For Health And Social Service Programs
From Kaiser Health News - Latest Stories:
An Oregon epidemiologist is using data to find patterns in suicides, then offering prevention training at the motels where people keep taking their lives, the animal shelter where they give away their pets, the pain clinics where patients struggle. Her model is spreading to New York, California and elsewhere. (Maureen O’Hagan, 9/23)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'For the Soul?'" by Mike Peters.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
A LITTLE BIT OF THIS, A LITTLE OF THAT... WILL THAT CREATE MOMENTUM FOR PELOSI PUSH TO LOWER DRUG COSTS?
What's happening here?
Take a look at what's behind
Pelosi's drug plan.
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Summaries Of The News:
Members of the United Auto Workers union pay about 3% of the total cost of their health care and members say they are eager to keep those benefits. But some Democratic candidates and other unions are calling for revamping U.S. health care and moving to a government-funded system. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders is calling for eliminating medical debt.
Many Union Workers Really Love Their Health Benefits. That's A Problem For Bernie Sanders.
Health care benefits are really important to many union workers -- important enough to give up pay raises or even to walk off the job to keep the coverage they've negotiated. Now the future of those benefits is at the heart of an emerging split among 2020 Democratic candidates over how to remake American health care. Former Vice President Joe Biden says union members shouldn't have to give up their employer plans if they like them, while Sen. Bernie Sanders is arguing that union workers would still come out ahead under "Medicare for All," which would shift all Americans into a government-run plan. (Luhby, 9/22)
'Truly Saved My Life': GM Workers On Strike Fight For Benefits As Automaker's Profits Soar
For Brad Heitz, the General Motors strike couldn't be more personal. He credits the health insurance plans the United Auto Workers won from the automaker with saving his life – and worries those kinds of benefits could start disappearing if the strike isn't successful. "If it weren't for the UAW, I don't think I would be alive right now," said Heitz, who works at the GM plant producing Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups and Chevy Express and GMC Savana vans in Wentzville, Missouri. (Woodyard, Sauber and Martinez, 9/20)
The New York Times:
Warren And Biden Join U.A.W. Picket Lines As Democrats Use Strike To Court Labor
The Democratic presidential candidates have been chasing labor support all summer, appearing at small union halls and large conferences, and tweeting support for workers at companies like Amazon and Walmart. But now, as the United Automobile Workers, one of the nation’s largest unions, stages a strike that has even drawn words of support from President Trump, Democrats are seizing the moment to align themselves with workers in public and dramatic ways. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts walked the picket line Sunday alongside striking General Motors workers at an assembly plant in Detroit. Not to be outdone, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared at another G.M. assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan. (Saul, 9/22)
Are GM Employees On Disability Still Getting Health Care?
But as tens of thousands of GM workers across the U.S. strike for their continued health care benefits, job security and a path to permanent employment for temporary workers, Keller is getting conflicting messages from his employer and his insurance provider, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. GM canceled health care coverage for employees on strike earlier this week, despite an earlier understanding that employees would be insured through September. But those who were on disability leave before the strike should still be covered, according to the company. (Sauber, 9/20)
Also heard on the campaign trail -
The New York Times:
Bernie Sanders Calls For Eliminating Americans’ Medical Debt
Bernie Sanders has long wanted to remake the health care system so no one will have to pay directly for medical care again. Now, he also wants to go back and cancel all the medical debts of people who have been billed under the current system. In a plan released Saturday, Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator and presidential candidate, proposes wiping out an estimated $81 billion in existing debt and changing rules around debt collection and bankruptcy. He also calls for replacing the giant credit reporting agencies with a “public credit registry” that would ignore medical debt when calculating credit scores. (Sanger-Katz and Ember, 9/21)
Sanders Unveils Plan To Eliminate Americans' Medical Debt
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday released a plan that seeks to cancel $81 billion in past-due medical bills for Americans. “The very concept of medical debt should not exist,” Sanders said in a statement. “In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, one illness or disease should not ruin a family’s financial life and future." (Axelrod, 9/21)
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Voters Support Expanding Medicare But Not Eliminating Private Health Insurance
Democratic presidential candidates are presenting policy ideas that are broadly popular with Americans, including tuition-free state colleges, but other proposals—such as Medicare for All—could complicate the party’s prospects next year, the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows. Two-thirds of registered voters support letting anyone buy into Medicare, similar to an idea that former Vice President Joe Biden and some other Democratic candidates have proposed. (McCormick, 9/22)
Poll: Voters Back Medicare Expansion, Keeping Private Insurance
The majority of voters in a new poll supports a health care plan that would expand a public option but maintain the private insurance industry. Sixty-seven percent of registered voters support allowing people under 65 to have an option to buy health care coverage through a Medicare program, while keeping private insurance options available, according to the Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll released Sunday. (Klar, 9/22)
Some state governments and health organizations are asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to block the administration's rule, which prohibits health care providers who take federal money for family planning services from referring patients to abortion providers. Outlets also report on the impact of the "public charge" policy and another court case that could affect HHS’s plans to tighten requirements for hospitals to release patients’ health records.
Trump Family Planning Rule Faces Crucial Court Test
Planned Parenthood, state governments and other health groups will be back in court Monday challenging the Trump administration’s changes to a federal family planning program. They’re asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to block a rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which bans federally funded family planning providers from referring women for abortions. (Hellmann, 9/22)
As Abortion 'Gag Rule' Lands In Court, States Seek Funding Fix
As the federal government defends a rule in appeals court Monday prohibiting health care providers who take federal money for family planning services from referring patients to abortion providers, some states that haven’t complied are making plans for continuing without the program. An 11-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit will hear arguments in San Francisco on Monday about whether the rule should be in effect during court challenges brought by 22 states and family planning providers like Planned Parenthood. (Fischler, 9/23)
And in news on other administration health policies --
Court Case Could Complicate HHS Push To Expand Patient Access To Health Records
A legal case involving a major records-retrieval company could complicate HHS’s plans to tighten requirements for hospitals to release patients’ health records quickly and cheaply. Ciox Health, which claims to work with 60 percent of the country's hospitals, has sued HHS in federal court, arguing that department requirements for low-cost delivery of medical records will tank its business model. If that happens, HIPAA experts warn, it could unsettle hospitals' use of records-retrieval companies as intermediaries for patients' and third parties' requests of medical data. (Tahir, 9/23)
The Associated Press:
AP FACT CHECK: Trump's Twisted Reality On Guns, Environment
President Donald Trump is twisting reality on gun control and the environment. Pressed over the weekend for his position on gun legislation, the president declined to answer whether he would support expanded background checks in the wake of deadly mass shootings and blamed Democrats in Congress for “doing nothing” on the issue. That’s not true. The Democratic-controlled House in February approved legislation, which has since stalled because the Senate hasn’t acted. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he won’t move on it or any gun legislation until Trump says what he wants. And on the environment, Trump and his team are dismissing the reality of stalled U.S. progress in air quality. In revoking California’s authority to set stricter fuel economy standards on cars than Washington, they claimed that more lenient rules would be “good” for the environment. His administration’s data show otherwise. (Yen, Borenstein and Woodward, 9/23)
Doctors Patient Unity, one of the groups which has been out front in efforts against a legislative approach to protect patients from surprise medical bills, has spent $28 million on ads targeting states where key senators are running for reelection. The role of air ambulances and their charges are also playing a role in this debate.
The CT Mirror:
Lobbying War Stalls Congress' Attempt To End 'Surprise Medical Bills'
President Donald Trump has said the practice of surprise billing “must end.” Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress back legislation that would do just that, shielding patients from everything but the deductible and co-payments their insurance requires. And before its summer recess, Congress seemed poised to pass legislation addressing surprise medical billing. (Radelat, 9/20)
Seen Those Ads Asking You To Call Tina Smith On Surprise Medical Bills? Here’s What They Are About.
In recent weeks, Minnesota television viewers have been blitzed with ads urging them to tell U.S. Sen. Tina Smith to oppose “government rate setting” for payments to doctors and hospitals. The group behind the ads, Doctor Patient Unity, spent more than $28 million to air them in states where senators are running for re-election next year, including $2 million targeting Smith, the New York Times reported last week. The sources of that money were a mystery. Doctor Patient Unity is a so-called “dark money” political action group that doesn’t list its members or disclose its donors. (Salisbury, 9/20)
Air Ambulance Services Face Scrutiny Over Surprise Billing Issues
Over two-thirds of air ambulance rides in 2017 were out of network, according to a March 2019 Government Accountability Office report. The median price for air ambulance transport in a helicopter in 2017 was $36,400, the GAO found. Even if insurance does cover some of that cost, a consumer can still face tens of thousands of dollars in unexpected bills for what’s left — a practice known as balance billing. Congress is trying to address that issue as part of a broader effort to rein in so-called surprise medical bills, which patients receive for care their insurer won’t cover, either for emergency services or by providers they may not choose, like an anesthesiologist or radiologist, even when a patient is at an in-network facility. (McIntire, 9/23)
Also in the news about action on Capitol Hill -
Pelosi Rejects 'Socialist' Attacks On Her Prescription Drug Bill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled legislation this week that would give the federal government sweeping new authority to regulate and lower the cost of prescription drugs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declared the bill dead on arrival and told Politico it amounts to "socialist price controls." In an exclusive interview with NPR, Pelosi suggested McConnell was in "the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry" and noted that President Trump shares her view that negotiating drug prices is good policy. "As the president said in the course of his run for office and since: 'We're going to negotiate like crazy. We're going to negotiate like crazy.' So perhaps Mitch is talking about the president, as well." (Davis, 9/20)
The Affordable Care Act sought to encourage more services that improved health. But experts are divided on whether the efforts are working.
The New York Times:
‘Value’ Of Care Was A Big Goal. How Did It Work Out?
For most of its history, Medicare paid for health care in ways that encouraged more services — whether they improved health or not. Critics called it an emphasis on volume, not value. The Affordable Care Act was intended to change that, and Medicare started a number of programs to do so, including several new ones this year. Nearly a decade after passage of the A.C.A., is value-based payment working? (Frakt, 9/23)
Medicare Quality Measures Need Improvement, Says GAO
CMS quality measures might not indicate the actual care patients receive, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. The GAO studied how the agency decides what quality measures to develop and use. It also evaluated how the CMS monitors its funding for quality measurement activities. The watchdog found that the CMS doesn't have processes to make sure that the indicators actually measure what the agency says it cares about in its strategic objectives. (Brady, 9/20)
The nation's largest retailer often sets an example for other companies. The move comes as concern grows about the health risks of the products and their soaring popularity among teenagers.
The Associated Press:
Walmart To Quit Selling E-Cigarettes Amid Vaping Backlash
Walmart is getting out of the vaping business. The nation’s largest retailer said Friday that it will stop selling electronic cigarettes at its namesake stores and Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. when it sells out its current inventory. (D'Innocenzio, 9/20)
The New York Times:
Walmart To End Sales Of E-Cigarettes As Vaping Concerns Mount
The decision by Walmart comes amid a drumbeat of new reports about the potential health risks of vaping that has made parents, doctors and government officials increasingly wary of the products, which are marketed as smoking-cessation devices. Vaping products account for only a small portion of Walmart’s revenue, but e-cigarette shoppers tend to be younger and more loyal customers who shop regularly and often buy other items when they come to replenish their vaping supplies. (Yaffe-Bellany, Corkery and Kaplan, 9/20)
Walmart Ban Shows Vaping’s Fall From Smoking Fix To Health Scare
Vaping has also been at the center of a growing controversy over what U.S. regulators have described as an epidemic of underage use. Last week, the Trump administration said it would take steps to remove almost all flavored e-cigarette products from the market, pending their approval by the Food and Drug Administration. (Boyle and Annett, 9/23)
Walmart To Stop Selling E-Cigarettes Amid Health Worries Over Vaping
Walmart joins several other corporations limiting the reach of e-cigarettes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was investigating more than 450 cases of a lung disease linked to vaping. Media giants Viacom, CBS and WarnerMedia all revealed this week that they would stop running advertisements for e-cigarettes. (Molina, 9/20)
Walmart To Stop Selling E-Cigarettes
Earlier this year, Walmart told regulators that it would raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21 and that it would stop selling fruit- and dessert-flavored e-cigarettes. Vaping products are only a part of Walmart's tobacco offerings, which include cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Pharmacy chains Rite Aid and Walgreens this year also raised the tobacco-buying age to 21. Rite Aid said in April that it would stop selling e-cigarettes and vaping products. CVS stopped selling all tobacco products in 2014. (Selyukh, 9/20)
Online sales of some illicit cannabis-vaping products is growing.
The Wall Street Journal:
Sales Of Illicit Vaping Products Find Home Online
As concerns about the health hazards of vaping mount, a market for illicit cannabis-vaping products and the tools to create counterfeits is thriving online. On Instagram, users offer products ranging from cannabis oils to vaping devices and packaging materials. On Amazon.com Inc., third-party sellers hawk empty packaging for vape products, and on Facebook Inc.’s Marketplace, sellers offer vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering ingredient in cannabis. (Hernandez, 9/20)
The director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, Mitchell Zeller, told San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton’s office that the agency will review materials put out by a campaign committee funded by Juul as part of the company's efforts to overturn the city's e-cigarette sales ban. Also in the news are articles about the prevalence of e-cigs in schools and how parents can talk to their kids about vaping.
San Francisco Chronicle:
FDA To Investigate Juul Over SF Ads Claiming Vaping Is Safer Than Cigarettes
The Food and Drug Administration will investigate whether Juul is illegally claiming that vaping products are safer than cigarettes in political ads for Proposition C — the San Francisco ballot measure seeking to overturn the city’s e-cigarettes sales ban — without having received the agency’s authorization to make such claims. Under federal law, tobacco manufacturers including Juul and other e-cigarette makers cannot claim their products are less harmful than cigarettes, or claim that they help people quit cigarettes, unless the FDA has granted them permission after reviewing scientific evidence showing the claims are true. (Ho, 9/21)
The Wall Street Journal:
Juul Tried To Position Itself As A Responsible Actor. It Backfired.
Juul Labs Inc. pursued a strategy to win over Washington. But the e-cigarette maker wound up further alienating regulators, helping to thrust the once-soaring startup into a crisis that threatens its business. Facing scrutiny stemming from surging teen use of its vaporizers, Juul has tried over the past year to position itself as a responsible actor in an industry with few rules. It overhauled its marketing, halted retail-store sales of its fruity flavors that young people favor and introduced a checkout system to curb illegal sales to minors. But other steps it took backfired and contributed to a perception in Washington that Juul was on the wrong side of a public health crisis. (Maloney and Armour, 9/22)
The New York Times:
At School, ‘Everyone Vapes,’ And Adults Are In Crisis Mode
In Alabama, a school removed the doors from bathroom stalls to stop students from sneaking inside to vape. In Colorado, a school decided to forfeit a volleyball game after finding “widespread vaping” and other infractions by the team. And in Pennsylvania, at a school where administrators have tried installing sensors to detect vaping in bathrooms and locker rooms, students caught with vape devices face a $50 fine and a three-day suspension. At least 530 people have been sickened by mysterious lung illnesses related to using e-cigarettes with nicotine or vaping THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and at least eight have died. That has sent high schools, the epicenters of youth vaping, racing to give teenagers a new, urgent message: Vaping can be deadly. (Bosman, 9/20)
How One School Is Tackling The Youth Vaping Epidemic
The new flavoring bans are meant to reduce the allure of nicotine-laced vaping liquids for kids, and federal announcements and media coverage of the health risks to youths who vape aim to discourage them from experimenting with the addictive substance. But research shows that fear doesn’t work when it comes to preventing adolescents from engaging in risky behavior. In fact, it may attract them. It’s hard to convince adolescents that vaping is dangerous if they see their teachers and parents doing it. And selling vaping products to kids under 18 is already against the law in all 50 states. (Vestal, 9/23)
The Wall Street Journal:
Getting Through To Your Teen About The Dangers Of Vaping
How can parents convince their children not to vape? The question has taken on new urgency. ... Vaping’s new dangers and ubiquity at high schools—and even middle schools—is causing understandable parental concern. But parents need to be strategic when talking to their children about e-cigarettes, psychologists and pediatricians say. Here are some tips. (Petersen, 9/21)
The Wall Street Journal:
What We Know About Vaping-Related Lung Illness
Health officials are investigating 530 confirmed and probable cases of pulmonary illness in the U.S. related to vaping and e-cigarette products. The illnesses are spread across 38 states and one U.S. territory .... Many doctors and health officials are urging people to stop vaping during the investigation. President Trump has said the administration plans to ban all non-tobacco-flavored vaping products from the market. Here is what health officials know so far about the condition. (Abbott, 9/20)
Q&A With Donna Shalala On E-Cigarettes
Hundreds of Americans have become sick and eight have died after using electronic cigarettes, prompting a bipartisan response in Washington. President Donald Trump on Sept. 11 called for a ban on the flavorings believed to attract young people to the devices. But Donna E. Shalala, a freshman representative from Miami, says Congress needs to do more. Shalala, who was Health and Human Services secretary under President Bill Clinton, has teamed with a fellow Democrat, Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, on a bill (HR 2339) that would raise the age to buy e-cigarettes, and any tobacco product, from 18 to 21, and add other restrictions aimed at keeping young people from getting hooked on nicotine. (Zeller, 9/23)
King County Confirms 2nd Severe Lung-Disease Case Connected To Vaping
Local health officials have confirmed a second case of severe lung disease associated with vaping in King County, as reports of the illness climb across the nation. A woman in her 30s was admitted to a King County hospital in mid-September with shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, according to a statement Friday from Public Health – Seattle & King County. The woman has since been released from the hospital and is recovering. (Clarridge and Fields, 9/21)
The Associated Press:
2 Vaping Companies Settle LA Suit, Won't Sell To Minors
Two vaping companies have agreed not to promote their products to minors under a settlement with Los Angeles prosecutors. The city attorney’s office announced a lawsuit settlement Friday with NEwhere Inc. and VapeCo Distribution LLC. The LA-based companies also will pay $350,000 in fines. LA accused the firms of using marketing that promotes youth consumption of tobacco and selling vaping products online without proper age verification. (9/20)
The suicide earlier this month of University of Pennsylvania counseling center director Dr. Gregory Eells stunned many professionals, but a closer look reveals the challenges facing mental health counselors. "...For a lot of us it's hard to even try to reach out for that care and to have that place to reach out to," said Jodi Caldwell, director of Georgia Southern University's counseling center. News on suicide prevention is on studying the statistics, as well.
Who Helps The Caregiver? Penn Counselor's Suicide Highlights How Experts Aren't Immune From Struggles
When University of Pennsylvania counseling center director Dr. Gregory Eells died by suicide earlier this month, many expressed shock that the tragedy involved an expert in the field of mental health. But college counseling directors nationwide say they can face a struggle to seek help and support amid mounting pressures in their jobs. Their message? No one is immune to the public health issue of suicide. (Cohen, 9/21)
Kaiser Health News:
Want To Reduce Suicides? Follow The Data — To Medical Offices, Motels And Even Animal Shelters
As the Washington County epidemiologist, [Kimberly Repp] was most accustomed to studying infectious diseases like flu or norovirus outbreaks among the living. But in 2012 she was asked by county officials to look at suicide. The request led her into the world of death investigations, and also appears to have led to something remarkable: In this suburban county of 600,000 just west of Portland, the suicide rate now is going down. It’s remarkable because national suicide rates have risen despite decades-long efforts to reverse the deadly trend. While many factors contribute to suicide, officials here believe they’ve chipped away at this problem through Repp’s initiative to use data — very localized data that any jurisdiction could collect. Now Repp’s mission is to help others learn how to gather and use it. (O'Hagan, 9/23)
California health officials are monitoring aggressive and invasive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. In New Hampshire, officials warn about the spread of the mosquitoes carrying the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus. Public health news is on weedkillers, sickle cell disease, pancreatic cancer, food safety, cesarean deliveries, and a smoking ban at VA facilities, as well.
Citrus Heights: Mosquito Species That Can Carry Zika Detected
A species of invasive mosquitoes that have the potential to transmit Zika virus and other diseases has been detected in Citrus Heights twice in the past month, the regional mosquito and vector control district said Friday. Aggressive and invasive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, aka Yellow Fever mosquitoes, were recently detected north of Antelope Road and west of Interstate 80, according to a news release by the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District – not far from Antelope and the Sacramento-Placer county line. (McGough, 9/20)
New Hampshire Union Leader:
EEE Found In A Second Manchester Mosquito Batch
City health officials found mosquitoes infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis on Sept. 16.Infected mosquitoes have been found over the past two months in Candia, Sandown, Pelham and Hampstead. This is the second time EEE-carrying mosquitoes have been found in Manchester. No human cases of EEE have been reported in New Hampshire. A horse in Northwood was infected in August, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. (9/20)
The New York Times:
Roundup Weedkiller Is Blamed For Cancers, But Farmers Say It’s Not Going Away
From his farm in northwestern Wisconsin, Andy Bensend watched as first one jury, then another and another, delivered staggering multimillion-dollar verdicts to people who argued that their use of a weedkiller sold at nearly every hardware and home-improvement store had caused their cancer. Mr. Bensend has been using that product, Roundup, on his 5,000 acres for 40 years, but he said that those blockbuster awards would not alter his farm practices one whit. Neither would the 20,000 lawsuits still pending. (Cohen, 9/20)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Hope, Frustration Mark New Era Of Sickle Cell Disease
The coming decade may completely transform treatment for sickle cell disease. More than a dozen new drugs are in various stages of development to treat the inherited blood disorder — some may be on the market as early as next year. Scientists harnessing gene editing and stem cell tools are working on cures too, some of which already seem to be working for a handful of patients around the country.But for many of the tens of thousands of people living with sickle cell disease, excitement for what’s to come is tempered by the hardships they now face around basic access to care and fair, unbiased treatment. (Allday, 9/22)
The New York Times:
Why Can’t We Stop Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer, which will be diagnosed in about 56,770 people in the United States this year, is the only cancer with a rising mortality rate through 2014, although five-year survival has begun to inch up, from 8 percent to 9 percent by 2016. It remains the nation’s third leading cause of cancer deaths, after cancers of the lung and colon, and it is on track to overtake colon cancer within a decade. Three-fourths of people who develop pancreatic cancer die within a year of diagnosis, and only about one in 10 live five years or longer. Perhaps like me you’ve wondered why modern medicine has thus far failed to gain the upper hand against pancreatic cancer despite having achieved major survival advances for more common cancers like breast and colon. What follows is a large part of the answer. (Brody, 9/23)
Iowa Public Radio:
Critics Worry About Food Safety As Federal Meat Inspectors Face Work Overload, Burnout
A nine-month investigation by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found dozens of similar situations at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, with routine vacancies that leave the remaining federal food inspectors vulnerable to burnout, work overload and other job hazards. In several cases, employees in other roles are oftentimes forced to abandon their own job duties to cover the slaughter line inspections mandated for plants to operate. (Bachman and Stokes, 9/22)
The New York Times:
Exploring A Possible Link Between C-Sections And Autism
Cesarean delivery can save a baby — or a mother — at a moment of medical danger. However, cesarean births have been linked to an increased risk of various long-term health issues for both women and children, and a recent study shows an association between cesarean birth and the risk of developing autism or attention deficit disorder. The study, published in August in JAMA Network Open, was a meta-analysis. It looked at data from 61 previously published studies, which together included more than 20 million deliveries, and found that birth by cesarean section was associated with a 33 percent higher risk of autism and a 17 percent higher risk of attention deficit disorder. The increased risk was present for both planned and unplanned cesarean deliveries. (Klass, 9/23)
Smoke ’em If You Got ’em? Not At Today’s VA Facilities
The VA is rolling out a nationwide smoking ban at all its hospitals and medical centers beginning Oct. 1, a blanket prohibition that covers the grounds, parking lots, visiting cars, and even the designated “smoke shacks” where veterans congregate. But where VA officials see a long-needed ban for health reasons, many veterans — particularly older ones — see a hastily implemented change that will compound their stress, interfere with camaraderie, and be difficult to enforce. (MacQuarrie, 9/22)
Meanwhile, The Baltimore Sun reports that while deaths from opioids dropped overall in Maryland, Baltimore has been largely left behind. News about the opioid crisis is on litigation against the the drug makers and distributors and misinformation about anti-overdose medication, as well.
The Washington Post:
How Congress Failed To Act On The Fentanyl Epidemic Despite Dire Warnings
[Sen. Kelly] Ayotte almost immediately ran into a roadblock. The Senate was attempting to pass a sweeping criminal justice reform bill that would overhaul sentencing for drugs, including shortening the duration of mandatory sentences. Some thought Ayotte’s bill would clash with the effort and possibly imperil the bill’s passage. The fentanyl-related bills never received a vote. An early warning about fentanyl went unheeded. “Who is for fentanyl?” Ayotte said in a recent interview, recalling her frustration with Washington’s lack of urgency as the drug emerged as a widespread killer. “Fentanyl has not truly been dealt with. There are still people who are dying from it.” (Zezima and Itkowitz, 9/20)
The Baltimore Sun:
Three Things We Learned From Maryland’s Latest Drug And Alcohol Deaths Report
When state officials released their report this week on the number of people who have died from drug and alcohol overdoses from January to June, much of the focus was on the fact that the state was seeing another dip in fatal opioid overdoses after years of seeing the problem get worse. But while the state is touting an 11% reduction in opioid overdose deaths when compared with the same period last year, a deeper look into the numbers finds that the recovery is largely being felt in Maryland’s suburbs and not in Baltimore, where authorities say the majority of drugs in the region originate from. (Davis, 9/20)
The Washington Post:
The Opioid Litigation Has More Than 2000 Plaintiffs. Here’s What That Involves.
More than 2,000 state, local and tribal governments are suing two dozen pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, arguing that they’ve helped create an opioid crisis that has claimed hundreds of thousands of American lives. The suits include claims that the industry misled doctors and consumers about the drugs’ safety and negligently allowed opioids to fall into the wrong hands. Most of the litigation has been consolidated in federal district court in Ohio, where trial is set to begin Oct. 21. The government plaintiffs agree that the industry is complicit in the crisis, but the public officials involved disagree on a variety of issues. Several state attorneys general recently criticized the tentative deal between most of the government plaintiffs and OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma. The states and localities have also tangled over who will control the litigation. Why are we seeing these conflicts, and where is this litigation likely to go next? (Provost and Nolette, 9/21)
Hennepin County Attorney Statement On Narcan Alarms Overdose-Prevention Advocates
A statement posted Thursday night on the Hennepin County attorney’s website sparked outrage in the overdose prevention and drug recovery communities. Advocates and physicians say the prosecutor’s office mischaracterized the anti-overdose medication Narcan, and that the agency’s words could cause people to fear the life-saving medication. (Collins, 9/20)
Murphy Administration To Spend $8M On MAT In County Jails
New Jersey will deploy $8 million to make medication assisted treatment available to opioid use disorder patients being held at county correctional facilities, the Murphy administration announced Friday. ...The state Department of Health has estimated that 70 percent to 80 percent of New Jersey’s incarcerated population suffers from some form of substance abuse disorder. (Sutton, 9/20)
California's Department of Justice alleges that Sutter Health bought up competing medical providers in Northern California and used that market dominance to increase prices for insurance plans. Sutter recently released a statement defending its business practices. The trial is expected to run for months. And other hospital and industry news is reported from Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia.
California AG To Challenge Sutter Health’s Pricing Practices As Antitrust Trial Begins Monday
Sutter Health and the California Department of Justice will begin what’s expected to be a months-long antitrust trial on Monday in San Francisco as state attorneys attempt to prove that Sutter is using its market dominance to drive up health care prices in Northern California. (Anderson, 9/22)
The Associated Press:
Trial Approaching In California Hospital Antitrust Case
Spurred in part by former President Barack Obama’s health care law, hospitals across the country have merged to form massive medical systems in the belief it would simplify the process for patients. But a simpler bill doesn’t always guarantee a cheaper bill. That’s a key issue in an antitrust lawsuit against one of California’s largest hospital systems set to begin Monday. (Beam, 9/22)
AG Xavier Becerra Explains Feud Over Health Costs As Sutter Health Responds
Two behemoths will collide September 23, 2019, in court as the California Attorney General’s Office takes on Sutter Health over what Xavier Becerra has described as anti-competitive practices that raise the cost of health care in California. (Caraccio and Anderson, 9/20)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
St. Christopher’s Goes To New Owners For $50 Million In Bankruptcy Sale
Drexel University and Tower Health agreed Friday to buy St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children out of bankruptcy for $50 million in a deal that will put the safety-net hospital under nonprofit ownership for the first time in more than 20 years. “This will ensure that the hospital remains a vital resource to families in North Philadelphia and throughout the city and region, and that Drexel’s medical education training program at the institution will continue,” Drexel president John Fry said in an email to faculty. (Brubaker, 9/20)
University Of Michigan To Build $920 Million Hospital
A new $920 million, 264-bed hospital for the University of Michigan is expected to open in the fall of 2024 after a vote today by the university's board of regents approving the project. Michigan Medicine officials said the new 12-story adult hospital will "transform inpatient and surgical care," create 370 construction jobs, employ 1,900 full-time medical workers and alleviate overcrowding on the main medical campus in Ann Arbor. (Greene, 9/20)
NH Union Leader:
AG's Office: Proposed Merger Of Exeter, Dover Hospitals Violates Anti-Trust Laws
A proposed merger between the parent companies of Exeter Hospital and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover is “unlawful,” according to the Charitable Trusts Unit at the Attorney General’s office, because it would likely decrease competition and increase the cost of health care on the Seacoast. The decision, announced Friday by Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, comes after a yearlong review by that office’s Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau. (Wickham, 9/20)
Mass. General’s Plan To Buy N.H. Hospital Held Up By AG
New Hampshire’s attorney general on Friday objected to a proposal by Massachusetts General Hospital to acquire a local hospital and threatened legal action to stop it, dealing another setback to the expansion plans of Mass. General and its parent company, Partners HealthCare. In a report released Friday, Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald said Mass. General’s proposal to acquire Exeter Hospital — after its 2017 acquisition of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, N.H. — would harm consumers by reducing competition and raising costs. (Dayal McCluskey, 9/20)
The Associated Press:
After Rural Hospital's Closure, County Seeks Other Options
About two years ago, a rural, mountainous Virginia county lost its only hospital, and local officials have now all but given up trying to bring it back. Community leaders in Patrick County said in recent interviews that reopening the hospital has proven financially unworkable, in large part because of the deteriorating building’s $5 million price tag. Patrick County isn’t alone in its struggle. Rural hospitals across the country are closing, advocates say many more are at risk, and it’s rare for one to reopen after a shutdown. (Rankin, 9/20)
Ballad Says Changes Will Improve Safety, Not Everyone's Convinced
Formed in February 2018 through a controversial state maneuver that allowed it to avoid a federal lawsuit, Ballad is aggressively consolidating services across its 21-county region in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia. Many residents say they're concerned the changes are leading to unsafe conditions and higher bills, claims Ballad refutes. In interviews discussing the trauma changes, several Ballad executives repeated Levine's belief that it’s safer to consolidate high-level services into one tertiary center, and added that very few cases would transfer from Kingsport to Johnson City. (Bannow, 9/20)
Violations At Sunrise At East Cobb Not Uncommon
Over and over again, a significant share of these facilities failed to provide even the minimal level of care that state regulations require, resulting in injuries, discomfort, humiliation and even deaths, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation has found. Short staffing, lapses in training and constant turnover among both top managers and front-line staff led to the worst problems, the AJC found, with incidents playing out in dozens of facilities. (Teegardin, 9/22)
The Los Angeles Times reports on the months of negotiating and lobbying that took place outside of the public view and shifted Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom's position over the course of the vaccine law debate. Other vaccine news is reported out of New York, Maryland and Oregon.
Los Angeles Times:
The Hidden Battle Over California’s New Vaccine Law
Of the more than 2,600 bills introduced this year in the California Legislature, none captured the public’s attention like Senate Bill 276. Prompted by an alarming rise in measles cases and allegations of questionable vaccine exemptions, it was the legislative equivalent of a Rorschach test. Some were convinced they saw it as government overreach, others as a victory for science over social media-fueled skepticism. Along the way, it became a measurement of Newsom himself — the charismatic new governor who had yet to establish firm relationships with many of his fellow Democrats in the Legislature. The Times interviewed more than two dozen people involved in the private negotiations and public debate over SB 276, including legislators, state Capitol staffers, lobbyists and advocates. Their accounts detail missteps in the governor’s office, erratic communication among decision-makers and the emergence of a devout lobby of parents as a political force in Sacramento. (Gutierrez, Luna and Myers, 9/22)
NY Schools Beginning To Bar Unvaccinated Students From Class: Report
Some schools in New York have reportedly begun to send students home if they haven’t received all required vaccinations after legislation recently went into effect ending religious exemptions for vaccines. According to BuzzFeed News, students were barred from attending class in some schools last week in response to a mandate issued earlier this year that prohibited schools in the state from “permitting any child to be admitted to such school, or to attend such school, in excess of 14 days without sufficient evidence that the child has received all age appropriate required vaccinations.” (Folley, 9/22)
The Baltimore Sun:
University Of Maryland Wins $200 Million Grant To Develop Flu Vaccine That Will Work For Years At A Time
Aiming to stamp out the flu, the federal government awarded a $200 million federal grant to researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine to develop a vaccine for the miserable virus that sickens millions and kills thousands every year. The university announced Friday that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would provide the funding for the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health in Baltimore. (Cohn, 9/20)
Should You Get A Flu Shot? People Who Study These Things Say ‘Yes’
Even though flu infections hit Oregon and the rest of the United States every year, health officials can predict little, if anything, about the likely impact. They won’t know how bad a season is -- essentially if the vaccine works -- until well into the winter. Flu season usually hits sometime between October and May, if past flu seasons are any indication, and lasts four to six weeks. In Oregon, outbreaks usually peak between January and March. (Zarkhin, 9/21)
A federal judge is set to hear the arguments Monday from opponents of Georgia’s new anti-abortion law who want him to stop the measure from going into effect on Jan. 1 with the court case ongoing. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, a lawsuit challenging that state's 48-hour waiting period is also scheduled to start.
The Associated Press:
Judge To Hear Arguments In Challenge To Georgia Abortion Law
A federal judge is set to hear arguments over whether Georgia’s restrictive new abortion law should be allowed to take effect while a legal challenge is pending.The law bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. It allows for limited exceptions. (9/23)
Georgia’s Anti-Abortion Law Gets First Day In Court
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia has asked U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones to stop the law from going into effect while the case makes its way through the court system. The ACLU argued in a June complaint that the law violates a woman’s constitutional right of access to abortion until about 24 weeks of pregnancy, as established in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. (Prabhu, 9/23)
The Associated Press:
Tennessee Abortion Clinics Hope To Defeat Waiting Period
A federal judge will hear opening statements Monday in a lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting period before abortions. Five of the state’s seven abortion clinics are suing over the law, claiming it violates the U.S. Constitution. They will try to prove in federal court in Nashville that it places an undue burden on women seeking abortions. (Loller, 9/23)
Media outlets report on news from California, Arizona, North Carolina, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Minnesota, South Dakota, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
The New York Times:
Nurses In Four States Strike To Push For Better Patient Care
Thousands of nurses across the country went on strike Friday morning, pushing for better patient care by demanding improved work conditions and higher pay. About 6,500 National Nurses United members at 12 Tenet Healthcare hospitals in California, Arizona and Florida organized a 24-hour strike, which began at 7 a.m., to protest current nurse-to-patient ratios that they contend are burning out employees and making it difficult to provide the best possible care. (Ortiz, 9/20)
Health News Florida:
Florida Health Care Agencies Seek Boost In Budget For Drug Importation, Hep A
Despite a possibly tight budget next year, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration submitted a legislative wish list this week that seeks hundreds of millions of additional dollars for health and social-service programs. Top officials from six health care-related agencies appeared Wednesday before the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and made pitches for spending boosts. DeSantis will roll out his budget recommendations later this year in advance of the Jan. 14 start of the 2020 legislative session.. (Sexton, 9/20)
North Carolina Health News:
NC’s Uninsured Rate 9th Highest In The Nation
For the third year in a row, the number of people without health insurance in North Carolina remained roughly the same, the annual U.S. Census Bureau report released earlier this month shows. More than 1 million North Carolinians — or 10.7 percent — did not have health insurance in all of 2018, and the same number as for the year before. In that period, the number of people without medical coverage nationwide increased by about two million, rising from 7.9 percent in 2017 to 8.5 percent in 2018. (Engel-Smith, 9/23)
San Francisco Chronicle:
San Francisco Health Department Pauses Controversial Plan To Shift Long-Term Beds For Mentally Ill
The Department of Public Health said Friday that it will pause its controversial decision to transform a number of long-term care beds for San Francisco’s mentally ill into a temporary respite facility. The announcement came after a month of backlash — from mental health care workers as well as members of the Board of Supervisors — over the department’s decision to stop admitting new clients into the Adult Residential Facility and the Residential Care Facility for the Elderly on San Francisco General Hospital’s campus. (Thadani, 9/20)
Blue Shield Tests Free Lyft Rides To Improve Patient Access
Blue Shield of California launched this week a pilot program that will allow more than 1,300 Sacramento-area residents to get free Lyft rides to their primary care appointments, to X-ray or lab visits, and even to pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy. (Anderson, 9/20)
High-Stakes Dialysis Fight In Newsom's Hands, With Patient Charity Threatening To Leave
A national nonprofit that funds treatment for low-income kidney failure patients is threatening to withdraw from California if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a bill that would cap dialysis reimbursement rates, part of an escalating battle over how end-stage renal care is financed. American Kidney Fund President and CEO LaVarne Burton told POLITICO that CA AB290 (19R) by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) threatens financial assistance for 3,700 dialysis and transplant patients in California. (Hart, 9/20)
In Mass. And Beyond, State Lawmakers Push For Medicaid Coverage Of Birth Doulas
Doulas — birth coaches whose services often extend from before birth to well after — are usually not covered by health insurance. The physical, emotional and educational support they provide are not considered medical care, even though a growing body of evidence finds they improve birth outcomes. The costs of using or becoming a doula mean that doula care has come to be seen as a choice made mainly by "white upper middle class women," according to the journal Health Affairs. (Goldberg, 9/20)
The Star Tribune:
Allina Health MyChart Users Sent Erroneous E-Mails, Raising Concerns
Thousands of Minnesotans who see doctors at Allina Health received erroneous messages Thursday and Friday that said the e-mail address used to contact them had been changed, but Allina is assuring patients that nothing was changed and no data were breached. The erroneous e-mails were sent out as a result of a technical glitch involving Allina Health accounts and the MyChart accounts to which they are linked, an Allina spokeswoman confirmed Friday. (Carlson, 9/20)
The Associated Press:
South Dakota Marijuana Backers Push 2 Ballot Measures
Supporters of legalizing marijuana in South Dakota have been thwarted at nearly every turn, including an effort to become the 48th state to approve industrial hemp. But backers are doubling down on this year’s election. Volunteers are gathering signatures for two initiated ballot measures. One asks voters to approve medical marijuana and the other seeks to legalize recreational marijuana. Supporters tried the same approach to get on the 2018 ballot and failed to garner enough signatures. (Kolpack, 9/20)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Caregivers, Relatives Hope Mentally Ill Man’s Death After Police Encounter Can Bring Changes To ‘Impossible Situation’
In 2006, Julius Graves was pepper-sprayed, shocked with a Taser and beaten by police during a mental health crisis. He ended up in the ICU, then jail, charged with assaulting officers. The incident so shocked and outraged mental health advocates that they demanded changes in the way police interact with the mentally ill. And they thought they had a deal. But in the nearly 13 years that followed, Graves was arrested at least twice more and shocked at least five more times with a Taser. He was jailed four times, and involuntarily hospitalized seven times as his caregivers struggled to keep him on antipsychotic medication. (Patrick, 9/21)
Indiana Boy, 17, Died From Smoking Weed. CHS Is To Blame. What Is CHS?
The doctors told Regina Denney and her son Brian Smith Jr. what was causing his severe vomiting and abdominal pain. Neither the teenager nor his mother believed what they said: smoking weed. Smoking marijuana, the two knew, was recommended to cancer patients to spur the appetite. How could it lead to Brian's condition? (Rudavsky, 9/20)
Pittsburgh Drug Overdose Incident Leaves 3 Dead, 4 Hospitalized
What Pittsburgh police first called a medical situation that left three people dead and four hospitalized is now believed to be an isolated drug overdose incident. "We do not believe this particular incident is going to be widespread," Pittsburgh police commander for narcotics Jason Lando said. "So we are not in a situation where we expect people to be found in an overdosed state all over the city." (Saldivia, 9/22)
Opinion writers weigh in on these health care topics and others.
Why Should Government Get Involved In Health Care For People Who Don’t Need Assistance?
History shows that if government would get out of the way and allow the free market to do its thing, there is no telling what solutions would emerge for health care. New technologies utilizing the Internet, cell phones, Skype, and artificial intelligence would be fully exploited. Competition would bring down prices, as we have seen in areas of medical care not covered by the government or insurance companies. Sanders complains that America is "the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health care to all people." America also is the richest country on Earth. Has he ever considered that the two may be related? It is precisely because America does not hand over control of large sectors of its economy to the government that we have had such economic success. (Jim Breslo, 9/21)
Elizabeth Warren's Choice: 'Medicare For All' Purity Or A Path To Beating Donald Trump?
Elizabeth Warren is increasingly less of a long shot to win the Democratic presidential nomination, as a new Iowa poll shows. She now has a window to either expand her appeal to millions of voters who are uncertain about her candidacy, or make sure they write her off. It all comes down to health care. (Jill Lawrence, 9/23)
Los Angeles Times:
Drug Price Controls Have Support, But Not Enough
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s long-awaited prescription drug legislation has drawn much attention for its relatively modest proposal to have Medicare negotiate with drugmakers over the price of no more than 250 high-cost drugs per year. What’s more interesting — because it has a better chance of becoming law — is the bill’s proposal to cap annual price increases for all drugs covered by Medicare at no more than the rate of inflation. (Jon Healey, 9/20)
The New York Times:
We’re Ignoring The Biggest Cause Of The Measles Crisis
The problem is that we are misdirecting our attention. Much of it is focused on the global anti-vaccine movement. But there is a much larger group: the “vaccine hesitant.” These people intentionally delay or deviate from the routine schedule, staggering vaccine administration according to their own timeline. This leaves children without adequate protection from preventable diseases and puts their community at risk for outbreaks. And it’s unscientific. (Jennifer Lighter, 9/22)
Cokie Roberts: A Beacon For Cancer Survivors Like Me
Cokie Roberts wore about as many hats as her full name, Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Roberts: “Legendary journalist.” “Best-selling author. “Emmy award winner.” A “founding mother of NPR.” She was all these but there’s one more moniker that resonated with me and many, many others: “cancer survivor.” News of her death — from “complications from breast cancer,” as her family said in a statement — came unexpectedly this week. (Steven Petrow, 9/21)
The New York Times:
Emergency Medical Workers Deserve Pay Equity
Paramedics and E.M.T.s are just as professional as firefighters and should be compensated accordingly. (9/21)
Pastors Die By Suicide, Too: How Churches Can Address Mental Health
The death by apparent suicide of Pastor Jarrid Wilson stunned many of us, forcing us to try to answer the question: How do we deal with mental health in church? I don’t know Jarrid’s story intimately, but I do know what it’s like to long for death when I feel hopeless. I was a pastor when I nearly died by suicide. If you had to read that sentence a second time, I get it. It’s pretty jarring to read. At 29 years old, my life had reached a point where I felt there was no hope, so I tried to die in a hotel room, with a Bible in my lap, as I feverishly wrote my suicide notes. I prayed I would never wake up. That was seven years ago this month. (Steve Austin, 9/22)
The Two Most Important Mental Health Reforms The Trump Administration Should Consider
Mental health advocates were delighted to read recent media reports stating that the Trump administration is researching several initiatives designed to improve treatment of the seriously mentally ill. These initiatives include researching the ability of personal technology to help people with mental illness, moving the homeless in California to government housing, and keeping guns from a small group of people with serious mental illness who are potentially violent. But there are two much more important initiatives that should be on the table — and very well may be, if comments President Trump made in August are any indication. (DJ Jaffe, 9/20)
Genome Editing Needs A Dose Of Slow Science
The hubris of some scientists knows no bounds. Less than a year after He Jiankui, a Chinese biophysicist, drew scorn and censure for creating gene-edited twins, Denis Rebrikov, a Russian molecular biologist, boldly announced his plan to follow in He’s genome editing footsteps. Rebrikov’s initial stated goal for his proposed research was to prevent the transmission of HIV from infected women to their offspring, though he later suggested other targets, including dwarfism, deafness, and blindness. (Francoise Baylis, 9/23)
The Washington Post:
D.C.’s Assisted Suicide Law Is Going Unused. That’s Not Surprising.
It’s no surprise that the the District’s assisted suicide program isn’t popular. When it was legalized two years ago, health officials estimated as many as 10 people annually would elect to die this way. The reality? Two of four individuals who registered to die via assisted suicide went through with it, and only minimal information was made available on any of the four people involved. A single-page report released last month by the D.C. Health Department states, “In 2018 there were four prescriptions written for a covered medication, two qualified patients died.” Few other details are offered about the two female cancer patients who ingested lethal medications or about the two patients who died without taking the drugs. (G. Kevin Donovan, 9/21)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Trump Administration Food-Stamp Cuts Would Be Devastating To Ohio Seniors
The Trump administration’s proposal to end SNAP’s so-called “broad-based categorical eligibility” policy is both cruel and counterproductive. First, it would force 108,000 very low-income Ohioans — 7 percent of the state’s SNAP recipients — out of the program, according to the Mathematica policy research group. The proposal would disproportionately impact older adults in Ohio, with 16 percent of households with seniors losing SNAP, Mathematica found. (Rachel Cahill And Paul Bernier, 9/22)
Editorial writers focus on the public health dangers of vaping.
The Washington Post:
We Failed On Tobacco And Opioids. Can We Get It Right On Vaping?
Of course, it was pure accident that news of a possible court settlement with Purdue Pharma landed about the same time as the latest figures on mysterious vaping deaths and the burgeoning e-cigarette epidemic in high schools. But the coincidence had the feel of a providential warning: This time — after failing on tobacco, after failing on opioids — this time, can we get it right before it’s too late? (Fred Hiatt, 9/22)
Dallas Morning News:
Vaping Is Stupid, But Banning It Is Worse
In just a few decades, the percentage of adults who smoke cigarettes has dwindled from more than half to 14 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If public awareness can purge a practice woven through human history, we should be able to apply similar pressure to prod a lot of people out of vape shops without the heavy hand of government. (Mark Davis, 9/21)
I Applaud Trump's Leadership On Vaping, But We Need To Do More
Throughout my career in politics, especially as Lt. Gov. of Maryland, health care has been of considerable importance to me, especially the health-care challenges facing minority communities. We have seen a lot of progress, but there are major disparities still outstanding. One of the most frustrating is also the most preventable: the youth smoking and vaping epidemics. With new reported illnesses and deaths flashing across headlines almost every day, it’s time we get smart and act. (Michael Steele, 9/22)
Los Angeles Times:
The Feds May Or May Not Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes. L.A. Shouldn't Wait Around To See
If there’s some good to come from the terrible and still ongoing outbreak of vaping-related illness that has damaged the lungs of so many young people, possibly permanently, and killed at least eight people so far, it is that it has motivated authorities at all levels to step up efforts to reduce electronic cigarette use among kids. (9/22)