- Kaiser Health News Original Stories 3
- A Battered Doctor, A Slain Patient And A Family’s Quest For Answers
- Oregon Medical Students Face Tough Test: Talking About Dying
- Black Men’s Blood Pressure Is Cut Along With Their Hair
- Political Cartoon: 'There's A Code For That?'
- Administration News 1
- Congress Stamped Out Federally Funded Gun Violence Research 22 Years Ago. Now States Are Stepping In.
- Health Law 1
- Idaho's Insistence That CMS Didn't Reject Its Plan To Skirt Health Law Raises Speculation Of Behind-The-Scenes Talks
- Veterans' Health Care 1
- Law Intended To Get Rid Of Bad Apples At VA Overwhelmingly Being Used Against Rank-And-File Employees
- Capitol Watch 1
- Bickering Over Abortion Continues Despite Democrats' Lack Of Appetite To Spar With GOP On Spending Bill
- Women’s Health 2
- 'We're All In Shock': Glitches At Two Different Fertility Clinics On Same Day Roil Industry
- Wendy Davis, Most Known For Her Anti-Abortion Filibuster, May Be Candidate To Run Planned Parenthood
- Public Health 4
- Naloxone Has Become Key Weapon In Fight Against Opioid Crisis. But Is It Doing More Harm Than Good?
- Great Recession Study Highlights How Economic Upheaval Negatively Affects Personal Health
- Injection Of Stem Cells May Help Save Babies Born With Only One Half Of Their Heart Working
- Flu Vaccine Forecast: If There Is A Cure, It May Still Be 'A Decade Away'
- State Watch 1
- State Highlights: As Momentum Rises For Calif. Single-Payer System, Skeptics Weigh In; Unsafe Lead Levels Reported In More Flint Water Samples
From Kaiser Health News - Latest Stories:
An addiction-treatment physician fatally shot a troubled ex-Marine after the man pummeled him inside his California office, police records show. The tragedy illustrates how the limited number of clinics available to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug that all but erases opioid withdrawal, can become crowded, chaotic and dangerous. (Brian Rinker, )
Starting this spring, aspiring doctors at the Oregon Health & Science University must prove they can communicate about difficult subjects ranging from admitting medical mistakes to notifying families about a patient’s death. (JoNel Aleccia, )
A new study shows that educational sessions about high blood pressure at African American barbershops, coupled with prescribing and helping to manage medication, reduced hypertension rates significantly. (Susan Abram, )
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'There's A Code For That?'" by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
POETS TRY TO CHANGE THE CONVERSATION
No healthy food to be found?
Don't blame the victim.
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if we can include your name. Haikus follow the format of 5-7-5 syllables. We give extra brownie points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KHN or KFF.
Summaries Of The News:
While advocates argue that gun violence is woefully under-researched, some officials also say that there are clear steps that should be taken anyway. More research can help. But this is no excuse for inaction," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, who was CDC director from 2009 to 2017. Meanwhile, a look at President Donald Trump's evolving views on gun control measures.
The Washington Post:
Gun Violence Research Gets Little Support So States Step In
As deaths from mass shootings have mounted across the United States, some states are moving to collect hard data to guide their decisions about guns — even as the federal government has retreated from such research in the face of pressure from pro-gun groups. The New Jersey legislature, for example, is weighing a measure that would create a gun-violence research center at Rutgers University. The center would be modeled on the new Firearm Violence Prevention Research Center at the University of California at Davis, which launched last summer with $5 million in state money over five years. (Ollove, 3/12)
The New York Times:
Congress Quashed Research Into Gun Violence. Since Then, 600,000 People Have Been Shot.
Guns in the home protect families. For decades, that has been an essential part of the National Rifle Association’s mantra in defending firearms ownership, repeated at congressional hearings, in advertisements and on T-shirts. Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who once headed research on firearm violence at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wondered if there was any evidence backing the N.R.A.’s assertion. (Kaplan, 3/12)
The New York Times:
Trump’s Evolving Positions On Gun Issues
President Trump said on Monday that his administration would leave it to states to set an age limit for buying assault rifles. It was a reversal of weeks of repeated promises to act, and the latest of years of conflicting positions he has taken on a range of gun issues, from background checks to arming teachers. (Qiu and Bennett, 3/12)
The Associated Press:
Trump's Strong Words On Guns Give Way To Political Reality
Not two weeks ago, President Donald Trump wagged his finger at a Republican senator and scolded him for being "afraid of the NRA," declaring that he would stand up to the powerful gun lobby and finally get results on quelling gun violence following last month's Florida school shooting. On Monday, Trump struck a very different tone as he backpedaled from his earlier demands for sweeping reforms and bowed to Washington reality. The president, who recently advocated increasing the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon to 21, tweeted that he's "watching court cases and rulings" on the issue, adding that there is "not much political support (to put it mildly)." (Lucey and LeMire, 3/12)
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump Backs Off His Support To Raise Federal Gun Purchase Age Limit
President Donald Trump backed off his support for new age restrictions on firearm purchases, saying there was no support for such a move in Congress. But his promise to spend federal money on arming teachers also drew fire from Republicans in the Capitol on Monday. “I’ve got a problem with that,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.) said of arming teachers. “It just doesn’t sound like a solution to the problem.” (Bender and Peterson, 3/12)
The Wall Street Journal:
Designing A School To Stop Shooters
Designers of the new $19 million George W. Bush Elementary School had more in mind than education. The blueprint for this school in an upper-class Dallas suburban neighborhood was intended to stop a school shooter. Sparse landscaping and numerous windows in front provide a clear view of approaching visitors. Entry is a multistep process. Visitors enter a vestibule and must be buzzed inside the main office. From there, a government-issued ID must be scanned through a system called the “Raptor,” which alerts for child molesters and anyone flagged to keep out. (Hobbs, 3/13)
The Washington Post:
Sessions Calls On U.S. Attorneys To Aggressively Prosecute Gun Buyers Who Lie On Background Checks
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that U.S. attorneys will more aggressively enforce the law that makes it a crime for gun buyers to lie on their federal background checks, one of several steps Justice Department officials outlined as part of the Trump administration’s response to last month’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla. The Justice Department also will increase the presence of law enforcement officers at schools and continue to review the way law enforcement agencies respond to tips from the public, Sessions said. (Horwitz, 3/12)
Critics wonder if Idaho is negotiating with the Trump administration on a compromise closer to short-term plans. "I'm at a loss to explain Idaho's thought process at this point," said Eliot Fishman, senior director of health policy at the liberal Families USA. "[CMS Administrator Seema] Verma's letter was a pretty direct and public statement. It's not clear they have anywhere to go with this."
Behind Their Defiance, Idaho Officials May Be Pressing CMS For Renewable Short-Term Plans
Idaho state officials insist that the CMS' rejection last week of their effort to let insurers sell health plans that don't comply with the Affordable Care Act's coverage mandates was not a rejection. That position has both ACA supporters and critics scratching their heads. Observers are wondering if behind the scenes, Idaho officials are negotiating with the Trump administration to meld their proposal for cheaper, leaner individual-market plans with the administration's proposed rule to let insurers offer short-term products for up to 364 days. The key issue may be adding some form of guaranteed renewability for short-term plans. (Meyer, 3/12)
In other health law news —
Judge Rejects Massachusetts Challenge To Trump Birth Control Rules
A federal judge on Monday rejected a lawsuit by Massachusetts' attorney general challenging new rules by President Donald Trump's administration that make it easier for employers to avoid providing insurance that covers women's birth control. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston dismissed a lawsuit by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey that sought to block rules that provide exemptions from an Obamacare mandate requiring such coverage on moral or religious grounds. (Raymond, 3/12)
Insurer Credits GOP Tax Law For New Commitment To ObamaCare
A health insurer in Alaska and Washington State is crediting the Republican tax law for its decision to participate in ObamaCare markets next year. Premera Blue Cross said in a statement Monday that because of a one-time refund the company is getting under the GOP law, it will be able to make new commitments. (Sullivan, 3/12)
Since the legislation took effect, the VA has fired only four senior leaders. The other 1,700 terminated people were low-level staffers with titles such as housekeeper.
Trump’s VA Is Purging Civil Servants
Last June, President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by signing a bipartisan bill to make it easier to fire employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The law, a rare rollback of the federal government’s strict civil-service job protections, was intended as a much-needed fix for an organization widely perceived as broken. “VA accountability is essential to making sure that our veterans are treated with the respect they have so richly earned through their blood, sweat and tears,” Trump said that day. “Those entrusted with the sacred duty of serving our veterans will be held accountable for the care they provide.” (Arnsdorf, 3/12)
Democratic lawmakers are showing little willingness to dig in over hot-button issues like immigration during such a politically charged election year, but abortion continues to be a sticking point. Meanwhile, conservative groups urge lawmakers not to include a health law "bailout" in the final spending bill.
The Washington Post:
Democrats Show Little Willingness To Fight GOP Ahead Of Spending Deadline
One brewing partisan fight concerns the perennial flash point of abortion politics. The parties are sparring over language pertaining to federal family-planning grants, as well as Republican policy provisions that would block funding for health-care providers that perform abortions, allow health-care providers to opt not to perform procedures they find morally objectionable and bar funding for scientific research using fetal tissue. House Republicans are rejecting a Senate-crafted compromise that seeks to prevent the Trump administration from changing the rules for awarding family-planning and teen pregnancy-prevention grants to favor groups that advocate sexual abstinence over other groups, including Planned Parenthood. Democrats are pushing to preserve that compromise in the final bill. (DeBonis, 3/12)
Conservative Groups Warn Against ObamaCare 'Bailout' In Spending Bill
A coalition of 15 conservative groups wrote to Congress on Monday to urge against including a “bailout” of ObamaCare in the coming government funding bill. The groups are putting pressure on lawmakers amid bipartisan negotiations on providing payments to health insurance companies with the goal of stabilizing markets and lowering premiums. But the conservative groups see those payments as a bailout for the health-care law. (Sullivan, 3/12)
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine said it plans to review both storage tank incidents with the clinics and their equipment suppliers this week. There's no known connection between the incidents, but the episodes shine a light on vulnerabilities in the system.
The Washington Post:
Patients Mobilize To Take Legal Action Against Fertility Clinics With Malfunctions
An Ohio couple who lost both their frozen embryos when a fertility clinic’s storage tank overheated last week are the first in a wave of patients heading to court to hold the facility accountable for dashing their dreams of future children. Two Cleveland attorneys said they have been inundated in the days since the University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center’s Fertility Center disclosed late last week that it was notifying 700 patients that their eggs or embryos may have been damaged. The tissue was in a tank that lost liquid nitrogen, which is vital for temperature control. (Goldstein and Cha, 3/12)
The Associated Press:
Fertility-Clinic Breakdowns Baffle Experts, Upset Couples
Simultaneous refrigeration failures at two fertility clinics in San Francisco and suburban Cleveland have damaged or destroyed potentially thousands of frozen eggs and embryos in the biggest such loss on record in the U.S. The malfunctions have left parents-to-be heartbroken and baffled experts. Here are some questions and answers about the two cases. (3/12)
San Jose Mercury News:
Two Major Failures At Fertility Centers Rock The Industry
Two major and near-simultaneous failures at fertility centers is sending shock waves through the fertility industry, triggering questions about the technology and oversight of egg and embryo storage, which is increasingly popular — and largely self-regulated. (Krieger, 3/12)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Dozens Of Lawsuits Expected In UH Fertility Clinic Malfunction, Lawyers Say
At least three couples whose frozen eggs and embryos were destroyed filed lawsuits over the weekend, as dozens more were expected to sue University Hospitals in the coming days, lawyers said Monday. Plaintiffs attorney Tom Merriman said he met with multiple clients Monday, and received at least 15 emails from among the 700 people whose frozen eggs and embryos were thawed after a storage tank malfunction at the hospital's Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood last week. (McCarty, 3/12)
Planned Parenthood’s current president, Cecile Richards, announced her plans to step down earlier this year. Former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis sidestepped questions about if she would be tapped to take over the organization.
Wendy Davis Leaves Door Open To Planned Parenthood Gig
Could Wendy Davis, the former Texas state senator who rose to national prominence after her marathon 2013 filibuster protesting an anti-abortion bill, be in the running to next head of Planned Parenthood? The prominent Democratic surrogate isn't ruling out the possibility. (Flores and Palmer, 3/13)
In other news —
House Approves Bill Seeking To Defund Clinics That Offer Abortions In Tennessee
House lawmakers approved a bill Monday aimed at eliminating state funds given to health care clinics that provide abortions. The legislation, HB 2251, requires TennCare — the state's Medicaid system — to submit a federal waiver to allow the state to remove a provider from the health care program if they provide abortions. (Ebert, 3/12)
A new working paper finds that there's been a 14-percent increase in opioid-related mortality attributable to expanded naloxone access. Many in the field are troubled by the moral implications of publishing research making claims that could have wide-reaching ramifications. Meanwhile, a group of bipartisan senators introduce legislation to strength the DEA's role in curbing the epidemic.
Amid Efforts To Expand Naloxone Access, A New Study Questions Its Value
Amid a worsening opioid epidemic, the overdose-reversal drug naloxone has taken center stage. Fire and police departments across the country stock the drug; nonprofits aim to get it into the hands of millions of residents as a bystander intervention. But a controversial new working paper has raised the question of whether the urgent push to expand naloxone access may be doing more harm than good. (Facher, 3/13)
Bipartisan Bill Would Give DEA More Power In Setting Opioid Quotas
A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill Monday they said would strengthen the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) ability to prevent opioid abuse. The bill would allow the DEA to take into consideration overdose deaths and abuse rates when it annually sets quotas for the number of Schedule I and II controlled substances, such as opioids, that can be manufactured and produced in the U.S. (Hellmann, 3/12)
And in other news on the public health crisis —
One-Quarter Of State’s Residents Know Someone Who Died From Opioids, New Survey Suggests
A majority of Massachusetts residents know someone who has been addicted to opioids and more than a quarter have lost a loved one or an acquaintance to a fatal overdose, according to a survey released Tuesday by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Residents see opioid addiction as a severe and worsening public health emergency, with 7 in 10 calling it a “very serious problem,” far more worrisome than health care costs and taxes, the survey found. (Freyer, 3/12)
A Quarter Of Mass. Residents Know Someone Who Died Of An Opioid Overdose, Survey Finds
More than a quarter of Massachusetts residents say they know someone who died of a fatal opioid overdose, according to a new survey from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. ...It also found that the majority of respondents know someone addicted to opioids, and 71 percent say the opioid epidemic is the biggest problem facing the state, more so than health care costs, crime or the economy. (Becker, 3/12)
Texas Counties And Cities Urged To "Race To The Courthouse" For Opioid Lawsuits
County and city governments across Texas have been the focus of a legal feeding frenzy as law firms vie to represent them in lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies over the nation’s deadly opioid crisis. The firms say the companies oversold the drugs' benefits for treating chronic pain and have downplayed the risk for addiction. (Evans, 3/12)
Researchers looked at blood pressure and glucose levels, which are ideal metrics for studying the impact of a short-term shock like the recession. The groups that showed some of the largest increases — adults who were likely working but approaching retirement and older, educated homeowners — are exactly the people who were likely to be hit hardest by the recession’s effects.
During The Great Recession, Fewer People Took Their Medications
The Great Recession had dramatic and visible effects: Millions of Americans lost their homes; more than 8 million people lost their jobs. But a new study finds that it also had invisible effects on people’s health — and that those effects could have long-term consequences. Using a long-running study on heart health, scientists evaluated blood pressure and blood glucose measurements from 2000 to 2012. They found that those metrics were significantly worse after the recession hit in 2007 — at least in part due to fewer people taking their medicines. (Sheridan, 3/12)
The Washington Post:
The Great Recession Raised America’s Blood Pressure, Study Finds
As if we don't have enough to worry about — given daily political drama, volatile stock markets and North Korean nuclear threats — a new study suggests that living through such times of instability and societal upheaval can greatly worsen personal health. Using large data sets gathered before and after the Great Recession, researchers found significantly higher blood pressure and blood sugar levels in American adults. (Wan, 3/12)
Right now, the only course of treatment is heart surgery, and even then, only 60 percent of the children celebrate their 5th birthdays. But a new study is offering families hope. In other public health news: sepsis, brain health, blood pressure and PTSD in sexual assault victims.
The Washington Post:
Stem Cells Could Boost This Maryland Baby’s Heart And Chance For A Normal Life
Surgeons trying a new way to save the life of a baby born with half a heart stood over her open chest and waited for the FedEx box. Doctors in Miami had sent overnight two small vials of stem cells to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Now the Baltimore surgeons would inject the cells, derived from a donor’s bone marrow, into the tiny, defective heart of 4-month-old Autumn. (Cohn, 3/12)
The Washington Post:
Doctors Ignored The Signs Of A Deadly Condition, She Says. Now She Has No Legs Or Fingers.
It was supposed to be a joyous and memorable time: Magdalena Malec was pregnant with her third child, and her other two were no doubt counting down the days until Christmas. But by the time Christmas Day arrived in 2014, Malec had miscarried and been diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. Malec, who had been sent home days earlier with medication to ease her discomfort, was now in agony and back at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, 35 miles from London, according to an account from her attorney. (Bever, 3/12)
The Washington Post:
Doctors Find Air Pocket Where Part Of Man’s Brain Should Be
The 84-year-old man arrived in the emergency room with complaints that weren't uncommon for a patient his age. He had reported feeling unsteady over the past several months, culminating in repeated falls in recent weeks. In the three days leading up to his hospital visit, his left arm and leg had noticeably weakened. Still, there were no red flags in the man's medical history. He didn't smoke. He rarely drank. A blood test detected nothing abnormal. (Wang, 3/12)
Kaiser Health News:
Black Men’s Blood Pressure Is Cut Along With Their Hair
Amid the buzz of hair clippers and the beat of hip-hop, barber Corey Thomas squeezes in a little advice to the clients who come into his Inglewood, Calif., shop for shaves and fade cuts. Watch what you eat, he tells them. Check your blood pressure. Don’t take life so hard. “We’re a high statistic for … hypertension and everything, and it’s something we let go by,” Thomas said as he worked at the shop, A New You, on Friday. “Our customers, they’ll talk to us before they talk to anybody else.” (Abram, 3/12)
Georgia Health News:
Sexual Assault And PTSD: What’s Being Done For Survivors
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been discussed for decades as a problem for war veterans. But it is also one of the most common psychological effects seen in survivors of sexual assault. (Thomas, 3/10)
While flu rates are finally easing up, researchers look for ways to improve the shot that this year was only 36 percent effective. "The one thing about flu that you can count on, is that it will be unpredictable," said Dr. Nicole Marie Iovine of the University of Florida. Meanwhile, the flu season continues and record high deaths occur in Delaware.
Tampa Bay Times:
The Future Of The Flu: Will We Ever Be Able To Beat It?
This year’s particularly nasty flu season has doctors and researchers worried about what’s ahead. Though the number of outbreaks in Florida has declined in recent days, the first six weeks of 2018 saw soaring numbers of flu patients in emergency rooms, urgent care clinics and doctors’ offices — and at rates that far exceeded the last three years. (Griffin, 3/13)
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Flu Season Is Winding Down, But Not Over Yet
After one of the worst flu seasons in nearly a decade, flu rates are starting to ease up across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weekly flu report. Hospital visits for patients with flu-like symptoms continued to drop across the country after peaking in early February. (Clark, 3/12)
The Associated Press:
Delaware Flu Cases, Deaths Hit Record High This Season
The recent confirmation of two flu-related deaths has brought Delaware’s season total to 30, breaking the previous single-season record. The Division of Public Health said in a release Monday that two women, aged 83 and 84, died in the last two weeks of February. Both women had multiple underlying health conditions. (3/12)
Media outlets report on news from California, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Texas, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Oregon.
California Health Care: Raise Taxes For Single-Payer Or Ration?
Republican Gov. Earl Warren suggested a taxpayer-financed universal health care system in 1945. Voters considered and defeated a version of universal care in 2004. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a single-payer bill in 2006. Now there is renewed interest, as proponents like Sen. Kamala Harris and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom see single-payer as the solution to Republican-led efforts to unravel Obamacare. (Hart, 3/13)
The Associated Press:
More Flint Water Samples Show Elevated Lead Levels
Recent water tests at elementary schools in Flint have found an increase in samples showing lead levels above the federal action limit. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality determined that 28 samples tested in February were above 15 parts per billion of lead, The Flint Journal reported . That compares to 20 such samples in January. (3/12)
Autism Therapy Firm Moves Into Ohio After State Law Broadens Insurance Coverage
An Indianapolis company is bringing two autism therapy centers to central Ohio as part of a plan to ultimately open 20 sites and provide about 1,000 jobs across the state. The Hopebridge centers, slated to open in late April in Dublin and Westerville, are among 10 the company plans to have operating within a year, said chief executive Dennis May. (Viviano, 3/12)
The Star Tribune:
Children's In Mpls. Finds A Better Test For Appendicitis
Research by a physician at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is offering a new solution to a common problem in pediatric care: sorting out the many patients with bad stomachaches from the few who need surgery for appendicitis. After studying a large group of children with belly pain, Dr. Anupam Kharbanda and colleagues reported Tuesday that white blood cell counts and other demographic details can distinguish many of those who are at high risk of appendicitis from those at low risk. (Olson, 3/13)
The CT Mirror:
Health Care, Wage Issues Top Minority Caucus Agenda
Pay equity, a “liveable” wage and protecting women’s health care topped a list of priorities unveiled Monday by the General Assembly’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus. And while the agenda does not propose specific tax hikes, the 24-member caucus does back several revenue-raisers to fund critical services, according to its chairman, Rep. Christopher Rosario, D-Bridgeport. (Phaneuf, 3/12)
Georgia Health News:
Georgia Will Begin Auditing Water Utilities’ Lead Testing Sites
For the first time, the Georgia Division of Environmental Protection (EPD) will audit the addresses where water systems collect their samples to be sure those sites are at the highest risk for lead contamination, according to Lewis Hays, who is EPD’s watershed compliance program manager. (Miller, 3/12)
Health News Florida:
Congress Could Eliminate Funding For Medicare Assistance Program
A program that helps thousands of Florida seniors sign up for Medicare could lose all of its funding by the end of the month if Congress doesn't act. Florida received $2.8 million last year from the national State Health Insurance Program. (Ochoa, 3/12)
Kaiser Health News:
A Battered Doctor, A Slain Patient And A Family’s Quest For Answers
The police report is all David Cole Lang’s family has to describe his last moments on Earth. Fifty pages of officer narratives and witness interviews filled with grisly detail, it lacks any explanation for his death. Ten months later, Lang’s widow, Monique, says she still has no clue as to why the 33-year-old combat veteran and father who struggled with opioid addiction ended up fatally shot by a doctor whom — as far as Monique knew — he hadn’t seen in over a year. (Rinker, 3/13)
OSHA: Georgia Goodyear Plant Lapses Put Employees At Serious Risk
Investigators from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration imposed seven serious citations against the company in January after inspecting its plant last year in Social Circle, Georgia. Federal officials found the company failed to provide proper protective gear to workers processing rubber through hot metal presses with temperatures exceeding 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (Gollan, 3/12)
Harris County Considers Turning Shuttered Riverside Hospital Into Mental Health Facility
Harris County is considering purchasing the shuttered Riverside General Hospital property in Houston’s Third Ward and resurrecting it as a mental healthy facility, county documents and court records show. A $5.3 million grant from the nonprofit Houston Endowment Inc. is expected to help finance the purchase, if approved by the commissioners court. The hospital — Houston’s first nonprofit hospital for black patients — was plagued in its final years with financial and legal troubles before shutting its doors and ending up in bankruptcy proceedings. (Zaveri and George, 3/12)
NH Times Union:
Patient At State Hospital Assaults 3 Staff Members
Three staff members at the state psychiatric hospital were assaulted by a young patient who also caused property damage, according to Lori Shibinette, CEO of New Hampshire Hospital. Shibinette confirmed reports to the Union Leader from anonymous staff members of an incident late Friday and into early Saturday morning. (Solomon, 3/12)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Teenage JUULing Is Taking Over School Bathrooms
Over the last year, JUUL has become ubiquitous on college and high school campuses. ...The device is designed to be an alternative to combustible tobacco products, like cigarettes, and includes flavored JUUL “pods” that range from “Virginia Tobacco” to “Crème Brulee.” (Hatcher, 3/12)
Kaiser Health News:
Oregon Medical Students Face Tough Test: Talking About Dying
The distraught wife paced the exam room, anxious for someone to come and tell her about her husband. She’d brought him to the emergency department that afternoon when he complained about chest discomfort. Sophia Hayes, 27, a fourth-year medical student at the Oregon Health & Science University, entered with a quiet knock, took a seat and asked the wife to sit, too. Softly and slowly, Hayes explained the unthinkable: The woman’s husband had had a heart attack. His heart stopped. The intensive care team spent 45 minutes trying to save him. (Aleccia, 3/13)
Editorial pages focus on these and other health topics.
School Shootings: Ignorance Is Not Bliss
President Trump's new plan to secure schools after last month's slaughter of 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Fla., is chock-a-block with ideas, some worthwhile. ...Another missing piece that could guide the nation, and the commission to be chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, toward data-driven solutions to gun violence: freeing scientists to explore the causes of, and uncover the solutions for, a shooting epidemic that kills 35,000 Americans every year. Scientists, you ask, are not already free to do this? No, not really. There's actually a federal statute — won by the NRA decades ago — that all but bars research on gun violence. A little knowledge, evidently, is a bad thing when you're advocating for guns anywhere and everywhere. (3/12)
NRA: Don’t Use Tax Dollars To Promote Gun Control
In the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, Fla., the media are claiming that the NRA and our supporters in Congress are opposed to government-funded research on criminal violence perpetrated with firearms. Nothing could be further from the truth. (Chris Cox, 3/12)
The Washington Post:
Who’s Afraid Of The NRA? Trump
Yes, once again Mr. Trump’s brave words prove to be meaningless as the White House unveils exactly what Mr. Trump wants to do about guns. “Tiny baby steps designed not to upset the NRA,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). That sums up the administration’s proposal unveiled Sunday in response to the Feb. 14 school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla. ...“Not much political support (to put it mildly),” he tweeted Monday. Never mind that recent polls show public support for raising the age to 21. Or that big-name retailers (Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods) have been applauded for voluntarily making the change. Or that even the gun-friendly state of Florida just raised its age limit. Or that a true leader might do the right thing and try to generate political support. (3/12)
Los Angeles Times:
A New Way To Reduce Gun Suicides, And Maybe Mass Shootings Too
Mass shootings dominate the headlines and seem to drive the movement to change gun policy, but reducing gun suicides could save many more lives. More than 20,000 people each year kill themselves with a gun; that's twice the number of gun homicides. The Parkland, Fla., massacre claimed 17 lives; roughly 59 people die by gun suicide each day. An innovative new law could bring down this tragic death toll. Washington will soon become the first state in the country to enact a "firearm choice" law. It passed by wide margins in the state Senate and House, with support from Democrats as well as Republicans, and is now awaiting Gov. Jay Inslee's signature. (Ian Ayres and Fredrik Vars, 3/12)
The Washington Post:
Don’t Deny The Link Between Serious Mental Illness And Violence
Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old whose alleged shooting rampage claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month, was sick. His family knew it. His neighbors knew it. Local law enforcement and mental-health professionals knew it. Yet, like so many tragedies involving the seriously mentally ill, no one was able to prevent the rampage. ...The system often prevents relatives from getting help for loved ones who have serious mental illness until after they have become a danger to themselves or others. (DJ Jaffe, 3/12)
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
America's Gun Problem Is The National Rifle Association
America has a gun problem. It’s called the National Rifle Association. Whenever a mass shooting event awakens the nation anew to the horrific dangers of unbridled gun ownership, the NRA steps in to defend an indefensible status quo. Whenever legislators try to enact common-sense laws to prevent future mass killings, the NRA stops them cold. (3/12)
The New York Times:
The G.O.P. Accidentally Replaced Obamacare Without Repealing It
Congressional Republicans spent the better part of 2017 trying and failing to repeal and replace Obamacare. They have now largely abandoned the project to pursue other goals. Yet in a sense they have succeeded anyway — just not in the manner they expected. Consider for a moment what a successor to the Affordable Care Act might have looked like if Republicans had somehow managed to both repeal and replace the law last year. (Peter Suderman, 3/12)
Here's How To Structure Successful Right-To-Try Laws
Thirty eight states have enacted right-to-try (RTT) laws, the intent is to increase the availability of experimental medicines to individuals battling life-threatening conditions. A federal version has support at the highest levels of the Trump administration including the president himself. (Kenneth I. Moch, Andrew McFadyen and Arthur Caplan, 3/11)
'Right-To-Try' Law Threatens Patient Safety And Rational Drug Development
Backers of the right-to-try law would have you believe that the FDA is barring the distribution of all sorts of miracle cures. But many experimental treatments turn out to be totally ineffective. And as it stands, the FDA approves more than 99 percent of the thousand-plus applications it gets each year — usually within days of receiving the application — for access to experimental therapies through an existing program called expanded access or compassionate use. Everyone wants to help those suffering from terminal illness. But rather than save lives, a right-to-try law would give patients false and fleeting hope, threaten patient safety, and impede the approval of therapies that are safe and effective. (Mark Harrington and Ellen V. Sigal, 3/12)
Lexington Herald Tribune:
Warning: Your Tax Dollars Have Been Supporting Cigarette Makers. New Rule Ending 'bonus' For Tobacco Growers But How About The Tobacco Companies?
A government program that grew by more than 6,000 percent in five years doesn’t provide medical care or feed the poor. It does indirectly subsidize profitable corporations such as Altria, parent company of cigarette-maker Philip Morris USA, and its spinoff Philip Morris International; British American Tobacco, and Japan Tobacco International. (3/12)