Editorial writers focus on these health care topics and others.
Stat: Dispatch From Davos: Hospitals Of The Future
My overarching thought after the World Economic Forum is this: I can’t wait for a future Davos when we talk less about self-driving cars, and more about self-healing humans. That future is close. If we can combine ideas from consumer industries about engaging with people and applying the technology that gives each of us control of our own health data, we can disrupt legacy health care delivery in profound ways. Panelist Shobana Kamineni of Apollo Hospitals in India said it best. “In India, we cannot build enough hospitals. The mobile phone is the disruptive technology, and that is where the hospital will move.” That disruptive vision can be made to work across income levels. It is easier to move health care to a phone than it is to move hospitals to remote communities. In fact, I believe we must get care to where patients are instead of getting patients to where care is located. That is a revolution that is starting now. (Stephen K. Klasko, 1/26)
Seattle Times: Legislature Should Limit Vaccine Exemptions
The ongoing outbreak of measles in Clark County should prompt state legislators to finally correct Washington’s loose policy surrounding mandatory vaccinations. Washington is one of only 18 states that lets parents opt out of having their child vaccinated because of personal, moral or other beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The high rate of people taking advantage of this philosophical exemption in certain areas is detrimental to the health of their communities. (1/27)
St. Louis Post Dispatch: States’ Policies Should Be Countering The Anti-Vax Movement, Not Coddling It
A well-known anti-vaccination enclave near Portland, Ore., is now facing a measles epidemic, an outcome that was as predictable as the sunset. It’s the result of high numbers of families in the area taking advantage of available exemptions to school vaccination requirements based on philosophical objections. The “philosophy” is generally one of buying into dire but thoroughly discredited myths about vaccines. Trends in some states toward further loosening school vaccination requirements are going in exactly the wrong direction. When is America going to stop appeasing the scientifically bogus, increasingly dangerous anti-vaccination movement? (1/28)
Charlotte Observer: A Stark, Troubling Gap In Infant Mortality Rates Between Blacks And Whites
Racial disparities in infant mortality persist around the nation. But the gap nationally is closer to two-to-one, not five-to-one. “That’s a crisis. That’s unacceptable. Everyone in government should be really upset about that,” Sarah Verbiest, director of the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC School of Social Work, told the Observer editorial board. (1/24)
Stat: Is Scientists’ Response To CRISPR Babies About Ethics Or Self-Governance?
It’s been two months since Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world with the announcement that his lab had created the first genetically edited babies. Since then, much of the public furor surrounding the news has died down, even as He has been fired by the Southern University of Science and Technology. There is one important takeaway from the controversy that seems to have gone overlooked in the CRISPR ethics discussion: defining the ethics of editing human life should not be left to scientists alone. (Nina Frahm and Tess Doezema, 1/28)
The Hill: Trump Administration’s Medicare Part D Proposal Risks Patient Protections
This week, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its new Medicare Part D (the prescription drug program for seniors) model based on the Trump administration’s plan to lower costs for Medicare Part D. While the administration claims this is part of an effort to lower skyrocketing out-of-pocket drug prices, this latest proposal would actually put insurance companies in the driver’s seat and limit choices for seniors. (Margarida Jorge, 1/25)
The Washington Post: The Opioid Epidemic Is No Time For Risky Pharmaceutical Marketing
The pharmaceutical industry’s direct marketing to physicans, through free samples, meals, consulting and paid speaking engagements, has long been controversial. Government regulations emphasize disclosure of doctor-industry relationships; the industry has its own voluntary code of conduct. At its best, drug company marketing can enhance the medical community’s knowledge of new therapies. At other times, it can result in overpromotion of risky products. (1/27)
The New York Times: The Unsung Role Of The Pharmacist In Patient Health
We know many people end up with a risky pileup of prescribed medications. Many efforts have been made, with varied success, to correct this problem. Yet we’ve usually focused on physician behavior, when there’s another powerful lever: pharmacists. About 30 percent of older adults in the United States and Canada filled a prescription in the last few years for one of many medications that the American Geriatrics Society recommends they avoid. Such drugs can lead to more harm — like cognitive impairment or falls — than good, and often safer options are available. (Aaron E. Carroll, 1/28)
Lexington Herald Leader: Kentucky Can Do More To Prevent Suicides
Earlier this month, the Winburn Middle School community of students, families, teachers and administrators faced the unimaginable: a suicide death of a 12-year-old girl. It is a heartbreaking circumstance shared by thousands of parents, families and schools across the United States this past year. Nationally, 517 children 10-14 years of age died by suicide. A letter sent out to families by interim principal Mike Hale sensitively characterized their predicament: “On behalf of the staff of Winburn Middle School, I hope that each of you have an opportunity to enjoy time with family over the three-day weekend. The events of this week are a reminder that such time is precious.” (Melinda Moore and Julie Cerel, 1/25)
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Cleveland Anti-Lead-Poisoning Coalition Is A Laudable Step Forward But It Needs A Clear Plan Of Action
Bottom line: The lead poisoning of Cleveland children has become a citywide emergency that requires tough, focused and urgent measures aimed at making the city’s housing safer for families. The bad news is that the new coalition hasn’t yet finalized what those measures will be. (1/27)
Louisville Courier-Journal: Kentucky Law Hurts Ambulance Competition And Emergency Care
In Kentucky, six counties, each with more than 50,000 residents, have just one ambulance service. In a medical emergency, time is of the essence — but a lack of ambulance providers threatens to prevent the residents of these counties from getting timely emergency care. Welcome to the world of “certificate of need” laws, where lawmakers have put profit ahead of people. Such laws, while seeming innocuous on the surface, are better described as a “competitor’s veto” because they require entrepreneurs to get permission from their potential competitors before starting up. (Mollie Williams, 1/25)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.