Editorial pages focus on these health care topics and others.
Stat: Google Is Infiltrating Medicine — But What Rules Will It Play By?
With nearly 80 percent of internet users searching online for health-related information, it’s no wonder the catchphrase “Dr. Google” has caught on, to the delight of many searchers and the dismay of many real doctors.What’s received little attention from physicians or the public is the company’s quiet metamorphosis into a powerhouse focused on the actual practice of medicine. If “data is the new oil,” as the internet meme has it, Google and its Big Tech brethren could become the new OPEC. Search is only the start for Google and its parent company, Alphabet. Their involvement in health care can continue through a doctor’s diagnosis and even into monitoring a patient’s chronic condition for, essentially, forever. (Michael L. Millenson, 1/3)
Bloomberg: Drugmakers’ Price Increases Are A Hard Pill To Swallow
In a move that should surprise precisely no one, drugmakers welcomed 2019 with significant price hikes, ending an industry-wide effort that lasted all of six months to pause or roll back increases in response to angry tweets and threats from President Donald Trump. Dozens of pharmaceutical companies raised prices on hundreds of medicines, according to a Wall Street Journal report, with more increases to come. (Max Nisen, 1/2)
The Hill: The 116th Congress Can Improve Medicare And Social Security
The Democratic majority taking power in the U.S. House this week is cause for cautious optimism among older Americans. The incoming majority can function as a firewall against harmful cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which fiscal hawks have been threatening. But our allies in the House can also do more. The champions of Social Security and Medicare elected in November have an opportunity to expand both programs for the benefit of tens of millions of older Americans. (Max Richtman, 1/2)
New England Journal of Medicine: Reducing Protections For Noncitizen Children — Exacerbating Harm And Trauma
As part of an ongoing effort to deter immigrants from attempting to enter the United States, a new government proposal would permit the detention of noncitizen children and their families for indefinite periods in facilities without appropriate and independent monitoring. …We believe that this proposal presents a grave and urgent risk to the health and well-being of noncitizen children and their families and would have important negative consequences for the United States. (Ryan Matlow and Daryn Reicherter, 1/3)
New England Journal of Medicine: The SUPPORT For Patients And Communities Act — What Will It Mean For The Opioid-Overdose Crisis?
Although SUPPORT is a step in the right direction, substantially altering the trajectory of the opioid epidemic requires a comprehensive, integrated, and public health–oriented response coordinated throughout all branches and levels of government. Every dollar spent on incarcerating a person who uses drugs is a dollar that is not spent on prevention or treatment, and every person removed from the Medicaid rolls is a person who is unable to receive evidence-based care. We have the tools and knowledge to reverse the unprecedented, and largely preventable, avalanche of overdose-related morbidity and mortality. The question is not how to end the crisis of opioid-related harm but whether we will choose to mount an effective, evidence-based, and equity-focused response. The lives of thousands of people depend on the answer. (Corey S. Davis, 1/3)
The New York Times: What A French Doctor’s Office Taught Me About Health Care
I am an accidental European. I developed breast cancer in 2009. With no continuing medical coverage in the United States, and in desperate need of it, I moved to Britain. Under the sponsorship of an acquaintance, I was granted “indefinite leave to remain” and received care through the National Health Service. When I moved to France four years ago, the French system quickly took over covering me. It has taken me nine years to grow accustomed to the idea that my health care won’t suddenly evaporate at the whim of a new government. Doctors here often ask how I landed in Europe. When I tell them, they shake their heads. American values are deranged, they say. (Erica Rex, 1/2)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Young Invincibles Like Me Should Pay Our Fair Share For Health Care
I should have the freedom to buy and drive a car, and with that freedom comes the responsibility to purchase car insurance, just in case I crash my car into yours and can’t pay for your repairs. My decision to become uninsured is like choosing to rear-end the guy in front of me on the turnpike, because it increases his health-insurance premium, and yours, too. In that sense, it’s just as reasonable to require me to buy health insurance as it is to require me to have car insurance. (Jonathan Fried, 1/2)
The New York Times: The Dangerous Rise Of The IUD As Poverty Cure
Over the past decade, more and more women have begun using long-acting, reversible birth control methods like intrauterine devices and implants. These birth control methods are highly effective at preventing pregnancy but were previously not widely accessible because of high costs and lack of knowledge among health care providers. Increasing access to these methods, for women who want them, is a sign of progress. However, many researchers, advocates and policymakers aren’t selling their rise solely as a victory for women’s health. They claim IUDs and implants may be a powerful new tool to fight poverty. This sort of language should set off alarm bells because the idea that limiting women’s reproduction can cure society’s ills has a long, shameful history in the United States. (Christine Dehlendorf and Kelsey Holt, 1/2)
Tampa Bay Times: Stop Trump Rules Blocking Access To Contraceptives
The Trump administration issued new rules last year that are scheduled to take effect this month and would allow more employers to deny birth control coverage through their health plans. The rules are billed as “conscience protections” for employers with religious or moral objections to contraceptives, but where is the morality in denying millions of women basic health care? (1/2)
Georgia Health News: Maternal Death Rate Is A Problem That Needs A Factual Approach
In truth, neither the public nor the medical community knows the true scope of Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis. Georgia lacks standardized, rigorous reporting and collection of maternal mortality data, so the data reported in the article may be inaccurate. It suffices to say that the situation is grave. (Michael Lindsay and Jane Ellis, 1/2)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Could Better Fight The Opioid Epidemic By Expanding Medicaid
Experts and the evidence agree, increasing access to MAT is one of the most important policy changes we could implement to combat the opioid epidemic. They also agree that Medicaid expansion is a key move that could be made to improve access; it is the largest source of funding for treatment. (Annie Stumpf, 1/2)
Miami Herald: With Florida’s High HIV Infection Rate, The State Should Become A Leader In Prevention
Florida can reduce the rate of new HIV infections by preventing them in high-risk populations. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) offers a solution. Fortunately, the Florida Department of Health started offering PrEP for free across the state in 2018. In 2019, we must connect individuals at risk of HIV infection with this service. (Daniel Bicknell, 1/2)
Tampa Bay Times: To Better Treat Patients, Hospitals Should Keep The Family Close
Oddly enough, people in the hospital are at particular risk of becoming lonely. Doctors, nurses and support staff may poke and prod them at all hours of the day or night. But they tend to lack meaningful interactions with family and friends, especially as the days in the hospital mount. That could have dire consequences for their recovery. (Dick Resch, 1/2)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.