Syndicated from Kaiser Health News
Opinion writers weigh in on these health care topics and others.
Approximately 350 minors become regular smokers every day, with 1 in 3 eventually dying as a result, according to the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. After the Food and Drug Administration cracked down on underage tobacco use over the past few years, lawmakers are finally listening. Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the Tobacco-Free Youth Act, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). (7/1)
We Americans are becoming ever better at vilifying people who disagree with us. This taste for hate seems perverse, an intentional pursuit of displeasure. Hate disturbs one’s inner peace, as does being hated.But the compensatory pleasures of hatred—in particular its enhancement of self-esteem—are underrated. Hatred is self-congratulatory. It involves expressing superiority to its objects, and patting yourself on the back for not being them. (Crispin Sartwell, 7/1)
Last year, as part of an effort to carry out President Trump’s promise of “extreme vetting” of visitors to the United States, the Department of Homeland Security began collecting social media account information from millions of people seeking to cross the border. After all, a radical online could be a radical offline. That’s why the stream of posts ricocheting around a 9,500-member Facebook group, comprising current and former Border Patrol agents as well as some people with no apparent connection to the Border Patrol, is so troubling. (7/1)
By the left’s account you’d think the Trump Administration’s only ambition on health care is to rip insurance from the poor and sick. So note that a Health and Human Services rule finalized last month represents a dramatic expansion in health-care choices for those who may have limited insurance options.The Trump Administration finished regulations expanding health reimbursement arrangements, often known as HRAs. The arrangements will allow an employer to give a worker tax-exempt dollars to buy a health-insurance plan in the individual market. Such arrangements have existed in some form since the early 2000s, but the Obama Administration used the Affordable Care Act to limit them. (7/1)
I have been meditating lately about death as I continue to see it on a regular basis. What continues to amaze me is the fact that, under the most obvious circumstances, patients and families seem to be skeptical about it and it is never a natural occurrence; and we are never ever ready for it.I was thinking about Jahi McMath who “died again” just about a year ago. She was the most remarkable case in our lifetime in terms of creating controversy about what death really means, after she had been pronounced brain dead, which is legal death. All of this mediated by the family resisting death itself. (Sebastian Sepulveda, 7/1)
Among the endless metrics for assessing the quality of health care, one that is exceedingly important for measuring physician quality is on the chopping block. I’m talking about turning the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam Step 1, which all medical students take at the end of their second year of studies, into a pass/fail test. This proposed change was quietly announced by the owners of the test and has received almost no media coverage. Such a pivotal change, which I find troubling, merits greater attention and debate. If you, too, think it is an unwise move, make your voice heard before comments on the proposal are closed on July 26. (Kim Lien Nguyen, 7/1)
Clinical diagnostic laboratory tests range from routine chemical measurements like blood glucose or sodium to complex examinations for cancer, infectious diseases, or rare inherited disorders. The information they provide is among the most important data doctors use to diagnose and treat patients. Medicare spent over $7 billion on laboratory services for beneficiaries in 2017, making it the country’s largest purchaser. The program should act now to eliminate excessive payments for some lab tests. (Roger D. Klein, 7/1)
Here’s the bottom line: Psychiatric patients in the emergency department can end up being treated as less than human. All too often, I’ve seen the standard approach to care escalate what is already a tenuous, scary, and traumatic situation for everyone. And we’re up against some frightening numbers. Emergency visits for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts have increased by more than 40% since 2006, while behavioral health visits to emergency departments have increased by nearly 57% for children and 41% for adults. And every emergency department across the country has witnessed an explosion of opioid overdoses — another tragic manifestation of untreated mental illness. (Denise Brown, 7/2)
Anyone who wants to create a medical innovation for his or her own use is free to do so. This activity is protected by the right to privacy in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — even if others deem the innovation to be risky or downright unsafe. And this activity is beyond the reach of federal agencies like the FDA, which cannot regulate noncommercial activity. That said, safety is important — and not guaranteed. A coding error in an artificial pancreas could lead to dangerous miscalculations of an individual’s insulin dose. But we don’t believe that concerns about safety should be a reason for governments to limit patient innovation. On the contrary, we believe that governments should encourage it. (Harold Demonaco and Eric Von Hippel, 7/1)
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Some stories produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation. Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.