Editorial pages focus on these health care topics and others.
Boston Globe: Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ Anti-Immigrant Proposal Is Cruel And Unusual
Even compared with President Trump’s other radical anti-immigration proposals, his plan to expand dramatically the so-called public charge rule shocks the conscience. The administration’s proposal is so chilling and cruel that, even before becoming law, it’s already pushing people to make decisions that jeopardize their health and their children’s. (12/10)
Bloomberg: Planned Parenthood Case Shows Justice Thomas-Kavanaugh Dynamic
Justice Clarence Thomas has a message for Justice Brett Kavanaugh: Let’s roll. Kavanaugh, however, isn’t yet taking up the invitation. The newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court may eventually join a conservative majority of five to roll back large swaths of liberal jurisprudence. Yet it’s noteworthy that Thomas is already impatient with Kavanaugh, just a couple of months into the latter’s life tenure. All this is the takeaway from the tea leaves of an otherwise opaque opinion issued Monday with Thomas dissenting from the court’s refusal to hear a case brought by Planned Parenthood. (Noah Feldman, 12/10)
St. Louis Post Dispatch: GOP Doubles Down With Extreme Abortion Bills
It’s that time of year again. That time when state legislatures pre-file restrictive reproductive bills for upcoming 2019 sessions. The number of punitive anti-abortion and contraception bills grows each year in conservatively controlled states with many intended to revisit Roe v. Wade in the U.S. Supreme Court. (Rep. Stacey Newman, 12/10)
The Hill: What Impact Does Migration Have On The Health Of Societies?
The UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health — on which we both were commissioners — was convened in 2016 to look at migration and health in the largest sense. The commission studied key evidence and impacts and has now released a new report to coincide with the adoption of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Morocco on Dec. 10 and 11. The compact is the first, inter-governmentally negotiated agreement to cover international migration in a comprehensive manner.What we at the commission found was that evidence does not conform to the myths about migrants. On the contrary, the pervasive violations of the human rights of migrants lead to untold and needless suffering. (Paul B. Spiegel and Leonard Rubenstein, 12/10)
Stat: Don’t Make Medicare Part B Participants Go Through ‘Step Therapy’
Step therapy is a practice that requires patients to first try and “fail” an insurer’s preferred treatment before being able to access the therapy their own doctors have prescribed. It’s essentially an insurer’s way of saying, “We know more about drug therapy than your doctor and we need to protect you from his or her prescribing the most expensive drug first.” The insurers’ agents who make these decisions, by the way, are not always doctors. (Elizabeth Krempley, 12/11)
The Hill: The Civil War Over Prescription Opioids
Five years ago, Kathy S., a nurse, underwent spinal surgery. She has been in pain ever since. Still, she needs two more operations. She emailed me recently to say that her physician cannot prescribe her pain medicine because of government pressure against prescribing opioids. She asked me why she is being treated like a drug addict when all she wants is to function. Once, Kathy’s story would have shocked me. Now, although her experience distresses me, I’m no longer surprised. (Lynn R. Webster, 12/10)
The Washington Post: A Damning Pentagon Report Reveals How The Air Force Failed To Stop A Mass Shooting
After last year’s mass shooting at a rural Texas church, the Air Force acknowledged it had failed to alert the FBI to information that would have prevented the shooter, a disgraced airman, from legally purchasing weapons used in the attack. What was not known then was the extent of the failure — how the Air Force had multiple warnings and failed multiple times to live up to its obligation. A damning new report by the Defense Department inspector general reveals systemic issues that demand urgent attention. (12/10)
The Wall Street Journal: Don’t Sentence Prisoners To Addiction
Refusing to provide insulin to a diabetic in prison would be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court held in 1976 that the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment includes the right to necessary medical care behind bars. In a first-of-its-kind case last month, a federal trial judge in Boston ordered a county jail to allow an inmate to take his prescribed methadone for opioid-use disorder. The standard of care for opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment, which combines counseling and other supportive services with medications such as methadone or buprenorphine, which reduce cravings for opioids without providing their associated euphoria. (Abbe R. Gluck and Kate Stith, 12/10)
The Washington Post: If You Want Medicare-For-All, Prepare For A Long And Bloody Fight
Over the last two years, the idea of government-guaranteed universal health coverage, often shorthanded as Medicare-for-all (I’ll refer to it as M4A from here) has grown from a minority belief within the Democratic Party to a majority belief, and one that is on its way to becoming consensus. We are now entering a period of debate within the party about what universal coverage should look like and how to transition from the system we have now to the system we want. (Paul Waldman, 12/10)
The Hill: Organ Transplants — A Sign Of Empathy And Care
Imagine being able to conceive and birth a child despite infertility, or having been born without a womb or losing one to cancer. Thanks to the miracle of modern science, that hope is now a reality, not only via a transplanted live womb (11 previous births have used wombs from a living donor) but, for the first time ever, successfully from a cadaver. What makes this event in Brazil so incredible (the baby girl was born by C-section on Dec. 15, 2017), beyond the sheer emotions of life-affirming joy at a new life, is the complex and intricate science involved. Science made more difficult by the compromised rich uterine blood supply in a deceased donor. (Marc Siegel, 12/10)
Richmond Times Dispatch: Medicaid Expansion Means Critical Role For Virginia’s Free Clinics
While all eyes have been on the newly enrolled, there is another significance to Medicaid expansion that will further enhance access to health care for many of the remaining 300,000 of the uninsured, those whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid yet too low to afford private insurance, given the demands on their household income for housing, food, transportation, and other essentials. These “working uninsured” — by and large working families with at least one parent holding down a full-time job — represent four of the five Virginians who are currently uninsured. (Linda D. Wilkinson, 12/9)
The Washington Post: This Racist Paramedic Hates Some People Whose Lives Depend On Him. He Needs To Be Fired.
The Virginia paramedic uses a racist slur for African Americans, calling them “dindus.” In his world — the world of open white supremacists — that’s supposed to mean something like “didn’t do anything.” On the popular neo-Nazi podcast he co-hosts, Alex J. McNabb once compared an African American woman he cared for to a gorilla. (Petula Dvorak, 12/10)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.