Editorial pages offer opinions on “Medicare For All,” the health law, mental illness, aging, and other health topics.
The New York Times: Is Medicare For All The Answer To Sky-High Administrative Costs?
Calls for a Medicare for All system are growing louder. Many Democrats have embraced it, while President Trump said last week that it would raise health care costs drastically. Democrats say that giving people the option to partake in Medicare — no matter their age — will actually cut costs. American administrative costs for health care are the highest in the world, and they argue that one advantage of Medicare for All is that it would save money because Medicare’s administrative costs are below those of private insurers. Does that argument hold up? (Austin Frakt, 10/15)
The Washington Post: Medicare-For-All? Without Action, There Won’t Be Medicare At All
The recent debate between Democrats and Republicans on “Medicare-for-All” reveals just how fruitless our politics have become. Medicare-for-All is Senator Bernie Sanders’s idea, which many Democrats have adopted as their next big health-care idea. (Other Democrats embrace less expansive ideas, like a more limited Medicare buy-in plan or a public option on the exchanges.) The plan, the cost of which Sanders pegs at $1.3 trillion a year (another study puts it at over $3 trillion), projects covering millions of still-uninsured or underinsured Americans in a Medicare-like government program. (Carter Eskew, 10/12)
The Hill: When Does The ‘Affordable’ In The Affordable Care Act Kick In?
It’s a good thing Democrats made health insurance “affordable” when they passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010. I’d hate to see how much health insurance would cost if it were expensive. The Kaiser Family Foundation just released its annual survey of employer-sponsored coverage, finding that the average premium for family coverage increased 5 percent to $19,616. (Merrill Matthews, 10/14)
The New York Times: Why I Wanted To Learn To Perform Abortions
It starts with steel. A speculum. A needle. A tenaculum to steady the cervix. A set of dilators. These were the instruments I used when I trained to perform abortions in the 1990s. There was also plastic and suction. The equipment was all so hard and sharp, and yet the procedure itself required a delicate touch. This was before ultrasound was commonly used, so a surgical abortion was often performed blindly. It took experience to recognize and understand the feel of steel and hard plastic on the cervix and the uterus. Not just because you couldn’t see, but also because the tissue changes week by week as the uterus enlarges and the muscle thins. (Jen Gunter, 10/14)
Boston Globe: The Secret To Inclusive Societies: Women’s Reproductive Freedom
While media representation, civic education, and socioeconomic status are rightfully acknowledged as critical elements to public leadership, a girl’s long-term political potential and the socio-economic reality for her, her family, and crucially, her community as a whole, are contingent on two things: her health and reproductive rights. (Alaa Murabit, 10/11)
USA Today: Food Stamps Shouldn’t Help Farmers Line Their Pockets With A Farm Bill
We’re going to say it out loud: It’s time for the farm bill and SNAP to get divorced. The 2018 farm bill debate underlines how the once-productive partnership between nutrition advocates and farm subsidy proponents has turned into a legislatively miserable relationship. There is a path forward to cost-effective, transparent federal safety nets that meet the needs of food insecure households, farm businesses, and taxpayers. Remove nutrition programs from the agriculture committees and the farm subsidy special interests they serve. (Ryan Alexander, 10/14)
The Hill: Bourdain’s CNN Special — Death By Suicide Is A Serious Public Health Issue
Today, CNN is paying tribute to Anthony Bourdain with a special episode of the late chef’s hit Parts Unknown. When news of the death by suicide of Bourdain, the chef, author and television host were revealed, food fans around the globe, international celebrities and even President Barack Obama, mourned his loss. It also seemed like many people who didn’t read Bourdain’s books or watch his show were drawn to candlelight vigils for him or those of other celebrities who die by similar means. Those people aren’t particularly fans or truly care about Bourdain. But their mood is lifted, by the camaraderie and support they find in this collective expression of grief. (Jim Coyne and Joan Cook, 10/14)
USA Today: Mental Health: My Family’s Mental Illness Fight, Hope
Rock bottom, looking back, came 11 days after the Green Bay Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game. My life, along with my family’s fabric, had slowly unraveled for months, spiraling into the abyss of mental illness. We had every reason to be happy in the fall of 2014. I was in my first season on the Packers beat, a dream job. My wife, Kelly, and I had three healthy, amazing boys. Each day was vibrant. (Ryan Wood, 10/13)
The Wall Street Journal: Technology For Older People Doesn’t Have To Be Ugly
Technologies aimed at keeping older people healthy have long combined cumbersome form and infantilizing function. Way back in 1947, you could strap on a wearable heart-rate detector and go for a stroll. (At 85 pounds, it was “wearable” only on your back, and not for long.) In 1975 the American International Telephone Corp. began selling necklace-style alert systems that could summon an ambulance in an emergency. By 2009 you could buy a wearable device to detect if you’d taken a fall in your home. (Joseph F. Coughlin and Luke Yoquinto, 10/14)
Los Angeles Times: First, Dementia Stole My Mother’s Smile. Now It’s Turning Our Lifelong Conversation Into Silence
There are millions of people living with all kinds of dementia. Millions. I assume each case is as different as the sufferer. I know my mom’s version, but only as a deeply biased observer. She and I have now spent five years negotiating the deterioration of her mind, and yet the conversation we began before my birth continues. My mom and I were never shoppers. We didn’t bowl or work out or cook together. Our thing was always talking, on the phone or on the couch, sharing an afghan. We talked when I was growing up; we talked after I left home and when I went back to visit. (Amy Koss, 10/14)
The Washington Post: Menopause Body Changes Have Sent My Pencil Skirts To The Donate Pile
Remember when you went through puberty? How your body changed rapidly in new and astonishing ways? Maybe you thought, “Wow! This is kind of weird. But I’m becoming an adult.” It was sometimes disorienting, but often exciting. Soon you’d be driving and voting and having sex and (legally) drinking. Pretty great, right? I’m 51 and I’m learning that menopause is a lot like puberty. But instead of unveiling the mysteries of adulthood, it often feels as if it’s pushing me toward the encroaching grave, reminding me that I have fewer days in front of me than behind me and, for good measure, that my skirts that once fit perfectly must now be consigned to the “donate” pile. (O, hips! Why have you betrayed me so?) (Litsa Dremousis, 10/13)
The Coloradoan: It’s Time For Equal Mental Health Care Coverage
A teenager trapped by depression. A daughter addicted to heroin. A son lost to suicide. More than a million Coloradans face a mental health or substance use disorder, but only half get the care they need. The consequences can be catastrophic: crowded emergency rooms and prison cells, increased unemployment and homelessness, and one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. This crisis is not simply statistical — it’s profoundly personal. (Andrew Romanoff, 10/12)
The Baltimore Sun: Governor Hogan Says We’ve Tried Everything To Stem Overdoses. Fortunately, That’s Not Quite True.
When we asked Gov. Larry Hogan about opioids in a recent editorial board interview, he took less evident satisfaction in discussing his record than he did when we asked about education, the environment, health care or most anything else. It’s not that he’s ignored the issue — far from it. He has, in his words, “tried everything.” Maryland has devoted more resources to combating opioid abuse (if not nearly as much as advocates say is necessary). It has expanded the availability of the anti-overdose drug Narcan and persuaded the federal government to let Medicaid cover some residential drug treatment. It has taken steps to prevent the abuse of prescription painkillers, and it has established a system for coordinating the response to the epidemic across the state. And still 2,282 people died of overdose deaths in Maryland last year, the vast majority from opioids and increasingly because of the spread of the highly potent synthetic drug fentanyl. “We’ve done more than anyone else has ever done, but we still haven’t solved the problem,” Mr. Hogan said. (10/12)
Dallas Morning News: Our Culture Teaches Girls Not To Talk And Boys Not To Feel
I disagree with academic feminism a lot — with those vague oppressor stories about the patriarchy, with the strange unwillingness to admit inherited-gender differences and with the tone of faculty lounge militancy. But academic feminism is right about the big thing. The big thing is that for thousands of years, social thinking has been dominated by men — usually alpha men — who saw life as a place where warriors and traders went out and competed for wealth and power. These male writers were largely blind to the systems of care that undergirded everything else. (David Brooks, 10/15)
Los Angeles Times: Hundreds Of Workers Have Lead Poisoning. Why Hasn’t Cal/OSHA Stepped In?
Lead poisoning is most often discussed as a hazard to children. But adults exposed to the neurotoxin suffer serious and humiliating consequences. As one man who’d worked at a battery recycling plant in Los Angeles told me, “Lead acts like a wrecking ball on the body.” He recounted chronic tremors, mood swings, weakness and sexual dysfunction. The dangers spread beyond the factory gates, too. Workers track lead dust home where it can wreak further havoc on their families. (Joe Rubin, 10/14)
Columbus Dispatch: Hospital Ready To Change Odds For Kids
A 1 in 5 chance of winning the lottery would be a good thing, but there’s nothing good about 1 in 5 children dealing with mental-health problems. Making the problem worse is that children dealing with anxiety or depression may not know how to express what they’re feeling, and parents and other adults in their lives may not know how to recognize signs that they need help. (10/14)
Sacramento Bee: How California’s New Pot Regulations Put Kids At Risk
Two years ago, Californians voted overwhelmingly to decriminalize and regulate cannabis through Proposition 64. As a physician and one of the co-authors of the measure, it is critical to me to ensure that the new, legal system includes safeguards for our children, including the toughest child-resistant packaging requirements in the nation. (Donald Lyman, 10/12)
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