Opinion writers weigh in on these health care topics and others.
Stat: How The CDC’s Opioid Prescribing Guideline Is Harming Pain Patients
During the recent Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association, the organization’s president, Dr. Barbara McAneny, told the story of a patient of hers whose pharmacist refused to fill his prescription for an opioid medication. She had prescribed the medication to ease her patient’s severe pain from prostate cancer, which had spread to his bones. Feeling ashamed after the pharmacist called him a “drug seeker,” he went home, hoping to endure his pain. Three days later, he tried to kill himself. Fortunately, McAneny’s patient was discovered by family members and survived. This story has become all too familiar to patients who legitimately use opioid medication for pain. (Kate M. Nicholson, Diane E. Hoffman and Chad D. Kollas, 12/6)
New England Journal of Medicine: #ThisIsOurLane — Firearm Safety As Health Care’s Highway
The hashtag’s power reflected some existing momentum — the pump had been primed for a strong response to the NRA’s misguided assertion. Over recent years, health care and public health professionals and others have concertedly built a consensus that it’s essential to resume the science of firearm-injury prevention. This science had all but stalled in the United States, owing to a 1996 rider on an omnibus spending bill, the Dickey Amendment, prohibiting the use of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds for advocacy or promotion of gun control. (Megan L. Ranney, Marian E. Betz, and Cedric Dark, 12/5)
The Washington Post: George H.W. Bush’s Biggest Failure? The War On Drugs.
When Bush took office, the federal drug control budget was around $5 billion. When he left office in 1993, it was over $12 billion. This was the sharpest escalation in the history of the drug war and it locked the country into a strategy of punishment, deterrence and intolerance. Based on instinct rather than evidence, Bush’s approach did little to alleviate the public health crisis of addiction or halt the flow of drugs to American shores. And we remain trapped within this largely punitive approach today. So while we remember Bush as a “gentle soul,” we should also remember his role in fomenting a drug war that harmed millions of American citizens, particularly in communities of color. (Matthew R. Pembleton, 12/6)
New England Journal of Medicine: The Future Of Health Care Reform — A View From The States On Where We Go From Here
We reached out to state leaders to find out how they view this critical moment and to identify potential paths to consensus that would span the ideological spectrum. Our first step was a nationwide survey asking all state legislators serving on committees related to health to rank their policy priorities. We then went to Colorado and Kansas to have conversations with legislators, executive-branch leaders, and key stakeholders about our survey results. We chose Kansas to represent the 26 states led entirely by Republicans and Colorado to represent the 18 with split control. Both states had a high response rate on our survey and a health policy institute offering logistic support. (David K. Jones, Christina Pagel and Christopher F. Koller, 12/6)
Stat: AI In Pharma, Health Care: At The Crossroads Of Hype And Reality
Artificial intelligence is at the forefront of the minds of many pharmaceutical and health care executives. We know this because, as life sciences consultants, our clients frequently ask us for advice on how best to navigate AI. …Now is an appropriate time to ask: What is holding back artificial intelligence in health care and the life sciences? And what can organizations do to get the most from AI and minimize the risks? (Grant Stephen and Michale Jacobson, 12/6)
USA Today: Veterans Affairs Needlessly Burdens Caregivers Of Disabled Veterans
Caregivers like me are supporting catastrophically wounded veterans all over the country. All too often, we’re carrying out that mission alone, with insufficient help from the very government that sent our husbands, wives, sons and daughters off to war. My husband proudly volunteered to serve and wanted to go to the front lines. Never did we think that the greatest fight would occur once home. (Sarah Verardo, 12/5)
New England Journal of Medicine: Politics And Pandemics
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the deadliest event in U.S. history: the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918, which killed more Americans than World Wars I and II combined. Although science and technology have advanced tremendously over the past century, the pandemic peril remains: a recent exercise at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security showed that an epidemic of an influenza-like virus could kill 15 million Americans in a single year. The medical community’s response to this danger is, understandably, focused on research and response — discovering new vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics and fighting ongoing epidemics, such as the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But these urgent undertakings are not sufficient. (Ron Klain, 12/6)
The Hill: We Can’t Talk About Vaccines Without Talking About Community
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate a downward trend in vaccine coverage in the United States. Although we still need to learn more about the factors causing this shift, it’s clear that public health professionals and healthcare providers need to more explicitly make the importance of community and how much we are connected to each other, a part of the conversation. (Nicole Alexander-Scott, 12/5)
New England Journal of Medicine: Toward Precision Policy — The Case Of Cardiovascular Care
Our experience with policies that offer incentives to physicians and hospitals to deliver higher-value care teaches us that before policies are implemented widely, rigorous studies should be conducted to determine whether they achieve their goals. (Rishi K. Wadhera and Deepak L. Bhatt, 12/6)
Boston Globe: How “Femicide” Drove The Caravan
Many of the Central American refugees now making their way toward the United States are female. They have special reasons to flee. In Honduras, which is the size of Ohio, a woman is murdered every 16 hours. (Stephen Kinzer, 12/5)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.