Opinion pages focus on these health care topics and others.
The Hill: It’s Time To Rethink Our National Drug Policy
In America’s ongoing war on drugs, the methamphetamine crisis of the 1990s and 2000s fell from the national consciousness when the opioid epidemic first arrived. Yet, like most drug crises that cycle in and out of public view, abuse of methamphetamines — more commonly known as crystal meth — receded but never went away. Now meth use is resurgent again. (Mitch Rosenthal, 12/20)
Stat: ‘Passive’ Fentanyl Exposure: More Myth Than Reality
Reports of fentanyl-related passive toxicity has led to the release of hyperbolic warnings and burdensome recommendations by Drug Enforcement Administration, including the use of extensive personal protective equipment, such as gloves, paper coveralls, eye protection, and even particulate respirators. We believe that such responses to passive casualties from fentanyl are excessive and may actually interfere with the ability of first responders and others to do their jobs. (Lewis S. Nelson and Jeanmarie Perrone, 12/21)
JAMA: Increasing Evidence For The Limited Role Of Opioids To Treat Chronic Noncancer Pain.
In 2017, an estimated 11 to 12 million people in the United States (4.2% of the total population) misused opioids (including heroin).1 What most physicians do not recognize is that 92% of people who misuse opioids do so by taking prescription opioids,1 and that 75% of individuals who use heroin report that they started misusing opioids through the misuse of prescription opioids. (Michael A. Ashburn and Lee A. Fleisher, 12/18)
The Hill: Dietary Guidelines: Blame Big Food, Not Government, For Unhealthy Eating
The dietary guidelines represent the government’s core advice on healthy eating. Importantly, the guidelines form the basis for much federal, state and local food policy — like the school lunch program and congregate meals for older Americans — so the stakes are high for the food industry, which has much to gain from muddying the waters. (Bonnie F. Liebman, 12/20)
Stat: Reinvent Scientific Publishing With Blockchain Technology
If the open flow of scientific information is a fundamental part of science, then the scientific community is in trouble. Academic publishers, which dominate scientific publishing, reap great financial rewards from the work done by scientists, who are often frustrated and handcuffed by the process. I believe that blockchain technology, if harnessed correctly, can enable the change the industry sorely needs. This instrument of transparency can return the power of science to scientists, giving them unprecedented levels of control over their work. (Manuel Martin, 12/21)
Houston Chronicle: Rural Health Care Needs Moonshot To Reverse Downward Trajectory
In many rural communities across Texas, the health care delivery systems are on life-support or nonexistent — leaving too many Texans vulnerable with limited or no access to care. In a state as resourceful as Texas, this is unacceptable.Currently, 170 of the 254 counties in Texas are rural with nearly 20 percent of the state’s population — or more than 3 million people – still residing in what can be considered “rural” areas. (Dan McCoy, 12/20)
San Francisco Chronicle: Alta Bates’ Closure May Be An Economic Necessity For Sutter, But It Will Come At A High Cost To The East Bay
Hospital closures displace patients, overburden the hospitals that remain open and adversely affect regional mortality. Patients also struggle with longer travel times, which can be fatal in emergency situations. Residents in northwest Alameda County and West Contra Costa County are still struggling to absorb the 2015 closure of Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo. (12/20)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Let’s Make Black Women’s Maternal Mortality A Priority In PA
With the new legislative session approaching, the Pennsylvania legislature must put black women’s health on the top of its list. To make change on this public health crisis at the state level, legislators should look to community members and model federal legislation such as the MOMMA Act, introduced as state legislation in Illinois. (Mashayla Hays, 12/20)
Sacramento Bee: Fighting Wildfire From The Inside Out
In the wake of the Camp Fire, I’ve been reading about the work of wildfire scientist Jack Cohen. During his many years with the U.S. Forest Service, Cohen studied which houses in fire-prone areas tend to burn and which survive. His work is deeply respected and several of his videos are on YouTube. They should be required viewing for anyone living in a wildfire zone. To his surprise, Cohen found that the houses closest to catastrophic blazes often withstood the fires even when those farther away burned. It often wasn’t the approaching flames that threatened houses the most. The bigger danger, it turns out, were the thousands of small embers, called firestarters, that blew off of fires and traveled for miles on the wind. (Karin Klein, 12/19)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.