Opinion writers weigh in on these health issues and others.
Dallas Morning News: Pricing Transparency Could Help Lower America’s Sky-High Health Care Costs
Imagine being able to shop for a knee-replacement surgery the way most people shop for a flight — by comparing prices on a website like Orbitz or Cheapflights.com, and understanding the full cost of exactly what you’re getting before shelling out your hard-earned money. It’s hard to imagine because hospitals, doctors and other health care providers guard the prices they negotiate with insurance companies for medical services with, one might say, our lives. Providers and insurers have long regarded prices as proprietary, shrouding them in secrecy through confidentiality agreements. (3/19)
The Washington Post: Scott Gottlieb’s Successors At The FDA Should Follow His Lead
Scott Gottlieb’s unexpected resignation as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration caused widespread concern that we are losing steady hands on a crucial government agency. Those concerns were allayed by the announcement last week that Norman “Ned” Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, will succeed him as acting commissioner. Sharpless, no doubt, has the scientific knowledge and leadership skills needed to defend public health and advance science while overseeing and regulating industries that together account for nearly 25 percent of the nation’s economic activity. Nevertheless, strong headwinds await anyone who takes the reins of the FDA in the coming years. The public health community is wading into uncharted territories on many fronts, and it needs strong leadership to guide the way. (Robert M. Califf, 3/18)
The Wall Street Journal: Banishing Profit Is Bad For Your Health
House Democrats’ new Medicare for All bill asserts “a moral imperative . . . to eliminate profit from the provision of health care.” The legislation specifies that federal health funding—virtually all health funding if the bill were to become law—may not be used for “the profit or net revenue of the provider.” That makes it more radical and less realistic than even Bernie Sanders’ plan. In one stroke, the House bill would sweep away the business model used by the vast majority of doctors in private practice, 28% of hospitals, 70% of nursing homes, and countless clinics, outpatient surgery facilities, dialysis centers, home-care agencies and more. The bill doesn’t detail an enforcement mechanism, but it seems to mean that thousands of providers would either have to reorganize as nonprofits or shut down. (Bill Hammond, 3/18)
The Washington Post: Teen Suicides Are On The Rise. Here’s What Parents Can Do To Slow The Trend.
The two middle-schoolers had never met in person, but they both struggled with depression and were drawn to the same dark group chat. When one wrote that he planned to kill himself, the other took an image of his post. “I’m so freaked out,” she told me, her school counselor. “Please find him and make sure he’s okay.” With some assistance, I was able to figure out what Washington-area school the boy attended. When I called his principal, she was bewildered. Her student could be disruptive in class, she told me, but he didn’t seem sad. (Phyllis L. Fagell, 3/18)
Los Angeles Times: A Long-Shot Connecticut Lawsuit Might Finally Hold The Gun Industry Accountable
It’s bad enough that Congress allows military assault-style weapons to be sold to the general public, making instruments of mass carnage available for the price of a laptop computer. Making matters worse, lawmakers have granted the gun industry near-blanket protection from liability for the damage inflicted with their weapons, unlike other companies that make or sell deadly products. That shield against liability — the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — was passed in response to a wave of lawsuits in the late 1990s against gun manufacturers and dealers for injuries and deaths caused by their goods. Last week, however, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued a ruling that might open a narrow breach in that outrageous legal wall protecting the industry. (3/19)
Stat: Climate Change Should Be Part Of Every Medical School’s Curriculum
As a medical student fumbling with the fundamentals of interviewing patients and taking medical histories, the realities of being a doctor seem like a far-off dream. My colleagues and I work hard to prepare ourselves to be equipped to address the increasingly complex health care issues that will affect the lives of our future patients, from inequities in access to quality care to multidrug resistance. The most pressing of these issues is climate change, a growing environmental emergency that will have devastating health impacts. (Anna Goshua, 3/19)
The Washington Post: Tech Addiction Is Real. We Psychologists Need To Take It Seriously.
Last summer, the World Health Organization recognized Internet gaming as a diagnosable addiction. This was an important step in aligning practice with research, but we need to go further. Psychologists and other mental-health professionals must begin to acknowledge that technology use has the potential to become addictive and impact individuals and communities — sometimes with dire consequences. (Doreen Dodgen-Magee, 3/18)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.