Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
Los Angeles Times: Allow Teenagers To Protect Themselves From Their Anti-Vaxx Parents
California law gives teenagers the legal right to consent to abortions, obtain birth control, get tested for HIV or vaccinated for sexually transmitted diseases, even if their parents object. Should they also have the right to seek out immunization for other serious and potentially deadly diseases such as measles, tetanus and polio? It’s a reasonable question here — and everywhere — as measles cases continue to surge globally and in the U.S., and faith in vaccinations has eroded to the point that the World Health Organization listed vaccine skepticism as one of the biggest threats to human health in 2019. (3/15)
The Hill: Majority Of The Maternal Death-Rate Is Based On Race, But We Can Fix It
It is no secret that the Trump administration and the president seemingly have problems with two key constituencies: women and people of color. Attacking head on the heartbreaking tragedy of maternal mortality among African American women could mitigate, at least a bit, the administration’s reputation for misogyny and racism. Politics aside, it is the right thing to do. (Robert M. Hayes, 3/14)
Stat: Apple Watch And Atrial Fibrillation Detection: More Harm Than Good?
Set your smartwatch alarm. You’re about to be barraged by tons of hype about the health benefits of the Apple Watch. Unfortunately, it won’t include essential information and data that can put these claims in proper perspective. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted how an Apple Watch detected a rapid heartbeat in an 18-year-old girl, who said the device saved her life. Now, with the presentation on Saturday of findings from an enormous Apple Watch study at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans, the hype meter is about to go to 11. (Larry Husten, 3/15)
The Washington Post: Trump’s Proposed SNAP Cuts Could Damage The Economy. Here’s How.
One thing you can say about any member of the Trump administration: They are consistent in their hatred of almost anyone who needs a financial helping hand. And they will pursue that hatred to the point of damaging the American economy. The Trump administration’s new budget, released Monday, includes staggering proposed cuts to social welfare programs and needs such as Medicare, Medicaid, housing and education. These cuts are not just mean, though they are indeed very, very mean. They are also a form of economic sabotage. (Olen, 3/14)
The Hill: Unleash The Full Potential Of The Human Genome Project | TheHill
In the summer of 2000, the Human Genome Project successfully concluded with the first fully sequenced human genome. To commemorate this accomplishment the White House hosted an epic celebration. In his remarks on that June day, President Clinton echoed the hopes of scientists from all over the world when he said that: “In coming years, doctors increasingly will be able to cure diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and cancer by attacking their genetic roots…In fact, it is now conceivable that our children’s children will know the term cancer only as a constellation of stars.” (Paul Glimcher, 3/14)
New England Journal of Medicine: The FDA’s Proposed Ban On Menthol Cigarettes
A proposed ban on menthol cigarettes marks a new chapter in a decades-long debate over the science of addiction, the public health costs, the marketing practices of tobacco companies, the politics of tobacco control in vulnerable populations, and the FDA’s authority. (Keith Wailoo, 3/14)
The New York Times: How To Fight Suicide
Agnes McKeen lives in Klamath Falls, Ore. About three years ago, at 16, Agnes’s son Harrison took his own life. “In losing Harrison I lost all direction for every ounce of love that a mother has for her child; I lost any idea of where to direct that love. Just because Harrison’s gone doesn’t mean my love for him went away,” she says. “And I had to learn to love that which is not physically here. And now my son’s energy is woven into the fabric of the universe, and that’s where I directed my love. … So now my love goes to the community.” She expresses it by trying to help people prevent suicide and deal with the grief that comes in its wake. (David Brooks, 3/14)
New England Journal of Medicine: Taking Aim At Contraceptive Coverage — The Trump Administration’s Attacks On Reproductive Rights
On January 14, Trump administration rules that would broadly allow employers to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees on the basis of religious or moral objections were temporarily blocked by a federal court. But the legal battle is likely to continue. (Cynthia H. Chuang and Carol S. Weisman, 3/14)
Stat: Ideas For Easing Medical Students’ Match Day ‘Frenzy’
The National Residency Matching Program is an admirable invention. Now more than 30 years old, it is the system through which medical students get their first paid, professional positions. It corrected past abuses that took advantage of students, often pressuring them to accept binding offers within 24 hours of a residency interview. The Match is sufficiently noteworthy that its creator, Alvin Ross, won a Nobel Prize in economics for his work on matching theory. His algorithm continues to place half of U.S. medical school graduates in their first-choice programs. Other professions and selection processes could be improved by using a similar matching system. Yet the Match and what leads up to it are having growing pains. (Alison Volpe Holmes and Mona M. Abaza, 3/15)
New England Journal of Medicine: Hypertension Hot Potato — Anatomy Of The Angiotensin-Receptor Blocker Recalls
Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) are one of four drug classes recommended for the initial treatment of hypertension. These medications are commonly used not only for hypertension — a condition present in 45.6% of U.S. adults — but also for heart failure and chronic kidney disease. On January 25, 2019, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Janet Woodcock released a statement updating the public on large-scale voluntary recalls of various products containing ARBs. (J. Brian Byrd, Glenn M. Chertow and Vivek Bhalla, 3/13)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
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