Editorial pages focus on these health topics and others.
Stat: We’re Missing The True Point Of Hospital Price Transparency
Since New Year’s Day, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has learned the hard way that forcing hospitals to post their standard prices online brings as much confusion as insight to prospective patients. Rather than enlighten us on the cost of, say, a knee replacement, we must now parse the complicated medical jargon associated with knee replacement surgery — do I need the Component FML P-STB Cndlr Knee Ant-Pstr Pors 54x55mm for $42,011 at one Texas hospital or do I need its Implant TIB Knee MOST HNGD SZ 2 at $25,956? — while trying to figure out how much insurers will knock off the price. This clearly wasn’t the intended result behind the CMS requirement that, as of Jan. 1, every hospital must post a “machine readable” copy of its chargemaster, a list of all charges the hospital can levy. Yet it shouldn’t have taken the actual implementation of this shortsighted policy to reveal it wouldn’t bring true price transparency into the cost of health care. (Jay Deady, 2/4)
The New York Times: Why You Should Be Careful About 23andMe’s Health Test
Last month, the DNA-testing company 23andMe secured Food and Drug Administration approval for a new screening for gene-based health risks. Along with celiac disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, breast cancer and several other medical conditions, the company can now screen clients for two mutations that have been linked to colorectal cancer. But “F.D.A.-approved” does not necessarily mean “clinically useful.” 23andMe relies on much simpler technology than tests that you’d get at your doctor’s office. As a result, the company’s tests cannot tell you much about your actual risk of developing the diseases in question. (2/1)
The Hill: Why Standing Up For Children Is A Policy Priority
Our children are being left behind. Mortality rates are rising from preventable injury. Children are dying in the custody of the state. Some are suffering and dying from vaccine preventable diseases. Some are trapped in detention centers and psychiatric hospitals due to state failures to find less restrictive settings, hindering their development at critical periods in their lives. As the country emerges from the longest government shutdown in history — and possibly braces for another — policy makers set agendas to define the year ahead. While more candidates throw their hats into the 2020 ring, children’s issues are not top priority. (Erin Daksha-Talati Paquette, 2/3)
Los Angeles Times: How I Fell For OxyContin
In 2000, when I was 19 and having an existential and Adderall-fueled nervous breakdown, I came home from college for a long weekend and sobbed in my mother’s arms. She held me and shushed me, and then — feeling like she was out of options, she’d tell me later — took out a fat, round, green pill from a bottle on her night table and bit off a small chunk. “Here,” she said as she pulled me close, “Maybe this will calm you down.” It did. I didn’t even ask what it was before I swallowed it, but as soon as it kicked in, I knew: This feels like home. (Dani Fleischer, 2/3)
The New York Times: The Challenge Of Managing Other People’s Pain
I believe my mother thought that needing to medicate her own discomfort would be a kind of moral and physical weakness. This applied only to herself; if I told her that I was hurting, or that one of her grandchildren was in pain, she would have been anxious for something to help. She felt our pain, you might say, but she denied her own. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks thinking about pain in children and writing about pain in children — acute pain and chronic pain, pain with shots and pain after surgery, pain medicines and pain specialists. (Perri Klass, 2/4)
The Wall Street Journal: Howard Schultz Is Right About Medicare For All
For progressives, the only thing worse than Starbucks founder Howard Schultz getting into the 2020 presidential race might be Donald Trump suffering a debilitating heart attack. That’s how many on the left secretly see things. To them, Mr. Trump is like another Kennedy assassination combined with another Goldwater—a one-time alignment that will enable an agenda that otherwise would never get through the White House door. Item No. 1 on that agenda is single-payer health care. (Holman W. Jenkins, 2/1)
The Washington Post: Experts Hated This Trump Health-Care Policy. So Far, They’re Wrong.
It’s time to acknowledge that critics may have misjudged one of the Trump administration’s signature health-care policies — “bigly.” Last summer, the administration issued new rules designed to help small businesses and self-employed people get health insurance through what are known as association health plans. The plans, which have existed for decades, allow small businesses in the same field or region to band together into “associations” and provide insurance for their members. Because these plans are able to use their size to negotiate lower premiums and are not subject to all Affordable Care Act regulations, they are often cheaper than those found on the individual market. (Robert Gebelhoff, 2/1)
The New York Times: Donald Trump Is Getting It Right On Veterans Care
Since President Trump took office, speculation has raged that he intends to privatize major portions of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ sprawling health care system. Last week, the administration took its most definitive step in that direction by releasing rules allowing veterans who live more than a 30-minute drive from a V.A. health care facility to choose to receive private care instead. (Anuradha Bhagwati, 2/3)
The New York Times: What Is The Blood Of A Poor Person Worth?
Jacqueline Watson needed money. Her son had called her that morning from prison, where he is serving a life sentence, to ask her to make a deposit in his phone account. She didn’t have cash, but she did have something she could sell quickly and legally — her blood. So, on a crisp Monday morning in November, she traveled 40 minutes by bus to CSL Plasma, a blood plasma collection center wedged between a Dollar Tree and a Wells Fargo bank in a strip mall in North Philadelphia. (Zoe Greenberg, 2/1)
Stat: Getting CRISPR To Market: Solve Delivery, Manufacturing Issues
The news in November that a Chinese scientist may have edited the genes of embryos, resulting in the birth of two baby girls, reminds us that gene editing is still an exciting — and often controversial — field. (Jim Burns, 2/1)
San Jose Mercury News: Newsom Must Address Aging Population’s Malnutrition
As the aging demographic continues to grow, the stress on the state budget will significantly increase. To meet demand and provide needed care, Newsom must prioritize resources and follow through.The plan should identify and address the social factors that place seniors at risk for malnutrition and other diseases. (Susannah Meyer, 2/3)
Boston Globe: Does Partners HealthCare Still Need To Grow?
Does Partners HealthCare still need to grow — and if so, how and where, and at what cost to Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s, its flagship hospitals? That’s the important, underlying policy question, beyond what feels like a family feud between two great Harvard teaching hospitals and their parent company. (2/1)
San Francisco Chronicle: Soda Warning Ruling Sugar-Coats Disease
The soda industry has won two rounds in the battle to discourage consumption of sugary drinks linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. It will take a concerted effort by the community to keep the focus on what’s really at stake: our health. (2/3)
San Francisco Chronicle: California’s Secret To Health Is Immigration
What makes California the very picture of health? It’s neither sunshine nor silicone. Our health secret is immigration.While the president blames immigrants for being sources of disease, Californians have long known that immigrants make us healthier. (Joe Mathews, 2/3)
Tampa Bay Times: Doctors, Beware, The Federal Government Is Back In Business
As the federal government roared back to life this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa announced a slew of sentencings and settlements. There was the standard fare expected from federal prosecutors — important cases involving the conviction of child predators, drug dealers, and felons carrying guns. Also of note, however, were a series of high-impact health care fraud cases. Health care practitioners — and their patients — would be wise to learn from the mistakes of their peers and adjust their course accordingly. (A. Lee Bentley III and Jason Mehta, 2/1)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Syndicated from https://khn.org/morning-breakout/viewpoints-hospital-prices-are-still-a-mirage-for-patients-just-because-the-fda-signs-off-not-all-gene-tests-are-created-equal/