Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
Stat: 23andMe Had Bad News About My Health. I Wish A Person Had Delivered It
I had just gotten home from the gym when I opened the email from 23andMe, saying a report was ready for me to read. That click changed my life forever: To my utter shock, the results showed that I have a mutation in a gene called BRCA1, which puts me at a huge risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. I broke into tears. At first, I didn’t believe what I was seeing. My father’s sister died of breast cancer when she was 37, but her mother (my grandmother) and her sisters all lived long healthy lives. My aunt’s death was always talked about as an unforeseeable tragedy, not a family legacy. I knew that being an Ashkenazi Jew (100%, according to 23andMe) put me at a higher risk of BRCA but at 1 in 40 that’s still only 2.5% of my tribe. (Dorothy Pomerantz, 8/8)
The Hill: The Opioid Crisis Needs A Long-Term National Strategy
For the first time in years, there’s been a decline in the national number of drug overdose deaths, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control that looked at preliminary 2018 data. That’s good news, but make no mistake: The opioid crisis is far from over. At the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), we recently tracked all 57 federal funding sources directed at the epidemic and found that they fall far short of the amount necessary to reverse the rate of overdose deaths, address the consequences of the epidemic, permanently reverse the rate of overdose deaths and build a comprehensive addiction treatment and recovery system. (Regina Labelle and W. William Hoagland, 8/8)
JAMA: Lessons Learned From The Opioid Epidemic
Oklahoma’s recent settlements with Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals, and the trial in the state’s lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, signal that the opioid epidemic is entering a new era of accountability. Hundreds of cities and counties and about 2 dozen states are also pursuing litigation against opioid manufacturers. The legal system should hold the pharmaceutical industry responsible for the overzealous, misleading, and, at times, illegal marketing of opioids. Regulators should consider new ways to monitor drug manufacturers to reduce the chances of such conduct in the future. Yet the lessons of the opioid epidemic go further. It is important for physicians, payers, hospitals, and accreditors—as well as for patients and their families—to consider what else went wrong and what can be fixed moving forward, so that a tragedy of this scale does not occur again. Four critical lessons for the health care system have become clear, and others may emerge as the epidemic continues to evolve. (Joshua M. Sharfstein and Yngvild Olsen, 8/5)
The Hill: Court Battles Place Crucial Coverage For Preexisting Conditions Under Fire
If the Supreme Court rules the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, then make no mistake, the private health insurance companies will be able to once again to deny insurance coverage to those people with preexisting conditions. The Republicans in Congress have tried more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Even though the Republicans now claim to support the specific provision dealing with preexisting conditions, they have no replacement plan that will keep those key protections in place. (Byron Dorgan, 8/8)
The Wall Street Journal: To Really Learn, Our Children Need The Power Of Play
Five years ago, we switched countries. Pasi Sahlberg came to the U.S. as a visiting professor at Harvard University, and William Doyle moved to Finland to study its world-renowned school system as a Fulbright scholar. We brought our families with us. And we were stunned by what we experienced. (Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle, 8/8)
Boston Globe: I Was Unintentionally Uninsured, Thanks To The Mass. Health Connector
An online Connector database captures official complaints and their outcomes, but those data don’t represent all of the Connector’s customer service flaws. In its recently released survey scores, almost 1 of every 5 customers in the first quarter of 2019 was either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the overall customer service. And, as my experience shows, a call that seems successful can later prove dissatisfying — yet there’s no mechanism to retroactively evaluate the call. (Sarah Ruth Bates, 8/8)
Boston Globe: Safe Injection Sites Are Another Tool On The Path To Recovery
We must consider all evidence-based and evidence-informed interventions that have a proven track record of saving lives and directing people toward treatment. The data supporting safe injection facilities as an effective tool to combat the opioid crisis could not be clearer.Study after study analyzing more than 90 facilities in Europe and Canada found that safe injection facilities not only save lives, but they also provide additional public health benefits through services that include clean-syringe exchange programs, drug checking, blood-borne virus testing, injection-site wound care, initiation of Medication-Assisted Treatment for substance-use disorder, and referrals for health and social services. (Cindy F. Friedman and Jeffrey N. Roy 8/9)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.