Opinion writers weigh in on these public health topics and other health issues.
Boston Globe: What Level Of Disparity In Health Care Are We Willing To Tolerate?
The United States leads the world in health care innovation, but we are tragically dead last as compared with other high-income countries when it comes to keeping our citizens healthy. While those in other countries have access to regular physical exams and a wide range of preventive care regardless of their economic status, the only level of care we, the richest nation in the world, guarantee every resident is a trip to the local emergency room. I believe we can — and should — do better. (Michael Apkon, 8/1)
The New York Times: Juul Says It Doesn’t Target Kids. But Its E-Cigarettes Pull Them In.
Over 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes last year, up by 1.5 million over 2017. The use of Juul, the most popular brand in the country, appears to have led this alarming increase among middle and high school students. This should not be a surprise. The founders of Juul Labs say that their product is not intended for young people but was designed with the adult smoker in mind. “We want to be part of the solution to end combustible smoking, not part of a problem to attract youth, never smokers or former smokers to nicotine products,” the company says on its website. (David A. Kessler, 7/31)
Stat: Why Health Companies Are Branding Themselves As Tech Companies
From digital health startups to primary care groups, companies are increasingly branding themselves as tech companies first, health care companies second. Shunning ties to the mission-driven health care sector may seem counterintuitive at best and sacrilegious at worst.Yet for many new entrants, such an approach — which we call avoidant positioning — is becoming the norm. We unpack three weaknesses of the health care label that may be fueling a broader identity crisis for these firms, and suggest that this trend represents a wake-up call for health care. (Samyukta Mullangi and Medha Vyavahare, 8/1)
The New York Times: I’m An Obstetrician. Giving Birth At Home Isn’t Irresponsible.
Earlier this month, a Nebraska midwife, Angela Hock, was charged with negligent child abuse when a newborn died after complications from a breech birth at home. It’s worth noting that before this delivery, Ms. Hock, the proprietor of a business called Nebraska Birth Keeper, had performed 50 births at home without incident. Nonetheless, Ms. Hock was not certified to practice as a midwife. It’s unfortunate that these are the stories about home birth that make headlines, because they give the practice a bad name, and contribute to a sense that home births are irresponsible, a danger to the mother and baby. (Kate A. McLean, 7/31)
Stat: Hospital Drug Shortages Are Harmful And Costly. We Aim To Fix Them
Drug shortages are a major challenge for hospitals. Today, 121 key lifesaving drugs are in short supply and 70% of all hospital pharmacists report at least 50 shortages a year. Without these lifesaving drugs on hand, providers may be forced to delay medically necessary care or substitute therapies that may not be as effective. Health systems like ours can help alleviate the problem. Drug shortages are triggered by a variety of events, including natural disasters or manufacturing quality problems that take producers offline for weeks or months at a time. Some shortages occur when manufacturers have difficulty finding sources of raw materials, others when there is a sudden surge in demand due to a disease outbreak or seasonal spike in cases, such as flu season. (Barclay E. Berdan, Scott Reiner and Terry Shaw, 8/1)
The Washington Post: Victims, Families And America’s Thirst For True-Crime Stories
I had been with Bill Thomas for only a few hours when a woman came up to us in tears. She had heard him recently on a podcast talking about his sister Cathy’s still-unsolved 1986 killing and recognized his face from the social media accounts he uses to push out updates and thoughts on the case. Coincidentally, she was about to go camping near the site of the murder, the Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg, Va. “It’s been so heavy on my mind,” she said in a choked voice. She wanted to know if anything bad had happened on the parkway since the so-called Colonial Parkway Murders — a potential serial killer case involving the deaths of four young couples, including Cathy and her girlfriend, Rebecca Dowski. (Britt Peterson, 7/30)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.