Viewpoints: Va. GOP's 'Medicaid charade'; Paul Ryan's health Rx for poverty; giving the sick unapproved drugs

The Washington Post: Republicans' Medicaid Charade In Virginia
Virginia lawmakers will convene in a special session next month to address the question of expanding Medicaid and, more broadly, the fact that hundreds of thousands of poor and disabled people in the state have no health insurance coverage. Democrats and some moderate Republicans have advanced a variety of ideas to tackle that problem. Conservative Republicans, who control the legislature in Richmond, have rejected those solutions while proposing no alternative. Does the GOP intend for the special session to be anything more than a charade at taxpayers' expense? (8/15).

Raleigh News & Observer: Blocking NC's Medicaid Expansion Takes A Heavy Toll
The Republican-led General Assembly plans to address ways to reform Medicaid in its next session, but there's one thing it won't do to the program: expand it. This resistance is a scandal and a growing one. It's well past time for responsible and influential forces in North Carolina – the universities, banks, high-tech businesses, hospitals, clergy and others – to make expanding Medicaid the state's No. 1 priority (8/16).

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: More Fuel On The Fire For Medicaid Expansion
[In] recent months, the cases for Medicaid expansion has become even more compelling in our state. ... Our state's refusal to accept Medicaid expansion resulted in nearly 63,000 Wisconsinites being dropped from BadgerCare. Now, reports are showing that around 38,000 of those people don't have insurance through the federal health care exchange, as intended. Accepting the federal expansion funds would have insured 84,700 more people, saved Wisconsin taxpayers millions of dollars (at least $100 million in the current biennium), and brought money into our economy (Drs. Richard E. Rieselbach, Ian H. Gilson And Thomas C. Jackson, 8/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Democrats Vs. The Middle Class
ObamaCare, which gave government control of the health-care system, was vigorously supported, promoted and defended by every Senate Democrat. It became law in March 2010 without a single Republican vote in either house of Congress. Every Democratic senator cast the deciding vote for ObamaCare. … It is impossible for any Democratic senator running for re-election this year to credibly argue that he or she did not support the president's program or provide a critical vote to enact it. No Democratic candidate can argue that by electing him or her and sustaining the Democratic majority in the Senate, voters can hope to alter the president's program (Phil Gramm and Michael Solon, 8/17). 

The Wall Street Journal: A Better Way Up From Poverty
[T]he Founders' vision, ... puts individuals, their families and their communities-;not government-;at the center of American life. What does this vision look like in action? For starters, it favors choice and competition over government-run solutions. It would make health care a true market with transparent prices and more choices. It would empower Americans to make their own health decisions. Instead of top-down price controls imposed by bureaucrats, we'd have bottom-up competition driven by millions of consumers. That won't just lower health-care costs; it will improve the quality of care (Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Ill., 8/16).

The New York Times' The Upshot: Medicare Advantage Is More Expensive, But It May Be Worth It
Medicare Advantage plans -; private plans that serve as alternatives to the traditional, public program for those that qualify for it -; underperform traditional Medicare in one respect: They cost 6 percent more. But they outperform traditional Medicare in another way: They offer higher quality (Austin Frakt, 8/18). 

Los Angeles Times: New Data: How The Attack On Contraceptive Services Targets The Poor
The political attack on contraceptive services and family planning is often depicted as an attack on all women. So it is, but new data show how it's become a particular burden on low-income women. The data come from the Guttmacher Institute, one of our leading advocacy organizations for women's reproductive health (Michael Hiltzik, 8/15). 

The Washington Post: Stop Calling Abortion A 'Difficult Decision'
Planned Parenthood calls abortion "a difficult decision" in many of its consent forms and fact sheets. When NARAL launched a film on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2013, the president of the pro-choice organization called abortion "a difficult decision" women and couples face. ... However, when the pro-choice community frames abortion as a difficult decision, it implies that women need help deciding, which opens the door to paternalistic and demeaning "informed consent" laws. It also stigmatizes abortion and the women who need it (Janet Harris, 7/15). 

USA Today: FDA Vs. Right To Try: Our View
The deadly Ebola outbreak spreading through Africa is so extreme, it is driving health officials to do something that they would instinctively resist in normal circumstances: Subject patients to unproven experimental drugs. The drugs are risky. Some have not even been tested on humans. Even so, a World Health Organization ethics committee just declared such use ethical, and its reasoning is hard to dispute, at least for patients who would otherwise die. Some chance is better than none, even with unknown side effects. Too bad American patients suffering from terminal illnesses have so much trouble getting the same chance (8/17). 

USA Today: FDA Is Not The Main Problem: Opposing View
Suppose that you found out your son or daughter was dying of an untreatable brain tumor. Suppose you also found out that a pharmaceutical company was working on a drug to treat that disease but that it had only been tested in 10 adults. While all the patients came through unharmed, only two showed a little improvement. If your doctor said that drug was your child's only hope, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might not let you get it, wouldn't you want something done? That is exactly what state "right to try" laws seek to do. The problem is that the FDA is not the main obstacle standing between desperately ill people and experimental drugs (Arthur L. Caplan, 8/17). 

The Washington Post: Time To Cut The Hype And Focus On The Real Dangers Of Ebola
The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has seized the world's attention like a summer horror movie. The images of a terrible disease without a cure have surged across news and social media. Late last week, a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO) said the scope of the outbreak appears to have been "vastly underestimated." ... It is time to get sober, fast. The Ebola infections in four nations of West Africa may have been started by Mother Nature, but controlling them is now very much in the hand of humans. More than 1,000 people have died. Either the world gets this right or the outbreak will spread (8/17).

The Washington Post: When A Friend Asks You to Help Her Die
In July 1998, I received a call from an old friend. She was in intensive care in a New Hampshire hospital, where she lay, nearly quadriplegic, with a halo brace screwed into her skull to buttress her broken neck and shocked spinal cord. An avid horsewoman and competitive carriage racer in her mid-70s, she had been devastatingly injured when her horse spooked, flipping the carriage over on top of her. "The surgeon wants my permission to operate if I improve neurologically but the fracture does not heal. Will you promise me that if I remain a quadriplegic you will come and put me down?" I did not hesitate in my answer to her. "Yes," I said (Jerald Winakur, 8/17). 

The New York Times: To Know Suicide
It is often easier to account for a suicide by external causes like marital or work problems, physical illness, financial stress or trouble with the law than it is to attribute it to mental illness. ... Suicidal depression involves a kind of pain and hopelessness that is impossible to describe -; and I have tried. I teach in psychiatry and have written about my bipolar illness, but words struggle to do justice to it. How can you say what it feels like to go from being someone who loves life to wishing only to die? (Kay Redfield Jamison, 8/15).

Seattle Times: Washington Can Do Better In Mental-Health System
But, for reasons ranging from the stigma associated with mental illness to insurance that does not cover mental health as it does physical health, as many as 40 percent never get treatment and struggle throughout their lives. ... The Affordable Care Act has opened a door to solutions, providing insurance to those who had none. Washington is ahead of many states because the Legislature embraced Medicaid expansion. But this state has also failed in some ways (Kate Riley, 8/16).

The New York Times: Cancer And The Secrets of Your Genes
Genetic testing has revolutionized how we think about cancer, allowing us to make some decent predictions about who might get certain cancers and who might benefit from preventive treatments. ... The problem is that many patients think genetic testing can tell us far more than it does. Despite the exaggerated claims of some entrepreneurs and lab owners, we can't predict patients' cancer risk and advise them appropriately just by sequencing their genome. At least not yet (Theodora Ross, 8/16).

The New York Times: The Verdict On A Troublesome Carcinogen
Formaldehyde, a substance widely used in consumer products and industrial processes, has been authoritatively judged a carcinogen despite the best efforts of the chemical industry to confuse the issue. A panel of experts convened by the National Academy of Sciences found sufficient evidence from human studies to declare formaldehyde "a known human carcinogen" that causes nasopharyngeal cancer, sinonasal cancer and myeloid leukemia. It also cited evidence from studies of animals and of carcinogenesis suggesting that formaldehyde may cause a much wider array of cancers than just those three (8/17).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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