Viewpoints: 'Blunders' on Ebola; McConnell's strange logic on Obamacare; temporary victory for Texas women

USA Today: Hospital's Ebola Blunders Feed Fear: Our View
The point of this is not to flog Presbyterian, though a few lashes might help snap [Daniel] Varga and other administrators back to reality. Rather, it is to probe whether the hospital's dismal performance exposes more widespread weaknesses that could turn a few inevitable, isolated cases of Ebola into something much worse. From the earliest days of the crisis, CDC Director Tom Frieden has been relentlessly reassuring. He has insisted, among other things, that the nation's hospitals could identify and isolate Ebola patients -; the indispensable first line of defense against an outbreak. The Dallas experience raises doubts (10/15). 

USA Today: Why Ebola Drug Seems So Elusive: Column
The emergence of a third case of Ebola in Dallas shows us that the deadly infection, while less transmissible than viruses such as the flu, is still highly contagious. Though the U.S. health care system will prevent Ebola from becoming epidemic here, we could still face large outbreaks. At some point, the only thing that will reverse the global tide could be a vaccine or a drug that can treat infected patients (Scott Gottlieb, 10/15).

The Washington Post's Post Partisan: A Little Ebola Panic Might Be Helpful
Now, now, let's not panic. Yes, we have a second health-care worker infected with Ebola after treating the Liberian man who apparently concealed his exposure to this often-fatal disease, but this is no reason to panic. "It's bad news that another person is sick," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Wednesday to MSNBC anchor Jose Diaz-Balart. Indeed (Kathleen Parker, 10/15). 

The Wall Street Journal: The Ebola Twilight Of Public Institutions: The WHO And CDC Are Failing In Their Core Health Mission 
On Wednesday the World Health Organization warned of the threat of a global plague, which can cause "vomiting, marked hypocalcemia, metabolic acidosis, convulsions and, in rare cases, even death." Ebola? No, the WHO culprit is the overconsumption of energy drinks. The Ebola catastrophe in West Africa has now claimed more than 4,500 lives and the disease continues to spread geometrically, while an outbreak in a major European or North American city would lead to more severe economic dislocation. But the tragedy is also ruthlessly exposing the decay of the once-eminent public institutions that were established to contain such transnational contagions-;organizations both international and domestic (10/15).

The New York Times: Mitch McConnell And Alison Lundergan Grimes Take On The White House
Kentucky's Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, got behind the Affordable Care Act, expanded Medicaid and set up a state health insurance exchange known as Kynect, which now benefits an estimated 500,000 Kentuckians. It's working so well that even Mr. McConnell, who says he would "pull out" the health care law "root and branch," pretends that Kynect could survive even if the law were repealed. Such deception deserves an aggressive response. Unfortunately, Ms. Grimes does not provide one. Instead of explaining that Kynect depends on federal subsidies, she's content to call Mr. McConnell's plan a "fantasy" and then pledge to fix the health care law. Her favorite improvement -; allowing people to keep their old insurance plans even if those plans do not comply with the federal law's standards -; is a fantasy, too. Ms. Grimes is so loath to wade into the health care debate that she does not mention the law on her website (Juliet Lapidos, 10/15). 

Los Angeles Times: An Expert's Heroic Fact-Checking Of Mitch McConnell On Obamacare
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is facing a stiff reelection challenge this year, has stuck to his stated determination to repeal the Affordable Care Act if his party takes control of the Senate in the next election. This is a curious and delicate position for McConnell to hold, because his home state is one of the shining beacons of the ACA's rollout. The Kentucky health insurance exchange, Kynect, is enormously popular among Kentuckians. Some 527,000 residents have signed up for qualified health plans or Medicaid, which the state expanded (Michael Hiltzik, 10/15).

The New York Times: Resurrecting Smallpox? Easier Than You Think
On Oct. 16, 1975, 3-year-old Rahima Banu of Bangladesh became the last human infected with naturally occurring smallpox (variola major). When her immune system killed the last smallpox virus in her body, it also killed the last such smallpox virus in humans. In what is arguably mankind's greatest achievement, smallpox was eradicated. ... the war is not over; the smallpox virus has now found a second host. It is not the pig. In fact, it is not even what we think of as a living thing. It is the computer (Leonard Adleman, 10/15). 

The New York Times: The Supreme Court Acts For Texas Women
With a brief unsigned order on Tuesday, the Supreme Court acted to prevent Texas from enforcing two key parts of the state's 2013 package of extreme new abortion restrictions. While the legal battle over the provisions continues, and is very likely to land back at the court before long, the order was a significant victory for women in Texas. The important result is that it will allow more clinics offering safe and legal abortion care to continue operating pending a final court resolution (10/15). 

Bloomberg: The Vanishing U.S. Abortion Clinic
Abortion clinics are closing in the U.S. at a record pace. In four states -; Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming -; just one remains. American women were having fewer abortions before clinic closings accelerated in the last couple of years. So no one can be sure how much the push to restrict clinics in Republican-dominated states is connected to falling abortion rates. But the new strategy adopted by abortion opponents, and the court battles it has set off, may define how far abortion rights can be limited without being overturned (Esmé E. Deprez, 10/15).

Los Angeles Times: Insurers' Spending Against Prop. 45 Tips Scale In Its Favor
Proposition 45, which would allow California's insurance commissioner to regulate rates for certain medical plans, is a close call for this voter. On the one hand, the commissioner would be touching on -; although not exactly duplicating -; work already performed by the state entity created to administer Obamacare. That could slow down the work of Covered California in managing an exchange in which people can obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But on the other hand, the insurance industry is pouring barrels of money -; $43 million the last time I looked -; into the campaign to defeat Prop. 45. That tells me the insurers fear losing profits. And it indicates that policy buyers could gain in their pocketbooks (George Skelton, 10/15). 

The Wall Street Journal: Shifting Views On Same-Sex Marriage, Marijuana And End-of-Life Issues
On the third issue, physician-assisted euthanasia, there has been a gradual increase in agreement with the proposition that "doctors should be allowed to end a person's life by some painless means if a patient or his or her family request it." Gallup reports that support has climbed from less than 40% in the late 1940s, to 65% in 1990, to about 70% today. Support is lower when the issue is referred to as "physician-assisted suicide," but there is still majority support. ... Change in opinion is, of course, not always sufficient to change policy (Drew Altman, 10/15). 

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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