Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
The Hill: A New Age For Tobacco — Raising The Age To 21 Is A Smart Move
We are encouraged to see that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are getting serious about raising the minimum age to 21 years old to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. This will build on the momentum of several state and territorial legislatures that are working towards banning the sale and use of cigarettes to people under 21. (Michael Fraser and Marcus Plescia, 4/25)
The Washington Post: The Opioid Epidemic Is No Mistake. It Is The Result Of Complicity And Greed.
In September 2015, an employee of Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC), one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in the country, was preparing to review a report on the opioid drugs her company had sold to one of its pharmacy customers. Given the buzz in the office, she was steeling herself, as she put it in an email, to see “what evil lies within,” referring to evidence that her company’s highly addictive products were falling into the wrong hands. Despite the report, the company allegedly did nothing to stop that illicit flow of drugs.
New England Journal of Medicine: No Shortcuts To Safer Opioid Prescribing
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in 2016, the medical and health policy communities have largely embraced its recommendations. …Efforts to implement prescribing recommendations to reduce opioid-related harms are laudable. Unfortunately, some policies and practices purportedly derived from the guideline have in fact been inconsistent with, and often go beyond, its recommendations. (Deborah Dowell, Tamara Haegerich and Roger Chou, 4/24)
The Washington Post: Is Water In Flint Safe To Drink? It’s Not Just A Question Of Chemistry.
Whenever I am outside Flint, Mich., I am often asked some version of this question: “Is the water safe to drink yet?” I’ve often longed for a 30-second response — something that could quickly, clearly and fully tackle the question. But I don’t have one easy answer. There’s a list of answers. So, as we pass the five-year anniversary of the beginning of the crisis, let me respond with that list. (Mona Hanna-Attisha, 4/25)
The Washington Post: How Silicon Valley Provides The Blueprint For Cleaning Up Our Drinking Water
In 2016 the Colorado health department announced the presence of cancer-causing chemicals in drinking water in Fountain, Colo., just outside Colorado Springs. Tests by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered that nearby military bases had been leaching toxic chemicals, including substances known as PFASs, into drinking water for decades, potentially contributing to higher-than-normal rates of cancer. The Department of Defense has since admitted their responsibility for at least 55 drinking-water site contaminations worldwide, and the EPA has announced new plans to set drinking-water limits for PFASs by the end of the year. (Jason A. Heppler, 4/26)
Boston Globe: Our Health Care System Fails Family Caregivers
I knew something was wrong when my husband, an avid tennis player, started taking afternoon naps. Scans showed a shadow on his lung that turned out to be stage 3 lung cancer. A few days after a terrific surgeon removed part of my husband’s lung, the hospital discharged him. That evening at home, my husband began gasping. My blood ran cold when he told me that he thought he was suffocating. We were lucky that my husband’s doctor would make a house call. Few families would have access to that type of personal care — and throughout my husband’s health struggles, I recognized how lucky we were to have the resources we did. But in most instances, a patient like my husband would be in an ambulance, headed back to the hospital for readmission. As I learned on that frightening night and on many other occasions, our health care system repeatedly fails family caregivers. (Ellen Lutch Bender, 4/25)
JAMA: Food Is Medicine—The Promise And Challenges Of Integrating Food And Nutrition Into Health Care.
Diet-related diseases produce crushing health and economic burdens. The estimated US costs of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity-related cancers, and other obesity-related conditions are approximately $ 1.72 trillion per year, or 9.3% of the gross domestic product. This burden creates tremendous stress on government budgets, private businesses, and families. Marginalized groups often suffer most, with significant disparities in both diet and health leading to illness, suboptimal school and work performance, increased health costs, and lower productivity and wages. ( Dariush Mozaffarian, Jerold Mande and Renata Micha, 4/22)
New England Journal of Medicine: The VA MISSION Act — Creating A Center For Innovation Within The VA
The VA MISSION Act dedicates $ 50 million per year to a new Department of Veterans Affairs innovation center and would allow it to prioritize pilots that counterbalance underlying incentives, test episode-based payment approaches, and address veteran-specific needs. (Ashok Reddy, Stephan D. Fihn and Joshua M. Liao, 4/25)
Miami Herald: Get Ready For Armed Teachers In Classrooms
Florida’s unhealthy obsession with guns is about to get worse. The Republican-led Senate voted on Tuesday to allow teachers in the classroom to be armed, an irrational reaction to last year’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. This is a dangerous approach that most teachers and school boards across the state do not support, and it would make children less safe in the classroom. Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is among those against it. “Teachers are not hired to carry guns,” he told the Miami Herald. He’s right. (4/24)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Overdose Prevention Sites Are A Tool For Racial Justice
Overdose prevention sites are lauded by people who use drugs as vital ways to save lives — something of urgent importance in Philadelphia. But overdose prevention sites have come under fire as perpetuating racism. These opponents advocate against the opening of a site in Philadelphia because black and brown people who used crack were funneled to prisons under the repressive policies of the war on drugs, whereas predominantly white opiate users are being offered a public-health intervention that would save lives and link users to treatment. (Aisha Mohammed and Amna Shaikh, 4/25)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.