KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Generic Drug Warnings; Medicare Advantage ‘Scam’

The New York Times: Updated Warnings For Generic Drugs
Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed sensible regulations that would authorize the makers of generic drugs to update safety labels independently, without waiting for F.D.A. approval, to warn of newly discovered risks. The change is strongly opposed by the makers of generics out of fear of being held liable for damages to patients harmed by their products. But the change is needed, both to give patients and doctors more timely warning of emerging risks and to enable patients to sue (3/26). 

Los Angeles Times: Congress Can't Get Out Of Its Own Way On Medicare
Maybe it was too good to be true. A rare bipartisan healthcare reform proposal backed by leaders of three major House and Senate committees is foundering because Republicans and Democrats can't agree on how to pay for it. The irony is that the measure, which would change the way Medicare reimburses doctors, would slow the growth of healthcare spending and taxpayers' costs. Lawmakers should stop the partisan bickering and start working in good faith to find a way to enact the long-overdue and much-needed reform (3/27). 

Los Angeles Times: New Evidence That Medicare Advantage Is An Insurance Industry Scam
A big part of the argument made by enemies of the Affordable Care Act that the Act is hurting Medicare applies to a category of health plan known as Medicare Advantage. New evidence has just come in showing that Medicare Advantage is a ripoff that fattens the health insurance industry while scarcely helping its enrollees, all at public expense (Michael Hiltzik, 3/26). 

WBUR: Economic Abuse: Recognizing It In The Doctor’s Office And Beyond
Economic abuse can also affect a victim’s access to health care and medicine. A victim of abuse may resist leaving an abusive partner because his or her children are dependent on that partner’s health insurance. Additionally, the victim may avoid medical care altogether because transportation options have been withheld or limited, or because he or she cannot afford co-payments while a partner controls the finances. Victims of domestic violence may not seek out necessary health care services for fear of revealing an abusive situation to medical professionals (Paul Medis, 3/26).

The New England Journal Of Medicine: Diagnosing Depression In Older Adults In Primary Care
With the looming shortage of geriatric mental health care providers, general medical clinicians' role in managing older adults' mental health problems will probably increase. A nuanced approach to depression diagnosis and treatment may improve the management and outcome of geriatric depression in primary care settings. Incorporating the stepped-care approaches into generalists' training and making low-intensity psychosocial interventions more widely available may help prepare clinicians to more effectively meet future needs (Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, 3/27).

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