KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Senate Should Reconsider Treaty On Protections For People With Disabilities; HHS Treading Wrong Way On Payments For Bone Marrow Donors

The New York Times: How To Do Right By The Disabled
About a year ago the Senate fell five votes short of ratifying an international treaty that would improve protections for the disabled. It was an ignoble spectacle as the opponents rebuffed Bob Dole, a former colleague and disabled veteran, who came to the Senate floor to lobby for it. The Senate now has a chance to redeem itself (11/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Rationing Bone Marrow
You know an agency has gone off the rails when its rules make the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals look like a beacon of sanity. So it goes at the Department of Health and Human Services, where a proposed rule-making is seeking to override the court's decision to allow bone-marrow donors to be compensated for their donations (11/24).

The New York Times: Responding To A Meningitis Outbreak
A vaccine approved for use in Europe and Australia but not in the United States will be imported to help quell an outbreak of bacterial meningitis at Princeton University. This is a good example of how two federal agencies -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration -- can collaborate to reach a common-sense solution to protect the public's health (11/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Should The Eligibility Age For Medicare Be Raised?
With increasing demographic and financial pressures on Medicare, there's a growing consensus in the U.S. that something has to be done about the decades-old social program. With this in mind, we posed the following question to The Experts: Should the eligibility age for Medicare be raised? (11/23).

Los Angeles Times: 40-Plus Years As A Pediatrician
In my early years of practice, I also saw cases of measles, rubella and whooping cough, and, of course, almost all children developed chickenpox. Today, there are immunizations against all these diseases, so it is uncommon to see them. But that could change. A new wave of uninformed, anti-vaccine sentiment is persuading some parents to forgo or delay immunizing their children. The science is clear-cut: Vaccines save lives, and serious side effects are exceedingly rare (Dr. Richard M. Buchta, 11/24).

Los Angeles Times: So Much Data-Gathering, So Little Doctoring
I'm a stomach doc. I've seen thousands of patients, inside and out, for 25 years. I've done research, I've taught, I've been an administrator. And as the years rolled by, I've watched the healthcare industry begin to undo healthcare itself. It's complex, cumbersome and bureaucratic, and the bigger the practice or the clinic or the hospital and research facilities — like the universities I used to work at — the worse the problem (Dr. Michael P. Jones, 11/24).

The Washington Post: Creigh Deeds's Son, My Daughter And My Fears About Virginia's Mental Health System
I was coming home from visiting my 11-year-old daughter at a Virginia psychiatric hospital Tuesday when I heard about the stabbing of state Sen. Creigh Deeds and the suicide of his son, Austin. According to some reports, the younger Deeds had been denied admittance to a psychiatric hospital the day before. I was heartbroken. This family was let down by the same broken mental health system my family depends on (Cristy Gallagher, 11/22). 

The New York Times: Curing Insomnia To Treat Depression
Psychiatrists have long thought that depression causes insomnia, but new research suggests that insomnia can actually precede and contribute to causing depression. The causal link works in both directions. Two small studies have shown that a small amount of cognitive behavioral therapy to treat insomnia, when added to a standard antidepressant pill to treat depression, can make a huge difference in curing both insomnia and depression in many patients. If the results hold up in other studies already underway at major medical centers, this could be the most dramatic advance in treating depression in decades (11/23).

The New York Times: Danger Lurks In That Mickey Mouse Couch
Researchers this summer purchased 42 children's chairs, sofas and other furniture from major retailers and tested them for toxic flame retardants that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, diminished I.Q.'s and other problems. In a study released a few days ago, the Center for Environmental Health reported the results: the toxins were found in all but four of the products tested. ... These flame retardants represent a dizzying corporate scandal. It's a story of corporate greed, deceit and skulduggery, powerfully told in a new HBO documentary, "Toxic Hot Seat," that is scheduled to air on Monday evening (Nicholas D. Kristof, 11/23).

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