KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Evidence For Obamacare Saving Lives; A Continuing Role For MinnesotaCare

Los Angeles Times: Yes, Obamacare Will Save Lives, And Here’s The Evidence
People asking the ultimate question about the Affordable Care Act--will it actually save lives?--now have an answer, and it's yes. The documentation comes from a team at the Harvard School of Public Health. Benjamin D. Sommers, Sharon K. Long, and Katherine Baicker conducted the most extensive study of mortality rates in Massachusetts following that state's 2006 health insurance reform, which is the precursor to the ACA (Michael Hiltzik, 5/6). 

MinnPost:  MinnesotaCare Works For Working Minnesotans
MinnesotaCare plays an essential role in Minnesota’s health care system, even after the creation of MNsure. As we note in our new issue brief, MinnesotaCare: A Vital Part of Minnesota’s Health Care System, this unique program ensures access to health insurance for lower-income, working Minnesotans who lack coverage through their employers and cannot afford it in the private market (Brugh, 5/6). 

The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton Talks About Mental-Health At Convention Putting Focus On Early Intervention
Last year’s annual conference of the National Council of Behavioral Health brought thousands of therapists to Las Vegas, where showgirls opened the program showily and those who treat addictions got an after-hours view of all they’re up against. This year, though, the conference is underway at the Gaylord National Resort at National Harbor outside Washington, and the showgirls have been replaced with a couple flashing far less flesh, dressed as George and Martha Washington. The biggest draw was keynote speaker Hillary Rodham Clinton, but the hottest topic here this week is psychosis prevention — or at least the kind of early intervention that can keep young people experiencing a “first break” with reality from ever having another psychotic episode (Melinda Henneberger, 5/6). 

The New York Times: The Global Polio Threat, Back Again 
Just when it looked as if polio was headed toward eradication around the world, the disease is once again on the march. The World Health Organization declared on Monday that the spread of polio virus to new countries in 2014 had become “a public health emergency of international concern” that warranted aggressive measures to control transmission. It was timely advice on the eve of what is typically the onset of the high season for transmitting the virus (5/6).

WBUR: Facing The Inevitable: From Lost Keys To Dementia
I recently turned 50 and, on cue, my AARP card came in the mail and my doctor told me to schedule my first colonoscopy. Also on cue, I’ve noticed what seems to be my own increased mental scattered-ness — misplaced keys, sluggish name recall. As a catastrophizer, I immediately link this apparent (but my doctor assures me normal) ever-so-slight decrease in cognitive sharpness to full blown Alzheimer’s and the start of a bleak, diminished future (Rachel Zimmerman, 5/6).

The CT Mirror: Op-ed: Mental Health Treatment Is Not Perfect, But It Can Be Life-Saving
The assertions of the writer of the op-ed "More mental health nonsense" are inaccurate. First, NAMI-CT is not supported by pharmaceutical companies, but by grants from foundations, state grants and donations. Second, I am not a former member of NAMI-CT. I am a very proud current member of this organization that does so much to advocate for people who live with mental illness as well as educate the public and provide support services. I have also held a number of certifications in mental health, addictions and other counseling and treated over 7,000 patients directly or through supervision. Third, there is ample evidence from many research facilities that conduct brain research that mental illness is a biological disease (Barbara Sloan, 5/6).

Los Angeles Times: To Help Cure California’s Voter Registration Woes, Look To The Obamacare Website 
But maybe my favorite cliche is true: It's always darkest before the dawn. Covered California — the state's Obamacare exchange — is mailing voter registration cards to 4 million Californians who shopped on the exchange for insurance. The cards are being sent out in hard-to-miss envelopes, in different languages, and they're postage paid. The healthcare exchanges, because they offer a public service, are required by the National Voter Registration Act to offer voter registration (Daniel Zingale, 5/6). 

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