KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Longer Looks: Waking Up To The Need For Sleep

Every week, KHN reporter Shefali S. Kulkarni selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The Oregonian: Researchers Dig To Find What Became Of Morningside Hospital Patients, Alaska's Mentally Ill
Among the more than 11,000 dearly departed inhabitants of Southeast Portland's Multnomah Park Cemetery, friends Eric Cordingley and David Anderson have their favorites: a reputed French madam, a young Norwegian institutionalized for being gay, and Louis Napoleon Lepley -- or, as they call him, "Louis the cannibal." Intriguing as their individual stories may be, together they help tell a bigger, darker tale ... [W]hen Morningside Hospital brimmed with every Alaskan deemed insane. ... [T]he federal government paid the now-defunct asylum to house the mentally ill from Alaska, where such care didn't exist. In an archaic system -- mental illness was considered criminal -- patients were arrested and escorted out of their northerly cities, towns and villages by federal marshals. ... Often, their families never learned where their loved ones were taken (Katy Muldoon, 8/4).

The Wall Street Journal: Decoding The Science Of Sleep
Sure, we'd like to get a bit more of it. But, beyond that, sleep likely hovers somewhere near flossing in most of our lives: something we are supposed to do more -- but don't. Americans, however, are starting to wake up about sleep. Endless ads for dubious energy drinks and an equal number of much slicker ads for prescription sleep aids reveal a culture in 2012 that is wired and tired. Lack of sleep, it seems, has become one of the signature ailments of our modern age. Nearly a third of working adults in America -- roughly 41 million people -- get less than six hours of sleep a night, according to a recent CDC report. That number of sleep-deprived people is up about 25 percent from 1990 (David K. Randall, 8/3).

The New Yorker: Big Med
It's easy to mock places like the Cheesecake Factory -- restaurants that have brought chain production to complicated sit-down meals. But the "casual dining sector," as it is known, plays a central role in the ecosystem of eating, providing three-course, fork-and-knife restaurant meals that most people across the country couldn't previously find or afford. ... Does health care need something like this? ... Medicine, though, had held out against the trend. Physicians were always predominantly self-employed, working alone or in small private-practice groups. American hospitals tended to be community-based. But that's changing. Hospitals and clinics have been forming into large conglomerates. And physicians -- facing escalating demands to lower costs, adopt expensive information technology, and account for performance -- have been flocking to join them (Atul Gawande, 8/6).

The New York Times: Transplant Centers Struggle With Donors' Obesity
When his mother’s kidneys began to fail three years ago, Ed Guillen knew what he had to do: donate one of his kidneys to her. But Mr. Guillen received a shock during a phone call with the Stanford Kidney Transplant Clinic, where his mother was being treated. He was ineligible to be a donor, even before tests to see if he was a genetic match. At 5-foot-10 and around 280 pounds, Mr. Guillen, a 39-year-old software developer in Redmond, Wash., was considered too heavy to donate an organ without potentially endangering his own health. He would need to lose more than 70 pounds, he was told, before the clinic would consider him as a candidate. Add one more unexpected consequence of Americans' expanding waistlines: A growing number of potential organ donors are ineligible to donate because of their weight (Kate Yandell, 8/6).

NBC News: Falling Through Cracks If States Don't Expand Medicaid
Derek Anderson never imagined he'd wind up on welfare. At 36, he has a college degree, a solid background in sales and three kids under the age of 7. He's also recovering from leukemia and since he lost his job and his employer-sponsored insurance, he’s been on Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for the disabled and elderly. Anderson, who now relies on Social Security disability payments for income while he tries to get back on his feet, worries about whether he can get a job with health insurance. If he starts working, he'll lose eligibility for Social Security and Medicare -- but he and his wife, Erica, would likely be eligible for Medicaid if his home state, Montana, expands it as called for under the 2010 health reform law and offers it to low-income adults. However, their future is now unclear after the Supreme Court said states can opt out of the expansion (Maggie Fox, 8/7).

ABC: Trans Man Denied Cancer Treatment; Now Feds Say It's Illegal
Jay Kallio, a former EMT who is disabled with kidney failure, rheumatoid arthritis and now cancer, has struggled to get good medical care, but being transgender stood in the way. At the age of 50, Kallio transitioned from female to male, but never had gender reassignment surgery, only hormone treatment. "I accept my body as I was born," he said. But when a suspicious lump was found in his breast and tested positive for cancer, the surgeon was so shocked that Kallio's body didn't match his gender identification -- not knowing whether to address him as "he" or "she" -- that he couldn't bring himself to tell his patient the grim biopsy results. Now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has said that under the Affordable Care Act, it is against the law to discriminate against transgender and LGBT patients in federally funded healthcare programs (Susan Donaldson James, 8/8).

The New York Times's Well: Life, Interrupted: Medical Bills, Insurance And Uncertainty
Like a lot of other young people, I never thought about health insurance until I got sick. I was 22, and my adult life was just beginning. But less than a year after walking across the stage at my college graduation, I received an unexpected diagnosis — acute myeloid leukemia — and with it came a flurry of consultations, tests and appointments. From early on, my doctors told me I would need chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. But before the shock of the news could settle in — before I could consider where and how I would be treated — I did what most Americans must do when beset with a medical crisis: I called my insurance provider (Suleika Jaouad, 8/9).

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