This Week in Health Policy #6

Welcome to the sixth edition of “This Week in Health Policy!” There seems to be a never ending supply of interesting stories these days, so here are just a few I wanted to share with you today! The first article is especially timely, as my class is having a mock debate about vaccination laws today. I hope you find something engaging and thought provoking!

As a medical student, I was told we had conquered measles. I wish.

“In the 1980s, when I was a medical student and later a pediatrics resident, grizzled old pediatricians would tell us how lucky we were that we’d probably never see a case of measles or diphtheria or polio. Images and descriptions of these diseases were still classic favorites on medical board exams, though, so we dutifully committed information about them to memory. That was a good thing.”

The Antibiotics Business is Broken – But There’s a Fix

“The world is running out of useful antibiotics because the rise of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is undermining them, and big firms are disinclined to make more. In 2018 alone, three large legacy pharma firms closed their antibiotic research programs. So the collapse of even a small business that stepped up to make a new antibiotic is a blow.”

Will Ties To A Catholic Hospital System Tie Doctors’ Hands?

“As Catholic health care systems across the country expand, the University of California’s flagship San Francisco hospital has become the latest arena for an emotional debate: Should the famously progressive medical center increase its treatment space by joining forces with a Catholic-run system that restricts care according to religious doctrine?”

“A recent study of patients at 10 academic hospitals in the United States found that just over half care about what their doctors wear, most of them preferring the traditional white coat. Some doctors prefer the white coat, too, viewing it as a defining symbol of the profession. What many might not realize, though, is that health care workers’ attire — including that seemingly “clean” white coat that many prefer — can harbor dangerous bacteria and pathogens.”

A surprising number of children are accidentally poisoned. Simple steps can prevent that.

“U.S. hospitals treated nearly 52,000 children under age 6 for medicine poisonings in 2017, says Safe Kids Worldwide, an injury-prevention nonprofit group. That’s down from almost 76,000 in 2010, suggesting that safety measures are helping. But it’s still too many, says Dan Budnitz, an internal medicine physician who directs the Medication Safety Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.”

An Expedited Appeal for the 1115 Medicaid Work Experiment Cases

“On April 19th, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted the Trump administration’s request for an expedited appeal in Gresham v Azar and Stewart v Azar.  In both cases, the United States District Court concluded that the HHS Secretary had acted unlawfully in approving Medicaid 1115 experiments that impose multiple eligibility restrictions such as premiums, added reporting, lengthy lockout periods for non-compliance, loss of retroactive eligibility, and what the administration terms “community engagement.” All briefing is to be completed by August 1, with oral arguments in the consolidated cases not later than October 1, 2019.”

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