Viewpoints: Censoring flu research; Assailing Komen’s move to cut Planned Parenthood funding
The New York Times: Don’t Censor Influenza Research
In December, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity made an unprecedented request: it asked the editors of the journals Nature and Science not to publish certain details in two papers describing experiments in which scientists created a highly transmissible form of the deadly H5N1 influenza virus. … Such caution, though well intentioned, is misplaced. The censorship of influenza research will do little to prevent its misuse by evildoers -; and it may well hinder our ability to stop influenza outbreaks, whether natural or otherwise, when they do occur (Howard Markel, 2/1).
Chicago Tribune: Inoculating Against Religious Freedom
The idea that Americans could legally be forbidden to buy condoms or birth control pills struck most people as a gross violation of personal liberty. They are right, of course. But many of those who think it’s wrong to forbid Americans to buy contraceptives think it’s just fine to require them to buy contraceptives. In this group, unfortunately, are President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who are hell-bent on enforcing that mandate on nearly everyone (Steve Chapman, 2/2).
Politico: Why Repeal Key Health Care Component?
In the past, lawmakers would have worked together to amend existing law to address a serious national crisis like long-term care. But in our charged partisan environment, too many people would rather score political points than solve problems. They view repealing CLASS as a tactical step toward undermining health care reform – without putting forward any real alternatives for families who have nowhere to turn. Repealing CLASS won’t do anything to solve our nation’s long-term care crisis (Sen. Jay Rockefeller, 2/1).
Des Moines Register: Let The Feds Create Iowa’s Health Exchange
Such political gridlock could benefit Iowa, because Iowa lawmakers should not create an insurance exchange. Though it’s unclear what a federally-crafted exchange would look like, Washington officials say they will work with states to create one at a later date. And this is likely to be better than what Iowa might put together on its own (2/1).
Boston Globe: Just The Facts, Please
City Councilor Robert Consalvo’s proposal to sell advertising space on city-owned websites sounds like an easy way for Boston to cash in on visitors to its websites every year. But just because the Web offers new money-making opportunities doesn’t mean the city should get in on the action. The advertisements could end up tainting the neutrality of the city’s online resources. Information provided on the Boston Public Health Commission’s website shouldn’t be sponsored by a pharmaceutical company — or any corporation (2/2).
Boston Globe: Catholic Church’s Unfair Attack Against Obama
At Sunday Mass, Catholic parishioners across the country were read letters denouncing the Obama administration’s recent decision to require religiously affiliated hospitals, colleges, and charities to offer health insurance coverage to employees for contraception and the “morning-after pill.” … But not all employees of Catholic institutions are Catholics. Why should their employers impose their religious beliefs on them and deny coverage for birth control and other medical care? As long as those Catholic institutions are getting taxpayer money, they should follow secular rules. That’s the Obama administration’s argument, and it makes sense (Joan Vennochi, 2/2).
The Baltimore Sun: Komen’s Attack On Abortion Rights
Few organizations have done more for women’s health than both Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leading supporter of breast-cancer treatment and research, and Planned Parenthood, the country’s top reproductive health care provider and advocate. To see the two organizations now at war is not only upsetting to many women’s health supporters but all the more tragic because it’s so unnecessary. … Breast cancer can strike anyone, including those who avail themselves of contraception. Shame on Komen for succumbing to pressure from anti-abortion groups and risking the health of the very women for whom they claim to advocate (2/1).
The Kansas City Star: Komen’s Cutting Planned Parenthood Funds Was A Mistake
The charity of pink ribbons has defunded Planned Parenthood, claiming it can’t support an organization that’s under investigation. Well, we in the old stomping grounds of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline have news for the folks at Susan G. Komen for the Cure: Planned Parenthood is always under investigation. As long as there are politicians determined to pursue ideological agendas and score points with religious conservatives, it always will be. Never mind that Planned Parenthood has repeatedly been cleared of the charges thrown at it (2/1).
Houston Chronicle: Bold New Ideas Needed For Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
The scientific community should shift its research focus to therapies that delay or prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease before dementia robs patients of their minds and memories. We must encourage and educate our colleagues, the public and regulatory agencies to realize the potential benefits of early intervention. In short, we must get better at identifying Alzheimer’s disease early and stopping it in its tracks (Roger N. Rosenberg and Reisa A. Sperling, 2/1).
New England Journal of Medicine: Improving Childhood Vaccination Rates
Despite the phenomenal success of childhood vaccination, thousands of U.S. parents refuse selected vaccines or delay their administration. … Physicians represent the best opportunity to influence the vaccine-hesitant. Most parents trust their primary care providers and look to them for information and advice. Parents will be most receptive to considering vaccination if they believe their provider is primarily motivated by the welfare of the individual child rather than an abstract public health goal (Dr. Douglas S. Diekema, 2/2).
New England Journal of Medicine: Keeping Score Under A Global Payment System
Conceptually, global payment represents an important opportunity for changing the perverse incentives inherent in our current fee-for-service system. To be successful, however, ACOs must pass these incentives along to their member physicians, who continue to be responsible for most utilization decisions. … ACOs are unlikely to reduce the rate of increase in health care spending without some essential changes in the behavior of member physicians -; and therein lies the rub. The fundamental questions become how ACOs will choose to divide their global budgets and how their physicians and other service providers will be reimbursed (Dr. Bruce E. Landon, 2/2).
New England Journal of Medicine: Opportunity In Austerity -; A Common Agenda For Medicine And Public Health
Faced with the growing pressure to reduce the federal budget deficit, government leaders have increasingly turned their attention to reducing health expenditures. In this atmosphere of austerity, public health programs are likely to be hit particularly hard as they compete for funds against the health care delivery juggernaut and as state and local governments, which carry out the bulk of public health activities, are forced to make further cuts (Dr. Nicholas W. Stine and Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, 2/2).
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Combating Child Obesity A Priority
An astonishing 95 percent of all diabetes cases are Type II. Millions of Americans are living with this chronic disease, and the most important causative factors are poor diet and a lack of physical activity. If you think this is familiar to another issue we in Georgia struggle with, you’re absolutely right. Obesity is a major physical indicator that someone might have pre-diabetes or diabetes. We must focus on our future (Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, 2/1).
The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Diabetes Fight Starts With Us
Thing is, this is a crisis practically all of us can help curb. And that fight starts from within, personally. Eat healthy. Exercise. Do what’s right for your body, your families. Take the lead (Rick Badie, 2/1).
The Dallas Morning News: Dallas Should Follow El Paso’s Model On Group Home Regulation
El Paso’s standards offer a good guide. They require operators to report physical abuses within their homes. They are clear about the type of facilities such a home should maintain. They spell out sanitary requirements. And, especially important, they require operators to keep clear financial records for residents for whom they serve as stewards for disability checks (2/1).