Daily on Healthcare: The boozeless bunch: Will another teetotaler be sworn in as president?

By | August 19, 2019

WILL ANOTHER TEETOTALER BE SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT? Voters may not have the option of using the “who would you rather have a beer with?” test this election to decide among the presidential candidates.

That’s because at least four people vying for the White House abstain from alcohol: President Trump, Democratic front runner Joe Biden, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Julian Castro, the former housing secretary under Barack Obama.

Trump has called his alcohol abstinence “one of my only good traits” and indicated that if he had ever had a drink he would have been “a mess.” As vice president, Biden brought a non-alcoholic beer to Obama’s closely watched 2009 “Beer Summit” on race relations. Castro’s drink of choice is iced tea — and not the Long Island kind. “I’ve never had a drink in my life,” Booker tweeted in 2017.

Other candidates, however, are willing to use booze as a campaign prop. On New Year’s Eve, Elizabeth Warren told Instagram viewers to “hang on a sec I’m gonna get me a beer,” as she proceeded to crack open and sip on a Michelob Ultra. Kirsten Gillibrand has fundraised off her love of whiskey, and her staff posted a clip in April of her playing beer pong — although the cups appeared to be filled with water. Gillibrand also tended bar at an Iowa gay pride event, at one point taking a sip of alcohol and shouting, “gay rights!”

An estimated 66 million adults and teens, or a quarter of the U.S. population, report they have engaged in binge drinking at least once in the previous month. Still, not drinking isn’t terribly unusual: Roughly a third of adults in America say they abstain from alcohol. And being a non-drinking president is not unheard of. George W. Bush quit drinking after a 40th birthday binge about 15 years before becoming president.

Trump has said his brother Fred’s alcoholism, which led to an early death, influenced his decision not to drink, and it has made him more understanding of addiction.

But the president isn’t seen as likely to go after other people’s drinking habits. In his youth, Trump made appearances at New York nightclubs, and the real estate and business empire he built included casinos, a winery, and vodka. As president, the tax overhaul Trump signed into law contained a break for brewers, and he signed another measure that repealed the prohibition of distilleries on tribal land.

While presidential candidates haven’t laid out policies to specifically restrict alcohol, administrations have other, more subtle ways to affect drinking policy and public attitudes. Trump’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended limiting hours and locations for alcohol sales.

Under Obama, the surgeon general issued a report that recommended reducing problem drinking in states through restrictions, which, like the Trump administration guidelines, would also hit people who only drink occasionally. The CDC under Obama’s tenure also issued a controversial guidance saying women of childbearing age shouldn’t drink alcohol unless they are also on birth control.

Read more about how alcohol has impacted candidates’ lives, policies, and campaigns.

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Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.com. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.

9TH CIRCUIT DENIES RELIEF ON TITLE X AND PLANNED PARENTHOOD MAY CHOOSE TO BACK OUT OF THE PROGRAM: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request Friday by Planned Parenthood to block a rule from the Trump administration that will prohibit providers receiving Title X grants from directly referring to abortions. The funds pay for birth control, testing of sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screenings.

The abortion-rights organization has announced that it will be “evaluating all of its options” ahead of the rule’s implementation day, Monday, which could include voluntarily removing itself from the federal grant program. “Trump’s administration is trying to force us to keep information from our patients. We refuse to cower to this president. The gag rule is unethical, dangerous, and we will not subject our patients to it,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Acting President Alexis McGill Johnson said.

Center for Reproductive Rights is appealing a Maine federal judge’s rejection from Maine Family Planning to block the rule: The Center for Reproductive Rights is appealing District Judge Lance Walker’s July 3 decision to reject an appeal from Maine Family Planning to block Trump’s Title X rule. Maine Family Planning will withdraw from the Title X grant program, which will cost the health clinic $ 2 million annually.

OPIOID USE DISORDER PATIENTS TREATING ADDICTION ARE MORE LIKELY TO STICK TO TREATMENT FOR OTHER ILLNESSES: STUDY: Johns Hopkins public health researchers found that people being treated for opioid use disorder with buprenorphine, a medication that alleviates opioid withdrawal symptoms, are also more likely to adhere to their medications for chronic conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, or high cholesterol.

The study can’t show a causal effect, but researchers theorized that patients who are taking buprenorphine “may experience improved organization and self-efficacy that could lead to better adherence to treatments for comorbid conditions.” They also noted that people getting treatment for addiction are more likely to have regular appointments where they check in with doctors about their medication.

TRUMP WILL DONATE HIS SECOND-QUARTER SALARY TO THE SURGEON GENERAL’S OFFICE: The White House announced Friday that Trump will donate his second-quarter salary, of $ 100,000, to the Office of the Surgeon General to “protect and improve the health of all Americans,” and to “tackle the opioid epidemic and raise awareness of the dangers of e-cigarette usage among teenagers and children.”

MSNBC PANEL SPECULATES THAT TRUMP MAY HAVE ALZHEIMER’S: A panel on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House spoke Friday about Trump’s perceived erratic behavior. Host Nicole Wallace said, “David Brooks reported in 2017 that a bunch of Republicans came out of a meeting where Donald Trump displayed some signs that were similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s.Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney, said that “if it was grandpa, you would probably take him to see a neurologist or someone who specializes in geriatric medicine.”

MEASLES COUNT RISES AGAIN: The CDC reported Monday morning that the number of confirmed measles cases rose to 1,203 as of August 15. This is an increase of 21 cases from the previous week, and is the highest count since 1992.

The Rundown

NPR Netflix curbs tobacco use onscreen, but not pot. What’s up with that?

AL.com Thousands of Alabama students enroll without vaccine records

The Atlantic The brazen way a Chinese company pumped fentanyl ingredients into the U.S.

The Kansas City Star Johnson County parents sue over vaccine requirement, compare it to military draft

The Washington Post The ‘follow-up appointment’


MONDAY | Aug. 19

Congress in August recess.

Aug. 19-20. Atlanta. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women. Details.