Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
The Wall Street Journal: No Religious Exemptions From Vaccines
Failing to vaccinate your child against measles because it’s against your beliefs isn’t a crime, but perhaps it should be.This year’s measles outbreak, the nation’s worst in 25 years, stands at 839 reported cases in 23 states as of Friday. The summer months could provide some respite because children are out of school, but many medical professionals expect the situation to worsen before it improves. Last week brought 75 new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is more than the previous week, when there were about 60 new cases. As a colleague recently quipped, “Both socialism and the measles are back.” (Jason L. Riley, 5/15)
Los Angeles Times: Collective Ignorance And Government Timidity Are Public Health Threats
I live in Kentucky, a state with the nation’s largest hepatitis A outbreak, an emerging measles outbreak and a governor who said he exposed his children to chickenpox rather than get them vaccinated. In the past year, two heads of infection control in Kentucky’s Department of Health have left the position. The first one was asked to leave after he expressed the need for an urgent increase in infection control funding. (Kevin Kavanuagh, 5/16)
The Hill: Vaccine Hesitancy: Most Difficult Fight We Have Ahead Of Us Is Political
It is a form of government regulation of disease, one that demands of all of us an equal amount of risk — albeit a very, very small one — in order to benefit all of us equally. For both conservatives and liberals, we need to remind them that our inalienable rights come with inescapable responsibility, like the responsibility to not carry infectious diseases and comply with medical recommendations to stop outbreaks. (Rene Najera, 5/15)
The Wall Street Journal: A Historic Shortage Of Americans
It should be self-evident that a thriving country tends to enjoy healthy population growth. But a growing population of young taxpayers is essential for a country that habitually makes massive unfunded entitlement promises. Anthony DeBarros and Janet Adamy report in the Journal on the impact of the new baby bust: The decline has important implications for the U.S. economy and workforce. The total fertility rate… has generally remained below the “replacement” level of 2.1 since 1971. A fertility rate falling farther below replacement level means that, without enough immigrants, the U.S. could see population declines and a workforce too small to support a growing segment of retirees. (James Freeman, 5/15)
Stat: Connecting With Patients Can Keep Docs From Being ‘Uncomfortably Numb’
As a surgeon who specializes in gynecologic cancer, I have performed thousands of operations over my two-decade career. But the ones my team and I have done since the beginning of this year have been the most fulfilling. The reason? A simple yet remarkable adjustment in how we prepare for surgery has forever changed the way we now practice medicine. The first of these “new” operations started when I asked to have Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” — a title so dripping with irony that it was impossible for the team not to notice (more on that later) — playing over the sound system as a patient entered the operating room. (Benjamin Schwartz, 5/16)
Los Angeles Times: Climate Change Could Bring The Bubonic Plague Back To Los Angeles
The steamship caused the last global outbreak of bubonic plague. Climate change could cause the next one.Longer, hotter weather patterns are extending the breeding season of rats and rodents, leading to a steep increase in their numbers in places like Los Angeles, New York and Houston. Over the last decade, urban rat populations are up by 15% to 20% worldwide, thanks to a combination of climate changes and a greater preference among humans for urban living, increasing the amount of trash available for scavengers, according to estimates from Bobby Corrigan, a rodent control consultant and one of the nation’s leading rat experts. (David K. Randall, 5/16)
The Hill: A Public Option For Health Care Is Viable — DC Should Take Note
In the endless debate about health care among politicians, the public option gets passing comment but not much in the way of serious discussion.In 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was being considered, the House of Representatives passed their version which included a public option. The public option was to be created in each state to compete in the individual market place with commercial insurers. The theory was that the public option, without shareholders, would offer robust competition for private insurers to keep rates more affordable. (John Baackes, 5/15)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.