Health Policy News and Views
Compiled by Benita M. Dodd
Georgians learned this week that the state has its first confirmed case of measles since 2012. An infected infant who arrived in Atlanta from outside the United States is being treated at Egleston at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Public Health said Monday.
That brings to 17 the number of states reporting cases this year– after the disease had all but been eradicated in the United States. In fact, this is just the sixth case in 10 years in Georgia
Measles can be especially dangerous to children under age 5. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is highly contagious. It’s primarily transmitted from person to person via large respiratory droplets. Airborne transmission via aerosolized droplets has been documented in closed areas (such as an office examination room) for up to two hours after a person with measles occupied the area. More than 90 percent of susceptible people develop measles after exposure. The virus can be transmitted from four days before the rash becomes visible to four days after the rash appears.
Vaccine deniers: It’s not ignorance keeping people from vaccinating their children. They’re educated. And they’re foolish, IMHO. Unfortunately, experts say the numbers of vaccine deniers are increasing: “The people we are concerned about are the people who are hesitant. The general demographic is well-educated and upper middle class,” says Barry Bloom, a professor of medicine at Harvard. They do have some reason to be concerned: The number of vaccines have gone from seven in 1985 to 14 today, “a result of medical advances,” according to the CDC. There are some vaccines whose benefits we can question, but others whose effectiveness has been proven over time. And if you’re going to compromise little Johnny’s immune system by pampering him and not letting him play in the dirt, Johnny going to come down with a serious case of whatever it is. People have been allowed religious exemptions, but, “Today you are allowed to have philosophical reasons not to vaccinate and I think that is crazy,” said Anne Gershon, director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Columbia University Medical Center. “The reason is that it hurts many people. It is not just your child.” Source: The Express Tribune
Did you know? Roald Dahl, who wrote “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Matilda,” and a few other scarier books I own, lost his eldest daughter, Olivia, to measles in 1962. Twenty-six years later, he wrote a letter urging parents to have their children vaccinated against the disease. You can read his poignant plea here: http://roalddahl.com/roald-dahl/timeline/1960s/november-1962.
What did they know and when did they know it? It seems Brian Williams isn’t the only one with a serious case of “misremembering.” They’re flip-flopping like fish out of water in D.C. over ObamaCare’s intent, as Michael Cannon points out in an article in Forbes magazine. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in King v. Burwell, in which the plaintiffs maintain the Affordable Care Act only offers premium subsidies “through an Exchange established by the State.” Now, two Democrat Senators who voted for the law, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and former Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), are saying, “it was never their intent to condition exchange subsidies on state cooperation,” Cannon writes. This even though, “In an unguarded moment in 2013, Nelson admitted that in 2009 he paid no attention to ‘details’ such as whether the PPACA authorized subsidies in federal Exchanges.” I received a Tweet from “Barack Obama” today, telling me I have just five days to sign up for coverage.
When is knee replacement too costly? The per-patient lifetime cost for total knee arthroplasty (TKA), is $12,400, which represents about 10 percent of total direct medical costs in patients with osteoarthritis, a new study estimates. But total costs are growing because patients are receiving the surgery earlier and eligibility criteria are expanding, according to a new study that researchers say highlights the importance of alternative, non-operative therapies. It’s a serious consideration, given the graying of America. Source: Medpagetoday.com (free subscription required)
Thank heavens for small mercies: I warned you recently about the winter-related deaths. In Chicago, there have been at least 18 deaths caused by shoveling snow.
Quotes of note
“We’re not evil – and you’re not, either. We all want nothing more than healthy, happy kids. And you don’t have to trust us – feel free to do your research. But get your facts from reputable sources. Talk to your doctor openly about your concerns. And if your child isn’t immunized, tell the health care providers that take care of her; it changes our management, and it could save your child’s life. – Sincerely, Your child’s pediatrician.” – Chad Hayes, pediatrician