Opinion writers weigh in on these health care topics and others.

Los Angeles Times:
Trump Takes Aim At The Poor, The Sick And The Elderly

In accordance with the old adage that budgets are political documents, President Trump’s budgets are windows into his political id. Trump’s proposed $4.8-trillion budget for the 2021 fiscal year makes his intentions crystal clear: He means to shred the federal safety net for the poor and the sick. The budget proposal released Monday calls for drastic cuts in Social Security and Medicaid benefits, as well as in a program protecting defrauded student loan borrowers. (Michael Hiltzik, 2/10)

The Washington Post:
Trump’s Budget Reveals A Tremendous Fraud

For once, President Trump spoke the truth.“We’re doing a lot of things that are good, including waste and fraud,” he said Monday, as his administration released its proposed budget. “Tremendous waste and tremendous fraud.” No question about it! Trump’s budget is a tremendous fraud — and it lays tremendous waste to his promises. (Dana Millbank, 2/10)

The Wall Street Journal:
Medicare For All Could Mean Doctors For None

Professional groups representing doctors are buying into Democratic plans to remake health care—and thereby acting against the interests of their members. The American College of Physicians, the second-largest organization of U.S. doctors, recently came out in support of either a public option or single payer. At the American Medical Association’s annual meeting last year, some 47% of delegates voted to reverse the organization’s opposition to single payer. A new organization styling itself Physicians for a National Health Program has attracted some 20,000 members. (Sally C. Pipes, 2/10)

What An 1890s Opioid Epidemic Can Teach Us About Addiction Today

In the ’90s, chronic pain was rampant in America. Opioids, which had previously been taboo, were suddenly being prescribed by doctors. A supposedly safer opioid had been developed which, as a physician wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, was “not a hypnotic” and carried no “danger of acquiring the habit.”This movement created a monster, addicting millions of Americans to opioids. Global overproduction fueled even more demand and, as authorities clamped down, many of those addicted to these medicines turned to more potent ones, making an overdose only a minor miscalculation away. I’m referring, of course, to the eighteen nineties, which eerily echo how the modern opioid epidemic emerged a century later. (Haider J. Warraich, 2/11)

The Washington Post:
Transgender Children Need Options And Support. Lawmakers Are Doing The Opposite.

Lawmakers in more than half a dozen states are considering ways to block medical treatment for transgender teenagers. They cast their efforts as a crusade against forced sterilization, “mutilation” and child abuse. Yet the greatest harm to these adolescents may come from the rules purported to protect them. South Dakota’s Republican-supermajority House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would ban medical professionals from providing hormones or gender confirmation surgery to children younger than 16, with a penalty of one year’s jail time and a fine as high as $2,000. Legislators in Florida, South Carolina, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kentucky have filed similar proposals. Missouri’s bill would report consenting parents to child welfare officials. (2/10)

A Strategy To Secure Religious Freedom And Tolerance In Health Care

A new rule proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services in mid-January, “Ensuring Equal Treatment of Faith-Based Organizations,” is intended to provide clarity about the rights and obligations of faith-based organizations and also eliminate certain requirements previously imposed on those organizations. The rule, according to HHS, ensures that faith-based organizations have the rights and freedoms to which they are entitled under both the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. …As a bioethicist and a rabbi, I believe that Jewish medical ethics can provide a means to think about securing both religious freedom and the rights of nonreligious Americans. (Ira Bedzow, 2/11)

Boston Globe:
Go The Distance For Mental Health Parity 

Mental health parity — treating mental and physical illnesses with equal seriousness, concern, and coverage — has been the law of the land for decades. But changing laws is easy; changing actual clinical practice and the health care system that supports it is far more difficult. This week the Massachusetts Senate is scheduled to vote on a package of legislation aimed at bringing actual practice into the 21st century. The Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care seeks both to “erase the stigma of mental illness” and “build an affordable integrated system,” Senate President Karen Spilka said in introducing the legislation last Thursday. (2/11)

Cincinnati Enquirer:
Gov. Beshear’s Proposal To Help Growing Number Of Uninsured Kids

Kentucky is among the 11 states where both the number and rate of uninsured young children has increased significantly in that two-year period. Uninsured children under age six in our state increased by a devastating 50.7%, which translates to 12,973 of our youngest children without access to care. The implications are profound for these children and their families. Without access to health coverage, kids could miss the routine and necessary care that will help them thrive. (Beauregard, 2/10)

Nashville Tennessean:
Tennessee Should End Restrictions On Advanced Practice Nurses

The solution is to clear the way for advanced practice registered nurses (nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists) to do what they are educated and trained to do: serve communities and patients independently. This legislative session, the Tennessee Nurses Association will be introducing state legislation to update the Nurse Practice Act and do just that. The fact is nurse practitioners are already trained and qualified to perform many primary care tasks. The problem is, however, Tennessee state laws do not permit them to do so — except with physician oversight. (Tina Gerardi, 2/10)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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