health policy

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Stigma, judgment and guilt are so rampant when it comes to decisions mothers make regarding infant feeding that the London-based Royal College of Midwives (RCM) was compelled to release a new position statement underscoring that it is a woman’s right to bottle feed her baby. This is what happens when misguided “at all costs” breastfeeding strategies run amok - look no further than the fact the United Kingdom has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe.  

In it, the...

In a just published perspective piece in The New England Journal of Medicine, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. outlines with colleagues the multi-prong approach the agency is using to combat the complex issue that is misuse and abuse of opioids while detailing surveillance measures already underway to detect rapidly the next wave of drug abuse. Among this so-called proactive pharmacovigilance plan is employing a social media “listening platform” that monitors opioid conversation traffic in traditional and other sites or forums that are publicly available. When alternative substances are mentioned, the data mining deepens.

With a goal of heading off...

“At all costs” breastfeeding messages are a consistent refrain from policymakers to activist organizations. I would argue when they exclude discussion of formula, concomitant disease, realistic personal and infant challenges along with what is in the best interest of the family such well-intentioned directives are routinely misguided, even intellectually dishonest.

A recent piece in Medscape ...

In the not-so-new realm of nontraditional health coverage, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is expanding their Medicare Advantage plan to include benefits that meet patients “unique health needs” and improve “their quality of life.” Behavioral economics is in full swing these days and now being put to the test by this recent roll out set to take effect in 2019.

Based on the premise that social determinants can drive poor health outcomes and increase costs, equalizing these factors through non-emergent medical transportation (NEMT) as a means to reduce barriers thereby improving care access, providing air conditioners for high risk populations and specific foods for those with diabetes could impact healthcare spending with a hope of yielding greater dividends...

Though the current buzzword in healthcare is “patient-centered,” it appears our “thought leaders” instead tend to subscribe to more paternalistic endeavors to control – oops! I mean steward - behavior. Look no further than the debacle of how forced, mandatory electronic medical records were implemented and the havoc that continues to cause (see here) or the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recent strategy to make it okay for doctors, as a last resort, to refuse allowing families who decline vaccination to be a part of their practice.

A just published opinion...

A hot rock massage and herbal tea might make you feel nice, but they don't actually cure anything. Pointing that out in China, however, might land a person in jail.

Dr. Tan Qindong was just released after spending three months in a Chinese jail, and is now possibly awaiting trial, for the crime of criticizing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), according to Nature News. He learned the hard way that speaking the truth about biomedical science is a very bad career move in that country.

In a blog post, Dr. Tan, who is an anesthesiologist and entrepreneur, said that a popular TCM drug called "Hongmao Medicinal Liquor" was poison. Very little information is available about this particular...

Today, the political and media landscapes seem laser-focused on polarized, wide brush policy no matter the context. You don’t need to look very far to appreciate this reality. Restricting opioid prescribing for all causes in all situations is but one example where deeper discussion into the complexities of addiction get no platform and rare consideration. The problem is, when we lose the nuance, we lose the battle. Getting nuance to be in vogue is a challenge in our soundbite, instant gratification culture, and, sadly, adversely impacts real world solutions. This is reaffirmed by a work published in JAMA that underscores burden of disease is widely discordant at the state level.   

We know this....

There is a stunning lack of practicality in modern-day America. This is reflected not only by our hyperpartisan politics -- in which politicians refuse to endorse good ideas if they come from the "other side" -- but in the never-ending culture wars.

Previously, the culture wars focused on topics such as gay marriage and abortion, but recently, it has shifted to things like sugar, "chemicals," obesity, and smoking. There is a large contingent of Americans who believe they have the right to dictate what you put into your body. Worse, some pass moral judgment on people who do not share their lifestyle. Smokers aren't simply engaging in harmful behavior; instead, they're fundamentally bad people.

Such beliefs appear to be gaining popularity. A...

Imagine your wife suffers a cardiac arrest in the middle of the night and remains unconscious. You start CPR and tell your granddaughter to call 911. Paramedics arrive and, unbeknownst to you, automatically enroll her in a clinical trial without her or your consent as they attempt to revive her. You believe they don’t act fast enough to get her to the hospital and give her a shot you can’t decipher because they won’t permit you in the room (in your own home). Then, she dies.

Days later, you receive a letter in the mail alerting you she had

participated in an out-of-hospital study with the county paramedics as part of the...

What's the biggest, deadliest threat the world faces today? How a person answers that question reveals a lot about them.

Epidemiologists and microbiologists fear pandemics, economists fret over depressions, and foreign policy analysts fear war. Political partisans will often say something flip -- like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton -- but the upside is that you no longer have to take that individual seriously.

Those who fancy themselves enlightened are likely to answer climate change, but like Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb, this is simply the apocalypse du jour. Climate change is a slow-moving threat whose consequences are in the...