Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

‘Medicare for All’ a hot issue in the second Democratic debate

Another 10 Democrats took to the debate stage last night, and health care was once again a big issue. The very first question, to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, set off more than 20 minutes of heated discussion about “Medicare for All.” His response: “Health care in my view is a human right and we have got to pass a Medicare for all single-payer system.” The other candidates ranged in their ideas for getting to a public option: former vice president Joe Biden said his plan would improve upon Obamacare, while others said that a public option would coexist alongside private insurance. Medicare drug negotiation, the opioid crisis and abortion access also came up briefly, but something of note was that every candidate said their health care plan would accommodate undocumented immigrants. “Our country is healthier when everybody is healthier,” South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttiegieg said. 

Low efficacy for this year’s flu vaccine

This season’s flu vaccine was only 29% effective, the CDC said yesterday. The flu vaccine had a 47% efficacy until February, but a strain of a virus showed up halfway through the season, dragging down the shot’s overall efficacy. The CDC estimates that between 37 million and 43 million people fell sick with the flu this year, and more than 61,000 people may have died as a result. 

Also from the CDC, new statistics show that most Americans aren’t getting tested for HIV. The agency recommends that those aged 13 to 64 get tested at least once during their lifetime, but fewer than 40% of Americans are doing so. At the same time, only about a third of people most at risk of acquiring HIV were tested last year. 

Q&A: Dr. Ruth on enjoying what you do and loneliness in young adults

All smiles at Aspen last week — and thanks to the onlooker who took this photo! 

One of the biggest celebrities around the Aspen Ideas: Health campus last week was Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The 91-year-old media personality is best known for her work as a sex therapist — and she’s also the subject of a new documentary.  I had the chance to ask her exactly three questions, so here they are: 

How do you have so much energy? 

Because I like what I do. [Laughing.] Next question. 

What do you make of the new six-week abortion bans? 

I’m very upset. I don’t participate in politics, except I vote. If abortion is illegal again, then only women with money will be able to obtain abortions. The others will resort to abortionists and coat hangers, [which will be] terrible. And I’m very upset about funding for Planned Parenthood being so difficult. 

What’s an issue that concerns you most about young people in our country? 

I’m very concerned about loneliness among young people [and older people]. And I’m very concerned about the art of conversation getting lost — because everyone is on their phone. 

Inside STAT: UNICEF flooded with anti-vaccine calls ahead of teen’s talk

UNICEF’s phone lines this week are flooded — and all because of a teenager. Ever since 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger shared with the world that he had gotten all his vaccinations against his mother’s wishes, he has gained notoriety in both pro- and anti-vaccination circles. He is speaking at UNICEF today about his first-hand experience with vaccine misinformation, much of which his mother encountered on Facebook. The agency received an onslaught of anti-vaccine calls ahead of his speech. This backlash is something that Lindenberger is now used to. “I have friends and family, people who go to my church, who can’t stand what I’m doing,” he said, adding, “when something becomes this polarizing, it becomes very toxic.” STAT’s Megan Thielking has more here

Women lose nearly 10 days of productivity due to period symptoms

Menstrual symptoms, including painful cramping and heavy bleeding, affect nearly all women, and a new study finds that working through them can result in nearly 10 days of lost productivity every year. Researchers surveyed more than 32,000 women in the Netherlands between the ages of 15 and 45, and found that roughly 14% of women said they don’t go to school or work at some point during their monthly period. Some 80% reported going to school and work despite their symptoms, and researchers found that, on average, women missed about nine days of productivity due to working through their symptoms. Only 1 in 5 women told their employers or school why they were absent when they did take time off, and nearly two-thirds wished for more flexibility when it came to taking time off during their periods.

Pediatricians in China have a high caseload, low education level

China is believed to be facing a shortage of pediatricians, and a new study finds that a high caseload and low education level may be partially to blame. Researchers surveyed directors of more than 54,000 hospitals in China from 2015 to 2016 and found that there are roughly four pediatricians for every group of 10,000 children in the country. Almost a third of pediatricians there received only about three years of junior college training after high school, suggesting they are unprepared for the job and more likely to leave the profession. Instead of only recruiting more young pediatricians, the authors recommend a restructuring of how pediatricians in China are trained and work.

What to read around the web today

  • The nonprofit hospital that makes millions, owns a collection agency and relentlessly sues the poor. ProPublica
  • Four officer suicides in three weeks: NYPD struggles to dispel mental health stigma. The New York Times
  • Five things we found in the FDA’s hidden device database. Kaiser Health News
  • Scott Gottlieb walks through the revolving door to the Pfizer board. STAT
  • Federal government demands part of Oklahoma’s $270 million deal with Purdue. The Washington Post

Thanks for reading! See you next week! 


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Friday, June 28, 2019


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