Viewpoints: Rising Cost Of Tricare; GOP Needs To Better Explain Medicare Eligibility Age Issue; Don't Forget Adult Immunizations

The Washington Post: Tricare The Untouchable
The U.S. government's fiscal predicament has many causes. But if you had to reduce them to one sentence, it might go like this: "Congress responds to the short-term demands of particular groups, not the long-term needs of the nation as a whole." Case in point: the seemingly unstoppable growth of medical benefits for former military personnel under Tricare, the Defense Department's health program. This mushrooming expense is a major reason that Pentagon health-care spending rose from $19 billion in fiscal 2001 to $52.8 billion in fiscal 2012 (Charles Lane, 3/25).

Los Angeles Times: An Insider's View Of Generic-Drug Pricing
The murky world of generic drug prices has been much on my mind after hearing from readers about costs for various medicines experiencing crazy fluctuations. I wrote the other day about a Target customer who saw the price for a generic antibiotic climb from $6 to $133 within just a few weeks (David Lazarus, 3/25).

The Wall Street Journal: 50 Vetoes: How States Can Stop The Obama Health Care Law
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) itself empowers states to block the employer mandate, to exempt many of their low- and middle-income taxpayers from the individual mandate, and to reduce federal deficit spending, simply by not establishing a health insurance "exchange." Supporters of the law do not care for this feature, yet they adopted it because they had no choice. The bill would not have become law without it (Michael F. Cannon, 3/25). 

New Orleans Times Picayune: It's Up To All Of Us To Understand, Rein In U.S. Health Care Costs
The cost of health care in the United States is rising quietly like a slow-growing cancer. It's a cancer that we as consumers don't find out about until it's too late -- when we get the final bill. The true cost of our health care is often hidden behind difficult-to-decipher medical bills and price negotiations we may never see -- or even care to see -- between health care providers and insurance companies. The hidden price tag for health care continues because we turn a blind eye to how much any particular procedure costs (Kevin Wildes, 3/25).

Des Moines Register: Raising Medicare Age Creates More Problems
It is hard to understand how it makes sense to increase the age when future Americans would be able to sign up for government health insurance. Lawmakers supporting the idea have much more explaining to do — in public. ... The attempt to shrink Medicare eligibility feels like yet another political attack on a program that has been helping Americans for nearly 50 years. Though the program has more to do in getting spending under control, it's unlikely eliminating the youngest, healthiest enrollees would help (3/25).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Mental Health Needs The Nation's Attention
Millions of people in our country are struggling every day with mental illness — but most aren't getting help. Many don't have a support system. They may not have parents or friends who understand or have resources to help. They may not have health insurance that covers the cost of treatment. Or perhaps they feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek help, because mental illness still carries a stigma in our society. As my family searches for some type of meaning and comfort in the depths of our grief, we hold out hope that perhaps Andrew's story will help people have a greater understanding and compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (Chris Bauer, 3/25). 

Georgia Health News: Action Needed To Increase Adult Vaccinations
Everybody knows that kids need "baby shots" – immunizations that protect against formerly common childhood diseases. The shots are required for school entry, so most children are up to date by the time that they are 5 years old. But what many of their parents and grandparents don't realize is that adults need immunizations as well. And the adults lag far behind the kids in getting the shots that they need. A bill currently pending in the Georgia Legislature (SB 85) – which would permit pharmacists to administer some immunizations that are currently off-limits to them – might help rectify the situation (Daniel Blumenthal, 3/25).

Health Policy Solutions: Sex Ed A Matter Of Public Health, Not Politics
In 2007, Colorado passed a law stating that if sexual health education is offered as part of a school's curriculum, then it must be comprehensive in nature. … However many school districts have elected to either not teach sex education due, in part, to the lack of resources or because they find the current legal guideline too vague and confusing — making it extremely difficult to fully implement (Vicki Cowart, 3/25).

St. Louis Beacon: State Department Of Health Cancer Study Surveyed Wrong People
The Missouri Department of Health recently released a study looking at rates of cancer from 1996 to 2004 among then-current residents of a subset of the ZIP codes of concern. They concluded that there is nothing to worry about. While there are elevated rates of some types cancers, including breast, colon, kidney and prostate, the report claims are more likely the fault of the residents’ lifestyles. The report is completely uninformative, because like the man looking for his keys under the street light, they were looking for cancers among current residents (Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and Jenell Rodden Wright, 3/26).

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