Longer Looks: A Wife's Alzheimer's; Doctors and Drug Companies

Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Los Angeles Times: A Wife's Alzheimer's, A Husband's Obsession
When his wife got Alzheimer's disease, lawyer Ken Chiate invested all his hopes in an unorthodox treatment. Nothing, it seems, could make him give up on it. ... Jeannette's difficulties seemed to emerge out of nowhere. She couldn't grasp the rules of a dice game. She kept asking questions her husband had just answered. ... in 2001, at age 58, she was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As months and years passed, she fell into an angry haze that was determined to be Alzheimer's disease. ... [Chiate] hated being told by doctor after doctor that there was no way to stop her disintegration. "I'm a fix-it guy," he says. "That's what I do. I fix people's problems. This was just a problem that needed fixing" (Alan Zarembo, 5/5).

The Atlantic: Getting To The Right Relationship Between Doctors And Drug Companies
The pharmaceutical industry is held in remarkably low esteem right now. It's seen as a bunch of nefarious pushers who pay off vulnerable doctors to prescribe their latest expensive, mediocre product. Physicians who work with pharma companies are considered especially suspect, routinely described as "cozy," "in bed with industry," and "on the take." … I think they have it backwards, though. Drug companies -- at least every one that I've worked for or consulted with -- would like to develop important new medicines that improve health and save lives. That's what gets every industry researcher I know up in the morning, and what keeps them going through the many highs and lows that characterize the scientific process (Dr. David A. Shaywitz, 5/8).

The New York Times: The Changing Face Of Medical School Admissions
At an assembly during my first week of medical school, one of the institution's venerable deans took to the podium to announce that our class marked a turning point in the school's history: nearly half of us were female … two perspective pieces in The New England Journal of Medicine reveal that admissions policies have been quietly but radically changing in a handful of medical schools. And those changes have yielded surprisingly successful results. ... Since Boston University School of Medicine began incorporating holistic review in all phases of its admissions process five years ago, faculty members have noted that students appear to be more collegial, supportive of one another, open to new ideas and perspectives and engaged in community activities (Dr. Pauline W. Chen, 5/8).

The American Spectator: How Low Can Part-Timers' Hours Go?
Say you're an employer with an employee who works 30 hours a week. If you have 50 employees or more come next year, you'll be required either to provide her with health-care coverage, which the Affordable Care Act will by then mandate for all employees who work at least 30 hours a week, or you'll have to pay a $2,000 penalty for failing to cover her. Or, you could just cut her weekly hours to 29. That way, you won't have to pay a dime, in either insurance costs or penalties. ... President Obama has said that if he could devise a system from scratch, he'd prefer single-payer, but as events would have it, we have a trillion-dollar employer-based private health insurance industry already in place. The fact that employers in both the private- and public-sectors are now cutting their workers' hours to game that system is just further confirmation of how dysfunctional and cruel that system really is (Harold Myerson, 5/6).

American Spectator: President Obama And 'Uncaring' Pro-Lifers
In President Obama's view, pro-life politicians who wish to defund Planned Parenthood (PP) are working tirelessly to "shut women out" from health care. That's the president's argument at its core: pro-lifers want to abandon needy women. ... Pro-life people care to a tremendous degree for women, especially in a relative sense. Working often at the grassroots level, pro-lifers have created twice the number of care-oriented clinics as pro-choice advocates. ... [Some] will pound the podium, and raise the old falsehoods without factual basis, and tell the world that pro-lifers do not care for women. To this point, however, the data and the record is clear: the pro-life side has devoted itself to the needy (Owen Strachan, 5/2). 

The New Republic: Plan B: The Political Football Obama Keeps Punting
The administration's Plan B actions epitomize the unfair double standards that govern women's health: They face barriers to reproductive care that aren't imposed elsewhere in medicine. This is true in the case of abortion clinics, which must work under strict regulations unheard of at other low-risk outpatient centers. And true, to a much lesser extent, of Obamacare, which has been forced to provide a workaround for birth control coverage to avoid the ire of religious groups. And it's true of the gross disparity between the laws surrounding Plan B and those that govern any other drug in the country (Nora Caplan-Bricker, 5/3).

Health Affairs: To Cover Their Child, One Couple Navigates A Health Insurance Maze In Pennsylvania
Our son, Erik, was born in Philadelphia in April 2012. Two days after his birth, we applied for coverage for him through the Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers children whose families do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford to buy health insurance. Under CHIP rules in our state, he should have been covered within four to six weeks. In fact it would be six months before he was covered. Changes coming under the Affordable Care Act are designed to make it easier for parents like us to navigate the CHIP and Medicaid programs, but it remains to be seen whether they will have the intended effect (Ari B. Friedman and Tara Mendola, May 2013).

The New York Times: A Forgotten Pioneer Of Vaccines
We live in an epidemiological bubble and are for the most part blissfully unaware of it. Diseases that were routine hazards of childhood for many Americans living today now seem like ancient history. … The name Maurice Hilleman may not ring a bell. But today 95 percent of American children receive the M.M.R. — the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella that Dr. Hilleman invented, starting with the mumps strain he collected that night from his daughter.  It was by no means his only contribution (Richard Conniff, 5/8).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.