Every week, KHN reporter Marissa Evans selects interesting reading from around the Web.
The New York Times: The Fat Drug
If you walk into a farm-supply store today, you’re likely to find a bag of antibiotic powder that claims to boost the growth of poultry and livestock. That’s because decades of agricultural research has shown that antibiotics seem to flip a switch in young animals’ bodies, helping them pack on pounds. Manufacturers brag about the miraculous effects of feeding antibiotics to chicks and nursing calves. Dusty agricultural journals attest to the ways in which the drugs can act like a kind of superfood to produce cheap meat. But what if that meat is us? (Pagan Kennedy, 3/8).
The Wall Street Journal: Inside The Making of Obamacare
As a White House special adviser on health policy, I was party to many of the internal debates that shaped the Affordable Care Act. Looking back, I believe that three key issues were emblematic of the sometimes tortured interplay of policy and politics in crafting Obamacare—and of the inherent difficulty of fashioning complex legislation in today's Washington. To control costs and improve quality in health care, the White House economic team believed that we had to change the way physicians are paid. About 85% of payments to physicians are fees for individual services—which gives doctors incentives to order more tests and interventions. Fee-for-service puts volume above value; it rewards treating sickness rather than promoting health (Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, 3/7).
The Atlantic: The Man Working to Cure His Own Cancer
In January 2006, when Josh Sommer was still an aspiring environmental engineering student at Duke University on winter break, he began experiencing debilitating headaches out of nowhere. Though he felt fine and was an otherwise healthy 18-year-old, an MRI would soon reveal he had a slow-growing tumor pressed against his brainstem and wrapped around several major arteries. ... Only after the surgery did his doctor make an official diagnosis: chordoma, a malignant form of bone cancer so rare it occurs in just one out of every one million people. ... By the time Sommer returned to school in the fall, he was determined to do whatever he could to try to change his prognosis. ... Government agencies tend to fund research that will have the biggest effect across the population, so common cancers—breast cancer, prostate cancer, and so on—usually receive the most funding (Aimee Swartz, 3/11).
The New Yorker: The Reckoning
Inadequate gun control and poor mental-health care are problems that invariably define the debate after atrocities such as the one at Newtown. But, important as those issues are, our impulse to grasp for reasons comes, arguably, from a more basic need—to make sense of what seems senseless. When the Connecticut state’s attorney issued a report, in December, CNN announced, “Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza took motive to his grave.” ... Had we found out—which we did not—that Adam had schizophrenia, or had been a pedophile or a victim of childhood abuse, we still wouldn’t know why he acted as he did (Andrew Solomon, 3/11).
The New York Times: Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney
In our first year in Washington, our son disappeared. Just shy of his 3rd birthday, an engaged, chatty child, full of typical speech — "I love you," "Where are my Ninja Turtles?" "Let's get ice cream!" — fell silent. He cried, inconsolably. Didn't sleep. Wouldn't make eye contact. ... We ask our growing team of developmental specialists, doctors and therapists about it. We were never big fans of plopping our kids in front of Disney videos, but now the question seemed more urgent: Is this good for him? They shrug. Is he relaxed? Yes. Does it seem joyful? Definitely. Keep it limited, they say (Ron Suskind, 3/7).
Time Magazine: The 300 Workout: How Movies Fuel Boys' Insecurities
Young men—whether they were looking for their battlefield gore fix or a chance to geek out over the historical inaccuracies of a sex scene between Themistokles and Artemisia—lined up for the opening of 300: Rise of an Empire on Friday. And though some parents may forbid their teens from seeing the R-rated film because of the blood and violence, they should probably be more concerned about the Greeks’ sweaty, washboard abs. ... The average guy wants 15-27 more pounds of muscle and a three to four percent decrease in body fat. And a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics in January found that 18 percent of boys are very concerned about their weight and physique. Failure to attain these unrealistic body goals can lead to depression, high-risk behaviors (like drinking and drugs) and eating disorders (Eliana Dockterman, 3/11).