In The New York Times Magazine, Jennifer Egan explores the effects of the opioid epidemic on children. Almost 90 percent of pregnancies among women who misuse opioids are unintentional, she writes, and roughly every 15 minutes, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal. Complicating the situation are the punitive approaches and stigmas facing mothers struggling with opioid misuse.
The White House and outside conservative groups are planning to release a new plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act later this month. According to a leaked summary, the plan would block grant state healthcare finances, and require states to spend at least 50% of funds purchasing private insurance for low-income residents; repeal the employer mandate; repeal ACA spending on the Medicaid expansion, cost-sharing reductions, and tax credits; allow short-term, barebones insurance policies that don’t comply with the ACA’s Essential Benefits to be renewed; and expand health savings accounts.
With midterms looming, lawmakers are moving through a flurry of legislation to address the opioid epidemic, Roll Call reports. Committees in both the House and Senate are introducing bills focused on interventions ranging from improving Medicaid coverage for treatment, to stemming the flow of synthetic opioids, to reducing the use of prescription opioids. “Even though this epidemic is worse in some parts of the country than others, find me a congressional district where this isn’t an issue,” Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford, said to Roll Call.
Doctors who got payments from opioid makers in 2014 prescribed more opioids in 2015, while prescription numbers dropped for those doctors who did not receive payments, according to a recent study reported in STAT. The payments, which included free meals and consulting fees, averaged $13, but some were higher than $1,000.
Smith County, Texas, is looking to understand and address its unusually high suicide rate, the Dallas Morning News reports. In addition to a shortage in mental health providers, the East Texas county has a greater portion of non-Hispanic white residents--a population with higher suicide rates--and an independent, religious culture that can foster stigma around mental health and discourage people from seeking help.
With suicide among the leading causes of death among college-age adults and depression and anxiety on the rise among college students, parents and college administrators are grappling with the question of when it is appropriate for schools to share information with parents of students who are struggling, The New York Times reports.
The US House is expected to vote today to reauthorize the Farm Bill. The current House proposal threatens to strip food benefits from millions of people by imposing stricter time limits and work requirements, and ending ‘categorical eligibility’ for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).Categorical eligibility streamlines access to SNAP and to free and reduced-price school meals for families of low income in 40 states. SNAP helps one in eight Americans—over 40 million people—and is the most far-reaching and effective program to prevent hunger in the United States. In addition to preventing hunger, SNAP supports long-term health and wellbeing, improves educational outcomes for children, lowers healthcare costs, helps families make ends meet, and fuels local economic development. In 2015, SNAP helped prevent over eight million families from falling below the poverty line.
The New York Times reports that clinics that provide abortions or refer patients for abortion services would lose federal funding under a Trump administration rule that is expected to be announced later today: “Federal family planning laws already ban direct funding of organizations that use abortion as a family planning method. But conservative activists and Republican lawmakers have been pressing Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, to tighten the rules further so that abortions could not occur — or be performed by the same staff — at locations that receive Title X federal family planning money… Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the new proposal ‘outrageous’ and ‘dangerous.’ The policy, she said in a statement late Thursday, is ‘designed to make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood. This is designed to force doctors and nurses to lie to their patients. It would have devastating consequences across this country.’”
Reported incidents of opioid misuse are generally lower among college populations than among other groups, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed. The article notes that research indicates people with more higher education are less likely to become addicted to opioids. “This is for a few reasons: people with low education levels have fewer job opportunities, leaving them more vulnerable to depression and addiction; they usually work in areas with higher risks of workplace injuries, making opioid painkiller use more likely; and they have fewer resources to combat drug addiction, like money for rehabilitation.”
A new USA Today analysis of Russian Facebook ads intended to influence the US election found that more than half used racial issues like police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement to polarize the American electorate.
In the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino explores the world of incels, straight men who self-describe as involuntarily celibate and express intense misogyny at women as a class. Despite their moniker, Tolentino suggests the issue is more about power than sex. “Incels aren’t really looking for sex; they’re looking for absolute male supremacy,” she writes. The ideology and the accompanying rage has contributed to the murders of more than a dozen people, according to Tolentino, including those recently killed in Toronto by a man who promoted the “Incel Rebellion” in a Facebook post before driving a van into a crowd.