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Murthy’s Confirmation Battle Between Public Health Experts and the Gun Lobby

TCF fellow Harold Pollack provided commentary on Vivek Murthy, the recently confirmed U.S. Surgeon General. After countless deliberations over his nomination for the post, with considerable criticism from those that refuse to acknowledge any link between public health and gun policy, Murthy stepped in and put some critics at ease by announcing that his focus will be on obesity prevention. Nevertheless, Pollack says that its impossible to pretend that gun violence and mental illness are two entirely separate issues.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health 85 percent of gun-related suicides are successful, compared to only 3 percent of drug related suicides. States with more gun ownership have higher rates of gun-related suicide. “It’s not a question of Second Amendment anything,” Pollack said. “It’s an issue of how do we talk to patients about threats to their health."

Read the rest of Pollack's comments via Bloomberg Politics.

Tags: vivek murthy, surgeon general, mental illness, health policy, gun violence, gun safety

Living Well With Breast Cancer by Choosing Wisely: A Conversation With Amy Berman

December 16, 2014 BY: Harold Pollack TOPICS: Social Insurance

TCF fellow Harold Pollack interviewed Amy Berman, a geriatric care specialist and senior program officer at the John A. Hartford Foundation, about her personal experiences living with breast cancer over four years. She describes the palliative-care recommendations she's been following, the conversations with her doctors, the activities she continues to enjoy despite, and maintaining a good quality of life despite the disease. Harold asks Berman:

"To know that this care was well-handled, whatever the outcome, gives people comfort. Obviously, people always hope for medical miracles. Yet to know things were well-handled gives people some peace of mind. I don't know if that's been your experience."

The whole interview can be accessed here.

Tags: treatment, palliative care, medical care, cancer

What Happens When Your Pregnant Sister-in-Law is Paralyzed in an Accident — and Has No Insurance.

TCF fellow Harold Pollack conducts an interview with a woman whose sister-in-law suffered a severely traumatic accident leaving her mostly paralyzed. Pollack asks about her sister-in-law's difficulties dealing with the accident, treatment, and long-term care without having health insurance to support her necessary medical costs.

"They knew that my brother would continue to lack coverage, under any circumstance really. She knew that after the AIM ran out, she could enroll in [her nursing school’s student health plan]. She had already filled out the paperwork when the accident happened. She and the baby would both have insurance."

Read the full interview from the New York Times.

Tags: medical care, health insurance, affordable care act

Atul Gawande Explains Why the Health Care System Should Stop Trying to Help Everyone Live Longer

The U.S. health care system “prizes the length of a patient’s life over the quality of that life in a person’s final years,” writes TCF fellow Harold Pollack at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. Pollack interviews author Atul Gawande, whose new book argues that those priorities are wrong. Says Gawande:

If you look at the studies, they find that having a palliative care doctor or geriatrician more closely involved in care can lead people to forego aggressive therapy sooner and have better outcomes--not only less suffering but even improved survival. But we don’t have enough of these doctors to go around.

Read the full interview at WonkBlog.

Tags: wonkblog, palliative care, health policy, health care policy, end of life care, atul gawande, affordable care act

Centers for Damage Control

Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish quotes TCF fellow Harold Pollack’s defense of the CDC.

Despite the CDC’s budget problems and its recent stumbles, it is a more effective, better-led organization than it was during the Bush years, when five out of six former agency directors publicly criticized the CDC’s managerial hijinks, low morale and lapses from scientific integrity. At that time, the CDC ranked 189th out of 222 federal agencies in workforce morale. It now ranks 49th out of 300 federal agencies on such measures. That’s a striking improvement.

Read the full article.

Tags: the dish, ebola, cdc, andrew sullivan

Yes, Ebola Is Scary. But the System Is Working.

TCF fellow Harold Pollack writes in Politico that while Ebola is a disaster in Africa, but a pretty containable threat here in the United States that "requires a calm, methodical response."

The words “calm and methodical” don’t quite match what we’re seeing. If you’re just tuning in, you might believe that America has lost its mind. Consider:

Cable TV and social media repeatedly fuel collective stupidity and fear.

Read the full article at Politico.

 

Social Insurance

Social Insurance

Compared to other advanced nations, America’s retirement security and health care systems offer weaker protections against risks we all face. The Century Foundation’s work focuses on ideas for strengthening Social Security, pensions, and health care – including steps for building on the Affordable Care Act.

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