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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.

Home Care in Crisis

TCF fellow, Moshe Marvit has been quoted in an article about home care on In These Times.

In most industries, it’s not catastrophic when an employee doesn’t show up to work. But last December, a few weeks before Christmas, my mother’s long-time home health aide announced that she had to go on indefinite leave, which left my family reeling. That’s becoming an all-too-common story thanks to a growing shortage of home care workers, a problem that raises thorny issues of who’s able to unionize and which jobs—and which workers—we value.

I was 7 when my mother, a high school English teacher in upstate New York, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Over the next several decades, MS progressively robbed her of many of the things she loved. First her stamina and ability to tolerate hot summers; later her balance and her pride, as strangers assumed her staggering walk meant she was drunk. When I was in middle school, MS forced my mom out of her teaching career, and by the time I graduated from college, it had relegated her to a wheelchair.

Read the full article.

Tags: home care workers, healthcare system, healthcare policy, healthcare

This Woman Will Take Her Own Life November 1. Our Healthcare System Let Her Down.

TCF fellow, Harold Pollack has writes about the potential alternatives to assisted suicide in an article for New Republic.

The story is getting a lot of attention online, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s about Brittany Maynard, a young Oregon woman with stage 4 glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. There is apparently no cure for this awful disease. Her expected lifespan is measured in months rather than years at this point.

Maynard has decided to end her life this November 1, two days after her husband’s birthday. She is a vivacious woman who seems to love her life, and has achingly so much to live for at the age of 29. She wants to avoid a terrible death, and to control the manner of her own passing. She is packing as much joy as she can into this final period of her life. She is not suicidal in any way. She has now made a series of affecting videos and interviews on behalf of Compassion and Choices, an organization that supports expanded access to assisted suicide for patients with life-ending illnesses. She and her family moved to Oregon to gain access to the state’s Death and Dignity Act, “which allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose.”

Read the full article.

Tags: palliative care, healthcare system, healthcare policy, healthcare, assisted suicide

How Obamacare could reduce crime and incarceration

TCF fellow, Harold Pollack has been quoted in an MSNBC article about Obamacare's impacts on crime.

By expanding coverage for substance abuse treatment, Obamacare could potentially help reduce crime and incarceration — provided that beneficiaries can actually access the help they need.

Researchers at Emory University found that expanding health care coverage increases the use of substance abuse treatment and reduces aggravated assault, robbery, and larceny, according to their new working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Read the full article.

Tags: obamacare, incarceration rates, healthcare system, health insurance, crime, affordable care act

 

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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