‘What the Health?’ from KHN: (another) very sad week
This week’s mass shooting of elementary school children in Texas (just 10 days after a racially motivated mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York) has reignited the gun debate in Washington, DC, and in all the countries. But political disagreements over guns and their proper role in American society are more intractable than ever.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma becomes the first state to try to ban all abortions, as the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s decision in a case it should use to overturn the landmark. Roe vs. Wade decision.
And on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are criticizing the FDA for its handling of the infant formula shortage, reigniting a debate over whether foods should be regulated by a separate agency.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner from KHN, Joanne Kenen from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Anna Edney from Bloomberg News and Rachana Pradhan from KHN.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
- Although much of the nation was fascinated by the May 24 shooting in Uvalde, Texas, thousands of Americans are killed each year in gun violence that doesn’t make headlines. More than half of these deaths are suicides and many more result from isolated shootings.
- Despite an epidemic of gun violence, gun regulation in the United States has declined over the past two decades. Not only has the federal ban on assault weapons expired, but many states have taken steps to make it easier to buy and own firearms.
- Since the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, an entire generation has grown up with the prospect of violence hitting their schools. The oldest of these people send their own children to schools where shooting practice is a part of life.
- Texas officials said the Uvalde shooting demonstrates a need for more security in schools, but adding metal detectors and more guards doesn’t necessarily make children feel safe, particularly in communities where they may also have reason to fear the police.
- During a congressional hearing this week, lawmakers criticized the FDA for being slow to respond to reports that an Abbott infant formula plant in Michigan had extreme contamination problems and its handling of the consequences when that plant closed and the formula has become rare. The issue highlights the struggles of the FDA when trying to deal with the covid pandemic and was also without a permanent leader. The Biden administration was slow to appoint someone to lead the agency; Dr. Robert Califf only took the helm earlier this year.
- The infant formula issues have reignited debate over whether food safety should be the responsibility of a new, separate agency since the FDA is so busy managing drug and medical device issues.
- A report released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that 1 in 5 adults who contract covid will develop longer-term problems that can include neurological problems and certain organic disorders. The study of the long covid, however, has left many questions unanswered, including whether vaccination reduces the number of cases and how long the problems last.
- The high number of long-term cases identified in the report suggests that there may be a significant increase in the population of people requiring disability services.
- As the country awaits a Supreme Court decision on the future of access to abortion services guaranteed by the 1973 law Roe vs. Wade decision, states continue to enact restrictive laws. Oklahoma’s governor signed a law this week banning abortion from the moment of fertilization. Some companies have pledged to help workers travel to obtain abortion services, but that may run counter to states’ efforts. Texas lawmakers say they want to block companies from providing that benefit.
Also this week, Rovner interviews Dr. Richard Baron, president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine. Baron co-authored a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine on how the medical community should deal with doctors who spread medical misinformation on social media.
Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week that they think you should also read:
Julie Rovner: “Strangerville” Podcast “Episode 203: Jacob”, by Jessica and Justin Van Wyen
Joanne Kenen: NBC News podcast “Needle In/Tiffany Dover Is Dead*” by Brandy Zadrozny
Anna Edney: “The Plot to Keep Meatpacking Plants Open During COVID-19” from ProPublica, by Michael Grabell
Rachela Pradhan: “We’re ignoring a major culprit behind the teen mental health crisis” from The Washington Post, by Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright
Also discussed on this week’s podcast:
“The School Shooting Generation Grows Up” from Vox.com, by Marin Cogan
“Viruses that were on hiatus during Covid are back – and behaving in unexpected ways” from Stat, by Helen Branswell
The New York Times “More than 1 in 5 adult Covid survivors in the US may develop long Covid, CDC study finds”, by Pam Belluck
“Companies that help employees get abortions could be Texas lawmakers’ next target if Roe v Wade is overturned” from the Texas Tribune, by Zach Despart
This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy research organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.