Health

Planned Parenthood’s Popularity Still Strong

Wall Street Journal: “Planned Parenthood’s standing in the public eye has not been diminished despite months of concerted attacks by Republicans, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll has found.”

“The poll found that the women’s health organization is viewed favorably by 47% of Americans and unfavorably by 31% in the Sept. 20-24 survey. That is about the same — even a tad better — than the 45%-30% split found in a Journal/NBC poll in July.”

“At a time when Republicans have been calling for cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and threatening to shut down the government to do so, the new poll found that a strong majority of Americans — 61% — oppose eliminating funding, while 35% support a funding cut off.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 12.24.40 PM

Majority Oppose a Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood

Politico: “Nearly seven in 10 Americans — 69 percent — oppose shutting down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood, according to the results of a new national Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.”

“Just 23 percent support closing the government over the dispute. Even among Republicans, a majority of 56 percent to 36 percent opposes a shutdown due to Planned Parenthood.”

“At the same time, 44 percent to 39 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, with a significant gender gap. Among women, 50 percent to 35 percent approve of the group, while men disapprove, 43 percent to 38 percent.”

“But as far as cutting off funding to the group, 52 percent said they would oppose doing so, compared with 41 percent who supported such an action. Women opposed such an action by a wide margin — 60 percent to 34 percent — while men responding to the survey supported an end to federal funding 49 percent to 44 percent.”

Less Booze, More Meth

Christopher Ingraham: “‘Dry counties’ that prohibit alcohol sales seem to have a bigger meth problem than other counties.”

“That’s the thought-provoking conclusion of a new paper by researchers at the University of Louisville. In the state of Kentucky, some counties (‘dry’) prohibit alcohol sales completely. Others allow it only within certain municipalities (‘moist,’) or don’t place restrictions on alcohol sales at all (‘wet’).”

“The Louisville researchers noticed that dry counties had higher rates of meth lab busts, as well as higher rates of meth crimes overall. And the effect is significant: ‘if all counties were to become wet, the total number of meth lab seizures in Kentucky would decline by about 25 percent.'”

“The researchers found that this is more than just a simple correlation: ‘Our results add support to the idea that prohibiting the sale of alcohol flattens the punishment gradient, lowering the relative cost of participating in the market for illegal drugs,’ they conclude.”

Why Defunding Planned Parenthood Won’t Work

Sarah Kliff: “The ‘defund Planned Parenthood’ movement has a standard response to the question of where women would go if their local clinic closed: somewhere else.”

“But a Vox review of academic research, recent Planned Parenthood closures in Texas, and interviews with half a dozen health policy experts suggests the opposite. Historically, researchers have found that when Planned Parenthood clinics close, other clinics do not step up to fill the gap. Meanwhile, when there are fewer reproductive health clinics available, women get less reproductive health care — from birth control to cancer screenings to STD testing and treatment. Unintended pregnancies would likely increase, too.”

“Planned Parenthood exists in many places where other family planning clinics don’t: a new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute estimates that there are 103 counties in the United States where Planned Parenthood is the only provider of publicly funded contraceptives. In an additional 229 counties, Planned Parenthood serves the majority of women who are low-income and qualify for government help paying for birth control.”

“This relates to the other important fact to know about Planned Parenthood: It tends to serve way more women in public programs than do other places, like public health clinics or primary care doctors. They see, on average, 2,950 birth control patients per year, compared with the average of 750 seen at public health centers and 330 at federally qualified health centers.”

No, Obamacare Is Not a Job Killer

CNN: “Despite some dire predictions, Obamacare isn’t having much of an impact on hiring by businesses so far, according to a new study.”

“Employers with at least 100 full-time workers must offer health insurance to full-time employees who work 30 or more hours a week or pay a penalty, as of this year. This mandate will start applying to smaller companies with 50 or more full-timers in 2016.”

“But few employers report changing their staffing or hiring because of Obamacare, according to the 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Education Trust survey, released Tuesday.”

“Only 4% of employers with at least 50 full-time workers said they shifted some staffers from full-time to part-time schedules so that they wouldn’t qualify for health care. And another 4% said they were reducing the number of full-time employees they planned to hire because of the cost of health benefits.”

“‘Despite all the debate about the so-called employer mandate…the actual employer response does not match the rhetoric,’ said Drew Altman, the foundation’s president. ‘It’s muted. It’s modest. It cuts in different directions with no big shift to part-time employment.'”

 

Rich and Poor Eat Fast Food Equally

A new CDC study finds that on a given day, roughly one-third of American children will eat fast food and the breakdown among income levels is pretty even.

The Atlantic: “Some researchers suggest that it’s actually supermarkets, those ammonia-dusted empyreans and oft-cited silver bullets, that play an outsized role in the national obesity problem. That’s not to say that fast food is good for you, but rather that Americans having cheap access to sugary goods might be a bigger problem. At the very least, the discourse about what causes obesity, particularly among lower-income Americans, deserves some tempering.”

CBO: Defunding Planned Parenthood Will Increase Spending

The Hill: “Permanently defunding Planned Parenthood would end up increasing government spending by $130 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”

“The CBO, Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper, projects that defunding Planned Parenthood would actually end up increasing government spending, because it would result in more unplanned births as women lost access to services such as contraception. Medicaid would have to pay for some of those births, and some of the children themselves would then end up qualifying for Medicaid and other government programs.”

“So while CBO estimates that cutting off federal funds to Planned Parenthood would reduce spending by $520 million 10 ten years, it would also increase spending by $650 million over that period. The net effect is an increase in spending of $130 million.”

The Case Against Clinton’s Plan to Control Drug Costs

“When critics complain about the high cost of a prescription drug, drug makers tend to have two main defenses. One is that developing drugs is an expensive, risky endeavor, and so companies need high prices to cover the cost of medical research. The second is that their products bring value by improving health and wellness, and the companies should be rewarded for those public benefits,” the New York Times reports.

“Hillary Rodham Clinton is unveiling her proposal to lower drug costs Tuesday, and she has taken aim squarely at that first defense: If companies really need high prices to spend it on science, then they should be required to spend a set amount of their revenue on research and development costs. She proposes requiring that any additional drug company revenue be plowed back into government research for new therapies. The proposal would apply to any drug company that benefits from federal support — which would mean most of them.”

Obamacare Sign-ups Exceed Projections to Reach 17.6 Million

The Hill: “A total of 17.6 million people have gained coverage under ObamaCare, according to a revised government estimate released Tuesday. The newest figure, which is based on national survey data, shows that 1.2 million more people had signed up for healthcare over the last five years than previously thought.”

“The revised total includes 15.3 million people who gained coverage through the individual marketplace or through Medicaid. It also includes 2.3 million young adults who gained coverage because they were able to remain on a parent’s plan until they turn 26.”

“The new data also puts the Obama administration ahead of the health insurance gains estimated by the Congressional Budget Office for 2015. The CBO had predicted roughly 17 million people would gain coverage by 2015, with the gains about equally split between the exchanges and Medicaid.”

Which States Have the Biggest Drop in Uninsured Rates?

Governing: There are now 8.8 million fewer people living without health insurance in the U.S, according to data the Census Bureau released Wednesday. The new estimates for 2014, when the primary provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became effective, indicate the largest single-year drop to date.

States that opted to expand Medicaid saw the biggest declines in the number of uninsured people. If the uninsured rate had improved everywhere in the country at the same rate as in expansion states, 2.6 million more Americans would have attained health insurance last year, according to the Center for Budget on Policy and Priorities.

The five states with the most dramatic decrease in uninsured residents are:

Kentucky: -5.8 percentage points
Nevada: -5.5 percentage points
West Virginia: -5.4 percentage points
Oregon: -4.9 percentage points
Washington: -4.7 percentage points

The following map shows percentage-point changes in the share of each state’s population without health insurance, according to the 2014 American Community Survey.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 8.47.07 PM

A Fierce Budget Battle Over Small Stakes

Christopher Ingraham: “Once again, our leaders in Washington are on the brink of shutting the government down over fierce disagreements.”

“This year the sticking point is over whether or not to continue providing federal funding to Planned Parenthood … The group receives about $528 million dollars in public funds each year, according to its own records and IRS statements. By statute, these funds can’t be used to provide abortions. Instead, they’re directed to all the other services which comprise the majority — 97 percent — of Planned Parenthood’s activities: STD testing, contraception, cancer screening, and other women’s health services.”

“In the context of all federal spending, [$528 million] is infinitesimally small. In fiscal year 2014, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. So Planned Parenthood spending makes up roughly 1/50th of 1 percent of all federal expenditures — and that’s rounding up generously.”

Fact-Checking Carly Fiorina’s Claim That Pot is More Dangerous Than Booze

Vox: “Carly Fiorina claims that pot is more dangerous than alcohol. “But the evidence shows the opposite is true — marijuana is, in fact, safer than alcohol.”

“A 2010 study published in The Lancet found that alcohol is among the most dangerous drugs in the world, and far more dangerous than marijuana. Drug policy experts disagree with the specifics and value of the rankings — for example, whether alcohol is really more dangerous than heroin and crack cocaine. But one finding they don’t disagree with is that, generally, marijuana is much safer than alcohol.”

A chart of the most dangerous drugs.

“Alcohol’s risk relative to marijuana matters for two big policy reasons: It demonstrates that the public would benefit if people replaced their alcohol use with marijuana, and it shows why politicians like Fiorina should take alcohol policy far more seriously.”

“But since alcohol is a cultural norm and big part of the economy in the US (and much of the world), it’s generally treated by lawmakers as if it’s not dangerous, and as if its risks should just be accepted. But the evidence shows alcohol is a dangerous drug — certainly one that’s riskier than pot. Acknowledging that could be a first step in America’s recovery from its backwards drug policies.”

What the New Obamacare Numbers Reveal

Margot Sanger-Katz: “Beyond the headline numbers showing a substantial decline in the number of Americans without health insurance, Wednesday’s Census Bureau report contained some important details.”

The “numbers show a trend that worries some experts on the health law: Takeup among middle-class Americans looks weaker than it does among those earning the least money. There were fewer middle-class people without insurance to begin with, but the numbers still suggest that new options may be unappealing or out of reach to people earning higher incomes.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.26.04 PM

“The census confirms the findings of several earlier studies: States that expanded Medicaid saw substantially bigger reductions in their uninsured rates than those that didn’t. The effect appears to travel up the income scale, too. Even people who didn’t qualify for Medicaid appear to have obtained insurance in greater numbers in states where the Medicaid expansion took place. That may be because states that expanded embraced the health law more fully, and worked harder to get people at all incomes enrolled in insurance.”

CBO: Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Limit Healthcare Access

The Hill: “Cutting off Planned Parenthood’s funding would result in a net savings of $235 million over a decade, while also resulting in ‘several thousand’ unplanned births that would drive up government costs elsewhere, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.”

“A bill to freeze the provider’s funding would save $390 million in Medicaid spending over the next year, according to a report from the nonpartisan office. But it would also cost Medicaid about $60 million more because of the additional pregnancies by women who no longer receive birth control.”

“CBO warned that 15 percent of patients would lose access to care. The people most likely to be affected are those living in areas without other healthcare clinics that cater to low-income populations — most of Planned Parenthood’s current clientele.”

“More women are likely to become pregnant without access to Planned Parenthood’s family planning services. Because 45 percent of all births are paid for by Medicaid, the program’s costs would rise.”