Different Takes: Changing How We View Opioid Addiction; Ideas For Safeguarding Kids’ Mental Health

Editorial writers weigh in on these public health issues.

The Tennessean: Look At The Opioid Crisis Through The Lense Of Hurting Americans

Some statisticians estimate that the actual crowd size on New Year’s Eve in Times Square is closer to 100,000 partiers than one to two million. SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, CA, the site of Super Bowl LVI, seats 70,000 football fans and can accommodate around 100,000 people. Yet, each of the above estimated figures are less than or around the number of people that died due to opioid overdoses in the past year in America. The increase is over 30% compared to last year and at this rate of growth is probably more than 100,000 deaths. Can you imagine everyone in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, or attending Super Bowl LVI, or living in the travel destinations listed above dying within a year? (Gary Dodd, 3/17)

USA Today: Ukraine War Drives Cycle Of Fear. How To Protect Kids’ Mental Health

The amygdala is an almond-shaped organ deep in the center of the brain. Once stimulated by either actual events or video images, it initiates a firing of neurochemicals (epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol) that are intended to bring us to a state of readiness. But if there is no one to fight and nowhere to run to, we simply implode, as our heart rate and blood pressure rise without a targeted end point. This worry cycles and interferes with our sleep and our ability to function. It interferes with our immune system and increases our risk of disease. (Dr. Marc Siegel, 3/17)

The Tennessean: Legislature Should Support Tennesseans Instead Of Banning Abortion

Tennessee lawmakers are proposing a draconian bill (HB2779/SB2582) that completely bans abortion at any stage of gestation and allows anyone to sue abortion providers and loved ones of abortion patients for a $10,000 bounty. It is modeled on the Texas six-week abortion ban enacted in September 2021, which has already shown itself to be both harmful and largely ineffective at stopping abortions from occurring. (Nikki Zite and Amy Alspaugh, 3/17)

Stat: Health-Related AI Needs Rigorous Evaluation And Guardrails

Algorithms can augment human decision-making by integrating and analyzing more data, and more kinds of data, than a human can comprehend. But to realize the full potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for patients, researchers must foster greater confidence in the accuracy, fairness, and usefulness of clinical AI algorithms. Getting there will require guardrails — along with a commitment from AI developers to use them — that ensure consistency and adherence to the highest standards when creating and using clinical AI tools. Such guardrails would not only improve the quality of clinical AI but would also instill confidence among and clinicians that all tools patients are reliable and trustworthy. (John D. Halamka, Suchi Saria and Nigam H. Shah, 3/17)

The Tennessean: Anti-Trans Legislation In Tennessee Sparks A Mental Health Crisis

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth, and second, more than half of transgender youth considered suicide in 2021. Despite this disheartening data, legislators across the United States continue to introduce anti-trans bills. (Dr. Britta Roach, 3/17)

Also —

The CT Mirror: Fix Connecticut Prescription Costs In Ways That Help People Directly

Rarely in our history has the power of science and innovation to keep our communities safe and healthy been in such a clear focus. And while vaccines have been grabbing headlines, for those of us in public health, we know that access to preventative treatments and medications is the best way to keep our population healthy and living full, productive lives. However, far too often costs can be a significant barrier for patients when they go to the pharmacy to pick up their prescription medications. (Dawn Hocevar, 3/18)

Newsweek: Whistleblowers Are Key To Reining In Prescription Drug Costs

With his state of the Union protesting over the high price of insulin, President Joe Biden joins the long line of presidents trying to take a stand against out-of-control drug prices. It is a problem that affects all of us. And for the least fortunate, it is pushing life-saving medications out of reach altogether. Patching this gaping health care hole may be the one government priority with near universal support, especially with COVID-19 still on the prowl and “moonshot” cancer cures hopefully on the horizon. (Gordon Schnell and Max Voldman, 3/17)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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