Good morning ... Man, January was a long year. Welcome to 2019 — er, I mean February.
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The search is on for a new director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation amid a growing uproar over financial conflicts of interest.
Between the lines:
The impact: At least in theory, this is not a great time for the CDC to be without a Senate-confirmed leader. We’re in the middle of a massive and deadly flu season, and the CDC is in charge of helping to coordinate the response among federal, state and local agencies, as well as tracking the virus.
Yes, but: The opioid crisis was one of the areas from which Fitzgerald had partially recused herself due to financial conflicts. For now, the agency is in the hands of principal deputy director Anne Schuchat, who’s been at the CDC for a long time.
Although a lot of health records are stored electronically now, they can’t really be used that way — you’d still need to get them into some physical form in order to use them yourself.
But Harvard Medical School professor Ken Mandl thinks Apple’s foray into health records could help change that.
Why Apple might be a game changer: Mandl laid out the reasons for his bullishness in a CNBC column.
Mandl's key points, per CNBC:
About half of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't getting the mental health care they need, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.
What they found: The reasons for lack of care include the VA's bureaucracy, short-staffed clinics and hospitals, lack of social support and — of all things — parking issues, Bloomberg reports.
Why this matters: This is a huge problem that's going to be difficult and time-consuming to solve. But the care is crucial: in 2014, veterans' suicide rate was 22% higher than that of non-veterans.
The good news, per Bloomberg: "If the VA can better connect patients in need with high-quality mental health care, it could serve as an example for the rest of the country."
Lost in the humdrum of financial filings this month was a short but unusual announcement from hospital chain Universal Health Services. My colleague Bob Herman breaks it down:
The big picture: UHS also has been the focus of a Buzzfeed investigation, which found patient abuse and questionable billing practices at some of its psychiatric hospitals.
A New York man won a $1 million lottery jackpot. He used the money to go to the doctor, which he’d been putting off because he was uninsured and couldn’t afford it.
The doctor told him he had advanced brain and lung cancer. Less than a month after hitting the jackpot, he died. He was 51.
The bottom line: The American health care system’s exorbitant costs and uneven access to care can have real, human consequences.
Go deeper: ABC local news tells Donald Savastano’s story.
What we’re watching this week: Still waiting for those Medicare Advantage rates that were supposed to be announced yesterday.
What else should we be watching? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.