Good morning ... and happy Friday.
A student mourns outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images
In the wake of mass shootings, there's always a lot of talk about "mental health." But what does that mean, exactly? What are the existing checks that are supposed to keep dangerous people from buying weapons, and how do they fail? My colleague Caitlin Owens has the answers.
The big picture: There's a relatively broad agreement that some people's mental illness should stop them from buying an AR-15, but the politics of mass shootings can easily inflame some unfair stigmas about mental health. Keep in mind that most people with a mental illness are not violent, and most gun crimes are not committed by people with serious mental illnesses.
The details: There are 3 layers to how the existing system tries to bar mentally ill people from buying guns, Caitlin reports, and they all have some pretty big holes.
Go deeper: Caitlin has more details about the existing system and the chances that Congress will change it.
A rifle similar to the one used in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images
This article in The Atlantic, by radiologist Heather Sher who was working at the trauma center when the Florida shooting victims were brought in, is really worth your time. It’s graphic, but it shows what the bullets from an AR-15 actually do to people’s bodies.
Her observations, per The Atlantic:
“[I]t appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ.”
“The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer.”
The bottom line: All gun injuries are awful — but this is why physicians are particularly appalled by the damage people can do with assault weapons.
The Department of Health and Human Services edited its budget proposal to remove a section that called for funding the Affordable Care Act’s “risk corridors” program.
Followup: An HHS spokesman reiterated that the department's legal position never changed, but would not answer additional questions about how this all came to pass.
Last year, UnitedHealth Group said it was buying Reliant Medical Group, a physician practice in Massachusetts with about 2,500 physicians and other staff. We now have an idea of how much the deal cost, Axios’ Bob Herman reports.
By the numbers:
The bottom line: UnitedHealth, which bailed on the ACA marketplaces, is a lot more than just an insurance company. Per Bob, the company has almost morphed into a “too-big-to-fail” enterprise. It's building a gigantic base in South America, and its growing Optum companies are planting more roots in the actual delivery of care.
What we're watching today: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker unveil a new plan to fix the health care system, ahead of the National Governors' Association's winter conference this weekend.
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