Today's word count is a breezy 749, or ~3 minutes.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Psychiatric hospitals are often a last resort for people suffering from mental illness, but a series of recent news stories serve as a reminder that too often, these hospitals aren't the safe haven they should be.
The big picture: There are plenty of horror stories about mental health patients caught in abusive or predatory situations, but experts say there really aren't good data on the quality or safety of psychiatric inpatient facilities, making it difficult to hold them accountable.
Driving the news:
Between the lines: Psychiatric hospitals, like nursing homes, by definition care for a vulnerable population who often struggle to advocate for themselves.
Further complicating the issue is that the U.S. has a shortage of mental health care to begin with; there aren't enough beds for all of the patients who need treatment.
The 3 drug distributors involved in the massive opioids litigation are still negotiating a settlement with multiple states, and along with 2 drug companies, have agreed on a framework worth almost $50 billion, the New York Times reports.
Flashback: Yesterday, the distributors — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — were discussing a settlement of $18 billion over 18 years.
What we're watching: Cities and counties involved in the litigation haven't yet agreed to the settlement framework, and want more details about how the money would be distributed.
Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Sutter Health has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing the hospital system of price-gouging, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The big picture: Hospital systems have never been more concentrated, and this is now the second major settlement in the past 12 months involving a state going after alleged anticompetitive activity from dominant hospitals. The first involved Atrium Health.
Millions of debt collection suits are overwhelming state courts, and almost half are from hospitals and doctor's offices for unpaid medical bills, ProPublica reports.
What's happening: People all over the country are discovering a warrant out for their arrest after unknowingly missing a court date. Even if they are able to pay the debt, bail is posted instead, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
Debtors' prisons are illegal in the U.S., but judges and lawyers have found a workaround: If people with unpaid bills are no-shows in court when summoned, they can be jailed for contempt.
Most of the people tried through this process didn't pay their bills because they just don't have the money, ProPublica found.
Everyone seems to love Germany's health care system, but even universal coverage paired with low out-of-pocket costs hasn't led to equitable health outcomes among rich and poor people, NPR reports with Kaiser Health News.
Why it matters: Medical care is only one component of a person's health. Social determinants of health are hugely important and factor strongly into a population's well-being.