Friday News Dump: Wonkbites

by Karan Chhabra

While the White House Press Secretary is busy schooling journalists on hip-hop and the balance of power in the executive branch, let us brief you on this week’s healthcare news:

  1. White House budget is out: and as usual, healthcare’s being affected somehow. “Somehow” might be an understatement–HHS is asking for about $1.5B this year to implement Obamacare, but they’re pretty sure they won’t be getting it from Congress. Instead, they’re looking to slosh funds around from other budgetary buckets, but will probably have to tap the Prevention and Public Health Fund as well (which, as you may recall, was already cut by 33% last year). They might still fall short of $1.5B, but aren’t showing any fear that they’d miss their deadline to get the health exchanges up and running.
  2. We, the needyNew data shows that young people who took Obamacare’s permission to stay on their parents’ plan till age 26 end up consuming about 15% more in healthcare than those under 26 who bought their own insurance plans. It’s interesting data, but in my opinion, the stuff they spent that 15% on—care for mental health, substance abuse, and pregnancy—will save them and the system money in the long run.
  3. Vaccines and virality: We’ve all seen them—online conspiracy theories on the dreadful consequences of vaccination, spreading (like the diseases they’re promoting, ironically) all over social media. There are, of course, some pro-vaccine voices out there, too. A new study explored which are more powerful, and found that on Twitter, anti-vaccine messages were more “contagious” than pro-vaccine ones. Hopefully this information can be used to craft more effective public health campaigns, but in the meantime, it’s proof that you can get real work done on Twitter.
  4. From the gridiron to the courtroom: This week marked the start of a courtroom battle between ex-NFL players and the league on whether the NFL hid the risks of concussions from its players, and Dan Diamond is all over the case. Paul Clement, who led the arguments against Obamacare last summer, is arguing on the NFL’s behalf. But—spoiler alert—it might be 0-2 for him, as some experts think the players are winning.
  5. “The British doctor specializes in resurrection”: The quote says it all, but if it sounds too ridiculous to be true, check out the article. Dr. Sam Parnia, a critical care doctor at Stony Brook University Hospital, is really good at bringing people back from death or near-death. And he thinks many other doctors could be too, if they embraced advances made years ago. Um—count me in.

Thoughts on the news or our coverage? Leave them in the comments!

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Karan is a first-year student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Duke graduate who previously worked in strategic research for hospital executives.

Follow him on Twitter @KRChhabra or subscribe to the blog.

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