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Webwatch: Best of the week’s articles on health online

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By Jessica Marcy

Every week, reporter Jessica Marcy selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Marie Claire: The Big Business Of Breast Cancer

Though breast cancer researchers and advocates perpetually plead for more money, the disease is, in fact, awash in it. Last year, the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s top agency for health-related research, allocated $763 million to the study of breast cancer, more than double what it committed to any other cancer. … All that is in addition to the money raised by the roughly 1,400 IRS-recognized, tax-exempt charities in this country devoted to breast cancer. … All told, an estimated $6 billion is raised every year in the name of breast cancer. … Which seems like great news for the fight against breast cancer … But it’s also been a boon for charity scammers — the charlatans who prey on the public’s beneficence and its inveterate laziness when it comes to due diligence (Lea Goldman, 9/14).

Columbia Journalism Review: Deep Health Care Problems Under Rick Perry’s Watch

200px-Flag-map_of_TexasWith the media hyper-focused on Texas governor Rick Perry’s not-too-flattering comments about Social Security, health care in his state seems like a woeful orphan in Medialand. That’s why Noam Levey deserves a shout-out for his recent Los Angeles Times story dissecting what’s really happening in Texas when it comes to caring for the sick. … His nut graph: In the 11 years the Republican presidential hopeful has been in office, working Texans increasingly have been priced out of private healthcare while the state’s safety net has withered, leaving millions of state residents without medical care. … More than one-quarter of all Texans lack health insurance (Trudy Lieberman, 9/14).

The New York Times: Autistic And Seeking A Place In An Adult World

Jigsaw puzzle with one piece to add

Photo: Willi Heidelbach

People with autism, whose unusual behaviors are believed to stem from variations in early brain development, typically disappear from public view after they leave school. As few as one in 10 hold even part-time jobs. Some live in state-supported group homes; even those who attend college often end up unemployed and isolated, living with parents. But Justin (Canha) is among the first generation of autistic youths who have benefited throughout childhood from more effective therapies and hard-won educational opportunities. And Ms. (Kate) Stanton-Paule’s program here is based on the somewhat radical premise that with intensive coaching in the workplace and community — and some stretching by others to include them — students like Justin can achieve a level of lifelong independence that has eluded their predecessors (Amy Harmon, 9/17).

The Atlantic: We’re Living Longer Than Ever Before, But Are We Healthier

People often turn to the increasing life expectancy of our population and assume that if that number increases, we must be getting healthier because we are living longer. But that is a bit of statistical deception. … We are certainly safer than we were in the past, but are we healthier? Are our bodies operating effortlessly in a zone of homeostasis; or are we clawing on the brink like Gollum with our attention inappropriately fixated on some elusive ring — brass, golden, or otherwise? The French doctor and gourmand Anthelme Brillat-Savarin had noted almost two centuries earlier (in) his book Physiology of Taste, or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy, “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are” (Mike Fenster, 9/21).

The Weekly Standard: The Medicare Monster

It is gradually dawning on Washington that a meaningful reform of the Medicare program will be unavoidable in the coming years. Medicare is at the center of both our health care dilemma and our fiscal crunch, and it will be very difficult to avoid a calamitous debt crisis without making changes to the program’s basic structure. … The need for Medicare reform has never been more urgent, or more clear. We simply cannot avert a debt crisis without it. But the case can be made most easily and effectively if it is made in the service of a politically palatable reform idea focused on innovation rather than austerity. Years of work by conservative health care experts have produced such an idea. All we need now is a conservative presidential candidate who can see beyond the political peril of Medicare politics to the political promise of offering the country a solution to its mounting woes that is both appealing and achievable (Yuval Levin, 9/26 edition).

American Medical News: Miracle Vs. Medicine: When Faith Puts Care At Risk

In doctors’ offices across the country, physicians confront similar struggles with families who choose religious beliefs over medical advice. … These tensions have spilled into the courts, where criminal cases have pitted faith healing against medical intervention. Recent rulings show that the legal system is taking medical-based neglect more seriously than before. … Such cases have prompted lawmakers, doctors and anti-abuse advocates to seek changes in laws that provide religious protections for parents. At least 30 states allow some form of religious immunity for parents when children are harmed because of a lack of medical care (Alicia Gallegos, 9/19).


This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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