The Use of Public Health Evidence in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt

JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(2):155-156.
Author: Daniel Grossman
“Enacted in 2013, Texas’s House Bill 2 (HB 2) was one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The law had 4 provisions: (1) physicians providing abortion had to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, (2) medication abortion had to be provided according to the protocol described in the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved labeling of mifepristone, (3) most abortions at 20 weeks postfertilization or later were banned, and (4) facilities providing abortion had to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. The first 3 provisions went into effect by November 2013; the fourth provision, meeting the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, was enforced only briefly in October 2014 before the US Supreme Court issued a stay.”
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Increased Service Use Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Associated With Mental Health Parity Law

Health Aff 2017 vol. 36 no. 2 337-345
Authors: Elizabeth A. Stuart, Emma E. McGinty, Luther Kalb, Haiden A. Huskamp et al
“Health care services for children with autism spectrum disorder are often expensive and frequently not covered under private health insurance. The 2008 Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was viewed as a possible means of improving access by eliminating differences between behavioral health and medical/surgical benefits. We examined whether the legislation was associated with increased use of and spending on mental health care and functional services for children with autism spectrum disorder compared to the period prior to implementation of the law.”
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Palliative care and voluntary-assisted dying: the common ground

MJA Insight, 6 February 2017
Author: Ian Maddocks
“Advocates for palliative care and voluntary-assisted dying (VAD) have been formidable warriors, on opposite sides in the public debate about the legalisation of euthanasia. Now, when there is the prospect of the introduction of VAD legislation in Victoria in the foreseeable future, is it time to explore ways to affirm them both, and to ask whether they are, in some way, complementary?”
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Grading Obamacare: Successes, Failures and ‘Incompletes’

NYT Health, 5 February 2017
Author: Margot Sanger-Katz
“Ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, it has been so contentious that it can be difficult to see beyond the partisan debate. But by looking at the many ways the law has changed health care, it’s possible to hazard some judgments.”
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South African scandal after nearly 100 mental health patients die

The Guardian, 2 February 2017
Source: Agence France-Presse
“At least 94 patients with mental health issues died after South African authorities moved them from hospitals to unlicensed health facilities. Many of the deaths were due to pneumonia, dehydration and diarrhoea. The centres also failed to provide seriously ill patients with enough food and water, leaving them severely malnourished, underweight and in some cases dying from dehydration.”
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Northern Territory must respect women’s judgment on abortion, advocates say

The Guardian, 19 January 2017
Author: Helen Davidson
“The Northern Territory must give more respect to women as competent decision-makers and stop using criminal law to restrict access to abortion, the Human Rights Law Centre has urged. Outside of limited allowable circumstances, abortion is a criminal offence under the NT criminal code, and the territory is currently the only Australian jurisdiction where women must be in a hospital for any abortion. The availability of medical terminations – using the drug known as RU486 – lags far behind the rest of the country.”
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Germany legalizes cannabis for medicinal purposes

Reuters, 19 January 2017
Authors: Michelle Martin, Janet Lawrence
“Germany’s lower house of parliament on Thursday passed a law that legalizes the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes for people who are chronically ill. Those suffering from serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain or a lack of appetite or nausea could be offered marijuana under the law. The draft law says patients will only have the right to be treated with cannabis “in very limited exceptional cases” and patients will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis.”
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Why don’t we know how many people die in our hospitals?

The Conversation, 19 January 2017
Authors: Philip Clarke, Peter Sivey
“About this time last year, Australia’s National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) decided not to release data on death rates across Australia’s hospitals. Information on hospital deaths hasn’t always been so hard to find. Comparisons of death rates across hospitals can be tricky, as you need to adjust for some hospitals treating sicker patients than others. However, other countries have been producing death statistics that make these adjustments for some time. Publishing such performance data not only gives patients more information, it can help improve quality and safety.”
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