Americans’ Views on Healthcare

At the root, healthcare is a pocketbook issue. An increasing share of insured Americans report difficulty affording healthcare. Deductibles are rising – growing more than four times faster than wages – and causing worry, especially over unexpected medical bills that ripple families and their budgets.

Drew Altman, President and CEO of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, provides an analysis of the public’s priorities and opinions in healthcare as the new congress takes shape and the 2020 presidential campaign begins.

Using polling data, he shows that in the midterms, healthcare was a top issue for Democrats and Independents but not for Republicans. The Democrats perceived that the ACA was under threat and rallied behind that issue. That helped propel them to large gains in the House.

Altman predicts that with that new Democratic-majority some of the big moves proposed in the last two years will not happen. These include repeal and replace of the ACA, changing Medicaid to include caps or block grants, and changing Medicare to a voucher system. He further predicts that no major health legislation will be passed at all except perhaps some bipartisan legislation on drugs.

With the huge partisan divide on the ACA – 81% of Democrats approve versus only 17% of Republicans – there are obvious limits to passing any national health care reform, even though generally the public highly values many of the key benefits of the ACA. Simultaneously, public knowledge about what the ACA does is actually spotty. For example, Altman cites polls that show that 41% wrongly believe that the ACA established “death panels.”

As the 2020 presidential election heats up, Altman shows that healthcare will continue to be a big issue with Medicare-for-all perhaps out in front of the others. There are many misconceptions about this kind of plan including the costs and benefits of a single-payer system.

When it comes to Medicaid, sweeping change proposed by the Republicans is unlikely. Polls show that it is generally more well-liked than some people acknowledge, almost as popular as other big programs like Medicare and Social Security, in part because it covers almost 75 million people. There are lurking issues such as work requirements but most Americas want to keep it as it is, affordable insurance for low income people.

Watch The Pulse of the Public on Health Policy and Politics – The Chancellor’s Health Policy Lecture Series

Food Industry Manipulation

Do you want to find out how various food and beverage manufacturers have manipulated science and public health policy over the last 50 years? Now you can with the new searchable archive of food industry documents at the UCSF Industry Documents Library. The Food Industry Documents Archive https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/ is a brand-new collection of over 30,000 documents related to the food industry and its impact on public health.

This new archive builds on the long history at UCSF of caring for those suffering from obesity and helps researchers get at the root causes that contribute to the disease. This archive comes at an important time as researchers and policy experts take great strides to address problems of industry influence on our health, food and human rights. Data is powerful in creating change and now documents that the industry wanted secret are safe and available.

Existing archives of Chemical, Drug, and Tobacco Industry collections at UCSF have saved millions of lives. The future research with the Food Industry Documents Archive materials will have a dramatic impact on human health and policy changes.

Find out more about these documents that highlight marketing, research, and policy strategies used by food companies and trade groups, and reveal the communications and connections between industry, academic, and regulatory organizations.

These two programs feature speeches and presentations from the unveiling of the archive.

Watch UCSF’s New Food Industry Documents Archive, Part 1
Watch UCSF’s New Food Industry Documents Archive, Part 2

Evolving Medical Training

Dr. Rebecca Berman was recently recruited to UCSF to direct the internal medicine residency program, generally considered to be one of the nation’s finest. Dr. Berman comes to UCSF from Harvard, where she directed the primary care residency program at Brigham & Womens Hospital.

She sits down with Dr. Bob Wachter, Chair, Department of Medicine, UCSF, to discuss her upbringing, her surprising undergraduate pursuits and her longstanding commitment to social justice and health equity. She discusses her approach to mentoring and career development, and her view of how medical training needs to evolve to meet the needs of trainees and patients. She also talks about how her work-life balance and describes being a doctor as a great Mom job.

Watch Dr. Rebecca Berman – A Life in Medicine: People Shaping Healthcare Today

When Should You Seek Medical Care?

Knowing when to seek medical care can save your life but how can you tell if your complaint is best ignored or worth a trip to the doctor? Googling your symptoms can amplify concerns rather than ameliorate them but often common complaints are not a cause for worry.

This series features leaders in their field who address six common medical complaints, including blood pressure, palpitations, snoring, trouble urinating, skin lesions, and neck lumps.

Learn the signs that should raise concern and when it’s ok to relax, kick back, and focus on everyone else’s problems!

Browse more programs in Common Medical Complaints: When Should I Worry?

Shaping Our Dynamic Microbiomes for Lifelong Health

Our life-spans are ever-increasing, but our health-spans are not, leading to long periods of unpleasant and expensive suffering with chronic conditions. Many of these conditions have recently been linked to the microbiome. We are constantly shaping our microbiomes through the foods we eat, the environments we experience, even the people we live and work with.

Through the American Gut Project, the largest crowdsourced and crowdfunded citizen-science project yet conducted, we now know about the microbiomes of many types of people, from the healthiest to the sickest. Potentially real-time analysis of our microbiomes could guide our daily decisions in a way that optimizes our microbiomes for extending our health-span. Although the potential benefits of such research are clear, what are the risks (e.g., privacy concerns) that need to be identified and addressed?

Rob Knight is Professor of Pediatrics, Bioengineering and Computer Science & Engineering and is Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego. He authored “Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes” and co-authored “Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System.” His work combines microbiology, DNA sequencing, ecology and computer science to understand the vast numbers of microbes that inhabit our bodies and our planet. He was recently honored with the 2017 Massry Prize for his microbiome research.

Watch Shaping Our Dynamic Microbiomes For Lifelong Health – Exploring Ethics