Making soda (not quite) a health food

The soft-drink industry has been taking it on the chin in the last couple of years—from getting tossed out of schools to New York City’s effort to limit the size of sodas sold at restaurants and theaters to 16 ounces. Other than cigarettes and guns, few products draw more concern from health experts than soft drinks (along with their fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks) for promoting obesity, diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, and even gout.

Americans are drinking about four times as much sugar drinks of all kinds since I was growing up (and imbibing) in the 1950s. Those drinks now provide almost half of all the refined sugars that Americans consume. And, not surprisingly, teens and young adults consume half again more than the average person.


US and UN working towards global solutions on polio

I couldn’t be much farther away from Washington today – 5,978 miles, to be exact – but the Hill is still very much on my mind. 

In Garoua, Cameroon, I’m seeing with my own eyes how the work of the U.S. and the U.N. to expand immunizations is saving children’s lives every day. In particular, the progress UNICEF has made here to prevent polio infections shows exactly what we’re capable of when we work hand-in-hand with the U.N. — and when the U.S. does not have to go it alone.


The truth about workplace wellness programs: Everybody wins

Workplace wellness programs have been critical elements of many employer sponsored healthcare coverage offerings for over a decade. Recently however these programs have come under groundless criticism as nefariously motivated discrimination which some argue allow employers to illegally invade the privacy of their employees and unfairly underwrite premiums based on identified conditions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Efforts to strengthen the ability of these programs to modify behavior, improve health, reduce and mitigate incidents of chronic diseases, and control costs by directly engaging individuals have enjoyed broad bi-partisan support even in the debate over the partisan health reform law. 


Chicago lacks sufficient trauma centers to deal with major terrorist attack

The horrific bombing that killed three innocents and ripped apart the lives of more than 170 people still haunted our nation this week, as a manhunt locked down Boston. A crime spree by the suspects left a college security officer dead and some 20 police officers wounded. The terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon will dominate our thoughts and prayers for days to come as events continue to unfold.


Engines for reform: Changing how hospitals deliver care

The recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluding that hospitals financially benefit from surgical complications of patients, suggests that hospitals are not motivated to contain costs. We disagree with the implication that hospitals deliberately benefit from patient harm, but we believe the current way we pay for health care in this country does not make the changes possible that can bring better outcomes and reduce costs.


Collaborative approach needed on Alzheimer's and biopharmaceutical innovation

Today, the Senate Committee on Aging is holding a hearing on the National Alzheimer’s Plan. The efforts outlined in the plan, as well as the research work shepherded by biopharmaceutical research companies, can only move forward if we have a consistent and comprehensive set of patient-centric public policies.


Help sick Americans by cutting funding for healthcare law implementation

On Wednesday, members of the House will have a clear choice. Vote for H.R. 1549, the Helping Sick Americans Now Act, to defund a key ObamaCare slush fund and cripple the administration’s implementation efforts. Or, vote against the bill, which would allow for the continued implementation of the guts of ObamaCare through an unaccountable slush fund wielded by the administration.  


Long-term scoring bolsters deficit reduction and sound health policy

This week, a study released by a leading economist, Alex Brill, highlights shortcomings in how Congress estimates the costs of health proposals: our model timelines are too short to capture the true effects of good legislation.  So while we work to advance policies that help address the prevalence of chronic diseases – including obesity, diabetes and heart disease –our budgeters do not tell us whether these policies will work in the long-term and what savings they generate.


ObamaCare’s pre-existing problems need a pragmatic fix

ObamaCare champions made many promises during debate about the law—such as that it wouldn’t add to the deficit and Americans who like their health insurance would get to keep it—which have since been broken. But there’s one promise the Administration can and should keep: the promise made to help people with pre-existing conditions.


The promise of vaccines for preventing and eradicating disease

During the last three decades, the biopharmaceutical industry has invested significantly in new and improved vaccines. The results have provided remarkable new ways to prevent cases of cervical cancer, meningitis, pneumonia, pandemic influenza, and rotavirus diseases.
The collaborative efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), national governments and industry have led to major progress in addressing global immunization goals and reducing illness and death due to vaccine-preventable diseases.