Welcome to Practice Rounds, our weekly column exploring what's being covered in the larger world of healthcare.
Vaccine Commission Troubles Physicians
This week, President-elect Donald Trump met with noted vaccine skeptic, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and reportedly discussed the latter chairing a new government commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, Medical Economics reports. A Trump spokesperson disputed that they haven't officially made any decisions on a committee yet.
Physicians and advocacy groups responded to the publicized meeting with uproar, according to Medical Economics. The AMA Chair of the Board of Trustees, Patrice Harris, a psychiatrist from Atlanta, Ga., said this in a statement: "We are deeply concerned that creating a new commission on vaccine safety would cause unnecessary confusion and adversely impact parental decision-making and immunization practices."
Medical Economics spoke to a few physicians who outlined similar concerns with the vaccine commission. "The medical community takes vaccine safety incredibly seriously. … It can get absolutely exhausting on the ground trying to convince and reassure parents about how safe and effective vaccines are. Thimerosal and vaccines are not linked with autism. This isn't a question and this hasn't been a question for years," Dennis K. Kuo, a primary-care physician in Buffalo, N.Y., told the publication.
Deborah Lerner, a family physician in Los Angeles, said this: "As a Southern California family physician who lived through the scary Disneyland measles outbreak of two years ago as well as the much larger one of 1989, I am appalled by the notion that there are any ‘vaccine safety’ issues that need to be addressed."
For more reactions, click here.
As the ACA Repeal Turns
The other big healthcare news from D.C. this week was the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Early Thursday morning, the Senate voted to dismantle the law by a vote of 51 to 48 through a budget blueprint, among party lines. During the roll call, Senate Democrats staged a protest, The New York Times reports.
The move sets up Republicans to create budget reconciliation legislation that allows them to repeal parts of the law without having to get a 60-vote majority. The reconciliation will pass through both the House and the Senate, with committees from both chambers crafting what repeal legislation should look like, NPR reports. Once that's created and passed, it will be handed over to President-elect Trump. It would not repeal the entire ACA, just major provisions.
Trump said his plan to replace the ACA will be put in place as soon as his nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia, is confirmed by the Senate. There is division among Republicans on when the law will be replaced. Some are going for a repeal and delay approach, others such as Trump say it should be repealed and replaced concurrently.
Quote of the Week:
"Too often, the doctor will breeze in the room and start asking questions, ignoring the half-hour wait. From a patient's perspective, that can be maddening."
John Kona, an orthopedic surgeon in Farmville, Va.