What We're Reading: A Squabble Over Single-Payer, But Does Anyone Care?

Featuring stories about single-payer healthcare, studies on alcohol, and superbugs.

As Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation wrote in The Wall Street Journal Sunday, what if Democrats threw a fist fight and nobody cared? The issue is single-payer healthcare, which became the topic of a nasty squabble between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Saturday during the Democrats’ last presidential debate of 2015. Sanders has long advocated a single-payer system and Clinton attacked it. Altman points out that while most Democrats favor Sanders’ position, just 5% say it’s the thing that most motivates them to vote.

If you want to invite confusion (and discussion), try to get to the bottom of the many studies about whether alcohol is healthy or harmful. The New York Times’ Aaron E. Carroll, writing today in The Upshot, takes on the task, and it seems there’s no “right” answer, because alcohol’s effects are different depending on the disease. But too much is always bad, so when you read a study that 1 hour of red wine equals an hour in the gym, it’s really not funny to post that you just spent “the equivalent” of 5 hours in the gym.

A startling story in the Los Angeles Times details how the medical device maker Olympus hid from FDA officials a flaw in a scope that allowed blood and tissue to become trapped, spreading infections from patient to patient. Even after its own investigator found the problem, Olympus kept selling the scopes; 21 people died and dozens more became ill were infected over a 3 year period. The issue came to a head after The Times reported on a superbug outbreak and 3 deaths in February.