California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

In This Edition:

Latest From California Healthline:

California Healthline Original Stories

The New War On Sepsis

Armed with strict guidelines and motivated by sheer urgency, a specialized team of nurses makes the rounds, seeking to thwart the No. 1 killer in U.S. hospitals. (Anna Gorman, 6/16)

Summaries Of The News:

Covered California & The Health Law

Covered California's Plan B For Insurer Subsidies Is 'Best-Worst Option'

"We need something that health plans can rely upon throughout 2018," Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said.

KPCC: If Trump Kills Subsidies, Covered California Has A Plan 
Covered California’s governing board Thursday unanimously approved a fallback plan in case President Trump does away with subsidies that help certain consumers with their out-of-pocket medical costs. The state exchange will now require insurers to create health plans outside of Covered California that would provide the same discounts on out-of-pocket costs that consumers get now with the so-called cost-sharing subsidies. (Faust, 6/15)

Sacramento Watch

Despite Controversy Surrounding It, Tobacco Tax Plan Easily Passes Legislature

Medical groups backed the Prop. 56 expecting the revenue to go to reimbursement rates, but they were disappointed with the final budget plan.

Los Angeles Times: Here's How $183 Billion In Taxpayer Dollars Will Be Spent In California's New Budget
California lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to a $183.2-billion state budget, a plan that broadly boosts government spending while also continuing the recent effort to build up cash reserves... While schools get the largest slice of California tax dollars, the combination of federal and state funds makes healthcare the single biggest function of state government — with a total price tag of $105.6 billion in the budget approved by the Legislature. (Myers, 6/15)


Judge Expected To Rule In Case Challenging Aid-In-Dying Law On Friday

California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra has argued that the suit should be dismissed because doctors aren't bound to issue these prescriptions and the law merely offers patients a choice.

The Associated Press: Suit Over Life-Ending Drugs For Terminally Ill Gets Hearing
A judge on Friday is expected to weigh whether a challenge can proceed to California's law letting terminally ill patients seek prescriptions for life-ending drugs. Riverside County Judge Daniel A. Ottolia is expected to hear arguments over whether a lawsuit by doctors challenging the state's 2016 law permitting medically-assisted death can move forward. (6/16)

Public Health and Education

Conference Brings Conversion Therapy Debate To California

Medical and mental health organizations have spoken out vocally against the practice, and protesters are expected at the event.

The San Diego Union-Tribune: Conference Promotes Controversial Efforts To 'Transform' Gays And Lesbians 
A national conference set to start Friday in San Diego promotes the controversial idea that people can change from being gay to straight with enough prayer, counseling and soul-searching. The event, titled “Hope 2017,” is the latest flare-up in a long-running fight over whether being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer is a matter of lifestyle choice or innate biology. For decades, various religiously or socially conservative groups have used a range of behavior-modification techniques — from relationship coaching and wardrobe advice to visualization exercises and shock therapy — in their efforts to shape a person’s sexual orientation. (Sisson, 6/16)

Around California

Advocates Urge Stanislaus County To Adopt Laura's Law

BHRS director Rick DeGette said a consultant is researching the law and talking to other counties about their Laura’s Law programs, to find out what works best.

Modesto Bee: Mom: Hands Tied When Trying To Get Mentally Ill Son Help
[Donna] Yadron is among advocates who have asked Stanislaus County to adopt Laura’s Law, which would enable court-ordered outpatient treatment for adults like her son. The county began exploring the state law several months ago and is expected to continue with the fact-finding until late summer. (Carlson, 6/15)

In other news from across the state —

Orange County Register: Sovereign Health Drug Rehab Blasts Federal Raid As ‘Mickey Mouse’ Harassment
Sovereign Health blasted Tuesday’s federal raid on its facilities as a Keystone Cops invasion “executed by an odd mishmash of law enforcement officials whose actions seemed aimed more at harassment than enforcing the law,” the substance abuse treatment provider said in a statement Thursday... The FBI raided Sovereign Health’s properties in Culver City, Palm Desert and San Clemente to serve search warrants for alleged financial and other irregularities, the company said. (Sforza, 6/15)

San Francisco Chronicle: Most Bay Area Beaches Are Free From Harmful Bacteria, Report Says 
The bathing-suit-and-bikini set can splash around happily knowing they are unlikely to get sick frolicking in the water at Bay Area beaches, all but one of which are free of harmful bacteria and pollution, according to a statewide beach report card released Thursday. But the one that didn’t make the grade — Marina Lagoon, in the Lakeshore Park area of San Mateo County — is pretty icky, getting an F for water quality and a No. 4 spot on the environmental group Heal the Bay’s Top 10 Beach Bummer list for California. (Fimrite, 6/15)

National Roundup

GOP Secrecy Breeding Frustration, Criticism: 'If They Liked The Bill, They’d Have Brass Bands' Celebrating It

Democrats, as to be expected, are on the attack over the way Republicans are crafting the health law replacement legislation in secrecy, but even some GOP lawmakers are voicing concerns. Meanwhile, conservatives start to raise red flags about the measure's failure to curb spending.

The New York Times: Secrecy Surrounding Senate Health Bill Raises Alarms In Both Parties
As they draft legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Senate Republican leaders are aiming to transform large sections of the American health care system without a single hearing on their bill and without a formal, open drafting session. That has created an air of distrust and concern — on and off Capitol Hill, with Democrats but also with Republicans. (Kaplan and Pear, 6/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Conservatives Sound Alarm About Senate Health Bill
Conservatives inside and outside the Senate GOP are sounding alarms over the emerging shape of the chamber’s bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, a sign that the faction’s support may be increasingly difficult to secure. Pressure from outside groups has intensified in recent days, and conservative lawmakers have signaled their concern that the Senate bill doesn’t do enough to curb spending on the Medicaid federal-state program for the poor or to reduce health-care premiums—two of their top goals. (Peterson, Radnofsky and Armour, 6/15)

The Wall Street Journal: What May Be In The Senate’s Health Bill
The Senate health bill is still a work in progress, with no official text yet. The Senate’s Republican leadership has been hammering out the bill behind closed doors, so there has been scant information about the legislation. But its outline so far is said to resemble a more expansive version of the legislation passed last month by the House. (Armour, 6/15)

Reuters: Senate May Keep Some Obamacare Taxes In U.S. Healthcare Overhaul
Republican senators trying to repeal Obamacare are forming consensus to keep some of the U.S. healthcare law's taxes they long criticized, in hopes of delaying more drastic funding cuts, particularly to the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. First proposed by moderate Republicans, the idea is gaining traction among party members, according to five sources involved in or briefed on internal discussions. (Abutaleb, 6/15)

Politico: Senate Likely To Miss Its Obamacare Repeal Deadline
Senate Republicans are getting dangerously close to missing their deadline to hold a Senate health care vote by month’s end, potentially derailing fulfillment of their 7-year-old campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. The Senate left Washington on Thursday with a seemingly insurmountable health care to-do list: When they return on Monday, Republicans will have just two weeks before the Fourth of July recess to overcome the remaining big divides on policy — including what year to roll back Medicaid expansion and how deeply to cut the program that covers health care for people with low incomes. (Haberkorn, 6/16)

The Washington Post: GOP Senate Leaders Aim To Bring Health-Care Legislation To The Floor By End Of June
Senate Republican leaders are aiming to bring a major revision to the nation’s health-care laws to the Senate floor by the end of June even as lingering disagreements, particularly over Medicaid, threaten to derail their efforts, several Republicans familiar with the effort said Thursday. President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are pressing for an ambitious timeline to complete the bill, although it is being drafted in the Senate with little assistance from the White House. (Sullivan and Snell, 6/15)

Editorials and Opinions

Viewpoints: The Costs Of Single-Payer Go Beyond Tax Increases

A selection of opinions on health care developments from around the state.

The San Diego Union-Tribune: Single-Payer Health Plan Full Of False Promises 
“Single-payer” sounds like an innocuous term that implies that it is simply cutting out the health insurance industry between physicians and patients. But SB 562 would do more — it would give Sacramento total control over California’s health care system. The state alone would decide how much physicians, nurses and other health professionals will be paid — making them de facto government employees. (Patricia Bates, 6/14)

The Wall Street Journal: A Single-Payer Test Drive
California’s state Senate recently passed a single-payer health-care bill, and we’re warming to the idea as an instructive experiment in progressive government. If Democrats believe the lesson of ObamaCare is that the government should have even more control over health care, then why not show how it would work in the liberal paradise? (6/11)

Los Angeles Times: Government Actuaries Say You'll Pay A Whole Lot More For Health Insurance If The GOP Repeals Obamacare
ere are some findings about Obamacare repeal that congressional Republicans and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will have trouble explaining away: Under the GOP’s Affordable Care Act repeal bill, individuals will be paying an average 27% more for their insurance by 2026 than under current law... Stunningly, cost-sharing — that is, co-pays and deductibles — would rise by an average 61% compared to current law. (Michael Hiltzik, 6/13)

Los Angeles Times: Trump Administration Uses Bogus Numbers On Obamacare — Again 
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was quick off the mark Monday after his agency released fresh data on “effectuated enrollments” — that is, Americans who not only chose an Affordable Care Act individual health plan for 2017, but secured coverage by paying their first monthly installment... Getting accurate data about ACA enrollments from the Department of Health and Human Services is more important than ever now, as the Senate works on its ACA repeal bill behind closed doors—via secret meetings of a small group of Republican Senators, with no public hearings likely to be scheduled before a vote. (Michael Hiltzik, 6/13)

Los Angeles Times: How Trump Has Made The Department Of Health And Human Services A Center Of False Science On Contraception
Contraception policy may not be the biggest target of the anti-science right wing — climate change and evolution probably rank higher — but it’s the field in which scientific disinformation has the most immediate consequences for public health. So it’s especially disturbing that President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price have stocked the corridors of health policy with purveyors of conclusively debunked claptrap about contraception, abortion, pregnancy and women’s reproductive health generally. (Michael Hiltzik, 6/15)

Sacramento Bee: The Difference Between Life And Death For Diabetics
Each year, more than 200,000 Californians walk out of their doctor’s office with a diagnosis of diabetes. Up and down the Central Valley, in many of the poorest communities in the state, more than half the residents are considered obese and two-thirds suffer from either diabetes or pre-diabetes. But it’s not just the number of cases that is rising. The cost of the medicine to combat the disease is exploding at the same time. (Ed Hernandez, 6/9)

Los Angeles Times: The Senate Is About To Ram Through Trumpcare. This Is Not A Drill; It's An Emergency
Like a thief in the night, Senate Republicans are trying to take healthcare from tens of millions of people to pay for a massive tax cut. What we don’t know is exactly how many people will lose coverage or how much rich people will save in taxes — because Republicans are refusing to make their version of the American Health Care Act public. If you had any doubts that the bill would be a substantive and political disaster, this secretiveness should remove them. (Scott Lemieux, 6/13)

Orange County Register: Coming Together To Get Rehab Industry Back On Track
Enormous amounts of money and resources have poured into a proliferation of treatment centers and sober homes all over the country, with a huge representation in Southern California... While many of these activities may not be illegal, they are detrimental to patients and can cause insurance companies to deny or limit access, and authorize lower, less expensive levels of care, across the board. (Rebecca Flood, 6/16)

Ventura County Star: Congress Should Preserve Treatment For Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction is a national health care crisis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 2 million Americans either abuse or are dependent on prescription opioids. On an average day in the U.S, this powerful chemical dependency accounts for 91 deaths. Throughout California, in communities both urban and rural, health care workers are battling opioids. Our local communities throughout Ventura County are also affected. (Alex Dodd, 6/10)

The San Diego Union-Tribune: Universal Health Care Turns Out To Be Good For Business 
In a nutshell, this is what he found: California currently spends $368 billion on health care. A single-payer health care system would cost California $404 billion. While it would seem that California would have to come up with another $36 billion to fund SB 562, that price tag does not take into account the substantial cost savings inherent in a single-payer system or the monies we currently receive from federal and public sources to fund our current system. (Julie A. Trager, 6/14)

Los Angeles Times: Trump Wants To Deny Nursing-Home Residents And Their Families The Right To Sue
Let’s say your elderly parent was neglected or abused in a nursing home. In the past, your only recourse might have been arbitration, rather than going to court. But thanks to a rule put in place last fall by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nursing homes that receive federal funding — which is most of them — could no longer include so-called mandatory arbitration clauses in their contracts. In other words, residents and their family members were given back the right to sue. (David Lazarus, 6/13)

Los Angeles Times: 'Alexa, What's My Blood Sugar Level And How Much Insulin Should I Take?'
It’s become a punchline in the tech industry that every start-up is out to change the world. When it comes to medical technology, however, some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley are poised to do just that. Apple, Google and Amazon have announced or are reported to be developing cutting-edge technologies for managing diabetes, one of the fastest-growing chronic illnesses, affecting more than 420 million people worldwide. (David Lazarus, 6/9)