California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

In This Edition:

Latest From California Healthline:

California Healthline Original Stories

Summaries Of The News:

Covered California & The Health Law

ER Visits For Medi-Cal Patients Jumped 75% Under Affordable Care Act

Experts say people still don't know when it's appropriate to go to the ER.

Modern Healthcare: California ER Use Jumps Despite Medicaid Expansion
California is the latest state to report that emergency room usage is up despite expanding Medicaid eligibility. Emergency room visits by people on Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, rose 75% over five years from 800,000 in the first quarter of 2012 to 1.4 million in the last quarter of 2016, according to California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. (Dickson, 6/16)

The Bakersfield Californian: 'It's A Big Frustration': Local Hospital Emergency Rooms Overwhelmed Since Passage Of Affordable Care Act 
Emergency room visits are up 29 percent in Kern County since 2009 when the Affordable Care Act was passed, running counter to one of the key takeaways from the law: that they would decrease as consumers take advantage of preventive care. The problem? Insurance doesn’t equal health care access and people still don’t know when it’s appropriate to hit the ER, experts say. Roughly 51 percent of Kern County ER visits between 2009 and 2016 came from patients enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance plan for low-income individuals, according to data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development analyzed by The Californian. (Pierce, 6/18)

The Bakersfield Californian: Valley Children’s Hospital Now The Busiest ER In The State
Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera has become the busiest emergency department in the state and 22nd busiest nationwide, but unlike other hospitals across the state, surging admittances have nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. Instead, it has to do with regional population growth; partnerships Valley Children’s has forged with nearly every hospital in the San Joaquin Valley; and the lack of primary care pediatricians throughout the region, Todd Suntrapak, president and CEO of Valley Children’s Healthcare, said. (Pierce, 6/17)

Spending and Fiscal Battles

California To Dole Out $20M In Emergency Grants To Health Clinics

The move is in response to the threat of cuts for federal funding.

Reuters: California To Give Health Clinics $20 Million To Counter Possible Trump Cuts
California on Monday will announce plans to award $20 million in emergency grants to local health and Planned Parenthood clinics in anticipation of possible U.S. healthcare funding cuts, according to State Treasurer John Chiang's office. California and more than a dozen other Democratic-leaning states are fighting against regulatory changes and policies coming from Republican President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress. (Lambert, 6/16)

California Healthline: $20 Million On The Way For Clinics That Serve California’s Poor
The money is earmarked for any small or rural nonprofit clinic that would be at risk of reducing services or closing its doors altogether in the event of large cutbacks in Medi-Cal, the state’s version of the Medicaid program for people with low incomes. That includes Planned Parenthood clinics, some of which are struggling already. The organization recently announced that three of its clinics in Northern California will close their doors at the end of this month. (Ibarra, 6/19)

Public Health and Education

Profit Mining The Opioid Epidemic: How Treating A Crisis Is The 'Hot' New Investment Trend

Treating an opioid addiction can be extraordinarily expensive, and there are plenty of people interested getting in on the profits.

Orange County Register: Addiction Treatment: The New Gold Rush. ‘It’s Almost Chic’ 
Addiction treatment was a $21 billion business in 2003, and is expected to double to $42 billion by 2020 – a growth rate some three times faster than inflation, according to federal health and census data. With a raging opioid epidemic — overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 — and mandated addiction treatment coverage under Obamacare, Wall Street knows there’s money to be made. (Sforza, 6/17)

In other news —

Los Angeles Times: California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra Announces Probe Of Drugmakers Over Epidemic Of Opioid Deaths
Citing an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths across the country, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Friday that California is joining with more than 26 other states to investigate whether drugmakers have used illegal marketing and sales practices. Becerra said the probe would focus on whether drug manufacturers have played a role in creating or extending the opioid problem. (McGreevy, 6/16)

Los Angeles Times: L.A. Sheriff's Deputies To Carry Nasal Spray To Treat Opioid Overdose Victims
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will supply thousands of field deputies with the nasal anti-opioid spray naloxone to help prevent overdose-related deaths, officials announced Thursday. Next week, the department will begin issuing more than 1,200 single-dose spray dispensers — sold under the brand name Narcan — to field deputies in Santa Clarita, Crescenta Valley,and East Los Angeles, as well as to deputies patrolling community colleges and parks. (Bernhard, 6/15)

LA Faces Public Health Threats On Multiple Fronts

Along with a mumps outbreak, LA also has seen its first case of West Nile virus for the year.

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County Health Officials Say 42 People Have Been Infected With Mumps
A mumps outbreak in Los Angeles County this year has infected 42 people, most of whom live on the Westside, health officials said this week. There have been several mumps outbreaks nationwide in recent years, including some that are ongoing in parts of Texas, Arkansas and Washington state. Last year there were 5,833 cases of mumps nationwide, the highest number in a decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Karlamangla, 6/17)

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County Reports 2017's First Case Of West Nile Virus
San Gabriel Valley resident was hospitalized with West Nile virus in what health officials say is the first case in Los Angeles County this year. The patient ended up in the hospital in March and has since recovered, officials announced this week. West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and officials say this winter’s heavy rains could breed more mosquitoes and lead to a higher chance of infection statewide. (Karlamangla, 6/16)

In other public health news —

San Francisco Chronicle: Transgender Child, Parents Sort Through New Reality
Today, as politicians fight over which bathroom transgender people are legally allowed to use, health care professionals find themselves having to develop what is essentially a new field for a growing number of transgender children. This is a difficult task because, while there is considerable evidence that transgender adolescents, when given the space to transition early, go on to have health outcomes similar to nontransgender peers, there’s little empirical data to help guide the way for very young transgender children. (Kost, 6/18)

Sacramento Bee: Extreme Heat Can Bring On Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion 
As scorching temperatures usher the Sacramento region into summer, local emergency room doctors expect to see plenty of patients walk in with the types of complaints that many don’t normally associate with dehydration or heat exposure. Generally, people will directly link their sunburn or high body temperature to the heat, doctors said, but they are less likely to make that same connection to symptoms such as fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation or headaches. In the worst cases, people are either unconscious or too confused to fully grasp the gravity of their condition. (Anderson, 6/18)

Los Angeles Times: Young American Women Are Poorer Than Their Moms And Grandmas, And More Likely To Commit Suicide 
Young American women are poorer than their mothers and grandmothers were when they were young, more likely to commit suicide and be shut out of high-paying tech jobs — an overall demise in well-being since the Baby Boom generation, according to a new report. The report by the Population Reference Bureau, “Losing Ground: Young Women’s Well Being Across Generations in the United States,” found that social and structural barriers continue to obstruct the advancement of female members of Generation X and millennials. (Simmons, 6/19)

Around California

Toddler Dies After Undergoing Routine Dental Surgery

The incident is still being investigated.

Sacramento Bee: Stockton 3-Year-Old Dies After Undergoing Dental Procedure 
Avila-Hernandez died Monday morning at Saint Joseph’s Hospital after undergoing the procedure at the Children’s Dental Surgery Center, a nonprofit ambulatory surgery center in Stockton, according to ABC10. Araceli Avila, the girl’s mother, saw an ambulance arrive while waiting for her daughter’s procedure to finish. (Oide, 6/16)

In other news from across the state —

KQED: Refinery, Tanker Firm Cited For Fumes That Sickened Scores In Vallejo
Local air regulators have issued notices of violation to the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo and to the operator of an oil tanker for spilling crude oil they say caused an overpowering odor that sickened Vallejo residents last September. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District says it has concluded its investigation into the incident and now believes the spill near the refinery’s marine terminal is to blame for fumes that prompted more than 1,400 odor complaints. (Goldberg, 6/16)

Orange County Register: Homeless ‘Czar’ Susan Price Looks Back On First Year With Orange County 
Price, who had spent more than two decades working on homelessness in Long Beach, arrived in the heat of fierce criticism and desperate pleas that the Board of Supervisors and other county officials do more, and with extra urgency, to address the growing numbers and worsening conditions of Orange County’s homeless population. ... In the midst of all this, the homeless death count of more than 200 people hit a record high in 2016 and preliminary figures from the most recent census of the homeless population in Orange County, undertaken in January, show a nearly 8 percent increase since 2015. (Walker, 6/16)

KPCC: Public Health Officials Testing For Chromium 6 In Paramount Soil, Homes
Amidst concerns about elevated levels of hexavalent chromium in the South Los Angeles city of Paramount, public health officials and state regulators are testing for the carcinogen and other toxics in the soil and inside homes in community hot spots. The L.A. County Department of Public Health is testing soil samples collected from ten locations on two different residential blocks, says Dr. Cyrus Rangan, the department's director of toxicology and environmental assessment. (Plevin, 6/19)

National Roundup

GOP's Health Plan Threatens Coverage For Most Vulnerable, Bipartisan Group Of Governors Says

The governors are urging congressional leaders to concentrate on stabilizing the marketplace while searching for a bipartisan solution that will provide affordable health care to those who need it.

The Associated Press: GOP, Dem Governors Call For Changes In House Health Bill
A group of Republican and Democratic governors are echoing President Donald Trump's criticism of a House GOP health care bill, saying it threatens coverage for the most vulnerable. Instead, they're asking Senate leaders to work together on an overhaul of Democrat Barack Obama's health care law. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, seven governors, including three moderate Republicans, argue that "true and lasting reforms are best approached by finding common ground in a bipartisan fashion." (Beaumont, 6/16)

In other health law news —

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Mitch McConnell On The Health-Care Legislative Process, 2010 Vs. 2017
It has become a regular feature of the U.S. political system that the politicians in the minority accuse the politicians in power of cutting deals behind closed doors to advance controversial legislation — only to engage in similar tactics once they regain power. This has become increasingly clear as Republicans in the Senate struggle to craft a health-care deal that will gain at least 50 votes, the bare minimum necessary under the legislative path — known as reconciliation — chosen by the GOP. (Kessler, 6/19)

The Associated Press: GOP Senator Warns Against Rushed Vote On Health Care Bill
A Republican senator on Sunday warned against rushing a vote on a GOP bill to repeal and replace the nation's health care law, saying both parties deserve a chance to fully debate the bill and propose changes after it was drafted in secret. "The Senate is not a place where you can just cook up something behind closed doors and rush it for a vote," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. "So the first step in this may be crafted among a small group of people, but then everyone's going to get to weigh in." (Yen, 6/18)

The Hill: ObamaCare Repeal And The Senate: Where It Stands 
It's a key two weeks for Senate Republicans, who are edging closer to a vote as soon as the end of this month on legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Lawmakers have yet to see text of a bill and are deeply divided over key questions, such as how quickly to phase out ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. They’re also under enormous pressure to move as the Trump White House seeks a legislative win and the clock ticks on other priorities, from tax reform to funding the government and lifting the debt ceiling. (Sullivan and Weixel, 6/18)

Politico: Democrats Use Trump 'Mean' Comment To Tar GOP
Democrats are seeking to capitalize on President Donald Trump calling the Republican health care bill "mean" ahead of the Senate's vote to repeal Obamacare, seeing it as a pivotal moment in an issue that could drive the 2018 midterm elections. The comments from Trump, made privately to senators last week, were largely overshadowed by a mass shooting at a Congressional baseball practice and new developments in the special counsel's investigation into Trump and his associates. (Dawsey and Kim, 6/18)

Nev. Governor Vetoes Medicaid-For-All Bill, Saying It's Creative But Lacks 'Factual Foundation'

The legislation would have allowed all residents the option of buying into Medicaid coverage.

The Wall Street Journal: Nevada’s Governor Vetoes ‘Medicaid For All’ Insurance Plan
Nevada’s Republican governor vetoed a bill late Friday that would have created the nation’s first “Medicaid for all” insurance offering, a plan that drew widespread attention as states brace for changes in the federal Affordable Care Act. The bill would have allowed any state resident to buy into Medicaid, the federal-state program for people with low incomes or disabilities. The idea, which its Democratic sponsor said would have created a guaranteed health coverage option that was affordable, has drawn the interest of other liberal-leaning states as congress works to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act, including the law’s Medicaid expansion. (Hackman, 6/17)