California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Covered California & The Health Law

'Preparing For The Apocalypse': Californians Hoard Medication Over Insurance Uncertainty

Patients with chronic diseases are worried about losing coverage under the new Republican health care plan.

KPCC: Worried About Losing Insurance, People Stockpile Medications 
With President Trump and the Republican-led Congress working to repeal the Affordable Care Act, some Californians with chronic diseases say they're stockpiling medications and supplies in case they lose their health insurance or access to critical treatments. It's difficult to determine how common this phenomenon is, since no agency tracks it. But advocates from two other chronic disease communities also say that the political fight over health care in Washington has convinced a lot of people to take matters into their own hands. (Plevin, 3/20)

And in other news —

San Diego Union-Tribune: Why Our Health Care Costs So Much — And Why Fixes Aren't Likely 
Need a knee replacement? That will cost you a different price depending on where you go in the United States. A California website shows that hospitals in San Diego County charged anywhere from $52,010 to $98,327 for the procedure in 2014, but that’s just the list price. Each hospital brokers its own deal with each insurance company. The public never really gets a full picture of what insurance companies pay behind the scenes, though the amount of information available is gradually increasing. (Sisson, 3/18)

Modesto Bee: In Stanislaus County, Lower-Income Residents Would Lose, Wealthier Families Win, Under GOP Plan To Replace Obamacare, Figures Show 
In Stanislaus County, lower-income residents and older working adults who rely on Obamacare for insurance against crushing medical bills are worried about their prospects under the Republicans’ replacement plan. They should be. A preliminary analysis last week showed the GOP plan will reduce government subsidies for lower income and older residents, causing dramatic increases in their health insurance premiums. (Carlson, 3/18)

Harris' Tweet That More Than Half Of State's Children Rely On Medicaid Sparks A Firestorm

Although Sen. Kamala Harris' tweet garnered horrified reactions about a welfare state, 13 states besides California also have more than half of their children enrolled in Medicaid.

inewsource: Harris Pleads For Medi-Cal Kids, But Critics Decry A Welfare State 
Newly minted California Sen. Kamala Harris recently tweeted her warning about the doom to befall her state’s children if the GOP’s health care replacement cuts federal Medicaid spending. ... The Congressional Budget Office estimated 14 million people would lose health insurance next year under the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare, and an additional 10 million would get hit by 2026. (Clark, 3/20)

Sacramento Watch

Student Health Centers Would Have To Provide Pills For Abortion Under Proposed Bill

Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, said the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and reduce federal funding for reproductive care heightens the need for additional services on college campuses.

Sacramento Bee: Bill To Require Colleges To Provide Abortion Pills To Students
As Republicans in Congress move to defund Planned Parenthood, a California state senator is pushing a bill to require student health centers on public university and community college campuses to provide non-surgical abortion services. Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, is expected Friday to introduce Senate Bill 320, which would specifically require student health centers that operate with state funding to provide students with access to medication to abort a pregnancy. (Luna, 3/17)

Public Health and Education

Smog Fighters Worried Trump Will Undermine State's War Against Air Pollution

For Californians, the smog used to be "agonizing." But there have been great strides in the past few decades to make the air breathable again, and some are worried the new administration will roll back those advances.

Los Angeles Times: Will Trump Erect A Roadblock To Southern California's Decades-Long Fight Against Smog? 
State and local authorities began attacking the problem in the ’40s.... But gradually officials began winning victories in the battle against smog: lifting the pall, ending the Stage 3 smog alerts that used to shutter factories, schools and courtrooms, and making the air breathable again, if far from perfectly healthy. But now smog fighters warn that Trump, who Wednesday said his administration would re-examine national emission standards, seems ready undermine California’s war against air pollution by limiting its power to set its own stricter rules. (Barboza, 3/17)

In other news —

KQED: Bay Area Lawmakers Outraged Over Trump’s Push To Eliminate Federal Refinery Regulator
Local leaders and health officials in Contra Costa County, home to four oil refineries, are blasting a part of President Trump’s budget that calls for cutting all money for the federal agency that investigates chemical accidents. Trump’s spending plan aims to eliminate funding for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), which has conducted hundreds of probes, including one into the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (Goldberg, 3/17)

Swab Test Allows Police To Determine If Drivers Are Under Influence Of Marijuana

The device was expected to roll out on Friday night. Meanwhile, the marijuana industry is gaining grounds in wine country.

Los Angeles Times: Police Are Using New Mouth-Swab Tests To Nab Drivers Under The Influence Of Marijuana And Other Drugs 
San Diego police have a new way to confirm the presence of marijuana and other drugs in impaired drivers — a mouth-swab device that is already being used by police departments in more than a dozen states and is expected to become more popular with the legalization of marijuana. The two Dräger DrugTest 5000 machines, which cost about $6,000 each, were donated by the San Diego Police Foundation last week. (Davis, 3/17)

The New York Times: Marijuana Industry Presses Ahead In California’s Wine Country
In the heart of Northern California’s wine country, a civil engineer turned marijuana entrepreneur is adding a new dimension to the art of matching fine wines with gourmet food: cannabis and wine pairing dinners. Sam Edwards, co-founder of the Sonoma Cannabis Company, charges diners $100 to $150 for a meal that experiments with everything from marijuana-leaf pesto sauce to sniffs of cannabis flowers paired with sips of a crisp Russian River chardonnay. (Fuller, 3/18)

Around California

Philanthropist To Match Donations For Ronald McDonald House If Community Can Raise $1.25M

The money would go toward expanding the Stanford facility, which helps the families of critically sick children.

The Mercury News: Ronald McDonald House At Stanford Needs Donations To Finish Expansion
The Ronald McDonald House at Stanford is asking the community to help raise the final $1.25 million needed for its expansion of the original center at 520 Sand Hill Road for critically ill children and their families. Philanthropist Tad Taube has offered $1.25 million for the project if the Ronald McDonald House can get enough donations to match the grant. This amount is in addition to the $3 million matching gift Taube gave to the first phase of the $46.5 million project. (Lee, 3/17)

In other news from across the state —

Orange County Register: Orange-Based Western Dental Acquires 14 Smile Wide Practices 
Orange-based Western Dental has acquired Smile Wide, an Irvine-based network of Southern California dental offices, for an undisclosed amount. Smile Wide has offices in Anaheim, Bellflower, Carson, Costa Mesa, Garden Grove, Irvine, Loma Linda, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Lynwood, Riverside and Van Nuys. All of its locations were acquired. (Madans, 3/17)

National Roundup

Changes To GOP Plan Will Provide Relief To Older Americans, Ryan Promises

House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke about the tweaks they would make to the American Health Care Act after the Congressional Budget Office predicted older, rural Americans would be negatively affected under the legislation.

The Associated Press: Ryan: More Help For Older People Needed In GOP Health Bill
Days before a pivotal vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday he will seek changes to a GOP health care bill to provide more help to older people. The new willingness to compromise was a bid for more support from moderate Republicans, who expressed continuing unease about the plan to replace Barack Obama's health law unless significant changes were made. (3/19)

The Associated Press: For Many Older Americans, Costs Rise Under GOP Health Plan
Among the groups hardest hit by the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act is one that swung for Donald Trump during last year's presidential race — older Americans who have not yet reached Medicare age. Many of those who buy their own health insurance stand to pay a lot more for their coverage. That is especially true for the nearly 3.4 million older Americans who have enrolled through the government marketplaces, many of whom receive generous federal subsidies through the health care law enacted under former President Barack Obama. (3/19)

In other news on the American Health Care Act —

Politico: White House Squeezes GOP Hard-Liners As Obamacare Vote Nears
During a meeting at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida Saturday, the president’s top advisers told three of the most vocal conservative opponents of the bill — Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) — that they agree with some of their demands in principle, according to several sources familiar with the discussions. But it’s also become increasingly apparent to the White House that the conservatives’ requests, which include phasing out Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion earlier and deregulating the insurance industry, are unlikely to pass the Senate. (Bade, Dawsey and Everett, 3/19)

The New York Times: On Health Law, G.O.P. Faces A Formidable Policy Foe: House Republicans
Halfway through Congress’s 2013 summer recess, a letter landed on the desks of House Republican leaders demanding a new strategy to fight “one of the largest grievances in our time.” Give Congress the option to defund the Affordable Care Act, it said, or risk shutting down the government. Republican leaders condemned the idea, and the 80 House Republicans who signed the letter acquired a nickname, courtesy of the conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer — the “suicide caucus.” (Huetteman, 3/20)

The New York Times: States Could Make Work A Medicaid Requirement Under G.O.P. Deal
President Trump and conservative lawmakers in the House agreed Friday to significant changes to Medicaid that could impose work requirements on able-bodied Medicaid beneficiaries in some states and limit federal funds for the program, as Republican leaders tried to rally balking lawmakers behind legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I want everyone to know, I’m 100 percent behind this,” Mr. Trump said at the White House, where he met with House members in the conservative Republican Study Committee. (Kaplan and Pear, 3/17)

The New York Times: G.O.P.’s Health Care Tightrope Winds Through The Blue-Collar Midwest
James Waltimire, a police officer on unpaid medical leave, has been going to the hospital in this small city twice a week for physical therapy after leg surgery, all of it paid for by Medicaid. Mr. Waltimire, 54, was able to sign up for the government health insurance program last year because Ohio expanded it to cover more than 700,000 low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act. He voted for President Trump — in part because of Mr. Trump’s support for law enforcement — but is now worried about the Republican plan to effectively end the Medicaid expansion through legislation to repeal the health care law. (Goodnough and Martin, 3/19)