California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Latest From California Healthline:

California Healthline Original Stories

Widow Unleashes Court Fight Against Scope Maker Olympus Over Superbug Outbreak

The Seattle case, the first to reach trial in the U.S., offers possible glimpse into fate of some two dozen lawsuits against manufacturing giant Olympus, accused of failing to address scope contamination linked to numerous deaths. The company faults poor hospital cleaning practices. (Chad Terhune and JoNel Aleccia, 6/14)

AARP: States Lag In Keeping Medicaid Enrollees Out Of Nursing Homes

California is one of only nine states — in addition to the District of Columbia — that spent more than half of their long-term care Medicaid dollars on home- and community-based services rather than on nursing homes. The Golden State ranked 9th in the nation in the quality of its overall long-term care services, up from 15th six years ago. (Phil Galewitz, 6/15)

Summaries Of The News:

Sacramento Watch

Doctors Expected A Pay Bump From The Tobacco Tax. The Budget Deal Disappoints.

The deal directs the money they thought was going to go to boosting reimbursement rates into the Medi-Cal program as a whole.

KPBS: California Doctors Feeling Sick About New State Budget 
When the California Medical Association lent its support to Prop. 56 last year, they expected to get something in return if it passed: a Medi-Cal pay raise. ... But in the new budget deal crafted by California lawmakers, doctors could get as little as one-third of that money. (Goldberg, 6/14)

2018 Elections

Well-Known Scientist Joins Pack Of Candidates Challenging Vulnerable Calif. Lawmakers

Democrat Hans Keirstead's science background makes him appealing to party leaders.

Los Angeles Times: Stem Cell Scientist To Become The Latest Democrat Trying To Topple Dana Rohrabacher In O.C. House Race 
Hans Keirstead, a 50-year-old Democrat from Laguna Beach, said Wednesday that he will run in the 48th Congressional District, one of more than half a dozen in California that have been targeted by Democrats seeking to harness sentiment against President Trump in their fight for a House majority. Keirstead’s candidacy has been sought by some national Democratic figures, who see his science and business background as a good fit for the district. (Decker, 6/15)


Despite Predictions Otherwise, Medi-Cal Patients' Visits To ER Spiked Under Affordable Care Act

State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a pediatrician, says that people who were uninsured before the ACA were actually reluctant to go to the ER unless they were “about to die,” because they would be saddled with big bills, said. Under Medi-Cal, though, patients aren’t worried about those expenses.

In other Medi-Cal news —

KPCC: Full Dental And Vision Coverage Could Return For Medi-Cal Patients 
Medi-Cal patients may soon be able to go to the dentist confident that every treatment they need will be covered, and the same could be true by 2020 for those seeking vision treatment under the program. State lawmakers have cut a deal with Governor Brown to restore previously cut dental and vision benefits, according to consumer advocates and a legislative staffer. (Faust, 6/14)

Hospital Roundup

Philanthropists Donate $32M To Hospital: 'Top-Notch Care Should Not Depend On Your ZIP Code'

Melanie and Richard Lundquist have previously donated $50 million to the Torrance Memorial Medical Center for the creation of a patient building at the hospital with all private rooms and $18 million for other hospital upgrades.

Los Angeles Times: Torrance Memorial Hospital Receives $32-Million Donation
Philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist have donated $32 million to Torrance Memorial Medical Center to improve neurological, orthopedic and spinal care at the hospital. The gift announced this week brings the couple’s total contributions to the hospital to $100 million over the last 11 years. The sum is the most a single donor has given to a hospital that isn’t a research or teaching facility since the Chronicle of Philanthropy began tracking donations over $1 million in 2005. (Karlamangla, 6/14)

Around California

Nursing Home To Pay $345K In Suit Over Patients Allegedly Being Given Powerful Drugs Without Consent

The Newbury Park nursing home denied all allegations of wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Ventura County Star: Newbury Park Nursing Home Pays In Class-Action Settlement
A highly-rated Catholic nursing home in Newbury Park has agreed to pay $345,000 and will undergo spot inspections of health records in the settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging patients were being given powerful drugs without required consent. The long-awaited settlement was approved by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Rocky Baio in May and involves the nonprofit Mary Health of the Sick Convalescent and Nursing Hospital and family members of former residents of the facility. It calls for the nursing home to use procedures to ensure doctors explain the benefits and risks of psychotherapeutic drugs to residents or their legal representatives. (Kisken, 6/14)

In other news from across the state —

San Francisco Chronicle: SF’s Proposed Ban On Flavored Tobacco Sales Upsets Store Owners 
San Francisco officials are looking at a ban on flavored tobacco products, ranging from cherry cigarillos and blueberry blunt wraps to menthol cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookahs and smokeless tobacco. Berkeley recently passed a similar law. The proposed ban is the latest in a string of restrictions on tobacco products, including a $2-per-pack tax that went into effect in the state in April. (Johnson, 6/14)

East Bay Times: How Safe Is Your East Bay Drinking Water?
Despite drought-related increases in cancer-causing compounds, tap water for 1.4 million East Bay residents is safe to drink, state regulators said Wednesday. The East Bay Municipal Utility District reported Tuesday that concentrations of trihalomethanes, a byproduct of chlorine disinfectant and organic matter in water, have risen sharply since 2015. (Cuff, 6/14)

The Mercury News: New Sex Ed Curriculum To Be Tested Next Year
A new sexual health curriculum will be tested next spring for seventh- and eighth-grade students in the Cupertino Union School District.The move comes a few months after the school board, in a 2-2 vote, failed to adopt sex education curriculum that conforms to new state standards. Parents in March told school officials the proposed curriculum was “too graphic” and “not age-appropriate,” while others suggested it did not align with their cultural values, and some complained that it explicitly described different types of sex. (Myllenbeck, 5/14)

Orange County Register: Sovereign Rehab Center Still Open For Business After Raids, State Says 
Sealed search warrants were executed at several facilities on Tuesday by the FBI, with the help of state and local officials. ... The California Department of Health Care Services, which licenses and regulates rehabs, did not take any action against Sovereign’s licenses or certifications in the wake of Tuesday’s raids, said Carol Sloan, department spokeswoman. (Schwebke and Sforza, 6/14)

The Bakersfield Californian: CPR Training Sessions Scattered Throughout Bakersfield Sidewalks
The seven minutes between when someone goes into cardiac arrest and when emergency responders arrive are critical, and the likelihood of someone surviving depends on CPR being started immediately, Bakersfield Fire Department Battalion Chief John Frando said. So the Kern County Department of Public Health Services organized a day where groups across the county would take to city sidewalks and teach passersby how to perform hands-only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.... Derek and David Carr, the quarterback brothers from Bakersfield who have made names for themselves in the NFL, are partnering with Dignity Health to promote health-care awareness among children, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital President and CEO Jon Van Boening said Wednesday. The Carrs will become spokesmen for Dignity Health, much the same way Derek has been for Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, Van Boening said. (Pierce, 6/14)

National Roundup

Lawmakers That Trump Pushed Into Signing 'Mean' Bill Peeved At The President's Candid Comments

Although President Donald Trump personally helped champion the legislation through the House and called it a "great plan" when it passed, he is now saying it's "mean" and that the Senate should be more "generous" in its version. The about-face has left lawmakers scratching their heads.

The Associated Press: Trump Labeling House Health Care Bill 'Mean' Frustrates GOP
President Donald Trump's labeling of a House-passed health care bill as "mean" is aggravating some of the conservatives he pressed to back it, even as Senate attempts to reshape the measure increasingly threaten to spill into July. "In terms of strategery, I hope he's just trying to motivate the Senate," Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., said Wednesday, employing a mangled word used by former President George W. Bush. "Because he put all sorts of pressure on us to move the bill we passed." (Fram, 6/14)

In related news —

The Associated Press: Gov't Report: Health Care Deductibles Higher Under GOP Bill
President Donald Trump promised to make health care more affordable but a government report finds that out-of-pocket costs — deductibles and copayments — would average 61 percent higher under the House Republican bill. And even though the sticker price for premiums would be lower than under Obama-era law, what consumers pay would actually go up on average because government financial assistance would be reduced. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/15)

The Washington Post Fact Checker: President Trump’s Mangled ‘Facts’ About Obamacare
Not a day goes by without President Trump bashing the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, as he tries to urge the Senate to pass its own version of a repeal-and-replace bill. He’s become a torrent of statistics as he has tried to make the case that the law is “dead,” as he puts it. Increasingly, the president is aided by reports churned out by the Department of Health and Human Services, which under President Barack Obama used to issue dubious reports defending the law but now offers dubious reports to undermine it. (Kessler, 6/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Take Low-Key Approach In Health-Law Debate
Nearly every health group has taken a stand on the Republican legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, but a split among insurance companies, who are arguably most central to the overhaul, has prevented the industry and its powerful lobby from picking a side in the debate. The divisions, along with a desire to remain involved in the negotiations, have quieted an industry that had a vocal role in shaping the ACA. (Hackman, 6/14)

Mich. Health Department Chief Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter In Connection To Flint’s Water Problems

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and four other state officials face involuntary manslaughter charges stemming from the government's failure to alert the majority-black population about Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area. That outbreak is linked to the city's lead-contaminated water and caused the death of an 85-year-old man.

The Associated Press: Health Chief, 4 Others Charged With Manslaughter In Flint
Five people, including the head of Michigan's health department, were charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter in an investigation of Flint's lead-contaminated water, all blamed in the death of an 85-year-old man who had Legionnaires' disease. Nick Lyon is the highest-ranking member of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's administration to be snagged in a criminal investigation of how the city's water system became poisoned after officials tapped the Flint River in 2014. (6/14)

In other national health care news —

The Associated Press: VA Warns Of Surprise Budget Gap, Insists No Delays In Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs warned Wednesday it was unexpectedly running out of money for a program that offers veterans private-sector health care, forcing it to hold back on some services that lawmakers worry could cause delays in medical treatment. It is making an urgent request to Congress to allow it to shift money from other programs to fill the sudden budget gap. (6/14)

The Wall Street Journal: Group Calls For Expanded Probe Of Premature-Infant Clinical Trial
The consumer group Public Citizen said it has found new, “serious ethical lapses” in a premature-infant study that it contends should lead a federal medical-research watchdog agency to expand an investigation into the research. Public Citizen said it has unearthed documents showing that oxygen-measurement instruments used in the baby study gave inaccurate readings, which could have harmed the babies. The group called for the federal Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) to look into the matter. (Burton, 6/14)

Stat: AMA Votes To Require Drug Makers To Disclose Prices In Ads
Seeking to restrain drug prices, the American Medical Association passed a resolution that would require drug makers to disclose pricing in ads that are aimed at consumers. The proposal, which was approved by AMA delegates at their annual meeting in Chicago, came in response to concerns over rising drug costs and an unsuccessful bid by the medical organization to convince Congress to ban so-called direct-to-consumer advertising altogether. (Silverman, 6/14)

Stat: Should Every Patient Have Genetic Analysis To Map Their Drug Responses?
Dr. Richard Weinshilboum is asking a big question: What if your doctor knew which drugs to treat you with before you got sick? The growing field of pharmacogenomics has made that possible. Patients’ genetic variants can be analyzed to determine their response to medicines used to treat everything from mental illness to cardiovascular disease. Typically, that information is used to help treat patients with existing health problems. But Weinshilboum and his colleagues at Mayo Clinic and Baylor University have launched one of the largest studies ever to examine the effect of testing patients before they become ill, so doctors can act quickly when problems arise. (Ross, 6/14)