California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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California Healthline Original Stories

Summaries Of The News:

Spending and Fiscal Battles

California In-Home Care Program In Budget-Cut Crosshairs

The program has had a target on its back for years.

Los Angeles Times: An In-Home Care Program For California's Elderly And Disabled Is Constantly At The Heart Of Budget Battles. Here's Why
California’s program to provide in-home care for its low-income elderly and disabled residents finds itself once again at the heart of a state budget standoff. It is familiar territory for the workers, advocates and administrators of the In-Home Supportive Services program. The current flare-up — between the state and county governments over how to divvy up IHSS costs — is the latest example of how California’s signature program, meant to keep people in their communities and out of nursing homes, has continually been the source of budget friction in recent years. (Mason, 4/18)

LA Proposes Dedicating $600M To Improve Social Services For Vulnerable Residents

The chunk of money will go toward reducing and preventing homelessness, hiring new social workers, improving foster care, treating the county’s sickest patients and diverting individuals with mental illness from jail.

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County Seeks To Strengthen The Safety Net For Its Neediest Residents With Funding For The Homeless, Social Workers And Healthcare
Los Angeles County pressed forward with an effort to strengthen the safety net for its most vulnerable residents Monday with a budget plan that carves out significant allotments for social services, healthcare and other support for the poor. The proposed budget is a slight increase from last year, and officials said they are trying to channel some of that money toward helping those who rely on county government for critical services. (Agrawal, 4/17)

KPCC: Amidst Uncertainty, LA County Plans How To Spend $30 Billion
Los Angeles County, facing cuts in federal and state funds, will focus on beefing up social services like child welfare and mental health care in the coming year, as well as investing in infrastructure like a new county jail. L.A. County Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai released a preliminary spending plan for the county's $30 billion budget Monday. (Palta, 4/17)

Covered California & The Health Law

During Town Hall, California Republican Reassures Constituents He's A 'No' On GOP Health Plans

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) says he wants parts of the Affordable Care Act -- such as coverage for preexisting conditions and expanded Medicaid -- to stay.


In Pact With Federal Health Officials, Theranos Says It Will Not Operate Blood Labs For 2 Years

The company still faces probes by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission over its blood testing business.

The Wall Street Journal: Theranos Agrees Not To Operate Blood Lab For Two Years
Theranos Inc. and its founder pledged to stay out of the blood-testing business for at least two years in exchange for reduced penalties from federal health authorities, in an agreement that resolves a year-long regulatory impasse. The main lab regulator first had proposed barring Elizabeth Holmes from the medical-lab business for two years in March 2016 after the company failed to correct testing problems at its main lab in Newark, Calif., ones that inspectors earlier had said put patients in “immediate jeopardy. (Weaver, 4/17)

San Francisco Chronicle: Theranos Agrees Not To Operate Labs For Two Years 
Theranos has reached a settlement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that resolves all legal and regulatory proceedings between the federal agency and the embattled Palo Alto blood diagnostics firm, the company announced Monday. Theranos has agreed to pay a penalty of $30,000 and cannot operate a clinical laboratory for the next two years. (Ho, 4/17)


When Young Adults Commit Crimes, This S.F. Court Realizes It Might Be Because Of Biology

Young Adult Court in San Francisco is a hybrid of the adult and juvenile justice systems tailored to the biology and circumstances of offenders 18 to 24.

The New York Times: A California Court For Young Adults Calls On Science
Researchers have long known that the adolescent brain is continually rewiring itself, making new connections and pruning unnecessary neurons as it matures. Only recently has it become clear that the process stretches well into early adulthood. Buried in that research is an uncomfortable legal question: If their brains have not fully matured, how responsible are adults ages 18 to 24 for their crimes? (Requarth, 4/17)

Around California

Jury Finds Mental Health Provider Guilty Of Neglect, Fraud In Sexual Assault Case

The case against EMQ FamiliesFirst revolves around a boy who was assaulted in 2013 by an older peer from a group home in Davis.

ProPublica: California Group Home Liable For Millions In Case Of Abused Boy
A jury in Sacramento, California, last week awarded more than $11 million to the family of a 16-year-old-boy who had been sexually assaulted by a peer at his group home in Davis. The jury found that operators of the group home failed to look after the boy as the facility for troubled youngsters descended into a prolonged period of chaos and violence. (Sapien, 4/17)

In other news from across the state —

The San Diego Union-Tribune: Clinton Foundation Beginning To Study Child Welfare In San Diego 
Next month a major initiative to help vulnerable children and their families will begin in San Diego under a partnership between three prominent organizations. The collaboration between the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative, San Diego County, and San Diego Foundation, will focus on the foster care and juvenile justice programs, particularly what sort of factors lead to the disparities that cause some populations [to be] disproportionately entangled in these systems. (Stewart, 4/17)

The Desert Sun: Health Clinics See Drop Amid Immigration Fears
Since January, quieter days have been the new normal for this Borrego Health clinic, which stands among farm fields near the community of Oasis west of the Salton Sea. Many patients just don't show up for appointments or they cancel without rescheduling. Instead of 60 or 70 patients a day, medical assistant Norma Diaz said the clinic is seeing closer to 40...Other health and social-service providers in the largely Latino eastern Coachella Valley say they are seeing the same thing: A decline in numbers that coincides with President Donald Trump taking office in January and a perceived crackdown on illegal immigration. (Newkirk, 4/17)

Sacramento Bee: Teens Take Dental Care Into Their Own Hands, With Questionable Results 
Inspired by social media, some people are turning to rubber bands, fishing line and paper clips to perfect their own pearly whites – a practice that orthodontists warn could lead to gum irritation, misalignment and tooth loss. A quick search on YouTube reveals thousands of tutorials about how to straighten teeth without braces, many posted by users who appear to be teenagers. (Caiola, 4/17)

San Francisco Chronicle: Berkeley Couple’s Mysterious Deaths Raise Public Health Fears 
No one knows how a young Berkeley couple and their two cats were fatally poisoned with carbon monoxide during a storm one night in January. ... But three months, one lawsuit and a procession of experts later, the source of the carbon monoxide remains a mystery. Toxicology professionals say that’s not just bizarre, but a possible danger to public health. (Veklerov, 4/17)

Public Health and Education

A Way To Sway Those Hesitant About Vaccinations? Have Other Parents Talk To Them

A program has shown that parents having positive conversations about vaccines boosts the rates of kids getting them.

Sacramento Bee: Vaccinations Rise When Parents Chat With Other Parents 
A new pilot program in Washington hopes to boost vaccination rates by having parents who support vaccines talk to parents in the neighborhood who might be unsure. A study released this week by Kaiser Permanente and published in the journal Health Promotion Practice shows the model is already working. (Caiola, 4/17)

In other public health news —

The Mercury News: California: Breast Cancer Rates Increasing Among Asian-Americans
While breast cancer rates have plateaued or declined in some racial groups, they have been steadily rising among Asian-Americans since 1988. The new findings, released last week by the Fremont-based Cancer Prevention Institute of California, show the largest increase in breast cancer rates in the Golden State is occurring among Koreans and Southeast Asians. (Seipel, 4/17)

Documents Reveal Details Of Prince's Addiction, But Don't Answer How He Got Opioids

A year after the musician died of a fentanyl overdose, shining a spotlight on the national crisis, many questions remain.

Los Angeles Times: None Of The Pills Found At Entertainer Prince's Estate In Minnesota Had Been Prescribed To Him, Court Records Show
Investigators found “narcotic medications” in Prince’s estate in Minnesota after he died of an opioid overdose last year, some in vitamin bottles, but none had been prescribed to the pop star, according to court records released Monday. The newly unsealed search warrants in Carver County, Minn., do not show where Prince Rogers Nelson may have gotten the powerful opioid fentanyl he took before he was found dead at his Paisley Park estate outside Minneapolis at the age of 57 on April 21, 2016. No arrests have been made in connection with the ongoing investigation, which is being conducted by the Carver County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration.(Pearce, 4/17)

In other news —

Los Angeles Times: Las Vegas, Hoping To Stem HIV And Hepatitis, To Get Needle Vending Machines 
Las Vegas is preparing to be the first city in the nation with vending machines dispensing clean needles in an effort to help combat the spread of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, while also possibly leading some drug users into treatment. Three machines will be available for users starting in May. The pilot program is a coordinated effort between Trac-B Exchange, the Southern Nevada Health District and the Nevada AIDS Research and Education Society to discourage the sharing of needles among users. (Montero, 4/18)

National Roundup

Insurers Left Scouring Social Media For Clues On Markets' Future As Politicians Vacillate Over Health Law

The deadline for filing proposed rates for 2018 is creeping ever closer, and insurers still don't know what's going to happen with the law. In other news, a poll suggests public blame for the health plan debacle has fallen on House Speaker Paul Ryan's shoulders, and a pro-Trump group launches an ad campaign to bolster Republicans' health care efforts.

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Scramble To Price Plans On Health Exchanges As Policy Seesaws
Health insurers, facing fast-approaching deadlines to file plans for next year’s Affordable Care Act marketplaces amid uncertainty about the law’s fate, are putting off key business decisions as they scour for clues on social media and in the hallways of Washington. A group of insurers meets Tuesday with Trump administration officials, seeking reassurance and greater clarity about the future of the exchanges. Some companies have just weeks to file proposed 2018 rates with state regulators. (Wilde Mathews, 4/17)

The Wall Street Journal: Poll Suggests Health-Care Fiasco Hurt Paul Ryan’s Standing Among Voters
House Speaker Paul Ryan has a lower job approval rating than President Donald Trump in a new survey released Monday by the Pew Research Center. Less than a month since the collapse of the House GOP health-care bill, only 29% of those surveyed by Pew approved of Mr. Ryan’s job performance, compared to 39% for Mr. Trump — itself a historically low rating for a new president. (Peterson and Ballhaus, 4/17)

The Associated Press: Trump Group's Ads Bolstering GOP Obamacare Repeal Drive
A pro-Trump group is airing ads in a dozen Republican-held House districts aimed at drumming up support for the White House's wounded drive to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law. The $3 million campaign comes during a two-week congressional recess in which GOP lawmakers' town hall meetings have been rocked by liberal supporters of Obama's 2010 statute. Underscoring the challenges Republicans face, one poll showed Monday that the public trusts Democrats over the GOP on health care by their biggest margin in nearly a decade. (4/17)