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

Zika In America: One Mom's Saga

So far, 72 affected babies have been born in the continental U.S. One young mother, infected in Mexico last year, and her infant face an uncertain future in rural Washington. (JoNel Aleccia, 6/13)

Summaries Of The News:

Sacramento Watch

Democrats, Governor Reach Deal On What To Do With Money From Tobacco Tax

The fiery debate has been roiling the Capitol and the health industry.

The Associated Press: Proposed California Budget Bill Would Give Doctors A Raise
California lawmakers introduced legislation Monday that would allow $465 million in higher payments for doctors and dentists who provide publicly funded care. The proposal is outlined in a budget bill and may reflect an agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and top legislative leaders on a key sticking point in budget negotiations. But neither top lawmakers nor Brown commented on the proposal. The lawmakers and Brown were divided on how to spend more than $1 billion from higher tobacco taxes. (6/12)

Capital Public Radio: California Lawmakers Reach Deal On How To Spend Tobacco Tax Money
Anthony Wright with the advocacy group Health Access says increasing doctors’ and dentists’ reimbursement rates will improve care for Medi-Cal patients, if the money is put toward high-need areas. “If they’re targeted, if they’re data-driven, then they can make a big difference in making sure people get the care that they need,” Wright says. Most of the rest of the money will go toward the governor's priority: funding Medi-Cal's expansion under Obamacare, as the state takes on more of the cost. (Adler, Mitric and Schilling, 6/12)

In other news from Sacramento —

EdSource Today: California Law Spurs Reforms After Heartbreaking Student Suicide Cluster
While suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 19, it is rare, with 150 suicide deaths in California in that age group in 2013. ... The California Department of Education released a model youth suicide prevention policy last month that calls for schools to create strategies to encourage students to talk about depression and stress. (Adams, 6/12)

Health IT

We May Be Moving Toward A Future Where Visits To The Doctor's Office Are Unnecessary

The San Francisco Chronicle looks at how technology is playing a role in shaping the health care landscape.

San Francisco Chronicle: Why Doctors’ Offices Could Become Obsolete 
Technological advancements are ushering in a new era of health care, eroding the long-held model of hospitals and doctors’ offices as the physical center of the health system... This rapidly changing landscape raises the question: Will there come a day when we won’t need to go to the doctor’s office anymore? (Ho, 6/12)

San Francisco Chronicle: Why Doctors Hate Electronic Records — And What Could Change That
The health care industrial complex has spent billions of dollars and untold amounts of time trying to make medical records as flexible, invisible and unobtrusive as possible for patients and clinicians alike... But after nearly two decades of concerted innovation, amid a push to do away with paper records, many physicians say they’re still hamstrung by issues that have dogged them for years. (Fracassa, 6/12)

San Francisco Chronicle: Did You Take Your Pill? Ingestible Sensors Can Tell 
Some experts say ingestibles — also dubbed “smart pills” — can help solve one of the biggest problems plaguing the health care industry: patients simply not taking their medication as prescribed. The Proteus sensor can indicate if and when a pill is taken. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012 — the first such device to receive the agency’s OK. (Thadani, 6/12)

San Francisco Chronicle: How Apple AirPods Could Make Future Hearing Aids Cool 
Inside Starkey’s Shattuck Avenue lab, Carlile and his team are researching brain-sensing technologies that may enhance hearing aids in the next five or six years... Using a skullcap dotted by round electrodes, the researchers are measuring brain-wave activity to pinpoint which talker a person is trying to hear in noisy situations. (Evangelista, 6/12)

Public Health and Education

Initiative Providing Hep C Drugs At Homeless Shelters Part Of Small But Growing Trend

Advocates see such programs as a promising solution to getting the medication to vulnerable patients in a way with which they feel comfortable.

KPCC: Homeless Shelters Are A New Front In Fighting Hepatitis C 
While patients typically have to go to a liver specialist to get hepatitis C medication, Davenport is getting his at the Mission, through a health clinic run by Los Angeles Christian Health Centers... Over the past two years, providers have started offering hepatitis C treatment at several homeless shelters in San Francisco and at needle exchange sites in Berkeley and Mendocino. (Plevin, 6/13)

In other news —

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento Wins Tens Of Millions For Homeless Housing And Health Services
Sacramento is set to receive about $32 million in federal funds over nearly four years to keep homeless people out of emergency rooms, making it the only city in California to participate in a pilot program meant to reach the state’s poorest and sickest people before they need critical care... The state-run program uses federal health care dollars to target people who overuse expensive services such as emergency rooms and ambulances. (Chabria, 6/13)

Norovirus That Was Sweeping Yolo School Districts Has Abated

But officials say everyone should still remain vigilant.

Sacramento Bee: Yolo County Declares Norovirus Outbreak Over 
The norovirus outbreak gripping Yolo County schools has ended, according to county health officials. The number of people reporting norovirus symptoms – vomiting and diarrhea – declined after school let out for summer, a county press release said. (Garrison, 6/12)

In other public health news —

Around California

Impoverished Neighborhoods Receive Grants To Improve Residents' Health

The three Roseville areas targeted by the grants struggle with high chronic disease rates, barriers to health care and other problems that advocates plan to tackle.

Sacramento Bee: Old Roseville To Get New Infrastructure From Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fund 
Roseville Heights is part of a trio of impoverished neighborhoods in the city that have been targeted by a unique $60,000 grant designed to lift up marginalized communities and, in the process, improve health outcomes... Old Roseville is among the highest-ranking zip codes in the city for diabetes mortality rates, mental health emergency department use and asthma-related emergency visits, according to a 2016 community health assessment from Kaiser Permanente. (Caiola, 6/12)

In other news from across the state —

KQED News: Valero’s Benicia Refinery Outage Triggered ‘Huge’ Release Of Pollution 
The Valero refinery in Benicia released more than 74,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide during 14 days of flaring after a power outage in May, according to a report the company has filed with state officials... Nearly half of the sulfur dioxide the refinery released — 31,000 pounds — was emitted on May 5, the day the plant went offline and began flaring after the outage. (Goldberg, 6/12)

National Roundup

Rank-And-File Senators Kept In Dark As GOP Leaders Claim They Are Getting Close To A Bill

"[T]his is not the best way to do health care, but it’s the way we’re having to do it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Republicans, though, are trying to rein in expectations about when the vote will come.

USA Today: Obamacare Repeal Drafted Quietly By Senate Republicans
Top Senate Republicans and their staff are plowing ahead with a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare in the hopes of getting legislation on the floor by mid-summer — even if their own GOP colleagues have no idea what the bill will contain. “It’s coming together and there’s a lot of feedback of (Congressional Budget Office) trying to get scores on different policy options ... but it’s coming,” South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, told reporters Monday evening. (Collins, 6/12)

Politico: Senate GOP Reins In Expectations For Killing Obamacare
Senate Republicans are aggressively trying to rein in expectations for their Obamacare repeal effort, wary of blowing a deadline or falling short of 50 votes on a promise that has driven the GOP's political strategy for much of the past decade. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still aiming for an Obamacare repeal vote in June, though his lieutenants acknowledge that deadline could slip into July. And while GOP leaders want to hold the vote as soon as possible, Republicans continue to avoid hard deadlines and say factors outside their control could strike. (Everett, 6/12)

In related news —

The Associated Press: HealthCare.Gov Dropout Trend Continues Under Trump
Continuing a dropout trend seen in the Obama years, about 16 percent of consumers who signed up for coverage this year through public health insurance markets had canceled their plans by early spring, the government said Monday. Figures released from the Health and Human Services department show that 10.3 million people were signed up and paying their premiums as of March 15. That's 1.9 million fewer than the 12.2 million who initially signed up during open enrollment season, which ended Jan. 31. (6/12)

The Associated Press: Iowa May Be First State With No Health Insurers On Exchange
"While legislation appears to slowly be moving at the federal level, it is unlikely any changes to the ACA will be enacted in time to keep Iowa's individual health insurance market from a total collapse leaving nearly 72,000 individuals with zero options to purchase health insurance for 2018," [Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug] Ommen said.(6/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Sens. Murray, Warren Request Probe Of Whether Trump ‘Undermined’ Obamacare
Two Senate Democrats have sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services’s independent watchdog, asking for an investigation into Trump administration actions that could have “undermined” the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate’s Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), a member of the committee, requested that the department’s inspector general make public any actions taken by the Trump administration to destabilize the individual health-insurance market. (Hackman, 6/12)