California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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California Healthline Original Stories

California Hospitals Get A Second Law On Notifying Observation Care Patients

A new federal law requires that hospitals give Medicare patients notice after placing them under observation, along with the reason why they were not officially admitted. In California, it comes on top of a state law that requires quicker notice for all observation patients but does not oblige hospitals to explain their decision not to admit. (Susan Jaffe, 3/14)

Summaries Of The News:

Covered California & The Health Law

Older, Poorer Californians Disproportionately Affected By GOP Health Plan

The legislation caps the tax credits to help buy coverage at significantly less than the average subsidy a 60-year-old in California currently receives under the ACA.

San Francisco Chronicle: GOP Health Plan To Cost Older, Poorer Californians Far More 
The health care bill proposed by House Republicans would disproportionately affect older and poorer Californians by shrinking federal assistance to hundreds of thousands of older people who buy plans on Covered California and by reducing federal funding to Medi-Cal, the insurance program for the poor, experts say. The American Health Care Act, the GOP proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, includes two provisions that health care experts calculate would lead to lower-income Californians in their 50s and 60s paying more for health care. (Ho, 3/13)

In other news —

Sacramento Bee: Gig Economy Workers Could Lose Coverage In Obamacare Repeal 
More than 3 million people in the U.S. are classified as independent workers, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. From 2004 to 2014, self-employed people working in repair and maintenance, personal and laundry services, pet sitting and other jobs belonging to the census bureau’s “other category” grew by nearly 1 million people, or 31 percent, according to bureau data. A Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act now puts in danger the health insurance of independent workers who received Medi-Cal through the federal expansion. (Caiola, 3/14)

Sacramento Watch

Candidate For Governor Makes Universal Health Care Key Issue Of Campaign

Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom says he thinks California has the "audacity" and "boldness" to try something new.

Sacramento Bee: Gavin Newsom To Propose Universal Health Care Plan For California 
Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is drafting a health care plan for California that he plans to unveil as a core component of his gubernatorial run, based in part on the universal health care program he signed into law when he was mayor of San Francisco. Newsom, seen as a strong contender in the increasingly crowded field of candidates vying to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, is staking out an ambitious plan to rein in rising health care costs, expand universal access to people across the state regardless of income or immigration status, and preserve coverage for the estimated 5 million Californians who risk losing their insurance under President Donald Trump’s changes. (Hart, 3/13)

Medi-Cal

Trump's Immigration Policy Causing Some To Withdraw Kids From Medi-Cal

A state law that took effect last May makes it possible for children younger than 19 to access Medi-Cal, regardless of their immigration status. But now parents are worried.

KPCC: Families Wary Of Enrolling Undocumented Kids In Medi-Cal 
Tens of thousands of children in the U.S. illegally are enrolled in Medi-Cal, but fear of deportation by the Trump administration has many of their parents considering pulling them out of the program. Since Trump's election last November, parents have been calling the L.A. Care Health Plan to request that their kids be withdrawn from Medi-Cal, according to agency officials, who say they're counseling those who call to keep their kids in the program. A state law that took effect last May makes it possible for children under 19 to access Medi-Cal, regardless of their immigration status. There are more than 66,000 unauthorized immigrant children enrolled in Medi-Cal in L.A. County; about one-third joined through L.A. Care, which describes itself as the nation's largest publicly-operated health plan. (Plevin, 3/13)

Hospital Roundup

Community Hospital With Turbulent History Reopens With New Leadership

In 2008, the FBI raided the Foothill Regional Medical Center amid allegations that homeless people were being recruited to fill empty beds and undergo unnecessary medical procedures.

Orange County Register: Tustin's Only Hospital Reopens Under New Ownership After Scandal 
Prospect Medical Holdings of Los Angeles bought the 108,000-square-foot Newport Avenue facility in May 2014 from Pacific Health Corp. for an undisclosed amount. At the time, the facility was called Newport Specialty Hospital and housed 18 critically ill children in a pediatric subacute unit. The sale marked the end of a turbulent period for the 177-bed community hospital once known as Tustin Hospital and Medical Center. (Perkes, 3/13)

In other hospital news —

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Petaluma Valley Hospital Vote Delayed 
Petalumans will no longer be voting to approve an operator for Petaluma Valley Hospital on June 6, as had long been the Petaluma Health Care District’s plan. The announcement came Friday at the PHCD board meeting, also the last day to submit a ballot measure for the June vote. In a news release, Elece Hempel, board president, cited the “complex” process of transitioning from St. Joseph Health as the hospital’s operator to the board’s choice of Paladin Healthcare as its new operator. The board has entered into a non-binding letter of intent with Paladin, but St. Joseph Health will continue to operate the hospital until Paladin is approved by voters. (Warren, 3/13)

Pharmaceuticals

Right-To-Try Drug Laws Create Chaos, Villainize FDA, Experts Say

The popular measures undermine a more thoughtful federal program that balances patients’ need for options, drug companies’ desire to protect their investments, and the government’s duty to evaluate drug safety and effectiveness, they say.

Public Health and Education

Robot's 'Beam Of Cleansing Light' Helps Hospitals Fight Silent Killers

Germs in hospitals can be deadly, but this new machine zaps them.

In other public health news —

Capital Public Radio: Costs For Alzheimer's Patients Continue To Rise 
Health care costs for treating Californians with Alzheimer's disease continue to grow significantly. It will cost Medi-Cal an estimated $3.5 billion to care for people with Alzheimer's disease this year, according to the Alzheimer's Association. And it's expected to rise 47 percent over the next eight years...The report shows the average out-of-pocket costs for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are almost five times higher than for people without the disease. (Johnson, 3/13)

KPCC: Our Wet Winter Could Be Bad News For Pollen Allergies
While the winter rains may have eased California's drought, "some people are going to have to appreciate it inside their cars or inside their homes," because the increased plant growth also means more pollen in the air, said Tam, Medical Director at the Gores Family Allergy Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Pollen allergies can cause stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and tiredness. They can be particularly harmful for people who are also asthmatic. Rain isn’t the only weather condition that affects allergies; winds can blow pollen from one area to another. Even if an individual isn't allergic to the tree pollen in his immediate area, "you get those Santa Ana winds and you get those pollens coming down into the city so you will be affected," said Dr. Richard Barbers, Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. (Lavender, 3/13)

Around California

Ventura Authorizes Infusion Of Mental Health Funding To Meet Increased Demand

The Sylmar Health & Rehabilitation Center has seen a growing demand for treatment of criminal defendants found incompetent to stand trial.

Ventura County Star: Funding Grows To Treat Mentally Ill Defendants
Ventura County has added almost $600,000 to a $1 million contract for the treatment of mentally ill residents in a locked facility in Sylmar, driven by the late opening of a county facility and increased demand. Early last week the Ventura County Board of Supervisors authorized the 55 percent increase in the contract with the Sylmar Health & Rehabilitation Center, effective through the end of the fiscal year. The infusion was needed partly because billing revenues were lost when the new county facility, the Horizon View Mental Health Rehabilitation Center, opened five months late because of construction delays. (Wilson, 3/13)

In other news from across the state —

Capital Public Radio: Sacramento Opens Three New Warming Shelters
Three new warming centers in Sacramento have been full every night they've been open, according to the City of Sacramento. The city says 700 homeless people and families have stayed at the centers a total of 2,000 times. Emily Halcon is the Homeless Services coordinator for the city and says two centers provide a place to sleep and eat. (Moffitt, 3/13)

Orange County Register: CSUF Public Relations Students Team Up With Local Nonprofit Organization To Raise Funds For Pediatric Cancer 
Cal State Fullerton students Claire Imada and Elizabeth Gallardo are seniors in the university’s College of Communications and while they’ve been exposed to numerous public relations courses and projects throughout their time at the university, the duo agree that nothing has compared to being completely immersed in the public relations field. Imada, 22, a public relations student with a minor in Asian American studies and Gallardo, 23, a public relations student with a minor in business administration, recently became interns at the Irvine-based Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF). (Marcos, 3/13)

East Bay Times: Mercury Spill Forces Neighborhood Street Closure
Contra Costa County hazardous materials workers were working with federal and state staff to decontaminate a stretch of roadway closed to traffic after a mercury spill Monday... Clean-up crews with the county’s hazardous materials response team will join contractors hired by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Toxic Substances Control to assess and decontaminate coned-off areas of the street and a sidewalk splotched with tell-tale traces of liquid mercury. (Kelly, 3/13)

National Roundup

24 Million More Would Be Uninsured Under GOP Replacement Plan By 2026

The highly anticipated Congressional Budget Office analysis of the American Health Care Act projects grim coverage numbers for the Republicans' bill.

In other national health care news —

Politico: GOP Scrambles After Scorching Health Bill Appraisal
House Republican leaders plunged into damage control mode Monday after a brutal budgetary assessment of their Obamacare replacement threatened to upend Senate GOP support and armed their critics on the left. Speaker Paul Ryan’s team quickly pinpointed rosier elements of the report by the Congressional Budget Office, from cost savings to lower premiums. (Cheney, Everett and Pradhan, 3/13)