California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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California Healthline Original Stories

Segregated Living Linked To Higher Blood Pressure Among Blacks

Blood pressure for African-Americans who moved permanently out of segregated areas into medium-segregation locations decreased on average nearly 4 points while those who went to low-segregation locales dropped almost 6 points, a 25-year study finds. (Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, 5/15)

Summaries Of The News:

Covered California & The Health Law

LA Considers Hiring Consultant To Help Navigate Fallout From Potential Health Law Repeal

"We need to have a coordinated strategy moving forward to be able to handle whatever it is that happens," said Dr. Christine Ghaly, chief operations officer for the Department of Health Services.

KPCC: LA County Looks At Planning For Possible Obamacare Repeal
Under consideration by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday: hiring a consultant who would craft a transition plan if Obamacare is scrapped. The county wants to be ready as the U.S. Senate considers its steps on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The House passed the American Health Care Act, which would make significant changes to the nation's health care, early this month. (Faust, 5/15)

In other news —

Ventura County Star: Rep. Knight Talks About Trump, AHCA And Protests
U.S. Rep. Steve Knight wears a target the size of the White House.Protesters carrying signs shaped like cemetery headstones gathered in front of the Republican Congressman's Simi Valley office last week in a "die-in" aimed at what they contend are consequences of the Republican congressman's vote in favor of the American Health Care Act. On Saturday, Democrat Bryan Caforio, who lost to Knight by 6 percentage points in November, announced he'll run again in a 2018 race that a political analyst said has been pushed center stage, in part because of blowback from President Donald Trump's election. (Kisken, 5/15)


Kaiser Permanente Posts Record First Quarter

Kaiser earlier this month raised a record $4.4 billion through a series of three bond offerings to build out access points in its current markets and look for growth opportunities in communities neighboring its facilities.

Modern Healthcare: Kaiser Hits $1 Billion Operating Gain In Q1 
Kaiser Permanente Monday posted a record $1 billion operating gain in its first quarter, just days after holding its largest-ever bond offering. The Oakland, Calif.-based health plan and hospital giant eclipsed the $1 billion barrier on revenue of $18.1 billion. That compared with an operating gain of $701 million on revenue of $16.3 billion in the year-earlier quarter. The 5.5% operating margin in the first quarter beat the strong 4.3% operating margin from the year-earlier period. (Barkholz, 5/15)

Women's Health

Planned Parenthood Shifts Focus To Low Medicaid Reimbursement Rates

"Medi-Cal reimbursement rates are so low that they threaten our ability to keep our health centers open," said Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood of California.

Los Angeles Times: With Defunding Threats Less Imminent, Planned Parenthood Turns Its Focus To Low Medi-Cal Payments 
A Capitol gathering of Planned Parenthood supporters on Monday had many of the same traits as the January Women's March and other rallies of the Trump era: pink T-shirts and so-called pussy hats, with frequent jeers for the president and the GOP-majority Congress. But behind the familiar feel was a subtle shift in lobbying by Planned Parenthood of California. After months of warning of the existential threat of potential federal defunding, the healthcare organization has trained its focus on another threat: low reimbursements from the state for seeing Medi-Cal patients. (Mason, 5/15)

Health IT

Experts Race To Patch Vulnerable Health Networks Following Massive International Cyberattack

Some medical devices were infected, but primarily the latest attack reinforced the need to correct any weaknesses in medical cybersecurity systems.

The Wall Street Journal: International Cyberattack Affects Some Corners Of U.S. Health Care, Including Medical Devices
The international cyberattack that swept the globe has had some impact on the U.S. health-care system, as hospital systems scramble to prevent its further spread. On a conference call with health-care organizations Monday, U.S. federal officials said several medical devices had been infected with the ransomware that proliferated across dozens of countries, but declined to identify the devices, according to a person on the call. The Department of Health and Human Services, which organized the call, referred questions to Homeland Security, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. (Evans, 5/15)

Los Angeles Times: WannaCry Cyberattack: When A Hack Shuts Down A Hospital, Who's To Blame?
It's one thing to fall victim to a burglar. It's another to realize the thief got in because you left the front door wide open. The distinction could lead to difficult legal battles for organizations affected by the WannaCry cyberattack, which crippled an estimated 300,000 of the 2 billion Windows computers worldwide in recent days, slowing factories, canceling surgeries, eating homework assignments and shuttering gas stations. (Dave and Peltz, 5/15)

Public Health and Education

Early Menopause Linked To Higher Risk For Heart Disease

Researchers believe that factors leading to a later menopause might help protect against heart problems. In other public health news: genetic testing and pregnancy, vaccinations, Legionnaires' disease and lead in makeup.

The Mercury News: Early Menopause May Impact Women’s Heart Disease Risk
Women who entered menopause at an earlier age or who never gave birth may be at higher risk for heart disease, according to a new study by UC San Francisco researchers. In a study of more than 28,000 women without heart disease over an average of 13.1 years, researchers found that while only 5.2 percent of the women were hospitalized for heart failure during the study, those who never gave birth were 2.75 times more likely to develop diastolic heart failure. (Seipel, 5/15)

San Francisco Chronicle: A New Era For Genetic Testing, Especially In Pregnancy 
A year and a half ago, few health insurers would cover a noninvasive prenatal test — which draws blood from a pregnant woman to analyze fetal DNA — unless the pregnancy was considered high-risk, which usually meant the woman was over 35. The test, which screens for chromosomal abnormalities linked to genetic disorders like Down syndrome, seemed less essential for women with average- or low-risk pregnancies. Today, at least 30 major U.S. insurers — including Anthem, Cigna and more than a dozen Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates nationwide — cover the test for average-risk single-gestation pregnancies, expanding access to millions more people. (Ho, 5/15)

Orange County Register: Vaccination Law Passed After 2014 Disneyland Measles Outbreak Increased Immunizations In Orange County 
A state law passed in response to a 2014 measles outbreak at Disneyland has boosted immunization rates among Orange County kindergartners and reduced the number of school districts where low vaccination rates threaten to cause the spread of disease, according to an Orange County Grand Jury report released Monday. Senate Bill 277, which became one of the strictest vaccine laws in the nation when it took effect in mid-2016, eliminated a loophole that allowed families to opt out of state immunization laws by saying vaccinations conflicted with their personal beliefs. (Graham, 5/15)

Orange County Register: 5 Things To Know About Legionnaires’ Disease After Foothill Ranch Pool/Spa Closure 
It will take a couple of weeks before water-testing results are back from the Foothill Ranch community pool and spa used by two adults who were hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease. No new illnesses have been reported since the pool closure Friday, May 12. The two cases are among 28 countywide this year, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.Here are five things to know about the illness and its causes. (Perkes, 5/15)

The San Diego Union-Tribune: Does Your Makeup Contain Lead, Mercury? 
According to data from the California Department of Health, more than 63,000 products sold in California contain toxic chemicals. A U-T Data Watch analysis shows at least a dozen contain lead or lead acetate, and one of those is categorized as a baby skin care product. Another four products contain mercury. Data is collected by the California Safe Cosmetics Program, which maintains a list of all “reportable” cosmetic ingredients known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive problems. (Schroeder, 5/15)

Around California

Sonoma To Dispatch 'Health Coaches' To Help Combat Tooth Decay In Children

To help fund the Cavity Free Sonoma program, the county has received a $3.5 million grant from the state Department of Health Care Services.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Sonoma County Seeks To Reduce Cavities In Kids 
Sonoma County health officials are rolling out a multi-pronged plan that seeks to reduce by one half the number of kindergarten students with tooth decay. The plan, which focuses on children covered by Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, will place “health coaches” at 10 of the county’s community health centers. These coaches will doggedly stay on parents about their kids’ dental care, making sure they do not miss their appointments and educating them about the unhealthy effects of sugary drinks. The health coaches will also conduct a comprehensive oral assessment of each child, allowing clinics to track progress and coordinate their care. (Espinoza, 5/15)

In other news from across the state —

KPCC: Officer Involved: San Bernardino County
An investigation by KPCC and The San Bernardino Sun found more than 70 percent of people shot by officers in San Bernardino County in a recent six-year span showed signs of drug or alcohol use. That’s more than double the rate in L.A. County based on the same analysis there. But public health data show similar rates of drug overdose deaths in the two counties, which experts say is an indicator drug use is also about the same. (Gilbertson and Mendelson, 5/15)

Ventura County Star: Women's Health Center Opens In Oxnard
A new women’s health center has officially opened in Oxnard.The center, which had been seeing patients for a few weeks, celebrated its grand opening Thursday. It is operated by the Dignity Health Medical Foundation and is located in the medical pavilion at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Suite 280, 1700 North Rose Ave., Oxnard. The center includes nine exam rooms, one procedure room and includes what Dignity officials call the latest in obstetrics and gynecological technology. (Kisken, 5/15)

National Roundup

Preexisting Conditions Took Spotlight In House Debates, But Medicaid Moves To Center Stage In Senate

Senators are searching for trade-offs in an effort to save the health law's Medicaid expansion.

The New York Times: Medicaid Expansion, Reversed By House, Is Back On Table In Senate
Senate negotiators, meeting stiff resistance to the House’s plans to sharply reduce the scope and reach of Medicaid, are discussing a compromise that would maintain the program’s expansion under the Affordable Care Act but subject that larger version of Medicaid to new spending limits. With 62 senators, including 20 Republicans, coming from states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the House’s American Health Care Act almost certainly cannot pass the Senate. (Pear, 5/15)

Politico: Cruz, Paul Want To Go ‘Nuclear’ On Obamacare Repeal
Conservative GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are pushing to test the limits of how much of Obamacare can be repealed under Senate rules, setting up a potential “nuclear” showdown. The firebrands want to overturn long-standing precedent for what can be done under reconciliation, the fast-track budget process the GOP is using to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. They argue Republicans are allowing stale Senate norms to tie their hands and are forfeiting a chance to completely abolish the law. (Haberkorn and Kim, 5/16)

Bloomberg: Shut Out By House GOP, Industry Pins Health Bill Hopes On Senate 
The health-care world is gearing up for a lobbying offensive to persuade Republican U.S. senators to address their problems with an Obamacare replacement that was conceived in the House in a virtual vacuum. Insurers, doctors, patient groups and most health-care experts are pinning their hopes on the Senate being more receptive after House Republicans -- led by Speaker Paul Ryan -- deliberately avoided discussing their plans with the main groups that would be affected by repealing the 2010 law. (House, Edney and Edgerton, 5/16)

In other news —

The Washington Post: Trump Administration To Dismantle Small-Business Part Of ACA Marketplaces
The Trump administration said Monday that it will dismantle part of the Affordable Care Act that created online insurance marketplaces for small businesses and tried to foster a greater choice of health plans for their workers. Moving to end the ACA’s small-business enrollment system by 2018 represents the first public step by the Health and Human Services Department to implement an executive order President Trump signed his first night in office, directing agencies to ease regulatory burdens of the health-care law. (Goldstein, 5/15)

The New York Times: Trump To Expand Funding Ban Tied To Abortion Overseas
The Trump administration said on Monday it would vastly expand the so-called global gag rule that withholds American aid from health organizations worldwide that provide or even discuss abortion in family planning. The new policy could disrupt hundreds of clinics in Africa and around the world that fight AIDS and malaria. It affects about $8.8 billion in global health funding, up from about $600 million during the administration of President George W. Bush. (Harris and Sengupta, 5/15)

Politico: Reckless Stock Trading Leaves Congress Rife With Conflicts
Even a looming scandal wouldn’t deter some of Congress’ most eager stock traders. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), President Donald Trump’s nominee to be Health and Human Services secretary, was under siege, the harsh lights of a Senate hearing upon him. News reports showed he had bought shares in a tiny biotechnology company while sitting on committees that could influence the firm’s prospects. A colleague, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), had tipped him off to the investment. (Severns, 5/14)