California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Sacramento Watch

Calif. Attorney General Backs Single-Payer, But Remains Pragmatic

“It's where the will of the people will take you," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said of the legislation.

Los Angeles Times: Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra Says He Supports Single-Payer Health System For California
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that he supports a proposal for California to adopt a single-payer health plan and believes it will eventually be enacted because consumers will become “fed up” with the current system that he said is unaffordable to many. The state Senate approved a bill two weeks ago that would create a system where the state government would replace private insurance companies, paying doctors and hospitals for healthcare. The measure, pending in the Assembly, does not yet include a way to cover the $400-billion annual cost. (McGreevy, 6/13)


Sutter, Aetna Seek To Streamline Health Care Experience With Partnership

“More often than not, the relationship between payers and providers can frequently be duplicative. I think in a partnership like this, we can be very focused and we can really leverage our respective resources and expertise to really the benefit of the community,” said Phil Jackson, CEO of health plan products for Sutter Health.

San Francisco Business Times: ​Sutter Health, Aetna Announce New Northern California Health Plan
Sutter Health and Aetna Inc . are launching a jointly owned health plan for Northern California, in the first time that Aetna (NYSE: AET) has entered a joint partnership with a health system in California. Sacramento-based nonprofit Sutter and Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna anticipate offering self-insured commercial products starting mid-2018 in the greater Sacramento area, Central Valley and Bay Area, as well as fully insured preferred provider organization products to follow in early 2019, pending regulatory approval. (Patton, 6/13)

Health IT

In Not Too Distant Future, Drones Could Be Used To Save Heart Attack Victims

When it comes to administering an electric shock to those in cardiac arrest, minutes can make the difference between life and death.

Los Angeles Times: Ambulances Are So 2016. After A Cardiac Arrest, The Fastest Way To Send Help Is On A Flying Drone
The best medicine for a person who goes into sudden cardiac arrest is an electric shock. That jolt temporarily stops the heart, along with its rapid or erratic beat. When the heart starts itself up again, it can revert to its normal rhythm and resume pumping blood to the brain and the rest of the body. The sooner this happens, the better. When a patient is shocked within one minute of collapse, the chance of survival is nearly 90%. But if it takes 10 minutes to administer a shock, the odds or survival fall below 5%. (Kaplan, 6/13)

Public Health and Education

Drought Partly To Blame For Increase In Cancer-Causing Contaminants In Area Drinking Water

Concentrations of the contaminants are higher than they have been in nearly 20 years.

East Bay Times: East Bay Water: Cancer-Causing Contaminants On The Rise
Cancer-causing compounds in East Bay drinking water have increased sharply over the past several years, and water in some areas is close to violating a federal public health standard, the East Bay Municipal Utility District reported Tuesday. Water-quality managers said the drought is at least partly to blame for the increase in contaminants called trihalomethanes or THMs,  a byproduct of chlorine used to kill germs reacting with natural organic matter in water. (Cuff, 6/13)

In other public health news —

San Diego Union-Times: Giving Veggies Luscious Names Can Increase Their Consumption, Study Finds
If Shakespeare were a Stanford University psychologist, he might have written that a beet by another name is more appealing to eat. A new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine finds that bestowing saucier, more luscious names on otherwise-unchanged offerings correlates with a 25 percent increase in people choosing vegetable dishes and a 23 percent rise in the amount of those entrees actually being consumed. (Sisson, 6/13)

Around California

Palm Desert Drug Counseling Center Searched By The FBI As Part Of Sweeping Investigation

There were no arrests expected on Tuesday.

The Desert Sun: FBI Searches Sovereign Health Rehab Center In Palm Desert As Part Of Criminal Case
FBI agents searched the Palm Desert offices of drug counseling center Sovereign Health on Tuesday as part of a criminal investigation that reached into three Southern California counties. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the agency executed search warrants in Palm Desert, Culver City, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. She declined to comment on the underlying investigation other than to say that it was ongoing and that no arrests were expected Tuesday. (Kelman and Newkirk, 6/13)

Orange County Register: Federal Agents Search Sovereign Health Rehab In San Clemente, Elsewhere 
The recovery industry has come under fire of late for widespread insurance fraud, patient dumping and poor quality of care. Though many legitimate operators remain in the industry, long-time rehab consultants complain that recent changes in federal health care and lack of oversight by state and federal agencies are making it tougher for rehab companies to turn an honest profit. They say “body brokering,” in which drug-addicted patients are wooed to specific rehab centers with promises of cash payments, free health care and luxurious accommodations, has become increasingly common. (Schwebke and Sforza, 6/13)

Witness Corroborates Mother's Testimony In Case Concerning Pesticides, Birth Defects

Eulalia Lopez-Gomez, whose son was born with a serious facial deformity, has sued four agricultural firms over the condition.

Ventura County Star: Surprise Witness Backs Mother's Story In Pesticide Trial
A surprise witness testified Tuesday that he had seen pesticides regularly sprayed close to strawberry harvesters at a farm near Oxnard, completely supporting the plaintiff's version of events in a birth defect trial. Jose Antonio Madrigal, a former supervisor for Well-Pict Berries, said he had seen tractors spraying two or three times a week in fields at Anacapa Berry Farms while workers were present in 2007. The tractors were applying the chemicals well under 100 feet from the workers, he said. (Wilson, 6/13)

Orange County Board Hears Pleas, Threats Of Voter Retribution Over Money For Homeless

Residents want the Orange County Board of Supervisors to revise the budget to fund more housing for the homeless.

Orange County Register: Homeless Advocates Pressure Orange County Supervisors To Spend More Money On Housing
For two hours straight, the Orange County Board of Supervisors listened to one Orange County resident after another at their public budget hearing on Tuesday, June 13, criticize them for not dedicating enough money to alleviate homelessness... Just last week, the board initiated a $750,000 pilot program for people in the tent encampments along the Santa Ana River and also approved a $5 million expenditure of mental health dollars from a state funding source to provide permanent housing for qualifying homeless people. (Walker, 6/13)

In other news —

National Roundup

Trump Calls House Bill 'Mean,' Says Senate Version Should Be More 'Generous'

President Donald Trump hosted senators at the White House to discuss their health care push, and he, according to sources, took a much different tone on the House's version than he did when he was celebrating its passage..

The Associated Press: Sources: Trump Tells Senators House Health Bill 'Mean'
President Donald Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the House-passed health care bill he helped revive is "mean" and urged them to craft a version that is "more generous," congressional sources said. Trump's remarks were a surprising slap at a Republican-written House measure that was shepherded by Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and whose passage the president lobbied for and praised. At a Rose Garden ceremony minutes after the bill's narrow House passage on May 4, Trump called it "a great plan." (Fram, 6/13)

In related news —

The New York Times: Trump Says Market Is Failing, But One Insurer Bets Big On Obamacare
The Obamacare insurance markets aren’t as shaky as President Trump seems to believe. On Tuesday, the insurer Centene announced plans to expand aggressively into the state marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act. Centene said it intended to sell individual policies for the first time in Nevada, Missouri and Kansas, and to grow its presence in six other states, including Ohio and Florida. (Sanger-Katz and Abelson, 6/13)

The Associated Press Fact Check: Obamacare 'Death Spiral' Is A Half-Told Tale
An AP Fact Check finds that the Trump administration is being selective with its information when it argues Obamacare is in a "death spiral." Vice President Mike Pence made that case Tuesday in remarks to federal employees. He correctly cited statistics showing 10.3 million people are enrolled in subsidized health insurance markets, far fewer than the 23 million projected for 2017. But he left out the fact that the law's Medicaid expansion is covering an estimated 12 million people. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/14)

The Washington Post: Where The Obamacare Exchanges Might Have Zero Insurance Options In 2018
Next year, dozens of counties across the country could be left with no insurance companies offering insurance in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Nationwide, that leaves 35 thousand marketplace enrollees living in a county with no affordable way to purchase insurance (As it stands, people who receive subsidies can only use them to purchase coverage in the marketplace.), and 2.4 million would be left with just one insurer’s plan to choose from. That’s out of 12.2 million enrollees total. (Soffen and Uhrmacher, 6/14)

USA Today: Latest Estimate: 13 Million People To Lose Health Coverage With GOP Plan
About 13 million people will lose health insurance in the next 10 years if the House-passed Affordable Care Act replacement plan is enacted, according to a new report out Tuesday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' office of the actuary. The estimate, while hardly rosy, is still about 10 million fewer people than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated would lose coverage under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), now being considered by the Senate. (O'Donnell, 6/13)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Congressman Sees Health-Care Bill On President’s Desk By August
A Republican congressman who helped shepherd the party’s health-care overhaul bill through the House last month predicted Tuesday that a final bill will pass the Senate and land on the president’s desk before August. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden’s estimate, described at The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network meeting in Washington, suggests he is optimistic that Senate leaders will be able to meet a self-imposed July 4 deadline for passing their health legislation. (Hackman, 6/13)