California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Covered California & The Health Law

Millions Of Californians Would Struggle To Afford Care Under GOP's Health Plan

Covered California director Peter Lee says the state doesn't have a firm number of those affected but the Congressional Budget Office report suggests it would have to be in the millions. Media outlets looks at how California would fare under the American Health Care Act.

Sacramento Bee: Californians’ Tax Subsidies Likely To Shrink With Obamacare Replacement Plan
The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would dramatically reduce tax credits for many Californians purchasing health insurance through public exchanges and make coverage unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of people, according to data released Tuesday by the state’s health exchange program, Covered California. Under the American Health Care Act, authored by House Speaker Paul Ryan and released last week, many of the 1.3 million Californians enrolled in plans through the exchange, especially older people, will struggle to afford health insurance if the proposal becomes law, said Covered California director Peter Lee Tuesday. (Caiola, 3/14)

Los Angeles Times: Health Premiums Would Leap For Many Californians Under GOP Plan
Health insurance premiums would leap substantially for many Californians, especially lower-income people living in high-cost cities, under the House Republican plan to replace Obamacare, according to an analysis released Tuesday. Californians purchasing insurance through the state’s Obamacare program known as Covered California received $4.2 billion in subsidies in 2016 to help them buy coverage. (Petersen, 3/14)

KPCC: Covered California Chief: 'Millions' Stand To Lose Coverage
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee declined to go into more specifics about the number. But in light of the Congressional Budget Office's estimate that within 10 years 24 million Americans would become uninsured under the GOP plan, he said "it cannot but be millions" who would lose coverage in California. (Plevin, 3/14)

Sacramento Business Journal: Here's How California Will Be Affected By New GOP Health Plan, As CBO Says 24M More Would Lose Insurance 
Bay Area lawmakers quickly issued statements saying they were alarmed by the CBO score. "I hope they would pull the bill. It's really the only decent thing to do," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said. "How can they look their constituents in the eye when they say to them '24 million of you will no longer have coverage.' "Locally, the Bay Area and California itself stands to lose millions of dollars in healthcare funding, with millions of Californians losing healthcare if the act is enacted. (Hayes and McDermid, 3/14)

The Mercury News: GOP Health Plan Would Hit Bay Area Hard
The overwhelming majority of Bay Area consumers will pay much steeper insurance premiums under the House Republican’s plan than they do under the Affordable Care Act, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the state’s health insurance exchange. The data from Covered California surfaced the day after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that 24 million Americans would lose health coverage under the proposed American Health Care Act by 2026. (Seipel, 3/14)

KQED: What Happens To San Francisco’s Medical Safety Net Under The Republican Bill?
Like many Californians in the health industry, [Dr. Alice] Chen is struggling to understand the implications of the Republican health care bill, introduced last week in Congress and followed this week by sobering analyses of its effects: one from the national Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and another from Covered California, the state’s health care marketplace. Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee expressed immediate concern. (Klivans, 3/14)

The Desert Sun: Sen. Kamala Harris: ACA Repeal Involves 'Moral Values'
By seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act and throw millions off insurance plans it underwrites, Republicans are sending the message that “health care is not a civil right; that it’s a privilege,” California freshman Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris said Tuesday. ”I feel strongly that when we’re talking about our sick, when we’re talking about our poor, when we’re talking about seniors, when we’re talking about children and we’re talking about something that would deny those in need with the relief and the help that they need, that they want and deserve, it does put in place a question about our moral values,” she said. (Sullivan, 3/14)

Advocates Worry Medicaid Cuts In GOP's Replacement Plan Would Hurt Senior Care

About two-thirds of Medicaid spending goes toward older Americans who can't afford long-term care on their own and those with disabilities.

KQED: What Happens To Elder Care With Proposed Caps To Medi-Cal?
For [Carmencita] Misa, and for the tens of thousands of low-income Californians who need ongoing long-term services and support, there is one source of aid: the joint federal-state Medicaid program, known here in the Golden State as Medi-Cal. Medicaid covers nursing home care if seniors can’t pay for it themselves... Salo says Medicaid spends about two-thirds of its annual budget on the elderly and those with disabilities. And that’s why patient advocates say they’re worried about the Medicaid provision contained in the newly released GOP plan to replace and repeal Obamacare. (O'Neill, 3/14)

Sacramento Watch

State Failing To Screen Social Services Workers Properly, Audit Finds

The example the investigation revealed was that the social services department approved the hiring of an individual before learning the person had received an administrative action for sexually abusing a resident in a nursing facility.

Sacramento Bee: Audit Slams Background Checks At California Care Facilities
The California Department of Social Services’ Community Care Licensing Division, which oversees and regulates nearly 75,000 facilities statewide, is charged with ensuring the safety of a wide range of people, including those with disabilities and illnesses, elderly adults and children. It reviews background checks from the state Department of Justice on applicants for jobs at the facilities and decides whether those with criminal convictions can be hired. But auditors found that the state Department of Justice stopped routinely providing social services with sentencing information in 2016 because state law didn’t explicitly require it. (Opsahl, 3/14)

Proposed Bill Would Allow Cities To Create Safe Injection Facilities

Studies have found supervised injection services reduced the overdose frequency and did not increase drug use or crime in the surrounding area.

In other news —

KPBS: Inmates At Donovan Prison Write About Addiction In New Play 
The impact of addiction is the subject of two plays that will be performed by San Diego State University theatre students Thursday through Sunday. One of the plays, "Finding Our Way," was written by inmates at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. The inmates are in the Out of the Yard program, which is facilitated by the Playwrights Project. The play is a series of reflections along the path of addiction. (Cavanaugh and Ruth, 3/14)

Around California

California's Mental Health Efforts Among Diverse Communities Unrivaled, Kennedy Says

Mental health advocate Patrick Kennedy spoke on the eve of a two-day mental health care conference aimed at highlighting local programs that bridge the gap between mental health services and minority groups such as the African American, Latino and LGBT communities.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy To Kick Off Mental Health Event In Santa Rosa 
Patrick Kennedy, a former Rhode Island congressman and longtime mental health advocate, told local and state officials Tuesday that California’s efforts to broaden the reach of mental health services among California’s diverse communities represented a necessary and nearly unrivaled approach to treating mental illness. “To your credit, you’ve really taken this one and you’re way ahead of most other places, unfortunately,” Kennedy said at a reception in Santa Rosa. The gathering, at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel, came on the eve of a two-day mental health care conference aimed at highlighting local programs that bridge the gap between mental health services and minority groups such as the African American, Latino and LGBT communities. (Espinoza, 3/14)

In other news from across the state —

KPCC: Foster Kids Need Face Time With Parents, But In LA County That's Not Easy 
Los Angeles' traffic issues, among other problems, are hampering one of the child welfare system's basic functions: getting foster kids face time with their parents. According to a recent Los Angeles County report, nearly 10,000 children in the county's foster care system are receiving "reunification services" designed to help repair their families and return them to their parents — and visitation is a core, legally required component. (Palta, 3/14)

East Bay Times: Dublin: School District Battles Norovirus Outbreak
The school district said Tuesday it is working with county health officials to stop the spread of viral gastroenteritis among children at an elementary school. One Dublin Elementary School student has been diagnosed with norovirus, also known as the “Norwalk flu,” and about three dozen students did not attend classes Tuesday after coming down with symptoms, Dublin Unified School District spokeswoman Michelle McDonald said. After some students began experiencing diarrhea, low-grade fever, stomach cramping and vomiting, school staff notified families and sought guidance from Alameda County health officials, who visited campus Tuesday. (Kelly, 3/14)

San Francisco Chronicle: Vacaville Sued Over ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant In Water Supply 
The city of Vacaville is facing pressure to clean up its water supplies after an environmental group sued this week over the amount of chromium-6 in groundwater. In a federal lawsuit filed Monday at the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, California River Watch is demanding that the Solano County city purge its water of chromium-6, the naturally occurring carcinogen that famously sickened Southern California residents as depicted in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” (Alexander, 3/14)

National Roundup

Increasingly Wary Senators Warn Bill Won't Pass Without Changes

The problems lawmakers have with the legislation include the potential loss of insurance coverage, changes to Medicaid, the trajectory of premium prices and the bill’s impact on costs paid by older, low-income and rural Americans.

The New York Times: G.O.P. Senators Suggest Changes For Health Care Bill Offered By House
A day after a harsh judgment by the Congressional Budget Office on the House plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, nervous Senate Republicans on Tuesday suggested changes to the bill. They told Trump administration officials — including the health secretary, Tom Price — that they wanted to see lower insurance costs for poorer, older Americans and an increase in funding for states with high populations of hard-to-insure people. (Steinhauer and Kaplan, 3/14)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Senators Say House Health Bill Won’t Pass Without Changes
Republican senators, alarmed by a nonpartisan report showing millions would lose insurance under the GOP health-care plan, warned Tuesday that the bill wouldn’t become law without fundamental changes. At least a dozen Republican senators, including some who had previously kept a low profile in the health debate, made clear they had concerns over the bill’s policy proposals, complicating House leaders’ hopes that the bill’s momentum would overpower internal GOP infighting over legislative details. (Peterson and Hackman and Radnofsky, 3/14)

The Washington Post: There Are Now More Than 50 Republicans Skeptical Of The GOP’s Obamacare Replacement Bill
To get their version of an Obamacare replacement through Congress and onto President Trump's desk, Republican leaders need only a simple majority in both chambers to approve it. But that could be difficult. The magic number to pass the legislation in the House is 218, and in the Senate, 50. Republicans conceivably have enough lawmakers to get to those majorities, but not by much. Assuming no Democrats support the bill, Republicans can lose only 21 votes in the House and just two in the Senate. (Phillips, 3/14)

In more news —

Politico: Republicans Can't Stop Feuding Over Obamacare
The scathing nonpartisan analysis of Republicans’ Obamacare repeal plan is hardening GOP divisions and raising doubts about whether the party in Congress can meet a self-imposed deadline to pass legislation by early April. (Everett and Bade, 3/14)

Los Angeles Times: GOP'S Stumbles Over Obamacare Underscore The Party's Competing Goals For Healthcare Reform
The House GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare appeared in deep trouble Tuesday, underscoring the limits of a party that has traditionally put a priority on cutting taxes and government spending over digging into the details of safeguarding Americans’ healthcare. Many Republicans in Congress remain in outright revolt over the bill, warning it does not have enough votes to pass the House or Senate against stiff Democratic resistance. (Mascaro, 3/15)

Politico: 5 Obamacare Mistakes The GOP Is Repeating
Republicans took careful notes about the mistakes Democrats made as they passed Obamacare in 2010 and exploited them relentlessly to undermine support for the law. Now that they’re trying to repeal the law, they are walking into some of the same traps. (Haberkorn, 3/14)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Health Bill Will Lower Premiums For Young People, CBO Says
A federal analysis of a Republican health plan that shows it would leave millions more uninsured has a silver lining for GOP leaders: In general, premiums under their proposal would eventually come down for younger people. The report, which came out late Monday and was swiftly pounced on by Democrats as proof Republicans want to tear away health coverage from Americans, gives the clearest picture yet of the trade-offs in the GOP strategy to topple parts of the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a new plan. (Armour, 3/14)

The Hill: Five Key Findings From The CBO's Healthcare Score 
The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis of the Republican plan to replace ObamaCare is sending shockwaves through Washington. Democrats have seized on the report, while Republicans have been split over whether to attack the CBO’s conclusions or focus on the more positive aspects of the analysis.  (Sullivan, 3/14)

The Associated Press Fact Check: Both Sides Loose With Facts In Health Debate
The Congressional Budget Office report on a Republican health care bill set off an intense reaction in Washington, and some on both sides of the debate are playing loose with the facts. Republicans are overlooking President Donald Trump’s promise to deliver “insurance for everybody,” which the CBO makes clear will not happen if the legislation becomes law. Democrats are assailing Republicans for “attacking the messenger,” seeming to forget all the times they assailed the budget office themselves. (Woodward and Drinkard, 3/14)

The Washington Post: 4 Big Things Missing From The CBO Report On Republicans’ Health-Care Bill
Congress’s nonpartisan budget referees on Monday provides the first detailed study of the real-world effects of Republicans’ bill to overhaul health care. The GOP bill, the Congressional Budget Office found, would repeal hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes, especially on industry and wealthy households. It would make deep cuts into Medicaid and provide smaller subsidies to people looking to buy health insurance. And after eight years, 24 million more people would be uninsured as a result of the bill. There are a few urgent questions that the CBO report does not address, however. Here’s a look at what we still don’t know. (Ehrenfreund, 3/14)

The Washington Post: Trump Loyalists Sound Alarm Over ‘RyanCare,’ Endangering Health Bill
A simmering rebellion of conservative populists loyal to President Trump is further endangering the GOP health-care push, with a chorus of influential voices suspicious of the proposal warning the president to abandon it. From headlines at Breitbart to chatter on Fox News Channel and right-wing talk radio, as well as among friends who have Trump’s ear, the message has been blunt: The plan being advanced by congressional Republican leaders is deeply flawed — and, at worst, a political trap. (Costa and Rucker, 3/14)