- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- Tainted Scope Infections Far Exceed Earlier Estimates
- State Economy Gains By Reducing the Stigma of Mental Illness, Study Says
- Most Doctors Unsure How to Discuss End-of-Life Care, Survey Says
- Public Health and Education 3
- In Effort To Prevent Devastating Birth Defects, FDA Will Allow Folic Acid To Be Added To Corn Flour
- Market Provides Nutritional Learning Opportunity, Fresh Health Food For Needy Students
- Latest Science On Medical Use Of Marijuana Examined At San Diego Symposium
Latest From California Healthline:
House panel concludes inquiry on superbug outbreaks; one member prepares legislation “to make sure these situations don’t happen again." (Chad Terhune, 4/15)
A new study by the RAND Corporation shows that a statewide effort to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness has produced a demonstrable economic benefit for the state. (Ana B. Ibarra, 4/15)
They recognize the responsibility, but some may need training. (Barbara Feder Ostrov, 4/14)
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Summaries Of The News:
Experts say too many women are undergoing C-sections when they are not medically warranted, and California's health insurance exchange is taking steps to lower those numbers.
Covered California Takes Novel Step To Reduce C-Section Rate
California's health insurance exchange will use the threat of exclusion from its approved provider networks as a way to motivate hospitals and doctors to reduce the number of medically unnecessary Cesarean sections. Beginning in 2019, insurance companies that contract with Covered California must either exclude from their networks any hospitals that don’t meet the federal government’s 2020 target C-section rate or explain why they aren't, according to the new contract approved by the exchange's board last week. An insurer that wants to keep an underperforming hospital in its network will have to provide Covered California with "the rationale for continued contracting" and document "efforts the hospital is undertaking to improve its performance," the contract states. (Plevin, 4/14)
After their son died while under anesthesia for a dental procedure, two parents began their fight to introduce stricter regulations for the industry. They didn't realize, however, just how much power their opponent has.
An East Bay Child’s Death And The Power Of The Dental Lobby
After their 6-year-old son died following a dental procedure, a Bay Area couple went to the California Legislature, hoping a new law could prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedy. What they’ve found, so far, is that dentists hold surprising sway in Sacramento. More, it seems, than grieving parents making a plea for change. The California Dental Association spent about $664,000 lobbying in California last year – more than the pharmaceutical industry trade group or the association for Hollywood movie studios. (Rosenhall, 4/14)
The drug maker will add a third building and 150 jobs to its research and development work. Meanwhile, The San Francisco Business Times reports on developments in immune system research.
The San Francisco Business TImes:
Drug Giant Plots Peninsula Expansion, 150 More Jobs
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. will add a third building to its Redwood City research and development campus and potentially bring on another 150 employees there, signaling the giant drug maker's faith in its burgeoning cancer immunotherapy franchise. (Leuty, 4/14)
The San Francisco Business Times:
How The Immune System Became The Hottest Thing In Cancer
It took years for a drug developer to buy in to UC Berkeley researcher Jim Allison's idea of blocking a protein that allows cancers to hide from the immune system. Now it's the hottest thing in cancer. (Leuty, 4/14)
The sponsorship deal between Sutter and the team includes a Breast Cancer Awareness Day and a new youth program targeting kids' health.
The Sacramento Business Journal:
Sutter Health Inks Sponsorship Deal With MLB Team
Sutter Health is now a sponsor of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, the company announced this week, and will work on community health and wellness programs with the team and its fans. There are several notable aspects to the sponsorship deal. Sacramento-based Sutter Health will sponsor the team's Breast Cancer Awareness Day, the 7th-inning stretch and a new youth wellness program. Sutter also gets signage inside the ballpark as well as having its logo appear on the digital backstop display during at-bats. The price of the sponsorship was not disclosed. (Anderson, 4/14)
Advocacy groups cheered the decision, but criticism of how long it took lingered.
FDA To Permit Folic Acid In Corn Masa To Prevent Birth Defects
On Thursday, the FDA announced that folic acid may be added to corn masa flour, a staple for many Hispanic families, with a goal of reducing the risk of neural tube defects. Advocacy groups, including the March of Dimes, have been lobbying the FDA for years to make the recommendation. They applauded the move. In a statement, March of Dimes president Dr. Jennifer Howse called the announcement a “major victory for maternal and child health, especially in our Hispanic communities.” (Aliferis, 4/14)
The market is a collaboration between the Health Education Council, Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services and the Robla School District, where 93 percent of students receive free or reduced-cost school meals. “What this is, is just a food distribution disguised as a nutrition education activity,” said Erica Lee, program administrator with the nonprofit Health Education Council.
The Sacramento Bee:
Farmers Market Sends Sacramento Students Home With Produce, Health Tips
Main Avenue Elementary gives out roughly 3,000 pounds of fresh produce to the school’s 330 students each month as part of a simulation farmers market launched in March. Held at recess, the market provides hearty amounts of much-needed healthy food, as well as important nutritional information, to a low-income North Sacramento neighborhood where many would otherwise go without. (Caiola, 4/14)
Researchers spoke on the latest evidence about the drug's prenatal impact, children's brain development and on adults with health conditions like multiple sclerosis, HIV and cancer. In other news, the first national organization of doctors forms to push for broader marijuana legalization.
San Diego Union-Tribune:
How Marijuana Affects Babies To Adults
The topic of marijuana got a serious scientific treatment Wednesday at the University of California San Diego, where researchers outlined the latest evidence about the drug. (Sisson, 4/13)
The Washington Post:
More And More Doctors Want To Make Marijuana Legal
A group of more than 50 physicians, including a former surgeon general and faculty members at some of the nation's leading medical schools, has formed the first national organization of doctors to call on states and the federal government to legalize and regulate the use of marijuana in the interest of public health. The group — which is announcing its formation Friday, under the name Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) — is endorsing the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use, a break from the position of the American Medical Association, the largest organization of doctors in the country. (Ingraham, 4/15)
The agency described a case of man-to-man sexual transmission in January. The case, which was previously disclosed by health officials in Texas without identifying the genders of the partners, was the first known case of sexual transmission of Zika within the United States in the current epidemic.
A selection of opinions on health care developments from around the state.
The Sacramento Bee:
California Needs Sunshine On Rising Drug Prices
The introduction of new and innovative drugs is vital to our health care system, but these often high-priced treatments come with challenges. The hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, priced at $84,000 for a regular course of treatment, is one of the most notable examples. But the problem extends much further. A recent Reuters investigative report revealed that prices for four of the nation’s 10 most prescribed drugs more than doubled since 2011, adding billions in costs for consumers, employers and government health programs. That’s why I’ve introduced Senate Bill 1010, which would require drug companies to give at least two months’ notice to state programs such Medi-Cal and CalPERS when prices increase by more than 10 percent and to give 30 days’ notice for new drugs priced higher than $10,000. (Ed Hernandez, 4/14)
The Los Angeles Times:
California's Obamacare Exchange Takes A Step To Bring Immigrants In The U.S. Illegally Into The Pool
Enhancing its position as one Obamacare exchange that takes its job seriously, Covered California on Thursday took a significant step toward bringing health insurance to the largest single group still on the outside looking in: immigrants in the U.S. illegally. (Michael Hiltzik, 4/8)
The Los Angeles Times:
UnitedHealth Starts Pulling Out Of Obamacare, But Will Anybody Notice — Or Care?
The giant health insurance company UnitedHealth inspired lots of hand-wringing and hyperventilation last year when it announced that it had lost hundreds of millions of dollars on Affordable Care Act exchanges and was considering withdrawing from the market in 2017. (Michael Hiltzik, 4/8)
The Los Angeles Times:
Will Obamacare End 'Job Lock'?
The Affordable Care Act was first and foremost intended to extend health insurance coverage to a broader segment of the population. It has largely succeeded, with the uninsured rate among the non-elderly population falling to 10.7 %, from more than 18% just before the law took effect. (Dean Baker, 4/11)
The San Jose Mercury News:
Planned Parenthood Case Should Be Prosecuted
David Daleiden is not a reporter. His grossly misleading, politically irresponsible videos purporting to implicate Planned Parenthood in illegal behavior make that clear. It's an insult to responsible journalism. (4/7)
Los Angeles Times:
Why Models Need Labor Protections
The work of a fashion model is the epitome of glamour — for about two minutes on the runway. The rest of the job can be rife with horrors including coerced starvation, sexual harassment and abuse, and wage theft. Although models enjoy prominent status in our culture, their labor is mostly invisible and their concerns about working conditions tend to be trivialized and dismissed. But current and former models are beginning to push back against exploitation with class-action lawsuits and proposed labor-rights legislation. (Sara Ziff, 4/11)
Los Angeles Times:
Now That We Know Zika Causes Birth Defects, Will Congress Stop Bickering About Emergency Funding?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday officially blamed the Zika virus for causing birth defects in infected mothers. It's something that everyone believed to be true, but everyone has been wrong before. (Remember that flat-Earth thing?) This pronouncement is based on study of existing data and comes just two days after the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat said: "Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought." (Mariel Garza, 4/14)
The Sacramento Bee:
Profit Motive And Mental Health Care In California
California long ago moved severely mentally ill patients out of state hospitals, reserving the institutions for those who have committed crimes. But with little public discussion, the state has privatized care for some of the troubled people who in an earlier day would have been institutionalized at Napa State Hospital or some other state hospital. (4/12)
The Sacramento Bee:
Who Will Take Big Gulp Of Soda Cash?
Say what you will about soda taxes. Call them a buzzkill, call them intrusive, call them anti-Big Gulp. On at least one count, you’ve gotta hand it to them. They generate money. And not in a bad way. At least that’s how things are shaping up in Berkeley, which is so far the only U.S. city to have slipped a soda tax past the industry’s political muscle, and which is on track to generate a healthy $1.5 million or so for the general fund in its first year. (Shawn Hubler, 4/10)
The Bakersfield Californian:
The Cycle Of Abuse Can Be Broken
The cycle of abuse and neglect can be broken, and I am proof of that. I was placed in protective custody at age eight and spent 10 years in the foster care system. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and is an opportunity to not only remind people child abuse is preventable but to educate the community that difficult decisions are being made every day in our community on how to best protect our children and break the cycle of abuse. (Marissa Osuna, 4/12)
The Ventura County Star:
We Need To Learn More About Parkinson’s Disease
Becky Argo knew something was wrong. Her gait and balance were not the same when she walked. She felt unsteady and had fallen several times. As a retired psychiatrist and medical doctor, she knew this was not normal. Yet, it took two more years and several more falls for her to be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. (Aurora Soriano, 4/9)