- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- More Exchange Plans Offer Patients Easier Access To Some Expensive Drugs: Report
- A New World For People With Severe Developmental Disabilities
- Hospital Roundup 2
- LA's Good Samaritan Hospital, Accused Of 'Patient Dumping,' Agrees To Pay $450K Settlement
- Adventist To Acquire Three Rural Clinics From Colusa Regional Medical Center
- Around California 2
- Inadequate Resources, Underfunding Root Of Problem At LA Coroner's Office, Grand Jury Says
- UC Berkeley's Budget Troubles Could Shut Down Joint Medical Program
- Public Health and Education 1
- Not Just Cigarettes: Researcher Warns Of Dangers Linked To Second-Hand Marijuana Smoke
- National Roundup 2
- After UnitedHealth's Exit, What's Next For Health Exchanges?
- Suicide Rate In U.S. Spikes To Highest Levels In Nearly 3 Decades
Latest From California Healthline:
The analysis by Avalere examines changes in how silver plans on the insurance marketplaces handle coverage for high-cost specialty drugs. (Michelle Andrews, 4/22)
California plans to move most of the developmentally disabled patients in its care out of large institutions and into the wider community. It's partly to save money — but also reflects a change in philosophy. (4/22)
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More News From Across The State
The agreement comes as part of a crackdown on the hospitals that are suspected of improperly discharging patients. Good Samaritan is the fourth hospital in less than three years to settle a lawsuit over the problem.
The Associated Press:
Los Angeles Hospital Settles Over Leaving Patient On Street
A fourth Los Angeles-area hospital in less than three years has settled a lawsuit over a chronic problem in the nation's second-largest city — turning homeless patients out on the streets after they have been discharged, sometimes while still needing medical attention. Without acknowledging fault, Good Samaritan Hospital near downtown Los Angeles settled for $450,000 and agreed to follow protocols to properly release homeless patients, City Attorney Mike Feuer said Thursday. That brings the amount of such settlements with area hospitals to $1.9 million since January 2014. (4/21)
The Los Angeles Daily News:
Good Samaritan Hospital To Pay $450,000 Settlement In Patient Dumping Case
Good Samaritan Hospital, located at 1225 Wilshire Boulevard, allegedly discharged a homeless patient in Echo Park in December 2014 without obtaining the person’s consent to be transported somewhere other than a residence, according to City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office. The hospital also allegedly didn’t prepare a proper discharge plan and caused the patient to be moved to an environment where the patient’s health was endangered, Feuer’s office said. (Smith, 4/21)
The Los Angeles Times:
Patient Dumping Accusation Leads To $450,000 Settlement From Good Samaritan Hospital
The agreement comes as part of a crackdown by the city attorney's office on hospitals suspected of improperly discharging patients. So far, the city has collected $2 million in fees, fines and other payments from four hospitals. “Patient dumping is inhumane and must be stopped,” Feuer said. “The public perception is that this only happens on skid row, but as this case illustrates it can happen in other neighborhoods too.” (Winton, 4/21)
LA Settles 'Patient Dumping' Case With Good Samaritan For $450K
Feuer said his office has met with the Hospital Association of Southern California to try to get all of the region's medical centers to institute standard discharge protocols. The Hospital Association has not responded to a request for comment. "We know this is a complex situation," Feuer said. That’s why "at the very inception, before there is a patient, hospitals should have a preexisting relationship with locations to which one could be discharged for recuperative care." (Aguilera, 4/21)
In other industry news, a study finds that less than half of stroke patients in California hospitals were asked their preferences about life-saving measures, while the California Department of Public Health warns state facilities to be on alert for fentanyl overdoses.
The Sacramento Business Journal:
Adventist Health Buys Three Rural Clinics From Failing Hospital
Roseville-based Adventist Health has agreed to acquire three rural health clinics from Colusa Regional Medical Center as that hospital prepares to close. The move preserves some health care options for Colusa-area residents, who are facing the demise of that city's only hospital and emergency medical center. The rural health clinics provide non-emergency primary care in Arbuckle, Williams and Colusa, where the clinic is located at the 48-bed medical center. (Anderson, 4/21)
Patient Preferences Not Often Asked After Stroke Hospitalization
Less than half of stroke patients who were hospitalized and died within 30 days had their preferences for lifesaving measures recorded in a recent study of California hospitals. (Doyle, 4/21)
Payers & Providers:
CDPH Warns Hospitals On Fentanyl
In response to a large number of drug overdoses and deaths recently reported in Sacramento County, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a health alert regarding use of the anesthetic drug fentanyl. (4/21)
In 2013, Walgreens hoped to bask in the glow of the blood-testing company that was one of Silicon Valley's hottest unicorns. Now, as Theranos faces multiple investigations into its practices and technology, the chain is trying to distance itself as much as possible from its once-touted partner.
The New York Times:
A Marriage Gone Bad: Walgreens Struggles To Shake Off Theranos
Many boldface names enabled the stratospheric rise of the blood-testing start-up Theranos: two former secretaries of state, a former secretary of defense, two former senators, a retired admiral, venture capitalists, scientific luminaries and a prestigious clinic. None has been more important to Theranos than Walgreens. (Stewart, 4/21)
The Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury report said that if the problems with staffing and backlogs were not addressed, it is likely to lose its accreditation, which would open county officials “to attacks on their credibility in criminal cases.”
Los Angeles Times:
Grand Jury Report Blames Underfunding For Problems At Coroner's Office
A civil grand jury report released Thursday blamed problems in the Los Angeles County coroner’s office — including lengthy backlogs in autopsies and toxicology reports — on underfunding. The Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury concluded that the Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner “is significantly understaffed in both coroner investigator and laboratory positions, has a sobering backlog in toxicology testing” and is likely to lose its accreditation if those issues are not addressed. (Sewell, 4/21)
The program is on the chopping block as the School of Public Health is mandated to cut its budget by 3 percent. Meanwhile, UC San Diego is joining the largest-ever autism study.
Budget Cuts Threaten UC Berkeley’s Medical Program
Budget woes at UC Berkeley could force the shut down of a program many people are unaware of — its medical program. The Joint Medical Program (JMP), part of Berkeley’s School of Public Health, is small. Just 16 students a year are admitted. Under a budget restructuring process initiated in February by Berkeley’s chancellor Nicholas Dirks, the School of Public Health must cut expenses by roughly three percent — or about $900,000. (Aliferis, 4/22)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
UCSD Joins Massive Autism Study
UC San Diego announced Thursday that it will contribute to the nation’s largest-ever study of people with autism. (Sisson, 4/21)
The deal between CytomX Therapeutics Inc. and AbbVie Inc. is aimed at a tough-to-target protein found in many cancers.
The San Francisco Business Journal:
Masked Cancer-Fighter Lands Peninsula Biotech Company A Potential $500 Million Drug Deal
This drug-masking technology landed a Peninsula biotech company a potential $500 million deal to fight cancer. (Leuty, 4/21)
Regardless of whether it comes from cigarettes, pot or other burning substances, Matthew Springer, a cardiovascular disease scientist, concludes, “it is very clear that second-hand smoke is health hazard.”
The Sacramento Bee:
Second-Hand Pot Smoke Can Give You More Than Just A Contact High
Matthew Springer, a researcher in cardiovascular disease, was attending a Paul McCartney concert at AT&T Park in San Francisco in 2010 when he took particular note of the “haze of smoke over the whole audience.” Springer, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco, had studied the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke on heart and vascular function. But this smoke was marijuana, a fact that McCartney noted from the stage as the performer commented on the familiar herbal scented San Francisco air, Springer recalled. (Hecht, 4/21)
CBS News breaks down how consumers might be affected by the insurer's decision to leave the health law marketplaces.
Orphaned By UnitedHealth? Here's What You Can Do
UnitedHealth Group (UNH) CEO Stephen Hemsley's announcement on Tuesday -- saying the insurance company would leave all but a handful of state health care exchanges by 2017 -- sparked plenty of the usual debate about the viability of the Affordable Care Act and whether insurers can make money in the exchanges. But for the 795,000 patients who pay for UnitedHealth coverage through an exchange, the most pressing question is, "What do I do now?" (Konrad, 4/21)
From 1999 to 2014, the overall rate increased by 24 percent, while middle-aged women saw a sharp uptick of 63 percent. Meanwhile, the number of suicides for girls 10 to 14 tripled. Last decade’s severe recession, more drug addiction, “gray divorce,” increased social isolation, and even the rise of the Internet and social media may have contributed to the growth in suicide, according to a variety of people who study the issue.
A selection of opinions on health care developments from around the state.
The Los Angeles Times:
While UnitedHealth Pulls The Plug On Obamacare, Data Shows Where And Why It Failed
UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest commercial health insurer, made good on a six-month-old threat and announced Tuesday that it will pull out of Affordable Care Act exchanges in all but "a handful of states" after this year. The questions that raises, as we observed a couple of weeks ago, are will that hurt, and if so, who does it hurt? (Michael Hiltzik, 4/19)
Los Angeles Times:
Will Zika Fears Cause A Population Gap?
Imagine a full year, or two, during which a nation’s old people die but no new people are born. Picture an elementary school with empty first- and second-grade classrooms. Look further ahead to the years no new workers join the labor pool. How would a two-year collapse in the birth rate rattle a nation? We might be about to find out. The immediate worries about Zika virus— which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined can cause microcephaly and other brain damage in newborn babies — are obviously medical in nature. Where should pregnant women not travel? How quickly can a vaccine be developed? At the same time, in an attempt to stave off more cases of microcephaly, several Zika-affected nations — El Salvador, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Jamaica — are trying to prevent all births. (Karin Klein, 4/20)
The Los Angeles Times:
In Search Of Fair Drug Prices
When CVS Health in February began taking over pharmacy operations at more than 1,600 Target stores, CVS Pharmacy President Helena Foulkes called the changeover "an important milestone." (David Lazarus, 4/21)
Los Angeles Times:
Watch The U.S. Age Before Your Eyes In This Amazing Animated Graphic
The World Economic Forum reproduced Holzman's graphic for a discussion of the implications of the trend, which roughly parallels that in the rest of the world. "The potential consequences of an aging population," observes the WEF, "include economic pressure on healthcare and other welfare systems and a much smaller working-age population relative to the elderly." (Michael Hiltzik, 4/16)
The Ventura County Star:
Senior Mental Health
Mental health is a forefront topic in our nation, especially involving gun violence. It has mesmerized and polluted our media. As a Ventura County resident, I am concerned about our senior, Medicare-eligible population. Suicides among our senior Medicare population are high, especially among white men over age 85. (Claudia Rodriguez, 4/21)
The Bakersfield Californian:
How Could Obamacare Predictions Be So Wrong?
The president wants Obamacare to be his legacy achievement. It may well be. Admittedly, it will be hard to choose between blowing up the American health care system, blowing up the Middle East and blowing up relations with our allies when selecting his crowning achievement. (Richard Young, 4/20)
The Orange County Breeze:
SB 1273 To Provide Greater Flexibility In Using State Funds For Mental Health Outpatient Crisis Stabilization Services
On Wednesday, April 13, the Senate Health Committee approved legislation by Senator Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) – Senate Bill 1273 – that gives county personnel greater flexibility over the use of Mental Health Services Act funds for outpatient crisis stabilization services. The bill is co-authored by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) and other legislators. (David Moorlach, 4/15)
LA Daily News:
Old Gas Leak Raises New Questions For SoCalGas
Leaking gas wells decades ago forced the razing of homes in the suburb of Montebello. Now, it has raised questions about the future of Porter Ranch. Although the cases are separated by several decades and the circumstances surrounding them are somewhat different, in both instances Southern California Gas Co.’s dealings left too many unanswered questions. In Montebello, more than a decade after the company agreed to shut down wells, they have yet to be fully decommissioned. At the time, the company estimated it would take seven years. That was 15 years ago. (4/21)