- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- California Lawmakers Consider Giving Regulators More Grounds To Reject Health Insurance Mergers
- Another Circle Of Hell: Surviving Opioids In The Fentanyl Era
- Covered California & The Health Law 2
- Uncertainty Over Individual Mandate Rankles Taxpayers
- Last-Minute Tweak To GOP Health Bill Does Little To Ease Intraparty Standoff
- Pharmaceuticals 1
- FDA's Process Dinged For Being 'Burdensome And Slow,' But It's Faster Than Its European Counterpart
- Public Health and Education 2
- In Turnaround, FDA To Allow Genetic Tests To Be Sold To Consumers
- Patient's Own Immune Cells Contribute To Memory Loss After Surgery, Study Finds
Latest From California Healthline:
Proposal would require regulators to consider a merger’s impact on competition in deciding whether to approve or reject it. (Pauline Bartolone, 4/7)
Unlike heroin, fentanyl routinely shuts down breathing in seconds, and it's becoming more common. (Martha Bebinger, WBUR, 4/7)
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More News From Across The State
"I've had some people who say, 'Screw that penalty; I'm not going to pay,'" said Connie Kline, a tax preparer from Simi Valley.
Ventura County Star:
Obamacare Stirs Local Debate, This Time On Taxes
The Affordable Care Act may not survive Donald Trump's presidency. But for now, most people who aren't insured still have to pay penalties on their tax returns whether they're happy about it or not, according to Ventura County tax experts...Efforts to repeal the health care law, so far unsuccessful, have seeded confusion in the tax world about whether people must pay the law's penalty for not obtaining health insurance coverage — as much as $1,250 for a family with an income of $50,000. Questions exist, too, about whether people have to acknowledge on tax forms whether they were covered during the past year. (Kisken, 4/6)
Republicans add language to create a risk-sharing fund, but both sides that have been fighting over the legislation say the change is not enough. Yet, House leadership tells members that they could be called back from recess early if a health plan deal is reached.
The Associated Press:
GOP Health Bill In Shambles, House Commences Two-Week Break
The Republican health care bill remained in shambles Thursday as House leaders threw up their hands and sent lawmakers home for a two-week recess. GOP chiefs announced a modest amendment to curb premium increases, but internal divisions still blocked their promised repeal of former President Barack Obama's law. (Fram and Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/6)
The New York Times:
Trying To Revive Health Bill, G.O.P. Adds $15 Billion For Sickest Americans
Under intense pressure from President Trump, House Republicans took a small step Thursday to revive legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, adding a $15 billion fund to help insurers pay claims for their sickest customers. Speaker Paul D. Ryan orchestrated a broad show of Republican support for the proposal, conceived as an amendment to the repeal bill that collapsed on the House floor two weeks ago. (Pear, 4/6)
Frustration Mounts, Careers Jeopardized Over Obamacare Failure
Tempers are flaring at the White House over House Republicans’ failure to repeal Obamacare. But that hasn’t changed the reality on the ground: As Congress skips town for a two-week recess, Speaker Paul Ryan and his team are no closer to approving legislation. In fact, some Ryan allies worry that the White House involvement has only set GOP leaders back further. (Bade and Haberkorn, 4/7)
“Children can’t learn when they can’t see the blackboard,” Assemblywoman Autumn Burke said of her measure. However, the measure is being opposed by state and national ophthalmologists groups, the school nurses organization and the California Medical Association. They say it is unnecessary and would add to costs.
CA Bill Would Require Eye Exams For Elementary School Students
Assemblywoman Autumn Burke says she just wants to help children whose unidentified vision problems may be holding them back academically. But her bill encouraging more comprehensive eye exams when students enroll in school has divided eye doctors – the latest skirmish in a long political history of medical groups squaring off over their scope of practice. (Koseff, 4/6)
Since his appointment by Gov. Jerry Brown in December, California Attorney Gen. Xavier Becerra has been active in arguing in court against national policies of the Trump administration and those of other states.
Los Angeles Times:
California Joins 15 States In Filing Court Brief Supporting Planned Parenthood's Lawsuit Against Ohio Healthcare Law
California has joined 15 other state attorneys general in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio challenging a law in that state that excludes healthcare providers that offer abortion services from participating in other publicly funded health programs, officials said Thursday. The lawsuit challenges the exclusion of such providers from breast and cervical cancer prevention programs, according to California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra. (Patrick McGreevy, 4/6)
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, President Donald Trump's pick to head the Food and Drug Administration, has been focused on what he'll do to speed up the drug approval process to make it more like Europe. But the FDA is actually faster already.
Los Angeles Times:
Speed Up Drug Approvals At FDA? It's Already Faster Than Europe's Drug Agency
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, President’s Trump’s nominee to head the Food & Drug Administration, has said the FDA displays an “unreasonable hunger for statistical certainty” and a “profound lack of confidence in the ability of doctors to make careful judgments. ”In a bid to speed reviews and “change the FDA review culture itself,” Gottlieb proposed in a 2012 article that the FDA should follow the lead of its European Union counterpart, and let “a body of politically appointed (and therefore politically accountable) officials … ultimately [decide] on whether a new drug should be approved.” (Healy, 4/6)
The decision to let California-based 23andMe sell saliva-testing kits that report on markers for 10 diseases is expected to open the floodgates for more at-home tests for disease risks.
The New York Times:
F.D.A. Will Allow 23andMe To Sell Genetic Tests For Disease Risk To Consumers
For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration said it would allow a company to sell genetic tests for disease risk directly to consumers, providing people with information about the likelihood that they could develop various conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The move on Thursday is a turnaround for the agency, which had imposed a moratorium in 2013 on disease tests sold by the company, 23andMe, which is based in Mountain View, Calif. (Kolata, 4/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
FDA Approves 23andMe’s Genetic Test For Personal Disease Risks
The product is offered by the closely held Silicon Valley genetics-testing company 23andMe Inc., which was initially stymied by the FDA in 2013 when it sought to offer such saliva-analysis tests to the general public. But the company began making more headway by 2015, when it offered consumers a test to tell them if they carried a genetic variant for one of 36 diseases that could be inherited by their children. Those hereditary tests evaluated people for their likelihood of passing on conditions like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and a disease known as Bloom syndrome. (Burton, 4/6)
More than 10 percent of surgery patients 60 years and older show some degree of mental impairment three months following surgery.
The Mercury News:
Temporary Memory Loss After Surgery May Be Tied To Brain's Immune Cells
A new study published Thursday in JCI Insight, an online companion publication to the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggests that brain inflammation and cognitive decline following surgery are triggered by the brain’s own specialized immune cells, called microglia. In the UCSF research, mice given an experimental oral drug that temporarily depletes microglia before an operation were much less likely to fail memory tests several days after surgery, suggesting a possible new approach to preventing the condition in humans. (Seipel, 4/6)
In other public health news —
This Video Game Helped Some Kids Overcome Attention Problems
The UCSF study, spearheaded in 2014 by two Department of Neurology professors, brought Katherine and 62 other elementary school kids (38 with SPD and 25 with typical development patterns) into a lab where an EEG machine tracked their brain activity while they followed computer prompts designed to measure their ability to focus and multitask. (Scott, 4/6)
These Colorful Dots Will Save Your Life
San Francisco began working with Pestec, a pest control company, to treat more than 23,000 storm drains in the city for mosquitoes. Its eight-member San Francisco Mosquito Abatement Courier Team (SF MAC Team) completes most treatment by hand, getting around on bike or foot. (Placzek, 4/6)
The Sacramento Bee offers a breakdown of the percentage of immigrants in medical careers and other industries.
What Jobs Do Most California Immigrants Hold?
It’s well known that most California farmworkers are immigrants. But did you know that so are most dentists, medical scientists, butchers and nursing aides? California depends on its immigrant workforce more than any other state in the nation. Nearly 40 percent of the state’s full-time, year-round workers are immigrants, the highest rate in the nation, according to a Bee review of the latest census data. (Reese, 4/7)
In other news —
$2 Million Fund Created To Boost Healthcare Careers, Recruit Doctors To Region
Stanislaus County has a shortage of health care providers, and the situation is more acute in neighboring Tuolumne County. A $2 million grant will give a boost to health careers and create incentives for bringing healthcare professionals to the region. The Central Valley Health Careers Fund was created through a grant from DBB Foundation, Inc., a successor to Delta Blood Bank after its 2013 sale to the American Red Cross. (Carlson, 4/6)
Should Naturopaths Be Allowed To Perform Sports Physicals?
A bill in the California legislature would authorize chiropractors and naturopathic physicians to conduct physicals for aspiring student athletes. Current law authorizes physicians, surgeons and physician assistants to do the exams, which involve taking a student's medical history and looking for any cardiovascular, respiratory or neurological conditions that could make it unsafe for him to play sports. (Plevin, 4/6)
The program will offer teens support in addition to weekly or monthly therapy.
The Mercury News:
Special Mental Health Program Launched For Teens
Palo Alto teens and families looking for mental health services that fall between occasional therapy and hospitalization soon will have that option. With the help of an anonymous donor interested in reducing the number of teen suicides, the nonprofit Children’s Health Council has launched a 12-week Intensive Outpatient Program at its Palo Alto campus at 650 Clark Way. (Lee, 4/6)
In other news from across the state —
Orange County Register:
Laguna Beach High Student Contracts Measles; 6 Other Unvaccinated Students Barred From School
An unvaccinated Laguna Beach High School student has been quarantined by county health officials after contracting measles. Jessica Good, spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency, said Thursday, April 6, that the teen may have exposed other students to the highly contagious virus. (Ritchie, 4/6)
The Bakersfield Californian:
'One In A Million Shot': Identical Triplets Born In Bakersfield
Babies are born in Bakersfield almost every day, but none are like Harlow Leanne Reyes. Except for maybe her sister, Sloane Ellis. Or her other sister, Charlie Graham. That’s because the three, born last week, are identical triplets – something so rare that nurses and doctors at San Joaquin Community Hospital, where the three were delivered – can’t remember the last time it happened...So how rare is it? Hospital administrators called it a “one in a million shot.” And it’s something that the triplets’ parents, Lindsey and Carlos Reyes, weren’t anticipating. (Pierce, 4/6)