Latest From California Healthline:
Liberalized sex education policies are being considered in more states, even traditionally conservative ones, as more female lawmakers take office and legislators react to the #MeToo movement. Inspired by California, Georgia attempted a bill, but it did not pass. (Keren Landman, 8/9)
Good morning! Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says background checks and red flag laws will take priority when Congress comes back in September, but he won’t call lawmakers back for a special session to address gun violence. More on that below, but first here are your top California health stories of the day.
Veterans Pulled From Van Nuys Facility Following Investigation Into Serious Medical Errors: The investigation by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found serious medication errors at the California Villa home. A 100-year-old veteran with sepsis was denied prescribed antibiotics because they were “not covered by Medicare” and ended up hospitalized a second time, the report said. Another veteran received a double dose of medication and a third was denied prescription drugs and charged $5 a meal because he preferred eating in his room rather than the cafeteria. Authorities from Washington, D.C., blamed the VA’s Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System for failing to investigate and address “serious residential care concerns” at the facility, but added that program administrators had not reported the problems to upper management. Read more from Gale Holland of the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, the inspector general for the Veterans Administration criticized the San Diego Veterans Affairs Health Care System for the handling of the death of a veteran, who died by suicide in 2018. Read more from Steve Walsh of KPBS.
LA County May Start Fresh On Plan To Scrap Antiquated Jail: The Board of Supervisors might cancel a $1.7-billion contract to replace the dungeon-like Men’s Central Jail downtown amid growing unease about whether Los Angeles County’s incarceration policy focuses enough attention on mental health treatment. County supervisors are expected to vote next week on whether to end the contract with McCarthy Building Cos. and start fresh on a plan for replacing the antiquated jail — a major policy change after months of grappling with the project’s direction. If they walk away from the contract, the supervisors were also expected to order a plan for how best to design and build a facility or network of facilities specifically designed to meet the county’s growing need for mental health services. Read more from Matt Stiles of the Los Angeles Times.
All Too Often The Criminal Justice System Is Used As Substitute For Mental Health Care: A few decades ago, fewer than half of state hospital patients came from the criminal justice system. Today, more than 90 percent do. “We’re waiting for a disaster to happen,” one mother told a judge as she sought treatment for her son. The judge’s response: My hands are tied. “There isn’t a big political action committee, well-funded, for mentally ill people. It doesn’t exist,” said state Sen. Jim Beall of San Jose. Read more from CalMatters.
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
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More News From Across The State
Yolo County Appears Ready To End Federal Contract For Immigrant Teen Detention Center
Yolo County supervisors appear ready to terminate a decade-old contract with federal immigration authorities to house unaccompanied migrant teenagers in a high-security detention center in Woodland. (Wailoo, 8/9)
Suicide Lifeline Number Now Required On CA Student ID Cards
In accordance with a new California law, beginning this year, schools that give out identification cards to students in seventh grade and higher will have the numbers for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line. Schools can also choose to add local crisis hotline numbers. (Mink, 8/8)
The New York Times:
Trump Weighs New Stance On Guns Amid Changing Politics
In the wake of two mass shootings, the divisive politics of gun control appeared to be in flux on Thursday as President Trump explored whether to back expanded background checks on gun purchasers and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, signaled that he would at least be open to considering the idea. It is not clear that either the president or Mr. McConnell will embrace such legislation, which both of them have opposed in the past and which would have to overcome opposition from the National Rifle Association and other powerful conservative constituencies. (Stolberg, Haberman and Martin, 8/8)
Donald Trump’s Nixon-To-China Moment On Guns
President Donald Trump sees a rare political opportunity to act on gun control — and if there was ever a time to do it, this is probably it. Nine out of 10 Trump voters support universal background checks, according to a new poll — and a majority favor other gun control measures. The NRA is in shambles. And Trump's reelection hopes would be helped mightily by more support among moderate suburban voters — who back the measures but abandoned Republicans in the midterms. (Kumar, 8/8)
Los Angeles Times:
Trump Again Gives Mixed Signals On Gun Background Checks
The president has defined an end goal — keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill — in broad terms, seemingly conflating background checks and so-called red flag laws in a way so that either could be defined as a major accomplishment. But Trump’s optimism does not seem to align with Washington’s static political reality. While opinion polls show expanding background checks is broadly popular, a majority of Republican lawmakers oppose it, complicating the passage of federal legislation by a dysfunctional, deeply divided Congress. (Stokols, 8/8)
McConnell: Background Checks, Red Flag Laws Will Be ‘Front And Center’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that strengthening background checks and red flag laws will “lead the discussion” on addressing gun violence in the wake of two mass shootings that left at least 31 people dead. McConnell’s remarks on a Kentucky news radio show follow a conversation he had Thursday morning with President Donald Trump, who has called for revisiting stricter background checks for gun buyers as well as red flag laws, which allows authorities to limit a person’s access to guns if they pose an imminent threat to others. (Levine, 8/8)
After Mass Shootings, Senate To Discuss Gun Proposals In September
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will discuss measures aimed at addressing gun violence in September. He said he expects background checks, assault weapons and "red flag" laws to be part of the debate. "What we can't do is fail to pass something," McConnell told WHAS radio in Kentucky, adding, "the urgency of this is not lost on any of us." (Taylor, 8/8)
McConnell Won't Bring Senate Back Early But Says Background Checks And Red Flag Laws Up For Discussion
But the Republican senator also said he won't call lawmakers back to Washington this month to address gun violence, following two mass shootings that left more than 30 people dead over the weekend. "If we did that we would just have people scoring points and nothing would happen," McConnell said in the brief interview. "If we do it prematurely it will just be another frustrating experience for all of us and the public." (Fox, 8/8)
The New York Times:
‘Red Flag’ Gun Laws Aren’t Airtight. But Officials Say They’ve Saved Lives.
Last year, a man who worked at a car dealership in San Diego told his co-workers that he would shoot up the place if he were fired, and he praised the man who had carried out the Las Vegas massacre. Another man told his fiancée he wanted to shoot her in the head, and also threatened to kill her ex-boyfriend. Still another told co-workers that he wished his supervisors would die, and that he could invite them hunting so it would look like an accident. (Oppel, 8/8)
The CDC Downplays Guns' Role In Suicide-Prevention Messages
The nation's foremost public health agency shies away from discussing the important link in this country between suicide and access to guns. That's according to documents obtained by NPR that suggest the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instead relies on vague language and messages about suicide that effectively downplay and obscure the risk posed by firearms. Guns in the United States kill more people through suicide than homicide. (Greenfieldboyce, 8/8)
Los Angeles Times:
Congress Should Push Red Flag Gun Laws, But Must Do More
As he headed off Wednesday morning to Dayton and El Paso to console the most recent American communities ravaged by mass shootings, President Trump paused on the White House lawn to talk with reporters. He told them that while there might be political support for federal legislation mandating more stringent background checks for gun buyers, he did not believe there was “appetite” in Congress for a ban on civilian possession of high-capacity magazines and combat-style weapons. “So far,” he said, “I have not seen that.” May we suggest that he ask the American people — nearly two-thirds of whom support such a ban — instead of Congress, which remains under the thumb of the National Rifle Assn.? (8/8)
Los Angeles Times:
El Paso Shooting Follows NRA Pushing Looser Texas Gun Laws
What is most horrifying about the killings in El Paso, Texas, where a man openly carrying a rifle strolled into a Walmart in a shopping mall and opened fire, killing at least 20 people and wounding another 40, is not that they happened. Nor even that they reflect a circumstance of American life that has become so mundane that politicians can pull a premasticated statement of “thoughts and prayers” out of their files and post it on Twitter even before the blood has dried. (Michael Hiltzik, 8/4)
San Francisco Chronicle:
It’s Past Time To Ban The Weapons Of Choice For Mass Killers
We must address why much of the gun violence in America happens — the hopelessness that blankets so many communities. Victims and community leaders fighting for their neighborhoods recognize that by the time someone picks up a gun, layers upon layers of systemic injustice have already failed them. Ending gun violence requires investing in hope to prevent people from picking up a gun in the first place. (Swalwell, 8/8)
Los Angeles Times:
As The El Paso Massacre Showed Once Again, White Supremacy Is The Poison In Our Well
Most people know that racism and white supremacy have been part of America since even before we became a nation. There’s no need to recount the slavery system on which this country’s early wealth was built, from Southern plantations to New England-owned slave ships to the rise of Wall Street banks that financed both the cotton and slave trades. Most of us also know about the Jim Crow system, the bouts of xenophobia, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II. (8/6)
Los Angeles Times:
When It Comes To Gun Violence, Congress Dithers While Americans Die
Apparently following the lead of President Trump, some Republicans in Congress now say they back or will consider a measure that would support state adoptions of “red flag” laws — California and 16 other states already have them — that allow a judge to order the seizure of firearms from people whose mental state has led family or police to fear they might be on the verge of harming themselves or others. ...Never mind that absent the gun people with “mental illness and hatred” would have a lot more trouble killing large numbers of people in a short period of time. (Scott Martelle, 8/7)
Los Angeles Times:
California Leaders Downplay Danger Of Sprawl In Wildfires
The devastating and deadly wildfires that swept across California were supposed to be a wake-up call that would finally force local governments to rethink new housing development in high-fire-risk areas. (8/7)
More Teens Are Vaping Now Than Ever. Let's Stop Talking Tough And Start Regulating
A sophomore at the local high school was filling me in on the realities of modern teenage life – the drinking, the drugs, the crazy focus on expensive fashion. Saddening but nothing surprising until she got to the major addiction on campus: nicotine. Kids were going nuts in class because it had been mere minutes since they last inhaled some of it. They were jonesing for their next fix between classes. (Karin Klein, 8/5)
The Housing Crisis Has Forced People To Live In Cars. Can We Make It Safe And Legal?
It’s tragic when making it easier for people to live in cars is what passes for a bold solution to California’s escalating housing crisis. But that’s what it has come to in the Golden State in 2019. Every night in Sacramento County, hundreds of people – including approximately 100 children – lay their heads down to sleep on the seats of the cars they call home. A survey of the county’s homeless population conducted earlier this year found homeless people using approximately 340 vehicles as shelter. (8/9)