- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- Due To Strong Demand, Covered California Extends Deadlines For Plans Starting Jan. 1
- Marketplace 2
- Theranos Settles With Arizona Attorney General For $4.6M
- Medical Expense Deduction Expected To Make It Into Final GOP Tax Package
- Public Health and Education 1
- Study May Upend Standard Way Of Handling Umbilical Cord For Premature Babies
- National Roundup 2
- Experts Starting To Question If Struggling Bipartisan Health Bill Would Even Be Good For Consumers
- CHIP Funding Morass: How Did Something Everyone Seems To Agree On Get To This Point?
Latest From California Healthline:
Consumers in the 39 states served by the federally-run health insurance exchange face a Friday deadline to sign up for Affordable Care Act health plans, but Californians have until Jan. 31 to enroll. (Ana B. Ibarra, 12/15)
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Summaries Of The News:
In most states, to get January coverage, people need to sign up by today, but California is giving customers an extra week to enroll. Also, today's federal deadline for getting coverage for 2018 under the Affordable Care Act doesn't apply to Californians. But those signing up into January won't have their coverage start start until Feb. 1 at the earliest.
The Mercury News:
Covered California Extends Deadline For Plans Starting Jan. 1
Responding to a strong surge in demand, Covered California on Thursday announced that anyone who still hasn’t enrolled in a 2018 health insurance plan on the individual market now has until Dec. 22 to sign up for coverage that begins Jan. 1. ...While open enrollment ends for most states on Friday, Californians have until Jan. 31, 2018, to sign up. (Seipel, 12/14)
Deadline Extended One Week For January Covered California Plans
The deadline to sign up for an individual health insurance plan on the Covered California exchange for policies that start Jan. 1 has been extended by one week, due to a "surge in demand." ... More than 38,000 new people have signed up for coverage since Monday, according to a statement from Covered California. (Faust, 12/14)
The state has already eliminated legal residency requirements for Medicaid coverage for people under 19. But Assemblyman Phil Ting, who heads the Assembly's budget committee, wants to extend that to all ages.
The Associated Press:
California Lawmakers Propose Health Coverage For Immigrants
California, flush with cash from an expanding economy, would eventually spend $1 billion a year to provide health care to immigrants living in the state illegally under a proposal announced Wednesday by Democratic lawmakers. The proposal would eliminate legal residency requirements in California's Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, as the state has already done for young people up to age 19. (12/14)
The California-based blood testing startup has been embroiled in controversy since its technology was found to be defective.
Attorney General Brnovich Reaches A $4.6M Settlement With Theranos
More than 76,000 Arizonans who purchased a Theranos blood test will get a refund check in the mail starting Friday under a $4.6 million settlement Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich negotiated with the embattled blood-testing company. The average refund per customer will be $60.92, but customers who ordered several tests or more expensive tests will get a larger check. (Alltucker, 12/14)
The deduction provides moderate relief for California families who are burdened with medical costs.
GOP Tax Deal Expected To Preserve Medical Expense Deduction
As GOP lawmakers rush to reconcile the House and Senate versions of their tax bills, they've agreed to preserve the medical expense deduction, according to reports from NPR. The deduction will provide tax relief to an estimated million California households. (Faust, 12/15)
The researchers looked at the difference between delayed cord cutting and cord "milking" and found that babies who had been treated with the latter had higher scores on tests of cognition and language years later.
Research Finds Novel Method Of Handling Premature Births May Improve Outcomes
A non-standard method of handling a premature baby's umbilical cord may provide long-term benefits, according to a study from Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Infants. The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, tested two different methods of giving cord blood to 135 premature infants at birth. (Goldberg, 12/14)
In other public health news —
Capital Public Radio:
More Than A Quarter Of California Teens Are Gender Nonconforming, New Study Shows
For the first time ever, UCLA’s statewide telephone health survey asked teenagers a very specific question about their gender expression: How do you think other people at school would describe you? ...Lead author Bianca Wilson analyzed their answers. She found that about six percent of surveyed youth were highly gender nonconforming, and 21 percent were androgynous. (Caiola, 12/14)
Elevated Flu Activity Continues In San Diego County
Across the country, health officials are bracing for what could be a difficult flu year, with a longer season and a serious strain of flu virus. Some experts also worry this season's flu vaccine might not be as effective towards the influenza strain infecting people this year. (Cabrera and Cavanaugh, 12/14)
Because of a weird quirk, the effects of the Trump administration stopping subsidies to insurers have been tempered enough that if the bipartisan bill passed it actually might do more harm than good for consumers. Some still say, though, that there are benefits to passing the legislation, which is losing support on Capitol Hill anyway.
The Wall Street Journal:
Bipartisan Health Bill Is Losing Support
The seemingly imminent repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance requirement, which could happen next week as part of the final passage of Republicans’ broad tax overhaul, has focused attention on Congress’ potential next moves on health care, including a bipartisan plan to shore up the insurance markets. But that plan, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D., Wash.), is losing support as more health analysts say it could raise costs for many consumers. The bill would restore payments to insurers, allowing them to cut premiums, but in doing so it would reduce the tax credits that are pegged in part to the premium costs of certain plans. (Armour, 12/14)
Health Groups Call On States To Override Trump ObamaCare Order
Health-care groups are urging states to override changes made under an executive order from President Trump, warning the moves threaten to undermine insurance markets. A coalition of leading health-care groups, including America’s Health Insurance Plans and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, wrote a letter Thursday to state insurance commissioners urging them to take action to counteract an order signed by Trump in October. That order aimed to ease ObamaCare rules and opened up cheaper insurance plans that do not have to meet all of the ObamaCare requirements. (Sullivan, 12/14)
The CHIP program has always enjoyed widespread bipartisan support, but Congress has dawdled over renewing its funding for the past three months as states slowly run out of money.
Health Program For 9 Million Kids Falls Victim To Partisan Squabbling
Everyone in Congress claims to be a champion of children’s health.But funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program ran out Sept. 30. And some lawmakers worry it might not be replenished until early next year. It’s a mess that can happen only in Washington: Even a bipartisan program that covers 9 million poor and middle-class children is caught up in partisan squabbling, with Republicans and Democrats split over how to pay for renewed funding and placing blame on the other party. (Haberkorn, 12/15)
The New York Times:
Millions Of Children Could Lose Health Coverage Starting Next Month
Lawmakers have yet to renew federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, which insures nearly nine million children in low-income families. Most states will run out of money in the next few months if Congress does not act. (Park, 12/14)
A selection of opinions on health care developments from around the state.
Los Angeles Times:
Drug Industry Lawsuit Shows It Wants To Keep Patients In Dark On Pricing
The drug industry really, really doesn't want you to know that it's ripping you off with frequent and questionable price increases for prescription meds. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry's main lobbying group, filed a lawsuit the other day seeking to derail a California law that will require 60 days' notice before drugmakers raise prices beyond a certain threshold. The law, SB 17, is set to take effect Jan. 1. (David Lazarus, 12/15)
California Is Right To Sue Over Birth Control Rollback
Laws such as Senate Bill 1053 not only codified the protections of the ACA into law, but also expanded the methods of birth control available without copay. There is just one large exception – companies that offer self-insured plans can still opt out of providing birth control benefits, leaving 6.8 million Californians vulnerable. (Crystal Strait, 12/15)
Los Angeles Times:
Will Tax Reform Be The GOP's Obamacare?
For years, Republicans mocked Rep. Nancy Pelosi — and other Democrats — for dismissing the need to read the text of the Affordable Care Act before passing it. This time around, Republicans have insisted that we must pass tax reform to know what’s in it, and Democrats have denounced the sausage-making. The more important similarity lies in the fact that both parties pursued long-term ideological goals in the face of public opposition. President Obama gave dozens of speeches in favor of the Affordable Care Act and yet it was never popular with voters before passage or after — at least not until Donald Trump was elected, which just shows you how policy preferences take a backseat to partisanship. (Jonah Goldberg, 12/12)
Orange County Register:
Political Theater On Guns Not The Answer
One of the worst tendencies of politicians in the aftermath of a tragedy is the hijacking of public sentiment to promote sweeping proposals to expand government power. A recent case in point is a proposed ban on “assault weapons” after the tragic shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced the legislation along with 22 other Democratic senators “for one reason: so that after every mass shooting with a military-style assault weapon, the American people will know that a tool to reduce these massacres is sitting in the Senate, ready for debate and a vote.” (12/13)
Los Angeles Times:
Five Years On, We're Still Waiting For Sandy Hook To Change The Gun Debate
Five years ago today, Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother in Newtown, Conn., then took two semiautomatic handguns and a semiautomatic rifle from her cache of firearms to massacre 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Of course, people declared at the time, such a tragic, senseless event would be a turning point. Surely a slaughter of innocent children would be too much even for the National Rifle Assn. and its adherents, and finally Congress would act to ban civilian possession of the guns of war. Nope. (12/14)
Los Angeles Times:
CVS And Aetna Say Their Massive Merger Is Needed To Keep Prices Down. That Remains To Be Seen
American consumers aren’t the only ones struggling with higher healthcare costs. CVS Health’s proposed $69-billion purchase of health insurer Aetna is driven in part by the companies’ efforts to get control over more of the costs they face, and to make their operations more efficient. The question for regulators, though, is whether the combination results in a company that uses its clout to help consumers or squeeze more dollars out of them. (12/11)
LA Daily News:
Medical Aid In Dying Is A Christian Option To Stop End-Of-Life Suffering
As a minister, I am called upon to counsel and pray with terminally ill people as they prepare for the end of their lives. ...As a faith leader, I am deeply concerned about terminally ill people as well as a dying patient’s right to a peaceful death at the end of life. (Sergio Camacho, 12/10)
Los Angeles Times:
Fixing America's Food Deserts Alone Won't Fix Our Terrible Diets
You are what you eat. It's an expression with roots in the early 1800s that has come to mean if you consume what's good for you, you will be healthy, and if you don't, well, watch out. But our latest research on what influences consumers to make unhealthy food choices has compelled us to turn that axiom on its head: You eat what you are. (Christine A. Vaughan and Tamara Dubowitz, 12/11)
Orange County Register:
Long-Term Solution Needed On State Marijuana Laws
On Dec. 7 Congress extended critical protections for states that allow lawful access to medical marijuana. Since 2014, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, originally known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, has prevented the Justice Department from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. Today, 29 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books allowing some degree of access to medical marijuana, serving roughly 2 million patients, according to the Marijuana Policy Project and New Frontier Data. (12/12)
Tiny Houses, Take 2 In San Jose — And Yes, We Need These For The Homeless
When the idea of “tiny homes” burst onto the scene years back as a trendy, almost utopian answer to burgeoning homelessness, I was a skeptic. If you have land to put up a bunch of 8-by-10-foot cabins with no plumbing, why not build real housing on it? So on one level, I wasn’t surprised at the neighborhood backlash when San Jose set out to find sites for tiny home villages — what it calls bridge housing — in each of its 10 city council districts earlier this year. (Marshman, 12/10)
Orange County Register:
Fear, Loathing And Hope For Homeless On The Santa Ana River Trail
After months of bureaucratic wrangling and hand-wringing over how to handle the homeless situation, the Santa Ana River Trail is more filthy, more hazardous and — OMG — more crowded than ever. ...Along the 30-mile stretch of asphalt, there are more than 700 make-shift shelters and more than 1,000 homeless people. (David Whiting, 12/8)