- California Healthline Original Stories 4
- Thousands Of Covered California Enrollees Could Lose Subsidies In January
- New Rules to Limit Medi-Cal 'Death Fees'
- Fear Of Deportation, Hate Crimes Reportedly Threaten Mental Health Of Young Californians
- Mumps Cases Spike, Raising Questions About Need For Vaccine Boosters
- Health IT 1
- Innovation In Health Industry Will Come From Middle America, Silicon Valley Investor Says
- Public Health and Education 1
- Hospital To Address Need For Children's Mental Health Services With New Facility
Latest From California Healthline:
The state insurance exchange overlooked 24,000 of its policy holders who failed to give consent to verify their income. If they don’t do so by Dec. 31, they could lose their subsidies in January. (Emily Bazar, 12/23)
Medi-Cal’s controversial program to go after your assets when you die will be significantly curtailed starting in January, but some enrollees could be hit by new claims. (Emily Bazar, 12/23)
Teachers and health professionals report post-election depression, anxiety and stress in young immigrants and minorities. (Jocelyn Wiener, 12/23)
Mumps is back and is having its worst year in a decade, fueled in part by its spread on college campuses. (Rebecca Smith, Side Effects Public Media, 12/22)
Sign up to get the daily edition in your inbox
Summaries Of The News:
Many patients struggle to find dentists who will take their coverage because the state's reimbursement rates are so low. The new funds would go toward attracting dentists to participate in the program.
Why Are California Republicans Prioritizing Dental Care For The Poor?
Democrats have traditionally been the ones to champion health care programs for low-income Californians. But this month, Republicans proposed a bill that would put $200 million ... toward improving Denti-Cal, the state’s free dental care program for the poor. (Dembosky, 12/22)
County hospitals in Ventura and Santa Paula have ranked in the lowest 25 percent in the nation in terms of fighting hospital-acquired infections.
Ventura County Star:
Area Hospitals Face Penalties Due To Infections
Ventura County Medical Center, Santa Paula Hospital and Simi Valley Hospital face penalties for the third year in a row that could mean a loss of Medicare money because of infection rates and other health issues developed after admission. Rates for hospital-acquired conditions improved in Simi Valley and at the county hospitals in Ventura and Santa Paula, but their scores released by Medicare still rank in the lowest 25 percent in the nation. That means they could sustain a 1 percent cut in Medicare payments for the fiscal year that concludes in September 2017. (Kisken, 12/22)
See more coverage on the rankings: Latest Hospital Injury Penalties Include Crackdown On Antibiotic Resistant Germs
While Silicon Valley will play a role in the coming years, Steve Case, an AOL co-founder-turned-health care executive and investor, says he's also watching places like Pittsburgh and Nashville.
Steve Case Says Trump's Win Was 'Wake-Up Call' For Health Investors
Silicon Valley startups and Washington policymakers get a lot of credit for driving health care innovation. Steve Case thinks they're getting too much. "Silicon Valley's going to play an important role. I think the D.C. area is going to play an important role," Case told POLITICO's "Pulse Check" podcast. But, he said, "a lot of the innovation in health care is going to be in the middle of the country, because some of the most important institutions in health care are in the middle of the country." (Diamond, 12/22)
The center will be a part of the Children's Hospital of Orange County, and is expected to open by early 2018.
Los Angeles Times:
Kids And Mental Health: CHOC Builds The County's First Inpatient Facility For Youths Ages 3 To 18
One of the earliest hints arrived when Chris Dureiko was picking up her eldest son, Sean, from day care. She noticed the then-9-year-old's hands were red and bruised, as if he had a rash. "[Then] I caught him one day washing his hands while counting for half an hour," recalled Dureiko, who lives in Irvine. "He was always extremely afraid of germs. If something would touch another, that thing would become contaminated and had to be removed. (Escobar, 12/22)
The Sonoma Developmental Center is scheduled to close in 2018, and the $2.5 million from the state will go to continuing care for those who relied on the center.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
$2.5 Million Allocated To Sustain Health Care For Sonoma Developmental Center Residents
The state has earmarked $2.5 million for construction of a specialized health center in the North Bay that would serve disabled residents living at the Sonoma Developmental Center, which is slated for closure in 2018. The closure will leave about 350 medically fragile patients without crucial specialty medical, dental, mental and adaptive services, said state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg. The state funds are expected to be used to build a “health care hub” for those services at a local community health center, he said. The state agency that oversees the Sonoma Developmental Center will put out a request for proposals by the end of December, hoping to attract interest from one of several federally qualified health centers in the North Bay, McGuire said. (Espinoza, 12/22)
In other news from across the state —
7 In LA County Sickened In New Measles Outbreak
Los Angeles County's public health department said Thursday that it has confirmed an "outbreak" of seven new measles cases over the past month. While not identifying the individuals, the County Department of Public Health said none were vaccinated against the disease, according to its preliminary investigation. (Plevin, 12/22)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
6-Year-Old First To Ring 'Symbol Of Triumph' At Rady Children's
Six-year-old Eliana Feliciano was diagnosed with cancer last year on Christmas Day. On Thursday, after finishing her year-long treatment, she was the first patient to ring the new survivor bell at Rady Children’s Hospital. The bell gives children who complete their cancer treatment a way to celebrate the achievement in a poignant way.The bell dedication ceremony was held outside the hospital’s Acute Care Pavilion. (Sampite-Montecalvo, 12/22)
Pregnant Davis Woman Stuck To Her Pole Dancing Workouts
Yes, [Zsuzsi] Hussla was an expectant mother and a pole dancer — right up to her eighth month. But this had nothing to do with dimly lit clubs and two-drink minimums. Pole dancing may not be as popular as Pilates or as widespread as rock wall climbing, but it’s a legitimate form of physical fitness that in recent years has found its niche. And within that niche, pregnant women are not shying away from getting in on the action, too. “I just kept listening to my body and decided that when it became too much, I would stop,” said Hussla, 38, who lives in Davis with husband Cory. “I think it made it easier to keep my energy levels good. I wasn’t as tired during my pregnancy.” (Robertson, 12/22)
The House Democratic leader wants lawmakers to "continue the drumbeat" back in their districts about how much the health law benefits their constituents. Meanwhile, Donald Trump doesn't need Congress to be able to end the subsidies paid to insurers under the health law -- and it could throw the market into chaos if he chooses to take that route.
The Associated Press:
Pelosi Rallies House Democrats To Oppose Health Law Repeal
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has issued a call to action to her rank and file to fight Republican efforts to scrap the health care law by highlighting the risks of repeal for millions of Americans. In a letter to her Democratic colleagues late Wednesday, Pelosi said that with the new GOP-controlled Congress and Donald Trump's administration, "House Democrats stand ready to fight vigorously for America's hard-working families." She urged lawmakers to hold media events in early January to tell voters about Republican plans to repeal the law, called the Affordable Care Act, at the beginning of the year. (12/22)
The Washington Post:
Trump Could Quickly Doom ACA Cost-Sharing Subsidies For Millions Of Americans
Even without Congress repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration could undermine the law by unilaterally ending billions of dollars the government pays insurers to subsidize the health coverage of nearly 6 million Americans. Given that insurers would still be required to provide consumers that financial help, such a move could create upheaval in the ACA’s marketplaces — prompting health plans to raise their prices or drop out, according to health-policy experts in both major political parties. (Goldstein, 12/22)
In other national health care news —
The Wall Street Journal:
Donald Trump’s Pick For Health Secretary Traded Medical Stocks While In House
President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the Health and Human Services Department traded more than $300,000 in shares of health-related companies over the past four years while sponsoring and advocating legislation that potentially could affect those companies’ stocks. Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, bought and sold stock in about 40 health-care, pharmaceutical and biomedical companies since 2012, including a dozen in the current congressional session, according to a Wall Street Journal review of hundreds of pages of stock trades he filed with Congress. (Grimaldi and Hackman, 12/22)
Los Angeles Times:
Trump Won Votes Promising To Protect Veterans, But Major Veterans Groups Are Rattled By His Plans
Donald Trump’s flair for connecting with veterans won him an overwhelming share of their votes, but the durability of the alliance is already being tested as Trump’s search for a Veterans Affairs secretary veers in a direction that has alarmed some of America’s most influential retired soldiers. Under pressure from conservative activists, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and organizations funded by the Koch Brothers, Trump is contemplating choosing an agency chief who would upend the entire veterans healthcare system. That would come over the protest of the country’s major veterans groups. (Halper, 12/22)
The Washington Post:
Drug Industry Hired Dozens Of Officials From The DEA As The Agency Tried To Curb Opioid Abuse
Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture or distribute highly addictive pain pills have hired dozens of officials from the top levels of the Drug Enforcement Administration during the past decade, according to a Washington Post investigation. The hires came after the DEA launched an aggressive campaign to curb a rising opioid epidemic that has resulted in thousands of overdose deaths each year. In 2005, the DEA began to crack down on companies that were distributing inordinate numbers of pills such as oxycodone to pain-management clinics and pharmacies around the country. (Higham, Bernstein, Rich and Crites, 12/22)
The Washington Post:
Mystery Of The Spike In Deaths Between Christmas And New Year’s Gets Curiouser And Curiouser
As the Christmas season kicks into high gear and we're surrounded by gorgeously decorated fir trees and songs of yuletide gay, it's easy to forget that the holidays represent a grim time in terms of health statistics. You're more likely to die of natural causes from Dec. 25 through New Year's Day than at any other time of the year. (Cha, 12/22)
A selection of opinions on health care developments from around the state.
Los Angeles Times:
Soaring Insulin Prices Highlight Futility Of 'Free Market' For Meds
A key feature of Republican plans to replace Obamacare is allowing market forces to boost innovation and competition among healthcare providers. “Unleashing the power of choice and competition is the best way to lower healthcare costs and improve quality,” declares House Speaker Paul Ryan in his conservative manifesto “A Better Way.” (David Lazarus, 12/20)
Los Angeles Times:
California’s Coming $20 Billion Healthcare Emergency
California is facing a $20 billion healthcare emergency. That’s how much the state stands to lose in annual federal spending if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act. Putting this in perspective, $20 billion represents nearly 18% of all state general fund spending, projected at $113 billion this year. That amount is also roughly what the state already pays from its general fund for Medi-Cal costs. Even a nation-state like California cannot absorb an 18% budget shortfall without severely damaging public health and its economy. (Tom McMorrow, 12/21)
Figuring Out How To Better Help Mentally Ill Before They Land In Jail
Similar interventions by triage workers teamed with law enforcement are producing uplifting outcomes throughout California. Funded through the Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013, the triage initiative aims to intercept people undergoing a mental health crisis to keep them out of the criminal justice system. As chairman of the state commission that provides grants for triage teams, I’m incredibly proud of what these mobile clinicians are achieving. But we must do more. (Victor Carrión, 12/22)
San Francisco Chronicle:
High Rates Of Medical Student Depression: What Do They Say About Our Health System?
As a physician and educator at a large academic medical center who interacts daily with medical students and patients, I can offer some insights into this study. It raises important questions about both medical education and the way medicine is practiced today, particularly the many non-patient-care-related demands on a physician’s attention. There are at least two ways to explain the high rates of depression among medical students. (Richard Gunderman, 12/19)
Los Angeles Times:
The Real Reason The GOP Is Gung-Ho On Repealing Obamacare: It Would Give The Rich A Huge Tax Cut
People wondering why Republicans are so hell-bent on repealing Obamacare even though that would cost 20 million Americans their health insurance haven’t been heeding the old investigator’s maxim to “follow the money.” The path leads to the Affordable Care Act’s tax provisions, and the discovery that repeal would provide the wealthiest taxpayers with an immediate tax cut totaling $346 billion over 10 years. (Michael Hiltzik, 12/16)
Los Angeles Times:
Don't Be Fooled: Mylan's 'Bargain' Price For Its Generic EpiPen Conceals A Massive Price Hike
Some news reports described this as “a more than 50% discount.” That’s incredibly misleading, which is exactly what Mylan hoped. In fact, the device will still cost three times as much as it did when Mylan acquired the rights in 2007. This for a product that delivers a dose of a generic drug that Mylan played no role in developing. (Michael Hiltzik, 12/16)