- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Calif. Exchange Chief Sees No Rate Impact From Latest Trump Challenge To ACA
- Sacramento Watch 1
- Law Would Bring in $140M Annually To Help Bring Safe Water To California Communities
- Hospital Roundup 1
- 'I Think There’s Going To Be A Lot Of Relief' In Patients: Los Robles, Blue Shield Reach Insurance Agreement
- Public Health and Education 1
- Feelings Of Sadness Or Hopelessness Are On The Rise In Teens, 'Deeply Disturbing' Report Finds
- National Roundup 2
- Court Rejects Insurers Claims That They're Owed Billions Under Health Law's Risk Corridors Provision
- Legal Prescriptions Getting Caught In Dragnet As FDA Tries To Catch Opioids Flooding In Through International Mail
Latest From California Healthline:
Peter Lee says the court challenge will take time and California will have a chance to pass its own protections in the interim. However, the decision by Congress to eliminate the tax penalty on people who choose not to buy insurance will weigh on 2019 premiums, Lee said. Recent projections by the exchange show an average 11 percent rate hike in 2019, along with a 12 percent drop in enrollment. (Barbara Feder Ostrov, 6/14)
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More News From Across The State
George Tyndall was handcuffed during the LAPD search at his apartment, he added, but was not taken into custody and has not been charged with a crime.
Los Angeles Times:
LAPD Raids Home Of Ex-USC Gynecologist Accused Of Sexually Mistreating Patients
Police detectives on Thursday served search warrants at the Los Angeles home of a former USC gynecologist and a storage facility as they investigate allegations that he sexually mistreated patients. Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Billy Hayes said sex-crimes detectives talked to George Tyndall and seized evidence during the search but did not provide further details. (Winton, 6/14)
While state and federal funds and loan programs intended to help communities solve their water problems currently exist, there is an operations and maintenance gap. The proposed legislation would attempt to close that, though some worry it still won't bring in enough money.
The California Health Report:
Californians With Unsafe Tap Water May See Relief With Budget Trailer Bill
Every month, Bartolo Chavez goes to the Arvin Community Services District building to pay his water bill for the home he and his wife live in. But he doesn’t use that water for drinking or cooking. To drink, he buys bottled water. For cooking, also bottled water. This the way of life in Arvin, where the tap water has been in violation of state health standards for arsenic since 2006. “It’s very hard,” said Chavez, 22. “We buy water to drink and cook with, and I also pay my water bill every month. Basically I have to pay two bills.” (Morones, 6/14)
In other news from Sacramento —
The Mercury News:
How VTA's Human Trafficking Awareness Training Inspired A State Assembly Bill
A state assembly bill would make a human trafficking awareness training modeled after the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority’s procedure mandatory for public transportation workers across the state. Inspired by the VTA training started in 2015, the bill aims to equip public transit workers with the skills to identify and report signs of human trafficking in and around transit systems. (Lam, 6/14)
Los Robles Health System officials said that patients covered by individual plans in and outside of the Covered California insurance exchange will be considered in-network as of July 1.
Ventura County Star:
Los Robles Says It Has Ended Impasse With Blue Shield
Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks and Blue Shield have ended a four-year impasse by coming to terms on individual health insurance coverage, according to a hospital announcement Thursday. ... The announcement triggered relief from observers who said it means Blue Shield patients who went to other hospitals for elective care and labor and delivery because of the lack of in-network coverage will have the option of returning to Los Robles. Emergency care was already covered. (Kisken, 6/14)
The new drug is currently in a phase-three clinical study, but if it is found to be effective, it could stop the advance of Alzheimer's in patients, said Dr. Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Ventura County Star:
Alzheimer's Breakthrough Is Coming, Says Expert
If drugs that could become available within three years work as designed, there could be nearly 500,000 fewer cases of Alzheimer’s disease each year, an Alzheimer’s Association scientist said Thursday in Oxnard. "It would change everything,” said Dr. Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs for the association. “If this works, the impact would be enormous.” Speaking between sessions of an Oxnard conference aimed at professional caregivers and others, Fargo cited the roughly 50 Alzheimer’s drugs in clinical studies. Many are designed to take the leap and stop the progression of the disease in its early stages. (Kisken, 6/14)
One of the most common types of reported abuse is financial. But other forms include physical and emotional, neglect, abandonment and self-neglect.
On The Rise: Over 4,000 Reports Of Elder Abuse In Kern County
Elder abuse is widespread, and reports are on the rise in Kern County. Too often these stories go under-reported and undetected. There were over 4,000 reports of elder abuse in Kern County last year, and experts say only about one of every 24 cases gets reported, according to Kern County Aging and Adult Services. The real number could be as high as 96,000. Financial abuse of the elderly is one of the most common types reported. (Goss, 6/14)
In other news from across the state —
A Tax On Illegal Pot Shops? Riverbank Still Would Want Its Cut, Puts It To Voters
Just in case a rogue pot shop sets up illegally, city leaders want voters to approve a cannabis tax guaranteeing that the city gets its cut of the profit. The City Council this week unanimously agreed to put the matter before voters on the November ballot. (Stapley, 6/14)
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is given every two years to nearly 15,000 students in high schools in 39 state, did offer some encouraging trends, suggesting that the overall picture for adolescents is a nuanced one.
The New York Times:
Sex And Drugs Decline Among Teens, But Depression And Suicidal Thoughts Grow
One in seven high school students reported misusing prescription opioids, one of several disturbing results in a nationwide survey of teenagers that revealed a growing sense of fear and despair among youth in the United States. The numbers of teenagers reporting “feelings of sadness or hopelessness,” suicidal thoughts, and days absent from school out of fear of violence or bullying have all risen since 2007. The increases were particularly pointed among lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students. Nationally, 1 in 5 students reported being bullied at school; 1 in 10 female students and 1 in 28 male students reported having been physically forced to have sex. (Hoffman, 6/14)
Los Angeles Times:
U.S. Teens Are Taking Fewer Risks With Their Health, Though Drinking And Unsafe Sex Are Still Common
“The overall prevalence of most health-risk behaviors has moved in the desired direction,” wrote a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health. However, they added, “many high school students are engaged in health-risk behaviors associated with the leading causes of death” for their age group. (Kaplan, 6/14)
The panel said the government doesn't have to pay insurers the money because Congress had taken action — after the health law's passage — requiring the program to be budget neutral year after year. The program in contention was aimed at enticing insurers into the market with promises of covering their financial risks.
The Wall Street Journal:
Federal Government Doesn’t Have To Pay Billions To Health Insurers, Court Rules
The federal government doesn’t have to pay insurers billions of dollars under an Affordable Care Act program aimed at enticing them into the markets by helping cover their financial risks, a divided federal appeals court ruled Thursday. In a case brought by Moda Health Plan Inc., the ruling is a blow to insurers hoping to recoup money they say they were owed under the 2010 health law. (Armour and Kendall, 6/14)
Court: Federal Government Doesn’t Owe Insurers Obamacare Payments
A divided three-judge panel rejected claims from two Obamacare insurers that the federal government was required to make good on payments from a program meant to protect insurers who attracted customers who were sicker and more expensive than anticipated. The two insurers were seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from Obamacare’s risk corridor program, and at least three dozen other insurers have filed similar lawsuits. In all, insurers say they’re owed more than $12 billion from the risk corridor program, a shortfall they have partially blamed for skyrocketing premiums and dwindling competition in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. (Demko, 6/14)
Court Rules Insurers Not Entitled To ObamaCare Payments
“Congress clearly indicated its intent here,” the court ruled. “It asked GAO [the Government Accountability Office] what funding would be available to make risk corridors payments, and it cut off the sole source of funding identified beyond payments in. It did so in each of the three years of the program’s existence.” The insurers are likely to appeal and seek a review by the full court, rather than just a panel. If that doesn’t succeed, the next step would be an appeal to the Supreme Court. (Weixel, 6/14)
In other health law news —
The Washington Post:
Broad Health-Care Coalition Opposes Administration Stance In Anti-ACA Lawsuit
A broad swath of health-care constituencies weighed in on Thursday to oppose a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, forming an uncommonly united front against a decision by the Trump administration not to defend significant parts of the law. Hospitals, doctors, medical schools, patient-advocacy groups, the health insurance industry and others filed briefs in a federal court in Texas, disputing the argument of 20 Republican-led states and the Justice Department that all or part of the 2010 law is unconstitutional. In all, 11 friend-of-the-court briefs were filed. From various vantage points, each argues that a ruling in favor of this latest challenge to the ACA’s constitutionality would “have a devastating impact on doctors, patients, and the American health care system as a whole,” as a brief from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry puts it. (Goldstein, 6/14)
Americans who have been buying cheaper prescribed medications internationally for conditions like Crohn’s disease are now paying a price. In other pharmaceutical news: generic drug legislation, trade tariffs, and a pill for women's libido.
Trump Administration Seizing Cheaper Medications From Canada And Other Countries
The U.S. government has stepped up seizures of drugs ordered by Americans from international sources through the mail—including cheaper, legal medications from legitimate pharmacies, Tarbell has found. The interdiction is linked to new efforts by Food and Drug Administration and other parts of the federal government to block prohibited opiate deliveries. But the dragnet is catching increasing numbers of orders by individual Americans seeking medicines that are less costly or only available internationally—a practice that has not been the target of federal enforcement—until now. (McAuliff, 6/14)
Bill To Encourage Generic-Drug Development Passes A Key Hurdle
With little fanfare and minimal debate, a key Senate committee voted Thursday to advance legislation that aims to spur the development of new generic drugs and in turn, lower drug prices. A bipartisan majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly passed the legislation, known as the CREATES Act, by a 16-5 vote. The legislation seeks to give generic companies a way to sue brand- name drug makers when they inappropriately deny access to samples of their products, which generic makers need to develop their competing drugs. (Mershon, 6/14)
Birth Control And Beer Kegs: How Trump’s Tariffs Will Hit Middle America
Birth control pills, lawnmowers and flat-panel televisions are among a long list of goods that could get more expensive after President Donald Trump slaps 25 percent tariffs on a list of Chinese imports. The final list of items facing penalties is due out Friday, and a wide range of U.S. consumer favorites is likely to be on it, despite a scramble by many affected businesses to get their items removed – or to get competitors’ products on. (Palmer, 6/13)
The Women’s Libido Pill Is Back, And So Is The Controversy
Addyi, the brand name for flibanserin, hit the market in 2015 and the buzz was instant. Inevitably, the media dubbed it “female Viagra.” But Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., which had just bought Sprout for $1 billion, almost immediately faced a distribution scandal having nothing to do with Addyi, and the drug was dragged down with the rest of the company. It’s languished ever since. In a typical month, about 600 prescriptions are filled, compared with almost 800,000 for erectile dysfunction drugs Cialis, Viagra, and Viagra’s generic equivalent. (Koons, 6/14)
A selection of opinions on health care developments from around the state.
California Suicide Rates Are Low. Is It Gun Control?
It is an article of faith among opponents of gun control in California that this state’s tough firearm laws are pointless – that try as we might, sick people will do what sick people do, and death, as ever, will have its way. But one of the key takeaways from the stunning report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the difference that can be made by measures that keep lethal weapons out of the hands of people in crisis. (6/9)
The Mercury News:
Be A Friend; Do Your Part To Help Stop Suicides
Few issues in life are more difficult for healthy, happy people to understand than the mindset of people who die by suicide. I know. My oldest brother killed himself in 1983 at the age of 31. Ever since, I’ve done what those left behind so often do: Wonder what I could have done — no, should have done — to prevent it. (Ed Clendaniel, 6/14)
Los Angeles Times:
Of Course Students At UC And Cal State Campuses Should Have Access To Medication Abortions
The University of California and the California State University have nearly three dozen campuses scattered across the state and every one of them has a student health center. All of those centers provide basic reproductive healthcare, including gynecological exams and contraception. Senate Bill 320 would extend that to include what is known as a medication abortion — a simple and safe nonsurgical procedure that involves taking two pills. (6/15)
San Jose Mercury News:
Low's Legislation Will Help Reduce Opioid Abuse
Low’s legislation centers around thoughtful ways to strengthen the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES), a computerized database maintained by the state Department of Justice for electronic monitoring of the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances including opioids. ... We are hopeful that efforts at the state level, such as the legislation authored by Assemblyman [Evan] Low, will help physicians ensure that patients who truly need opioids are able to obtain them, while identifying the few physicians who persistently overprescribe and the patients who are doctor-shopping or otherwise misusing these powerful drugs. These policies must be based on evidence-based guidelines for opioid prescribing, non-opioid alternatives, compassionate pain medicine, and humane treatment of dependence and addiction. (Dr. Karen Sibert, 6/13)
Los Angeles Times:
Conservatives Are Fighting To Roll Back Abortion Rights. And They're Winning
When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a strict Arkansas abortion law last month, it effectively made Arkansas the first state in the country to ban medication abortion. As a result, anyone seeking an abortion in Arkansas now has to travel out of state or to Little Rock, where the state’s only surgical abortion provider is located. (Surgical abortion is still legal.) There is no medical or health reason for this ban on medication abortion. (Cecile Richards, 6/13)
The Mercury News:
Why Building More Shelters Won't Solve Homelessness
Many naive policymakers discuss homelessness in purely economic terms, perpetrating a distracting myth. Sure, people become homeless for diverse reasons. One might be a LGBT youth, kicked out by parents. Another might be a spouse fleeing an abusive relationship. Those are prime candidates for conventional outreach and solutions: Make them aware of shelters and house them temporarily. But unlike the individuals above, the coterie of able-bodied young men living under my freeway exit could certainly pool resources (including government-provided funds) and share a modest apartment in a down-market locale — which would be better than sleeping outside. Understanding why they don’t is key to understanding the issue. (Mike Gatto, 6/14)
Why Raw Milk Is Dangerous And Needs To Be Regulated
Rates of serious illness from drinking “raw” or unpasteurized milk products are increasing. They need to be more strictly regulated. As a pediatrician at a Sacramento area hospital, I have seen the cost to families. An adorable 2-year-old boy with bright blue eyes was hospitalized for weeks, with a dialysis catheter coming out of his chest, after his kidneys failed from E coli. His parents tried their best to keep his spirits up, but the situation became traumatic for him. Sometimes kids’ kidneys do not recover. Sometimes they require a renal transplant. (Vidhi Jhaveri, 6/14)
How Long Will Sacramento Wait On Cannabis Equity?
Sacramento likes to think of itself as a leader — even the leader — of California’s burgeoning cannabis industry. And indeed, over the past year, the city has moved faster than most to start licensing dispensaries, cultivators and manufacturers, determined to collect millions of dollars in tax revenue sooner rather than later. Too bad the same can't be said of the city's efforts to create a cannabis equity program. (Erika D. Smith, 6/13)