- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- A Dearth Of Hospital Beds For Patients In Psychiatric Crisis
- Pharmaceuticals 1
- Despite Attempts To Curb High Prices, Calif. Still Grappling With Crippling Drug Costs
- Public Health and Education 3
- One Lawyer's Battle Against The Opioid Epidemic
- Lead Levels Higher In Kids Living Near Closed Battery Recycling Plant In Vernon
- Study Reveals Extent That Demographics Play Into Cancer Survival Rates
Latest From California Healthline:
A California Assembly bill would require creating a mandatory registry for available psychiatric hospital beds, but the state hospital association calls it unworkable. (Jenny Gold, 4/11)
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Summaries Of The News:
As Florida is expected to become the second state to enact patient protections from surprise out-of-network billing, California lawmakers discuss a similar deal with physicians.
Florida, California Lawmakers Target Unexpected Medical Bills
Florida is poised to become the second big state after New York to shield patients from surprise out-of-network medical bills, and California may not be far behind if lawmakers there can cinch a similar deal with physicians. (Meyer, 4/9)
The 2013 law went into effect on Friday, making California the third state to allow women to get birth control from a pharmacy without a doctor's prescription.
Los Angeles Times:
What You Need To Know About California's New Birth Control Law
Officials announced Friday that girls and women in California can now drop by their neighborhood pharmacy and pick up birth control pills without a prescription from a doctor. It's not technically over-the-counter, but you can get them by talking to a pharmacist and filling out a questionnaire. California becomes the third state after Oregon and Washington to allow women to obtain more types of birth control directly from a pharmacist. (Karlamangla, 4/8)
The San Jose Mercury News:
California Pharmacists Can Now Provide Birth Control To Women
A 2013 law that allows California pharmacists to directly provide prescription contraceptives quietly went into effect, providing a significant new alternative for women but raising concerns among critics who worry the new law sends the wrong message to young teens. "It's really an opportunity to expand health care,'' said Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, which sponsored the original legislation on behalf of the state's 6,500 community pharmacies. (Seipel, 4/8)
You Can Now Get Birth Control From Your Pharmacist In California
Here's what it means for you: The pharmacist will ask you to complete a questionnaire with your medical history. The pharmacist might also take your blood pressure, if the contraceptive you're requesting poses a risk of high blood pressure. Before providing you with the birth control, the pharmacist will make sure you know how to use it and will discuss its effectiveness, potential side effects and the importance of receiving other preventive health screenings. The pharmacist will also note that hormonal contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. (Plevin, 4/8)
The Associated Press:
Women In California Can Get Birth Control From A Pharmacist
Critics say the new law sends the wrong message to teenage girls by allowing them to more easily get contraceptives. "They say it's for women, but they mean anyone," including teenage girls, California Right to Life spokeswoman Camille Giglio said. "The ability to get contraceptives from yet another source is not a benefit to young people," she added. "It is a barrier to communication between a mother and a child." (4/9)
Los Angeles Times:
Doubts Remain As California Allows Girls And Women To Get More Birth Control Without A Prescription
As of Friday, girls and women in California can pick up hormonal contraceptives, including pills and patches, at pharmacies without first visiting a doctor. Supporters of the change say that requiring an annual doctor’s visit creates unnecessary barriers to contraception and that easing access could reduce unintended pregnancies. ... Many people are raising questions about the new system, in which females of any age in California no longer need a doctor’s prescription to get certain types of birth control. California becomes just the third state to allow women to obtain hormonal birth control directly from a pharmacist, though many more are currently considering similar legislation. (Karlamangla, 4/8)
“There are very few tools in our toolbox” to control pharmaceutical spending, said Diana Dooley, secretary of California’s Health and Human Services.
What's California's Prescription For Rising Drug Costs?
Despite recent cost-cutting measures, such as putting tighter controls on which patients get coverage for which drugs and when, California’s spending on pharmaceuticals has gone up, and so has the number of pricey drugs it is covering. It’s not clear state agencies have the means to balance drug cost pressures in a way that serves the best interests of patients, taxpayers and public health. (Bartolone, 3/24)
Veteran Los Angeles narcotics prosecutor John Niedermann is making a name for himself as a hero by going up against doctors who overprescribe pain medication while the opioid crisis ravages the country.
Los Angeles Times:
L.A. County Prosecutor Has Played A Key Role In Crackdown On 'Pill Mill' Doctors
The battle against "pill mill" doctors in Los Angeles County began with four boxes gathering dust in a prosecutors' building downtown. The cardboard containers were stuffed with incriminating documents about a doctor so prolific at dispensing drugs that only the entire staff of Johns Hopkins Hospital had written more prescriptions for painkillers in a single month. But the boxes went largely ignored, shuttling from unit to unit within the district attorney's office before finally landing in front of veteran narcotics prosecutor John Niedermann. When he cracked open the boxes and began reading through thousands of pages of reports, he realized that the deadline for filing charges against Dr. Carlos Estiandan was just weeks away. (Gerber, 4/9)
In more news of possible lead contamination, The Desert Sun reports on steps California is taking to ensure the safety of drinking water.
Los Angeles Times:
Higher Levels Of Lead Found In Blood Of Children Near Exide Plant In Vernon
Children living near a now-closed Vernon battery recycling plant had higher levels of lead in their blood than those living farther away, according to an analysis by California health officials that is certain to increase pressure on state regulators to accelerate a massive cleanup of surrounding neighborhoods. The analysis released Friday by the state Department of Public Health found 3.58% of young children within a mile of the Exide Technologies facility had elevated levels of the poisonous metal in their blood in 2012, compared with 2.41% of children living at a greater distance. (Barboza, 4/8)
The Desert Sun:
California Looking At Response To Lead In Drinking Water
Amid a national conversation around lead in drinking water, California officials say they're taking steps to better ensure people in the state don't need to worry if their water is safe. An investigation by The Desert Sun and USA Today in March found nearly 100 public water systems in California with high readings of lead in tap water from 2012 to 2015. These included public schools where students could not use the drinking fountains because of concerns about lead. (Newkirk, 4/8)
The Desert Sun:
Bottle Fill-Up Stations Offer Safe Drinking Water
A local program that installs water bottle fill up stations in rural schools and community centers could be a model to increase access to safe drinking water throughout California. (Solis, 4/8)
Although it is accepted research that a patient's marital status helps determine his or her survival rate, a new new study delves into the subgroups of unmarried people and finds variation in the outcomes.
The San Jose Mercury News:
Cancer Survival In California: Marriage Helps, But Benefit Varies With Demographics
It's widely known that your chances of surviving cancer are better if you're married. But a new California-based study released today reports that the benefits of being married also vary by sex, race, ethnicity and birthplace, with white bachelors and white single women in the Golden State doing worse than their married counterparts. (Seipel, 4/11)
Meanwhile, another study looks at how living in expensive cities such as San Francisco versus less affluent ones affects life expectancy —
It's Not Just What You Make, It's Where You Live, Study On Life Expectancy Says
Poor people who reside in expensive, well-educated cities such as San Francisco tend to live longer than low-income people in less affluent places, according to a study of more than a billion Social Security and tax records. The study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, bolsters what was already well known — the poor tend to have shorter lifespans than those with more money. But it also says that among low-income people, big disparities exist in life expectancy from place to place, said Raj Chetty, professor of economics at Stanford University. (Zarroli, 4/11)
The state has approved two outpatient care centers at the Ventura County Medical Center's Pediatric Diagnostic Center. "People don't have to drive to L.A.," said Dr. Chris Landon, director of pediatrics at Ventura County Medical Center. "This is the same they would get at UCLA, the same they would get at Children's Hospital."
The Ventura County Star:
Pediatric Care Expanded At County Diagnostic Center
State approvals have allowed a Ventura County pediatric center to expand specialty care for children. Two outpatient care centers at the Ventura County Medical Center's Pediatric Diagnostic Center in Ventura have been approved by the California Children's Services Program. The centers on rheumatology and gastroenterology focus on conditions including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and digestive tract diseases. (Kisken, 4/9)