Latest From California Healthline:
The Adelanto ICE Processing Center houses nearly 2,000 people in California. Federal, state and watchdog reviews say the Florida-based firm that runs the facility fails to provide adequate health care. (Sarah Varney, 4/15)
Good morning! Confused about where all the presidential candidates stand on universal health care? The Hill offers a helpful primer below. But first, here are your top California health stories of the day.
Sutter Health Agrees To $30M Settlement Over Allegations Of Submitting Inflated Diagnosis Codes To CMS: The Department of Justice alleged that Sutter Health and its affiliates had overcharged for services provided patients covered by Medicare’s managed care plan. Medicare pays those Medicare Advantage plans on a per-person basis, and the amount is determined by the individual’s health risk score. People with severe diagnoses are scored higher, and private plans are therefore paid more to enroll them. According to the allegations, the Sutter affiliates submitted unsubstantiated diagnoses for certain patients that elevated their risk score, which meant the private plans and Sutter collected more money. “With some one-third of people in Medicare now enrolled in managed care...plans, large health care systems such as Sutter can expect a thorough investigation of claimed enrollees’ health status,” said Steven J. Ryan, special agent in charge with the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The $30 million settlement resolves the claims but does not assign any liability to Sutter. Read more from the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle and Modern Healthcare.
Closure Of Board-And-Care Homes That Help People With Mental Health Illnesses, Puts Stress on Already Vulnerable Population: Advocates are disturbed that the closure of the board-and-care homes seems to be a recent and growing trend. Since 2012, San Francisco has lost more than a third of licensed residential facilities that serve people under 60, and more than a quarter of those serving older clients. Meanwhile, Los Angeles, which has a large portion of the state’s board-and-cares, has lost more than 200 beds for low-income people with serious mental illness in the past year. “If legislators don’t get onto this, we’re in big trouble,” said Lisa Kodmur, who is contracting with Los Angeles County on the issue. “We will see more homelessness, more incarceration, more institutionalization, more people living on the streets.” The problem is being driven by the housing crisis and the costs associated with staffing the homes. Read more from CALmatters.
Firefighters Suffering From PTSD Back Bill That Would Help Them Pay For Mental Health Services: The legislation, sponsored by the California Professional Firefighters and the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, would compel government agencies to grant police and firefighter workers’ compensation claims post-traumatic stress. Currently, they can only get compensation if the disorder causes disability or requires medical treatment. They must also prove job experiences are a “substantial cause” — meaning 35 to 40 percent — of their injury. Sen. Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) said the proposal, paves way to “treating mental health illnesses as equal to any of those other workplace injuries.” The legislation comes as public health officials try to battle an increase in firefighter and police suicides. Read more from the Sacramento Bee.
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. And have a healthy weekend.
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More News From Across The State
Orange County Register:
Increase In Measles Cases Nationally Has Doctors, Public Health Officials On Alert
An uptick in measles cases in California and other parts of the country, coupled with resistance to vaccines, has physicians and public health officials concerned that a potentially fatal disease, which was declared eradicated in the United States nearly two decades ago, might create a public health crisis. As of Wednesday, April 10, 21 measles cases have been reported in California including one in Los Angeles County. On Wednesday, Long Beach health officials announced that a person recently traveled through Long Beach Airport while having measles, putting others at risk of contracting the highly contagious disease. (Bharath, 4/12)
The Wall Street Journal:
California Governor Proposes Fixes To State’s Wildfire Crisis
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday released a suite of proposals for how to confront the soaring wildfire liability costs that pushed PG&E Corp. into bankruptcy and threaten the financial health of the state’s other utilities. The ideas include creating a California wildfire fund to spread costs from fire-related lawsuits, and modifying a state liability standard that makes utilities responsible for damages arising from fires sparked by their equipment, even if they aren’t found negligent in maintaining it. (Blunt, 4/12)
Capital Public Radio:
For Camp Fire Victims With Medical Needs, Care Remains Scattered
The Camp Fire sent a flood of patients to nearby hospitals, which have reported spikes in emergency room visits in the months since the fire. Some Adventist clinics in the Paradise area reopened after the fire to offer family medicine, behavioral health, general surgery and other services to residents who stayed. The health system has posted a list of where to find treatment. (Caiola, 4/12)
UCD Research Behind 1st Drug Specifically For Postpartum Depression
Federal regulators have approved the first drug treatment specifically for women with postpartum depression, an innovation made possible because two UC Davis Health researchers took a closer look at a steroid that has anti-depressant potential, the health system announced late Thursday. The University of California licensed UCD’s patented discovery to publicly traded Sage Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company based near Boston, and the company’s share price has risen since March 19 when it reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved sales of the new drug Zulresso. (Anderson, 4/15)
The New York Times:
Gene-Edited Babies: What A Chinese Scientist Told An American Mentor
“Success!” read the subject line of the email. The text, in imperfect English, began: “Good News! The women is pregnant, the genome editing success!” The sender was He Jiankui, an ambitious, young Chinese scientist. The recipient was his former academic adviser, Stephen Quake, a star Stanford bioengineer and inventor. “Wow, that’s quite an achievement!” Dr. Quake wrote back. “Hopefully she will carry to term...” (Belluck, 4/14)
Young Women In The Eastern Coachella Valley Address Mental Health Through Storytelling
Mental health is a largely stigmatized conversation among young Latina women and other women of color in the Eastern Coachella Valley, a rural, unincorporated area of Riverside County. In 2018, a small group of young women, ranging from ages 15-25, and their adult allies launched a new storytelling collective called ¡Que Madre! Media with the goal of challenging those stigmas through storytelling. (Rodriguez, 4/14)
Capital Public Radio/KXJZ:
California Allows Marijuana Delivery Pretty Much Anywhere. But Some Cities Are Pushing Back — And Suing.
The lawsuit claims the state’s rule allowing outside cannabis delivery undermines Proposition 64, the 2016 ballot measure that legalized recreational cannabis. Prop. 64 guaranteed cities and counties local control over certain cannabis activities, and the lawsuit argues that includes delivery. (Rodd, 4/12)
Democratic Proposals To Overhaul Health Care: A 2020 Primer
About 20 million Americans have gained coverage under ObamaCare since it was passed in 2010, but nearly 9 percent — 30 million people — still don’t have health insurance. All Democrats running for president say they want to provide universal health care coverage to Americans. But they have different ideas about how to get there. (Hellmann, 4/14)
Trump’s Health Care Blundering Soothes Democratic Infighting
House Democrats disagree sharply over where to take the nation’s health care system, but the infighting has eased — and for that they can thank President Donald Trump. The Trump administration’s renewed assault on Obamacare has quelled for the moment the simmering tensions over "Medicare for All" between Democrats’ vocal progressive wing and more moderate members and leaders. (Ollstein and Cancryn, 4/12)
The Washington Post:
Resilient Health-Care Law More Popular Despite Trump’s Repeated Assaults
President Trump has begun a fresh assault on the Affordable Care Act, declaring his intent to come up with a new health-care plan and backing a state-led lawsuit to eliminate the entire law. But Trump and Republicans face a major problem: The 2010 law known as Obamacare has become more popular and enmeshed in the country’s health-care system over time. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid — including more than a dozen run by Republicans — and 25 million more Americans are insured, with millions more enjoying coverage that is more comprehensive because of the law. (Winfield Cunningham, 4/13)
The New York Times:
Justice Dept. Declines To Defend Law Against Female Circumcision, Citing Flaws
The Justice Department told a lawmaker this week that it had stopped defending a federal prohibition on female genital mutilation because of flaws in the law, two weeks after it also began fighting the Affordable Care Act in court rather than defend it. The department “reluctantly determined” that it could not appeal a federal judge’s decision to throw out a female circumcision case because the statute outlawing the practice needed to be rewritten, the solicitor general, Noel J. Francisco, wrote in a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Benner, 4/12)
Democrats Feud Over Drug Pricing Policy, As Progressives Push To Be Bolder
Democratic leadership and the party’s progressive flank are feuding over how best to lower drug prices. In recent weeks, tensions between the two camps have escalated, and some fights have even spilled into public view. In a high-profile tug of war, lawmakers hoping to strike an accord with the Trump administration have been forced to confront a faction pressing Democrats to instead pursue a bolder progressive agenda — albeit one that the GOP-controlled Senate would surely ignore. (Facher and Florko, 4/15)
The New York Times:
V.A. Officials, And The Nation, Battle An Unrelenting Tide Of Veteran Suicides
Three veterans killed themselves last week on Department of Veterans Affairs health care properties, barely a month after President Trump announced an aggressive task force to address the unremitting problem of veteran suicide. Mr. Trump’s executive order was a tacit acknowledgment of what the deaths rendered obvious: The department has not made a dent in stemming the approximately 20 suicide deaths every day among veterans, about one and a half times more often than those who have not served in the military, according to the most recent statistics available from the department. (Steinhauer, 4/14)
The Washington Post:
Ohio Heartbeat Bill: U.S. Republicans Hope To Take Advantage Of New Supreme Court
North Dakota state lawmakers passed the first “heartbeat” bill in 2013 — a law that banned abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can happen as early as six weeks, before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Lower courts ruled it unconstitutional, based on the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, and the high court refused to hear the appeal. Iowa passed a similar bill last year, and a state judge declared it unconstitutional, too. (Mettler, 4/12)
Patrick Kennedy Pressuring Insurers To Boost Mental Healthcare
Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, co-sponsored the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act while serving as a Democratic congressman from Rhode Island. In 2013, he founded the not-for-profit Kennedy Forum to support parity in health insurance coverage for behavioral and addiction treatment and advance evidence-based practices. Kennedy, who wrote a 2015 memoir about his and his family’s struggles with mental illness and addiction, currently is pushing regulators and large employers to crack down on insurers that discriminate against people who need behavioral care. Kennedy recently spoke with Modern Healthcare senior reporter Harris Meyer. The following is an edited transcript. (Meyer, 4/13)
The New York Times:
Medicare Aims To Expand Coverage Of Cancer Care. But Is It Enough?
In a major test case, Medicare is poised to cover a promising but expensive new type of cancer treatment, with significant restrictions meant to hold down the cost. Cancer patients, doctors and drug companies are urging the Trump administration to remove the restrictions and broaden coverage so more patients can benefit from the treatment, known as CAR T cell therapy, or CAR-T. But insurance companies are pushing for the restrictions. (Pear, 4/13)
The Washington Post:
Obesity Becoming No. 1 Preventable Cancer Cause
Smoking has been the No. 1 preventable cause of cancer for decades and still kills more than 500,000 people a year in the United States. But obesity is poised to take the top spot, as Americans’ waistlines continue to expand while tobacco use plummets. The switch could occur in five or 10 years, said Otis Brawley, a Johns Hopkins oncologist and former chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. The rise in obesity rates could threaten the steady decline in cancer death rates since the early 1990s, he said. (McGinley, 4/14)
The Washington Post:
Multiple Primary Cancers Can Afflict One Patient
Noelle Johnson, 42, was diagnosed with her first cancer — a soft tissue sarcoma under her right arm — in 1999 when she was 21. In 2013, her physicians found six different cancers in her breasts. In the years that followed, surgeons discovered and removed numerous masses they deemed “premalignant” from her ovary, her uterus, her leg, arm and chest wall, aiming to get them out before they turned cancerous. Each tumor was distinct, that is, none resulted from the spread of any of the others. For Johnson, having multiple primary tumors diagnosed at an unusually young age was both scary and baffling. “It was crazy,” recalls Johnson, who lives in Windsor, Col., where she operates a day-care center in her home. “My world started to spin. It was a huge red flag.” (Cimons, 4/14)