- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Denti-Cal Is Blasted By Oversight Commission
- Pregnant And Addicted: The Tough Road To A Healthy Family
- Marketplace 2
- Oversight Agency Blasts California's 'Dysfunctional' Dental Program For Poor
- Anthem, Dignity Health To Collaborate On New Health Insurance Plan
Latest From California Healthline:
“Thousands of toddlers have mouthfuls of cavities … People with state dental benefits deserve a government program that works.” (David Gorn, 4/4)
Guilt still haunts a new mother who was addicted to opioids when she got pregnant. Once she was ready to ask for help, treatment programs that could handle her complicated pregnancy were hard to find. (Sarah Jane Tribble, WCPN, 4/4)
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Summaries Of The News:
California health officials are "falling disastrously short" of providing dental care for low-income Californians, a report by a bipartisan commission says.
Capital Public Radio:
State Report Slams Denti-Cal
A California oversight board is calling the state dental program for low-income people “baffling, frustrating,” and “harmful.” The Little Hoover Commission writes in a report released Friday that outdated regulations and bureaucracy create “high levels of havoc” for the 13 million Californians enrolled in Denti-Cal. (Bradford, 4/1)
Denti-Cal Is Blasted By Oversight Commission
The program, Denti-Cal, “ranks among state government’s greatest deficiencies,” said the report by the Little Hoover Commission, a statutorily independent oversight agency. The program falls “disastrously short in providing dental care to a third of California’s population and more than half of its children.” A more vivid description comes from Pedro Nava, the commission’s chairman: “In California we have kids’ teeth rotting out of their heads,” he told CHL. “That’s utterly inexcusable.” The report makes grim reading. California faces an “epidemic of tooth disease in which toddlers by the thousands have mouthfuls of cavities, children and adults are plagued with toothaches, whole counties have no Denti-Cal providers and families don’t understand basic preventative dental care,” it said. (Gorn, 4/1)
The new program is designed for self-insured groups or large employers with more than 101 employees.
The Sacramento Business Journal:
Anthem Launches An Employer Health Plan With Dignity Health
Anthem Blue Cross announced Thursday it will collaborate with Dignity Health to offer a new insurance plan designed to lower costs through an integrated care management system. The plan is a tiered program that allows employers to choose either an Exclusive Provider Organization or a Preferred Provider Organization. The EPO provides the best price and offers a pre-determined network of providers. The PPO provides access to a wider range of providers with varying copay and cost-share levels. (Anderson, 4/1)
In other news, Sutter Health is set to open three retail clinics —
The Sacramento Business Journal:
Sutter Health Rolls Out Walk-In Clinics For Quick Health Care
Sutter Health is opening three standalone walk-in clinics this spring that will cater to patients who need routine care or treatment for everyday illnesses such as the flu. (Anderson, 4/1)
The goal of the possible legislation is to promote awareness of the disease's symptoms in order to protect young athletes.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Heart Foundation Rooting For State Bill
After their 15-year-old son died of sudden cardiac arrest — a failure of his heart’s electrical system – Eric Paredes’ parents set a goal. They were going to help craft legislation that would help educate parents, teachers and coaches about the affliction that killed their son. It would also be designed to better protect student athletes, who are most susceptible to the often fatal condition which can strike with no warning. (Winkley, 4/3)
Doctors with the End of Life Washington have come up with a drug mixture that would cost $500, and officials in California are considering using it as well.
The Associated Press:
Right-To-Die Group Comes Up With New, Cheaper Medication
Right-to-die advocates in Washington state have created a cheaper alternative mixture of medications to help terminally ill patients legally end their lives after a drug company abruptly hiked the price of a drug commonly used for the purpose. Doctors with the End of Life Washington advocacy group concocted the alternative for about $500, after Valeant Pharmaceuticals International of Quebec acquired the drug and jacked up the price to about $3,000, The Seattle Times reported. ... Doctors in Oregon have also adopted the drug mixture. Officials in California, where a similar law takes effect later this year, are considering it as well. (4/3)
In other pharmaceutical news, rheumatoid arthritis drug prices are going up —
Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Prices On The Rise
Rheumatoid arthritis drug prices have risen steeply over the past three years, despite little to no change in composition, experts and insurers say. The wholesale cost of Enbrel, a drug used to treat a number of chronic conditions, has increased 80.3% since 2013, and now exceeds $4,000 for a 30-day supply, according to data gathered by the Alliance of Community Health Plans. The price of Humira went up 68.7% to roughly $3,700 in the same time frame, and the price of Xeljanz rose 44.3% to over $3,100. ... Thousand Oaks, Cali.-based Amgen, which sells Enbrel, said in a statement that its prices reflect “economic value that is delivered to patients, providers and payers, the unmet medical need, the size of the patient population, the investment and risk undertaken, and the need to fund continued scientific innovation.” (Rubenfire, 4/1)
As nursing homes take in more and more young patients with mental health issues and drug abuse problems, the shifting population is leading to a "dangerous mix" that's creating turmoil for the facilities.
The Sacramento Bee:
Shifting Population In California Nursing Homes Creates 'Dangerous Mix'
David Thompson was living at the Midnight Mission on Los Angeles’ Skid Row when he secured a bed several years ago at a South Pasadena nursing home. For a man who had been homeless for 35 years, the arrangement seemed like a stable step forward. Instead, he discovered that South Pasadena Convalescent Hospital was visited regularly by local police, summoned to the facility to break up fights or investigate alleged drug-dealing and thefts by residents. Thompson, injured decades earlier in a car wreck, recalled how the nursing home had lots of younger patients with no apparent disabilities. (Lundstorm and Reese, 4/3)
In other news from around the state —
The Daily Breeze:
South Bay On Cutting Edge Of Fight Against Newest Deadly 'Superbug'
It’s microscopic, deadly and spreading quickly. But South Bay researchers may have found a sure-fire way to quash the exponential spread of Klebsiella — or CRE for short — the latest antibiotic-resistant bacteria to vex physicians. Like its cousin MRSA, Klebsiella’s preferred breeding grounds are health-care facilities, and its danger to neighboring communities and healthy individuals is very low. But there is no known cure and projections show an exponential spread if the problem isn’t contained quickly, according to South Bay researchers on the front lines of the worldwide medical war against CRE. (Mazza, 4/2)
Kern Sees Dramatic Increase In Number Of Babies Born With Syphilis
Kern County has seen a dramatic increase in the number of babies born with syphilis over the last three years. For decades, cases of congenital syphilisin the county have been fairly low or nonexistent. It is a problem that has county health officials stressing the importance of prevention, detection and treatment. (Elkalla, 4/1)
Although patients taking the drug saw their LDL cholesterol fall and their HDL levels rise as hoped, researchers find that it didn't have an impact on whether they had heart attacks and strokes, or died from cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, one study confirms statin intolerance while another shows that statins have positive benefits in a globally diverse group of people.
The New York Times:
Dashing Hopes, Study Shows A Cholesterol Drug Had No Effect On Heart Health
It is a drug that reduces levels of LDL cholesterol, the dangerous kind, as much as statins do. And it more than doubles levels of HDL cholesterol, the good kind, which is linked to protection from heart disease. As a result, heart experts had high hopes for it as an alternative for the many patients who cannot or will not take statins. But these specialists were stunned by the results of a study of 12,000 patients, announced on Sunday at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting: There was no benefit from taking the drug, evacetrapib. (Kolata, 4/3)
The Washington Post:
Statin Intolerance Is Real, Researchers Find. Another (More Costly) Drug May Get Around The Problem.
Statins like Lipitor and its generics have revolutionized cardiovascular care for nearly two decades as an effective, inexpensive way to reduce LDL cholesterol, the so-called bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. Not everyone can take them, though; a significant number of people complain of muscle pain, weakness and cramping so severe that they discontinue the therapy even at the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Their resistance to the medication has been controversial, because in most cases there are no biomarkers for the muscle problems individuals describe. (Bernstein, 4/3)
The Associated Press:
Global Research Sees Statin Benefits In Lower Risk Patients
The first major research of its kind shows that cholesterol-lowering statins can prevent heart attacks and strokes in a globally diverse group of older people who don't have heart disease. The results bolster recommendations in recent guidelines on who should consider taking the drugs. The aim was to prevent heart problems using a statin alone, blood pressure drugs or a combination of the two. The three approaches are commonly used in high risk patients or those with evidence of heart disease. The patients in the study did not have heart disease and faced lower risks of developing it, and the statin approach worked best. (4/2)
In other national news —
The New York Times:
Finding The Best Addiction Treatment, With Hired Help
Treatment for drug and alcohol addictions is incredibly expensive, often rising to tens of thousands of dollars a month for residential treatment. And even people who have good insurance that will pay for such programs often face limits on how much that insurance will cover. Yet people like the Frawleys, who could afford treatment for their daughter, still face the issue of finding the right treatment. That is where a small group of people have stepped up as consultants to guide families through the many options for treatment. (Sullivan, 4/1)
The New York Times:
Medicare Is Often Overbilled By Hospices, And Pays Twice For Some Drugs
Hospices often bill Medicare for a higher level of care than patients need, and Medicare often pays twice for the prescription drugs provided to people who are terminally ill, federal investigators say in a new report. The extra cost to Medicare was put at more than $260 million a year. “Many hospices have been billing far more than they should have,” said Nancy T. Harrison, a deputy regional inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services who led the investigation. (Pear, 4/2)