- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Once Its Greatest Foes, Some Doctors Now Embrace Single-Payer
- Marketplace 1
- Religious Regulations Could Complicate Merger Between Catholic Health Initiatives And Dignity Health
- Courts 1
- Jury Awards Man With Terminal Cancer $289M In Suit Against Company That Makes Weedkiller Roundup
- Hospital Roundup 1
- Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Offers Look At What Is Needed To Woo Patients These Days
- Public Health and Education 3
- Expanded Mental Health Coverage Under ACA Hasn't Always Translated To More People Getting Care
- Campaign Aims To Cut C-Section Rates By Educating Moms-To Be, Encouraging Conversations With Doctors
- Hospice Company Was Prepared When The Time Came To Evacuate Because Of The Wildfires
Latest From California Healthline:
Young physicians in California and beyond are pushing the medical establishment to rethink its long-held opposition. The political fallout could be substantial. (Shefali Luthra, 8/10)
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Summaries Of The News:
The campaign against Rep. Anna Eshoo is the first time the super PAC Patients For Affordable Drugs Action has targeted a Democrat in its campaign to oust politicians "in the pockets of Big Pharma."
New Ads Attack Rep. Anna Eshoo For Being 'In The Pocket Of Big Pharma'
A group that’s buying ads to try to elevate the issue of high drug prices in the midterm elections has identified its latest target: a Democratic congresswoman from Silicon Valley who wants to lead on health care issues. Patients For Affordable Drugs Action will spend $500,000 on ads attacking Rep. Anna Eshoo for her legislative record and for accepting campaign contributions from the drug industry, the group announced Friday. Eshoo is expected to be re-elected easily in November. (Robbins, 8/10)
Drug Pricing Watchdog Group Targets California Dem In $500K Ad Buy
“Anna Eshoo’s record on drug prices is terrible, and the reason why is obvious,” said David Mitchell, founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Action. “She’s taken enormous sums of money from drug corporations, and she does their bidding in Washington." (Hellmann, 8/10)
Under the merger, all but one of Dignity's non-Catholic hospitals would be placed in a separate not-for-profit corporation and allowed to continue performing medical services that are deemed immoral by the church. But if church authorities later found this arrangement unethical, some or all of the non-Catholic hospitals could be severed from the combined CHI-Dignity system, which has yet to be named.
CHI-Dignity Merger Approval May Hinge On Catholic Religious Rules For Care
Catholic religious rules could pose serious obstacles to the pending merger between Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, a deal that would create the nation's largest not-for-profit hospital company by revenue. Those rules, the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, substantially shaped the way the deal, initially announced in 2016, was structured. The reason is that 15 of Dignity's 39 hospitals are historically non-Catholic and provide services that are prohibited under Catholic doctrine, forcing the dealmakers to craft a merger model that worked around the directives. (Meyer, 8/11)
The New York Times:
As Catholic Hospitals Expand, So Do Limits On Some Procedures
After experiencing life-threatening pre-eclampsia during her first two pregnancies, Jennafer Norris decided she could not risk getting pregnant again. But several years later, suffering debilitating headaches and soaring blood pressure, she realized her I.U.D. had failed. She was pregnant, and the condition had returned. At 30 weeks, with her health deteriorating, she was admitted to her local hospital in Rogers, Ark., for an emergency cesarean section. To ensure that she would never again be at risk, she asked her obstetrician to tie her tubes immediately following the delivery. (Hafner, 8/10)
And in other news on Dignity Health —
Dignity Health Invests More Than $1 Million In Sacramento Homeless Initiative
Dignity Health Sacramento announced Friday it will contribute $1.65 million to the city’s homeless initiative. The health system said $1.2 million will allow the triage shelter on Railroad Drive to stay open an additional three months until November, an extension The Sacramento Bee reported earlier this week. (Holzer, 8/10)
Capital Public Radio:
Sacramento’s Newest Homeless Shelter Was Set To Close, Then This Local Hospital Stepped Up
The center opened in December and was originally planned to close in March, but donations from private groups and Sutter Health kept it open through the summer. Now, Dignity Health’s donation means another three months of medical treatment, guaranteed meals, computer access and heating or air conditioning for the 200 homeless people served in the converted warehouse. (Caiola, 8/10)
Dewayne Johnson, 46, is a groundskeeper who used the products during his job. The jury found that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson of the cancer risks posed by its weedkillers.
Monsanto Ordered To Pay $289 Million In Roundup Cancer Trial
A California jury on Friday found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a school groundskeeper who said the company’s weedkillers, including Roundup, caused his cancer. The company was ordered pay $289 million in damages. The case of the groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, 46, was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging that Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers cause cancer. Monsanto, a unit of the German conglomerate Bayer following a $62.5 billion acquisition, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States. (8/10)
The Associated Press:
Jury Awards $289M To Man Who Blames Roundup For Cancer
"I'm glad to be here to be able to help in a cause that's way bigger than me," Dewayne Johnson said at a news conference Friday after the verdict was announced. Johnson, 46, alleges that heavy contact with the herbicide caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The state Superior Court jury agreed that Roundup contributed to Johnson's cancer and Monsanto should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard. (8/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
Monsanto Hit By $289 Million Verdict In Cancer Case
Monsanto said it would appeal. Punitive damages, especially those many times higher than the compensatory awards, are often reduced by the trial judge or reversed on appeal. “We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family,” Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge said in a statement. However, he said numerous scientific studies and health authorities in the U.S. and other countries found that glyphosate didn’t cause cancer. (Armental, 8/10)
Stanford’s new, $1.3 billion building is among the largest of numerous expansion projects at children’s hospitals across the country, and provides a model for what the hospital of the future needs to offer to patients.
In California, A Glimpse At The Future Of Elite Children’s Hospitals
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford is billed as the hospital of the future, but it doesn’t look much like a hospital at all. It is some hybrid of hotel, museum, and high-tech laboratory. (Dayal McCluskey, 8/11)
In Amador County, which has the state's third-highest suicide rate, there's a common complaint that there aren't enough mental health providers to meet the need.
Capital Public Radio:
Where Are The Psychiatrists? Amador County And Rural California Hit Hardest By Physician Shortage.
Amador County has the state’s third-highest suicide rate, according to the latest rankings from the California Department of Public Health. ... Insurance coverage for mental health services expanded under the Affordable Care Act, but it hasn’t translated to more people getting care. That’s because the supply of providers isn’t keeping up with demand. (Caiola, 8/12)
In other mental health news —
The California Health Report (healthycal.org):
For Low-Income Children, Access To Mental Health Care Varies Sharply By County
Fewer than 2 percent of Medi-Cal-enrolled youth under age 21 in Orange County consistently received a specialty mental health service in fiscal year 2015 to 2016, the most recent year for which such data is available. Only six other counties – Merced, Placer, Yolo, Madera, Marin and Riverside – served fewer youths through SMHS. At the other end of the spectrum are counties like San Francisco. Almost 5 percent of San Francisco’s Medi-Cal enrolled kids came into regular contact with the SMHS system between 2015 and 2016, data show. In fact, San Francisco was among the 14 counties with access rates at least double those of Orange County. While the percentage differences appear small, they represent potentially tens of thousands of kids in lower-performing counties who are missing out on mental health care. For example, if Orange County had the same proportion of kids getting SMHS as San Francisco, 13,000 more children and teens would have received mental health treatment. (Boyd-Barrett, 8/13)
In recent years, nearly one-third of low-risk, first-birth deliveries occurred via c-section in California.
The California Health Report:
A New Campaign To Reduce C-Sections Is Especially Critical For African-American Mothers And Babies
Earlier this year Covered California, the state health insurance exchange, issued an ultimatum to hospitals: lower the rates of cesarean (C-sections) for low-risk first-time mothers by 2020 or get bounced out of the allowed network of hospitals. In June, the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) extended that effort by engaging first-time mothers with a new campaign called My Birth Matters. The campaign includes animated videos that highlight pregnant women who are white and of color, as well as flyers and posters for providers’ offices. “The goal,” said Stephanie Teleki, director of the campaign at CHCF, “is to support the state’s effort by educating women about the overuse of C-sections and encouraging conversations between expectant moms and their providers.” (Kritz, 8/10)
In other public health news —
Los Angeles Times:
In The Game Of Online Dating, Men And Women Try To Level Up, Study Finds
In the world of online dating, men and women are looking to find someone a little out of their league, according to a new study. Scientists who analyzed user data from a popular dating site have found that heterosexual men and women reach out to potential dating partners who are on average about 25% more attractive than they are. The findings, published in the journal Science Advances, shed new light on the patterns and priorities of men and women when playing the online dating game. (Khan, 8/10)
With fires becoming more common in California, health care companies say the best way to handle the worst-case scenarios is to prepare for them.
How One Health Care Company Prepared For Wildfire
After evacuating two weeks ago for the Mendocino Complex Fire, hospice CEO Corrigan Gommenginger offered that advice as the most critical piece for leadership teams at small health care companies all around California. ...When an evacuation advisory was made a day after the Ranch and River fires chewed their way into Lake County, they said, they felt that they were as prepared as they could be. (Anderson, 8/11)
Ozone And Wildfire Smoke Are A Bad Combination In Fresno
People in the central San Joaquin Valley have been breathing smoke from the Ferguson Fire for nearly a month, but there’s more than a brown shroud of smoke that is making the air putrid and dangerous to breathe. Ozone, a corrosive gas that sears lungs, is building up to unhealthy and very unhealthy levels. (Anderson, 8/10)
The Mar-a-Lago group is led by the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, Isaac Perlmutter, 75, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s and a member of his West Palm Beach golf club. Veterans advocates are worried that the group is going to exert pressure on new VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
The New York Times:
Outside Influence: The Veterans Agency’s Shadowy Leadership
A new secretary was sworn in at the Department of Veterans Affairs in late July, but the people actually in charge of the agency may not have changed, and they are not at the headquarters in Washington, but on the manicured grounds of Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s West Palm Beach estate. A shadowy threesome known in the department as the “Mar-a-Lago crowd” has been quietly empowered by the president to help steer the veterans agency, and the men are exerting their influence in ways that affect millions of veterans, according to interviews with four former senior officials at the department and a report by the nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica. (Philipps, 8/10)
In other national health care news —
The New York Times:
A Judge Blocked A Medicaid Work Requirement. The White House Is Undeterred.
Trump administration officials, whose push to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries was dealt a blow by a federal judge in June, say they have found a way around the ruling and will continue to allow states to put the restrictions in place. The judge, James E. Boasberg of the Federal District Court in Washington, stopped a Kentucky plan to introduce the work requirements after finding that the secretary of health and human services had failed to consider the state’s estimate that the new rules would cause 95,000 low-income people to lose Medicaid coverage. Limiting access to medical assistance does not promote the objectives of the Medicaid program, he said. (Pear, 8/11)
States Fight Trump On Non-ObamaCare Health Plans
The Trump administration's new policy of expanding the sale of “short-term” insurance plans as a cheaper alternative to ObamaCare is quickly running into opposition from state regulators. The Department of Health and Human Services is urging states to cooperate with the federal government, but instead, insurance commissioners are panning the new plans as "junk” insurance and state legislatures are putting restrictions on their sales. (Weixel, 8/12)
Fearing ‘Blue Wave,’ Drug, Insurance Companies Build Single-Payer Defense
Powerful health-care interests worried that a Democratic “blue wave” could give new energy to single-payer health-care legislation have created a new group to take on the issue. The formation of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future is a sign of the health-care industry’s alarm over growing support for a single payer health-care law within the Democratic Party. (Sullivan, 8/10)
Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings Set For Sept. 4
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation hearings will start on Sept. 4 and last between three and four days, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced on Friday. That scheduling tees up the GOP to meet its goal of getting President Donald Trump's pick seated on the high court by the time its term begins in early October, barring unforeseen obstacles or a breakthrough by Democrats who are pushing to derail Kavanaugh's confirmation. (Schor, 8/10)
Lax State Ethics Rules Leave Health Agencies Vulnerable To Conflicts
When Surgeon General Jerome Adams was the top health official in Indiana, he owned thousands of dollars in tobacco and pharmaceutical stocks which potentially conflicted with his state responsibilities. Those stocks were never revealed under lax Indiana disclosure laws. His investments became public only when he was required to divest them to serve as the nation’s top doctor — and HHS says he is in full compliance with federal ethics laws. (Ehley, Karlin-Smith, Pradhan and Haberkorn, 8/12)
The Wall Street Journal:
IBM Has A Watson Dilemma
Can Watson cure cancer? That’s what International Business Machines Corp. asked soon after its artificial-intelligence system beat humans at the quiz show “Jeopardy!” in 2011. Watson could read documents quickly and find patterns in data. Could it match patient information with the latest in medical studies to deliver personalized treatment recommendations? (Hernandez and Greenwald, 8/11)
That Pathetic Alzheimer's Pipeline? It's Even Worse Than You Think
If it were any other disease, outraged patients and their families would be writing their legislators and demonstrating in front of drug makers’ headquarters. But Alzheimer’s is no ordinary disease, so the latest revelation that very few experimental drugs are being tested to see whether they might help people with moderate, let alone severe, dementia passed this week without so much as an indignant press release from advocacy groups or other Alzheimer’s organizations. (Begley, 8/10)
Gottlieb: FDA Will Streamline Drug Safety Evaluations
The Food and Drug Administration will soon standardize the way it handles data on the safety and effectiveness of drugs in an effort to reduce inconsistencies in the drug review process, agency Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Friday. “Rather than just looking at drug safety parameters in terms of the tables that are submitted to us, we’re going to actually take the raw data and evaluate it into custom tables, that the agency’s going to develop, that are going to be standardized across all our review divisions,” Gottlieb said. (Swetlitz, 8/10)