- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- Puberty Blockers May Improve The Mental Health Of Transgender Adolescents
- Drug Price Transparency Bill Clears Key Hurdle in California Legislature
- Insurance Rules Can Hamper Recovery From Opioid Addiction
- Sacramento Watch 2
- A Look At California's New Aid-In-Dying Law In Practice
- Hundreds Sent Home From School As Vaccination Law Goes Into Effect
- Public Health and Education 2
- Experts Fear Brazil's Rematch Against Zika Mosquito Is Unwinnable
- Advocates Push For Universal Vaccinations Amid Meningitis Outbreak, But Officials Balk
Latest From California Healthline:
Putting sexual development on hold gives children a breather as they consider transitioning to the opposite gender. But when to begin? (Elaine Korry, 8/15)
The end of August is the deadline for lawmakers to make a final decision on the measure, which would require pharmaceutical companies to provide advance notice of large price increases and introduction of expensive new drugs. (Ana B. Ibarra, 8/12)
Medicaid and other health insurers require doctors to file time-consuming paperwork before allowing them to prescribe drugs that help people quit opioids. That delay fosters relapse, specialists say. (Jake Harper, Side Effects Public Media, 8/15)
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Summaries Of The News:
Tom House is one of a handful of people who have chosen to share their stories of being able to choose when to end their lives.
With Barbiturates And Martini, Sonoma Man Among First Californians To Die Under End-Of-Life Law
That law is California’s End of Life Option Act, which went into effect two months ago, on June 9. Enacted after years of contentious debate, it allows terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request a lethal prescription from their primary care doctor. ... (Tom) House passed away at home with his son, daughter-in-law and family pastor at his bedside. He is among the first Northern Californians to take his life legally under the new law. (Buck, 8/15)
The new law requires students to be checked for vaccination paperwork in kindergarten and 7th grade. Meanwhile, a judge hearing a case against the new law said he will likely issue his ruling the week of Aug. 22.
Scores Of Students Without Vaccine Proof Sent Home On First Day Of School
Scores of Sacramento area students were sent home from school this week after they showed up for kindergarten and seventh grade without proof of vaccination. In the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, 145 students out of about 3,200 starting kindergarten and seventh grade were sent home Tuesday on the first day of school for lack of immunization records, according to spokesman Daniel Thigpen. A new state law that took effect July 1 eliminated personal- and religious-belief exemptions for families that opted to avoid vaccinations for their children. Under the new law, students entering the two checkpoint years of kindergarten and seventh grade are now required to show proof of vaccination. (Kalb, 8/12)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Judge Avoids Immediate Ruling In California School Vaccination Case
A judge declined to immediately decide whether to suspend California’s nationally watched school vaccination law after a hearing Friday in downtown San Diego. The courtroom session took place as the law, one of the toughest of its kind in the United States, is being rolled out for the first time with resumption of K-12 classes from Chula Vista to Los Angeles to San Francisco. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw listened to a request from 17 families — including three in San Diego County — and two foundations seeking a preliminary injunction against Senate Bill 277, which the Legislature passed last year and whose main provision took effect on July 1. (Sisson, 8/12)
Debora Rose was fired after she was told she needed a $265,000 liver transplant. Following the termination, she sued the company's health-plan administrator saying it gave confidential information about Rose’s health to her employer.
Sanger Woman Dies, But Her Legal Battle With HealthComp Continues
When [Debora] Rose died last month at age 60, she was in the midst of a legal fight with HealthComp Inc., a health-plan administrator for private companies. In her Fresno County Superior Court lawsuit, Rose contended that when her liver started to fail, she thought her employer, Harris Ranch Beef Co. in Selma, and its health-plan administrator, HealthComp, were trying to help her by assigning a case manager to assist her in wading through the complicated paperwork. (Lopez, 8/13)
Drugs based on cannabinoids, which could treat ailments ranging from arthritis to epilepsy, hold untold potential for the pharmaceutical industry.
The Orange County Register:
Pharma Sees Potential In Marijuana
“We don’t talk about marijuana or cannabis,” said Dr. Brian Murphy, CEO of Nemus Bioscience. “We talk about cannabinoids.” Those are the chemical compounds in marijuana that have both psychoactive and therapeutic effects. And they are enticing pharmaceutical companies to spend years and millions of dollars pursuing government approval of new drugs inspired by the plant. (Edwards, 8/14)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Santa Rosa Invites Marijuana Businesses To Step Out Of The Shadows
Perhaps more than any other city in Sonoma County, Santa Rosa has signaled its willingness to welcome the cannabis industry in from the shadows. Back in 2005, it was the first city in the county to permit medical marijuana dispensaries. Two years ago, it lifted a cap that had limited such operations to 500 patients.Then this year, prompted by new state licensing rules, it opened its doors further. In February it authorized, with proper permits, commercial cannabis cultivation in industrial areas and support services — like testing, manufacturing and distribution operations — in industrial and office zones. (McCallum, 8/14)
The country persevered more than a half-century ago, but the battlefield looks a whole lot different now. The Los Angeles Times also offers other coverage of the Zika virus.
Los Angeles Times:
Brazil Defeated The Mosquito That Spreads Zika Once Before — Few Expect It To Do So Again
With no vaccine or treatment for Zika, Brazil’s government has few options besides sending teams to every infested region to hunt down and kill the insects that carry the virus, Aedes aegypti. Can the mosquito be defeated? (Zavis, 8/14)
Los Angeles Times:
Zika Infections Pass 10,000 In Puerto Rico; White House Diverts Federal Funds To Find A Vaccine
The number of infections caused by the Zika virus in Puerto Rico has surpassed 10,000, an official said Friday, a day after the White House said it would redirect funds from other efforts to help pay for research to find a vaccine. The moves come as Florida continues to spray insecticide in parts of Miami to kill mosquitoes that can transmit the virus. The spraying was launched last week after health officials identified cases of locally transmitted Zika. Previous infections reported in the U.S. occurred only among people who traveled abroad. (Fernandez, 8/12)
Los Angeles Times:
How Our Methods For Fighting Mosquitoes Have Changed Over The Years
It’s not the fog of war, but it’s a war on bugs. And sometimes it’s fought with, well, fog. Recent efforts to halt the spread of the Zika virus in Florida bring to mind other times authorities have unleashed billowing clouds to combat pests. (Fernandez, 8/15)
State health officials have been pushing for gay and bisexual men to get vaccinated during an outbreak in which 19 out of the 24 cases involve that community. Some critics say it's not enough, though, and that the recommendations should cover everyone.
Los Angeles Times:
Amid Meningitis Outbreak, Officials Urge Vaccination — But Not For Everyone
Health officials in Los Angeles and Orange counties are racing to vaccinate gay men for meningitis, as a growing outbreak in the region appears to be hitting them particularly hard. Orange County health workers launched evening pop-up clinics at gay bars, night clubs and LGBT centers. At the first one, at the Velvet Lounge in Santa Ana on Saturday, 31 people got a free shot at the bar — against meningitis. (Karlamangla, 8/12)
Nearly half the counties in the U.S. don’t have an obstetrician/gynecologist and 56 percent are without a nurse midwife. “There are women in California who have to drive hours in order to see an ob-gyn,” said California Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, a Democrat.
A Shortage In The Nation's Maternal Health Care
Faced with a shortage of obstetricians and gynecologists and nurse midwives, several states are considering proposals that advocates say would improve health care for women. But with the female population of the United States and number of babies born here projected to increase sharply over the next decade and beyond, scholars and medical organizations say more dramatic changes are needed to ensure that the medical needs of American women are met. (Ollove, 8/15)
Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) held a hearing to gather information on how technology has been able to give veterans better access to health care and cut down on wait times.
Ventura County Star:
VA Doctors And Patients Hook Up Through Cameras And Television Screens
In 2015, VA providers delivered 2.1 million telehealth consultations to more than 677,000 veterans via video conferencing and other technologies. About 400,000 consultations were for mental health. VA in 2017 expects to deliver telehealth-based services to nearly 762,000 veterans, an increase of 12.5 percent compared to 2015. (Koehler, 8/12)
A workshop at the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford allowed younger patients to come up with creative solutions to the daily annoyances they experience or see others face.
The Mercury News:
Stanford: Teen Patients, Clinicians Create Solutions For Medical Issues They Say Need A Fix
Megan Mehta loves her heart doctor, but said he's so busy that he's sometimes hours late for her appointments. And Sina Sulunga-Kahaialii thinks there's got to be an easier way for kidney patients to get a home dialysis machine that matches the height of their beds. These aren't frustrated adults talking. They're patients at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital who are waiting for or have recently received life-saving organ transplants. And this weekend, after putting their heads together at a workshop at the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford, where two of them are living, they came up with some practical solutions to a few health care challenges that they -- and many of the rest of us -- have confronted. (Seipel, 8/15)
The continuing rise of premiums is causing some experts to worry that more people will refuse to buy insurance and that could lead to a collapse of the market. Meanwhile, insurers are using a mechanism created by the federal health law to help keep prices down to instead justify their premium increases.
The New York Times:
Cost, Not Choice, Is Top Concern Of Health Insurance Customers
It is all about the price. Millions of people buying insurance in the marketplaces created by the federal health care law have one feature in mind. It is not finding a favorite doctor, or even a trusted company. It is how much — or, more precisely, how little — they can pay in premiums each month. And for many of them, especially those who are healthy, all the prices are too high. (Abelson, 8/12)
The New York Times:
Health Insurers Use Process Intended To Curb Rate Increases To Justify Them
After the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2010, it created a review mechanism intended to prevent exorbitant increases in health insurance rates by shaming companies that sought them. But this summer, insurers are turning that process on its head, using it to highlight the reasons they are losing money under the health care law and their case for raising premiums in 2017. (Pear, 8/14)
In other national health care news —
U.S. News & World Report:
Same-Sex Infertility Case Exposes Lack Of Access To Reproductive Treatment
A recent lawsuit involving lesbians in New Jersey who are trying to conceive is highlighting how unaffordable infertility treatments can be – and raising deeper questions about who has the right to assistance in conceiving a child. For many Americans, health insurance does not cover fertility treatment; the few for whom it does are usually in heterosexual marriages. But today's modern family is different: same-sex marriage is legal, the government has lifted its ban on taxpayer dollars going toward gender reassignment surgery and single people choose to become parents on their own. But while these people don't fit the description of traditional parents, is it discrimination not to help them have a child? (Leonard, 8/15)
Most Providers Will Opt To Avoid Too Much Risk Under Medicare's New MACRA Payment System
Hospital boardrooms are beginning to sound more like those on Wall Street, with talk of upside and downside risk, capitation and a hefty addition of new acronyms. Hospitals, health systems and physician groups are now in the process of deciding which of the two possible reimbursement paths they will take under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which replaced the rarely implemented sustainable growth-rate formula for determining physician pay. (Muchmore, 8/13)
Will Your Prescription Meds Be Covered Next Year? Better Check!
The battle continues to rage between drug companies that are trying to make as much money as possible and insurers trying to drive down drug prices. And consumers are squarely in the middle. That's because, increasingly, prescription insurers are threatening to kick drugs off their lists of approved medications if the manufacturers won't give them big discounts. (Kodjak, 8/15)