Latest From California Healthline:
Kate Gordon, director of Gov. Gavin Newsom's Office of Planning and Research, is tasked with identifying and mitigating the risks of climate change in California. She spoke to California Healthline about how that work intersects with health, and how residents can get involved. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, 12/9)
Good morning! Despite the fact that California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, a quarter of the state’s residents still live in a household with a gun, a new survey finds. More on that below, but first here are your top California health stories for the day.
University Of California Has Rules To Prevent Excessive Moonlighting, But Medical Researchers Aren’t Reporting Their Extra Income: A ProPublica investigation reviewed filings by almost 90 health faculty who had among the highest outside incomes at four University of California medical schools, including the two UC Irvine neurologists. ProPublica compared those UC-required “outside professional activity” disclosure forms with a federal database, which collects information from pharmaceutical and medical device companies on their payments to doctors. It was found that about two-thirds of the professors did not report all of the money as required. Read more from Annie Waldman of ProPublica.
PG&E Prioritized Rates And The Wildfires Exposed The Vulnerabilities That Created: In 2015, the California regulator overseeing PG&E Corp. opened an inquiry into whether the state’s largest utility put enough priority on safety. Since then, a federal jury has found PG&E guilty of violating safety regulations for natural-gas pipelines and a federal judge later placed it on criminal probation. Its electrical equipment has sparked more than a fire a day on average since 2014—more than 400 last year—including wildfires that killed more than 100 people. It filed for bankruptcy protection this year, citing $30 billion in fire-related liabilities, and started blacking out millions of customers to try to avoid sparking blazes during strong winds. On Friday, it agreed to pay $13.5 billion to wildfire victims in a settlement deal. The regulator, meanwhile, is still investigating. Read more from Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold of The Wall Street Journal.
Patients Getting Entangled In Debt After Dentists Have Them Sign-Up For Credit Cards To Cover Treatments: An investigation by The Fresno Bee has found that some dentists appear to be inflating bills and pressuring patients to put their services on a credit card. These credit contracts, which can be easily arranged in the dentist’s office, often have deferred interest provisions, which means that if the patient does not pay in full within a certain time period, interest on the initial loan is charged, with rates ranging from 13 percent to 29 percent. The Bee also found that some dentists charged for care in full before services were performed, leaving patients like Williams paying their bill without ever having their treatment completed. Read more from Manuela Tobias of the Fresno 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.
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More News From Across The State
San Francisco Chronicle:
Court Would Allow Denial Of Legal Status To Noncitizens Receiving Benefits
A federal appeals court says the Trump administration’s decision to deny legal status and work permits to noncitizens who accept public benefits, like food stamps or Medicaid, appears to be within the government’s legal authority to prefer immigrants who are self-sufficient and should be allowed to take effect while being challenged in court. The ruling late Thursday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, suspending injunctions issued in October by judges in Oakland and Washington state, has no immediate effect, because judges in New York and Maryland have issued separate orders blocking the administration’s rule. (Egelko, 12/6)
In Sacramento, An Insurer Disrupts Health Care Model To Save High-Risk Medi-Cal Patients
In the Sacramento region, Anthem Blue Cross is disrupting the typical U.S. health care model to improve health outcomes for high-risk patients. Doctor-led teams go to patient homes to remove social barriers, treat patients and coordinate care. (Hodenfield and Anderson, 12/6)
How Many Californians Own Guns? Does Gun Control Stop Them?
California may have some of the nation’s most restrictive gun control laws, from bans on assault rifle sales to mandatory background checks for ammunition sales, but that isn’t stopping Golden State residents from buying firearms. A quarter of Californians live in a house with a gun, according to a new survey. (Sheeler, 12/6)
4,000 Kaiser Permanente Mental Health Workers Prepare For Statewide Strike
An estimated 4,000 Kaiser Permanente mental health workers are preparing to stage a five-day strike at facilities throughout California to protest understaffing, crushing caseloads and a system that often leaves patients waiting for months to get appointments. The Dec. 16-20 walkout by members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers could potentially shut down mental health services at more than 100 Kaiser clinics and medical facilities from San Diego to Sacramento, union representatives say. Kaiser said it has contingency plans in place to ensure continued patient care. The psychologists, therapists, psychiatric nurses and other healthcare professionals have been working without a contract for more than a year. (Smith, 12/7)
Los Angeles Times:
Should Psychotherapists Be Required To Report Patients Who Look At Child Porn?
For years, California law required psychotherapists to report any patient who admitted developing, duplicating, printing or exchanging material depicting an obscene act involving a child. The therapists accepted that requirement. They regarded it as an obligation to report producers and distributors of child pornography. (Dolan, 12/8)
Ventura County Star:
Ventura City Council Poised To Vote On Vaping Flavor Bans
Some four dozen tobacco and vaping stores in unincorporated Ventura County from El Rio to Oak Park would no longer be able to sell flavored vaping products under an ordinance to be considered by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Aimed at reining in youth access to vaping, the ordinance would take effect immediately. It means vape shops, gas stations, tobacco stores and other retailers in unincorporated communities would be able to sell only tobacco-flavored vape juices. (Kisken, 12/8)
House-Senate Fix Could Break Gridlock On 'Surprise' Medical Bills
Bipartisan efforts to protect patients from “surprise” medical bills are regaining momentum after stalling out over the summer. Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the chairman of the Senate health panel announced a deal Sunday they said would rely on “a new system for independent dispute resolution often called arbitration." The lawmakers didn't elaborate. (Roubein and Luthi, 12/8)
The Wall Street Journal:
Black Voters Back Medicare For All, Not So Much The Candidates Pushing It
African-American voters back Medicare for All more than other groups, polls show, but the policy’s two chief proponents in the 2020 Democratic presidential race haven’t been able to translate that into widespread black support. Instead, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren continue to lag well behind Joe Biden with black voters. The former vice president has been a chief critic among Democrats of Medicare for All and prefers a more moderate expansion of health insurance. In a recent South Carolina poll, he led Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren by more than 30 points with black voters. (Jamerson, 12/7)
Medicare Chief Asked Taxpayers To Cover Stolen Jewelry
A top Trump health appointee sought to have taxpayers reimburse her for the costs of jewelry, clothing and other possessions, including a $5,900 Ivanka Trump-brand pendant, that were stolen while in her luggage during a work-related trip, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. Seema Verma, who runs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, filed a $47,000 claim for lost property on Aug. 20, 2018, after her bags were stolen while she was giving a speech in San Francisco the prior month. The property was not insured, Verma wrote in her filing to the Health and Human Services department. (Diamond, 12/7)
The New York Times:
Despite Warnings, Trump Moves To Expand Migrant Family Detention
On a burning hot day last summer at the South Texas Family Residential Center, a federal detention facility for immigrant families, Kenia and her son, Michael, 11, were hunched over a foosball table in an air-conditioned recreation room when Michael dropped to the floor and started sobbing. He curled his body into a ball and writhed as if he were in pain. The other parents and children in the room looked up from their jump ropes and boomboxes as Kenia knelt down and pleaded into Michael’s ear: Would he please go back to their room before the guards noticed him? (Dickerson, 12/9)
Activists Seek To Block Gilead Patent Extension On Lucrative HIV Drug
In an unusual move, an advocacy group asked federal authorities to reject a request by Gilead Sciences (GILD) for a three-year patent extension on an HIV drug because the company allegedly lied about important information in its application. The group argued in an emergency petition with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office that Gilead concealed a decision to delay development of the drug, called TAF, in order to thwart generic competition and “game” the patent system. In the process, the company reaped billions of dollars in additional sales while knowingly marketing an older drug that the company believed was not as safe. (Silverman, 12/6)