Latest From California Healthline:
A high-profile commission created by Gov. Gavin Newsom will convene for the first time Monday to discuss how to get every Californian covered. But don't expect the state to adopt a single-payer system anytime soon. (Rachel Bluth, 1/27)
Good morning! Here are your top California health stories for the day.
On Same Day As March For Life, Trump Threatens California Over Requirement That Private Insurers Cover Abortion: The Trump administration threatened to withhold federal money from California if the state does not drop its requirement that private insurers cover abortions. In an announcement on the morning of the March for Life, HHS said it would give California 30 days to commit to lifting the requirement. If the state does not do so, the administration said it will take steps to cut off money from one or more federal funding streams. According to the administration, 28,000 Californians had abortion-free plans prior to the state's requirements and have now lost that option. Gov. Gavin Newsom said that by taking away the state's health care funding, Trump would be taking tens of billions of dollars from kids, seniors, the poor and the sick. "And yet you call yourself ‘pro-life’ @realDonaldTrump?" Newsom tweeted. "You sicken me.”
Read more from Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times, Pam Belluck of The New York Times, Don Thompson and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of The Associated Press, and William Wan and Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post.
In related news from KQED: Some ‘Walk For Life’ Attendees Divided Over Trump
Two Cases Of Coronavirus Confirmed in California, But Experts Say You Shouldn’t Be Panicking: Health officials have confirmed the first two cases of the new strain of coronavirus in Los Angeles and Orange counties, brought by travelers who came from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China. In both counties, health authorities are following up with anyone who has had close contact with the patients, but they noted that casual contact with an infected person — such as visiting the same grocery store or movie theater — carries only “minimal risk of developing infection."
The U.S. State Department said it plans to evacuate its staff and some private citizens out of the Chinese city of Wuhan — the epicenter of the growing coronavirus outbreak — on a flight to San Francisco on Tuesday. While there have been no cases confirmed in the Bay Area, health officials in Alameda County were testing fewer than 10 people for the potentially deadly illness.
Experts say that all most Americans need to do is wash their hands and proceed with their usual weekend plans. “Don’t panic unless you’re paid to panic,” said Brandon Brown, an epidemiologist at UC Riverside who has studied many deadly outbreaks. “Public health workers should be on the lookout. The government should be ready to provide resources. … But for everyone else: Breathe.”
Read more from Alex Wigglesworth, Rong-Gong Lin and Sonali Kohli of the Los Angeles Times, Gabe Greschler of KQED, Tatiana Sanchez of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Emily Baumgaertner of the Los Angeles Times.
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:
Californians Have Until Friday To Sign Up For Health Insurance Or Pay Penalty
Californians who do not receive health insurance through their jobs or public insurance programs have until Friday to sign up for health coverage for 2020 — or face a tax penalty. About 318,000 people have newly enrolled in health insurance through Covered California, the state marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, since open enrollment began Oct. 15. (Ho, 1/27)
San Francisco Chronicle:
SF Vape Shops Scramble With Ban Taking Effect: ‘I Don’t Know What The Hell I’m Going To Do’
Similar misgivings have been brewing among the 700-plus tobacco retailers in San Francisco — many of them family-owned and immigrant-owned corner stores, smoke shops and vape shops — since city officials passed an ordinance in June prohibiting the sale of many nicotine vaping products, specifically those that have not been cleared by a Food and Drug Administration review required under federal law. The city ordinance, which does not bar the sale of cannabis vaping products, takes effect Wednesday. (Ho, 1/26)
Davis School District Sues Juul Over ‘E-Cigarette Epidemic’
The Davis Joint Unified School District has joined a growing number of school districts across the country, filing a lawsuit Wednesday against the leading tobacco vaporizer company Juul for its role in “cultivating and fostering an e-cigarette epidemic.” In a news release, DJUSD said it filed its suit against Juul alongside Northern California’s Chico Unified School District and the Campbell Union High School District in San Jose, which both filed similar lawsuits Wednesday, alleging that the use of tobacco vaporizers among youth has disrupted its learning environment. (Moleski, 1/24)
Could CA Make Its Own Insulin As Part Of Newsom’s Drug Plan?
Lowering health costs emerged as a major part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2020 agenda earlier this month when he unveiled plans to get state government in the business of selling prescription drugs. California would be the first state to create its own drug label, which would contract with existing manufacturers to produce lower-cost drugs. Newsom said he’s already in negotiations related to the plan. (Bollag, 1/27)
Los Angeles Times:
On The Auschwitz Liberation Anniversary, A Survivor Returns A Fourth Time
Ralph Hakman thumbed through a display of books about the Holocaust on a table at the Jewish museum in Krakow, not far from where he was born. One was about Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death who performed deadly experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp. “Oh yes, I remember him,” Hakman said. (Kaleem, 1/26)
Los Angeles Times:
The American Dream May Help The Poorest Among Us Live Longer
For Americans who live in communities where prospects for economic advancement are scant, life is not only bleak — it’s shorter too. New research has found that people who live in counties with more opportunities to improve their lot in life can expect to live longer than those who live in counties where it’s virtually impossible to get ahead. (Healy, 1/24)
Los Angeles Times:
Oakland Police Add To Trauma For Homicide Victims' Families, Study Says
In the last decade, about 76% of Oakland’s homicide victims were black, according to the study. During that same time, police made arrests in about 40% of homicides involving black victims and about 80% of homicides involving white victims. The Police Department has more than 2,000 cold cases involving homicides on its books, according to data provided in the study. (Shalby and Vega, 1/25)
Modesto Home Provides A Safe Haven For Refugee Youth
On a tree-lined street in a quiet neighborhood in the middle of Modesto is a beautifully manicured, pale yellow house. It’s home to Bethany Christian Services, which provides a safe haven for pregnant and parenting teen refugees. The house is warm and serene inside, with all the fixtures that a family needs, but with seven bedrooms specially designed for mothers and babies. The huge “family room” is filled with comfy recliners, infant bassinets and toddler toys. Last June, Bethany opened its doors to unaccompanied migrant girls, 12 to 17, who are pregnant or parenting, under the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement. (Mink, 1/26)
Another Patient Charity Settles Charges It Helped Pay Medicare Kickbacks
After a contentious, two-year battle with federal authorities, a patient charity called Patient Services agreed to pay $3 million to settle allegations of violating federal law by enabling drug makers to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients who took their medicines.The settlement marks the fourth time in as many months that a patient charity has reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice, which has been probing the ties between the pharmaceutical industry and these organizations over concerns they are gaming the system. Over the past two years, numerous pharmaceutical companies have similarly reached settlements. Federal authorities have argued that drug makers and charities, which provide patients with financial assistance to obtain drugs, created programs to favored specific medicines over lower-cost options. As a result, two lawmakers asked the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services to update its oversight and require more disclosure from charities about their operations. (Silverman, 1/24)
Healthcare Costs Top Voters' List Of Concerns
The 2020 election season officially gets underway next Monday with the Iowa Democratic caucuses. The New Hampshire primary follows on Feb. 11. Then it’s off to Super Tuesday on March 3. Early polling continues to show that healthcare will weigh heavily on voters’ minds as they cast their ballots, especially the cost of care. (1/25)
Alphabet Acquisitions Reveal Health Play Centered On Surveillance
So how is a tech company that began as a simple search engine starting to impact health care so broadly? One strategy involves buying health startups and speeding them toward their goals. Another involves picking up tech startups that can pivot to health applications. What appears to unite those acquisitions is a strategy focused on massive data gathering and surveillance — both in people’s homes, using devices like speakers and smart thermostats, and on their bodies, using smartwatches. (Brodwin, 1/27)
‘Traumatic As Hell’: Patients Describe What It’s Like To Be Restrained In An ER
Sometimes, in especially intense moments in the emergency room, a staffer might have to take the drastic step of physically restraining a patient who is in mental health crisis. ER staffers themselves have described it as an exceedingly difficult process, rife with the tension between providing good care and feeling physically threatened. And it raises questions that providers alone can’t answer: How does a patient feel during the experience, and how does that affect a person’s care and recovery? To begin to answer those questions, researchers at Yale interviewed 25 patients who had been restrained in two urban ERs about their experiences. Their findings — published Friday in JAMA Network Open — shed light on the range of the patients’ perspectives. (Thielking, 1/24)
The Wall Street Journal:
The Pharmacist Is Out: Supermarkets Close Pharmacy Counters
In some towns, it is getting harder to pick up your blood-pressure pills with that gallon of milk and rotisserie chicken. Hundreds of regional grocery stores in cities from Minneapolis to Seattle are closing or selling pharmacy counters, which have been struggling as consumers make fewer trips to fill prescriptions and big drugstore chains tighten their grip on the U.S. market. (Terlep and Kang, 1/26)