- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- Trump Administration Rule Paves Way For Association Health Plans
- Care Suffers As More Nursing Homes Feed Money Into Corporate Webs
- Running On Empty: CHIP Funding Could Run Out Jan. 19 For Some States
- Public Health and Education 1
- This Year's Flu Is A Quirky, Vicious, Misbehaving Strain That Health Professionals Hate
- Pharmaceuticals 1
- DUI Message Gets Lost Among 'Virtues Of Marijuana' Talk In New Ad Campaign, Critics Say
- Around California 1
- UC San Diego Health Hit With Penalty For Mistake That Was Tied To A Patient's Death
- Health IT 1
- Activist Investors Want Apple To Play Role In Combating Growing Crisis Of Kids' Smartphone Addictions
- National Roundup 3
- HHS Nominee Talks Tough Against Pharma's Profit Tactics, But History At Drugmaker Tells Different Story
- Democrats Go In Search Of Next 'Big Idea' On Health Care In Preparation For 2020
- As Debate Over President's Mental Health Heats Up, Trump Declares Himself A 'Very Stable Genius'
Latest From California Healthline:
Proponents say the proposed regulation will give some consumers more affordable insurance options. Critics warn that the coverage could be less comprehensive. (Julie Appleby and Pauline Bartolone, 1/5)
Increasingly, owners of nursing homes outsource services to companies in which they also have financial interest or control. That allows the nursing homes to claim to be in the red while owners reap hidden profits. (Jordan Rau, 1/8)
A fiscal patch that Congress approved last month proves not enough to keep coverage for children afloat, CMS says. But California has enough money to last through March. (Phil Galewitz, 1/5)
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Summaries Of The News:
A particularly nasty strain of the flu is sweeping through California--flooding emergency rooms, draining medication resources, and racking up a higher-than-normal death toll. But it's still not too late to get a flu shot.
‘The Problem Child Of Seasonal Flu’: Beware This Winter’s Virus
People in public health hate H3N2 flu seasons, like the one gripping most of North America right now. So do folks who work in hospitals and in the care facilities that look after the elderly. To put it flatly, H3N2 is the problem child of seasonal flu.It causes more deaths than the other influenza A virus, H1N1, as well as flu B viruses. It’s a quirky virus that seems, at every turn, to misbehave and make life miserable for the people who contract it, the scientists trying to keep an eye on it, and the drug companies struggling to produce an effective vaccine against it. (Branswell, 1/8)
Los Angeles Times:
Severe Flu Brings Medicine Shortages, Packed ERs And A Rising Death Toll In California
So many people have fallen sick with influenza in California that pharmacies have run out of flu medicines, emergency rooms are packed, and the death toll is rising higher than in previous years. Health officials said Friday that 27 people younger than 65 have died of the flu in California since October, compared with three at the same time last year. Nationwide and in California, flu activity spiked sharply in late December and continues to grow. (Karlamangla, 1/6)
Los Angeles Times:
No, It's Not Too Late To Get A Flu Shot
Is it too late to get a flu shot? We know you've been busy making plans for the holidays, scrambling to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, spending time in airports and on road trips to see family and friends. But the holiday season is over and it's time to get back to reality. The flu season is most certainly upon us. And you need to deal with it. (Kaplan, 1/5)
Los Angeles Times:
In This Deadly Flu Season, Here Are Tips On How To Protect Yourself
California is in the midst of a dangerous flu season. Health officials said Friday that 27 people younger than 65 have died of the flu in California since October, compared with three during the same time period last year. Nationwide, flu activity spiked sharply in late December and continues to grow. Here is some key information, including tips to stay healthy, from national, state and local health agencies (1/6)
San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego's Nursing Homes Taking Steps To Protect Against Flu
The spike in flu activity that is sweeping across the county at an alarming rate is forcing many of the region’s nursing homes, assisted living centers and residential rehab centers into lockdown mode as the best way to protect their medically vulnerable residents. That was the case at Poway’s Villa Pomerado Convalescent Care Center from Dec. 27 through Friday after testing confirmed that four of the facility’s 92 residents tested positive for influenza. (Sisson, 1/6)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Flu Activity Ramping Up In Sonoma County, Widespread In State
This flu season is shaping up to be a really bad one, equal to or worse than the last one and driven by a viral strain that genetically altered after the latest vaccine in use was developed, local health officials said. The flu is widespread throughout the state, health authorities said this week, and the number of cases is very high. In Sonoma County, flu incidence is moderate but rising quickly. (Espinoza, 1/5)
The Bakersfield Californian:
Hard-Hitting Flu Dwindling Local Supply Of Antiviral Medications, Overwhelming Physicians
Ten people in California have died so far this winter from influenza, evidence that health professionals' warnings are valid: this flu is hitting harder and earlier than it has in years. The virus has hospitalized scores of people, leaving the state to contend with widespread outbreaks and, locally, a dwindling supply of antiviral medications. Health providers say they are experiencing some of the busiest emergency departments they’ve seen in a long time — something they attribute to an early flu season, a less-effective vaccine and poor local air quality that exacerbates symptoms. (Pierce, 1/5)
Hospitals are required to have a discharge policy for all patients, but that can be easier said than done for health professionals dealing with people who have no place to live and may have mental illnesses and other complicated problems. There are times when these neediest patients are finding themselves dumped at homeless shelters without any warning.
Are Hospitals 'Dumping' Homeless Patients On Shelters, Service Agencies In Sacramento?
Arlan Lewis, nearly 78 years old and hobbled by arthritis in his right hip, remembers feeling disoriented when a taxi dropped him in front of Sacramento’s Union Gospel Mission one afternoon last month. He had just been discharged from Woodland Memorial Hospital, about 20 miles away, where he had spent more than a week undergoing psychiatric evaluations after sheriff’s deputies picked him up in Carmichael as a potential danger to himself or others. Lewis, a former cook who recently had become homeless after his Social Security check no longer covered his rent, had not asked to be taken to the mission. Standing in an unfamiliar place where dozens of grizzled men were sprawled along the sidewalk waiting for one of the agency’s 60 shelter beds, he approached swing shift supervisor Bobby Chatman. (Hubert, 1/8)
The California Office of Traffic Safety has launched a new campaign about the dangers of driving under the influence now that marijuana has been legalized in the state. But some think one of the new ads glamorizes marijuana use instead. Meanwhile, veterans in California are caught in a gray area between state and federal law.
California Office Of Traffic Safety Ad Criticized For Glamorizing Marijuana
The California Office of Traffic Safety has launched an ad campaign advising consumers that driving under the influence of marijuana could lead to a DUI arrest. But one of the ads is being criticized for touting the benefits of getting high. (Goldberg, 1/8)
California Veterans Who Use Marijuana Are Caught In A Legal Gray Area
The sale and consumption of recreational marijuana is now legal in California, but the state’s veteran population is stuck in the uneasy gap between state and federal law. Veterans who get medical care through the Veterans Health Administration, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, are interacting with a federal agency that considers cannabis a forbidden schedule one drug. (Denkmann, 1/8)
Legal Recreational Adult-Use Pot Sales Finally Begin In San Francisco
Six cannabis dispensaries in San Francisco started legally selling adult-use marijuana on Saturday, the first day allowed under city law and almost a week after it became legal across the state and stores were open for business in Oakland and San Jose. (Camhi, 1/6)
The UC San Diego Medical Center was the only hospital in San Diego County issued a fine by the CDPH in late December, though three local facilities received fines in August.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
UC San Diego Health Fined For Fatal Heart Monitor Incident
The state health department has fined UC San Diego Health $44,000 for a medical mistake that led to a patient’s death. The penalty involves an incident in September 2015. It was among 10 citations totaling $549,555 handed down to nine hospitals across the state on Dec. 28. The latest fine is the seventh for UC San Diego which, according to a list of all fines provided by the California Department of Public Health, has the third-most penalties since 2007, the year the Legislature created the public reprimands program to hold hospitals more accountable for preventable medical errors. (Sisson, 1/5)
Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System control about $2 billion of Apple share, and want Apple to take responsibility for what they see as a public health crisis.
Apple Urged To Do More To Combat iPhone Addiction Among Kids
Apple should do more to curb growing smartphone addiction among children, two major investors in the iPhone maker said Monday. In an open letter to the technology giant, New York-based Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, highlighted increasing concern about the effects of gadgets and social media on youngsters. (Hjelmgaard, 1/8)
Health and Human Services nominee Alex Azar is set to testify before the Senate Finance Committee this week, where it's likely his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry will take center stage with his critics.
How Trump’s HHS Nominee’s Drug Company ‘Gamed’ Patent
When Donald Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary was a top executive at Eli Lilly, the patent on its blockbuster Cialis was soon to expire. So Lilly tested it on kids. The drugmaker believed the erectile dysfunction drug might help a rare and deadly muscle-wasting disease that afflicts boys. The drug didn’t work — but under a law that promotes pediatric research, Lilly was able to extend the Cialis patent anyway for six months — and that’s worth a lot when a medication brings in over $2 billion a year. (Karlin-Smith, 1/8)
In other news from the administration —
The Associated Press Fact Check:
Trump Overstates Progress In Veterans' Care
In bountiful tweets and self-praise, President Donald Trump plays up "tremendous progress" in improving care for veterans in his first year. His claims fall short of reality. Trump's initiatives have yet to show meaningful impact, and his campaign promises of expanding access to doctors and adding mental health specialists are unfulfilled. (1/6)
The New York Times:
Nuclear War Would Be ‘Devastating,’ So The C.D.C. Wants To Get People Prepared
President Trump’s recent tweets about his big nuclear button may have been intended to deter a nuclear weapons exchange with North Korea, but the nation’s top public health agency is taking the prospect of a nuclear attack seriously. On Jan. 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will present a workshop titled “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation,” for doctors, government officials, emergency responders and others whom, if they survived, would be responsible for overseeing the emergency response to a nuclear attack. (Kaplan, 1/5)
Tired of playing defense and looking to capitalize on Republicans' fumbles, Democrats are encouraging people in the party to think big, with ideas ranging from single-payer, government-run care for all, to new insurance options anchored in popular programs like Medicare or Medicaid. In other news from Capitol Hill: medical research legislation, entitlement overhaul, and "right-to-try" bills.
The Associated Press:
On Health Care, Democrats Are Shifting To Offense
Democrats are shifting to offense on health care, emboldened by successes in defending the Affordable Care Act. They say their ultimate goal is a government guarantee of affordable coverage for all. With Republicans unable to agree on a vision for health care, Democrats are debating ideas that range from single-payer, government-run care for all, to new insurance options anchored in popular programs like Medicare or Medicaid. There's also widespread support for authorizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, an idea once advocated by candidate Donald Trump, which has languished since he was elected president. (1/8)
The New York Times:
Medical Research? Congress Cheers. Medical Care? Congress Brawls.
They cannot agree on subsidies for low-income people under the Affordable Care Act or even how to extend funding for the broadly popular Children’s Health Insurance Program — two issues requiring urgent attention as Congress returns to work. But a more exotic corner of the medical world has drawn rapturous agreement among Republicans and Democrats: the development of new treatments and cures through taxpayer-funded biomedical research. (Pear, 1/6)
The Washington Post:
This Year Is Shaping Up To Be A Clash Of Republican Idealists Vs. Realists
President Trump huddled with congressional Republican leaders this weekend at Camp David, hoping to plot out the year ahead to give the GOP momentum as it heads into the winds of midterm elections.For some, that means swinging for the fences with another attempt to fully replace the Affordable Care Act or a dramatic rewrite of entitlement laws. But any sober analysis will lead the group to conclude that, once Congress cleans up important must-pass items over the next eight weeks, it should be a relatively quiet legislative year. (Kane, 1/6)
Koch-Backed Groups Launch 'Right To Try' Campaign
Koch-brothers backed groups are launching a campaign urging Congress to pass legislation allowing terminally ill patients request access to experimental drugs the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved. Nearly 40 states have this law, known as “Right to Try,” already on their books. But Freedom Partners, in partnership with Americans for Prosperity, say federal legislation is needed to assuage patient fears that the federal government will override state laws. (Roubein, 1/8)
President Donald Trump said that those questioning his mental well being are just trying to score political points. All of the chatter over Trump's health comes just before the president's first psychical exam while in office.
The New York Times:
Trump, Defending His Mental Fitness, Says He’s A ‘Very Stable Genius’
President Trump, whose sometimes erratic behavior in office has generated an unprecedented debate about his mental health, declared on Saturday that he was perfectly sane and accused his critics of raising questions to score political points. In a series of Twitter posts that were extraordinary even by the standards of his norm-shattering presidency, Mr. Trump insisted that his opponents and the news media were attacking his capacity because they had failed to prove his campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Baker and Haberman, 1/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump Rejects Assertions In Book, Calling Self A ‘Very Stable Genius’
President Donald Trump on Saturday continued to assail a new book that features sharp criticism of his administration from close advisers, and lamented what he called the nation’s “weak” libel laws that he said allowed the book to be published. ... The author, Michael Wolff, frequented the West Wing during Mr. Trump’s first year in office and met with at least a dozen administration officials. The book says White House advisers have had concerns about Mr. Trump’s fitness for the presidency, in particular about his “lapses and repetitions.” In a Thursday Hollywood Reporter column about his book, Mr. Wolff wrote: “At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.” (Ballhaus, 1/6)
25th Amendment Unlikely To Be Invoked Over Trump's Mental Health
Donald Trump’s description of himself as a “very stable genius” sparked new debate this weekend about the 25th Amendment, but invoking the provision to remove a president from office is so difficult that it’s highly unlikely to come into play over concerns about Trump’s mental health, a half-dozen lawyers with expertise on the measure said. (Gerstein, 1/7)