Latest From California Healthline:
Over the past decade, more than 350 workers nationwide have died from heat-related illness, and tens of thousands have had heat-related problems serious enough that they missed at least one day of work. Proposed federal legislation, modeled on California regulations, would create the first national standards for protecting workers from heat-related stress. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, 7/15)
Good morning! A look at who is utilizing California’s aid-in-dying law reveals a large racial gap that experts attribute to both issues with medical access and philosophical differences in what’s considered suicide. Read more on that below, but first, here are your top California health stories for the day.
85,000 Workers May Strike Against Kaiser Permanente In Seven States: The leaders of 11 unions announced that contract talks stalled Thursday between Kaiser Permanente and 85,000 of its workers. The workers — who include most employees who are not doctors, registered nurses or mental health workers — are located throughout Kaiser’s operations in California and several other states. About 55,000 of the employees are in California. They include licensed vocational nurses; technicians who work in radiology, X-rays, pharmaceuticals and other fields; and employees involved with food services and environmental services such as laundry service and room cleaning. “While we have been providing care 24/7, holding the hands of sick and frightened patients and making sure they are safe and get the treatment they need, Kaiser has been focused on racking up multibillion-dollar profits and paying executives exorbitant, million-dollar salaries,” said Ida Prophet, a licensed vocational nurse at Kaiser’s South Sacramento Medical Center. “This is a nonprofit company that has lost its way and is acting more like a typical for-profit corporation, where only a few at the top truly thrive.” Dennis Dabney, a Kaiser senior vice president for labor relations, said in an emailed statement that the two sides “will continue talking and working toward a mutually beneficial agreement.” Kaiser’s mental health workers in California are involved in a separate contract dispute with the company. Read more from James F. Peltz of the Los Angeles Times; Cathie Anderson of the Sacramento Bee; and Alex Kacik of Modern Healthcare.
Newsom Signs Bill That Will Protect Whistle Blowers At Health Care Facilities From Retaliation: The bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed last week amends the state’s Health Safety Code to encourage patients and health care workers to report unsafe patient care and conditions. The bill provides health care workers whistleblower protections when they issue a complaint or initiate an investigation about their employers. With the new law, health care workers have the right to voice their concerns privately to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health without the presence of hospital management. “SB 322 is a step in the right direction,” said Xinying Valerian, an attorney for a whistle blower who alleges she was fired for reporting a “full-blown patient riot” and multiple instances of patient self-harm at a psychiatric facility. “The word needs to get out that health care workers have these rights, and agencies need to have enough funding and resources to carry out effective investigations.” Read more from Carolina Ghisolfi of the Sacramento Bee.
Legislation Would Dock Welfare Payments To Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate Their Children: Under the bill, parents who don’t vaccinate their kids may have their benefits reduced by fifty-dollars per month. The proposal would apply to children under the age of six. Supporters say the bill would improve the health of low-income children. It would also help families connect with medical services in order to access vaccinations. Opponents argue child vaccinations should not factor into welfare benefits. “Whether or not my children are vaccinated, they still need to eat,” said Candace Johnson, a parent and CalWORKS recipient who testified before a Senate committee Monday. “I still need to buy them bookbags, clothes for school, put gas in the car.” Read more from Scott Rodd of Capital Public Radio.
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
Capital Public Radio:
California’s Aid In Dying Law Is Mostly Used By White People. Here’s Why.
In California, people who are terminally ill have choices about how to spend their final days. But patients from minority backgrounds might not know about all of the options. Roughly 88 percent of people using California’s physician-assisted death law are white, according to new data from the California Department of Public Health. (Caiola, 7/12)
California's New Wildfire Plan: 5 Things To Know
You will be forgiven for having the impression that California lawmakers have been talking about comprehensive wildfire legislation forever, when it has only been days since the new fire bill ricocheted from the Assembly to the Senate and back again. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it today, less than a week after the first elected official cleared his throat to introduce the package. It didn’t set a legislative land-speed record, of course, but some lawmakers did complain that they lacked sufficient time to read and digest such a complex document. What’s the rush? Where to begin? (Cart, 7/12)
The Associated Press:
9 More Women File Lawsuits Against UCLA Gynecologist
Nine more women have alleged in two lawsuits they were sexually assaulted by a former gynecologist who worked for the University of California, Los Angeles. The lawsuits state the women were assaulted by Dr. James Heaps during examinations between 1989 and 2017. The women allege the inappropriate touching sometimes without gloves was not for any legitimate medical purpose and solely for Heaps' sexual gratification. (7/12)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Few ICE Raids, But Much-Hyped Plans Stoke Fears In Immigrant Communities
A mass federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants did not materialize Sunday in San Francisco or the other nine cities expected to be targeted. There were only a few reports of actions in Florida, Chicago and New York City, and none in the Bay Area. Federal officials altered their plans for sweeping nationwide raids targeting people who have been ordered deported after news reports alerted immigrant communities on what to expect, current and former Department of Homeland Security officials told the New York Times. (Wu, Fracassa, Dineen and Medina, 7/14)
Los Angeles Times:
Patients With Rare Pain Condition Call For UC Irvine Surgeon’s Reinstatement To Neurological Surgery Department And Training Role
Patients with trigeminal neuralgia, a rare, chronic neuropathic pain condition, are calling for the reinstatement of Dr. Mark Linskey to the UC Irvine department of neurological surgery after a jury awarded him $2 million in a whistleblower retaliation case. Linskey, a neurosurgeon at UC Irvine Medical Center, was awarded the damages in April after he alleged in a lawsuit that he was retaliated against, in violation of whistleblower protection laws, for filing a grievance against his supervisors. (Nguyen, 7/12)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Death Of 9-Year-Old Milpitas Boy To Common Virus Perplexes Doctors
Nine-year-old Tristan Ang was a healthy soon-to-be fourth-grader when he fell ill a month ago, first with what seemed to be a mild summer bug, then with more worrisome symptoms: confusion, forgetfulness, a bad headache. Six days later, he died in the intensive care unit of a hospital near his home in Milpitas. The cause, doctors told his parents, appeared to be a brain infection from a virus most often associated with the common cold. (Allday, 7/14)
Biden Proposes Massive New Obamacare Subsidies, Public Option In Health Care Plan
Joe Biden is proposing massive new subsidies to make health coverage through Obamacare's exchanges cheaper -- as well as a new "public option" that would allow people to buy into a program his campaign says would be similar to Medicare. The former vice president unveiled his health care plan Monday morning amid an escalating fight with his 2020 Democratic presidential foes as some more liberal candidates advocate enrolling all Americans in a national health plan, all but eliminating private health insurance. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to deliver a speech making his case for "Medicare for All" on Wednesday, according to his campaign. And California Sen. Kamala Harris, who has similarly backed a single-payer, government-run health program, teased the upcoming rollout of her plan in front of a crowd in New Hampshire on Sunday, too. (Bradner and Luhby, 7/15)
Former Vice President Joe Biden Rolls Out Expanded Affordable Care Act Health Plan
In a video of the announcement released by the campaign, Biden expresses his surprise at so many Democratic candidates opposing the ACA. "I knew the Republicans would do everything in their power to repeal Obamacare. They still are. But I'm surprised that so many Democrats are running on getting rid of it," Biden said.The campaign estimates the plan will cost $750 billion over 10 years. Senior advisers said Biden would rescind President Donald Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy, raise the maximum tax bracket to 39% and get rid of the capital gains tax loophole for wealthy families with incomes greater than $1 million a year in order to cover the hefty price tag. (Harper, Donato and Nagle, 7/15)
The Associated Press:
Biden Campaigns As Obamacare's Top Defender
Joe Biden is taking an aggressive approach to defending Obamacare, challenging not just President Donald Trump but also some of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination who want to replace the current insurance system with a fully government-run model. The former vice president will spend much of the coming week talking about his approach to health care, including remarks he'll deliver on Monday in Iowa at a presidential forum sponsored by AARP. His almost singular focus on the 2010 health care law has been on display recently during campaign stops in the early voting states. (7/14)
The Wall Street Journal:
Democratic Candidates Clash Over Health Care
The health-care debate among Democratic candidates is intensifying, with Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders fighting over whether to shore up the Affordable Care Act or to move to a government-run health plan. The former vice president warned in recent days that scrapping President Obama’s health-care law in favor of a government-run program would create a hiatus in coverage for families. Mr. Sanders has championed Medicare for All, a single-payer plan in which all Americans get health insurance through a government system. He accused Mr. Biden of spreading misinformation and said there would be no gaps in coverage. (Thomas, 7/14)
Bernie Sanders Accuses Biden Of 'Misinformation' On 'Medicare For All'
"At a time when Donald Trump and the health insurance industry are lying every day about Medicare for all, I would hope that my fellow Democrats would not resort to misinformation about my legislation," Sanders said in the statement. He said under his proposal, "over a four-year period, we will transition to a system in which Medicare is expanded to cover every man, woman, and child in the country." "It is preposterous to argue that as we expand Medicare for All that people with cancer and other illnesses will not get the care that they need," Sanders said. "In fact, under Medicare for All, the good news is that we will end the horror of millions of people going into bankruptcy and financial distress simply because they need hospital care for serious conditions." (Bradner, 7/13)
Republicans Make U-Turn On Health Care
Senate Republicans are reversing course and now taking a hard look at health care legislation to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act in case the courts strike down former President Obama’s signature achievement. There’s a sense of urgency among GOP lawmakers to come up with a plan to replace the most popular components of ObamaCare after a panel of appellate judges on Tuesday aggressively questioned whether the law passes legal muster following Congress’s repeal of the tax penalty for not having insurance. (Bolton, 7/14)
Republicans Ready To Dive Off A Cliff On Obamacare
After a decade of trying to gut Obamacare, Republicans may finally get their wish thanks to a Trump administration-backed lawsuit. Its success would cause chaos not only in the insurance markets but on Capitol Hill. And Republican senators largely welcome it — even if they don’t know what comes next. “I’m ready for it to succeed,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.). “I would love to get back in and actually deal with health care again.” “Do I hope the lawsuit succeeds? I do,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “What I wish is we had some idea where we are going if it does succeed, as it looks more and more like it might.” Even Republicans not known for taking a hard line are eager for a forcing mechanism to take on Obamacare. (Everett, 7/14)
House Report: Trump Administration Separated At Least 18 Immigrant Infants And Toddlers
At least 18 migrant infants and toddlers under the age of 2 were separated from their parents at the southern border as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, including nine infants under the age of 1, according to a new report released Friday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Those infants and toddlers were kept apart for 20 days to up to six months, the report found. The Democratic-led report was released just ahead of a hearing on alleged abuses committed against migrant children in the aftermath of the zero tolerance policy. (Weixel, 7/12)
The Washington Post:
Signs Of Dementia For Family Members To Notice
Julie Staple was a child when her dad, Mark Womack, began exhibiting odd behavior. An award-winning violin, viola and cello maker, Womack was not following through for clients nor returning phone calls promptly. He was watching more TV and taking more breaks from work. He began drinking and was quick to become angry. The behavior lasted years and took its toll. Staple and her mom, Ginny Womack, a professional violinist, thought Mark Womack was depressed. (Berger, 7/13)
The Associated Press:
Court Order Blocking Contraception Exemptions Upheld
A federal appeals court upheld a lower court order that blocked the Trump administration from enforcing rules that allow more employers to deny insurance coverage for contraceptives to women. The three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said Friday that state plaintiffs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey were likely to succeed in proving that appropriate procedures weren't followed and the regulations weren't authorized under the 2010 health care overhaul or required by a law aimed at protecting religious freedom. (7/13)
The New York Times:
When Big Tobacco Invoked Eric Garner To Fight A Menthol Cigarette Ban
With San Francisco banning menthol cigarettes last year, and the Food and Drug Administration considering a nationwide ban, it seemed like the time was ripe for New York to follow suit. Then Reynolds American, the tobacco giant, got to work. It enlisted the Rev. Al Sharpton and his group, the National Action Network, as well as the boss of the Manhattan Democratic Party, Keith L.T. Wright, a former 12-term assemblyman from Harlem, to fight the ban proposed by the City Council. (Goodman, 7/14)