Latest From California Healthline:
An innovative hospital run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina showcases an alternative model of health care that could have lessons for other tribal communities and beyond. (Katja Ridderbusch, 7/22)
Good morning! A unit from one of the world’s largest life sciences companies has thrown a Hail Mary pass, worming its way into a battle over CRISPR technology that has roiled the University of California for years. More on that below, but first here are your top California health stories of the day.
Covered California Releases Estimated Rate Changes For 2020, And Some Consumers Could Actually See Dips In Prices: Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee says the numbers overall tell a good story for California consumers. “Even before considering the positive impact of new state subsidies, many Californians will be seeing little change or even decreases in their underlying premiums,” Lee said. Rates will decline, on average, for residents of four pricing regions — the 22 Northern Counties; the San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Mariposa and Tulare region; the Mono, Inyo and Imperial region; and the Kern County region. In three pricing areas — southwest Los Angeles County; the Inland Empire; and San Diego County — premiums will average about the same as they did last year. But the rates for San Francisco County are expected to jump by 6.6 percent on average. Consumer advocate Anthony Wright said, if state residents shop and switch plans, they could see their premiums decrease by an average of 9 percent. In some places such as Orange County, he said, switching could lower premiums by as much as 16.5 percent. The unusually high jump in San Francisco appears tied to one health plan, Chinese Community Health Plan HMO, which is raising its rates nearly 20% and driving up the average increase for the entire region. Read more from Cathie Anderson of the Sacramento Bee and Catherine Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Children's Hospital Los Angeles Receives ‘Truly Transformative’ $25M Gift From Anonymous Donor: The gift is one of the largest single donations in the LA hospital's history. President and CEO Paul Viviano said the money will in part go toward creating a multidisciplinary Neurological Institute Outpatient Center. This outpatient center will house all the team members involved in managing neurological disorders under one roof, one of only a few in the nation. This includes neurologists, neurosurgeons and social workers. "The donor came to Children's Hospital Los Angeles asking us what our greatest needs are, and when we presented both the Neurological Institute Outpatient Center construction work and Interventional Radiology enhancements as priority projects, the donor was very happy to support these endeavors,” Viviano said. Read more from Sophie Sherry and Christina Zdanowicz of CNN.
Would Enacting A Statewide ‘Right To Shelter’ Law Help Curb The Homeless Crisis? These Officials Want To See It Happen: Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, co-chairs of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force, are looking for solutions to the state’s overwhelming homeless crisis. They think a “right to shelter” law might be one answer. If adopted, it would compel cities and counties to build enough large shelters to accommodate any homeless person who asks to come indoors. The two want to go even further than that, though, and also require that homeless people be forced to accept shelter if offered. How the state would enforce the second requirement is unclear. Read more from Benjamin Oreskes 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
Fight For Coveted CRISPR Patents Gets Knottier, As A New Party Weighs In
After nearly seven years of failing to win fundamental patents on the genome-editing technology CRISPR, a unit of one of the world’s largest life sciences companies has thrown a Hail Mary: Late last Friday, MilliporeSigma petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to open an interference proceeding between CRISPR-Cas9 patents that it applied for way back in 2012 and patents that the University of California has applied for or been awarded. (Begley, 7/22)
Rural Gold Country Hospitals Received $1.5 Million In Grants
For the past three decades, the number of hospitals in American rural areas has been declining at a steep pace. In California, 50 rural hospitals – close to 10 percent of the total hospitals in the state – are on the brink of closing. Twenty have shut down since 1995, experts say. On Thursday, the federal Department of Health and Human Services attempted to stop the bleeding with a $20 million grant, distributed across 21 states. (Ghisolfi, 7/19)
Migrant Mental Health Crisis Spirals In ICE Detention Facilities
Federal inspectors visiting a California migrant detention center made a shocking discovery last year: Detainees had made nooses from bedsheets in 15 of 20 cells in the facility they visited. The inspection revealed the extent of a largely unseen mental health crisis within the growing population of migrants who are being held in detention centers in border states. President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to reverse a policy that encouraged releasing vulnerable individuals while they await deportation hearings has left U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unequipped to deal with conditions ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia. (Rayasam, 7/21)
The Mercury News:
Bed Shortages At California Mental Health Facilities Leave Inmates Deemed Incompetent In Limbo
Those who are found incompetent to stand trial begin the rehabilitation process. [Mike] Ramsey said Butte County Behavioral Health Services checks to see if there is a local facility that will suffice, though that is often not the case. The default, Ramsey said, is to send them to a state facility, though this presents a problem as most facilities have long wait lists and the defendants end up sitting in the local jail, waiting for beds to open up. (Hutchison, 7/21)
San Francisco Chronicle:
With Federal Help, Alameda County And SF Hope To Cut Rate Of HIV Infections
Alameda County is one of 48 counties handpicked by federal public health officials to receive extra resources to end the spread of HIV over the next decade — and getting that done will take creative, grassroots approaches, local AIDS activists said Friday at a meeting with national leaders. Under a federal strategy announced by President Trump earlier this year, the U.S. Health and Human Services department has promised to pour money and other resources into communities that continue to be hardest hit by HIV. (Allday, 7/20)
Capital Public Radio/KXJZ:
That Charcoal Ice Cream Might Be Trendy, But Experts Say It’s No Healthier Than A Standard Scoop
Doctors recommend going easy on ice cream, juices and other treats blackened with activated charcoal this summer. They’re being pedaled to health-conscious buyers as a natural detoxifier. (Caiola, 7/19)
Los Angeles Times:
Homelessness Outreach Workers To Update Newport Beach On Accomplishments
The recently convened homelessness task force in Newport Beach will meet Monday to discuss land-use regulations for emergency shelters and the accomplishments of its new street-level outreach contractor. The 10-member task force, made up of City Council members and citizens, will hear from City Net, a Long Beach-based nonprofit the city partnered with in March to enhance social services provided by the Police Department. (Davis, 7/19)
Ventura County Star:
In Downtown Oxnard, Vagrant Activities Reach 'Tipping Point'
Last Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved the allocation of $535,000 toward outreach specifically to the homeless at Plaza Park. City leaders, homeless services providers and health officials will form a street outreach team targeting downtown's homeless. The goal is not just to move them but to get them the help they need and into housing. This kind of approach takes resources and manpower, said Mark Alvarado, the city's homeless assistance coordinator. "We're dealing with people with addiction that has gone untreated," Alvarado said. "This is one of those issues that's very difficult to manage in an immediate manner." (Leung, 7/20)
The Associated Press:
2020 Dems Grapple With How To Pay For 'Medicare For All'
Democratic presidential candidates trying to appeal to progressive voters with a call for "Medicare for All" are wrestling with the thorny question of how to pay for such a dramatic overhaul of the U.S. health care system. Bernie Sanders, the chief proponent of Medicare for All, says such a remodel could cost up to $40 trillion over a decade. He's been the most direct in talking about how he'd cover that eye-popping amount, including considering a tax hike on the middle class in exchange for healthcare without co-payments or deductibles — which, he contends, would ultimately cost Americans less than the current healthcare system. (7/19)
Biden Campaign Rips 'Medicare For All,' Calls On Dems To Protect Affordable Care Act
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign expanded his critiques against “Medicare for All” and pressed its opponents to fight to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the former vice president played a crucial role in ushering through Congress. Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield detailed Republican efforts to overhaul the Obama administration’s signature legislation. (Axelrod, 7/20)
The Wall Street Journal:
What Is (And Isn’t) Medicare For All
Medicare for All has dominated the Democratic presidential campaign. Some candidates support Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan, but others have different ideas for how to get to universal coverage. WSJ explains what Medicare for All is, what it isn’t, and how some of the major health care plans out there would change the health insurance industry. (7/22)
The New York Times:
Fact-Checking Trump’s Claims That Democrats Are Radical Socialists
How much truth is there to Mr. Trump’s characterization of the Democratic Party? Here is a fact check. ... It is true that every Democratic presidential candidate vying to replace Mr. Trump has called for increasing the federal commitment to health care, education and the environment, among other proposals. Those plans would generally require substantially more government spending, higher taxes, an increased public-sector role in private markets and a reversal of the deregulatory push championed by Mr. Trump. (Epstein and Qiu, 7/20)
The Wall Street Journal:
Judge Backs Non-ACA-Compliant Short-Term Health Plans
The Trump administration can continue to move ahead with its expansion of certain health plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act, under a decision Friday by a federal judge. The ruling in Washington by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon dismissed a lawsuit by a plaintiff who had argued a Trump administration expansion of the so-called short-term health plans undermined the ACA. The plans are generally lower priced but can deny coverage based on consumers’ pre-existing health conditions. They also don’t have to cover the same benefits as ACA-compliant plans. (Armour, 7/19)
The Washington Post:
Trump Administration Delays Ban On Abortion Referrals At Family Planning Centers
The Trump administration has backtracked on an announcement five days earlier that had required federal funded family planning centers to immediately stop referring women for abortions, giving the clinics two more months to comply. In a rare Saturday night notice to Planned Parenthood affiliates, state governments and other organizations that receive federal family planning grants, Health and Human Services Department officials wrote that no group would be penalized yet for failing to obey with this and other rule changes. (Goldstein, 7/20)
The Wall Street Journal:
Medical, Leadership Problems Persisted At U.S. Indian Health Service Hospital, Report Finds
A long-troubled U.S. Indian Health Service hospital continued to be plagued by poor medical care, untrained staff and leadership turnover, despite improvements made there by top agency officials, a government watchdog said. A report being released Monday by the watchdog documents the intractable nature of some of the federal health system’s problems, even when additional resources are poured in. In a separate report, the watchdog found problems with how Indian Health Service hospitals prescribed opioids, saying that the agency’s failure to always follow its own regulations increased the risk of drug abuse and overdoses for patients. (Frosch and Weaver, 7/22)
The Washington Post:
Drug Company Executives Said They Didn’t Contribute To The Opioid Epidemic. Nearly 2,000 Communities Say Otherwise.
On May 8, 2018, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee summoned five executives of the nation’s largest drug distribution companies to testify about the massive quantity of pain pills they had shipped into West Virginia, which has the highest opioid overdose rate in the country. The executives stood in the packed hearing room and raised their right hands as they were sworn in before testifying in front of the lawmakers. (O'Harrow and Higham, 7/20)
The Washington Post:
Trump’s Presidency May Be Making Latinos Sick
Donald Trump’s presidency may be making some people sick, a growing number of studies suggest. Researchers have begun to identify correlations between Trump’s election and worsening cardiovascular health, sleep problems, anxiety and stress, especially among Latinos in the United States. A study published Friday using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the risk of premature birth was higher than expected among Latina women following Trump’s election. The new study is particularly powerful, experts say, because unlike ailments such as depression or stress that can be hard to quantify, births come with hard data. (Wan and Bever, 7/19)
PhRMA Scrambles To Fight Potential Drug Pricing Reforms In Budget Deal
The drug industry’s lobbying group is calling on its lobbyists to push back on a potential budget deal that reportedly includes drug pricing reforms that will cost the industry $115 billion. In an email sent Thursday night to lobbyists both inside and outside the organization and obtained by STAT, PhRMA urged its small army of advocates to do all they can to block the potential deal, which is quickly becoming intertwined with a must pass, multibillion-dollar budget deal. (Florko, 7/19)