Latest From California Healthline:
A KHN review of dozens of inspection reports filed over the past year by the Nakamoto Group reveals disturbing patterns about the company’s audits, including a general willingness to accept accounts of the facilities that the company is paid to scrutinize, and to discount detainees’ complaints. (Sarah Varney, 7/29)
Good morning. Here are your top California health stories for the day.
Three Victims Killed, More Than A Dozen Injured In Mass Shooting At Gilroy Garlic Festival: A gunman with an assault-type rifle opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday evening, killing three and wounding 12 others, some critically, before being killed by police, Gilroy police said. A 6-year-old boy was among the dead. The attack happened at 5:41 p.m. as the popular three-day festival wrapped up, leaving visitors running for their lives and police looking for a man in camouflage with a “long-barreled rifle.” Police said a manhunt was underway for a second person with suspected ties to the attack. A description was not released. “We believe based on witness statements that there was a second individual involved in some way,” Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said. “We just don’t know in what way.” Stephen Romero, 6, was killed during the shooting, Gilroy City Councilmember Fred M. Tovar told CNN.Tovar said he was "deeply saddened by the news." "I pray that God will grant his family strength. My most sincere condolences. I will keep your family close in my thoughts and prayers in the coming weeks as you are going through the process of grieving," he said in a statement. The chief credited a heavy police presence for saving lives as chaos descended on the decades-old food festival in Gilroy, a city about 30 miles south of San Jose. Read more from Laura Newberry, Jaclyn Cosgrove and Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times; Joshua Tehee and Jaimie Ding of the Sacramento Bee; and Steve Rubenstein, Lauren Hernández, Gwendolyn Wu and Dominic Fracassa of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Sacramento County Gets $500K Federal Grant To Help End Spread Of Hep B: The $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health will help health care service providers screen patients, primarily pregnant women, as well as Asian Americans, the population found to have the highest percentage of diagnosed cases for hepatitis B. Regardless of race or ethnicity, providers would vaccinate those who are not infected and link individuals at risk to care. The project focuses on UC Davis Health and the Health and Life Organization community clinic patients. Pregnant women, regardless of race and ethnicity, will be screened for hepatitis B during their first perinatal visit. If found to be HBV positive, their newborn will be vaccinated within 12 hours. Children and adults, especially Asian Americans, will also be screened. HALO community clinics will also serve as the sites for screening, vaccination and treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis B infection. Read more from Theodora Yu of the Sacramento Bee.
Fire Season Is In Full-Swing, But The Projects Fast-Tracked By The State To Increase Safety Lag: By late March, Gov. Gavin Newsom had a list: 35 projects, in high-risk areas with vulnerable populations throughout the state. Two are done. Three more are at least half complete. On the other hand, 15 of the 35 projects are less than 10 percent complete. Three-quarters of the projects are under 20 percent complete. Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter says the projects should get done this fall or winter. Meanwhile, the emergency workplace standards, approved this month by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, require employers to protect workers from the kind of choking soot that blanketed the Bay Area during major fires over the past two years. Employers will have the option to change workers’ duties and locations to protect them from wildfire smoke or, if that is not possible, distribute approved respirators, like N95 masks, that are designed to filter out the harmful particulates. Read more from Ben Adler of Capital Public Radio; and Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle.
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:
Hundreds Of Homeless People Board A Bus Out Of SF Every Year. What Happens To Them Next?
After years of being homeless in Iowa, 26-year-old Isaac Langford decided to give San Francisco a try. In San Francisco, he heard, social services are plentiful, anyone is welcome and the weather is pleasant. A few years before, 18-year-old Wade Southwell came to San Francisco to live with his father after spending years bouncing around the country, back and forth between divorced parents who constantly moved. But Southwell ran away from his dad’s home when he became addicted to drugs and soon found himself without a stable place to live. Both men found being homeless in San Francisco was full of unrelenting challenges. Drugs, lots of them. No housing. Barely any shelter beds and seemingly endless waiting lists every night. (Thadani, 7/29)
Do Air Force Pilots Have Increased Risk Of Prostate Cancer?
The Air Force has begun to look at whether there’s increased risk for prostate cancer among its fighter pilots. A new investigation by McClatchy shows just how serious the problem may be. The fighter pilot study was requested by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein after he was contacted by concerned veterans service organizations in 2018, according to the report obtained by McClatchy. (Copp and Dasgupta, 7/26)
Funding Aimed To Improve Oral Health In Stanislaus County
In California, poor children and Latino children have the highest rates of decay and unmet dental needs. Compared to 1% of all California children, more than 4% of Stanislaus kids went to the ER for dental care last year — that’s almost 6,000 ER visits. The burden of dental problems in the United States is expensive, costing more than $124 billion annually. (Mink, 7/28)
Ventura County Star:
Brain Aneurysm Treated With Comaneci Device For First Time In U.S.
On July 19, Thousand Oaks stroke specialist Dr. Asif Taqi used the Comaneci Embolization Assist Device to treat the aneurysm and try to prevent a second rupture that could potentially take [Maria] Cram's life. Hospital officials said it was the first time the device — approved by the FDA in May — was used in the United States. ...Taqi leads the stroke program at Los Robles. Instead of open brain surgery, he inserted a thin plastic tube into an artery in Cram's groin. He used fluoroscopic images to thread it up to the aneurysm that swelled like a blood-filled balloon at the intersection of two blood vessels. (Kisken, 7/26)
Los Angeles Times:
What Is A Concentration Camp? It's An Old Debate That Mostly Started In California
What’s a concentration camp — and, more importantly, who owns the term? U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) ignited a national debate last month when she compared the government-run facilities packed with migrant detainees near the U.S.-Mexico border to Nazi “concentration camps.” Many Republicans have pushed back in recent weeks, including Stephen Miller, a senior advisor to President Trump, who said that the comments outraged him “as a Jew.” (Watanabe, 7/26)
West Nile Virus Reported In Sutter County
West Nile virus has been detected in Sutter County for the first time so far in 2019, in one human patient as well as in mosquito samples, the Sutter-Yuba Mosquito and Vector Control District said Friday. The Sutter County Health Department reported an asymptomatic human had tested positive for West Nile virus, the vector control district said in a news release. Recent mosquito samples west of Yuba City also tested positive, the release said. The district warns mosquito populations may increase with high temperatures, which are incoming this weekend. (McGough, 7/26)
Los Angeles Times:
In Science, Questions Matter A Lot. Men Are More Likely Than Women To Ask Them
When Beryl Cummings asked her first-ever question in the auditorium at a genetics conference, she chose a topic she knew a lot about, formulated her question as meticulously as she could, and addressed her query to a female presenter. In science, questions matter a lot, said Cummings, who was then working on her doctorate in computational genomics at Harvard. But as a young female scientist speaking up in a public forum, she said, the stakes just felt a little higher. (Healy, 7/26)
Poker Player Kevin Roster Announces Doctor-Aided Death Friday
Powering through physical pain and mental delirium, Kevin “Racks” Roster spent his final weeks on a farewell tour with meaning. Checking off personal bucket-list items while simultaneously raising money for charity and awareness of the rare disease that destroyed his lungs, the 36-year-old turned a summer trip to the biggest poker festival of the year, the World Series of Poker, into an opportunity to give his waning days lasting impact. (McGough, 7/26)
Wildfire Insurance Crisis Hurts Rural CA Real Estate Market
Vallejo residents Theresa and Daniel Ochs found the perfect place to spend their retirement years: a three-bedroom home on two acres in Garden Valley, in verdant rolling hills a few miles from the Eldorado National Forest. “You should go see it,” Theresa Ochs said. “It’s got craftsmanship in there. The woodwork is amazing. It’s got a nice chef’s kitchen. I could just see myself waking up in this house.” (Kasler and Sabalow, 7/29)
Kamala Harris' New Health Plan: Medicare For All — With Private Insurers
Sen. Kamala Harris on Monday unveiled a plan to achieve universal coverage by growing Medicare with the help of private insurers, an effort that splits the difference with her chief Democratic presidential rivals and finally equips the California Democrat with her own signature health proposal ahead of this week’s debates. “Medicare works,” Harris writes in a Medium essay posted Monday morning. “Now, let’s expand it to all Americans and give everyone access to comprehensive health care.” (Diamond and Cadelago, 7/29)
The New York Times:
Kamala Harris Sets Up Debate Showdown On Health Care With New Plan
Instead of completely replacing private coverage with a government-run, single-payer system based on traditional Medicare, Ms. Harris would allow people to choose plans modeled on Medicare Advantage, which would be run not by the government but by private insurers. More than one-third of the Medicare population already chooses Medicare Advantage, which offers extra benefits and limits out-of-pocket costs but is strict about which doctors and hospitals enrollees can use. Her plan would also allow people to choose a somewhat expanded version of traditional, government-run Medicare. But by preserving a major role for private insurers — and calling for a 10-year phase-in period instead of the four-year transition that Mr. Sanders envisions — it could go a long way toward neutralizing fierce opposition from insurance companies, many of which have profited handsomely from Medicare Advantage plans. (Goodnough and Herndon, 7/29)
Some Private Insurance OK In Kamala Harris Medicare-For-All Plan
Those insurers will have to “adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits,” Harris writes in a post on the web site Medium published Monday. It is, she says, similar to today’s private Medicare plans, also known as Medicare Advantage, which covers about a third of seniors on Medicare today. “Unlike the current system, private plans in the new Medicare system will be held to stricter consumer protection standards than they are today, such as getting reimbursed less than what the Medicare plan will cost to operate, to ensure that they are delivering meaningful value,” Harris writes. (Cadei, 7/29)
Kamala Harris Releases 'Medicare For All' Plan With A Role For Private Insurers
Harris would have a 10-year transition, and both would allow a public option, where Americans below age 65 could buy into the government's Medicare program, in the first year. This comes with costs and benefits — on the one hand, it's a more extended time to make a big transition in how America does health care. On the other hand, a 10-year phase-in window necessarily means counting on the transition to continue smoothly under the next president — whichever party he or she might come from. (Kurtzleben, 7/29)
Medicare For All: Kamala Harris Releases 'Medicare For All' Proposal Ahead Of Second Democratic Debate
The plan also calls for an audit of prescription drug costs. Harris wants a 10-year phase-in period as opposed to Sanders' plan, which called for a four-year transition. Her plan would automatically enroll newborns and those uninsured. The Harris campaign said that extending the transition period would decrease the overall cost of Medicare for All, but it did not specify what that new estimated cost would be. Sanders estimates that his plan could cost up to $40 trillion over a decade. (Ramirez, 7/29)
The Wall Street Journal:
Medicare For All Instead Of Private Health Insurance? Question Vexes 2020 Democrats
Democratic presidential candidates launched their campaigns promising to expand health-care coverage. But in the second set of Democratic debates, front-runners backing Medicare for All will likely have to defend their pledges to take private health insurance away in the process. Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warrenmade headlines in the first pair of debates by raising their hands in support of ending private coverage. Other Democratic contenders have criticized that position by saying it goes too far. It is an uncommon stance, even in the global health-care debate: Most countries with government health systems also have private health plans. (Armour, 7/28)
The New York Times:
A Question Rarely Asked: What Would Medicare For All Cover?
In the first congressional hearing held on “Medicare for all” in April, Michael Burgess, a Republican congressman from Texas and a physician, called such a proposal “frightening” because it could limit the treatments available to patients. The debate over Medicare for all has largely focused on access and taxpayer cost, but this raises a question that hasn’t gotten much attention: What treatments would it cover? A good starting place for answers is to look at how traditional Medicare currently handles things. In one sense, there are some important elements that Medicare does not cover — and arguably should. But a little digging into the rules governing treatments also reveals that Medicare allows a lot of low-value care — which it arguably should not. (Frakt and Pearson, 7/29)
The Associated Press:
Biden's Full Embrace Of Obama Health Law Has Political Risks
Joe Biden had just rolled out his health care plan when he made what could be a fateful pledge to a crowd in Iowa: "If you like your health care plan or your employer-based plan, you can keep it." The remark echoed assurances President Barack Obama made repeatedly as he sold the Affordable Care Act, which became known as "Obamcare." But Obama's promise proved an exaggeration, if not a falsehood, and it anchored early GOP attacks on the law as new regulations led private insurers to cancel certain policies, even if they had to offer replacements to consumers. (7/28)
The New York Times:
Bernie Sanders Goes The Extra Mile To Make His Point About Drug Prices
Bernie Sanders wanted to make a point about a crippling injustice. So he crossed the border. Well, the northern one. On Sunday, he took about a dozen people with diabetes on a bus from Detroit to Windsor to get insulin at a Canadian pharmacy, just minutes from the border. Because of traffic, and multiple stops along the way, it took an hour and 17 minutes to get there and about the same time to get back. But the duration and the mileage were not really the main points. (Ember, 7/28)
The Associated Press Fact Check:
2020 Democrats And Their Grasp Of The Facts
The Democratic presidential contenders have some inconvenient truths to grapple with. It's not easy, for example, to summon foreboding words on the economy — accurately — when the U.S. has been having its longest expansion in history. Health care for all raises questions of costs to average taxpayers that the candidates are loath to confront head on. (7/28)
The Associated Press:
Despite Calls To Start Over, US Health System Covers 90%
America's much-maligned health care system is covering 9 out of 10 people, a fact that hasn't stopped the 2020 presidential candidates from refighting battles about how to provide coverage, from Bernie Sanders' call for replacing private insurance with a government plan to President Donald Trump's pledge to erase the Affordable Care Act and start over. The politicians are depicting a system in meltdown. The numbers point to a different story, not as dire and more nuanced. (7/27)