Latest From California Healthline:
Across the nation, public health departments are redirecting scarce resources to try to control the spread of measles. Their success relies on shoe-leather detective work that is one of the great untold costs of the measles resurgence. (Jenny Gold, 6/10)
Good morning! Here are your top California health stories for the day.
California Legislature Agrees To Expand Medicaid To Undocumented Young Adults, But Stops Short Of Including Seniors: Lawmakers reached an agreement on the budget this weekend that includes funding to let young undocumented young adults under age 26 enroll in Medi-Cal. But it doesn’t extend that eligibility to undocumented seniors, as state senators had proposed. The expansion will take effect Jan. 1, 2020 and cost $98 million in the upcoming fiscal year. It will make California the first state to allow undocumented adults to sign up for state-funded health coverage. "California believes that health is a fundamental right," said state Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who led the budget negotiations. To pay for the expansion, the state will reinstate an individual mandate that taxes residents who aren’t insured. Republicans voted against the expansion proposal, arguing it was not fair to give health benefits to people who are in the country illegally while taxing people who are here legally for not purchasing health insurance.
Immigration advocates were disappointed that seniors were not included in the expansion. “The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same healthcare their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions,” said Cynthia Buiza of the California Immigrant Policy Center.
The budget agreement still must be approved by the full state Legislature. State law requires lawmakers to enact a budget by midnight on June 15.
Critics Of Controversial Vaccination Bill Aimed At Curbing Fraudulent Exemption Practices Say ‘Treatment Is Worse Than The Disease’: Sacramento Democrat Richard Pan’s Senate Bill 276 tightens medical exemptions to a narrow list of criteria outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and empowers the state health department to decide who gets them. Pan created the bill after seeing advertisements for medical exemptions. But parents and other critics say that what he’s trying to do is even worse than doctors taking bribes for exemptions. “If there is a one in a million chance that my child will not be able to talk or walk, then I’ll take the risk of measles, thank you very much,” said Jane Orient, the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a politically conservative non-profit association. “Somehow vaccines have this very privileged position that we can force (on) people, or at least make it very, very coercive. Like we are going to deprive your child of a public education ... if you don’t get 70 or so vaccines.” Pan said he’s in talks with the governor’s office, but reiterated that the law does not force vaccinations. The proposal only applies to parents who want to send their kids to school, he said. Read more from Hannah Wiley of the Sacramento Bee.
Air Ambulance Services Warning That They Could Be Forced To Cut Services If Legislature Doesn’t Renew Expiring Medi-Cal Subsidies: As many as one in four medical aircraft bases around California could be shuttered within 12 months if funding for Medi-Cal air transport patients is not included in the 2019-20 budget or extended through backup legislation pending in the state Senate, an industry representative warned last week. The system cannot sustain itself without the subsides for Medi-Cal patients, who account for nearly 40% of the state’s medical air transports, said Christian Giller, president of the California Association of Air Medical Services. “We need this funding, and we need it now,” said Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, who co-authored a contingency bill with state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, and lead author Tim Grayson, D-Concord, that would supply the funding if it’s not in provided in the budget. Read more from Mary Callahan of the Press Democrat.
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
Los Angeles Times:
Measles-Infected Person Travels Through LAX Airport On Memorial Day Weekend
A traveler with measles passed through Los Angeles International Airport over the Memorial Day weekend, prompting officials to issue warnings for people who may have come close to the infected person. The potential places where the public may have been exposed to the infectious traveler on May 26, the Sunday before Memorial Day, were at Terminal 4 and Gate 48B between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and the day after Memorial Day, May 28, at the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Potential exposure could have also occurred at a remote gate, between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. (Lin II, 6/7)
Orange County Register:
New Measles Exposure Risk Identified At LAX In May
A traveler with measles passed through Los Angeles International Airport late last month, prompting public health officials to issue a renewed call for vaccinations. That person came through Terminal 4, Gate 48B, between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on May 26, and then through the remote gate at Tom Bradley International Terminal between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. on May 28. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is trying to identify others who may have been at-risk and exposed to the disease. (Littlejohn, 6/7)
Kaiser Mental Health Providers Call Off Indefinite Strike
The union representing 4,000 mental health clinicians at Kaiser Permanente announced Sunday that its membership voted to call off the open-ended strike they planned to start Tuesday, saying they had made progress at the bargaining table. Citing the hardship such a strike would have imposed on patients in dire need of care, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon had called upon both sides to resume negotiations and reach a settlement. (Anderson, 6/9)
The Associated Press:
Scientists Feel Chill Of Crackdown On Fetal Tissue Research
To save babies from brain-damaging birth defects, University of Pittsburgh scientist Carolyn Coyne studies placentas from fetuses that otherwise would be discarded — and she's worried this kind of research is headed for the chopping block. The Trump administration is cracking down on fetal tissue research , with new hurdles for government-funded scientists around the country who call the special cells vital for fighting a range of health threats. (6/8)
The Washington Post:
With 2020 In Mind, Trump Overruled Top Health Official On Fetal Tissue
The agenda for the Oval Office meeting was heavy with political and scientific significance: whether to curtail the government’s decades-long support for medical research that relies on fetal tissue from elective abortions. The president’s top health and science aides had been arguing that ending the funding could disrupt valuable research, trigger lawsuits and place the values of abortion opponents above those of scientists. Over the opposition of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who was in the room, the president chose the course advocated by his political advisers and Vice President Pence: to end the work of government researchers and impose restrictions on funding for universities and other outside labs. (Goldstein and Dawsey, 6/7)
Proposed Sacramento CPS Cuts May Overburden Social Workers
As Sacramento County prepares next year’s budget, some question major cuts being proposed to the county agency charged with assisting at-risk adults and abused, neglected and exploited children and families. As part of the county staff-recommended budget for 2019-20, 55 unfilled jobs in the Department of Child, Family and Adult Services would be removed, including 27 full-time social workers. The proposal comes as the agency continues its years-long struggle to address regular turnover, a notable vacancy rate and large caseloads. (Yoon-Hendricks, 6/10)
San Diego Union-Times:
L.A. Doctor And A Conspirator Are Found Guilty In $22-Million Medicare Scam
A doctor and a woman who recruited patients to his Los Angeles clinic were found guilty Friday of healthcare fraud for their roles in a scheme that swindled Medicare out of $22 million. At the conclusion of a seven-day trial, federal jurors found Robert Glazer, 73, who owned Glazer Clinic, guilty of a count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and 12 counts of healthcare fraud. Marina Merino, 62, who recruited patients as part of the scam, was convicted of a count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and eight counts of healthcare fraud, according to federal prosecutors. (Fry, 6/7)
The Desert Sun:
Desert Healthcare District Works To Re-Draw Zone Lines, Wants Your Input
The Desert Healthcare District and Foundation wants residents to help decide where re-zoning lines will be drawn in preparation for next year’s elections, when four seats will be voted upon. The district, which formed in 1948 with the mission of increasing residents’ access to health care, historically only provided funding to health organizations that served residents in the western part of the Coachella Valley. But during the November election, voters in the valley's eastern end overwhelmingly said “yes” to expanding the district boundaries east of Cook Street to cover the whole valley. Now the district includes the second half of Palm Desert, Indian Wells, Indio, Coachella and unincorporated areas like Mecca and Thermal. (Hayden, 6/9)
Quorum To Sell Calif. Hospital For Up To $40M
Quorum Health Corp. will sell Watsonville (Calif.) Community Hospital to Halsen Healthcare for up to $40 million, the organizations announced Friday after signing a definitive agreement. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter, subject to customary approvals and conditions. Quorum continues to shed hospitals as it looks to reduce its $1.2 billion in long-term debt. That will be an ongoing strategy through 2019, CEO Robert Fish said in the fourth-quarter earnings call. (Kacik, 6/7)
Ventura County Star:
AIDS LifeCycle Passes Through Ventura To Fund HIV Research, Services
Thousands of bicyclists descended upon San Buenaventura State Beach on Friday to camp during the AIDS LifeCycle, an annual bike ride that claims the title of the world’s largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser. This year, it has raised a record-breaking $16,755,967 to fund AIDS research, treatment and education. The funds benefit the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, going toward services ranging from comprehensive HIV care to mental health counseling. Over the course of a week, the ride follows a 545-mile route from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Ventura is the second-to-last stop. (Childs, 6/8)
The Associated Press:
Hyde Amendment, Abortion Debate Haunt 2020 Democrats
The Hyde Amendment has become a top discussion point in 2020 politics — and something of a purity test for Democrats — after Joe Biden, the leader of his party's presidential pack, announced that he's now an opponent of the 1976 policy. But the amendment that restricts government funding for most abortions has been preserved by Democrats for decades — including with votes from some of the presidential hopefuls now decrying it. Biden's reversal Thursday crashed that party. His timing raised questions about how in touch he is with the new generation of Democrats that propelled a record number of women into the ranks of White House hopefuls and Congress. (6/7)
The New York Times:
Behind Biden’s Reversal On Hyde Amendment: Lobbying, Backlash And An Ally’s Call
When Joseph R. Biden Jr. took the stage at a fund-raiser that drew many African-American Democrats Thursday night, he was under siege over his support for a measure that prohibits federal funding for most abortions. Black women, including on his own campaign staff, were urging him to reverse his position, pointing to restrictive abortion laws passed in Georgia and in other Southern states. He was facing a chorus of blistering-if-implicit criticism from his Democratic rivals, and abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood were intensely lobbying his staff. And he feared that his coming health care proposal could be overshadowed by questions of why he supported limiting abortion access for poor women and women of color who rely on Medicaid. (Glueck, Martin and Burns, 6/7)
The New York Times:
What Is The Hyde Amendment? A Look At Its Impact As Biden Reverses His Stance
As a wave of highly restrictive state laws have made abortion a key issue in the 2020 campaign, the Hyde Amendment has drawn new scrutiny. Numerous presidential candidates had already come out against the provision before Wednesday, when former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. became the only one to say he supported it, prompting intense criticism. By Thursday, almost all of the other 22 candidates in the Democratic race were on the record calling for its repeal. Less than 48 hours after his initial statement, Mr. Biden changed his mind. (Astor, 6/7)
The New York Times:
Politicians Draw Clear Lines On Abortion. Their Parties Are Not So Unified.
Abortion is often cast as a clear, crisp issue in Washington and in state governments, with Republicans and Democrats clustered in opposite corners. Joe Biden moved nearer to the rest of his party’s presidential contenders on Thursday when he dropped his support of a measure restricting use of federal funds for abortions. But while the Democratic field now looks more uniform, the public’s views are often muddled and complex. They bear little resemblance to those of politicians, or even to those of the activists and ideologically consistent voters who post political content to social media. (Cohn, 6/8)
Abortion Poll: Majority Wants To Keep Abortion Legal, But With Restrictions
Three-quarters of Americans say they want to keep in place the landmark Supreme Court ruling, Roe v. Wade, that made abortion legal in the United States, but a strong majority would like to see restrictions on abortion rights, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll. What the survey found is a great deal of complexity — and sometimes contradiction among Americans — that goes well beyond the talking points of the loudest voices in the debate. In fact, there's a high level of dissatisfaction with abortion policy overall. Almost two-thirds of people said they were either somewhat or very dissatisfied, including 66% of those who self-identify as "pro-life" and 62% of those who self-identify as "pro-choice." (Montanaro, 6/7)
Poll: 77 Percent Say Supreme Court Should Uphold Roe V. Wade
More than three-quarters of Americans say they believe Roe v. Wade should be upheld, but a strong majority say they would like to see restrictions added to the ruling too, according to a new poll. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Friday found that 77 percent of respondents said the Supreme Court should uphold the landmark decision that established a woman's right to abortion in some form. (Frazin, 6/7)
More Than Half Of Americans Identify As 'Pro-Choice': Poll
More than half of Americans now identify as "pro-choice" when it comes to abortion, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Friday. The poll found that 57 percent of Americans surveyed said they support abortion rights, while 35 percent said they were against the procedure. A similar poll in January found that 55 percent of Americans considered themselves “pro-choice,” while 38 percent identified as “pro-life.” (Bowden, 6/7)
The Washington Post:
Several Of Biden’s 2020 Rivals Are Quick To Highlight His Reversal On Federal Funding Of Abortions
Several of Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential rivals seized the opportunity Friday to highlight his reversal on federal funding for abortions, seeking to elevate their profile in the crowded field and weaken the candidate leading in the polls. In a morning tweet, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) took aim at the former vice president hours after Biden announced that he now opposes the so-called Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion. The tweet also highlighted another potential weakness for Biden. (Wagner and Itkowitz, 6/7)
Trump’s Bid To Wipe Out AIDS Will Take More Than A Pill
Public health now has the tools to eradicate HIV — medicines to protect people from getting the virus, to prevent those who have it from infecting others, and to prolong lives by decades. But it takes a lot more than a pill to reach the “hard to reach” populations, people who 40 years into the epidemic are still most at risk of contracting and spreading HIV/AIDS. These are the stigmatized, the marginalized, the poor, the homeless, the afraid, the addicted and the mentally ill, in rural communities and urban cores. Unlike the 1980s, the faces of the AIDS crisis in 2019 are not found so much in San Francisco’s Castro district or New York’s Greenwich Village. They are disproportionately black men, and increasingly black women. Some are gay or bisexual and closeted in hostile communities. Many are at risk because of drug addiction and mental illness, in small rural southern towns or in troubled inner cities like Baltimore. (Karlin-Smith, 6/8)
The Associated Press:
FDA: 'Influencers' Promoted Vaping Without Suitable Warnings
U.S. regulators moved to discipline vaping companies for inappropriately promoting their flavored nicotine formulas through so-called influencers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. The Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters Friday to four companies that used paid social media influencers to pitch nicotine solutions to their online followers, including flavors like Watermelon Patch and Strawberry Kiwi. (6/7)
The New York Times:
Warning Of ‘Pig Zero’: One Drugmaker’s Push To Sell More Antibiotics
Facing a surge in drug-resistant infections, the World Health Organization issued a plea to farmers two years ago: “Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals.” But at last year’s big swine industry trade show, the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, one of the largest manufacturers of drugs for livestock was pushing the opposite message. “Don’t wait for Pig Zero,” warned a poster featuring a giant picture of a pig peeking through an enormous blue zero, at a booth run by the drugmaker Elanco. (Hakim and Tichtel, 6/7)
The New York Times:
Insomnia Can Kill You
How did you sleep last night? If you’re over 65, I hope it was better than many others your age. In a study by the National Institute on Aging of over 9,000 Americans aged 65 and older, more than half said they had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Many others who believe they spend an adequate number of hours asleep nonetheless complain of not feeling rested when they get up. Chronic insomnia, which affects 5 percent to 10 percent of older adults, is more than just exhausting. It’s also linked to an increased risk of developing hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart attack, depression, anxiety and premature death. (Brody, 6/10)
The New York Times:
How Safe Is Sunscreen?
Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the United States, affecting more than three million people each year. Using sunscreen is one mainstay of prevention. But the recent news that sunscreen ingredients can soak into your bloodstream has caused concern. Later this year, the Food and Drug Administration will offer some official guidance on the safety of such ingredients. What should people do in the interim as summer approaches? (Carroll, 6/10)