Latest From California Healthline:
The federal government has doled out at least $2.4 billion in state grants since 2017 to address the opioid epidemic, which killed 47,600 people in the U.S. that year alone. But local officials note that drug abuse problems seldom involve only one substance. (Carmen Heredia Rodriguez and Elizabeth Lucas and Orion Donovan-Smith, 6/17)
Good morning! The fight to expand Medi-Cal to all California residents regardless of immigration status hasn’t ended with the budget deal that stops at providing coverage for young adults. Some lawmakers are continuing to push for more. Check out more on that below, but first here are your top California health stories of the day.
California’s Closely Watched Collaboration With Silicon Valley Aims To Create A Digital ‘Fire Alarm’ For People With Mental Health Issues: Smartphones allow near continuous monitoring of people with diagnoses such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, disorders for which few new treatments are available. But there has been little research to demonstrate whether such digital supports are effective—so do they really work? That’s the question California is trying to answer as it turns to Silicon Valley to help create a way to identify people within the mental health care system who are in a crisis. California has set aside more than $100 million in taxpayer dollars over five years to boost the efforts. If Big Data can help manage persistent mental distress, the path forward is likely to run through the Golden State. But, at least for now, California’s effort to jump-start medicine’s digital future is running into some of the same issues that have dogged old-fashioned drug trials: recruiting problems, questions about informed consent, and the reality that, no matter the treatment, some people won’t “tolerate” it well, and quit. Read more from Benedict Carey of The New York Times.
As Part Of Larger Shift Away From Tough-On-Crime Era, California Rethinks Juvenile Prison System: In previous years the state’s juvenile justice policy was driven by fear of young “superpredators” and street gangs. But with California’s new budget, comes what Gov. Gain Newsom has described as a first step to “end juvenile imprisonment in California as we know it.” California is one of only 13 states where juvenile justice is still housed within a corrections or public safety agency, according to state corrections officials. And over the past decade and a half, California, too, has moved away from the prison model, shifting more and more young people in the system into county-run programs. The budget deal crafted by the Legislature and Newsom will transition the Division of Juvenile Justice from the purview of corrections to the California Health and Human Services Agency. Under the plan, juvenile justice will be reorganized as a new department called the Department of Youth and Community Restoration by July 2020. A separate bill, SB-284, further incentivizes the shift, roughly quintupling the cost to counties of sending juveniles to the state system. Read more from Charlotte West of CALmatters.
UCLA Kept Quiet About Allegations Against Gynecologist, And He Was Allowed To Continue Practicing Medicine: In December 2017, a patient reported a complaint against UCLA gynecologist Dr. James Mason Heaps to the university. She alleged that the doctor had improperly touched her genitals, fondled her breast and buttock and made sexual remarks during the exam. Once notified, UCLA officials could have immediately removed Heaps from campus or restricted his practice to protect the public while investigating the allegations, as allowed under University of California guidelines. But he was allowed to keep practicing. Heaps saw another patient in February 2018, two months after the initial complaint, and she too alleged sexual misconduct. The university’s response is coming under scrutiny as at least 22 other women have stepped forward alleging that Heaps sexually assaulted them while practicing at UCLA. The university also discovered two other complaints about Heaps while it was investigating the 2017 allegation. Read more from Teresa Watanabe and Jaclyn Cosgrove 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
Arambula Wants To Expand Health Care For Undocumented In CA
Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula intends to continue pushing to expand health care options for all undocumented immigrants in California even though the state’s new $214.8 billion budget provides coverage to a fraction of them. Arambula’s comments this week were among the first he’s made publicly since returning to work in Sacramento following his May trial in Fresno, where a jury found him not guilty of child abuse charges. (Amaro, 6/13)
Force Of Law: How A California Lawmaker Is Pushing To Curb Police Shootings
For more than a year, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber has been working on a bill meant to curb police shootings by limiting when police can use deadly force. She persevered through political setbacks and failed attempts at compromise before landing on a version that now appears likely to become law. Beyond her elected office though, it’s as if Weber has been working toward this bill for her entire life. (Rosenhall, 6/14)
Sacramento County’s Safety Net Lags Behind California Counties
Sacramento County has “historically lagged” in providing health care services for its Medi-Cal recipients and its poor and uninsured populations, according to a new report by California Health Access. Released this week, the report by the patient advocacy group found that Sacramento County struggles or fails to provide basic safety net services that other counties in the state provide – there is no public hospital, fewer primary care doctors take on new Medi-Cal patients, and navigating available health care plans is complex and confusing. (Yoon-Hendricks, 6/15)
New Test Better At Finding Causes Of Meningitis, Encephalitis
Right now, neurologists don’t have one test that can identify multiple causes of inflammatory neurological diseases such as encephalitis and meningitis. But UC San Francisco researchers say their new DNA test hunted down more of these pathogens than any conventional test did in a newly released study. (Anderson, 6/17)
Study: California Postpartum Deaths Related To Mental Health
Professor Sidra Goldman-Mellor of UC Merced and Professor Claire Margerison of Michigan State University found that drug overdoses were the second-leading cause of postpartum death and suicide was the seventh in California. Both constitute around 20% of all California postpartum deaths from 2010-2012. The first was obstetric-related, or physical, causes. (Shwe, 6/14)
In California, New Drug Treatment Money Also Means New Rules
An influx of federal money is allowing counties throughout the state to get more people into treatment. But with federal money comes federal limits on how to spend it. People will only be allowed to stay in residential treatment for up to 90 days. And if they drop out of treatment, even after a few days, they only have one chance that year to try again. (Dembosky, 6/17)
Capital Public Radio:
Mosquitoes Test Positive For West Nile Virus In San Joaquin County
Mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus in San Joaquin County for the first time this year.It’s the fifth county in the state with West Nile activity so far. Aaron Devencenzi with the San Joaquin County Mosquito Control District says the disease is right on schedule. (Ibarra, 6/14)
Ventura County Star:
Few Doctors Talk To Patients About Guns, But That May Be Changing
Doctors and other health care providers often feel that they have a role in preventing firearm injury. But few talk to their patients about the risks. That’s what a group of physicians and researchers say prompted them to try to help. This month, a clinical guide to recognize patients' risk of firearm injury was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine’s “In the Clinic” series. Its authors came from the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, Brown University, the University of Colorado and Stanford. One of the biggest barriers for doctors seemed to be time, said Rocco Pallin, a researcher with the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. (Carlson, 6/15)
The Mercury News:
San Francisco Airline Food Workers Vote To Strike
Less than half of the workers preparing meals served aboard three airlines flying out of San Francisco International Airport can afford the health care plans offered by their employers, union officials said Saturday. ... The decision to authorize a strike was made as a result of a growing crisis around airline catering workers’ health care and wages. Many of the union members live in poverty and cannot afford health care, according to union representatives. (Angst, 6/16)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Redwood Community Health Coalition Gets $500,000 State Grant To Help People Get Medical Care
Three North Bay health care organizations are using $600,000 in state grants to help underprivileged, and sometimes undocumented, residents in Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Yolo counties who typically steer clear of seeking medical treatment. Redwood Community Health Coalition, based in Petaluma, received $500,000, while Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa and Santa Rosa Community Health Centers each have received $50,000. Advocacy consultant Bethany Snyder said since 2014 the Redwood health group has focused a large portion of its efforts on narrowing health disparities for Spanish-speaking residents and those in the LGBTQ community. (Bordas, 6/16)
Capital Public Radio:
Sac Schools Cut ‘Hope Closet’ Coordinator, Threatening Aid To Disadvantaged Students Amid Push To Lower Administrative Costs
The Hope Closet was a way to invite high-need families into the student support center on campus, build trust and then help them tap into social services and support for housing and health. ... [Amaya] Weiss previously told CapRadio her goal was to build up Hope Closets at each of the more than 70 Title-I schools in the district. ...But the district recently eliminated Weiss' position in the midst of wide-spread cuts in an attempt to address a $26 million budget deficit. (Mitric, 6/14)
Orange County Register:
UCI Nursing School Graduate Changed Over From A Finance Career After Meeting The Man His Blood Donation Helped Save
As a regular blood donor since high school, Ryan Ha had always known his act of community service had the potential to save lives. Ha then met a man who received a transfusion of his blood after a near deadly motorcycle accident. The meeting was such a life-altering experience for Ha, it inspired him to alter his career path from finance to nursing. On Saturday, June 15, Ha, 27, celebrated receiving his master’s degree in nursing science during the graduation ceremony for UC Irvine’s Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing. Ha was in the first class to graduate from the two-year-old program, where his focus was community and population health nursing. (Ponsi, 6/16)
Los Angeles Times:
California To Give Struggling Cannabis Businesses More Time On Provisional Permits
In another sign that California’s legal cannabis market is in deep trouble, state officials plan to extend the period that growers and sellers can operate with provisional licenses by five years, giving them a delay in complying with stricter rules for regular permits. But the proposal faces opposition from environmental groups. They object that it would allow cannabis farms to remain out of compliance with laws aimed at protecting waterways, land and the public. (McGreevy, 6/14)
The New York Times:
Trump Wants To Neutralize Democrats On Health Care. Republicans Say Let It Go.
As President Trump prepares to kick off his bid for a second term this week, he is anxiously searching for a way to counter Democrats on health care, one of their central issues, even though many of his wary Republican allies would prefer he let it go for now. Since he announced his previous run four years ago, Mr. Trump has promised to replace President Barack Obama’s health care law with “something terrific” that costs less and covers more without ever actually producing such a plan. Now he is vowing to issue the plan within a month or two, reviving a campaign promise with broad consequences for next year’s contest. If he follows through, it could help shape a presidential race that Democrats would like to focus largely on health care. (Baker, Tackett and Qiu, 6/16)
Trump Says He Will Roll Out New Health Care Plan In Next Couple Of Months
President Trump said he'll be rolling out a new health care plan in a couple of months, saying it will be a key focus in his 2020 reelection campaign. "We're going to produce phenomenal health care, and we already have the concept of the plan," Trump told ABC News in an interview aired Sunday night. (Klar, 6/16)
Trump Campaigned On Defeating The Opioid Crisis. It’s Hard To Tell If He’s Winning.
President Donald Trump’s focus on the opioid crisis may strengthen his bond with poor, disaffected voters in hard-hit places like Appalachia that are a bedrock of his base. But the administration, for all its efforts, has not yet reversed the tide of the deadly epidemic. The Trump administration’s response to the crisis of painkiller addictions and overdoses poses an unusual challenge for Democrats, who otherwise have claimed the electoral advantage on health issues during the Trump era. (Ehley, 6/16)
The New York Times:
Groundwork Is Laid For Opioids Settlement That Would Touch Every Corner Of U.S.
Every city, town and county in the United States could receive a payout in a settlement with the largest makers, distributors and retailers of prescription opioids, if a judge approves an innovative proposal made Friday in an Ohio federal court by lawyers for hundreds of local governments. The plan, which legal experts describe as “novel” and “unorthodox,” could potentially expand the number of municipalities and counties eligible for compensation in the federal litigation from 1,650 to about 24,500 and open the way for a comprehensive national opioid settlement with the pharmaceutical industry. (Hoffman, 6/14)
The New York Times:
On The Doorstep With A Plea: Will You Support Medicare For All?
Art Miller listened patiently as the stranger on his doorstep tried to sell him on the Medicare for All Act of 2019, the single-payer health care bill that has sharply divided Democrats in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail. The visitor, Steven Meier, was a volunteer canvasser who wanted Mr. Miller to call his congresswoman, Abby Finkenauer, the young Democrat who took a Republican’s seat last year in this closely divided district — and press her to embrace Medicare for all. Beyond congressional politics, there was the familiar role that Iowa plays as the first state to weigh in on the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Goodnough, 6/15)
U.S. Drugmakers File Lawsuit Against Requiring Drug Prices In TV Ads
U.S. drugmakers filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging a new government regulation that would require them to disclose the list price of prescription drugs in direct-to-consumer television advertisements. The lawsuit was jointly filed by Amgen Inc, Merck & Co, Eli Lilly and Co and the Association Of National Advertisers in the U.S. district court for the district of Columbia. (6/14)
Efforts To Save New Moms Clash With GOP's Medicaid Cuts
The push to address the soaring U.S. maternal morality rate is colliding with a broader, more ideological public health imperative: Republican-led efforts to scale back Medicaid. The safety net program pays for half of all births in the nation. Democrats and many public health experts see it as a natural vessel for slowing the death toll of pregnant women and new mothers, by extending care in the crucial year following childbirth. (Rayasam and Ehley, 6/14)
Mitch McConnell And The Tobacco Industry: Documents Show Close Ties
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says one of his "highest priorities" is to take on the leading cause of preventable death in the United States: smoking. McConnell has sponsored a bill, along with Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, that would increase the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21. In a speech on the Senate floor last month, McConnell said, "The sad reality is that Kentucky has been the home to the highest rates of cancer in the country. We lead the entire nation in the percentage of cancer cases tied directly to smoking." (Dreisbach, 6/17)
The Associated Press:
Court Rules Against Trump On Immigrant Teen Abortion Policy
A federal appeals court in Washington ruled Friday against a Trump administration policy it described as a "blanket ban" preventing immigrant teens in government custody from getting abortions, and it kept in place an order blocking the policy. The policy, which dates to 2017, prohibited shelters from facilitating abortions for children held in government shelters after entering the country illegally. The policy has not been in force since March 2018, when a judge blocked it, writing that the government couldn't implement a policy that strips minors of the right to make their own reproductive choices. On Friday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld that judge's ruling. (6/14)