- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- California Budget: Small Health Gains, Advocates Look To Nov. Ballot For Big-Ticket Items
- Marketplace 2
- Competition Concerns Over Anthem-Cigna Merger Still Driving Antitrust Regulators
- Riverside County Eyes Alliances As Way Into Competitive Health Care Market
- Public Health and Education 3
- 'I Have 20 Gunshot Victims. I Need You': Surgeon From Ventura Talks About Orlando Experience
- L.A. County Launches Ambitious Plan To Help Police Better Respond To Mentally Ill
- Industrial Contamination Plagues Maywood Residents: 'We’re Living In A Ticking Time Bomb'
- Around California 1
- Mosquito Agency Determines Coachella Neighborhoods Need Another Round Of Spraying
Latest From California Healthline:
Advocates turn to ballot initiatives to help fund higher rates for Medi-Cal providers, possible care for undocumented adults. (Pauline Bartolone, 6/20)
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Summaries Of The News:
The Wall Street Journal reports on discussions at a June meeting when Justice Department officials voiced skepticism to company representatives over Anthem’s $48 billion proposed acquisition of Cigna.
The Wall Street Journal:
Antitrust Regulators Concerned About An Anthem-Cigna Merger
U.S. antitrust regulators have privately expressed concerns about Anthem Inc.’s $48 billion proposed acquisition of Cigna Corp., and are skeptical that the health insurers can offer concessions that would fully preserve competition in the industry, according to people familiar with the matter. Company representatives met June 10 in Washington with Justice Department staffers and representatives of more than a dozen state attorneys general, the people said. At the meeting, government officials outlined their worries about combining two of the nation’s top health insurers, the people said. (Hoffman, Kendall and Wilde Mathews, 6/19)
Earlier California Healthline coverage: California Insurance Commissioner Urges Feds To Block $54 Billion Anthem-Cigna Deal
The county runs the public hospital in Moreno Valley plus a group of clinics, including one on Sunrise Way in Palm Springs, but it wants to expand its territory of influence.
The Desert Sun:
Riverside County Vying For Bigger Role In Valley Health
Riverside County health officials are looking for ways to play a larger role in the Coachella Valley's increasingly competitive health-care market, including a potential deal with the Desert Healthcare District as it looks to expand its territory of influence. Riverside University Health System CEO Zareh Sarrafian said Thursday that like the broader health-care industry, the county health system must work to control costs by building a larger network if it wants to remain viable. (Newkirk, 6/17)
In other news, county health departments are a good investment, a study finds —
Capital Public Radio:
County Health Departments Get Big Return On Investment, Study Says
A new study shows California county health departments experience a higher return on investment compared to other areas of medical care. County health departments saw a return on investment of $67.07 to $88.21 for every dollar spent on improving health outcomes between 2001 and 2009, according to the report from UC Berkeley's School of Public Health. Timothy Brown, author of the study and health economist at UC Berkeley, says prevention of health problems has a higher return on investments. (Johnson, 6/17)
In the new program, veterans are examined by judges who are familiar with post-traumatic-stress disorder, substance abuse and the treatment services available. In other veterans health news, those who take care of a disabled spouse gathered to share experiences and talk about ways to handle stress, and a hydrogen bomb accident may have sickened airmen in the 1960s, but the Air Force is denying those claims.
The Fresno Bee:
Fresno Court Seeks To Rehabilitate, Not Incarcerate, Veterans
Fresno County has a new court that may be his best road to success and sobriety – a Veterans Treatment Court. The program aims to rehabilitate veterans through treatment rather than incarceration. It connects veterans like [Robert Henry] Reed, who served in the Navy, with health programs and veteran mentors during their probation periods. The new court’s first hearing occurred Friday afternoon, in a room that featured the five flags of the military branches alongside the national and California state flags. (Kroeker, 6/18)
For Women Taking Care Of Disabled Veterans, A Welcome Break
For many women in Los Angeles, taking care of a disabled spouse is a full-time job. And on Saturday morning, more than 80 women got together in the basement of Bob Hope Patriotic Hall downtown to take a little bit of a break from being a caregiver. Each of them was a military veteran, or was taking care of a veteran spouse or significant other. ... Non-profits were there to offer help with employment, housing, and educational needs – the kind of help Duncan said can be difficult for some caregivers to ask for. (Ismay, 6/20)
The New York Times:
Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After A Hydrogen Bomb Accident
It was a late winter night in 1966 and a fully loaded B-52 bomber on a Cold War nuclear patrol had collided with a refueling jet high over the Spanish coast, freeing four hydrogen bombs that went tumbling toward a farming village called Palomares, a patchwork of small fields and tile-roofed white houses in an out-of-the-way corner of Spain’s rugged southern coast that had changed little since Roman times. It was one of the biggest nuclear accidents in history, and the United States wanted it cleaned up quickly and quietly. But if the men getting onto buses were told anything about the Air Force’s plan for them to clean up spilled radioactive material, it was usually, “Don’t worry.” (Philipps, 6/19)
Dr. Michael Cheatham raced to Orlando Regional Medical Center after his phone rang at 2:24 a.m. He didn't know what had happened. "All I knew is there was a need," he said. Also in the news, how the Food and Drug Administration came up with its blood donation regulations and the lessons communities can learn from the Orlando shooting.
Ventura County Star:
Bodies Covered In Plastic: Trauma Surgeon From Ventura Responds In Orlando Massacre
Dr. Michael Cheatham was asleep in his Orlando home, four minutes away from the Pulse nightclub. The phone rang. It was 2:24 a.m. Sunday. The 53-year-old trauma surgeon who grew up in Ventura didn't know that 22 minutes before his phone call, a man started firing a rifle into the crowd at Pulse. (Kisken, 6/18)
How Does The FDA Develop Bans Against Blood Donation?
In the wake of the Orlando shooting, gay men who wanted to help the victims were angry. They were angry at the decades-old FDA policy that prevented them from donating blood because of the fears over spreading HIV. But how does the FDA develop policy about who can donate blood, and how does the agency adapt over time? (Take Two, 6/17)
The New York Times:
How Can Communities Prepare For Mass Shootings? Orlando Offers Lessons
As doctors treated the horrific injuries of victims shot in the Pulse nightclub massacre here, a mistaken report of a gunman nearby forced officials to briefly lock down the emergency room; the medical staff shoved heavy X-ray machines against the doors, creating a makeshift barricade in a treatment bay. Emergency room physicians ran low on tubes needed to reinflate the lungs of patients shot in the chest. The doctors scrambled to make sense of gunshot wounds because paramedics had rushed victims in with no time to assess their conditions. The hospital’s emergency preparedness manager, asleep at home, received an urgent email but did not respond until awakened by text. (Stolberg and Grady, 6/19)
The number of 911 calls to the sheriff's department involving mentally ill people has surged by 55 percent since 2010. To help officers handle the influx, the plan would increase the number of mental health teams and put many of the agency’s 9,000 deputies through a week-long training.
Los Angeles Times:
Across L.A. County, Law Enforcement Looks For Resources To Deal With The Mentally Ill
At a time when law enforcement is under intense public scrutiny for high-profile shootings of civilians, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is one of many agencies nationwide looking to better equip officers to handle the mentally ill people they face on the streets every day. In some places, the changes have been in the works for years but have been hampered by a lack of funding. Within a patchwork mental health system that offers little in the way of long-term care, law enforcement is a crucial first line of defense. (Chang, 6/20)
The community in Southeast Los Angeles County is bordered on all sides by industry, including rail yards, plastics manufacturers, gas companies and, perhaps most well-known, Exide Technologies, and residents are fearful it is endangering their health.
Los Angeles Times:
Maywood Residents Worry About Health Hazards Posed By Nearby Industries
Yesenia Jaramillo, her husband and their three children were delighted when they moved into the house on East 52nd Street in Maywood in 2009. ... There was only one catch: directly behind the house was a scrap metal recycling facility, Panda International Trading Co. ... "I feared every day that something could happen,” she said. “I told my husband we’re living in a ticking time bomb here, and we need to move as soon as possible.” (Agrawal, 6/19)
Meanwhile, the Porter Ranch cleanup is about to wrap up —
SoCal Gas Wrapping Up Its Court-Ordered Cleaning Of Porter Ranch Homes
Southern California Gas Co. says it's just about finished with the cleanup of homes in Porter Ranch, meaning the last of several thousand households displaced by the massive natural gas blowout at the Aliso Canyon storage facility will soon be returning home. ... Many worried that their properties still contained contaminants spread by the leak that continued for nearly four months before crews sealed the well on Feb. 18. The invisible stew of chemicals that spewed from the well are believed to have caused headaches, dizziness, bloody noses, nausea and other health problems. (O'Neill, 6/17)
The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District's efforts to kill the mosquitoes that can carry Zika were not as effective as it would have liked.
Coachella Vector Control Spraying For Mosquitoes Again
The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District is spraying for mosquitoes again this weekend. The agency sprayed last week, but the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus continue to infest several Coachella neighborhoods. ... To test the effectiveness of those treatments, the vector control agency set up traps in a number of front and backyards. It concluded that the effort had killed up to 75 percent of the mosquitoes on some streets, but was less effective on others. Coachella Vector Control attributes that to shifting winds, and says some yards are harder to penetrate from the street. (Plevin, 6/17)
Under the options, states would be able to set up their own insurance plans that compete against private industry. By embracing the idea, Hillary Clinton may be able to woo some of those who are enchanted by Bernie Sanders' more ambitious "Medicare For All" plan. Meanwhile, The Washington Post checks Clinton's facts on CHIP and analysts examine her health care policies.
The Associated Press:
For Dems, A Stepping Stone To Common Ground On Health Care
Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for all" plan seems even less likely now that he's all but out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but there's a way that he and Hillary Clinton could still find common ground on government-sponsored health care. It's a "public option" for states to set up their own insurance plans that compete against private industry. Sanders helped to pass the federal legislation that would allow it, and Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, says if elected she'd work with interested governors to implement it. (Alonso-Zaldivar and Gram, 6/20)
The Washington Post's Fact Checker:
Clinton’s Claim Of Working With Democrats And Republicans To Create A Child Health Program
[A] new ad features a 1998 clip of Hillary Clinton speaking about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) signed into law by her husband, then-President Bill Clinton. The ad is an interesting example of how images and words can be assembled to present an image of leadership, while giving a misleading impression about what exactly happened. ... Given the facts about CHIP and the reporting at the time, you could assemble a somewhat less favorable account about Clinton’s role in creating CHIP. The ad is correct that about 8 million low-income children receive health care through the program. But it’s questionable that she played a key leadership role to creating CHIP. (Kessler, 6/20)
Clinton’s Health Policies Show Consumer Bent, Analysts Say
Hillary Clinton’s health plans show a willingness to take on industry groups to shift costs away from consumers, health care experts on both the right and the left agree. They also say that the Affordable Care Act laid the foundation for Clinton’s consumer-centered proposals. Everything becomes simpler after that major health overhaul. ... Clinton’s general support of the Obama administration’s Medicare drug reimbursement plan may be her most controversial policy stance, and it has real implications should she become president. (Many of her other policy ideas would require Congress’s support, which is far from guaranteed should Republicans retain control of either the House or the Senate.) (Owens, 6/20)
Startup companies like Oscar were initially attracted by the potential of millions of new customers added to the individual market by the health law. But the reality has been messier. there's an uphill battle to reach out about health care coverage to immigrants who are in the country legally.
The New York Times:
Struggling For Profit Selling Health Insurance In State Marketplaces
Oscar Health was going to be a new kind of insurance company. Started in 2012, just in time to offer plans to people buying insurance under the new federal health care law, the business promised to use technology to push less costly care and more consumer-friendly coverage. “We’re trying to build something that’s going to turn the industry on its head,” Joshua Kushner, one of the company’s founders, said in 2014, as Oscar began to enroll its first customers. These days, though, Oscar is more of a case study in how brutally tough it is to keep a business above water in the state marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. (Abelson, 6/19)
The Associated Press:
Seasonal Farmworkers Face Uphill Battle For Health Insurance
Seasonal agricultural workers were just finishing a meal after a long day of planting sweet potato seeds when Julie Pittman pulled up to their camp. Pittman, a paralegal with the Farmworker Unit of Legal Aid of North Carolina, worked to get their attention. The health care law that passed in 2010 requires you to have health insurance, she said, speaking in Spanish. If you don't get it, she said, you could be fined. "Cuánto cuesta?" asked a worker, wanting to know the cost. In the United States legally through the H-2A visa program, these farmworkers, like most American citizens and legal residents, must be insured. But reaching them is an uphill battle. (6/20)
And in other national health care news —
Zika Virus Spreading Rapidly Across Puerto Rico
There are alarming signs the Zika virus is spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. Blood banks on the island have seen a steady rise in the portion of donations that have to be rejected because they contain Zika virus. Last week, 1.1 percent of the donated units were contaminated. (Branswell, 6/17)
The New York Times:
Birth Control Via App Finds Footing Under Political Radar
A quiet shift is taking place in how women obtain birth control. A growing assortment of new apps and websites now make it possible to get prescription contraceptives without going to the doctor. The development has potential to be more than just a convenience for women already on birth control. Public health experts hope it will encourage more to start, or restart, using contraception and help reduce the country’s stubbornly high rate of unintended pregnancies, as well as the rate of abortions. (Belluck, 6/19)
Pediatricians: U.S. Not Doing Enough To Halt Childhood Lead Poisoning
Despite dramatic declines in childhood lead poisoning over the past few decades, the United States is doing too little to prevent new poisonings, the nation’s leading group of pediatricians said Monday. The statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, published in the journal Pediatrics, comes at a time when lead is receiving renewed public attention, largely due to the apparent poisoning of thousands of children who drank contaminated water in Flint, Mich. (Painter, 6/20)