- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Consumer Advocates Fret About Proposed Covered California Budget Cuts
- Sacramento Watch 2
- Pot Legalization, Tobacco Tax Among Health Issues On November Ballot
- Advocates Try To Ease Worry About Voluntary Nature Of Aid-In-Dying Law
- Public Health and Education 1
- LA City Council Votes To Make It Mandatory For Farmers Markets To Accept Food Stamps
Latest From California Healthline:
State exchange's spending plan for 2017 would close a call center and reduce funding for some programs that assist vulnerable communities. (Ana B. Ibarra, 5/13)
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Summaries Of The News:
Starting May 16, health care is available to children regardless of their immigration status. Officials in Sonoma County and Coachella are working to spread the word and enroll kids in the expanded program.
Ventura County Star:
Undocumented Youths Qualify For Government Health Care Monday
A California law that kicks in Monday makes immigrant children without legal documentation eligible for comprehensive, government-paid health care. No one knows exactly how many people are impacted or the exact cost to taxpayers for the new care. California Department of Health Care Services officials contend at least 2,917 Ventura County residents ages 18 and younger qualify for full-scope Medi-Cal under a Health 4 All Kids signed into law last year. That number matches the undocumented people currently covered by restricted Medi-Cal, meaning they're covered for emergency care. (Kisken, 5/15)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Sonoma County Expands Health Coverage For Undocumented Children
Sonoma County is now closer than ever to achieving a 15-year-old goal of enrolling every single child in the county into comprehensive health care coverage — regardless of the child’s immigration status. On Monday, county staff will begin upgrading health care coverage for about 1,000 undocumented children currently enrolled in a restricted form of Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid program. These children are currently limited to emergency medical services. (Espinoza, 5/15)
The Desert Sun:
Funding Grows For Undocumented Kids' Health Care
Coachella's Clinicas de Salud de Pueblo was visited Saturday by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, as the legislators worked to get the word out about the Medi-Cal expansion that, starting Monday, opens the program's services more broadly to children under 19 who are undocumented. The Health for All Kids law was passed last year, and was expected to provide more comprehensive health care for more than 170,000 children statewide. When Gov. Jerry Brown released his May budget, however, he had increased program's funding by $51 million — enough to serve 15,000 more kids. At least 6,000 of the children that will be helped live in Riverside County. (Rumer, 5/14)
With as many as 18 ballot measures expected to qualify for a vote, Californians will decide several health-related issues including proposals to legalize marijuana for recreational use and raise the state's cigarette tax by $2 per pack.
Los Angeles Times:
California November Ballot Will Have As Many As 18 Measures
California voters this fall will likely wade through the longest list of state propositions since Bill Clinton was president, a sizable batch of proposed laws that is likely to spark a record amount of campaign spending. ... This week marks an unofficial but closely watched deadline for backers of the fall's bumper crop of propositions. Campaigns will submit the final voter signatures gathered for initiatives, and elections officials will then need several weeks to verify those signatures. ... A few with prominent causes or champions will stand out. Tops on that list may be the initiative to fully legalize marijuana, backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Facebook co-founder Sean Parker and a long list of drug policy reformers. (Myers, 5/16)
The Associated Press:
Bid To Raise California Tobacco Tax Nears November Ballot
A well-financed campaign whose backers include billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, medical groups and organized labor has collected enough signatures for a ballot measure to raise California's cigarette tax by $2 per pack, officials said. The Save Lives California coalition scheduled a news conference Monday at the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office to submit the first signatures in a campaign to nearly triple California's cigarette tax to $2.87 a pack. If enough signatures are verified, the measure would appear on an increasingly crowded Nov. 8 ballot. (5/16)
They say they do not expect there to be a shortage of physicians who will be available for patients, but some doctors say, beyond the ethics of it, the complexities of the law could cause some providers to opt-out. Meanwhile, The San Jose Mercury News offers a Q&A on the law.
The Mercury News:
Will Doctors Choose To Prescribe Lethal Drugs Under California's New Aid-In-Dying Law?
After 23 years of passionate debate over the issue, California's controversial right-to-die law becomes a reality next month, when doctors will finally be allowed to legally prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives. But will they? (Seipel, 5/13)
The Mercury News:
California's New Right-To-Die Law: Questions And Answers
California's controversial new law -- the End of Life Option Act -- raises both complex and practical questions. The language of the law, as well as experiences with Oregon's similar Death With Dignity Act, provides some insight into how the law will work in the Golden State. Here are some questions and answers. (Krieger, 5/14)
UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center worked quickly to address inspectors' concerns and the label was lifted shortly from both. However, the fact that it happened raises concern among advocates. “Hospital leadership is not putting enough resources into infection control," said Lisa McGiffert, who leads the safe patient project at Consumers Union.
Los Angeles Times:
State Found Lapses In Infection Control At UCLA And Cedars
After "super bug" outbreaks last year involving a hard-to-clean medical scope, state health inspectors descended on two of Los Angeles’ largest hospitals and found numerous safety violations that appeared to put far more patients at risk. At UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, the state declared an “immediate jeopardy” – meaning lives were at imminent risk – on March 4, 2015, after finding staff using contaminated water and a tainted liquid cleaner dispenser being used to ready colonoscopes and other devices for the next patients. (Petersen, 5/14)
In other hospital news —
Glendale Adventist Leads Area Hospitals In Patient-Safety Advocacy Group's Report
Only one hospital in or around Glendale aced a twice-yearly hospital safety report card, while three others earned middling grades. Glendale Adventist once again earned an A from Washington, D.C.-based Leapfrog Group, an organization that advocates for hospital patient safety. Leapfrog bases its assessments on a host of criteria, including the chances of contracting infections and patients falls during a hospital stay. (Mikailian, 5/13)
Palo Alto Daily News:
Stanford, Lucile Packard Nurses Get Raises In Deal That Avoids Strike
Nurses from Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford will get 4 percent raises each year in a three-year contract ratified by union members on Wednesday. (Lee, 5/13)
And the head of the FTC warns about hospital mergers nationally —
The Washington Post:
This Health-Care Trend Could Make Your Hospital Stay $2,000 More Expensive
Consolidation in the health-care industry is accelerating and has helped drive up prices in parts of the country, Edith Ramirez, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, said in a speech Friday. “I remain very concerned about the rapid rate of consolidation among health-care providers,” Ramirez said. Last year, the number of hospital mergers increased 18 percent compared with the previous year, she said. In areas where there is a hospital monopoly, prices are 15 percent higher than those in areas with four or more competitors, and the average in-patient stay in those places is almost $2,000 higher, Ramirez said. (Merle, 5/13)
The $5.2 billion deal is expected to close in the third quarter.
The Associated Press:
Pfizer Buying Anacor Pharmaceuticals In $5.2B Deal
Pfizer will acquire Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc. in a deal valued at about $5.2 billion. Anacor's topical treatment for eczema, called crisaborole, is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration. If approved, Pfizer said it believes peak year sales could reach or exceed $2 billion. Anacor, based in Palo Alto, California, also holds the rights to a topical treatment for toenail fungus called Kerydin. (5/16)
According to county data, well over a million people in the Los Angeles area rely on CalFresh to buy groceries each month, but more than half of the local farmers markets don’t accept EBT cards.
LA Moves To Require Farmers Markets To Accept Food Stamps
The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance making it mandatory for all farmers markets to accept EBT cards (the electronic equivalent of food stamps). The vote was 11-0 with four council members absent. ... “It seemed very curious to us that farmers markets, which we all love, are not as inclusive to our low income neighbors as they could be,” said Clare Fox, executive director of the L.A. Food Policy Council. Fox’s organization is working with the L.A. City Council to make EBT a requirement at all farmers markets in L.A. (Davis-Young, 5/13)
However, a McKinsey & Co. analysis suggests that the health law’s subsidies should prevent a “death spiral,” in which an insurance market gets caught in a cycle of increasing rates and shrinking customer pools.
The Wall Street Journal:
Insurers’ Losses Deepened On ACA Plans In 2015
Many insurers have lost money on the Affordable Care Act plans they sell to consumers. A new analysis shows how much those losses deepened in 2015, the second year of the law’s signature exchanges. Based on insurers’ filings with state regulators, McKinsey & Co. estimates the health-insurance industry’s cumulative margin on individual plans last year was between -9% and -11%. That is roughly double the -4.8% margin the consulting firm calculated for 2014. For 2015, only about a quarter of insurers reported that they made a profit on their individual plans. (Wilde Mathews, 5/15)
Under the new guidance, insurers and hospitals cannot deny services based on someone's gender identity. Some advocates are disappointed, however, saying that the rule does not go far enough.
The Washington Post:
Obama Administration: Insurers Must Provide Services Regardless Of Gender Identity
The Obama administration unveiled two broad initiatives Friday aimed at combating discrimination against transgender Americans in schools and health-care coverage, affirming the president’s goal of elevating transgender protections to one of the central civil rights issues of his presidency. The moves, both of which had been in the works for years, prompted an immediate backlash from conservatives who disparaged the measures as government overreach. White House officials countered that they reflected one of the administration’s core principles: protecting those targeted for discrimination because of their identity. (Eilperin, 5/13)
The Wall Street Journal:
Obama Administration Extends Antibias Protections to Transgender People Seeking Health Care
The moves by multiple federal agencies broadened an emotional debate on the transgender issue, which escalated earlier this week when the Justice Department and the state of North Carolina sued each other over a new law in the state requiring people to use public bathrooms based on the gender on their birth certificates. “There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said. (Barrett and Radnofsky, 5/13)