- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- State Program For HIV/AIDS Patients Faces Serious Funding Problem, Advocates Say
- A Tender Steak Could Be A Little Dangerous
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- In Ventura County, Health Law Can Mean Security Or A Hit To The Wallet
- Marketplace 2
- Advocates Say Insurance Companies Finding Subtle Ways To Legally Limit Mental Health Treatment
- San Francisco Startup Specializing In Medicare Managed Care Market Gets $160M In Funding
- Around California 2
- Court Grants Family Of Brain-Dead Toddler A Reprieve
- Sonoma May Rein In Relatively Lax Outdoor Smoking Regulations
Latest From California Healthline:
Agencies that provide caregiving services for the Medi-Cal program say underfunding has thinned out their ranks, making it difficult to provide care to everyone who needs and qualifies for it. (5/23)
A new label for mechanically tenderized beef helps consumers avoid foodborne illness. (Lydia Zuraw, 5/23)
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Summaries Of The News:
The Ventura County Star takes a look at the ways residents have been affected by the Affordable Care Act.
The Ventura County Star:
Dissecting The Cost Of Obamacare In Ventura County
The money-saving claim has been targeted like a prize fighter's chin during the presidential campaign, continuing a fight that erupted more than eight years ago when Barack Obama pledged to revolutionize health care. His Affordable Care Act created insurance marketplaces and expanded government-paid Medicaid insurance in moves that have covered 20 million previously uninsured Americans, nearly 5 million Californians and almost 90,000 people in Ventura County. (Kisken, 5/20)
Although recent laws have been passed to bar insurance companies from charging higher co-pays or setting up separate deductibles for mental health care compared to other medical or surgical care, many are still struggling to get affordable care.
Single Mom’s Search For Therapist Foiled By Insurance Companies
More than 43 million Americans suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, according to the most recent federal data. But more than half the people who felt like they needed help last year, never got it. Even people who had insurance complained of barriers to care. Some said they still couldn’t afford it; some were embarrassed to ask for help. Others just couldn’t get through the red tape. (Dembosky, 5/22)
Clover Health says it will use the new funding to scale its technology and data science platforms and expand into new, undisclosed markets.
San Francisco Business Times:
San Francisco Health Insurance Startup Nabs $160 Million In Series C Funding
Clover Health, a four-year-old health insurance startup that specializes in the Medicare managed care market, has nabbed $160 million in Series C venture funding in a round led by Greenoaks Capital. That gives the San Francisco startup, which has disclosed very little about its growth plans, nearly $300 million in venture funding. (Rauber, 5/20)
Medicare Advantage Insurer Clover Health Raises $160 Million In New Funding
Venture capitalists have opened up the funding spigot into a budding health insurance startup that only enrolls seniors—reflecting a bet that new-age insurers will disrupt the Medicare program. Clover Health, a company that sells Medicare Advantage products and uses data analytics to care for its members, raised $160 million from several investors. (Herman, 5/20)
Competitors Valley Children’s Hospital and Community Medical Center will spend millions on building pediatric networks. They say the expansion plans are driven by demand for care and not an on-going feud.
The Fresno Bee:
Valley Hospitals Spending Millions To Build Pediatric Networks
It’s getting easier to find a doctor for a sick child in the San Joaquin Valley. Valley Children’s Hospital and Community Medical Centers – competitors for pediatric patients – are recruiting pediatricians and spending millions on buildings where they will work. Community Medical Centers has plans for a five-story pediatric office building near its downtown Fresno trauma and medical center. Valley Children’s Hospital is opening a new clinic in northwest Fresno and has bought or is buying property for new clinics in cities from Modesto to Bakersfield to accommodate growing physician practices. (Anderson, 5/21)
Kaiser Permanente was set to take Israel Stinson off a ventilator Friday, but a court is allowing his mother time to bolster her case.
The Sacramento Bee:
Brain-Dead Vacaville Toddler Given More Time On Life Support
Attorneys for Israel Stinson, the brain-dead toddler on life support at Kaiser Roseville hospital, got a weekend reprieve in their legal fight now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Facing a federal court order that would have allowed Kaiser Permanente to take 2-year-old Israel off a ventilator Friday, the appeals court granted an extension until Monday. The court said it wanted to allow Israel’s mother, Jonee Fonseca, more time in her effort to substantiate her claim that Kaiser’s declaration of brain death is invalid on constitutional grounds. (Buck, 5/20)
The City Council has voted to prohibit smoking on all streets and sidewalks, but voters have to sign off on the guidelines in November.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Sonoma May Stub Out Outdoor Smoking
While many municipalities and counties in California have rules prohibiting smoking in outdoor dining areas, commercial districts and parks, Sonoma has none. But that could change. The City Council last week voted 4-1 to revise the city’s relatively lax ordinance and make it among the state’s toughest for protecting people from secondhand smoke. But Sonoma voters have to approve it, likely on the November ballot. (Mason, 5/22)
In other health care news from across the state —
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Jewish Community Free Clinic In Santa Rosa Brightens Patients' Visits With Art
Can art heal? Champions of what’s been called a miracle of a Santa Rosa health clinic can’t prove that the fine and vivid pieces of framed beauty that adorn the walls help to make the low-income patients better. But good luck persuading them that it doesn’t. (Smith, 5/22)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Health, Housing Focus Of UCSD Healthy Aging Symposium
Health care and housing, two areas of primary concern for older people, will be the focus of a daylong symposium Thursday organized by UC San Diego’s Center for Healthy Aging. The free event features internationally known scientists, gerontologists, pharmacists and aging experts who’ll speak on topics ranging from the role of biosensors in health care (wearable, Fitbit-like monitors), preventing medication errors, pioneering research on aging and the human microbiome (mostly bacteria), and the latest trends in age-friendly housing and communities. (Parente, 5/22)
Patient advocates, doctors and drug companies have all come out strongly against the new payment model that they say focuses more on the costs than quality of care for those who need the medication. In other Medicare news, ever since the program announced it would pay for end-of-life talks the once-controversial conversations have become more common.
The New York Times:
Proposal To Reduce Medicare Drug Payments Is Widely Criticized
An Obama administration proposal to reduce Medicare payments for many prescription drugs has run into sharp bipartisan criticism, suggesting that it is easier to diagnose the problem of high prices than to solve it. Patients’ advocates have joined doctors and drug companies in warning that the federal plan could jeopardize access to important medications. Every member of the Senate Finance Committee — 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats — and more than 300 House members have expressed concern. (Pear, 5/23)
The Associated Press:
Elderly Book End-Of-Life Talks Once Labeled 'Death Panels'
The doctor got right down to business after Herbert Diamond bounded in. A single green form before her, she had some questions for the agile 88-year-old: about comas and ventilators, about feeding tubes and CPR, about intense and irreversible suffering. "You want treatments as long as you are going to have good quality of life?" Dr. Manisha Parulekar asked. The retired accountant nodded. "And at that point," she continued, "you would like to focus more on comfort, right?" There was no hesitation before his soft-spoken reply: "Right." Scenes like this have been spreading across the U.S. in the months since Medicare started paying for conversations on end-of-life planning. Seven years after that very idea spurred fears of "death panels," supporters hope lingering doubts will fade. (5/22)
Among other changes, the labels will be required to list added sugars and reflect accurate serving sizes. Manufacturers have until July 2018 to comply with the new rule.
Due to a new method in reporting the cases, the known number of pregnant woman who have been affected has nearly tripled. Meanwhile, calls for proper funding to battle the outbreak have increased in urgency, as states try to get control of the virus without the money to do it.