- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- Sip Wine And Chat About Postponing Motherhood — At An 'Egg Social'
- Wary Of Exchanges, Insurers Are Wooed By Expanded Medicaid Program
- Podcast: 'What The Health?' We Have Numbers!
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- California, Other States File Lawsuit To Stop Rollback Of ACA's Birth Control Mandate
- Hospital Roundup 1
- California Hospitals Grappling With Shortage Of IV Bags Following Hurricane In Puerto Rico
- Medicare 1
- In Contrast To Rest Of Insurers Offering Medicare In Stanislaus, Humana Drastically Cuts Premiums
- Public Health and Education 3
- Mental Health Funding, Treatment Options In California Lag Even As Cases Rise
- It's Too Early To Tell What Flu Season Will Be Like, But Early Signs Look A Little Grim
- Legionnaires’ Outbreak Prompts Disneyland To Shut Down Cooling Towers
Latest From California Healthline:
Fertility doctors around the country are hosting soirees to pitch to mostly affluent women the benefits of preserving their eggs. (Anna Gorman, 11/13)
Amid financial losses and the uncertainty of federal funding under Obamacare, health insurers find there’s money to be made in Medicaid. (11/10)
In this episode of “What the Health?” Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Sarah Kliff of Vox.com, Joanne Kenen of Politico and Alice Ollstein of Talking Points Memo discuss the first days of open enrollment for 2018 individual health insurance plans and whether the Democratic gains in Tuesday’s off-off-year elections will have any impact on health care policy in Washington, D.C. (11/10)
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Summaries Of The News:
Attorneys general from five states are arguing the move is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Five States Ask Judge To Halt Trump's Rollback Of Birth-Control Mandate
Five states are asking a federal judge to halt the implementation of the Trump administration's recent rollback of ObamaCare's birth-control mandate. The attorneys general in California, New York, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia filed the motion for a preliminary injunction Thursday night with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. (Hellmann, 11/10)
A vast percentage of the IV bags used in the country come from the small island that was devastated by the storm.
The Mercury News:
Shortage Of Life-Saving IV Bags Challenges Bay Area Hospitals
It’s usually one of the first items you’ll see after you enter a hospital room: a small, clear plastic bag filled with a saline or sugar-water solution, hanging above a loved one’s bed. But a serious shortage of the bags used to inject drugs intravenously is now alarming many Bay Area hospitals after Hurricane Maria in September slammed into Puerto Rico and shut down production at three plants owned by Baxter International, which makes a large percentage of the IV bags used in the United States. (Seipel, 11/10)
Hospitals Scramble To Deal With A Shortage Of Saline Drip Bags
Hurricane Maria's ripple effects have reached California. When the storm destroyed much of Puerto Rico's infrastructure, it disrupted the operations of the leading manufacturer of saline solution IV bags, leading to a shortage that has affected California and other states. (Faust, 11/10)
But monthly premiums aren't the only thing to consider when shopping for the best plan.
Humana Slashes Price For Medicare Plan In Stanislaus County. Not Much Change For Other Plans.
In Stanislaus County, seniors who want more than traditional Medicare coverage have plenty of choices. For the fall enrollment period that runs through Dec. 7, the seven insurers offering Medicare Advantage plans in the county made nickel-and-dime changes in their monthly premiums, except for Humana, which slashed its monthly cost for 2018. (Carlson, 11/10)
Doctible makes software that automates back-office tasks primarily for doctors in private practice. Co-founder Ajit Viswanathan talks about the emphasis they place on creating a good culture at his company.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
For Healthcare IT Start-Up Doctible, Culture Is King
Since the beginning of the year, San Diego’s Doctible has grown from 22 workers to 55 employees. For Co-founder and Chief Executive Ajit Viswanathan, the growth has Doctible’s management working hard to retain the start-up’s energetic culture. ...Doctible’s patient communications and retention platform integrates with the physicians’ existing software stack. The company began a rapid expansion last year and now has more than 2,500 customers in 49 states. Doctible has raised $4.2 million in venture capital funding to date. (Freeman, 11/12)
Since 1995, California’s population has increased by more than 7 million people, but the facilities and beds for acute psychiatric care have decreased.
Orange County Register:
A Look At The Prevalence Of Mental Illness In California And The U.S.
Every Southern California county has experienced an upward trend in the rate at which children under 18 years are hospitalized for a mental health issue. ...Since 1995, California’s population has increased by more than 7 million people, but the facilities and beds for acute psychiatric care have decreased. (Snibbe, 11/11)
In other news —
Ventura County Star:
Ventura County To Discuss Option Of Exploring Legal Action Against Opioid Makers
Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett wants the county government to consider the option of fighting the opioid epidemic a different way — in court. Bennett is asking the Ventura County Board of Supervisors to authorize county lawyers to explore the pros and cons of joining one of the many lawsuits being filed against pharmaceutical companies that make and distribute opioids. (Kisken, 11/11)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Widow Caresses Husband’s Transplanted Face
Sixteen months after transplant surgery gave Sandness the face that had belonged to Calen “Rudy” Ross, he met the woman who had agreed to donate her high school sweetheart’s visage to a man who lived nearly a decade without one. The two came together last month in a meeting arranged by the Mayo Clinic, the same place where Sandness underwent a 56-hour surgery that was the clinic’s first such transplant. (Potter, 11/11)
Capital Public Radio:
Foster Farms Donating Turkey To Food Banks Affected By Wildfires
Food banks in California were hard hit by this year’s wildfires, and that will make it difficult to provide all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner to those in need. Foster Farms is trying to answer that need by donating 126,000 pounds of turkey this holiday season. (Ibarra, 11/10)
Australia, which can act as a sneak peek into what the coming months hold, just exited its winter flu season with 2.5 times as many cases as it usually sees.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Is San Diego Headed For A Big Flu Season?
Australia, which often serves as a sneak peek of America’s flu season, is coming off a significant bout of influenza-related illness just as cases are starting to spike in San Diego. Does this mean that we’re in for an extra achy winter? Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, says its too early to tell for sure. “We don’t have enough information yet to tell how severe the flu season is going to be,” Wooten said. (Sisson, 11/10)
Capital Public Radio:
UC Davis Dr. Dean Blumberg On Preparing For Flu Season
The flu season is coming upon us and experts are concerned this year could be particularly bad. Last year’s flu shot was only 42 percent effective and a report released Monday suggests the reason why was due to a mutation in the vaccine strain. (Remington, 11/10)
But Orange County health officials say the threat is not ongoing.
Los Angeles Times:
Disneyland Shuts Down 2 Cooling Towers After Legionnaires' Disease Sickens Park Visitors
Disneyland has shut down two bacteria-contaminated cooling towers after Orange County health officials discovered several cases of Legionnaires’ disease in people who had visited the Anaheim theme park, authorities said. Twelve cases of the bacteria-caused illness were discovered about three weeks ago among people who had spent time in Anaheim and included nine people who had visited Disneyland in September before developing the illness, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. (Barboza, 11/11)
Orange County Register:
OC Health Care Agency Investigating Legionnaires’ Cases At Disneyland; Officials Say There’s No Current Health Threat
An Orange County Health Care Agency official says Disneyland is one of the places the agency is investigating in Anaheim as a potential source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that has sickened a dozen people who either live in, work in or have visited the city. (Pimentel, 11/11)
But advocates worry that shifting from a nonprofit model to one where the agent stands to make a commission will ultimately hurt consumers.
The New York Times:
Trump Administration Guiding Health Shoppers To Agents Paid By Insurers
After cutting funds for nonprofit groups that help people obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration is encouraging the use of insurance agents and brokers who are often paid by insurers when they help people sign up. The administration said in a recent bulletin that it was “increasing partnerships” with insurance agents and viewed them as “important stakeholders” in the federal marketplace, where consumers are now shopping for insurance. But some health policy experts warned that a shift from nonprofit groups, which are supposed to provide impartial information, to brokers and agents, who may receive commissions for the plans they recommend, carries risks for consumers. (Pear, 11/11)
In other national health care news —
The New York Times:
Trump Health Agency Challenges Consensus On Reducing Costs
For several decades, a consensus has grown that reining in the United States’ $3.2 trillion annual medical bill begins with changing the way doctors are paid: Instead of compensating them for every appointment, service and procedure, they should be paid based on the quality of their care. The Obama administration used the authority of the Affordable Care Act to aggressively advance this idea, but many doctors chafed at the scope and speed of its experiments to change the way Medicare pays for everything from primary care to cancer treatment. Now, the Trump administration is siding with doctors — making a series of regulatory changes that slow or shrink some of these initiatives and let many doctors delay adopting the new system. (Goodnough and Zernike, 11/12)
The Associated Press Fact Check:
Trump Hails 'New' VA As Old Problems Persist
President Donald Trump speaks with pride about the progress of his overhaul of health care for veterans, declaring that the Department of Veterans Affairs already "is a whole new place." Old problems persist, though, and some of his steps are not as advanced as he advertises. For Veterans Day, the White House came out with a two-page statement to support the contention that "tremendous progress has been made in a short period of time." (Yen, 11/10)
Price Investigation Continues To Roil HHS
Tom Price left his job as Health and Human Services secretary in September, but the investigation into his use of private jets for official travel now threatens to enmesh others in the department. The department’s inspector-general’s probe will review who approved — or should have been approving — Price’s use of private jets on at least 26 trips from May to September, some of them quick jaunts on routes heavily traveled by commercial aircraft, according to three people with knowledge of the probe. (Pradhan and Diamond, 11/13)