- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- Enriched By The Poor: California Health Insurers Make Billions Through Medicaid
- Health Companies Race To Catch UnitedHealth As Amazon Laces Up
- Sickle Cell Patients Suffer Discrimination, Poor Care — And Shorter Lives
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- 'We're Pounding The Drum': Despite Federal Cuts, Covered California's Outreach Efforts Going Strong
- Public Health and Education 2
- Lake Isabella's Opioid Death Rates On Par With Some Of Worst In Nation
- Americans Are Often Clueless About Their Own Obesity, Survey Finds
- Around California 1
- San Diego Officials Mulls Alternatives -- Like Uber -- To Non-Emergency Ambulance Rides
Latest From California Healthline:
Medicaid is rarely associated with getting rich. But some insurance companies are reaping spectacular profits off the taxpayer-funded program in California, even when the state finds their patient care is subpar. (Chad Terhune and Anna Gorman, 11/6)
UnitedHealth, a health industry goliath, has its hand in doctors’ offices, surgery centers, technology services and prescription drugs. It is the industry model, and CVS and Aetna, says one expert, are ‘wannabes.’ (Chad Terhune, 11/3)
People with the genetic blood disorder that mainly afflicts African-Americans can live into their 60s with competent care. So why is life expectancy slipping down to around age 40? (Jenny Gold, 11/6)
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Summaries Of The News:
Last year Covered California spent $100 million on marketing. This year it has allocated $111 million.
Capital Public Radio:
Covered California's Outreach Budget Is Huge, Despite Federal Cuts
Covered California director Peter Lee says educating people about their options is especially important now, given the threats from the federal government to shut exchanges down. ... Last year his organization spent $100 million on marketing. This year they’ve allocated $111 million. (Caiola, 11/3)
The Bakersfield Californian:
Don't Worry, Healthcare Leaders Say, Insurance Market In California 'Rock Solid'
Despite widespread worry that an unstable health insurance marketplace could lead to skyrocketing premiums amid Republican plans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, state healthcare leaders say California is largely shielded from the challenges 36 other states have been weathering. Elsewhere, enrollment windows have been diminished to just 45 days, subsidies are withering, and President Donald J. Trump, who has vowed to kill Barack Obama’s signature healthcare bill, has slashed funding to advertise enrollment periods. In California, subsidies still exist, and the enrollment window remains in place until Jan. 31, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said this week, dispelling what he describes as “myths” about the market that are true for many states but not California. (Pierce and Luiz, 11/4)
Kaiser's net income rose to $1.3 billion in the third quarter, up 15.3 percent from a year earlier.
Kaiser Permanente Records Strong Growth In Q3 Operations
Kaiser Permanente reported double-digit increases in operating revenue, operating income and net income in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the year earlier period. Operating revenue for the Oakland, Calif.-based hospital and health plan giant climbed 11.5% to $18.3 billion from the prior-year quarter. In the same period, operating income grew 20.9% to $850 million. (Barr, 11/4)
But the area is completely lacking any medication assisted treatment programs.
The Bakersfield Californian:
'Stuck With No Way To Get Sober': Lake Isabella Boasts County's Highest Opioid Overdose Rate, But Has No Medication Assisted Treatment Program
The lack of opioid treatment programs could be why the 2016 opioid death rate in Lake Isabella and its surrounding communities of 65 per 100,000 residents is the highest in Kern County, and 21st highest statewide. It tops the 2015 opioid death rates of West Virginia, New Hampshire and Kentucky, the three states hit hardest by fatal overdoses. Their average death rates hovered between 30 and 42 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kern County’s overall opioid death rate was 5.7 per 100,000, slightly higher than the state average of 4.6 per 100,000, according to data provided by the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Vital Statistics. (Pierce, 11/4)
In other public health news —
‘Massive Change’ In Cancer Treatment: Patients Choosing Drugs In Early Test Stage As First Option
Massive changes have taken place in the oncology arena, and UC Davis Health Center’s Kristina Curl Johnston and other experts will share the latest benefits for patients at the symposium. Johnston said a key difference for patients is that they now can opt to try a drug in a Phase 1 clinical trial as their first treatment option rather than going with an older chemotherapy treatment. (Anderson, 11/3)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Homeless, Immigrants Treated To 'Day Of Dignity' In City Heights
Organized by Somali Family Service of San Diego with the support of the national nonprofit Islamic Relief USA, San Diego’s “Day of Dignity” was one of several similar events that have been held across the country to reach out to the indigent and lower-income households in need of services and the staples of everyday living. Saturday’s afternoon gathering at Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park drew several East African immigrants, as well as others of varying ethnicities, plus homeless individuals. The event was open to anyone who chose to attend. (Weisberg, 11/4)
And doctors are too busy, to embarrassed or ill-equipped to help them.
Los Angeles Times:
Survey Reveals Surprising Mismatch Between Perception And Reality Of Obesity In America
Nearly 40% of American adults and 20% of children carry enough extra weight to warrant a diagnosis of obesity. That’s the highest obesity rate among the world’s affluent nations, and it’s already shortening Americans’ lifespans by driving up rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancers, arthritis and dementia. (Healy, 11/3)
San Jose Mercury News:
Kids And Soda: It’s Even Worse Than We Thought
Two-thirds of kids drink at least one soda on any given day, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bad news is that nearly a quarter of American children aged 12 to 19 have either Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, according to a 2012 study in the journal Pediatrics. (D'Souza, 11/3)
Officials are trying to get creative as they brace for a sharp increase in ambulance ride costs.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego Exploring New Emergency Response Model Amid Ambulance Crisis
A crisis in ambulance costs is prompting San Diego officials to seek an alternative model where non-emergency patients could take a taxi or Uber to a clinic or urgent care facility and get reimbursed by private insurers, Medicare or Medi-Cal. The goal is stemming a sharp rise in ambulance costs for the city and patients by discouraging rampant abuse of the 9-1-1 system, where 30 percent of callers don’t end up actually needing an ambulance ride to an emergency room. (Garrick, 11/5)
In other news from across the state —
The Ventura County Star:
Lawsuit Alleges Oxnard Nursing Home Didn't Provide Adequate Care
The family of a 74-year-old woman claims in an elder abuse lawsuit that lack of care at an Oxnard nursing home caused pressure sores and infections, ultimately leading to the woman’s death. The lawsuit alleges Oxnard Manor Healthcare Center failed to provide Sharon Kay Haley care related to hygiene, repositioning during bedrest, adequate nutrition and hydration, and other assistance that would have prevented what lawyers called “horrific” pressure sores. (Kisken, 11/3)
‘It’s Worse Than A Wrongful Death.’ Family Of Brain-Damaged Man Sues Sacramento Police
The family of a man left with the mental capacity of a preschooler after a March encounter with Sacramento police has filed an excessive force lawsuit against the city. (Chabria, 11/5)
However, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) warned that mixing health care into an already-complicated tax measure could prompt new opposition and complicate its narrow path in the Senate.
The Associated Press:
House GOP Weighs Repeal Of Health Mandate In Tax Bill
Republicans are weighing a repeal of a key tenet of the Obama-era health care law in their tax overhaul as the House's tax-writing committee begins work on shaping the bill. Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday Republicans are discussing whether their tax plan should include a repeal of the Obama health law's requirement that people have insurance coverage or face a penalty, a step pushed by President Donald Trump but seen by some GOP lawmakers as possibly imperiling a much-needed legislative victory. (11/6)
Conservatives Push To Repeal Obamacare Mandate In Tax Package
Conservatives are attempting to revive efforts to gut Obamacare’s individual mandate as part of the Republican overhaul of the tax code. But the House's top tax writer, while leaving the door open to a measure President Donald Trump supports, said Friday that such a move would complicate the tax package's prospects, particularly in the Senate. (Demko and Cancryn, 11/3)
Health Industry Officials Monitoring Tax Bill
Health care industry lobbyists are watching closely to see if tax writers may add a repeal of the requirement to get medical coverage to the House tax bill. A key committee chairman suggested Friday that it is a possibility, as conservatives and the president push for its inclusion. The issue is one of several the industry is monitoring in the bill. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said he expects to release on Monday another version of the bill with substantial changes. He said Friday that tax writers asked congressional scorekeepers for an updated cost estimate of the provision. (McIntire, 11/3)
The Washington Post:
They Spent Years Planning To Live With Alzheimer’s Disease. The GOP Tax Bill Threatens Those Plans.
When Diane Thorsen began to show signs at an early age of the Alzheimer’s disease that had stolen her mother’s mind, she and her husband, Richard Davis, were as ready as they could be. They sold their house in California to prepare for the cost of care and moved to Minnesota to live with one of Thorsen’s daughters. Davis planned their finances methodically; once Thorsen’s long-term care insurance ran out, the daunting $98,000 bill for her nursing home would be manageable — because they could deduct medical expenses from their tax bill. (Johnson, 11/4)
To pay for the Children's Health Insurance Program, the House bill would charge higher premiums to wealthier Medicare beneficiaries and cut money from the Affordable Care Act's public health fund. Democrats in the Senate are opposed to what they say is just another way to attack the health law.
The New York Times:
Children’s Health Bill Clears House As States Struggle To Keep Programs Afloat
The House passed a bill on Friday that would provide five years of funds for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, over vehement objections from Democrats who opposed the way it would be financed. The vote, 242 to 174, came a month after funds for the program expired. (Pear, 11/3)
House Volleys CHIP Measure To Senate
After months of disputes and delays, the House voted Friday to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, community health centers and other public health programs. The legislation passed easily, 242-174, although many Democrats opposed the measure due to disagreements over the offsets. ... Advocacy organizations and state officials have been clamoring for Congress to act to extend funding for CHIP, community health centers and a number of other safety net programs. Most still had some money to keep operations going after the Sept. 30 expiration date, but officials are increasingly nervous about running out. In the case of CHIP, federal health officials have been funneling some leftover funds to the states that are in the most dire situations. (Raman, 11/3)
House Passes Bill To Fund Children's Insurance Program
The House bill would charge higher premiums to wealthier Medicare beneficiaries, cut money from ObamaCare’s public health fund and shorten the grace period for ObamaCare enrollees who fail to make premium payments. According to an analysis by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 259,000 and 688,000 people could lose their insurance as a result of the shortened grace period. (Weixel, 11/3)
“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries," President Donald Trump said of the mass shooting in Texas that left 26 dead.
The Washington Post:
Trump Says Texas Shooting Is A Problem Of Mental Health, Not Guns
President Trump declared that the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Tex. that left at least 26 people dead was not “a guns situation,” saying instead he believed that “mental health” was the problem. Trump’s comments came at a news conference in Tokyo, when he was asked about the shooting at a South Texas church and if stricter gun laws were the answer. (Parker, 11/6)
The New York Times:
Gun Death Rate Rose Again In 2016, C.D.C. Says
The rate of gun deaths in the United States rose in 2016 to about 12 per 100,000 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report released on Friday. That was up from a rate of about 11 for every 100,000 people in 2015, and it reflected the second consecutive year that the mortality rate in that category rose in the United States. (Hauser, 11/4)