- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- California’s Drug Price Initiative: Will Voters ‘Send A Signal To Washington’?
- Deadly Superbug Linked To Four Deaths In The U.S.
Latest From California Healthline:
Despite heavy opposition from the pharmaceutical industry and skepticism from policy experts, many voters see Proposition 61 as a way to protest the nation’s mounting drug prices. (Pauline Bartolone, 11/7)
A deadly superbug has been linked to at least four deaths and nine other cases in the U.S. and has spread across the globe in just six years. (Liz Szabo, 11/4)
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Summaries Of The News:
The Mercury News fact checks an ad for the initiative aimed at curbing high drug prices.
The Mercury News:
Ad Watch: Yes On Proposition 61 Ad Might Hit Nerve With Voters
Dr. Otto Yang, identified as a “professor of medicine and AIDS researcher,” is dressed in a white lab coat and stethoscope. He asks viewers: “What if there were a pill to cure cancer but drug companies charged $10,000 a pill, or $1 million? Unfortunately, that is not too far off.’’ Yang then shows viewers a pill in his hand, which he says cures a deadly liver disease but costs more than $90,000 for a course of treatment. The doctor says that voters now have a chance to change that by voting yes on Prop. 61, which he says “will save Californians $1 billion dollars annually in drug costs.” (Seipel, 11/4)
California’s Drug Price Initiative: Will Voters ‘Send A Signal To Washington’?
This year, Mary O’Connor and her father made voting a family affair. O’Connor’s father is a Vietnam veteran, so she was especially interested in his views on Proposition 61, a California ballot measure that would peg the state’s payments for prescription drugs to prices paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s widely believed the federal program for military personnel gets some of the deepest discounts in the country. (Bartolone, 11/7)
On The Ballot: Drug Prices, Single-Payer And Weed
Ballot measures in the states this year will test voter attitudes on many controversial issues that are playing out on a national level — whether it be drug pricing, universal health coverage or legalizing marijuana. The pharmaceutical industry faces a make-or-break fight in California over a controversial measure capping prices paid through state health programs. In Colorado, voters will decide whether they want to move beyond Obamacare to establish a single-payer system. (Pradhan and Cancryn, 11/6)
In other 2016 election news —
The Orange County Register:
Costa Mesa Family Fighting For City's Marijuana Measure To Help Daughter
Gianna Dragotto sits in her wheelchair at the 420 Central marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana, slowly chewing spoonfuls of her low-carb dinner, which is topped with cannabis oil. (Casiano, 11/5)
In 2006, less than 5 percent of workers were enrolled in high-deductible plans. This year it's 29 percent.
San Francisco Business Times:
Bay Area Small Business Squeezed By Increased Healthcare Costs
While it’s true that premium rate increases since the advent of Obamacare have remained low in employer-funded health plans, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to market pressures pushing up health care costs and many businesses have turned to employees to make up the gap in the form of higher deductibles. “There has been a tremendous increase in higher deductible plans in the past 10 years,” said Micah Weinberg, the president of the Bay Area Economic Council. “The cost of prescription drugs is driving higher premiums more than anything else, but the first thing you find out when you look closely at health care costs is that everything is the reason.” The numbers bear out. According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation less than 5 percent of workers were enrolled in high-deductible plans in 2006. This year, the number is 29 percent. (Truong, 11/4)
A federal case focuses on the question: Can a company market and sell its products for uses that federal regulators have not approved?
The Mercury News:
Silicon Valley Biotech Exec's Battle With The Federal Government
Bill Facteau made millions of dollars by selling a company that sold devices to treat sinus infections. But after the government accused him of questionable marketing practices surrounding one device, the Atherton biotech executive landed in federal court. Now his cautionary story has turned into a closely watched legal appeal that has consumer advocates, industry leaders and legal analysts debating a question that could have major consequences for Silicon Valley’s biotech and pharmaceutical companies: Should the First Amendment protect a firm’s right to market and sell its products for uses that federal regulators have not approved? (Seipel, 11/4)
The school districts will not have to pay for the clinics. Instead, the money will come from federal funding and health care providers.
Fresno Unified To Add Medical Centers To Schools
Fresno Unified School District hopes to create at least 10 school-based health centers, which would be built in areas of the city that have the least access to health care. The public clinics would be modeled on Gaston Middle School’s Health and Wellness Center, which opened last year. The center provides primary care services such as physicals, immunizations and behavioral health services, and is open five days a week. (Mays, 11/4)
In other news from across the state —
East Bay Times:
Alameda County Gets $140 Million Grant To Help Homeless
Alameda County is working to make this dream a reality through an innovative state-funded program called the Whole Person Care Pilot. The Alameda County Health Care Agency was recently awarded a $140 million grant over five years to help achieve better health outcomes for a particular population of high users of Medi-Cal health services whose needs often cross the boundaries of different health and social service agencies. The idea is to create a more holistic approach to treating patients by creating a data-sharing system between the various fragmented county health agencies and service providers. If things go according to plan, the Medi-Cal costs resulting from avoidable repeat emergency room visits and hospitalizations would go way down and people would be healthier. (Drummond, 11/4)
Hepatitis A Risk From Strawberries At 2 Tulare County Restaurants
A voluntary national recall of frozen Egyptian strawberries has been issued because of the possibility of hepatitis A contamination, and several restaurants in Tulare and Fresno counties have had to throw out the bad strawberries. So far, there are no reports to public health officials in the two counties that anyone has contracted the disease from the tainted strawberries. In Tulare County, Apple Annie’s restaurant in Tulare and Sanad Freeze restaurant in Earlimart got deliveries of the strawberries. In Fresno County, about 75 restaurants and 25 long-term care facilities and schools are on a list of entities that may have received the strawberries, although not all did get them, county health department officials said. (Griswold, 11/4)
Millions of low-income people have gained coverage through the expansion of Medicaid, and Democratic candidates are eager to criticize Republicans who want to do away with the law and may jeopardize that coverage.
Dems Find Way To Go On Offense With ObamaCare
ObamaCare isn’t generally a favorite topic for Democrats in tight Senate races around the country. Premium hikes announced this fall have made negative headlines, adding to criticism of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The Affordable Care Act has never been that popular in any event, and it was widely blamed for huge Democratic losses in the 2010 midterm elections. Yet in this fall’s pitched battle for the Senate, Democrats have found a part of ObamaCare that they want to tout: its expansion of Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor. (Sullivan, 11/5)
In other national health care news —
Janet Reno, First Female U.S. Attorney General, Dies At 78
Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general, has died at age 78.Her godddaugher, Gabrielle D’Alemberte, told The Associated Press that she died early Monday from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. Reno was sworn in as the first female attorney general on March 12, 1993, under the administration of Bill Clinton. She served in the role until 2001. (Onyanga-Omara, 11/7)
Scientists Seek A Way To Predict Antibiotic Resistance
Tim van Opijnen has an unusual library. Instead of books, it holds over 10,000 mutant strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae, each with a gene disabled — though a different one than its neighbor. By knocking out a single gene, van Opijnen’s lab at Boston College is trying to understand individual genes’ importance and function in the presence of an antibiotic. His choice of bacterium is intentional: there are 1.2 million drug-resistant pneumococcal infections per year in the US, joining several other species of bacteria that are growing in immunity to antibiotic treatment. (Love, 11/7)
The Wall Street Journal:
Nurses Are Again In Demand
After years of relative equilibrium, the job market for nurses is heating up in many markets, driving up wages and sign-on bonuses for the nation’s fifth-largest occupation. The last nursing shortage more than a decade ago ended when a surge of nursing graduates filled many positions, and the Great Recession led older nurses to delay retirement. But as the economy improves, nurses who held on to jobs through the uneven recovery are now retiring or cutting back hours, say recruiters. (Evans, 11/7)
The Washington Post:
First-Year Doctors Would Be Allowed To Work 24-Hour Shifts Under New Rules
The organization that oversees the training of young doctors recommended Friday that first-year physicians in hospitals be allowed to work 24-hour shifts — eight hours longer than they are permitted now. If approved in February, the proposal by a task force of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education would go into effect in July, when the members of the next class of medical school graduates begin their residencies at teaching hospitals across the United States. (Bernstein, 11/4)
FDA Emails Show How Upset Some Officials Were Over Sarepta Approval
Newly disclosed emails underscore the extent to which high-ranking US Food and Drug Administration officials were upset with the decision-making process used to approve a controversial Sarepta Therapeutics drug for combating Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The Sept. 14 emails were written in response to a memo that Dr. Robert Califf, the FDA commissioner had drafted in which he sided with Dr. Janet Woodcock, the controversial head of the drug review division. She had pushed hard to approve the Sarepta medication over objections of key people on her staff, one of whom had filed an official scientific dispute over the approval, which occurred on Sept. 19. (Silverman, 11/4)