Latest From California Healthline:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on an array of health care bills that will significantly affect the lives of Californians, including many college students, pregnant women, schoolchildren and dialysis patients. (Ana B. Ibarra, 10/14)
Good morning! A judge in California was one of three across the country to block the Trump administration’s change to the “public charge” rule that critics believe will have a chilling effect on immigrants utilizing Medicaid and other assistance programs. More on that below, but first here are your top California health stories for the day.
California Governor Signs Flurry Of Health-Related Bills On Topics Ranging From Abortion Medication To School Start Times: Gov. Gavin Newsom capped the end of the legislative session with a bill signing marathon over the past few days. And some of the most notable measures from the year were health-related. Here’s a look at some of them:
― Students at California’s 34 California State University and University of California campuses will have access to medication-induced abortion — commonly known as the abortion pill — at on-campus student health centers by Jan. 1, 2023;
― California will require health insurance companies to cover the cost of fertility procedures for patients undergoing treatment that can make it difficult to have children, such as chemotherapy;
― Among other new restrictions, Californians will be prohibited from buying more than one semiautomatic rifle per month, the sale of gun parts to ex-felons or people with a history of mental illness, and the sale of semiautomatic centerfire rifles to people younger than 21 will be banned;
― The state attorney general will be given more power to go after pharmaceutical companies that engage in “pay for delay”;
― Young adults in the country illegally will be eligible for Medi-Cal if their incomes qualify;
― Hospitals will be required to report annually on efforts to purchase services, equipment and supplies from businesses with diverse ownership.
― Construction companies will have to provide valley fever training to their employees;
― Investment advisers and broker-dealers will be required to report suspected financial abuse of elder or dependent adults.
― School children will be guaranteed a state-funded meal of their choice, even if their parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees to combat “lunch shaming”;
Read a roundup of the health care related legislation from California Healthline here.
Dozens Of Investigations Into Deaths In California Have Been Thwarted Because Victims' Bodies Were Harvested For Parts: Organ procurement before an investigation has long been legal, provided the coroner agrees. But a Los Angeles Times investigation finds dozens of cases where the coroner was left guessing at the cause of death because body parts were harvested early. As a result malpractice suits couldn't be proven and even a murder charge had to be dropped. The original goal was to increase the number of hearts, kidneys and other vital organs needed to extend the lives of Americans waiting for transplants. To raise those numbers, California and other states over the last decade passed laws requiring coroners and medical examiners to “cooperate” with the companies to “maximize” the number of organs and tissues taken for transplant. Procurement companies’ lobbyists helped to write the legislation and push it into law.
Melissa Baker, a former investigator in the medical examiner’s office in Pierce County, Wash., filed a whistleblower complaint in 2015 after three procurement companies moved into that county’s morgue to access cadavers. “One of my biggest concerns … was the mere fact that someone could potentially get away with murder because evidence has been bungled, lost or not collected,” she said.
And in related stories:
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
Sign up to get the daily edition in your inbox
More News From Across The State
San Francisco Chronicle:
More Middle-Income Californians Can Now Get Health Insurance Subsidies
Open enrollment for Covered California, the state marketplace that sells subsidized health insurance to Californians who do not get insurance through their employer, begins Tuesday and ends Jan. 15. Those who sign up by Dec. 15 will have their health coverage take effect Jan. 1. Those who sign up from Dec. 16 to Jan. 31 will have coverage take effect Feb. 1. About 235,000 middle-income Californians will be newly eligible for financial assistance in 2020 because California will be providing state subsidies for the first time. (Ho, 10/14)
How The Disability Community Supported Each Other When The Power Went Out
De Grace-Morris went to Katie Savin's home near the Oakland-Emeryville border, which didn't experience any service interruptions. Savin had put her name on a shared "mutual aid" spreadsheet that was started by several community activists a day before the first round of shutoffs. By Friday, about 250 mostly East Bay residents had signed on to the list, whose existence was spread by word of mouth, to offer neighbors without power everything from outlets and fridge space to a place to spend the night. (Green and Hossaini, 10/11)
California Hospitals Rely On Generators During PG&E Power Outages
Hundreds of California hospitals have been running on generators and hundreds of thousands of residents have been without electricity after power companies temporarily shut off services Wednesday to prevent fires during windy weather. The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services said 248 hospitals were located in areas where power was turned off, so they likely lost power and relied on generators. More than 200,000 customers were affected by the outage, according to PG&E data, although crews were working to restore services. (Bannow, 10/11)
New Statewide Mental Health Helpline Expands Resources For San Diegans
Californians can now call a phone number if they need emotional support. Officials this week announced a statewide non-emergency toll-free helpline that connects callers with peer counselors. The new service is called the California Peer-Run Warm Line, and it complements a local phone service that’s already available to San Diegans but offers a different form of support. (Mento, 10/11)
San Jose Mercury News:
What You Can And Cannot Expect From California’s New Mental Health Line
This month, California launched the first statewide mental health line. The peer-run line based in San Francisco will get $10.8 million over three years to expand across the state. (Snibbe, 10/12)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Losing Summer: 10 Months. Nearly 30 Visits To San Francisco’s Psychiatric ER. And A Suicide
San Francisco’s Behavioral Health Services system helps many of the 30,000 people it works with every year, and many receive high-quality or even lifesaving treatment. But Summer’s experience highlights weaknesses in the $370 million system — a system Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors say is broken. (Lange, 10/13)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Breakthrough Study By Kaiser Permanente Supports Outpatient Breast Cancer Surgery
Recently, a medical study across 21 Kaiser Permanente sites in Northern California — including Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center — showed results that reinforced sending mastectomy patients home just hours after surgery. The study, published this month in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, is the first large evaluation in the nation of a hospital systemwide at-home recovery program for mastectomy patients. The research documented a dramatic increase in the rate of outpatient breast surgeries across Kaiser medical centers with no significant increase in post-surgery patient issues requiring emergency room visits or hospital readmissions. (Espinoza, 10/12)
What's At Stake In The Current Court Challenge To Affordable Care Act?
A decision in the latest court case to threaten the future of the Affordable Care Act could come as soon as this month. The ruling will come from the panel of judges in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments in the Texas v. Azar lawsuit. An estimated 24 million people get their health coverage through programs created under the law, which has faced countless court challenges since it passed. (Simmons-Duffin, 10/12)
The New York Times:
Judges Strike Several Blows To Trump Immigration Policies
President Trump’s immigration agenda ran into legal blockades in courts around the country on Friday as judges in four states barred his administration from trying to withhold green cards from people who use public benefits and rejected his plan to divert funds to erect a border wall. In three rulings, federal judges in New York, California and Washington State issued injunctions temporarily blocking the “public charge” rule, which would impose serious impediments to legal residency for those who use benefits such as Medicaid or those deemed likely to use them in the future. (Jordan, 10/11)
The Associated Press:
US Appeals Court Skeptical Of Trump's Medicaid Work Rules
A federal appeals court on Friday sharply questioned the Trump administration's work requirements for Medicaid recipients, casting doubt on a key part of a governmentwide effort to place conditions on low-income people seeking taxpayer-financed assistance. All three judges on a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit lobbed hard questions at a Justice Department lawyer defending the policy at a hearing. The administration is appealing after losing the first round before a lower court. (10/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
Democrats Push Elizabeth Warren For Plan To Pay For Medicare For All
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been dogged from the debate stage to town halls to late-night TV shows by questions about whether she plans to unveil a signature health-care proposal—and how she would pay for expanding government-run insurance. Health care consistently polls as the No. 1 issue Democratic voters are concerned about. But unlike her top rivals, Ms. Warren hasn’t detailed her preferred policies, instead saying she’s “with Bernie” Sanders in supporting a government-run Medicare for All system. (Jamerson and Parti, 10/13)
The New York Times:
We Surveyed The 2020 Democrats On Gun Control. Here Are The New Dividing Lines.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are far more forceful and united on gun control than their predecessors, endorsing a wide range of policies that past nominees sidestepped or rejected, according to a New York Times survey of the 19 campaigns. The political terrain on guns has been shifting for several years in response to a seemingly unending series of mass shootings and a newly emboldened network of advocacy groups. Policies that were dividing lines among Democrats have become baselines, and proposals that were politically untouchable are now firmly on the table. (Astor, 10/13)
The New York Times:
E-Cigarettes Went Unchecked In 10 Years Of F.D.A. Inaction
In 2009, not long after Dr. Margaret Hamburg became commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, a package arrived at her home. Inside was a clunky device called an e-cigarette. “It was my first exposure to this emerging, new technology,” Dr. Hamburg recalled. The package was sent by an antismoking activist as a warning about a product that was taking off in the United States. But over the next decade, the federal government — across the span of two presidential administrations — allowed the rise of a largely unregulated industry that may be addicting a new generation to nicotine. (Thomas and Kaplan, 10/14)
The Wall Street Journal:
Congress Probes Bot-Generated Social-Media Messages About E-Cigarettes
A congressional committee and the Massachusetts attorney general are investigating whether millions of bot-generated social-media messages about e-cigarettes have been misleading consumers about safety and health issues. In information requests to five big manufacturers of vaping products in August, House investigators asked each of the firms whether it had used social media bots to market its products. The House Energy and Commerce Committee request also asked for lists of all the usernames involved, as well as whether the bots have disclosed their connection with the manufacturer. (McKinnon, 10/14)
The New York Times:
Judge Orders Pause In Opioid Litigation Against Purdue Pharma And Sacklers
Citing mounting costs of litigation that are siphoning funds that could otherwise go to abate the opioid crisis, a bankruptcy judge on Friday ordered a pause in legal action by states against Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sacklers. The ruling was a setback for 25 states that have forcefully opposed a national opioid settlement negotiated last month among the company and the Sacklers and cities, counties and other states that have filed lawsuits against them. To raise money for the settlement, Purdue has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and asked that all litigation against it and the Sacklers be halted. (Walsh, 10/11)
Amazon Cuts Contracts With Delivery Companies Linked To Deaths
Amazon has abruptly canceled its contracts with three major delivery firms, a move that will put more than 2,000 people out of work and may signal a shift in how the online retail giant plans to deliver millions of packages to homes across the country every day. Inpax Shipping Solutions, based in Atlanta, has told employment regulators in six states that it would lay off at least 925 employees beginning Oct. 2 and would cease all delivery services for Amazon by early December, according to government records. (Callahan, O'Donovan and Bensinger, 10/11)