- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Big Gains In Latino Health Coverage Poised To Slip During Chaotic Enrollment Season
- Beyond The Shattered Lives And Bodies, Money Worries Weigh On Las Vegas Victims
- Covered California & The Health Law 2
- Fear, Confusion Reigns As Open Enrollment Nears, But Officials Say Calif. Exchange Is 'Rock Solid'
- Health Law's Open Enrollment To Kick Off This Week Amid Uncertainty, Cries Of Sabotage
- Veterans Health Care 1
- Master Plan To Improve West Los Angeles VA Campus Underway But Advocates Criticize Slow Progress
- Public Health and Education 2
- San Diego County Officials Want Help In Fighting Opioid Crisis
- Trick-Or-Treaters Beware: There May Be Lead In Your Candy
- Around California 1
- Once Accused Of 'Patient-Poaching,' Medical Center Now To Open Building On Same Street As Rival
Latest From California Healthline:
Efforts in past years have cut uninsured rates among Hispanics from 43 to 25 percent, but navigators say they anticipate a challenging sign-up period. (Paula Andalo, 10/30)
Many of the gunshot survivors who suffered serious injuries face not only high deductibles and out-of-network charges but also lost wages. (Anna Gorman, 10/30)
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Summaries Of The News:
Rates in 2018 are expected to jump 12.3 percent statewide -- in comparison with other states which will see jumps of more than 30 percent.
East Bay Times:
Covered California Addresses 2018 Open Enrollment Confusion
But for many of the 1.4 million Californians now enrolled in Obamacare plans, the prospects of obtaining affordable health care aren’t as dire. That’s because Covered California — the state’s health care exchange created under the Affordable Care Act — months ago began putting together backup plans.Covered California’s executive director, Peter Lee, goes as far as saying that the insurance marketplace for 2018 is “rock solid.”Health care experts say a chief reason behind the exchange’s relative success is that it has a pool of healthier enrollees compared with the 42 states that depend on the federal Obamacare marketplace. (Seipel, 10/30)
Ventura County Star:
Anthem's Decision To Pull Plans Fuels Angst In Conejo
Anthem announced earlier this year that the financial instability in the market for plans offered through the Affordable Care Act was causing it to yank its plans in Ventura County and much of California beginning Jan. 1, 2018. It cited reasons including the uncertain future of the cost-sharing subsidies to insurers that have since been cut by President Donald Trump. The decision means 9,630 Ventura County residents covered in Anthem plans through the Covered California exchange will have to switch to Blue Shield or Kaiser Permanente. People not covered by their employers and insured by Anthem in individual and family plans outside of Covered California will have to find new insurers, too. (Kisken, 10/28)
Experts expect enrollment to drop significantly in part because of the Trump administration's moves to slash funding for marketing and navigators and roll back policies meant to protect consumers.
The Associated Press:
Health Law Sign-Ups Start, And Some See A 'Hostile Takeover'
It's sign-up season for the Affordable Care Act, but the Trump administration isn't making it easy — cutting the enrollment period in half, slashing advertising and dialing back on counselors who help consumers get through the process. Many people already faced fewer choices and higher premiums. But President Donald Trump's decision to cancel a subsidy to insurers that lowers consumer costs compounded the turmoil, pushing premiums even higher. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/30)
Confusion Clouds Open Enrollment With Republicans Still Eager To Dismantle Obamacare
Obamacare is about to have its worst open-enrollment season ever — and that’s no accident. President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress still aim to dismantle the 2010 law. Making it look bad helps their cause, even as they’ve failed repeatedly to repeal or replace Obamacare. The new theory for Republicans: If fewer people enroll in Obamacare, there will be less of a constituency to save it. (Demko, Pradhan and Cancryn, 10/29)
ObamaCare Heads Into Crucial First Sign-Ups Under Trump
ObamaCare made it through nearly 10 months of repeal attempts with Republicans in full control of Washington. It now faces another crucial period starting Wednesday. It’s the first test of how the Trump administration will handle enrollment under the law it claims is “imploding.” With the president making no secret of his desire to kill the law completely, Democrats accuse the administration of "sabotage" and say the number of new enrollees is likely to drop as a result. (Sullivan, 10/29)
Less Money, Less Time To Enroll In 2018 Health Plans Poses Challenges
Starting next week, Americans will again be able to shop for health plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Open enrollment in most states runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. But a lot of people don't know that because the Trump administration slashed the marketing budget for Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. So states, municipalities, community groups, insurers and others are strengthening their outreach efforts. In Texas, some cities and local governments are doing their best to get the word out, but it will be hard to reach the more rural communities. (Lopez and Dembosky, 10/28)
The Department of Health Care Services will oversee a consultant-led study to look into what other states have done, financing options and other issues.
California Makes Progress On Launching Medical Interpretation Study
The Department of Health Care Services hired a lead employee to carry out an evaluation of interpretation services for Medi-Cal patients. Director Jennifer Kent said the new addition will spearhead the project, which was mandated by an assembly bill that passed last year. (Mento, 10/30)
In 2011, a group of disabled and homeless Los Angeles veterans sued VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, alleging years of neglect and misuse at the West L.A. campus.
VA Still Has Years To Go To Finish Housing Effort In West LA
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has begun responding to a legal challenge that it wasn't fully serving veterans like Ivy at its West L.A. campus. Hundreds of homeless veterans trying to access dental care, counseling, and housing vouchers at the Stand Down put the scope of the problem, and how far the VA has to go, into sharp relief. (Denkmann, 10/27)
Dr. Roneet Lev, an emergency department physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital, talks about what's being done to combat the epidemic.
KPBS Public Media:
Opioid-Related Deaths In San Diego County Keep Steady
County health officials say there were 253 opioid-related deaths in San Diego County in 2016, a number that is only slightly higher than the previous year. While abuse statistics are not rising dramatically in our region, there has not been a significant drop in deaths or emergencies over the last five years. (Cabrera and Cavanaugh, 10/27)
Growing Number Of Babies Born Addicted To Opioids
According to recent National Drug Surveys on Drug Use and Health, an annual average of about 21,000 pregnant women aged 15 to 44 misused opioids in the past month. Federal health officials say there's been a corresponding increase in the number of newborns born suffering from opioid withdrawal. (Goldberg, 10/27)
In other news —
Ventura County Star:
Oxnard Doctor Placed On Medical Probation In Opioid Case
An Oxnard doctor was placed on three years of medical probation after allegations including claims of improperly prescribing opioids in 2014, regulators said. Medical Board of California records show Dr. Harvey David Lyons' probation began Oct. 20. The action by the regulatory agency — agreed to by the doctor in a settlement with the Medical Board — allows him to continue practicing but brings mandates including having someone monitor his work and completing certain educational courses. (Kisken, 10/27)
The California Department of Public Health has issued more alerts for lead in candy than for the other top three sources of food-borne contamination combined.
The Mercury News:
Halloween Alert! Scary Findings About Imported Candy, Study Says
Officials estimate that as many a 10,000 California children under the age of six are poisoned by lead each year, and 1,000 of them are exposed to very high levels of the toxic metal, which has been linked to developmental delays, neurological damage and hearing loss. As UCSF’s Laura Kurtzman recently noted, while the bulk of the efforts to reduce child exposure to lead have been centered on lead-based paints, gasoline and soil, health experts are now focusing their attention on another culprit, candy. (D'Souza, 10/27)
In other public health news —
Los Angeles Times:
L.A. County Death Toll From West Nile Virus Climbs To 17
Amid a heat wave that could make West Nile virus more likely to spread, the number of people infected with the disease in Los Angeles County continued to climb this week. At least 230 people in L.A. County have fallen sick with West Nile this year, and 17 of them have died, health officials said Friday. The number of people infected is already the third-highest ever in the county, according to health officials — and the season has yet to end. (Karlamangla, 10/27)
The Mercury News:
Can Superhuman Athletes Provide Genetic Clues On Heart Health?
The TMX425 is the whirring heart of a five-year-old Stanford study into extreme athletic performance that researchers hope could lead to medical advances that would change the world. In exam room 10, and at partner clinics across the globe, test subjects undergo an impossibly difficult treadmill test designed to identify athletes with freakishly high cardiovascular efficiency. (Wilner, 10/29)
Scripps Health's proposed building, which would be right near Tri-City Medical Center, would include physicians' offices, examination and treatment rooms.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Scripps To Build Clinic On Same Street As Tri-City Medical Center
Scripps Health, once accused of “patient-poaching” by Tri-City Medical Center, plans to open a three-story, 85,000-square-foot office building and urgent care center in Oceanside on the same street as its rival. “We are hoping to break ground early next year and anticipate being open for patient care in 2020,” Scripps Senior Director of Public Relations Janice Collins said this week in a written response to questions. The vacant, fenced property at the corner of Jefferson Street and Vista Way is the former site of a Saturn car dealership. The proposed medical building, which would include physicians offices, examination and treatment rooms, and a multi-story parking structure, is about a mile west of Tri-City Medical Center at Vista Way and Thunder Drive. (Diehl, 10/30)
Issued late in the day on Friday, the 365-page plan also proposes other changes to the inner workings of the health insurance markets.
The Associated Press:
Trump Administration Proposes Health Law Benefit Changes
The Trump administration on Friday proposed new health insurance regulations that could affect basic benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, but not for a couple of years. Loosening "Obamacare" benefit requirements was a major sticking point for congressional Republicans in thus-far fruitless efforts to repeal the law. The complex new plan from the administration would give states a potential path to easing some requirements. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/27)
CMS To Allow States To Define Essential Health Benefits
The CMS proposed a rule late Friday aimed at giving states more flexibility in stabilizing the Affordable Care Act exchanges and in interpreting the law's essential health benefits as a way to lower the cost of individual and small group health plans. ... The CMS said the rule would give states greater flexibility in defining the ACA's minimum essential benefits to increase affordability of coverage. States would play a larger role in the certification of qualified health plans offered on the federal insurance exchange. And they would have more leeway in setting medical loss ratios for individual-market plans. (Meyer, Livington and Dickson, 10/27)