- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Governor Weighs Legislation On Surprise Medical Bills
- The Women's Health Issue No One Talks About
- Sacramento Watch 1
- Brown Condemns Mylan Price Hikes While Signing Bill To Let Businesses Stock Up On EpiPens
- Public Health and Education 2
- Aid-In-Dying Law: Terminally-Ill Patients Dismayed To Find Dearth Of Doctors Willing To Help
- Calif. Scientist Channels Success With HIV Drugs To Battle Zika
- Hospital Roundup 1
- Officials Hope To Turn Hospital Closure Into Win-Win Situation In Underserved West Contra Costa
Latest From California Healthline:
The problem, known as balance billing, happens when patients are treated by an out-of-network professional at an in-network facility. Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the legislation. (Stephanie O'Neill, KPCC, 9/19)
Depression is common among American women, and antidepressant use is on the rise. Yet women tend to keep both a secret. Why aren't we discussing this more? (Jenny Gold, 9/19)
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Summaries Of The News:
Gov. Jerry Brown said that he was signing the measure because it could save a life.
San Francisco Chronicle:
New Law Lets Businesses Get EpiPen Prescriptions To Save Lives
Restaurants, day care centers and other businesses will be able to stock and administer life-saving prescription medicine to immediately treat severe allergic reactions in their diners, pupils or customers under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor, however, took the unusual step of condemning the pharmaceutical company that makes the lifesaving drug known as the EpiPen, or epinephrine auto-injectors, in a bill-signing message that spoke of “unconscionable price increases.” (Gutierrez, 9/16)
It's become one of the most expensive propositions on the November ballot and the intensity of fundraising over the measure shows no signs of cooling down.
The Mercury News:
California Tobacco Tax: Prop. 56 Faces Uphill Battle Against Lobbies
The tobacco industry has poured nearly $56 million into fighting Proposition 56, about three times the $17.5 million raised by supporters as of August. If approved, the new tobacco tax would generate $1.4 billion in its first year. Most of the additional tax would go toward Medi-Cal, which provides health coverage for California’s poor and which backers say shoulders $3.5 billion a year for treating tobacco-related illnesses. (Giwargis, 9/16)
In other ballot news —
Would More Teens Smoke If Recreational Pot Were Legal?
Proposition 64 would prohibit the sale of non-medical marijuana to people younger than 21 years old. It also includes other safeguards intended to keep pot out of teenagers' hands: It prevents marijuana businesses from being located within 600 feet of schools, and it prevents pot products from being advertised to kids. Advocates say these types of regulations, plus public education, can actually decrease teen pot use. That's what's happened with other substances, says Paul Armentano, deputy director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. (Plevin, 9/18)
Many are outraged that the law has not changed their options, because doctors willing to participate are scarce. “The law, to me, means you still need to go to Oregon," says Catherine Dale, whose mother was left scrambling to find a doctor when she decided to use the aid-in-dying law.
Terminally Ill Californians Struggling To Find Doctors To Help With Aid In Dying
For 78-year-old Judy Dale, this wasn’t the way California’s new aid-in-dying law was supposed to work. The San Francisco grandmother, her body riddled with cancer, had hoped to die on her own terms when the time came by ingesting lethal medications prescribed by a physician. But the panic-filled weeks she spent this summer trying to find a doctor — any doctor — willing to participate in the state’s End of Life Option Act were running out. By the time she located one, it was too late, and when Dale drew her final breath Tuesday morning, it was not the kind of death she — or her family — had envisioned. (Seipel, 9/17)
Virologist Koen Van Rompay helped to develop Truvada by testing it in monkeys first. “One of the reasons I’m so eager to do Zika virus research is because I’ve seen with HIV how strategies that we develop in monkeys can really make a big difference,” he says.
Capital Public Radio/KXJZ:
California Virologist Uses Lessons Learned From HIV To Develop Zika Drug
At the California National Primate Center at UC Davis, [Koen Van] Rompay and his team have access to more than 4,000 animals, which are mostly Rhesus monkeys, to develop a primate model that could lead to strategies to protect human fetuses and babies against Zika infection... Currently, he and his team are injecting Zika virus directly into the amniotic fluid of pregnant monkeys to find out why early infection seems to have the most detrimental effect on the fetus. One of the fetuses died a week after infection. (Johnson, 9/16)
Board members are trying to decide on the future of the West Contra Costa Healthcare District, and some are rallying behind the idea to create a county service area to serve as a successor to the district.
East Bay Times:
West County: After Hospital Closure, What’s Next For Health District?
More than a year after the closure of Doctors Medical Center, the agency tasked with its day-to-day operations still functions, spending an estimated $500,000 a month of taxpayer money on administrative, legal and financial costs. But with the sale of the hospital property expected to be finalized by early next year, discussions are in the works over what should happen to the West Contra Costa Healthcare District now that it doesn’t have a medical center to run. (Ioffee, 9/16)
The Orange County Health Care Agency found mycobacteria in the water used for the procedure, and has ordered the clinic to stop using it.
Orange County Register:
Anaheim Dental Clinic Cooperates With O.C. Health Agency After 10 Children Hospitalized
A dental clinic in Anaheim that on Thursday was ordered by the Orange County Health Care Agency to stop using water for procedures after 10 children were hospitalized following treatment there has said it is cooperating with health officials and is reaching out to families of patients who received the procedures over the past four months. All 10 children had undergone pulpotomies, or baby tooth root canals, between May and September. In all, about 500 patients underwent the procedure during that period. The agency said its lab confirmed that multiple samples taken from the dental office’s water system have tested positive for mycobacteria similar to the kind believed to have sickened the children. (Bharath, 9/17)
In other news from across the state —
Ventura County Star:
Simi Valley Woman Battles West Nile
The mosquitoes left four temporary welts, each larger than a nickel, on Marcy Majer's arms and legs. Three months after she noticed the bites while watering her lawn in shorts and a sleeveless shirt, the Simi Valley woman sat in a wheelchair. She tugged at her legs to show they would not move. She said doctors diagnosed her with West Nile virus that developed into meningitis. "Neurological complications," is how they put it. (Kisken, 9/16)
East Bay Times:
Giants Fan Bryan Stow Thanks Valley Med For Recovery
Fresh out of a coma after being savagely beaten by Los Angeles Dodgers fans, Bryan Stow couldn’t walk, talk or chew when he arrived four years ago at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. But in less than five months, the staff of the rehabilitation center had the San Francisco Giants fan downing solid food, using words rather than grunts to communicate — and even printing his name, albeit in shaky letters. (Kaplan, 9/17)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Genomics Event Moves To San Diego
Major conference on genomics has moved its West Coast location to San Diego, a leading hub of genomic technology.The Festival of Genomics California runs Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 20-21 at the San Diego Convention Center...This year’s Festival offers sessions on clinical access to genomic medicine, applied technology and data sharing, along with artificial intelligence and machine learning applications. (Fikes, 9/18)
The Associated Press and The Center for Public Integrity find that drugmakers set in place a strategy to continue to profit off of doctors' aggressive overprescribing, even as they claim to play an important role in curbing the epidemic.
The Center for Public Integrity/The Associated Press:
Pharma Lobbying Held Deep Influence Over Policies On Opioids
The Associated Press and The Center for Public Integrity teamed up to investigate the influence of pharmaceutical companies on state and federal policies regarding opioids, the powerful painkillers that have claimed the lives of 165,000 people in the U.S. since 2000. The news agencies tracked proposed laws on the subject and analyzed data on how the companies and their allies deployed lobbyists and contributed to political campaigns. (9/18)
The Center For Public Integrity/The Associated Press:
Pro-Painkiller Echo Chamber Shaped Policy Amid Drug Epidemic
For more than a decade, members of a little-known group called the Pain Care Forum have blanketed Washington with messages touting prescription painkillers' vital role in the lives of millions of Americans, creating an echo chamber that has quietly derailed efforts to curb U.S. consumption of the drugs, which accounts for two-thirds of the world's usage. In 2012, drugmakers and their affiliates in the forum sent a letter to U.S. senators promoting a hearing about an influential report on a "crisis of epidemic proportions": pain in America. Few knew the report stemmed from legislation drafted and pushed by forum members and that their experts had helped author it. The report estimated more than 100 million Americans — roughly 40 percent of adults — suffered from chronic pain, an eye-popping statistic that some researchers call deeply problematic. (Perrone and Wieder, 9/19)
The Center for Public Integrity/The Associated Press:
Politics Of Pain: Drugmakers Fought State Opioid Limits Amid Crisis
The makers of prescription painkillers have adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids, the drugs at the heart of a crisis that has cost 165,000 Americans their lives and pushed countless more to crippling addiction. The drugmakers vow they're combating the addiction epidemic, but The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity found that they often employ a statehouse playbook of delay and defend that includes funding advocacy groups that use the veneer of independence to fight limits on their drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl, the narcotic linked to Prince's death. (Whyte, Mulvihill and Wieder, 9/18)
Although the debate over the Planned Parenthood provision is defused, other sticking points arose over the weekend. Still, lawmakers hope to seal an agreement Monday.
The Associated Press:
Congress Works To Finish Zika Aid, Prevent Shutdown
Driven by a desire to free up endangered lawmakers to campaign, congressional negotiators are working to quickly complete a spending bill to prevent an election-season government shutdown and finally provide money to battle the threat of the Zika virus. The stopgap measure would keep the government running past the end of the budget year this month. It's the only measure that has to pass before Congress adjourns for Election Day. As such, the talks have been tricky, with Republicans controlling Congress battling Democrats and the Obama administration. (Taylor, 9/19)
In other national health care news —
New Rules Aimed To Make Clinical Trials Safer, More Effective
Universities and drug companies that use human volunteers for research face tough new rules designed to make sure that valuable information from these volunteers is widely available, not only to the volunteers themselves but to scientists trying to advance medical science. The rules currently on the books are confusing and often ignored. (Harris, 9/16)
U.S. Inflation Stirring As Healthcare, Housing Costs Surge
U.S. consumer prices rose more than expected in August as healthcare costs recorded their biggest gain in 32-1/2 years, pointing to a steady build-up of inflation that could allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year. The cost of living last month was also pushed up by sustained increases in rents. The uptick in inflation is likely to be welcomed by Fed officials when they gather next week to deliberate on monetary policy, though a rate hike is not expected at that meeting. (Mutikani, 9/16)
The New York Times:
More Child Suicides Are Linked To A.D.D. Than Depression, Study Suggests
Attention deficit disorder is the most common mental health diagnosis among children under 12 who die by suicide, a new study has found. Very few children aged 5 to 11 take their own lives, and little is known about these deaths. The new study, which included deaths in 17 states from 2003 to 2012, compared 87 children aged 5 to 11 who committed suicide with 606 adolescents aged 12 to 14 who did, to see how they differed. (Saint Louis, 9/19)
The Washington Post:
Brain Cancer Replaces Leukemia As The Leading Cause Of Cancer Deaths In Kids
It's official: Brain cancer has replaced leukemia as the leading cause of cancer deaths among children and adolescents. In 1999, almost a third of cancer deaths among patients aged 1 to 19 were attributable to leukemia while about a quarter were caused by brain cancer. By 2014, those percentages were reversed, according to a report published Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (McGinley, 9/16)