Latest From California Healthline:
A long-awaited class-action lawsuit against Sutter is set to open this month in San Francisco Superior Court. The hospital giant stands accused of violating California’s antitrust laws by leveraging its market power to drive out competition and overcharge patients. (Jenny Gold, 9/9)
Good morning! Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a transparency law last week that will require Kaiser Permanente to disclose profits from each of its facilities. Read more on that below, but first here are you top California health stories for the day.
After Tumultuous Week Of 11th Hour Surprises, Newsom And Lawmakers Reach Deal On Vaccination Bill: Gov. Gavin Newsom has agreed to sign a vaccine oversight bill after striking a last-minute deal to clarify what medical exemptions for the shots will remain valid and which doctors can issue the passes. State Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, negotiated with Newsom’s office this week after the governor surprised lawmakers by walking back his support of the controversial measure on Tuesday. While aspects of the amendments sought by Newsom would significantly weaken the bill, other changes would bring new scrutiny to exemptions written by doctors who have faced disciplinary action. The new provision would have the potential to invalidate hundreds of vaccine exemptions from such practitioners.
The changes also include Newsom’s proposal to grandfather in all existing medical exemptions before Jan. 1, causing concern among critics that such a move would prompt a rush for new vaccine exemptions. However, Newsom’s amendment contains a key caveat: New medical exemptions would be required when a child enters kindergarten, seventh grade or changes schools. By adding that provision, permanent medical exemptions would no longer be valid throughout a child’s K-12 education.
“We are confident that we have legislation that will close enormous loopholes in California’s existing vaccination law, protect community immunity and crack down on physicians who are practicing outside the accepted standard of care,” said Dr. David Aizuss, president of the California Medical Assn., the lobbying arm of doctors in the state.
Los Angeles County Resident Becomes Fifth Death Linked To Mysterious Vaping-Related Lung Illness: The unidentified LA county resident was described as an older adult who had chronic underlying health conditions and was one of 12 cases of people in Los Angeles County experiencing severe and sudden lung disease after a history of vaping, said Muntu Davis, the heath officer of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Today we’re issuing a warning to all residents about the use of these devices as potentially harmful to proper lung function,” L.A. county public health director Barbara Ferrer said at a news conference on Friday. “Stop vaping now.” Dr. Travis Henry, a radiologist at UCSF who has seen several cases firsthand in San Francisco and studied reports from many others across the country, said Friday that there is no obvious pattern to chest scans taken from patients, suggesting that there may be multiple causes of the illness. Henry noted that he had seen sporadic cases of severe lung disease tied to vaping in previous years, “but this outbreak is unprecedented.”
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.
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More News From Across The State
New California Law Requires Greater Transparency From Kaiser
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Friday a measure that will require Kaiser Permanente to join other insurers in providing more detailed information on expenses and revenue at each of its hospitals and medical facilities. State Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, introduced the legislation, Senate Bill 343, on behalf of Kaiser’s largest union, the Service Employees International Union. (Anderson, 9/6)
California Governor Signs New Transparency Law For Kaiser
It's a major win for a prominent health workers union that sponsored the bill amid an ongoing fight with the health system. Each of Kaiser's 35 California facilities will need to disclose its profits and its insurance arm will need to publish the reasons for any planned rate increases. The bill's author, Democratic state Sen. Richard Pan, said the new law "arms employers and others with the information they need to fully understand why the cost of their health insurance with Kaiser Permanente may be rising." (Luthi, 9/6)
CA State Attorneys, Aljs Get Health Care Perk In Contract
About 4,000 more California state workers will be eligible for monthly stipends to cover their health insurance premiums under a tentative contract agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration. The benefit appears in a new agreement between the administration and California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment. CalHR posted the agreement to its website Thursday. (Venteicher, 9/6)
LA County Hospitals Were Told To Stop 'Dumping' Homeless Patients, But Their Options Are Limited
For years, videos of ambulances dropping patients off on street corners prompted outrage and, eventually, legislation to stop it. But California hospitals attempting to comply with the new law run up against this stark reality: There are not enough beds available for homeless patients exiting hospitals. (Tinoco, 9/6)
Capital Public Radio:
Veterinarians Are Killing Themselves. An Online Group Is There To Listen And Help
Veterinarians are killing themselves in alarming numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found male vets are 2.1 times as likely and female vets 3.5 times as likely to die by suicide compared with the general population. The much higher rate for women is especially concerning as more than 60% of vets are women. (Simon, Balaban and Doubek, 9/7)
Los Angeles Times:
Air Board Kills Regulation Of Dangerous Acid At Two Refineries
Air quality regulators on Friday killed a years-long push for stronger regulation of a dangerous acid used at two South Bay refineries that has frightened many neighbors, voting instead to accept a voluntary, oil industry pledge to enhance safety measures. bThe decision by the South Coast Air Quality Management District governing board came just one week after the two refineries, in Torrance and Wilmington, offered a way to avoid tougher restrictions. (Baboza, 9/6)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Major Shortcomings In Organ Transplant Network Flagged In UCSF, Columbia Studies
The nation’s organ transplant network is a work in progress, with health care providers and patient advocates constantly devising new strategies to fairly distribute a scarce resource. But two recent studies have identified areas in particular need of improvement. (Allday, 9/7)
Sacramento Immigrant Domestic Violence Victims Trapped By Fear
Three to four years ago, Lalita went furtively to the leasing office of her home in Sacramento and, in tears, asked if she could borrow the phone to dial the National Domestic Violence hotline. Hearing her recount her plight, the staff member told her to move her belongings to the office as she waited for help to come.All the shelters she called were full. But they directed her to My Sister’s House. (Yu and Chalermkraivuth, 9/9)
Homeless Move Into New Downtown Sacramento CA Shelter
Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency and Volunteers of America staff have moved the ten people into newly-cleaned rooms on the sixth floor of the historic hotel at the corner of Ninth and L streets. The rooms include two new twin beds each, dressers, and nightstands. Several toilets and faucets have been replaced and rooms were sprayed for bedbugs. (Clift, 9/6)
The New York Times:
Pelosi And Schumer, In Push For Gun Safety Legislation, Urge Trump To Defy N.R.A.
The top two Democrats in Congress called on Sunday for President Trump to defy the National Rifle Association and get behind legislation, already passed by the House but blocked in the Senate, to expand background checks to nearly all gun buyers. With gun control high on Congress’s agenda as lawmakers return to Washington this week after their August recess, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, sent a joint letter to the president, telling him that his “urgent, personal intervention is needed to stem the endless massacres of our fellow Americans by gunfire” and that he had a “historic opportunity to save lives.” (Stolberg, 9/9)
The New York Times:
Trump Aides’ Poll Finds Gun Control Politically Problematic For The President
President Trump assured Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, on Thursday that he was still considering legislation that could include background checks for gun buyers. But White House aides said they had polling data showing that gun control was politically problematic for the president, according to two people briefed on the meeting. Inside the White House, the issue of new gun control measures has largely been theoretical. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has cautioned that it will be the president who will have to press his party to act. (Haberman and Martin, 9/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump, 2020 Democrats Take Different Tacks On Mental-Health Policy
The 2020 presidential campaign has revealed a clear split on the future of mental-health policy, with President Trump focused primarily on addressing gun violence and his potential Democratic foes making a wider variety of proposals. Mr. Trump has focused on the issue in response to recent mass shootings, calling for more psychiatric institutions and making it easier to commit people for treatment. (Armour, 9/8)
Harris Unveils Plan To Offer Health Care, Housing Assistance To Over 500K Veterans
White House hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Saturday unveiled a new plan to expand veterans’ access to health care and provide housing assistance to over half a million former service members. ...The California Democrat said that if she is elected, by the end of her first term, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would expand access to health care and housing assistance through the agency to the more than 500,000 veterans with other-than-honorable discharges. (Axelrod, 9/7)
Fall Preview: Health Care
Health care costs will be a dominant issue on Capitol Hill this fall, with many lawmakers hoping to pass legislation to lower prescription drug prices and ban surprise medical bills. Each chamber has measures that would address the problems created when insured patients believe they are getting care covered by their insurance but end up paying out-of-network rates. The legislation would prevent hospitals from charging patients for out-of-network care in emergency situations or for out-of-network services at an in-network facility, a practice known as balance billing. (McIntire and Siddons, 9/9)
Why The Most Pro-Marijuana Congress Ever Won’t Deal With Weed
This could be a big moment for marijuana and Congress. But Democrats are fighting Democrats over whether to focus on social justice issues or industry priorities like banking. Marijuana advocates are divided among themselves over whether to push for full legalization or settle for less far-reaching legislation. And many Republicans — some of whom are seeing the benefits of cannabis legalization in their home states — are still decidedly against any legalization on the national level, even for medicinal uses. (Demko and Fertig, 9/9)
Novo Nordisk To Cut Insulin Prices In The U.S.
Novo Nordisk will offer cheaper insulin to U.S. diabetics, the Danish drugmaker said on Friday, in response to criticism over the high price of the medication and after similar moves by rivals Sanofi and Eli Lilly. President Donald Trump has made high prescription drug prices a top issue in the 2016 presidential campaign and said that drug companies were "getting away with murder". (9/6)
The Washington Post:
Google Bars Ads For Unproven Therapies, Including Stem Cells
Responding to ubiquitous online marketing by stem cell clinics selling unapproved treatments for everything from achy joints to Alzheimer’s, Google announced Friday it will no longer accept ads for “unproven or experimental medical techniques,” including most stem cell therapy, cellular therapy and gene therapy. The Internet giant said it was taking the step after seeing “a rise in bad actors” trying to take advantage of patients by offering “untested, deceptive treatments.” Often, Google said in a post explaining the new policy, “these treatments can lead to dangerous health outcomes and we feel they have no place on our platforms.” (Wan and McGinley, 9/6)
The New York Times:
Major Drug Maker Is Close To Settling Case To Avert First Federal Trial In Opioid Crisis
One of the biggest makers of generic opioids in the United States has reached a tentative settlement of claims to avoid the first federal trial of drug makers, distributors and retail chains for their roles in the opioid epidemic. Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, a company investigators for the Drug Enforcement Administration once referred to as “the kingpin of the drug cartel,” announced Friday that it had agreed to pay $24 million to two Ohio counties. Under the agreement, the company would also donate $6 million worth of drugs, including addiction treatment medications, to the plaintiffs, Cuyahoga and Summit Counties. (Hoffman and Thomas, 9/6)