- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Medical Marijuana’s ‘Catch-22’: Federal Limits On Research Hinder Patients' Relief
- Sacramento Watch 1
- Lawmakers Target 'Patient Brokering' And Treatment Facility Oversight With Opioid Bills
- Around California 1
- Low Medi-Cal Reimbursement Rates Causing Intermediate Care Facility To Shutter Doors
- Public Health and Education 1
- Self-Described Night Owls Had Higher Chance Of Dying By End Of Study Than Early Birds
Latest From California Healthline:
Suffering Americans seek medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids and other powerful pharmaceuticals. Though legal in 29 states, some doctors say the lack of strong data makes it hard to recommend. One researcher at the University of California-San Diego plans to use federally grown and controlled marijuana to study the effect of cannabidiol, a compound found in pot, on the neuropathic pain of HIV patients. (Marisa Taylor and Melissa Bailey, 4/12)
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More News From Across The State
The substance abuse treatment industry is both lucrative and lacking in oversight. California lawmakers are looking to tighten up regulations to protect patients.
Guide: California Bills That Would Crack Down On Shady Drug Rehab Practices
Southern California is a hub for substance abuse treatment facilities. It’s a lucrative industry – and patient advocates say this has led to unsavory practices. Two bills that got a hearing this week in the state senate health committee take aim at practices that potentially exploit addicts. (Berestein Rojas, 4/12)
The policy used to be that pregnant women should not be kept in immigration detention except under “extraordinary” circumstances. But now, ICE says it will not give them that kind of special treatment except if they are in their third trimester.
Groups Want Immigration Officials To Stop Detaining Pregnant Women
More than 250 organizations sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday asking the agency to reverse a policy change that makes it easier to detain pregnant women. The letter was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Immigration Council and other civil, human rights and healthcare organizations. (Guerrero, 4/11)
The facility gets about only half as much per resident from the state's Medicaid program as the continuous care facilities receive.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Lack Of State Funding Threatens Santa Rosa Home For People With Developmental Disabilities
The monthly, per-resident reimbursement Baird House gets from Medi-Cal through the state Department of Health Care Services ranges from $11,564 to $13,588 a month per individual, according to North Bay Regional Center, the state’s contractor that provides case management and family support services to Sonoma Development Center residents. By comparison, the continuous care facilities developed by state law receive a median reimbursement of $22,636 a month per resident. These homes are called Adult Residential Facilities for Persons with Special Health Care Needs and are licensed by Community Care Licensing, a division of the state Department of Social Services. (Espinoza, 4/11)
In other news from across the state —
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
County's Flu Deaths Continue To Increase
Eight additional influenza-related deaths were reported this week, bringing the total deaths to 334 in the declining weeks of what has been San Diego County’s worst flu season in years. Health-care workers detected 264 new cases, bringing the total to 20,404 cases this season, according to the weekly report released by the county Department of Health and Human Services Agency. No new intensive-care unit cases were reported, another indication that the unusually severe season at last is winding down. (Diehl, 4/11)
Stat offers the juiciest -- and strangest -- tidbits from reporter John Carreyrou's new book on the once-promising blood-testing startup.
Inside 'Bad Blood,' The New Theranos Book From John Carreyrou
Theranos this week laid off all but about two dozen of its remaining employees — the latest indignity for the once-fabulously rich blood-testing company that’s become a parable for Silicon Valley hubris. As with much of the flood of bad news for Theranos, word of the layoffs came from John Carreyrou, the investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal who was the first to break the story of the company’s troubles in October 2015 and who later landed a string of Theranos-related scoops. (Robbins, 4/12)
It's unclear exactly why night owls are more likely to die than the early risers in this time period, and the study didn't offer explanations. "We think the problem is really when the night owl tries to live in a morning-lark world," said lead author Kristen Knutson.
The New York Times:
Morning People May Live Longer Than Night Owls
Morning people may live longer than night owls, a new study suggests. Researchers studied 433,268 people, aged 38 to 73, who defined themselves as either “definite morning” types, “moderate morning” types, “moderate evening” types or “definite evening” types. They followed their health for an average of six-and-a-half years, tracking cause of death with death certificates. The study is in Chronobiology International. (Bakalar, 4/12)
Los Angeles Times:
Bad News For Night Owls. Their Risk Of Early Death Is 10% Higher Than For Early Risers, Study Finds
Scientists have long studied whether night owls are saddled with health impacts — some research has linked a preference for sleeping late to higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, among others. But little was known on whether there was a link between sleeping late and the ultimate outcome: an earlier death. "We wanted to see whether this translated also into an increased risk of mortality and no one had done that before," said lead author Kristen Knutson, an anthropologist at Northwestern University. (Khan, 4/11)
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is leaving behind a mixed legacy on health care, and giving up on some of his dreams to reform entitlement programs like Medicare.
The Associated Press:
Speaker Ryan's Legacy To Include New Tax Code, Busted Budget
House Speaker Paul Ryan will leave Congress having achieved one of his career goals: rewriting the tax code. On his other defining aim — balancing the budget and cutting back benefit programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — Ryan has utterly failed. Ryan, a budget geek with a passion for details who announced Wednesday that he would retire next year, proved adroit in drawing up budget plans that balanced on paper but didn't get beyond the hypothetical. (4/12)
House Speaker Ryan To Retire With A Mixed Legacy On Health Policy
House Speaker Paul Ryan will leave office in January likely without having achieved two of his top health policy priorities: repealing the Affordable Care Act and tackling entitlement reform. The Wisconsin Republican confirmed Wednesday that he won't seek re-election in November. He is now one of 38 sitting Republican House lawmakers who won't seek re-election in a cycle that retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) described as a referendum on President Donald Trump "and his conduct in office." Ryan leaves an uncertain legacy when it comes to healthcare policy. (Luthi, 4/11)
The New York Times:
Ryan Found Himself On The Margins As The G.O.P. Moved Right
Once described as “the intellectual center of Republicans in the House,” Mr. Ryan has styled himself as a master of policy, someone who understood the arcane details of budgeting, the tax code and health care. ... By that time, Mr. Ryan had carved out a niche as a rare creature in the House: someone who was admired in most conservative circles, and who had the respect of nearly everyone in his conference. He also presented himself as a younger and more modern face of the Republican Party. (Stolberg and Kaplan, 4/11)
The Washington Post:
Fiscal Hawk Ryan Leaves Behind Growing Deficits And A Changed GOP
Fiscal issues have long been Ryan’s focus, as chairman of the Budget Committee and then the Ways and Means Committee, and it’s there that his failure to deliver looks most glaring, given years of promises and budget proposals aimed at slashing spending and reining in entitlements. Ryan acknowledged Wednesday that “more work needs to be done. And it really is entitlements.” But he added that he was proud that the House had passed what he described as “the biggest entitlement reform bill ever considered in the House of Representatives,” a reference to legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act and remaking the Medicaid program. That bill was rejected by the Senate. (Werner, 4/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
With Paul Ryan's Exit, GOP Loses Advocate For Changes To Retirement, Healthcare
When House Speaker Paul Ryan leaves Congress, the Republican party will lose its most influential advocate for changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. As Budget committee chairman, a vice presidential running mate to Mitt Romney in 2012, Ways and Means chairman and finally House speaker, Mr. Ryan had pressed for curbs on federal spending on the three programs. These retirement and health care programs are popular with voters, but their costs are rising faster than the funds to pay for them. (Radnofsky and Timiraos, 4/12)
NIH Director Francis Collins assured the lawmakers he was "aggressively" investigating the ethical concerns over scientists' reported attempts to woo the industry into funding a study that touts the benefits of moderate drinking.
NIH Looking At Alcohol Industry Influence 'In A Very Aggressive Way'
The controversy over research conducted by the National Institutes of Health on the health impacts of moderate drinking has reached Capitol Hill, where a lawmaker on Wednesday stridently questioned the agency’s director, Francis Collins, over the NIH’s reportedly cozy relationship with the alcohol industry. In response to a question about reports that the NIH had allowed industry partnerships to influence research into alcohol use and the impact of alcohol marketing, Collins told Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) that the NIH is “looking into this in a very aggressive way.” (Facher, 4/11)
In other national health care news —
Where The ACA Health Insurance Exchanges Stand In 2018
Though enrollment in the exchanges slipped and insurers hiked premiums by an average of 30%, the size of the premium tax credits available to most exchange enrollees ballooned enough that the average subsidized shopper paid a lower premium for coverage than the year before. Even so, the individual on-exchange ACA plans remain unaffordable for millions of people who aren’t eligible for financial help. Congress has yet to pass legislation to bolster the market and bring down premiums, and is unlikely to do so before insurers must file 2019 rates later this spring. (Livingston, 4/11)
FDA-Designated 'Breakthrough' Therapies May Not Be Real Breakthroughs
In a review of three years of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration under a “breakthrough therapy” pathway, researchers argue that some of the compounds are not actually scientific breakthroughs, which they say could be potentially misleading to the public. “You have newly approved breakthrough therapy drugs that may not be any better than existing treatments, and in some cases, it’s possible they could be even worse,” said Jonathan Darrow, lead author of the paper and faculty member of Harvard Medical School. (Swetlitz, 4/11)
Senator Lashes Out At Drug Makers For Buying Back Stock, Not Cutting Prices
Amid ongoing debate over the effect of the recent tax law, one lawmaker complains that shareholders in the nation’s 10 largest drug makers will reap a “windfall,” but the average American will not share in the bounty because none of these companies is using tax cuts to lower prescription medicine prices. In a new report, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) noted that several of the companies have announced more than $45 billion in stock buybacks, but overall, there has been only “limited mention” of investments in ways that could benefit patients and workers, such as increases in R&D and capital investment for building new facilities and creating jobs. (Silverman, 4/11)
Could CRISPR Create Monster Animals? STAT Reviews 'Rampage'
We here at STAT cover CRISPR a lot. But it’s not every day we get to cover Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Rock and the genome-editing technology meet in a new movie, “Rampage,” coming out Friday. Through a freak accident, a gorilla, a wolf, and a crocodile ingest some CRISPR complexes. The animals — whose genomes become edited to make them stronger, bigger, faster, and more aggressive — soon wreak havoc on the city of Chicago. (Thielking and Joseph, 4/12)
Kaiser Health News:
Make Room For Baby: After Giving Birth, Duckworth Presses Senate To Bend Rules
It is so common that it likely will have happened at least once somewhere in the United States by the time you finish reading this sentence. But it took more than 230 years for it to happen to a senator. On Monday, Tammy Duckworth became the first sitting senator to give birth, forcing Senate leaders to face how ill prepared they may be to accommodate the needs of a new mother. (Huetteman, 4/11)
Kaiser Health News:
What We Know And Don’t Know About Memory Loss After Surgery
Two years ago, Dr. Daniel Cole’s 85-year-old father had heart bypass surgery. He hasn’t been quite the same since. “He forgets things and will ask you the same thing several times,” said Cole, a professor of clinical anesthesiology at UCLA and a past president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. “He never got back to his cognitive baseline,” Cole continued, noting that his father was sharp as a tack before the operation. “He’s more like 80 percent.” (Graham, 4/12)