- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Key Senate Committee Votes For More Transparency On Drug Price Hikes
- Should Adults Living In The Country Illegally Qualify For Full Medi-Cal Benefits?
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- Bill Would Let Immigrants In The Country Illegally Buy Covered California Insurance
- Public Health and Education 1
- Sacramento Officials Preach Vigilance As Another Fentanyl-Linked Death Is Confirmed
- Around California 1
- Orange County Eyes Partnerships With Medical Facilities To Address Scarcity Of Psychiatric Beds
Latest From California Healthline:
Proposed legislation would require drugmakers to give 60-day notice for price increases of 10 percent or more and provide written justification for them. (Ana B. Ibarra, 4/14)
Two state senators and a health foundation executive offer their perspectives. (Emily Bazar, 4/14)
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Summaries Of The News:
If the measure passes the legislature, which it has a good chance of doing, the state would ask the federal government for permission to allow as many as 390,000 immigrants who earn an income too high to qualify for Medi-Cal to purchase health care through the exchange.
The Los Angeles Times:
California Effort Is Underway To Allow Undocumented Immigrants To Buy Healthcare Coverage
California would be the first state in the nation to ask the federal government to allow immigrants in the country illegally to purchase health insurance through a state exchange under new proposed legislation. Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) authored a bill that would have the state formally request the federal government to give permission for immigrants to pay for coverage through Covered California without cost to the state or federal government. (McGreevy, 4/14)
Meanwhile, California Healthline talks to experts to get their opinions on extending Medi-Cal coverage to adult unauthorized immigrants —
Should Adults Living In The Country Illegally Qualify For Full Medi-Cal Benefits?
Within a few months, probably in May, children who live in California and are in the country illegally will gain access to full Medi-Cal benefits. Between 170,000 to 250,000 children up to age 19 are expected to qualify. The change comes as a result of a new law by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. That law originally would have extended full Medi-Cal benefits to anyone living in California regardless of immigration status, including adults, but it was narrowed to cover only children. (Bazar, 4/14)
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offered harsh sanctions to the troubled blood-testing startup and its leadership in a March 18 letter, which The Wall Street Journal obtained. CMS is now reviewing Theranos' response as to why those punishments should not be imposed.
The Wall Street Journal:
Regulators Propose Banning Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes For At Least Two Years
Federal health regulators have proposed banning Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes from the blood-testing business for at least two years after concluding that the company failed to fix what regulators have called major problems at its laboratory in California. In a letter dated March 18, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it plans to revoke the California lab’s federal license and prohibit its owners, including Ms. Holmes and Theranos’s president, Sunny Balwani, from owning or running any other lab for at least two years. That would include the company’s only other lab, located in Arizona. (Carreyrou and Weaver, 4/13)
The New York Times:
Theranos Under Fire As U.S. Threatens Crippling Sanctions
Federal regulators have threatened a series of stiff sanctions against Theranos, the embattled blood-testing company, including closing down its flagship laboratory and potentially barring its chief executive from owning or operating its labs for two years. The sanctions, which have not been made final, were included in a strongly worded letter from officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is the latest blow to the credibility of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes, its chief executive, who seemingly became a self-made billionaire by promising to upend the clinical testing industry. (Abelson and Pollack, 4/13)
The Los Angeles Times:
Federal Health Regulators Seek To Revoke License Of Theranos Blood-Testing Lab
Theranos has responded to the letter and is waiting for the agency to finish reviewing the privately held company's proposed solutions, Theranos spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said. In the meantime, "CMS has not imposed any sanctions on Theranos or its executives," and the sanctions proposed by the agency in its letter were "the worst-case scenario," Buchanan said. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services declined to comment, noting that the letter was not intended to be made public. (Peltz, 4/13)
The Silicon Valley Business Journal:
Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Faces 2-Year Ban From Blood-Testing Business
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes could face a two-year ban from the blood-testing business after federal regulators concluded her company failed to fix major problems at its laboratory in Newark. (Schubarth, 4/13)
Feds Seek Severe Sanctions Against Theranos
The Wall Street Journal was ahead of the game again, Wednesday, when it comes to reporting on Theranos. The Journal reported the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which had found the company’s Newark, California lab an actual danger to the public health, is not happy with Theranos’ proposed plan of correction. (Brooks, 4/13)
Dr. Jorge A. Enriquez's goal with his foundation is to offer free or discounted surgeries for those who have few other options because they are not covered by insurance.
For California’s Uninsured, A Nonprofit Offers A Way To Life-Changing Surgery
As a young surgeon, Dr. Jorge A. Enriquez watched his peers fly across the ocean to do charity work in far-flung places. But he was struck by the needs of his own community here amid the agricultural lands of the Central Valley. Many workers have seasonal, low-wage jobs without health insurance. (Brown, 4/14)
The state's Medicaid program does not have a "ministerial duty" to the 19 Oregon, Arizona and Nevada hospitals that sued California for underpaying them, says U.S. District Judge Edward Chen.
Hospitals Denied Back Damages In Case Against California Medicaid
Although California's Medicaid program underpaid out-of-state hospitals for their services, it does not have to pay retroactive damages, a federal judge in San Francisco has ruled. (Pierson, 4/13)
Shortly after signaling a bit of relief from the outbreak of fentanyl-related overdoses that has struck Sacramento County, the health department announced three more, one of which was fatal.
The Sacramento Bee:
Another Fentanyl-Linked Death, Two More Overdoses Reported In Sacramento Region
Just days after hinting that fentanyl overdoses in the Sacramento region were tapering, the county’s health department announced Wednesday one more death and two more overdoses likely caused by the potent synthetic opioid. (Caiola, 4/13)
Elsewhere, experts say that the "pill for every pain" culture has played a key role in the opioid epidemic sweeping the country —
The Fed's New 'War On Drugs': Obama Proposes $1.1 Billion To Expand Care For Opioid Addicts
Amid a prescription opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic largely fueled by overprescribing among doctors, President Obama has suggested allocating $1.1 billion to expand affected individuals’ access to care— a proposal that has garnered bipartisan support. Although some experts question whether throwing money at the issue will be enough, many believe that, if used properly, the funding has the potential to save lives. (Carstensen, 4/14)
The furor erupted after Attorney General Kamala Harris' agents investigated and seized videos from the apartment of David Daleiden, the man behind the Planned Parenthood videos.
The Sacramento Bee:
Abortion Rights Foes Want Kamala Harris To Resign
Anti-abortion groups on Wednesday rallied outside Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office to call for her resignation – a week after her agents seized equipment from the apartment of activist and citizen journalist David Daleiden. (Cadelago, 4/13)
In other women's health news —
The Ventura County Star:
Implementation Of Birth Control Law Hits Delay
The law swung into effect Friday but women and girls will likely have to wait longer to obtain birth control pills without a prescription. (Kisken, 4/13)
Because of the shortage in the county, patients are often forced to seek treatment in emergency rooms where they could be held for hours or days without receiving proper care, supervisors say.
The Orange County Register:
Shortage Of Psych Beds Has O.C. Supervisors Considering Partnership Options
The county will explore opportunities to improve services for mentally ill patients by increasing its number of psychiatric beds – a first step toward addressing a perceived dearth in Orange County. County supervisors Lisa Bartlett and Andrew Do directed staff at Tuesday’s board meeting to identify and seek possible partnerships with medical facilities to allow for such an expansion. (Graham, 4/13)
Elsewhere, Adventist Health is going big with its Roseville campus —
The Sacramento Business Journal:
Adventist Health Buys More Land For Roseville Headquarters
Adventist Health has doubled down on its plans for a campus in Roseville, buying two more empty parcels for $9.69 million. The properties, at 1429 and 1445 Eureka Road, are next to land Adventist bought last year to the east. At the time, company representatives said the 11.8-acre purchase was for a new headquarters campus. (van der Meer, 4/13)
“Never before in history has there been a situation where a bite from a mosquito can result in a devastating malformation,” says CDC head Dr. Tom Frieden, ending months of debate about the virus's effects.
Total spending in 2015 rose to nearly $425 billion, according to the report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. It estimates that after rebates and other price breaks, manufacturers received $309.5 billion for U.S. prescription drugs last year, up 8.5 percent from 2014.
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Drug Spending Climbs
Total spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. rose 12.2% to nearly $425 billion in 2015, continuing a steep climb fueled by the introduction in recent years of expensive new drugs for cancer and infections, as well as price hikes for older drugs, according to a new report. The spending growth rate decelerated from the 14.2% rise in 2014, partly because of patent expirations for certain drugs, but the growth was still well above the average for the past decade, according to a research arm of IMS Health that produces the annual report on spending. The figures are based on pharmaceutical list prices. ... IMS estimated that after rebates and other price breaks, manufacturers received $309.5 billion for U.S. prescription drugs last year, up 8.5% from 2014. (Loftus, 4/14)
In other national health news —
The Washington Post:
People May Be Warming Up To Health Reform — But Not To ‘Obamacare’
A new study finds that although the public remains stubbornly split on the Affordable Care Act, a slight shift may be occurring beneath the surface — with a growing minority of people coming around to the opinion that the law is having a real impact on access to health care. To be clear, the analysis is based on two-year-old data, and it shows more people are opposed to the law (45.6 percent) than in favor of it (36.2 percent). It also shows that most Americans — albeit a shrinking majority — still think the law has had "no/little impact" on any of the following: increased access to health care, insurance coverage for young adults, assistance for drugs to seniors or insurance subsidies. (Johnson, 4/13)
The Associated Press:
EPA: No Changes To Federal Lead Water Rule Until Next Year
The Environmental Protection Agency’s top water regulator said Wednesday that officials are working urgently to strengthen a federal rule limiting lead and copper in drinking water — a key focus in the ongoing lead-contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan. But Joel Beauvais, acting chief of the EPA’s water office, said proposed changes will not be released until next year, with a final rule expected months after that. (Daly, 4/13)