Latest From California Healthline:
On the bright side, advances in medical science and a push for healthier lifestyles might extend the quality of life for aging boomers. Among clouds on the horizon: ageism, strained long-term care services and the need to work well past retirement age. (Judith Graham, 1/16)
Good morning! Here are your top California health stories for the day.
Homeless Crisis A Top Concern For Many California Voters, Poll Finds: Twenty percent of Californians surveyed by the Public Policy Institute of California cited homelessness as the most important issue for the governor and Legislature to work on this year. That’s a record, said the institute’s president, Mark Baldassare: “It’s never, ever been in the double digits.” When the institute asked the same question last year, only 6% of respondents named homelessness at the state’s top policy priority. Health care has become a lesser focus for Democrats, according to the poll, despite policy differences surrounding the Affordable Care Act and Medicare for All so far having dominated the discussion at the Democratic presidential debates. Read more from Bryan Anderson of the Sacramento Bee and Ben Christopher of CalMatters.
As Funding For Homeless Crisis Floods In, Police Department Says Others Should Take Over Managing The Crisis: As the twin crises of homelessness and mental illness grip San Francisco’s streets, nearly every city department — from Public Health to Public Works — has boosted resources and staff to address the issue. Now, a chorus of police commissioners and homeless advocates say officers are spending far too much time responding to people who would be better served by social workers. On Wednesday, the San Francisco Police Commission unanimously approved a resolution encouraging city officials to come up with “alternatives to a police response to homelessness.” While resolutions are nonbinding, it is a notable statement for a department at the forefront of the city’s homelessness response. Read more from Trisha Thadani of the San Francisco Chronicle.
In related news from the San Francisco Chronicle: SF Mayor Poised To Meet 1,000-Shelter-Bed Goal With Deal For Navigation Center
Proposed California Bill Would Create Task Force To Help Solve Cases Of Missing, Murdered Native American Women: The legislation would create a task force within the California Department of Justice that would give tribes access to law enforcement databases and increase training for officers around the state. It would also appoint a DOJ specialist to build relationships to increase trust between governmental agencies and native communities. This is an instance of California and the Trump administration being on the same page. In November, the president issued an executive order to create a similar task force at the federal level. The likelihood of it pass, however, is unclear as a similar bill died in the legislature last year. Read more from Scott Rodd of Capital Public Radio.
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
‘Historic Moment’ For Mental Health Parity. Kaiser Workers Applaud Newsom’s Oversight Goals
Leaders of the National Union of Healthcare Workers applauded Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday for committing to crack down on health care companies that fail to provide patients with mental health care comparable with that they provide for physical illnesses. During his budget address Friday, Newsom said the state’s Department of Managed Health Care was “getting in the business of real enforcement, not tacit enforcement.” (Anderson, 1/15)
Despite Findings Of 'Negligent' Care, ICE To Expand Troubled Calif. Detention Center
When a government expert in mental health visited one of the largest immigration detention centers in the U.S. in 2017, she knew the conditions that detainees there sometimes face. A past inspection had found that staff often failed to obtain adequate mental health histories, leading to faulty diagnoses and, in some cases, treatment plans that were incorrect. Upon arrival at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement processing center in Adelanto, Calif., a similar pattern emerged. One detainee she observed had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. When she asked an officer about him, she was told that the man "floods his cell, bangs his head." (Dreisbach, 1/15)
Gavin Newsom Gives $11.5M In Homeless Funding For Fresno CA
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday during a visit to Fresno that the city and county will receive $11.5 million of emergency grants in the next few weeks to address homelessness. It’s part of $650 million statewide targeted toward the issue. (Tobias, 1/15)
Do California Students Need Permission Slips For Sex Ed?
California Democrats blocked a contentious bill on Wednesday that would have required parents to sign permission slips for their younger kids to attend sex education classes in school. Today, sex education instruction is required “at least once” for middle and high school students. School districts are also allowed to teach sex education for younger students in kindergarten through 6th grade. (Wiley, 1/15)
Fleet Of Cars To Collect Block-By-Block Air Quality Data In Bay Area
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced this month that the hybrids will collect block-by-block data from all nine Bay Area counties, spanning more than 5,000 square miles of public roads. The district will use data collected through this year and early 2021 to create hyper-local air quality maps. Those will be available to the public on the BAAQMD’s website starting later this year. (Arcuni, 1/15)
Violent Crime In LA Is Down. Again. The Police Chief Says It's 'One Of The Safest Times In Los Angeles.'
Violent crime in the city of Los Angeles has declined for the second year in a row, continuing long-term downward trends, city leaders said Monday. "These are better crime statistics than we've seen in decades," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "I said that for the first time last year, but it's true again this year." (Yu, 1/15)
CDC Lifts Warning About E. Coli Outbreak In Romaine Lettuce
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is lifting its warning about E. coli in romaine lettuce, saying the outbreak seems to be over. Since November, the CDC has been warning people not to eat romaine lettuce from the Salinas Valley growing region in California because of the risk of E. coli infection. The CDC is now removing that warning, saying, “This outbreak appears to be over.” (Sullivan, 1/15)
The Mercury News:
Doctor's Office Of The Future Heads To San Jose's Valley Fair
A new kind of medical practice touted as the “doctor’s office of the future” is slated to open its doors this year at Westfield Valley Fair shopping mall. A chain of doctor’s offices called Forward will feature touch screen monitors for collaborative consultations, on-site blood draws with results in minutes, and a high-tech body scanner at its upcoming Valley Fair location. “We see ourselves as a new-generation doctor’s office,” said Dr. Nate Favini, medical lead at Forward. “We try to use technology to give our doctors better insights into our members’ health.” (Avalos, 1/16)
CA Wants To Post 'No Smoking' Signs At Parks, Beaches
The State of California wants to spend $2 million to remind you that it is against the law to smoke in state parks and beaches. The California Department of Parks and Recreation issued a budget request in order to bring the state into compliance with Senate Bill 8, which bans smoking and vaping at state parks and beaches. If you’re caught, it’s a $25 fine. (Sheeler, 1/15)
ACA's Impact On Racial Health Disparities Has Stalled
While black and Hispanic adult uninsured rates dramatically declined thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that progress has largely stalled in recent years and the overall uninsured rate has started to climb, according to a new study released Thursday. Since 2015, black adults in Medicaid expansion states were more likely to be insured than white adults in those states, according to the Commonwealth Fund report. More than 74% of black adults and 58% of Hispanic adults reported having a regular healthcare provider in 2018 compared to 71% and 55% in 2013, the study showed. (Johnson, 1/16)
Health Insurers Urge Supreme Court To Take ObamaCare Case, Uphold Health Law
The health insurance lobby America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) on Wednesday filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to take up a case challenging ObamaCare and to rule to uphold the health law. The health insurers are siding with a group of Democratic-led states that have asked the high court to take up the GOP-led case challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) now. (Sullivan, 1/15)
The Associated Press:
Groups Push For 'Medicare For All' Support As Primaries Near
"Medicare for All" has played a role in nearly every stage of the Democratic presidential campaign, but there's been some quibbling over how that phrase is defined. With just weeks until the first 2020 contests, several groups are organizing grassroots efforts aimed at convincing voters they should back candidates who fully support the legislation from which the phrase is derived. This week, as candidates descended on Iowa for Tuesday's debate at Drake University, U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, planned a Medicare for All town hall in Des Moines. (1/15)
UnitedHealth Bets On Government Health Plan Growth In 2020
UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday, and said it expects strong sales of its government health plans this year. The company also reported solid sales growth in its pharmacy benefits business. (1/15)
The Wall Street Journal:
Juul Scales Back Overseas Expansion
Juul Labs Inc. told staff this week it may exit the South Korean market and has postponed its planned launch in New Zealand, as the troubled e-cigarette company scales back its expansion outside the U.S. The company aggressively pushed to enter new markets last year, but, in the rush to expand, it made missteps that resulted in embarrassing setbacks, according to current and former employees. In China, for example, online retailers pulled Juul off their sites just days after the company had launched there. (Maloney, 1/15)
The Wall Street Journal:
Physician Burnout Is Widespread, Especially Among Those In Midcareer
Physicians between the ages of 40 and 54 experience a higher rate of burnout than older or younger doctors, according to a recent survey of more than 15,000 physicians who cited administrative tasks and work hours as key drivers of their stress. Nearly half of Generation X physicians who were surveyed said they felt burned out, compared with 39% of baby boomers, ages 55 to 73, and 38% of millennials, ages 25 to 39. Roughly half of all the doctors surveyed also said that they would be willing to take a substantial pay cut to achieve a better work-life balance. (Abbott, 1/15)
The New York Times:
Overwhelmed By Medical Bills, And Finding Help On TikTok
When severe pain sent Eva Zavala to an emergency room last March, her treatment involved an ultrasound and some blood work. Her visit left her with a medical bill for more than a thousand dollars, after insurance. It was an overwhelming cost for Ms. Zavala, 22, a medical assistant in Oregon. She had barely made a dent in the total amount she owed when, several months later, she came across a video on TikTok. (Fortin, 1/16)