Latest From California Healthline:
Gov. Gavin Newsom has earmarked nearly $600 million in his 2020-21 state budget plan to provide intensive care management to high-needs, high-risk patients around the state. The programs are similar to an initiative in Camden, New Jersey, that was called into question by a recent study finding hospital readmissions dropped, but at only about the same rate as patients who didn’t receive the same kind of intensive services. (Phil Galewitz and Anna Almendrala, 1/23)
Good morning! Here are your top California health stories for the day.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, stepping up his bid to enlist U.S. government help to combat homelessness, has urged the Trump administration to open up surplus federal property for construction of more low-cost housing across the state. Newsom said his administration already had moved to turn over excess state-owned land to cities and counties for the purpose of building affordable housing. "You could match our commitment by similarly providing free surplus federal land to local governments across the state so they can build housing for the homeless,” he wrote to HUD Secretary Ben Carson. Read more from Steve Gorman of Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has launched its yearly count of the city’s homeless population. The massive effort requires volunteers, and there’s not always enough to evenly distribute the work. Read more from Doug Smith of the Los Angeles Times.
And a new pilot program offers employment in homeless services to people who know the problem well. “You see, you have to fight the belief, the expectation that you’re going to fail,” says Earl Williams of Los Angeles who was accepted into the program. “You have to fight the feeling that whatever good that’s coming your way, something is going to ruin it.” Read more from Thomas Curwen of the Los Angeles Times.
In related news:
Los Angeles Times: Paroled From Angola Prison, He Searched For His Son Among L.A.’s Homeless
‘Hospital Watch’ Consuming Thousands Of Hours Of San Francisco Police Department’s Time: In 2019, dozens of officers spent the equivalent of nearly 1,000 days at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, standing guard over suspects who had been arrested, but required medical treatment before they could be transferred to jail. It’s a job ordinarily handled by sheriff’s deputies, but in San Francisco police have been forced to step in to deal with a phenomenon known as “hospital watch.” And for San Francisco cops, it’s become an increasingly time-consuming aspect of their duties as city leaders, including Mayor London Breed, call on law enforcement to redouble their attention on bread-and-butter police work and rebuilding fractured relationships with communities. Read more from Dominic Fracassa of the San Francisco Chronicle.
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
Medical Insurers Try To End Price Gouging On Generic Drugs
Blue Shield of California and 17 other insurers announced Thursday that they would be putting $55 million behind a nonprofit that they believe can end the shortages and price gouging in the generic drug market. Californians and consumers around the world have been subjected in recent years to price gouging on insulin, EpiPens, anti-malarial drugs and other generic medications they need. (Anderson, 1/23)
Los Angeles Times:
Health Insurers Take On Big Pharma, Plan To Manufacture Their Own Drugs
The move — the latest salvo in the escalating battle to control drug prices — highlights the failure of the Trump administration and Congress to deliver relief for millions of Americans struggling to afford their medications. The announcement also comes as the state of California is exploring its own drug manufacturing plan. Neither effort would affect the high price of branded pharmaceuticals, which is the largest driver of U.S. drug spending. (Levey, 1/22)
San Francisco Chronicle:
‘It’s A Wake-Up Call’ — Fentanyl Crisis Grips San Francisco As Body Count Skyrockets
Deadly fentanyl overdoses that began spiking in 2018 appear to have more than doubled last year in San Francisco, a signal the nation’s opioid epidemic has completed its westward expansion, and a grim reality that has left city health, government and law enforcement officials struggling to respond. The city medical examiner’s office released stunning data this week, showing deaths from fentanyl increased from 90 to 234 from 2018 to 2019, raising concerns and new calls for intervention. (Sernoffsky, 1/22)
Gov. Gavin Newsom Protests CA Utility PG&E’s Bankruptcy Plan
PG&E Corp. made a landmark agreement with its bondholders Wednesday that wards off a hostile takeover attempt, but the utility encountered fresh headwinds from Gov. Gavin Newsom over its plans to exit bankruptcy. After months of squabbling with the hedge funds that hold billions in bond debt, PG&E said it secured a compromise plan with those investors. PG&E now has made deals with three of the main groups in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case: wildfire victims, insurance companies and the bondholders. (Kasler, 1/22)
Capital Public Radio:
California Wants To Increase Vaping Taxes, But Experts Say There Could Be Unintended Consequences
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has a new idea for addressing the youth vaping epidemic: a nicotine tax on electronic cigarettes. The governor, like many state and federal health officials, is concerned about the rising number of teens inhaling nicotine through products from Juul Labs Inc. — a company that makes a type of e-cigarette shaped like a USB flash drive. (Caiola, 1/22)
The Mercury News:
Alameda County Launches New Food Hub For Low-Income Residents
The newly built, 3,300-square-foot space, which opened Friday, provides a commercial kitchen for small, home-based food entrepreneurs, land to grow fresh produce and a place to package leftover food retrieved from some local schools to redistribute to low-income residents in affordable housing complexes. The "food hub" is the culmination of nearly a decade of planning and collaboration between the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, the nonprofit Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs’ Activities League and All IN Alameda County, a countywide initiative aimed at combating poverty. (Hellerstein, 1/22)
China Halts Outbound Flights From Wuhan As Coronavirus Spreads; Status Of Flights To SFO Unclear
Chinese state media said the city of Wuhan is stopping outbound flights as the country battles the spread of a new coronavirus that has sickened hundreds and killed 17. This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday the first detection of the virus in the U.S. in a man who had returned from Wuhan before the CDC initiated public health screenings at five U.S. airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). (Garces, 1/22)
The New York Times:
Coronavirus Deaths Are So Far Mostly Older Men, Many With Health Issues
When the man finally went to a hospital, he had been sick for a week. It was Dec. 26, and Mr. Zeng, 61, was weak with a cough. He got worse. A day later he was transferred to intensive care and on Dec. 30 he was put on a ventilator to help his deteriorating ability to breathe. He was moved to another hospital and attached to another machine that oxygenated his blood. Still he got worse, and on Jan. 9, his heart stopped. Mr. Zeng, who the authorities have only identified by his last name, became the first confirmed death from the new coronavirus that emerged in the central city of Wuhan and has spread around the country and beyond. (Ramzy, 1/23)
The Washington Post:
U.S. Readiness For A Viral Outbreak Has Improved, But There’s A Long Way To Go
A Liberian man walked into a Dallas emergency room in September 2014, at the height of the West African Ebola epidemic, complaining of high fever, abdominal pain and other symptoms of the fearsome virus. He was sent home with acetaminophen and a diagnosis of a sinus infection. Two weeks later, Thomas Eric Duncan was dead, two nurses who attended him were infected with Ebola and the shortcomings of U.S. preparations for a viral epidemic were vividly exposed. (Bernstein and Sun, 1/22)
The New York Times:
A Scramble To Retrace The Steps Of The First Wuhan Coronavirus Case In The U.S.
Health officials scrambled on Wednesday to contact more than a dozen people who may have been exposed to the United States’ first case of the Wuhan coronavirus, even as regulators sought to assure the public there was little risk from an illness that has rapidly spread across Asia, killing at least 17 people. The patient, a man in his 30s who fell ill after traveling to China, has cooperated in helping public health workers trace his path from the Wuhan region of China to his home in Snohomish County, Wash., north of Seattle, health officials said. (Baker, 1/22)
The New York Times:
Trump Opens Door To Cuts To Medicare And Other Entitlement Programs
President Trump suggested on Wednesday that he would be willing to consider cuts to social safety-net programs like Medicare to reduce the federal deficit if he wins a second term, an apparent shift from his 2016 campaign promise to protect funding for such entitlements. The president made the comments on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Despite promises to reduce the federal budget deficit, it has ballooned under Mr. Trump’s watch as a result of sweeping tax cuts and additional government spending. (Rappeport and Haberman, 1/22)
White House Prepared Short List To Shake Up HHS Leadership
White House officials drew up a short list of potential replacements for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Medicare chief Seema Verma at the height of their contentious feud in case either was forced out late last year, three people with knowledge of the exercise told POLITICO. The officials developed the list days after the increasingly personal clash between Azar and Verma spilled into public view following a Nov. 26 POLITICO report that first detailed their rift. Two people with knowledge stressed that the names were not shared with President Donald Trump and that Azar and Verma are expected to remain in their roles through at least the rest of Trump’s first term. (Diamond and Cancryn, 1/22)
The Washington Post:
Trump To Become The First President To Speak In Person At March For Life
President Trump announced Wednesday that he will attend Friday’s March for Life, the annual gathering of antiabortion protesters to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion decision. While other presidents have addressed the annual rally by phone or sent video greetings, Trump would be the first to speak to the crowd in person. (Bailey, 1/22)
The Associated Press:
Unusual Study Details Woes Among Veterans Of Foster Care
Americans who have spent time in foster care are far more likely than other adults to lack a college degree, health insurance and a stable health care provider, according to a new federal analysis that is unprecedented in its scope. One striking finding in the report: Less than 5% of men who have been in foster care hold bachelor’s degrees, compared with 31% of other men. (Crary 1/22)