Latest From California Healthline:
Health officials and AIDS advocates in San Francisco have endorsed a new regimen for PrEP medication: to be taken only immediately before and after sex, thus reducing cost and potential side effects. The standard regimen is one pill a day for an open-ended period. (David Tuller, 7/25)
Good morning! Here are your top California health stories for the day.
15,000 UC Health, Research And Technical Workers Protest As Contract Negotiations Once Against Fall Through: The key issues that remain unresolved between the workers and management are daily overtime for health care professionals, salary increases for the next five years for researchers and technical workers, and a portion of workers being excluded from raises in the first year of the contract. The rallies were planned for Sacramento, Davis, Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Riverside and Irvine. In the Sacramento area, protesters gathered at Mrak Hall on the UC Davis campus and at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. In a prepared statement for the University of California, spokeswoman Claire Doan said: “The university has made substantive, fair offers throughout the negotiations process to reach an agreement that would give our employees the long-awaited raises they deserve. It is about time UPTE leaders to do the same – and let employees vote on UC’s offer, which they have yet to do since bargaining began.” Read more from Jaimie Ding of the Sacramento Bee.
Court Adds Stipulations To Nursing Homes’ Authority To Make Decisions For ‘Incapacitated’ Residents: A statute in the state health code that allows nursing home staff to decide for incapacitated residents about ongoing medical treatment ended up in court this week. The suit was originally brought in Alameda Superior Court in 2013, and the court ordered the state to add more requirements to the statute. The case then went to the appeals court, which Monday ordered more specific requirements to protect the rights of incapacitated residents. The statute does not currently require nursing home staff to notify residents that a doctor has deemed them incapacitated, which the statute defines as incapable of understanding consequences of medical decisions and lacking a legal surrogate. It also does not require notifying incapacitated residents of the medical treatment they will receive. Monday’s decision ordered that written and oral notice must be given to residents, and that medical treatment can’t proceed until residents are notified about their status as incapacitated and get a chance to oppose. Read more from Elaine Chen of the Sacramento Bee.
The Modern Gun Debate Has Roots In California. Here’s A Look At The History Of How The State Got Tough On The Issue: The modern American gun debate began on May 2, 1967, when 30 protesting members of the Black Panther Party marched into the California Capitol with loaded handguns, shotguns and rifles. The Panthers’ efforts to “police the police” already had led Republican Assemblyman Don Mulford to propose legislation to ban the “open carry” of loaded firearms within California cities and towns. After the Panthers showed up in the Capitol, his bill sailed through and was signed by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan. In the years since, California has developed a reputation for being tough on guns. That reputation is well-earned. By some experts’ count, no other state out-regulates California when it comes to sheer quantity of rules. Read more from Ben Christopher of CalMatters.
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
Trump Administration Proposed Cuts To SNAP Could Lead To Hunger For Area Residents.
On Tuesday, the Trump Administration proposed to cut funding for SNAP, a food safety net for low-income Americans. This could increase food insecurity in the Central Valley, which already affects 1 in 5 residents.Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows states to give SNAP benefits to people who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. (Mink, 7/24)
Lawmakers Push To Give Newsom Power To Call Fracking Moratorium, Setting Stage For Oil Industry Battle
Hydraulic fracturing is an oil well stimulation method aimed at getting fuel out of the ground by using water and chemicals to crack open geological formations, allowing oil and water under the ground to flow more freely. The oil industry says the technique helps provide the nation with a consistent source of domestic energy. Environmentalists say the chemicals used in the technique lead to air and water pollution and the potential contamination of drinking water. (Goldberg 7/25)
CT Scans On Pregnant Women On The Rise, Kaiser-UCD Study Finds
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association using data from Northern California Kaiser Permanente sites suggests that the use of radiation-laden CT scans on pregnant women increased over a 21-year period, despite potential risks to fetal development. The study examined 3.4 million pregnancies in 2.2 million women and found that in the United States, there were two CT scans for every 1,000 pregnancies in 1996, but that number had jumped to 9.3 for every 1,000 pregnancies by 2016. (Moleski, 7/24)
Los Angeles Times:
Settlement Ends 18-Month Battle Surrounding Orange County Homeless Lawsuit
A federal judge called an agreement between Orange County and attorneys representing homeless individuals a model for how county governments should care for those in need of shelter. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter signed the pact Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building in Santa Ana, following unanimous approval by the Board of Supervisors last week. (Langhorne, 7/24)
San Francisco Chronicle:
NIMBYs Beware: Latest Bold SF Plan Asks Every Neighborhood To House The Homeless
On Thursday, the anti-poverty nonprofit Tipping Point Community will debut a new campaign called “All In.” It aims to secure 1,100 new permanent supportive housing units throughout San Francisco within two years. The goal is to add 100 units to each of the city’s 11 supervisorial districts. (Knight, 7/24)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Sonoma County To Explore Divestment From Firms Tied To Migrant Detention Centers
Sonoma County supervisors have agreed to look into divesting from major banks that have done business with the companies responsible for migrant detention centers along the U.S.-Mexico border, answering a weeks-long call from advocates and leaders who represent immigrant communities. On Tuesday, they placed outside the county’s main administrative building cages complete with stuffed animals wrapped in thermal, aluminum-foil-like blankets to represent detained migrant children. It was the second-straight supervisors’ meeting during which protesters for the cause showed up on county property. Several people, representing roughly 50 total, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, including immigrant advocates, health professionals, a lawyer, and an expert on children’s mental health. (Silvy, 7/24)
SMUD, Sac State, UC Davis To Open New Child Care Center
A new child development facility is planned in East Sacramento through a partnership between local energy utility SMUD, Sacramento State and the University of California, Davis. The facility, which will provide child care for up to 208 children, is scheduled to open at 6011 Folsom Blvd. in early 2021, according to a SMUD news release. SMUD said a lack of licensed child care facilities in the region drove the need for a new facility, citing California Child Care Resource & Referral Network figures that state only 27 percent of young children with working parents in Sacramento County are accommodated by current infrastructure. (Moleski, 7/24)
The New York Times:
Breast Implants Linked To Rare Cancer Are Recalled Worldwide
Textured breast implants made by Allergan that have been linked to an unusual cancer are being recalled in the United States at the request of the Food and Drug Administration, and will also be recalled globally, the agency announced on Wednesday. The F.D.A. decision, based on an increasing number of cases and deaths from the implant-associated cancer, lags far behind action in Europe, where the Allergan devices were effectively banned late last year. (Grady, 7/24)
Exclusive: White House Preparing Order That Would Cut Drug Prices For Medicare-Sources
U.S. President Donald Trump is considering a sweeping executive order that would cut prices on virtually all branded prescription drugs sold to Medicare and other government programs, according to two industry sources who had discussions with the White House. The order under discussion would be much broader than the Administration's previously disclosed proposal to lower prices on physician administered, or Part B, drugs by tying prices to lower costs in other countries. (7/24)
6 Questions About Lawmakers’ Latest Drug Pricing Plan
The Senate Finance Committee’s new bipartisan drug pricing package has the potential to change Medicare more dramatically than almost any piece of health care policy in the last 20 years. But with that big of an overhaul comes even bigger questions. The package, which was unveiled Tuesday, fundamentally reworks the complicated scheme used to split Medicare drug costs between the government, patients, insurers, and drug makers. It caps how much Medicare patients can pay out of pocket for drugs each year, and it imposes strict limits on how much drug makers can hike their prices. (Florko, 7/24)
Some Senators Seek To Water Down Drug Pricing Bill In Flood Of Amendments
Lawmakers will wade through more than 100 potential amendments when the Senate Finance Committee takes up its sweeping new drug pricing package on Thursday. Some of the amendments could significantly rework the package, like an amendment from Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) that would eliminate the controversial provisions in the bill that would restrict drug makers from raising prices beyond the rate of inflation. A separate amendment from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) would only allow that provision to go into effect if HHS certifies it won’t lead to higher launch prices. (Florko, 7/24)
Senate Will Not Vote On Bipartisan Health Costs Bill Before Leaving For August
The Senate will not vote on a bipartisan measure aimed at lowering health care costs before lawmakers leave Washington for the August recess. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a joint statement that the Senate “does not have time before the August recess” to consider the bill. (Sullivan, 7/24)
Azar Calling GOP Senators To Back Grassley Drug Price Plan
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is calling Republican senators to encourage them to vote for a bill to lower drug prices being considered on Thursday in the Senate Finance Committee, according to sources familiar with the matter. The calls from Azar are a sign of the Trump administration’s support for the bipartisan deal between Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), amid blowback from some in the GOP. (Sullivan, 7/24)
Medicare Paid For Medicines That Three Other Wealthy Nations Decided Had Little Value
As the U.S. grapples with rising prices for medicines, a new analysis finds Medicare spent more than $26 billion in recent years on dozens of medicines that were not recommended for coverage in three other wealthy nations because government advisory groups there found the drugs did not have sufficient value to justify the costs. The researchers identified a total of 134 medicines that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration prior to 2016 but were not endorsed by agencies in Australia, Canada, and the U.K. that conduct so-called health technology assessments, according to the study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. (Silverman, 7/24)
The Washington Post:
Opioid Makers Say There’s No Proof They Are Responsible For The Epidemic’s Harms
Major opioid manufacturers have asked a judge to throw out the first test case of whether they must pay for the nation’s drug crisis, arguing that two Ohio counties cannot prove the drug companies’ actions were responsible for overdose deaths or other harms, newly unsealed court documents show. Lawyers for Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and other drug companies contend that Cuyahoga and Summit counties cannot sufficiently connect the tens of billions of legal painkillers the companies produced to fatalities and addiction. Nor can the counties show that drug company sales calls caused doctors to overprescribe the medications, they said. (Bernstein and Zezima, 7/24)
Anthem Shares Sink As Cost Concerns Overshadow Earnings Beat
Anthem Inc shares fell as much as 4% on Wednesday after the U.S. health insurer missed Wall Street expectations for a key medical cost gauge as a result of higher costs of selling Medicaid health plans for low-income customers. Anthem reported a 10.2% fall in operating profit from its unit which sells government health plans, in the quarter, saying the decline was driven by continued elevated medical cost trends in Medicaid in some states. (7/24)
The New York Times:
Most High-Risk Men Don’t Take PrEP To Prevent H.I.V.
Among men who are at high risk for H.I.V. infection, only about one in three is taking a drug to prevent transmission of the virus, according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The drug, Truvada, is taken daily as part of a preventive strategy called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. For the report, published in MMWR, C.D.C. researchers studied 7,873 high-risk men from 20 American cities who were negative for H.I.V. and completed a behavioral survey in 2014 or 2017. (Bilanow, 7/25)
The Associated Press:
Study: Home-Delivered Meals Could Save Money For Medicare
Medicare could save $1.57 for every dollar spent delivering free healthy meals to frail seniors after a hospitalization, according to a new study that comes as lawmakers look to restrain costs by promoting patients' well-being. The report Thursday from the Bipartisan Policy Center addresses ways that Medicare can do a better job coordinating care for chronically ill patients, who account for most of the program's $650 billion annual cost. (7/25)