- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- With The Rise Of Legal Weed, Drug Education Moves From 'Don't' to 'Delay'
- Hospital Roundup 1
- As Insurance Coverage Expands Under Health Law, These Hospitals Adapt To Increase In Demand
- Women's Health 1
- Women Diagnosed With Cancer In Childbearing Age Now Have Options -- But Who Pays For Them?
- Around California 1
- Innovative School Provides Model For Helping People With Autism Successfully Enter Workforce
Latest From California Healthline:
Today's drug prevention messaging is a far cry from the "Just Say No" days. Schools want to give kids the facts to make informed decisions about whether and when to try drugs or alcohol. (Carrie Feibel, KQED, 6/14)
Sign up to get the daily edition in your inbox
Summaries Of The News:
But the claims in the patent issued “are extremely narrow and would have little or no effect on the CRISPR field,” said a spokesman for the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which hold the foundational CRISPR patents.
The University Of California Will Finally Be Granted Two CRISPR Patents
In the never-ending saga of CRISPR patents, the University of California has finally put some points on the board, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granting it two genome-editing patents. One, granted on Tuesday, was first applied for in 2014. The other and more significant patent, applied for in 2015 but based on a 2012 discovery, will be granted next week. The granted patent, number 9,994.831, covers “methods and compositions for modifying a single stranded target nucleic acid.” Next week’s, which is to be issued on June 19, covers the use of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome-editing in anything other than a bacterial cell and, specifically, where the targeted region on the genome is 10 to 15 nucleotides, or base pairs, long — the “letters” that constitute DNA and its cousin RNA. Next week’s patent is considered more foundational and therefore significant. (Begley, 6/13)
“When you have new insurance and you can’t get to a physician and you can’t get to primary care, you’re going to go the emergency departments,” said Dr. Alp Arkun, of Kaiser Fontana and Ontario, one of the hospitals. “It’s a lot of what we were seeing before. Patients are seeking care more, fortunately and more easily with the ACA."
LA Daily News:
How 3 Big Southern California Hospitals Are Dealing With Their Growing Number Of ER Visitors
Emergency departments at three hospitals stood out in all of California as the ones that were the most visited in 2016. They couldn’t be more different. (Abram, 6/13)
While many states are considering legislation to require insurance companies to cover fertility preservation for cancer patients, California has so far left these decisions up to health insurance companies and state regulators.
Should Insurance Companies Have To Cover Fertility Treatments For Cancer Patients?
It used to be that cancer patients gave up on having children of their own, but with technological advances in reproductive medicine, there are options now. Many younger patients go through treatments to preserve their fertility; they extract eggs, bank sperm and freeze embryos. But when cancer patients want a chance at parenthood, who pays for the expensive treatments? (Dillon, 6/13)
In other women's health news —
Here's What A New California Law Says About Teaching Abortion In Class
The law, enacted in 2016, requires school districts to ensure that all students in grades seven through twelve receive "comprehensive sexual health education," including information about abortion. Information presented in class must be "medically accurate and objective," according to the law. Parents must be notified of the curriculum in advance, and have the option of excusing their children from all or part of the classes. (Hubert, 6/14)
Only 27 percent of adults on the autism spectrum are working full or part-time, according to a 2016 employment survey from the Autism Society of California. This school is looking to change that.
Capital Public Radio:
This Unique Sacramento School Wants To Get More Autistic Adults Into Jobs
With thousands of autistic children reaching adulthood each year and few programs designed to prepare them for the next step, the school offers a new model for driving this historically underemployed group into the workforce. (Caiola, 6/13)
In other news —
The California Health Report:
Asylum Ruling Could Spark Deportations And Have 'Chilling Effect' On California Women
Immigrant women in California who are pursuing asylum after fleeing domestic violence in their homelands could face deportation in the wake of a ruling Monday by the Trump administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered immigration judges June 11 to stop granting asylum to the majority of people seeking the protection on grounds that they suffered domestic or gang violence in their home countries. The ruling could affect tens of thousands of domestic violence victims—mostly women—some of whom are detained in California while they await the outcome of their cases, advocates said. (Boyd-Barrett, 6/13)
Los Angeles Times:
What Causes ‘Chemobrain’? It’s Time For Neuroscientists To Get Serious About Finding Out, Experts Say
At some point in their treatment for cancer, somewhere between 17% and 75% of patients with malignancies that don’t affect the central nervous system report the sensation that a mental fog has set in. For months or years after their hair has grown back, the exhaustion has lifted and the medical appointments taper off, the “new normal” for these patients includes problems with concentration, word-finding, short-term memory and multitasking. (Healy, 6/13)
The measure from Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) could clarify the intent of the program and define which patients are eligible -- two bones of contention over the program, which requires pharmaceutical companies to give steep discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve high volumes of low-income patients.
A Bill Would Keep Status Quo Of Contentious Hospital Drug-Discount Program
Amid ongoing debate over a drug discount program for safety-net hospitals, a lawmaker introduced a bill that would memorialize the intent of the controversial program and require the Trump administration to implement oft-delayed regulations about pricing and penalties. The bill arrives as Congress hashes out oversight of the 340B program, which was created in 1992 and requires drug makers to offer discounts of up to 50 percent on all outpatient drugs — for everything from AIDS to diabetes — to hospitals and clinics that serve indigent populations. There are currently more than 12,400 such providers, according to the Human Resources and Services Administration. (Silverman, 6/13)
In other national health care news —
The DEA Is Playing 'Whack-A-Mole' As It Tries To Stamp Out The Opioid Crisis
Four years ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency decided to make it harder to obtain the most commonly prescribed opioid painkillers — specifically, pills such as Vicodin that contain hydrocodone. The move worked: Prescriptions for hydrocodone-based opioids fell by a whopping 26 percent between June 2013 and June 2015. But the tactic appears to have created yet another problem — there has been a notable uptick in illicit trading of opioids on the “dark net,” according to a new study published in BMJ. (Silverman, 6/13)
The Washington Post:
Devastated By ALS, Trying To Save Others
Rahul Desikan sits at his dining room table, a large computer screen before him, and works on his latest scientific paper. He types a single letter, then another, then another. For a man in a hurry, desperately trying to rid the world of terrible diseases, it’s an excruciatingly slow process. Using a special mouse strapped to his forehead that detects his smallest movement, Desikan moves a cursor around an on-screen keyboard. When he finds the letter he wants, he clicks a button with his right thumb, and it appears in a white space to the side. Repeating the process over and over, he debates research ideas with colleagues, analyzes reams of data and competes for grants. He types so much that he occasionally wears out the clicker. (McGinley, 6/13)
The Wall Street Journal:
The Mystery Around Middle-Age Suicides
The recent suicides of two well-known figures—celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade —underscore a sobering reality: Suicide rates for people in middle age are higher than almost any other age group in the U.S. and rising quickly. A report released today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that suicide rates for women 45 to 64 increased nearly 60% between 2000 and 2016. For men of the same age the suicide rate increased almost 37% over that time. (Reddy, 6/14)
The New York Times:
6 Therapists, Psychiatrists And Counselors Talk About Treating The Suicidal
Last week provided two grim case studies in how fans, friends and family react to the suicides of beloved celebrities. It also provided a view into something far more obscure: the insights of mental health workers who are on the front line of America’s suicide crisis. As news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s suicides emerged last week, mental health workers took to The New York Times’s comment section to describe what the crisis looks like to them. (Tessier, 6/13)
The New York Times:
That Huge Mediterranean Diet Study Was Flawed. But Was It Wrong?
The study was a landmark, one of the few attempts to rigorously evaluate a particular diet. And the results were striking: A Mediterranean diet, with abundant vegetables and fruit, can slash the risk of heart attacks and strokes. But now that trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013, has come under fire. The authors retracted their original paper on Wednesday and published an unusual “re-analysis” of their data in the same journal. (Kolata, 6/13)
The Washington Post:
How Emoji Can Kill: As Gangs Move Online, Social Media Fuel Violence
Instead of tagging graffiti, some rival gang members now upload video of themselves chanting slurs in enemy territory. Taunts and fights that once played out over time on the street are these days hurled instantaneously on Twitter and Instagram. The online aggression can quickly translate into outbreaks of real violence — teens killing each other over emoji and virtually relayed gang signs. Social media have profoundly changed gang activity in the United States, according to a new report by a Chicago nonprofit. Of particular concern, researchers say, is how social media often appear to amplify and speed up the cycle of aggression and violence. (Wan, 6/13)
If the pre-existing conditions provision of the health law is stripped away by an upcoming court case -- which the Justice Department announced last week it will not defend -- it won't just affect people who buy their health care on the health law marketplace. Meanwhile, a group of Democratic lawmakers are demanding more information on the administration's decision, and candidates plan on using it as a talking point in the upcoming midterms.
The Associated Press:
Worker Protections Seen At Risk In Trump Health Care Shift
The Trump administration's latest move against "Obamacare" could jeopardize legal protections on pre-existing medical conditions for millions of people with employer coverage, particularly workers in small businesses, say law and insurance experts. At issue is Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recent decision that the Justice Department will no longer defend key parts of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act in court. That includes the law's unpopular requirement to carry health insurance, but also widely supported provisions that protect people with pre-existing medical conditions and limit what insurers can charge older, sicker customers. (6/13)
The Wall Street Journal:
Get Health Coverage At Work? Lawsuit Against ACA Could Affect You, Too
Most of the attention surrounding a recent Justice Department request to strike down parts of the ACA has focused on the individual market, where people buy their own coverage. But the request would also rewind some protections for the vast majority of Americans—some 175 million people—who get health coverage via small and large employers, analysts said. “Anyone who just thinks this is just impacting the 12 to 15 million individuals with individual coverage is wrong,” said Timothy Jost, an emeritus law professor at Washington and Lee University. (Armour, 6/13)
The Associated Press:
Experts: Protections On Pre-Existing Conditions At Risk
The Trump administration's latest move against "Obamacare" could jeopardize legal protections on pre-existing medical conditions for millions of people with employer coverage, particularly workers in small businesses, say law and insurance experts. At issue is Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recent decision that the Justice Department will no longer defend key parts of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act in court. That includes the law's unpopular requirement to carry health insurance, but also widely supported provisions that protect people with pre-existing medical conditions and limit what insurers can charge older, sicker customers. (6/14)
The Washington Post Fact Check:
President Trump’s Flip-Flop On Coverage For Preexisting Health Conditions
In plain English, the attorney general’s letter means that the Trump administration no longer supports a provision of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, that makes it possible for people to buy insurance if they have preexisting health conditions. Sessions, in an unusual step, sided with plaintiffs who had argued the ACA was now unconstitutional because Congress, in the tax bill, eliminated the penalty for not buying insurance, known as the individual mandate. Sessions said the Justice Department would no longer defend the law in a lawsuit brought by Republican-led states, a surprise stance that led to the resignation of a senior career lawyer at the Justice Department. (Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly, 6/14)
House Dems Demand Answers From HHS On DOJ's ObamaCare Decision
A group of House Democratic leaders are demanding answers from the Trump administration about the role the Department Health and Human Services (HHS) played in the Department of Justice’s decision not to defend key parts of ObamaCare in federal court. The lawmakers asked HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma if their respective agencies conducted any analysis on the impact the decision will have on the country’s health-care system. (Weixel, 6/13)
Dems Seek To Leverage ObamaCare Fight For Midterms
Democrats are seizing on the Trump administration’s push in court to overturn ObamaCare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, hoping to leverage the issue ahead of November’s midterm elections as some Republicans rush to distance themselves from the move. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to join a legal battle arguing that one of the most popular parts of ObamaCare should be struck down is being viewed by Democrats as a political gift, with the party apparatus quickly using the issue to attack GOP candidates and rally their base. (Sullivan, 6/14)
Insurance Experts: ObamaCare Mandate Repeal Driving Premium Increases
Increases in health-care costs and policy changes are driving ObamaCare premium increases for the 2019 plan year, according to a new report released Wednesday. The American Academy of Actuaries says that the elimination of the individual mandate penalty and the expansion of cheaper health plans with fewer benefits will contribute to premium increases next year. (Hellmann, 6/13)