- California Healthline Original Stories 4
- Syphilis Among California Newborns Spikes Amid Broader STD Epidemic
- State Fires Contractor After Problems Put California HIV Patients At Risk
- Health Insurance: What If You Could Take It With You?
- Patient Advocacy Groups Rake In Donations From Pharma
- Hospital Roundup 1
- Behind On Hospital Inspections, State Vows To Prioritize Those With High Infection Rates
- Sacramento Watch 1
- Lawmaker Touches On Personal Experience While Introducing Bill To Curb Opioid Use
- Public Health and Education 2
- LA Flouts Health Warnings, Continues To Allow Housing Built Near Freeways
- Facebook To Bolster Its Suicide Prevention Tools
Latest From California Healthline:
Kern and Fresno counties, in the Central Valley, have the highest rates of congenital syphilis. Health officials think the surge is due to lack of prenatal care, drug use, risky sex and lack of awareness. (Anna Gorman, 3/2)
The company tasked with enrolling eligible patients in an HIV assistance program failed to keep an online enrollment portal working effectively and violated other contract terms, the public health agency said. (Anna Gorman, 3/2)
“Portability” will likely be a buzz word in the health law repeal-and-replace debate, but the concept raises a number of complicated policy issues. (Julie Appleby, 3/2)
A new study shows that 83 percent of the largest patient advocacy groups take contributions from drug, medical device or biotech firms. (Emily Kopp, 3/1)
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More News From Across The State
But the Consumers Union says the state is still not doing enough to protect patients.
Los Angeles Times:
State To Step Up Inspections At Hospitals With High Infection Rates
After complaints that the state is doing little to stop deadly hospital outbreaks, the California Department of Public Health said this week that it would prioritize inspections at those facilities with high rates of patient infections. The state disclosed the changes in a Tuesday letter to Consumers Union. The national nonprofit group had filed a petition with the state early this year listing scores of hospitals with abnormally high infection rates that had not been inspected in five years. (Petersen, 3/1)
"I have friends and family members who have had problems with addiction. Nobody is immune to this," Democratic State Assemblymember Kevin McCarty of Sacramento said.
Capital Public Radio:
McCarty Bill Aimed At Fighting Opioid Addiction
Fighting opioid addiction in California is the goal of a new state bill announced today. Democratic State Assemblymember Kevin McCarty of Sacramento says opioid addiction is an epidemic in California... His bill would impose a one-cent per milligram surcharge on prescription opioids. Proceeds would then be used to pay for county drug addiction prevention programs. (Milne, 3/1)
Although some groups are happy for the development because they say the contractor was interfering with patients' ability to get their needed drugs, others are concerned it will cause even more disruption for the program.
San Francisco Chronicle:
California Health Officials Fire Contractor In HIV Drug Program
The California Department of Public Health fired an out-of-state contractor Wednesday that had taken over part of a program designed to help people pay for HIV drugs, months after advocacy groups complained that management problems were interfering with patients’ access to life-saving medications. The abrupt ouster of the state’s contract with Michigan-based A.J. Boggs surprised patient advocates, many of whom learned about the change on a state conference call Wednesday morning. A termination letter was sent to A.J. Boggs just before the meeting. (Allday, 3/1)
The Los Angeles Times offers a breakdown of what Medicaid is, who it covers and what's going to happen to it under the new administration.
Los Angeles Times:
Obamacare 101: What's Going To Happen To 70 Million Americans Who Rely On Medicaid?
It’s the program that everyone confuses with Medicare.But Medicaid, the half-century-old government health plan for the poor, is actually bigger than its more famous cousin, covering some 70 million Americans at any one time. Expanding Medicaid was a central pillar of the Affordable Care Act, helping to bring health coverage to more than 20 million previously uninsured people. (Levey, 3/2)
The city issued building permits for 4,300 homes near freeways in 2015 — more than in any year over the last decade — and signed off on an additional 3,000 units last year, despite warnings from air quality officials.
Los Angeles Times:
L.A. Keeps Building Near Freeways, Even Though Living There Makes People Sick
For more than a decade, California air quality officials have warned against building homes within 500 feet of freeways. And with good reason: People there suffer higher rates of asthma, heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and pre-term births. Recent research has added more health risks to the list, including childhood obesity, autism and dementia. (Barboza and Shleuss, 3/2)
In response to recent episodes in which deeply troubling moments play out in real time, this social media platform hopes to play a role in curbing suicide attempts.
The Washington Post:
Facebook Hopes Artificial Intelligence Can Curb The ‘Terribly Tragic’ Trend Of Suicides
Just like that, Naika Venant was live. The 14-year-old girl was on Facebook, broadcasting from a bathroom at her foster home in southeastern Florida. Then, she was hanging from a scarf tied to a shower’s glass door frame — a deeply painful and personal moment playing out publicly on social media. A friend saw the video stream on Facebook Live and called 911, but officers were sent to the wrong address. By the time they got to the foster home in Miami Gardens, it was too late: Naika had committed suicide. (Bever, 3/1)
San Jose Mercury News:
Facebook Adds Suicide-Prevention Tools For Live Video And Messenger
Facebook wants to help prevent suicide in real time as live video and messaging grow in popularity. On Wednesday, the tech firm announced new tools so users can report a video in which someone is live-streaming a suicide attempt or self-injury. Users will also be able to reach out to the person directly, and Facebook says the person streaming the video will see options to contact a help line, reach out to a friend or view tips. (Wong, 3/1)
The Petaluma’s Sober Circle program, a collaboration of about a dozen groups including the Petaluma Health Care District, the Committee on the Shelterless, or COTS, and the Petaluma Police Department, has surpassed expectations.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Sobriety Program For Homeless People Yields Results In Petaluma
At this time last year, Paul Palmer was going on seven years of being homeless. ... Palmer, 52, is now off the streets and has been sober for three months, thanks to Petaluma’s Sober Circle initiative. He is one of 21 people who completed treatment at Center Point Drug Abuse Alternatives Center during the program’s first year. Six have found permanent housing; Palmer, who is in temporary housing, hopes to add to that number. (Warren, 3/1)
In other news —
San Diegan Appointed To California’s Homeless Housing Initiative
A new state program aimed at providing housing for homeless individuals with serious mental illness is slowly coming together. The "No Place Like Home" program was approved by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. The program allows the state to use $2 billion in bonds from Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act passed by voters in 2004 to impose a 1 percent tax on personal income above $1 million, to pay for the construction or rehabilitation of permanent supportive housing for mentally ill homeless people. (Cabrera and Cavanaugh, 3/1)
How to help Americans afford health care is one of the most divisive parts of the Republicans' plan to dismantle and replace the health law. And, although President Donald Trump mentioned tax credits in his address to Congress on Tuesday, those who are in opposition to this approach don't see the battle as being over.
The New York Times:
Republican Unity On Health Care Is Elusive, Despite Trump’s Support
President Trump’s address to Congress on Tuesday night buoyed House Republican leaders who were hopeful that his leadership would unite fractious lawmakers around a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. But fundamental disagreements still divide Republicans on one of the central promises of their 2016 campaigns: repealing the health law. (Kaplan and Pear, 3/1)
Los Angeles Times:
Republicans Still Waiting For Trump To Take Charge On Obamacare And Taxes
By now, Republicans in Congress thought they would be working closely with the White House on signature items of the GOP agenda — repealing and replacing Obamacare, overhauling the tax code. Many hoped President Trump would play the classic executive’s role: Rolling up his sleeves to chart the direction, settle disputes and spend his political capital to bring wayward lawmakers in line. But instead, Trump has been reluctant to take charge of Republicans’ policy priorities, and GOP lawmakers worry their early momentum is fading amid intraparty squabbles over legislation and Trump’s tendency to flit from topic to topic when what they most need now is focus. (Mascaro, 3/2)
In other health law news —
The Associated Press:
Trump Idea To Expand Health Care Competition Faces Hurdles
Allowing insurers to market health care policies across state lines is one of President Donald Trump's main ideas for bringing down costs. While supporters of the idea cast it as a way to make insurance policies more competitive, critics say it's unlikely to result in more affordable plans and could undermine stronger consumer protections in states such as California and Hawaii. Such a "race to the bottom" could leave some older consumers with health problems unable to afford coverage. (3/1)
No Breakthrough On Obamacare Repeal
Senate Republicans aren't backing the latest House plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, saying they are reserving judgment until House leaders provide key details about the proposal they intend to advance as soon as next week. Top House Republican committee chairmen Kevin Brady and Greg Walden on Wednesday crossed the Capitol to rally support among their Senate counterparts for their bill but provided lawmakers with few details, such as a cost estimate, legislative language or policy details, even as they walked senators through the broad outlines of the plan. (Haberkorn, Everett and Cancryn, 3/1)
Republicans Hide New Obamacare Draft Under Shroud Of Secrecy
House Republican leaders have a new version of their major Obamacare repeal and replacement bill. They just don’t want you to see it. The document is being treated a bit like a top-secret surveillance intercept. It is expected to be available to members and staffers on the House Energy and Commerce panel starting Thursday, but only in a dedicated reading room, one Republican lawmaker and a committee aide said. Nobody will be given copies to take with them. The unusual secrecy is a reflection of the sensitivity -- and the stakes -- surrounding the GOP effort to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, a top priority of President Donald Trump, who has yet to offer his own plan. (House and John, 3/1)
House Panel to Mark Up Obamacare Repeal Bill Next Week, Trump Ally Says
A House panel is expected to vote next week on legislation that would gut the Affordable Care Act, a key congressional ally of President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday. Rep. Chris Collins, a New York Republican, said a draft bill to repeal and begin replacing Obamacare would likely be made available to members of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee for review on Thursday. A subcommittee mark-up is expected to be held next week. (Reid, 3/1)