- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- UCLA Freshmen Learn About Growing Old
- State Attorney General Says Health Care Lags In Computer Security
- Health IT 2
- Blood Pressure App Misses High Levels In 4 Out Of 5 Users, Researchers Find
- Google Donating $1M, Engineering Resources To Combat Zika
Latest From California Healthline:
A UCLA course on aging teaches students about the physical, emotional and financial realities of growing old. Professors hope they will consider careers that serve the elderly. (Anna Gorman, 3/3)
It’s a problem in all industries, but recent hospital hack attacks spotlight the vulnerabilities in medicine. (Barbara Feder Ostrov, 3/3)
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Summaries Of The News:
One of the six bills would raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.
The Sacramento Bee:
Major Tobacco Votes Loom
Thursday could be a big day for tobacco legislation at the Capitol. Legislators are expected to vote on a package of six bills to strengthen tobacco regulations. The measures regulate e-cigarettes like tobacco, add more state-recognized smoke-free workplaces, raise the smoking age to 21, ban smoking on all school campuses, create annual licensing fees and allow local jurisdictions to establish their own tax. The anticipated vote on the tobacco bills could conclude a special session Gov. Jerry Brown called last year. Brown opened the health special session to focus on establishing a new tax for managed care organizations, with lawmakers also weighing in on an assisted death bill. (Luna, 3/2)
California Lawmakers Seek To Tighten Up Tobacco Laws
A new bill before California lawmakers would make it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy tobacco. The bill is part of a collection of six bills intended to crack down on tobacco use. Some of the other bills include an effort to restrict smoking in schools zones, newer regulations on the electronic cigarette industry and a bill that would allow local governments to set their own tobacco tax rates. (Battah, 3/2)
The creators' goal is to reduce medical expenses by 2 percent to 3 percent, with savings coming from such things as eliminating duplicate laboratory and imaging tests when a patient transfers care to another hospital. But only one system — San Francisco-based Dignity Health — has so far agreed to join the health information exchange.
California Insurers Want To Build A Huge Data Exchange ... Will Providers Come?
Two of California's largest insurers are trying to build one of the country's most comprehensive health information exchanges, but they're facing reluctance from providers who are hesitant to share their data. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California—the second- and third-largest insurers in the state, respectively, after Kaiser Permanente—teamed up in 2014 to establish Cal Index. Their goal is to create a complete, longitudinal health record for every California resident. (Kutscher, 3/2)
In other news —
The Seattle Times:
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Submits Formal Bid To Acquire Group Health
Officials with California’s Kaiser Foundation Health Plan have formally applied to acquire Seattle’s Group Health Cooperative, the next step in the controversial proposal, Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Wednesday. The application launches a review of the proposed deal, which would make the Northwest co-op part of Kaiser Permanente’s 10.1 million members in eight states and Washington, D.C. (Aleccia, 3/2)
Startup Oscar Posts $105 Million Obamacare Loss in 2015
Startup Oscar Health Insurance Corp. lost $105.2 million in its New York and New Jersey businesses last year, a sign that insurers of all sizes are struggling in the new markets created by President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul. (Tracer, 3/2)
The deal will consolidate Canada's second-largest pharmacy chain into U.S. hands.
Rexall Pharmacy Chain Sold To U.S. Health Firm McKesson In $3B Deal
Canadian drug store chain Rexall is set to be bought by U.S. health-services company McKesson Corp. in a $3 billion deal. The Edmonton-based chain of 470 pharmacies announced the deal, in a release on Wednesday, that will see the company move to the hands of San Francisco-based McKesson, but keep operating under the names Rexall and Pharmaplus in Canada. (Evans, 3/2)
While the app is no longer for sale, doctors worry that patients who have bought it previously are still relying on the faulty data.
Researchers Find Blood Pressure App 'Highly Inaccurate'
An app that measures your blood pressure through your smartphone is "highly inaccurate," according to a research letter published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine. The app, Instant Blood Pressure, missed high blood pressure levels in nearly four out of five people, the researchers found. (Plevin, 3/2)
“Unlike many other global pandemics, the spread of Zika has been harder to identify, map and contain,” said Jacquelline Fuller, director of Google’s nonprofit arm. In other outbreak news, Republican lawmakers continue to be skeptical of the president's emergency funding request, saying there's money left that was earmarked for Ebola. Health officials, however, warn that would cripple the efforts to develop an Ebola vaccine.
Los Angeles Times:
Google To Throw Software Engineering Into The Zika Virus Fight
Google is now involved in the fight against the Zika virus. The tech giant announced Thursday that it is giving UNICEF a $1-million grant to raise awareness about Zika transmission, and is also dedicating software engineering and data science resources to help process information about the virus’ outbreaks. Its support for UNICEF will include developing a platform that processes data from different sources, such as weather and travel patterns; visualizing potential outbreaks; and making Zika virus information more accessible through its search feature in 16 languages. (Lien, 3/3)
GOP Congressmen Question The Need For $2 Billion To Fight Zika Virus
Republican representatives continue to question the need for about $2 billion in emergency funding requested by the Obama administration to respond to the Zika virus. Congressmen including Dr. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, asked in a hearing of an Energy and Commerce subcommittee Wednesday whether funds earmarked for combating the Ebola virus couldn't be transferred to the fight against Zika virus. But federal health officials said there's only $9 million left of the original $238 million in funding the National Institutes of Health received for Ebola virus research. (Bichell, 3/2)
"Basically people describe it as running full on into a brick wall," said Dr. Jim Hornstein, a Ventura family practice doctor. In Ventura County, though, the season has been light to regular.
The Ventura County Star:
Flu Numbers May Be Down But This Year's Illness Packs Nasty Punch
Flu has spread across Ventura County but levels appear lower than most years, said doctors and public health officials Wednesday. Still, if it hits you, you'll know it. "Basically people describe it as running full on into a brick wall," said Dr. Jim Hornstein, a Ventura family practice doctor, citing muscle aches, high fever and dry coughing that this year have knocked people out of work for three, maybe five, maybe seven days. (Kisken, 3/2)
In other news, Kern County cracks down on food safety, and Orange Cove residents use dance to improve lifestyle —
The Bakersfield Californian:
Rash Of Health Department Actions Result In Four Food Service Closures
The Kern County Department of Environmental Health has gotten tough over the past week, closing down four area food service locations in quick succession, after charging them with a variety of health department violations. The rash of temporary closures began Feb. 24 when inspectors shut down Mimi’s Cafe on California Avenue. Five days later, the doors were closed at another restaurant just down the street, Habanero’s Mexican Grill & Cantina. (Mayer, 3/2)
Vida En El Valle:
Orange County Residents To Dance Their Way To Healthy Lifestyle
Candy Rodriguez and her daughter Lisa Gonzalez were some of the dozens of residents who attended The Muevelo! Zumba kick-off event to engage Latino residents in Orange Cove in exercise. The event also allowed residents the opportunity to provide input on other types of activities they would like to see available in their neighborhoods with the overall goal to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and promote healthy lifestyles. (Ortiz-Briones, 3/2)
The GOP front-runner's proposals mostly fall in line with what other Republicans have offered -- including revamping Medicaid to be a block grant program and selling insurance across state lines. But his plan to allow prescription drug imports is more akin to what Democrats advocate.
Trump Releases Plan For Replacing Obamacare
Donald Trump unveiled a batch of health care policy proposals Wednesday after facing criticism for failing to provide a credible plan for replacing Obamacare. On the eve of the next GOP debate, the front-running real estate mogul advanced several ideas that align with many conservative proposals to replace the health care law. He calls for Medicaid to be transformed into a state block grant program and for the tax exemption on employer-based health insurance plans to be extended to individuals who purchase coverage on their own — both longstanding GOP ideas. Trump would also allow prescription drugs to be imported and for full transparency of health care pricing, although he offered few details about how that — or any of the proposals — might work. (Demko, 3/2)
Trump's Health-Care Plan Includes Obamacare Repeal, Drug Re-Importation
The seven-point plan posted on the Republican presidential front-runner's website Wednesday includes a repeal of Obamacare and six ideas for a replacement: allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines; permitting tax deductions for individual health-care plans; tax-free health savings accounts that can become part of an estate; "price transparency" from health-care providers; and sending Medicaid funds as grants to states. (Kapur, 3/2)
Trump Would Allow Importing Drugs To Lower Health Care Costs
Donald Trump released a health care plan late Wednesday that includes common Republican ideas for replacing Obamacare but departs from conventional GOP policies in one major way: it would allow the reimportation of cheaper drugs from overseas. It’s the second time that Trump, now the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has embraced an idea to bring down drug costs that’s associated more with Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders than with the party he’s trying to lead. (Nather, 3/2)
During oral arguments on Wednesday, some of the justices debated if there was enough evidence to prove the Texas law at the center of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt was the reason the abortion clinics in the state closed. Meanwhile, the three female justices led the charge against the strict regulations, saying the state was targeting abortion and not other more dangerous medical practices.