Latest From California Healthline:
A recent outbreak at a Louisiana center triggered public health protections, but some immigration lawyers are crying foul. (Julie Appleby and Shefali Luthra, 3/6)
Good morning! The secretive health initiative from Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase finally has a name after more than a year. Check it out below, but first, here are your top California health stories for the day.
Lawmakers, Advocates To Rally In Sacramento To Push Newsom On Ambitious Health Plans: Gov. Gavin Newsom swept into office with far-reaching health goals, but some advocates want him to go even further. The coalition, which is made up of consumer, labor and healthcare groups, will rally on Thursday along with Democratic lawmakers. One of the group’s proposals is to dramatically expand who is covered under Medi-Cal beyond what Newsome is pushing for. Newsom’s plan would cover immigrants younger than 26 without legal status at an annual cost of $260 million, while the coalition wants the state to offer Medi-Cal to all adults, regardless of immigration status, which comes with a $2 billion price tag. The advocates also want larger subsidies to help lower-income people afford insurance. Read more from the Los Angeles Times.
LA City Council Settles Contentious Case On Property Rights Of Homeless People: In 2016, L.A. adopted an ordinance limiting homeless people’s belongings to what would fit in a 60-gallon bag. But following a lawsuit alleging that the city used street cleanups and arrests as pretexts to dismantle homeless camps, a judge issued an injunction that barred the city from seizing and destroying homeless people’s property on skid row unless officials could show it had been abandoned, threatened public safety, or consisted of contraband. Businesses and developers had unsuccessfully lobbied the City Council to take the judge’s injunction to trial, saying it hampered police efforts and fostered disease. While the council has now agreed to settle the case, those who voted against it say the deal will amount to treating “skid row as a dumping ground for homeless people.” Read more from the Los Angeles Times.
Officials Confirm Three Bay Area Residents Have Contracted Measles: All three people who have come down with measles were on an international flight together. Because of that, public officials say that the general public is at a very low risk for getting the disease. “The flight was more than three weeks ago. Measles develops within 21 days of exposure. Public health investigators have not identified any evidence indicating that measles is spreading within the impacted counties,” Santa Clara County Public Health Department spokeswoman Britt Ehrhardt said. It appears to be the first diagnosed outbreak in the Bay Area this year. Read more from The Mercury News.
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
Ventura County Star:
Jail Expansion For Mental Health About To Begin
Dignitaries and police gathered Wednesday for a ceremony to kick off the construction of a $61 million unit for care of Ventura County inmates with psychiatric and medical illnesses. Crews are expected to start work in May at the Todd Road Jail near Santa Paula and complete the 64-bed facility in the first quarter of 2021. The unit will improve the outcomes for individuals who are in desperate need of help, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub told the invited crowd. His office oversees the county-run jail system. (Wilson, 3/6)
Aggressive New Flu Strain On The Rise In San Diego County
Amid a soaring number of flu cases across San Diego County, doctors are warning of a new and aggressive strain of the virus. A variant of swine flu called H3N2 is increasing across the region, said Eric McDonald, M.D., medical director of epidemiology for the county of San Diego. The strain tends to affect seniors the most, he said. (Murphy, 3/6)
More Retirees Find Themselves Taking Care Of Mom And Dad
At a time in life when 60- or 70-something seniors anticipate retirement, and maybe some downtime, some are becoming caregivers and guardians of their parents. No stats exist on how widespread this is, but the trend is expected to intensify. (Sharma, 3/6)
LA Deputy Fired Over Domestic Abuse, And Then Rehired, Gets To Keep His Gun And Badge (For Now)
A judge Wednesday rejected an effort by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to force Sheriff Alex Villanueva to seize the badge and gun of one of his deputies, who was fired in 2016 over domestic abuse allegations. Villanueva rehired Carl Mandoyan after his election in November, claiming he was unfairly fired by former Sheriff Jim McDonnell. Mandoyan was a key aide in Villanueva's successful campaign to oust McDonnell. (Stoltze, 3/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump Administration Looks To Jump Start Interstate Health-Insurance Sales
The Trump administration is weighing new ways to spur the sale of health insurance across state lines, a long-held goal of President Trump and congressional Republicans that has so far failed to gain much traction. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Wednesday asked for comment on eliminating regulatory and other barriers that may be discouraging interstate sales, a request that often means guidance or new regulation will follow. “Americans are in desperate need of more affordable health insurance options,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a statement. She that eliminating barriers to selling insurance coverage across state lines “could help provide access to a more competitive and affordable health insurance market.” (Armour, 3/6)
The New York Times:
Good News: Opioid Prescribing Fell. The Bad? Pain Patients Suffer, Doctors Say.
Three years ago this month, as alarms about the over-prescription of opioid painkillers were sounding across the country, the federal government issued course-correcting guidelines for primary care doctors. Prescriptions have fallen notably since then, and the Trump administration is pushing for them to drop by another third by 2021. But in a letter to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, more than 300 medical experts, including three former White House drug czars, contend that the guidelines are harming one group of vulnerable patients: those with severe chronic pain, who may have been taking high doses of opioids for years without becoming addicted. (Hoffman and Goodnough, 3/6)
The New York Times:
The Imposing Venture Of 3 Corporate Giants Gets A Not-So-Imposing New Name
We can finally put a name to the thing striking fear within the health care establishment: Haven. The secretive new venture, created by corporate titans Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to transform health care for their employees, has gone without an official name for more than a year. It was nameless when a well known doctor was appointed last summer to run it. It was referred to only as ABC or ABJ in a recent lawsuit brought by giant health insurer UnitedHealth Group, which described whatever-it-was as a powerful potential competitor. (The venture would only say it had no current plans to compete, and a federal judge ruled against UnitedHealth.) (Abelson, 3/6)
The Atul Gawande Company Finally Has A Name: Haven
“We will create new solutions and work to change systems, technologies, contracts, policy, and whatever else is in the way of better health care,” Dr. Atul Gawande, the company’s chief executive, wrote in a letter posted on the website. “We will be relentless. We will insure our work has high impact and is sustainable.” (Ross, 3/6)
FDA Moves On Vaping, Drugs And Food At Risk With Chief’s Departure
Gottlieb's initiatives on nutrition and vaping, along with overhauling regulation of dietary supplements, often were at odds with Republican orthodoxy and the Trump administration's anti-regulatory zeal. That means whoever replaces the 46-year-old libertarian physician will be hard pressed to get buy-in from the HHS Secretary, the White House and both parties in Congress. "We've developed very firm administrative records to support what we're doing and the other thing is, we built consensus," Gottlieb told POLITICO in an interview. "We did the hard work to get political consensus, not just broadly across Capitol Hill but within the administration. We went through the hard process of policymaking and we did it in an open and transparent fashion." (Karlin-Smith, Owermohle and Bottemiller Evich, 3/6)
As Gottlieb Leaves, Trump Loses His Health Care Whisperer On Capitol Hill
The Trump administration just lost its most effective health policy salesman. Scott Gottlieb, the charismatic FDA commissioner who announced this week he will step down in about a month, was better than any other administration official at selling key Trump administration policies — particularly those related to lowering prescription drug prices — on Capitol Hill, lawmakers and aides in both parties told STAT. (Florko and Facher, 3/6)
The Associated Press:
'Jeopardy!' Host Alex Trebek Says He Has Pancreatic Cancer
"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek said he has been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer but intends to fight the disease and keep on working. In a video posted online Wednesday, the 78-year-old said he was announcing his illness directly to "Jeopardy!" fans in keeping with his long-time policy of being "open and transparent." (3/6)
The Mysterious Dark Money Group Behind A Pharma-Bashing Ad Campaign
A new dark money group with conservative ties has run more than $100,000 worth of Facebook ads bashing pharmaceutical companies and high drug prices since October, STAT has learned. Their spokesperson is a well-known Republican communications professional who previously worked for President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services. And their biggest promoter is the conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, who has mentioned the group multiple times on his morning show. (Swetlitz, 3/7)
Senators Demand Investigation Into Sexual Abuse at Immigrant Children’s Shelters
Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called on Wednesday for a federal investigation into what they termed “the alleged widespread and long-term pattern of sexual abuse” in the facilities holding immigrant children. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s Office, the senators said they were particularly concerned that allegations of sexual assault aren’t being properly investigated. (Grabell and Sanders, 3/6)
Trump Mar-a-Lago Buddy Wrote Policy Pitch. The President Sent It to VA Chief.
In late 2017, on one of President Donald Trump’s retreats to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, he caught up with an old friend: Albert Hazzouri. When Hazzouri is not at Mar-a-Lago, he’s a cosmetic dentist in Scranton, Pennsylvania. At a campaign rally there in 2016, Trump gave him a shoutout: “Stand up, Albert. Where the hell are you, Albert? Stand up, Albert. He’s a good golfer, but I’m actually a better golfer than him. Right?” Shortly after Hazzouri and Trump saw each other in late 2017, Hazzouri followed up with a message, scrawled on Mar-a-Lago stationery. (Arnsdorf, 3/6)