Latest From California Healthline:
For Central American migrants who follow U.S. government rules for pursuing asylum, conditions on the Mexican side of the border are sweltering, filled with anxiety and illness. Few people have a clear timetable for when it will get any better. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, 5/22)
Good morning! Gov. Gavin Newsom has named noted psychiatrist Dr. Tom Insel as California’s “mental health czar.” Read more about Insel and the position below, but firs there are some of your other top California health stories for the day.
Controversial Bill That Would Strip Doctors’ Authority For Providing Vaccination Exemptions Moves Forward: Senators sent the Assembly the measure, which gives a state official the final authority on exemptions instead of doctors. State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) proposed the bill after seeing ads for doctors who were willing to write exemptions. Under the plan, doctors would have to certify that they examined the patient and then send the state health department the reason they are recommending the exemption. State and county health officials also could revoke exemptions if they are found to be fraudulent or don't meet federal immunization standards. "This is about keeping our community safe," Pan said. Some vaccine-skeptical parents have intensely opposed the bill, saying their children had adverse reactions to vaccines that would be deemed not severe enough to warrant a medical exemption under the bill. Hundreds of parents have attended hearings on the bill and jammed legislators’ office phone lines arguing that the state should not be able to overrule a doctor’s medical advice. Read more from The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, and the Sacramento Bee.
‘Casa Libre’ Was Supposed To House Los Angeles’ ‘Most Vulnerable’ Children. But A Look At The Shelter Reveals Rampant Safety Issues: Los Angeles lawyer Peter Schey founded the shelter for homeless migrant youth in 2002. Since then, Casa Libre has been cited by state officials 143 times for failing to meet standards for state-licensed group homes, and 89 of those were for issues that posed “an immediate risk to the health, safety or personal rights of residents,” a Times investigation found. Children have been locked out of the home for hours because there was no staff on-site, forcing some to take shelter outside in a broken-down van. And at times, there has not been enough food. Among the other problems: bed bugs infested residents’ mattresses, cockroaches swarmed the kitchen, and some of the boys used drugs in the home. Read more from Cindy Carcamo and Paloma Esquivel of the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, what happened with Fresno County’s “social experiment” of setting aside millions to help pay for specialty care for undocumented immigrants? Four years later it was launched, the controversial program has spent less than $1 million of the earmarked money, with far fewer residents than anticipated completing the application process. Those who have, meanwhile, face long waits for care because of a lack of providers. Read more from Yesenia Amaro of the Sacramento Bee.
Los Angeles Child Welfare Agency Slow To Investigate Allegations Of Abuse, State Auditor Finds: The auditor found that even when they do conduct investigations, staff at the LA County Department of Children and Family Services are failing to properly assess safety risks, and are placing children with relatives without conducting mandated home inspections and background checks, the auditor stated in the report released May 21. The department is supposed to begin investigating reports of child abuse and neglect within 24 hours if the allegations are severe, or within 10 days for less severe cases. But after reviewing 30 cases in depth, the auditor found more than a third of investigations did not begin on time. In one case, social workers tried contacting a family accused of abuse only once within 24 hours, and then didn’t try again until five months later, after which the child had to be removed from the home, according to the report. Read more from Claudia Boyd-Barrett of the California Health Report.
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
Tom Insel Named California’s ‘Mental Health Czar’
Noted psychiatrist and former Verily leader Dr. Tom Insel is going to be the “mental health czar” for the state of California, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday. Insel, the former National Institute of Mental Health director, will also continue his work with Mindstrong, a startup that is working on a mental health app, a company spokesperson confirmed. Insel joined the company in 2017 after leaving Verily, Google’s life sciences arm. (Sheridan, 5/22)
Los Angeles Times:
How Bad Are California’s Jails? Some Inmates Beg To Go To Prison Instead
Garland is one of more than 175,000 people sentenced to county jails instead of state prisons in the last eight years because of sweeping changes to California’s justice system, according to an analysis of state data by The Marshall Project. The reforms were intended to ease prison overcrowding — and they have. But the changes were also supposed to help people convicted of nonviolent crimes, by letting them serve their sentences close to home in county jails with lots of education and training programs.It hasn’t worked out that way in some urban counties. (Vansickle and Villa, 5/23)
Caltrans Policies Violated Before Modesto CA Homeless Death
Caltrans employees violated multiple policies leading up to the death of a woman who was crushed by the bucket of a front loader while sleeping at a Modesto homeless encampment last summer, according to a report by the California Highway Patrol. The 324-page report obtained by The Bee says the employees failed to post 72-hour notices to vacate the encampment along Highway 99 south of Kansas Avenue, and that the driver of the front loader went to the site alone and began working without waiting for the CHP to first clear the site of occupants. (Tracy, 5/22)
Homelessness In Contra Costa Jumps More Than 40% Since 2017
Contra Costa County's homeless population increased by a whopping 43% over the last two years. That's according to the preliminary results of a January Point-in-Time homeless count, a federally mandated biennial tally conducted during a single night. (Green, 5/22)
The Desert Sun:
Uncertain Future For Homeless Health Care Access In Coachella Valley
The Federally Qualified Health Center, which receives about 20 percent of its funding from a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration, is one of the largest providers of health care for those experiencing homelessness in the Coachella Valley. Local officials say the closure of the primary care clinic will have a ripple effect in the community, reducing access to affordable health care for a vulnerable population. (Hayden, 5/22)
Ventura County Star:
137 Vacant Positions Deleted As Layoffs Loom
County supervisors on Tuesday deleted 137 vacant positions in the Ventura County Health Care Agency in preparation for layoffs expected to come down at the end of the month. The move prevents managers from filling jobs that could vanish in the layoffs estimated to number around 100 people at Ventura County Medical Center, Santa Paula Hospital and hospital-based clinics. (Wilson, 5/22)
The New York Times:
Canceled Fund-Raiser Prompts Question: Can A Democrat Oppose Abortion?
A top Democratic official on Wednesday canceled a planned fund-raiser for an anti-abortion congressman that had prompted an outcry among progressives, raising the question of whether there is room left in the party for lawmakers who oppose abortion at a moment when numerous Republican-controlled states are trying to effectively outlaw the procedure. The decision by Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, underscored the extent to which support for abortion rights has become a central litmus test for Democrats in the aftermath of President Trump’s two appointments to the Supreme Court. (Martin, 5/22)
The New York Times:
‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Vs. ‘Forced Pregnancy’: The Language Wars Of The Abortion Debate
The new laws that prohibit abortion as early as the sixth week of pregnancy have been called “heartbeat” legislation by supporters, a reference to the flickering pulse that can be seen on ultrasound images of a developing embryo. But when the American Civil Liberties Union announced a legal challenge last week to one such law in Ohio, there was no mention of the word “heartbeat” in the news release, which referred to the law instead as “a ban on almost all abortions.” In Georgia, Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who narrowly lost the governor’s race last year, called the measure in her state a “forced pregnancy bill.” A sign at a protest against the law in Atlanta this week turned the idea into a slogan: “NO FORCED BIRTHS.” (Harmon, 5/22)
Will The Supreme Court Take Up A Roe V. Wade Showdown In 2020?
The Supreme Court may well be headed for an election-year fight over abortion rights, but it’s not likely to be a blockbuster showdown over Roe v. Wade. Courtwatchers anticipate that the justices will agree to take one or more cases related to abortion restrictions in the coming term, drawing attention to the polarizing issue as the 2020 presidential campaign moves into a critical phase. (Gerstein, 5/22)
The Associated Press:
Girl, 10, 6th Known Child To Die After US Border Detention
U.S. authorities say a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador died last year after being detained by border authorities in a previously unreported case. The death marks the sixth known case in the last year. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that she died on Sept. 29 at an Omaha, Nebraska, hospital of fever and respiratory distress. (5/22)
HUD Moves To Allow Discrimination Against Homeless Transgender People
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is moving to roll back protections for homeless transgender people by enabling HUD-funded providers of shelters to consider a person’s sex or gender identification in determining whether they can be admitted. The proposal, included in the department’s spring rule list out Wednesday, contradicts a pledge that HUD Secretary Ben Carson made to lawmakers just yesterday. (O'Donnell, 5/22)
The Associated Press:
House Hearing Grows Heated Over Migrant Children's Deaths
A Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday blamed the Trump administration's border policies for the deaths of migrant children, an accusation the acting head of the Homeland Security Department called "appalling." The brouhaha came at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the budget for the sprawling law enforcement department, which has seen major upheaval over the past two months following a White House-orchestrated shake-up. Kevin McAleenan, the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, was named to lead the department temporarily following the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. (5/22)
The New York Times:
Kirsten Gillibrand Proposes Huge Investments In Maternal Health, Child Care And Education
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential campaign on Wednesday introduced a proposal aimed at investing heavily in maternal and child health, adoption and in vitro fertilization, paid family leave and universal prekindergarten. The proposal, which Ms. Gillibrand called the “Family Bill of Rights,” continued her campaign’s focus on women and families. On Tuesday, she was among several Democratic candidates who joined a rally outside the Supreme Court to protest new abortion restrictions that some states had recently adopted. (Saul, 5/22)
The Associated Press:
Harris, Gillibrand Offer Plans To Bolster Maternal Care
[Sen. Kamala] Harris' bill, first introduced in 2018, would create a $25 million program to fight racial bias in maternal care. It would direct grants to medical schools, nursing schools and other training programs to improve care for black women, who are three to four times more likely than white women to die in childbirth. Her revived proposal also would allocate an additional $125 million toward identifying high-risk pregnancies and, according to her Senate office, provide mothers with the "culturally competent care and resources they need." (5/22)
Harris Introduces Bill To Combat Racial Bias In Maternal Health Care
“Black mothers across the country are facing a health crisis that is driven in part by implicit bias in our health care system," Harris said in a statement Wednesday. "We must take action to address this issue, and we must do it with the sense of urgency it deserves." The U.S. has the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths among industrialized countries, and black women are three- to four-times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Hellmann, 5/22)
CBO: Medicare For All Gives 'Many More' Coverage But 'potentially Disruptive'
Experts from Congress’s nonpartisan budget office testified Wednesday that a single-payer health care system would result in “many more” people with health insurance but would also be “potentially disruptive” and increase government control. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) experts made the remarks at the second hearing on a single-payer, “Medicare for All” system that House Democrats have held this year, this time at the House Budget Committee. (Sullivan, 5/22)
The Washington Post:
Congressional Report: Purdue Pharma Influenced World Health Organization’s Opioid Guidelines
A new congressional report claims that the World Health Organization’s guidelines on treating pain were directly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, including a set of directions for prescribing powerful painkillers that appear to have been taken from opioid giant Purdue Pharma. The investigation, from the offices of Reps. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) and Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), points to evidence that pharmaceutical companies and those who profited from the increased prescribing of opioids aimed to push the WHO into endorsing use of the drugs across the globe. The WHO provides health guidance worldwide. (Zezima, 5/22)