- California Healthline Original Stories 4
- California Slaps Surcharge On ACA Plans As Trump Remains Coy On Subsidies
- Trump’s Order Advances GOP Go-To Ideas To Broaden Insurance Choices, Curb Costs
- Giving Birth Is Hard Enough. Try It In The Middle Of A Wildfire.
- Dementia Patient At Center of Spoon-Feeding Controversy Dies
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- Covered California Points Fingers As It Adds Surcharge To Its Most Popular Plans
- Public Health and Education 1
- 'This Is A Once-In-A-Hundred-Years Event': Fire Forces Evacuation Of Hospitals, Clinic Closures
- Pharmaceuticals 1
- To Bring Down Big Pharma, This BioHacker Wants To Teach Patients To Make Own Medications
Latest From California Healthline:
Covered California authorized a 12.4 percent average surcharge on silver-tier plans, the second-least expensive option sold on the exchange. It brings the total average premium increase on those plans to nearly 25 percent next year. (Chad Terhune, 10/11)
But the approaches are not new and critics worry that these changes will leave some consumers with skimpier plans that expose them to high medical bills. (Julie Appleby, 10/12)
Moms-to-be in labor had to be evacuated from Santa Rosa hospitals in the midst of the California wildfires. (April Dembosky, KQED, 10/11)
Nora Harris, 64, who had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, raised questions about the power — and limits — of an advance directive to withdraw care. (JoNel Aleccia, 10/12)
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Summaries Of The News:
"Thanks to President Trump's and Congressional Republicans' inaction, the 2018 health insurance rates are higher than they would otherwise be," California insurance commissioner Dave Jones wrote in a statement.
California Blames Trump Administration For Health Care Price Hike
The 1.4 million people who buy insurance through Covered California will likely want to do some comparison shopping for their 2018 health plans. State regulators announced the most popular plans on the state exchange will include an average 12.4 percent surcharge next year. (Faust, 10/11)
California Slaps Surcharge On ACA Plans As Trump Remains Coy On Subsidies
California’s health exchange said Wednesday it has ordered insurers to add a surcharge to certain policies next year because the Trump administration has yet to commit to paying a key set of consumer subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The decision to impose a 12.4 percent surcharge on silver-level health plans in 2018 means the total premium increase for them will average nearly 25 percent, according to Covered California. Taxpayers, not consumers, will bear the brunt of the extra rate hike because federal premium assistance for policyholders, which is pegged to the cost of coverage, will also increase. (Terhune, 10/11)
But while the disaster has turned Santa Rosa’s health care sector on its head, the people who work in it are doing everything they can to get things back on track.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Santa Rosa Firestorm Tests Local Health Care Services
In his 40 years as a hospital leader, Mike Purvis has never witnessed the forced evacuation of a major hospital, let alone two. But that’s exactly what happened when the worst firestorm in Santa Rosa history tore through the northern end of the city, forcing not only the closure of both Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente hospitals, but also shuttering local clinics, skilled nursing facilities and medical offices. ...Purvis’ home was among the hundreds of homes destroyed in Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood, many of them belonging to hospital executives, physicians, nurses and other medical staff. Todd Salnas, who oversees Memorial Hospital as president of St. Joseph Health Sonoma County, and Judy Coffey, area manager for Kaiser’s operations in Sonoma and Marin counties, also lost their homes in the fires. Up to 100 members of Kaiser’s staff lost homes in the fires, a spokesman said. (Espinoza, 10/11)
Smoke From Northern California Wildfires Blankets Sacramento With Unhealthy Smoke
Sacramento Valley and foothills residents awoke Wednesday to the heavy smell of smoke, hazy brown skies and ashes on car windshields – the result of nearly two dozen Northern California wildfires, including the Atlas Fire, which exploded overnight in the hills west of Fairfield. ...Air meters throughout the region registered unhealthy levels of particulate matter from Vacaville and Davis in the west valley to higher foothill elevations in Grass Valley and Colfax early Wednesday. (Bizjak, Anderson and Glover, 10/11)
Three bills that tighten safety standards on refineries were approved this session, but the fourth is on hold.
New Refinery Safety Laws Pass, But Ban On Deadly Chemical Stalls
Gov. Jerry Brown signed three new laws this week intended to make local refineries safer for their neighbors. But one big change remains elusive, and that's a ban on refineries using a toxic chemical known as modified hydrofluoric acid. (McNary, 10/11)
In other news —
EPA Vows To Speed Cleanup Of Toxic Superfund Sites Despite Funding Drop
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is vowing to speed the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites, part of a shift away from climate change and toward what he calls the "basics" of clean air and water. The EPA's Superfund program manages the cleanup of some of the most toxic waste sites — Pruitt says the EPA will soon name a top 10 list of sites to focus on. (Wertz, 10/11)
Michael Laufer's latest plan involves developing a desktop lab and a recipe book meant to equip patients to cook up a range of medicines, including a homemade version of the expensive hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, on their kitchen counters.
An Anarchist Takes On Big Pharma — By Promoting DIY Prescription Drugs
Swaggering, charismatic, and complex, Michael Laufer has become a fixture in the growing biohacker movement ever since he published plans last year for a do-it-yourself EpiPencil — a $35 alternative to the pricey EpiPen. It’s not clear whether anyone has actually ever used a homemade EpiPencil to prevent anaphylactic shock. But that seems almost an afterthought to Laufer’s bigger goal — trying to build a DIY movement to attack high pharma pricing and empower patients. (Piller, 10/12)
The order is supposed to ease rules on small businesses banding together to buy health insurance and lift limits on the sale of short-term insurance.
The New York Times:
Foiled In Congress, Trump Moves On His Own To Undermine Obamacare
President Trump, after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress, will act on his own to relax health care standards on small businesses that band together to buy health insurance and may take steps to allow the sale of other health plans that skirt the health law’s requirements. The president plans to sign an executive order “to promote health care choice and competition” on Thursday at a White House event attended by small-business owners and others. (Pear and Abelson, 10/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
In Start To Unwinding The Health Law, Trump To Ease Insurance Rules
President Donald Trump is planning to sign an executive order Thursday to initiate the unwinding of the Affordable Care Act, paving the way for sweeping changes to health-insurance regulations by instructing agencies to allow the sale of less-comprehensive health plans to expand. Mr. Trump, using his authority to accomplish some of what Republicans failed to achieve with their stalled congressional health-care overhaul, will direct federal agencies to take actions aimed at providing lower-cost options and fostering competition in the individual insurance markets, according to a Wall Street Journal interview with two senior White House officials. (Radnofsky, Armour and Wilde Mathews, 10/11)
Officials Detail Trump Executive Order On Healthcare Coming Thursday
The order will ease rules on small businesses banding together to buy health insurance, through what are known as association health plans, and lift Obama administration limits on short-term health insurance plans, according to a source on a call with administration officials Wednesday night. The order will direct the Department of Labor to "modernize" rules to allow small employers to create association health plans, the source said. Small businesses will be able to band together if they are within the same state, in the same "line of business," or are in the same trade association. (Sullivan, 10/11)
Trump Healthcare Order Could Face Strong Legal Objections
U.S. President Donald Trump's expected plan to let Americans buy insurance across state lines could violate federal law governing employee benefit plans and will almost certainly be challenged in court, several legal experts said. Trump said on Tuesday he would likely sign an executive order this week allowing people to cross state lines to obtain "great, competitive healthcare" that would cost the United States "nothing." (Pierson and Raymond, 10/12)
“As millions of women watch this administration take away fundamental health care like birth control, they’re also paying attention to all those members of Congress who are not standing up to fight for them,” says Erica Sackin, political communications director for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
The Washington Post:
Liberal Groups Plan To Hammer Vulnerable Republicans On Birth Control
Liberal groups are seizing on Republican attempts to roll back health coverage and limit access to birth control, as they seek to galvanize women voters ahead of next year’s midterm elections. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Emily’s List believe the Trump administration handed them a potent political issue Friday when it carved out wide exceptions to the Affordable Care Act’s promise of no-cost contraception. Activists plan to link this action to congressional Republicans’ repeated attempts to undercut the ACA in ways that could have caused millions to lose health insurance, as part of a broader strategy focused on defeating moderate GOP members and buttressing vulnerable Democrats. (Viebeck, 10/11)
The Associated Press:
Women's Health Docs Say Trump Ignores Birth Control Science
The Trump administration's new birth control rule is raising questions among some women's health experts, who say it overlooks known benefits of contraception while selectively citing data that raise doubts about effectiveness and safety. "This rule is listing things that are not scientifically validated, and in some cases things that are wrong, to try to justify a decision that is not in the best interests of women and society," said Dr. Hal Lawrence, CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which represents women's health specialists. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/11)