- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- Remember The ‘Public Option'? Insurance Commissioner Wants To Try It In California
- It’s Not Just For Kids: Medicare EpiPen Spending Up 1,100 Percent
- Would You Like Some Insurance With Your Insurance?
- Public Health and Education 2
- Zuckerberg, Chan Invest $3B In Hopes Of Eradicating All Diseases By End Of Century
- World Leaders Agree To Take Action On 'Slow-Motion Tsunami' Of Antibiotic Resistance
- Sacramento Watch 1
- Law Clears Way For Voters' Decision On Coachella Joining Desert Healthcare District
Latest From California Healthline:
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says a publicly run health plan would bolster competition in the state. But some question whether it would lower premiums. (Chad Terhune, 9/22)
The number of prescriptions for Medicare beneficiaries is on the rise, too. (Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey, 9/22)
Gap insurance plans, used to cover out-of-pocket health expenses like high deductibles, are becoming increasingly popular among consumers and businesses. (Bram Sable-Smith, Side Effects Public Media, 9/22)
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Summaries Of The News:
The initiative will also spend an additional $600 million to establish a “bio hub” in San Francisco to support researchers from Stanford University, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.
Los Angeles Times:
Priscilla Chan And Mark Zuckerberg Pledge $3 Billion To Fight Diseases
After investing millions of dollars in education and opening their own private K-12 school this year, pediatrician Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, announced Wednesday that they will invest $3 billion over the next decade to fight diseases. The funds will come from the Chan Zuckerberg Institute, a limited-liability company that the couple established last year after the birth of their daughter, with a goal to “advance human potential and promote equality in areas such as health, education, scientific research and energy." (Lien, 9/21)
The plans are nonbinding, but it is the first step toward addressing the ever-increasing threat. It was only the fourth time the General Assembly had taken up a health issue. Others were H.I.V., noncommunicable disease and Ebola.
Los Angeles Times:
United Nations Takes On Antimicrobial Resistance
Meeting under the umbrella of the United Nations General Assembly, international leaders on Wednesday launched new efforts to stem the rising tide of antimicrobial resistance, which has blunted the effectiveness of existing medications in treating infectious diseases.Heads of state and country delegates gathered at a U.N. meeting on the subject vowed to increase international coordination and funding aimed at monitoring the emergence of antimicrobial resistance and reducing the misuse of antimicrobial agents in human and veterinary health and agriculture. (Healy, 9/21)
The Sacramento Bee fact-checks claims that the measure would undermine the state’s school funding guarantee.
Tobacco Companies Mislead Voters In Prop. 56 Ads On School Funding
Tobacco giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have enlisted the help of a Long Beach public school teacher to persuade voters to reject a $2 cigarette tax increase on the November ballot, Proposition 56.The industry’s commercial, which began airing Sunday across the state, stars high school math and music teacher Davina Keiser. As she sets tests and pencils on empty desks in a classroom, Keiser says she was “astounded” to learn that Proposition 56 was written to undermine the state’s school funding guarantee. (Luna, 9/21)
Although the move would not increase taxes for east valley residents, how to fund the proposed expansion remains murky.
The Desert Sun:
As Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill To Expand Desert Healthcare District, Tax Question Lingers
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a bill into law allowing half of the Coachella Valley to decide on whether to join the public Desert Healthcare District. But with a vote now set for 2018, another critical question remains: Where will the money come from to pay for new services in the east valley? Supporters of a larger district have held steady to their position that without an agreed-to funding source, no expansion can occur. (Newkirk, 9/21)
Theranos can operate its Scottsdale lab because it has appealed the lab-certificate revocation, which could drag on for years. The California-based company has been plagued with issues, including a federal investigation into its operating deficiencies.
Theranos Lab Still Open In Scottsdale Despite Violations Posing 'Immediate Jeopardy'
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lab inspectors moved to revoke Theranos' lab certificate effective Sept. 5 after finding multiple deficiencies at the company's Newark, Calif., lab. The certificate revocation also would force the shutdown of its Scottsdale lab. But more than two weeks after the Sept. 5 shutdown date passed, the company continues to draw blood from metro Phoenix customers and process those blood samples at its Scottsdale lab. (Alltucker, 9/21)
Employees are reporting that 29 people were affected.
Tulare Hospital Lays Off Staff Members In Wake Of Bond Defeat
Tulare Regional Medical Center reportedly has laid off employees following the stinging rejection by voters last month of a $55 million bond measure meant to finish a stalled hospital tower addition. Health Care Conglomerate Associates, the company that operates the public hospital under contract, confirmed that layoffs took place but did not how say many people got pink slips. (Griswold, 9/21)
It has overtaken obesity as the most pressing health issue in the area.
Los Angeles Times:
Mental Health Identified As The Top Health Priority In Glendale
Mental health has surpassed obesity as the top health priority for Glendale during the past three years, according to a triennial health assessment among local hospitals and healthcare professionals. The assessment results — presented last week by the Glendale Healthier Community Coalition to more than 30 healthcare representatives — listed mental health, obesity and substance abuse as the top three public health issues affecting quality and length of life. (Landa, 9/21)
In other news from across the state —
The Desert Sun:
Tracking Asthma Threats In The Imperial Valley's Hazy Air
When she catches the scent of smoke in the air, Jessica Herrera knows it’s time to retreat indoors to try to ward off another asthma attack. ... Herrera and the others who suffer from asthma in the Imperial Valley will soon have a new tool to alert them to dangerous levels of air pollution. A network of 40 air monitoring devices is being installed in the region between the U.S.-Mexico border and the Salton Sea and is about to begin churning out a wealth of real-time data. (James, 9/21)
Doctor’s Orders For Rehab Patients: Exotic Animals
It’s not your typical prescription: “Take a selfie with a camel. Pet a porcupine. Ogle a galago. Repeat as needed. May be habit-forming, not that there’s anything wrong with that.” A few dozen patients at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek heeded that advice Wednesday, availing themselves of exotic animals on site for Pet Therapy Day — part of National Rehabilitation Awareness Week. (Peterson, 9/21)
Minority Nurses To Talk About Patient Advocacy At Fresno Meeting
About 100 minority nurses from throughout California will meet Saturday at Saint Agnes Medical Center to talk about the role for nurses in patient advocacy and leadership. Statistics show the need for more minority nurses in California and the central San Joaquin Valley, said Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, a member of the California State Board of Registered Nursing and director of the Central California Center for Excellence in Nursing at Fresno State. (Anderson, 9/21)
But Heather Bresch defended the company's actions while trying to explain the industry's complex drug pricing structure.
The New York Times:
Mylan’s Chief Is Chastised By Lawmakers Questioning EpiPen Pricing
Members of Congress on Wednesday pelted the chief executive of Mylan, the company behind the EpiPen, the treatment for severe allergy attacks, with questions about steep price increases on the product and accused her of turning her back on families that could no longer afford the lifesaving treatment. The chief executive, Heather Bresch, was the latest in a string of drug company leaders to be interrogated by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as public outrage has grown over the rising cost of drugs. (Thomas, 9/21)
In other national health care news —
Democratic Liberals, Moderates Feud Over Public Option
A liberal attempt to revive the so-called public option — a government-run insurance plan to shore up gaps in the Affordable Care Act — is opening old wounds between the Democratic Party’s liberal and moderate wings. Thirty-three mostly liberal Democrats, including all the Senate leadership, have signed onto a nonbinding Senate resolution introduced last Friday to add the public option to Obamacare, arguing that it is needed to fix problems with the president’s signature health care law. (Haberkorn, 9/22)
Anne Filipic Warns That Obamacare Doom-And-Gloom Can Be Self-Fulfilling
With insurers dropping out and premium rates going up, Obamacare has hit its roughest patch in years. Even some Democrats are acknowledging the law needs fixes. But according to Anne Filipic, the doom-and-gloom predictions aren't just misplaced — they're making her job harder. "We have real challenges in reaching the remaining uninsured and helping them understand that there are affordable options," the president of Enroll America told POLITICO's "Pulse Check" podcast. "This broader narrative isn’t helpful to them." (Diamond, 22)
Secret Trove Reveals Abbott's Bold 'Crusade' To Sell OxyContin
Abbott’s relationship with Purdue and its part in building the OxyContin brand are detailed in previously secret court filings unsealed by a Welch, W.Va., state court judge at the request of STAT. The records were part of a case brought by the state of West Virginia against Purdue and Abbott that alleged they inappropriately marketed the drug, causing users to become addicted to the opioid. The case was settled in 2004 when Purdue agreed to pay $10 million to the state. Neither company admitted any wrongdoing.The documents include internal Abbott and Purdue memos, as well as sales documents and marketing materials. They show that Abbott sales reps were instructed to downplay the threat of addiction with OxyContin and make other claims to doctors that had no scientific basis. The sales reps from the two companies closely coordinated their efforts, met regularly to strategize, and shared marketing materials. (Armstrong, 9/22)
The New York Times:
Maternal Mortality Rate In U.S. Rises, Defying Global Trend, Study Finds
One of the biggest worldwide public health triumphs in recent years has been maternal mortality. Global death rates fell by more than a third from 2000 to 2015. The United States, however, is one of the few countries in the world that have gone against the grain, new data show. Its maternal mortality rate has risen despite improvements in health care and an overwhelming global trend in the other direction. (Tavernise, 9/21)
Is The Gut Microbiome An Important Cause Of Obesity?
The very first study reporting a link between the gut microbiome and obesity found that lab mice bred for obesity had half as many bacteria belonging to the Bacteroidetes phylum as lean mice did, and lots of bacteria in the Firmicutes phylum. It had the effect of a starter’s gun at a race: Scientists at labs around the world were off in pursuit of microbes causing obesity. The most intriguing support for that idea: transferring microbes from the guts of normal-weight mice into the guts of obese ones, and obese mice’s gut microbes into slim ones, seemed to cause the animals to switch to the body type consistent with their new bacteria, not their old selves, found a 2004 study. (Begley, 9/22)