- California Healthline Original Stories 5
- Specialty Drug Costs Soar 30% For California Pension Fund
- Saying Goodbye, The Right Way
- A Practical To-Do List For Family Caregivers
- Poll Finds Majority Of Americans Want Restraints On Drug Prices
- Election Buzz: Critics Of Legal Pot Say Addiction Becomes 'A Disease Of The Family'
- Sacramento Watch 1
- Brown Signs Autopsy Bill Following Furor Over Non-Licensed Assistant Performing Procedures
- Public Health and Education 2
- Patients Get In The Boxing Ring To Fight Parkinson's
- Despite Tremendous Progress, America Still Lags Behind On Teen Birth Rates
Latest From California Healthline:
Such medications account for more than a quarter of the state agency’s $2.1 billion in pharmacy costs. (Chad Terhune, 9/28)
Twenty dying people, at peace with their mortality, shared their views on life, love and death with a Los Angeles artist for an exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance. (Anna Gorman, 9/29)
In order to maximize the important role they play, family caregivers must be proactive in speaking up, planning and documenting their ability to meet their loved one’s health care needs. (Judith Graham, 9/29)
As the spiraling costs attract headlines, many people are looking to the government to rein in prescription drug prices, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation poll. (Jordan Rau, 9/29)
As more states consider legalizing recreational marijuana, families consider what messages to present to young people about using pot. Should it be avoidance, moderation or acceptance? Differing views from Arizona and Oregon. (Kristian Foden-Vencil, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Stina Sieg, KJZZ, 9/28)
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Summaries Of The News:
"Hopefully, it will increase public confidence in autopsies," state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who coauthored the legislation.
Ventura County Star:
Autopsy Bill Signed After Ventura County Woes
A bill that says only licensed physicians may conduct autopsies was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The legislation was prompted in part by the disclosure that an assistant without a medical license had performed postmortem exams in Ventura County while the chief medical examiner was vacationing in Florida and abroad. (Wilson and Carlson, 9/28)
In other news from Sacramento —
California Eliminates Statute Of Limitations On Rape Cases
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that ends a statute of limitations on prosecuting rape cases. The bill is widely believed to be inspired by allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, after some of his accusers came forward long after the alleged sexual assaults took place. (Kennedy, 9/28)
Voters will weigh in on the penny-per-ounce tax in November.
The Associated Press:
US Soda-Tax Battle Bubbles Up In San Francisco Bay Area
The national fight over sugary soda is bubbling up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where voters in November will consider a tax on the drinks that many health experts say contribute to diabetes, obesity and tooth decay. Backers of the campaign say a penny-per-ounce tax is needed in San Francisco, Oakland and tiny Albany to curb consumption of sweetened cola, sports drinks and canned teas that people gulp without thinking, adding empty calories. (Har, 9/28)
More than eight in 10 Americans favor allowing the federal government to negotiate with drugmakers to get lower prices on medications for people on Medicare, among other regulations.
Los Angeles Times:
With Drug Prices Spiking, Americans Want More Government Action, New Poll Finds
More than three in four Americans believe that prescription drug prices are unreasonable, a new poll shows. And large majorities — including Democrats and Republicans — favor aggressive government steps to make pharmaceuticals more affordable for consumers, according to the survey by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. (Levey, 9/29)
In other drug pricing news —
Specialty Drug Costs Soar 30% For California Pension Fund
Specialty drug costs jumped 30 percent last year to $587 million for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, one of the nation’s largest health care purchasers. Though they amount to less than 1 percent of all prescriptions, specialty drugs accounted for more than a quarter of the state agency’s $2.1 billion in total pharmacy costs. Those overall drug costs have climbed 40 percent since 2010. (Terhune, 9/28)
Josef Robinson is attempting to sue Dignity Health of San Francisco for not covering his procedure.
San Francisco Chronicle:
Judge Hints At Support In Suit Over Sex-Reassignment Surgery
A Bay Area federal judge is suggesting she intends to rule that a transgender employee can sue his employer under sex-discrimination law for denying insurance coverage for sex-reassignment surgery. “This is a sex-based procedure. It couldn’t be more sex-based,” U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of Oakland said Tuesday to a lawyer defending the refusal of Dignity Health of San Francisco and one of its out-of-state hospitals to cover the employee’s operation. The lawyer, Barry Landsberg, replied that the hospital’s policy was gender-neutral because “it applies equally to men and women.” Federal law, he argued, prohibits discrimination against males or females, “but there is not a third sex.” (Egelko, 9/28)
San Francisco's Rock Steady Boxing offers those with Parkinson's an alternative therapy to a disease that has so often been tied to the sport.
Using Boxing To Put A Pause On Parkinson’s
With the sound of a bell, the round starts. Eight boxers, lined up along heavy bags, begin throwing punches. Their coach, Kim Voronin, paces back and forth behind the line, calling out new combinations to throw during the three-minute round. These fighters are part of a class held in San Francisco called Rock Steady Boxing, and they all have one important fact in common. They all suffer from Parkinson’s disease.From legendary boxers Muhammad Ali and Floyd Patterson to boxing coach Freddie Roach, Parkinson’s disease has been notably tied to the sport of boxing. Now, non-contact boxing is emerging as a useful therapy for the disease. (Hosea-Small, 9/28)
For the seventh straight year, U.S. teen birth rates drop. But other industrialized countries are far ahead of America.
Los Angeles Times:
Teen Birth Rate In The U.S. Hits Record Low For 7th Consecutive Year
The birth rate for U.S. teenagers hit an all-time low in 2015, the seventh straight year a new record has been set. Overall, there were 22.3 births for every 1,000 young women between 15 and 19, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That represents an 8% drop in just one year. (Kaplan, 9/28)
About 30 students and 10 staff members at Lake Forest Elementary School have been plagued by skin irritations, and no one knows what the cause is.
Orange County Register:
The Cause Of Skin Irritations At Lake Forest School Still A Mystery
Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District officials are still stumped as to what has caused skin irritations in students and staff at Lake Forest Elementary School, after traps set up this week produced no leads, officials said Wednesday. Jared Dever, a spokesman for vector control, said Wednesday that traps seeking arthropods like mites, chiggers and spiders were set up Monday but “none of them came up with anything.” (Percy, 9/28)
In other news from across California —
Modesto Junior College Opens Baccalaureate Program In Respiratory Care
MJC’s baccalaureate degree is one of 15 four-year community college degree programs selected statewide as a pilot project for fulfilling industry needs. All were chosen for strong job prospects and the lack of a corresponding degree at state universities. Modesto applied for a respiratory degree because of its strong two-year program and the high rate of respiratory problems in the Central Valley. (Austin, 9/28)
San Diego Union-Times:
California Life Sciences Association Opens L.A. Office
In a sign of growing interest in the Los Angeles area as a major biomedical hub, the California Life Sciences Association has opened an office in Monrovia. It also this week announced partnerships with two organizations in the L.A. region — LA BioMed, a nonprofit research institute in Torrance, and the biotech incubator Lab Launch in Monrovia. (Fikes, 9/28)
After House leaders reach an agreement over the Flint water crisis funds, Congress averts a government shutdown by passing a bill that includes $1.1 billion for the fight against Zika.
The Washington Post:
Congress Acts To Avert Government Shutdown After Striking Deal On Flint Aid
Congress staved off an Oct. 1 government shutdown Wednesday, passing a stopgap spending measure after House Republicans agreed to address the drinking-water crisis in Flint, Mich., removing a major obstacle in negotiations. The bill extends current government funding levels until early December, giving appropriators time to negotiate 2017 spending measures. It also provides year-long funding for veterans programs, $1.1 billion to address the Zika virus and $500 million in emergency flood relief for Louisiana and other states. (DeBonis, 9/28)
Kaiser Health News:
Congress Finally Approves Funding To Fight Zika — But What Does This Mean?
So what exactly has Congress done? And, from a public health standpoint, how much will it help? Here is a breakdown of what you need to know. (Luthra, 9/29)
In other national health care news —
The Associated Press:
Senators Ask Justice Department To Investigate EpiPen Maker
Senators are asking the Justice Department to investigate whether pharmaceutical company Mylan acted illegally when it classified its life-saving EpiPen as a generic drug and qualified for lower rebate payments to states. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday and suggested the company may have gamed the system to divert millions of dollars from taxpayers. (9/28)
The New York Times:
U.S. To Bar Arbitration Clauses In Nursing Home Contracts
The federal agency that controls more than $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funding has moved to prevent nursing homes from forcing claims of elder abuse, sexual harassment and even wrongful death into the private system of justice known as arbitration. An agency within the Health and Human Services Department on Wednesday issued a rule that bars any nursing home that receives federal funding from requiring that its residents resolve any disputes in arbitration, instead of court. (Silver-Greenberg and Corkery, 9/28)
Senate Republicans Change Tone On Obamacare Debate
For the first time in six years, some congressional Republicans are willing to engage in conversations about fixing — not repealing — Obamacare, should another Democrat occupy the White House. Republicans uniformly believe the next Congress must do something to address the Affordable Care Act. ... "There’s two ways” that action on Obamacare could play out, said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in an interview with Morning Consult. “One, if a Republican’s elected, we’re going to have to deliver on our promise to dramatically change the health care system. ... The second one is, if the Democrats elect a president, there’s some changes – there’s some bipartisan support – that ought to be made. But it’d have to have the White House support. So I think it’s going to be pretty much driven by what Hillary would say,” Grassley said. (Owens, 9/28)
The Washington Post:
Cyberattacks On Personal Health Records Growing ‘Exponentially’
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA. Since it took effect, doctors’ offices, hospitals and other health-care providers have been very careful about releasing information. Sometimes frustratingly so. I’ve had providers refuse to send my information to me by email, because that form of communication is considered less secure than the now-ancient practice of faxing. (Joe Davidson, 9/28)