- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Will Covered California Sell Health Coverage To The Undocumented?
- Around California 2
- UCSF's Neuroscience Program Gets $185M Donation
- Appeals Court Deals Severe Blow To Kern Health System: 'They've Lost Everything Now'
- Public Health and Education 2
- Sonoma Tops List Of Counties With Highest Rates Of Psychotropic Prescriptions Among Foster Youth
- Tainted Street Drug Wreaks Havoc On Skid Row
Latest From California Healthline:
California is inching closer to a first-in-the-nation request for a federal ruling that would allow the state’s Obamacare exchange to sell health plans to immigrants who are living in the country illegally. (Ana B. Ibarra, 4/26)
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More News From Across The State
In other news from the capitol, a bill to reduce sentencing enhancements for prior drug convictions was rejected by the California Senate.
Los Angeles Times:
Assembly Votes To Ban Tobacco Use On All State College Campuses
The state Assembly on Monday voted to ban the use of tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, on all campuses of the California State University system and California Community Colleges by 2018. The proposal by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) follows the lead of the semi-autonomous University of California system, which adopted a tobacco-free policy that took effect in 2014. (McGreevy, 4/25)
The Sacramento Bee:
California College Smoking Ban Advances Through Assembly
California State University and community college campuses could soon be cigarette and e-cigarette free, with the Assembly passing a bill to bar students from using either product on campus. (White, 4/25)
The Sacramento Bee:
Bill To Reduce Drug Crime Sentences Fails In California Senate
Following a debate over whether it would be a boon to drug dealers, Senate Bill 966 failed on an 18-16 vote, three votes short of a 21-vote majority. Three members of the majority Democratic caucus joined Republicans in opposition and another five abstained. Under current California law, someone convicted for the sale, possession for sale, distribution or transportation of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and PCP receives an additional three years on their sentence for each prior conviction for one of those crimes. (Koseff, 4/25)
Former Wall Street financier Sanford Weill and his wife, Joan, pledge the gift to help fund the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at the University of California, San Francisco, and construct a new facility.
Wall Street Billionaire Bankrolls A New Center For Brain Science
Former banker Sanford Weill transformed the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York with more than half-a-billion in donations in recent years. Now he is pivoting to the West Coast, pledging $185 million to create a neuroscience institute at the University of California, San Francisco. (Piller, 4/26)
The San Francisco Business Times:
Huge Gift From Wall Street Legend, Wife Propels UCSF'S Neuroscience Program
A $185 million gift from legendary Wall Street financier Sanford “Sandy” Weill and his wife Joan could catapult UCSF’s neuroscience program — and a new Mission Bay building — to the head of the class. (Leuty, 4/25)
The Press Democrat:
Sandy And Joan Weill Donate $185 Million To New UCSF Neuroscience Institute
Philanthropists Sandy and Joan Weill on Monday announced a $185 million donation for a new neuroscience institute at UC San Francisco, the largest donation in the school’s history. The Sonoma County couple, whose $12 million donation in 2014 made possible the completion of the Weill Hall concert space at Sonoma State University, now are helping to establish UCSF’s Weill Institute for Neurosciences. Construction of a $316 million facility to house the institute is expected to begin next year in San Francisco at the Mission Bay campus south of AT&T Park. (Digitale, 4/25)
The county-created HMO has been seeking to recoup millions of dollars from an auditing firm, and had been awarded $1.38 million. The court, however, reversed that decision.
The Bakersfield Californian:
Appeals Court Reverses $1.38 Million Award To Kern Health Systems
An appeals court has reversed a jury’s decision that awarded Kern Health Systems $1.38 million in a lawsuit the agency filed accusing an auditing firm of fraud. The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles also ordered the trial court to determine how much in attorneys fees and other costs the county-created health HMO should have to pay the defendants. (Bedell, 4/25)
In other news from across California —
The Ventura County Star:
Gonorrhea Increase Sparks Concern About Protection, Behavior
Gonorrhea infections more than doubled in Ventura County over five years in a statewide rise spawning concerns about condom use and sexual behavior. In 2010, 170 cases of gonorrhea were reported in the county. The tally grew to 360 cases in 2014, according to reports from the California Department of Public Health. (Kisken, 4/25)
The Ventura County Star:
State Authorizes Remaining Funding For Todd Road Jail Mental Health Unit
The California Board of State and Community Corrections has authorized the remaining funding to build a $61 million medical and mental health facility at the Todd Road Jail near Santa Paula. The board in November granted Ventura County a partial award of $25.6 million for the planned 64-bed unit. (Harris, 4/25)
Bloomberg reports that Loma Linda University Medical Center is planning a record $883-million junk-bond sale. In other industry news, Kaweah Delta Medical Center receives a top safety mark from The Leapfrog Group's ratings.
Record Municipal Junk Bond For Hospital Set As Market Draws Cash
The need to protect against earthquakes is about to jolt the municipal junk-bond market from its slumber. California’s Loma Linda University Medical Center on Wednesday is planning the biggest speculative grade, tax-exempt health-care deal since at least 1990, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The $883 million sale will finance an expansion and overhaul to comply with the state’s seismic safety requirements, a project that will double the center’s debt and triggered a fall from investment grade last year. (Varghese, 4/26)
The Fresno Bee:
Kaweah Delta Earns An A For Hospital Safety
Kaweah Delta Medical Center has earned its third consecutive A, the top grade for patient safety, in a hospital score released Monday. The score rates how well hospitals protect patients from accidents, errors and injuries, plus also considers patient satisfaction. (4/25)
Unity Biotechnology will collaborate with Chinese company Ascentage Pharma to develop drugs that will go after dead cells that damage healthy tissue.
The San Francisco Business Journal:
Aging-Defying North Bay Startup Lands Deal With Chinese Drug Company
Startup Unity Biotechnology Inc. will work with a Chinese company to develop drugs aimed at clearing dead cells thought to play a role in a range of aging-related diseases. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But Ascentage Pharma will buy a stake in Unity, which is based at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, and Unity will make an investment in Ascentage. What’s more, the collaboration is worldwide, but the companies will form a joint venture to develop and sell so-called “senolytic” drugs in China. (Leuty, 4/25)
In other pharmaceutical news —
The San Francisco Business Journal:
Peninsula Drug Developer Scores Comeback Win For Cancer-Fighting Tablet
Exelixis Inc. scored the second FDA approval for its cabozantinib cancer-fighting franchise Monday, this time with a tablet against the most common form of adult kidney cancer. (Leuty, 4/25)
While money is a factor in patients' success, that didn't explain why teachers were more than six times more likely to become pregnant after seeking treatment.
Study: Your Job Has A Big Impact On Fertility Treatment Success
Having summers off may not be the biggest benefit of being a teacher. A new study from FertilityIQ, an online platform for fertility patients, shows teachers are six times more likely than their peers to have success when undergoing IVF. (Johnson, 4/25)
In other women's health news —
The Sacramento Bee:
UC Davis Research Finds Estrogen Helps Women’s Brain Health
Research on rhesus monkeys at UC Davis suggests estrogen therapy may benefit post-menopausal women’s brain health, but the therapy remains controversial because of increased risks for cancer, blood clots and stroke. (Ortiz, 4/25)
Alarming prescription rates are a problem across the state, but in Sonoma County nearly 23 percent of all local foster kids were on the drugs during the 12-month period that ended last June. “You have to ask: What are doctors in Sonoma County learning about how to prescribe?” said Carmen Balber, executive director for Consumer Watchdog.
The Press Democrat:
Prescription Of Drugs To Foster Youth Under Scrutiny In Sonoma County
When she was 9 years old, Angelica De La Torre saw her mother fall from her pedestal of strength and virtue into a place torn apart by methamphetamine addiction. Unable to deal with the loss of the single most important person in her life, De La Torre herself fell into depression and helplessness. (Espinoza and Kovner, 4/25)
Meanwhile, Walgreens has installed safe medication disposal kiosks in its stores —
The Sacramento Business Journal:
National Retailer Installs Free Drug-Collection Kiosks To Combat Addiction
Walgreens announced Friday it has installed safe medication disposal kiosks in 50 of its stores in California. Locally, Walgreens locations at 7299 Laguna Blvd. in Elk Grove and 6144 Dewey Drive in Citrus Heights have the free kiosks. (Anderson, 4/25)
More than a dozen people have fallen ill since Friday.
The Los Angeles Daily News:
Skid Row Overdoses Likely Caused By Tainted Batch Of Street Drug Spice
After more than a dozen people fell ill over the weekend on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, a homeless advocate said Monday that the victims were likely sickened by a tainted batch of fake marijuana known as Spice. The Rev. Andy Bales, who heads the Union Rescue Mission, said Spice has been a problem on Skid Row for years, but the latest batch to hit the area could be laced with more potent chemicals. At least six people were taken to a local hospital on Friday night. Several more got sick throughout the weekend. Bales said an additional four people were taken by ambulance to hospitals on Monday. (Abram, 4/25)
The long-awaited regulation, the biggest for Medicaid managed care in a decade, changes many aspects of how large insurance contractors who administer care for some of the most vulnerable patients.
85% Medical-Loss Ratio In Final Managed Medicaid Rule
The CMS has finalized a long-awaited rule that will overhaul managed Medicaid, which has not been updated in a decade. The sweeping 1,425-page rule, which was proposed last May, caps insurer profits, requires states to more rigorously supervise the adequacy of plans' provider networks, encourages states to establish quality rating systems for plans, allows more behavioral healthcare in institutional settings and promotes the growth of managed long-term care. But the CMS deferred to state control for several issues. (Dickson and Herman, 4/25)
The Associated Press:
Feds Issue New Standards For Medicaid Insurance Plans
The Obama administration Monday set new standards for Medicaid private insurance plans, which in recent years have become the main source of coverage for low-income people. The rules apply to insurers operating as Medicaid middlemen in 39 states and Washington, DC. Each state runs its own program, although the federal government pays most of the cost. Private insurers now provide coverage to about two-thirds of the more than 70 million Medicaid recipients, and the rules had not been updated for more than 10 years. (4/25)
In other national health care news —
Health Insurer Execs Reap Massive Rewards In Deal-Heavy 2015
UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley earned $14.5 million in 2015, according to a filing Friday, but he wasn't the top-earning health insurance executive. Centene completed its $6 billion deal for Health Net in March after a protracted review from California regulators. The acquisition opened up Centene to bigger plays in Medicare Advantage and the ACA exchanges, and it fortified the company's position as one of the largest, most powerful Medicaid insurers in the country. The company cited Neidorff's role in the Health Net deal, along with Centene's increased profitability, as the major reasons for his $3.6 million cash bonus. (Herman, 4/25)
Valeant Names Papa CEO After He Resigns From Perrigo
Former Perrigo Co Plc head Joseph Papa was named Chief Executive Officer at Valeant Pharmaceuticals International on Monday, a role in which investors said he should focus on returning the company to growth. Papa will replace CEO Michael Pearson, whose years of frenzied dealmaking fueled double-digit profit increases at Valeant until scrutiny of its controversial relationship with a specialty pharmacy and history of sharp drug price increases hit its shares and sales last fall. (O'Donnell, Roumeliotis and Humer, 4/25)
The New York Times:
Advisers To F.D.A. Vote Against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Drug
In a confrontation between the hopes of desperate patients and clinical trial data, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted on Monday not to recommend approval of what would become the first drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The negative votes came despite impassioned pleas from patients, parents and doctors who insisted that the drug, called eteplirsen, was prolonging the ability of boys with the disease to walk well beyond when they would normally be in wheelchairs. (Pollack, 4/25)