- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Without Obamacare Penalty, Think It’ll Be Nice To Drop Your Plan? Better Think Twice
- Coverage And Access 1
- Advocates Worry Progress On Cutting State's Uninsured Rates In Children Has Stalled
- Public Health and Education 3
- Multi-Million Dollar Campaign Helps Sacramento County Reduce High Mortality Rates For Black Infants
- Many Of The 85 People Who Died From Camp Fire Were Elderly, Infirm Or Disabled
- It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like (A Still Very Mild) Flu Season
- Around California 1
- Medical Records At A San Mateo Hospital Were Recycled Instead Of Shredded, Leaving Hundreds Of Patients' Data Exposed
Latest From California Healthline:
If you’re among the millions of people expected to forgo health insurance next year when the Affordable Care Act tax penalty goes away, the financial consequences could be dire if you need unexpected medical care. (Emily Bazar, 12/4)
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More News From Across The State
Although California's statistics are better than other rates, the number of uninsured children in the state has stagnated at 3.1 percent. Some are worried, though, that it's a sign California's marketplaces are starting to feel the impact of national efforts to chip away at the health law.
The California Health Report:
Decline In California's Uninsured Rate Among Kids Has Stagnated, Raising Concerns
[Pediatrician Ilan] Shapiro, and many other health care providers who work with low-income people in California, are worried. Federal attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act, along with hostile policies toward immigrants, are threatening to unravel the state’s progress toward getting almost all children insured. A new report by Georgetown University has heightened that concern. The report, released last week, shows the number of children nationwide without health insurance went up last year for the first time since 2008, resulting in an additional 276,000 uninsured children. California’s uninsured rate for kids stagnated at 3.1 percent (around 300,000 children), down from 11 percent in 2008. That’s better than the situation in many other states, but it could be a sign that California is starting to feel the impact of the Trump administration’s policies, said Edwin Park, a Georgetown University research professor who contributed to the report. (Boyd-Barrett, 12/3)
Sacramento County had a 45 percent drop in black infant deaths between 2013 and 2016. “We wanted to jump through the ceiling when we saw this,” said consultant Lynne Cannady.
Capital Public Radio/KXJZ:
Black Infant Death Rates Down In Sacramento Following Massive Community Efforts
Government and community leaders have described lowering Sacramento’s African-American child death rates as “moving a mountain.” Seven years after identifying the problem, they’re celebrating a step in the right direction. For more than two decades, black children in Sacramento have died at twice the rate of other racial groups due to perinatal conditions, unsafe sleep, child abuse and homicide, according to data from the county’s child death review team. (Caiola, 12/3)
Black Children Die At A Disproportionate Rate In Sacramento County. Here’s Why That Rate Has Dropped 45 Percent
Sacramento County had a 45 percent drop in black infant deaths between 2013 and 2016, including a 18 percent decrease in black babies born preterm and a 54 percent decrease in black infants dying from sleep-related incidents, according to the most recent county data. Now, about seven black infants die out of every 1,000, compared to the overall rate for other ethnicities of about five out of 1,000. “To see that data up there really tells the story of us really being committed to this work and educating our families,” said Jackie Rose of the Meadowview-based Rose Family Creative Empowerment Center. “They’re getting it, they’re really getting it.” (Yoon-Hendricks, 12/4)
In other public health news —
Medical Detectives: The Last Hope For Families Coping With Rare Diseases
All over the country, specialized strike teams of doctors are giving hope to families who are desperately searching for a diagnosis. The medical sleuths have cracked more than a third of the 382 patient cases they're pursuing, according to a recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. The specialists, scattered across 12 clinics nationwide, form the Undiagnosed Disease Network (UDN). Since the program began in 2014 they've identified 31 previously unknown syndromes. (McClurg, 12/3)
Advocates have been left wondering if there was more that could have been done to save them. With wildfires becoming increasingly frequent and dangerous, many see it as an urgent concern to put plans in place to help the most vulnerable residents.
Many Of The Dead In Camp Fire Were Disabled. Could They Have Been Saved?
An unsettling picture is emerging in the fire-charred hills of Butte County: Many of the at least 85 people who perished in the raging Camp Fire on Nov. 8 were elderly, infirm or disabled. They may not have had the physical strength, presence of mind, or perhaps the desire to save themselves — even as tens of thousands of their neighbors in Paradise and other hill towns fled as flames destroyed the world around them. (Bizjak, Yoon-Hendricks, Reese and Sullivan, 12/4)
Camp Fire Update: Death Toll Down To 85
The death toll in the Camp Fire unexpectedly dropped by three Monday as coroner’s officials in Sacramento corrected a mixup involving human remains. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the death toll has been revised downward to 85 as a result. (Kasler, 12/3)
Kaiser Permanente reported 10 percent of influenza samples tested positive last week for the flu. That’s up from 7 percent positive results just two weeks prior. “It is going up, but it’s creeping up,” said Dr. Dee Lacy, an infectious disease specialist at Kaiser Fresno.
Mild Flu Season So Far In Fresno CA Area But Vaccine Encouraged
It has been a relatively flu-free fall so far, but it’s beginning to look like flu season at hospitals in the central San Joaquin Valley. For the past two weeks, hospitals have reported an increase in influenza, particularly in children. For the past two weeks, hospitals have reported an increase in influenza, particularly in children. (Anderson, 12/3)
The Desert Sun:
Flu Shots Urged In Riverside County As Holiday Travel Season Picks Up
It’s flu season and with one death reported early on in Riverside County, officials are urging everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated. “It’s part of our social responsibility,” said Dr. Alexandra Clark, a pediatrician with Loma Linda University Medical Center. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that anyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year, even if the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season. (Barkas, 12/3)
According to the public notice, only patients at the San Mateo Medical Center’s Daly City facility who were seen Nov. 5 and 6 had their information thrown out instead of destroyed, but the hospital was not able to identify which specific patients had their information recycled.
San Francisco Chronicle:
Data Breach At San Mateo Medical Center: Patient Records Not Shredded
In a public notice posted Friday, hospital administrators said housekeeping staff at the public hospital’s Daly City clinic on Nov. 6 mistakenly recycled a box of medical records instead of shredding them. A hospital staffer had left the box under her desk overnight. According to the public notice, only patients who were seen Nov. 5 and 6 had their information thrown out. (Ho, 12/3)
In other news from across the state —
Ventura County Star:
Community Memorial Hospital Could Open Dec. 16
The new Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura could open a little more than a week before Christmas, officials said. California Department of Public Health inspectors are set to visit the $275 million project in early December. If all goes well, patients from the existing hospital — now called the mountain tower — will move on Dec. 16, into a new 250-bed, six-story facility that took more than seven years to complete. The new hospital is expected to open that same day. (Kisken, 12/3)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
ResMed To Buy Lung Health Company For $225 Million
San Diego’s ResMed, a seller of equipment and software for sleep apnea and related conditions, says it has agreed to buy Propeller Health for $225 million. Madison, Wis.-based Propeller Health provides devices and software for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and asthma. Expected to close by March 30, 2019, the purchase further extends ResMed’s reach from medical hardware into the digital health area. (Fikes, 12/3)
Wawona Packing Company Settlement Car Crash Worker Injured
Wawona Packing Company has agreed to pay one of its former employees $4.5 million to settle a lawsuit over serious injuries he received from a car crash. The employee, Jose Salvador Garza, 53, was on his way to work on May 1, 2017 when his 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix collided with a passenger van at the intersection of Road 96 and Avenue 416, just east of Dinuba. (Rodriguez, 12/3)
The message was delivered in a letter that 46 House freshmen to the Democratic leadership team. Their request for a bipartisan focus on legislation is one of several. Others include holding monthly meetings between top leaders and freshmen and more committee hearings held outside of Washington. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, in a nod to the new power structure in Congress, has begun reaching out to Democrats.
The Associated Press:
Freshmen House Dems Prefer Bills Over Investigations
Forty-six newly elected House Democrats pressed party leaders Monday to focus next year on legislative priorities like health care and infrastructure over investigations of President Donald Trump and his administration. "We must heed the call from our constituents," the group wrote in a letter to their leadership. The letter demonstrates how the huge class of freshman Democrats in the new Congress hopes to use its clout. (12/3)
The Washington Post:
Trump Begins Making Overtures To Democrats Amid Skepticism It Will Lead To Any Deals
President Trump, facing a Congress that will become dramatically more antagonistic toward him in January, has begun courting Democrats who could determine whether his next two years are spent scoring legislative deals or staving off an onslaught of congressional investigations. Trump’s charm offensive was on display Monday when he hosted Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) at the White House for a meeting that the two men had spent days trying to schedule. (Kim and Dawsey, 12/3)
In other news, a "Medicare For All" claim is fact-checked —
The New York Times Fact Check:
The Misleading Claim That $21 Trillion In Misspent Pentagon Funds Could Pay For ‘Medicare For All’
Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat who has become a darling of the progressive left, was quoting from an article in The Nation about “massive accounting fraud” committed by the Pentagon from 1998 to 2015. But her suggestion that the $21 trillion in military transactions could have “already” paid two-thirds the cost of a “Medicare for all” health care system goes beyond what the article reported — and is misleading. For starters, the combined Pentagon budget from 1998 to 2015 was $9.2 trillion. One study by a libertarian economic think tank found that “Medicare for all” legislation by Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, would cost the federal government $32.6 trillion over 10 years. So where did the $21 trillion figure originate? (Qiu, 12/3)
Although the Trump administration is touting the promises, experts say there's nothing new to get excited about. “There are economic incentives for the Chinese to let opioid production flourish and fewer incentives to restrict their economy to cooperate with foreign law enforcement. We will have to wait and see how much the Chinese government cracks down on fentanyl producers," said Jeffrey Higgins, a retired special supervisory agent with the DEA.
The New York Times:
Trump Says China Will Curtail Fentanyl. The U.S. Has Heard That Before.
China vows to stem the supply of the powerful opioid fentanyl flowing into the United States. It pledges to target exports of fentanyl-related substances bound for the United States that are prohibited there, while sharing information with American law-enforcement authorities. Such promises, echoed in the recent meeting between the countries’ presidents, ring familiar. (Wee, 12/3)
In other national health care news —
The New York Times:
‘He Did Not Lead On AIDS’: For Bush, Activists See A Mixed Legacy
The death of George Bush on the eve of World AIDS Day was a painful reminder for some of the most lethal days of the epidemic, when people — predominantly gay and bisexual — were struck down by an illness that few in the White House seemed to lose sleep over. For them, the 41st president was a slow-moving leader whose response to the crisis was hard to separate from his public uneasiness with gay men and lesbians. “If one was being charitable one could say it was a mixed legacy, but in truth it was a bad legacy of leadership,” said Urvashi Vaid, who led the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force from 1989 to 1992. “He did not lead on AIDS.” (Stack, 12/3)
The Washington Post:
Polio-Like Disease In U.S. Kids Appears To Have Peaked For 2018, CDC Says
Federal health officials said Monday that cases of the paralyzing, polio-like illness that was spiking in children in the United States this year appears to have peaked. In 2018, 134 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been confirmed in 33 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 165 cases are under investigation. In a statement, the CDC said officials expect the number of cases to decline for the remainder of the year. Most of the latest confirmed cases occurred in September and October. (Sun, 12/3)
The Associated Press:
Should Social Media Check Be Required To Get A Gun License?
Should authorities be able to deny handgun licenses for hateful tweets? A New York lawmaker is raising the question with a bill that would require police to scrutinize the social media activity and online searches of handgun license applicants, and disqualify those who have published violent or hateful posts. (12/4)
Chinese Scientist Who Claimed Gene-Editing Success Now Missing: Report
The Chinese scientist who claimed to have created the world's first gene-edited babies, He Jiankui, is missing after his former employers denied that he was detained over the weekend, the South China Morning Post reports. A spokeswoman for his former workplace, the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, denied reports that He was being detained. “Right now nobody’s information is accurate, only the official channels are," the spokeswoman told the newspaper, while also declining to elaborate. (Keller, 12/3)
The Wall Street Journal:
A City Solves Veteran Homelessness
Rockford, about 90 miles northwest of Chicago, is one of the first cities to effectively end homelessness among veterans, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Officials consider its programs a model for other cities. Its goal is now to eliminate all homelessness by 2020. Rockford and dozens of other cities accepted a challenge posed by then-First Lady Michelle Obama in June 2014 to end veteran homelessness, creating a network for city officials to brainstorm and share ideas. Since then, some 63 communities and three states have followed Rockford’s lead to be certified as having solved the problem, including bigger cities like Miami, which was certified last summer. Other major metros, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York have also signed on to the challenge. (Snow, 12/4)
Statin Rethink: Who Should Take The Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs?
A study published Monday is pushing back against the notion that up to 40 percent of Americans should be taking statin drugs to reduce the risk of heart disease. The study, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, argues that current medical guidelines haven't adequately considered the risks from these widely used drugs. "Some harms are mentioned, but it's entirely unclear how they were considered when coming up with the recommendations," says Milo Puhan, a physician and epidemiologist at the University of Zurich and senior author of the new study. "In our approach we very explicitly considered the harms." (Harris, 12/3)