- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Docs In Northwest Tweak Aid-In-Dying Drugs To Prevent Prolonged Deaths
- A New Diagnosis: ‘Post-Election Stress Disorder’
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- Silicon Valley Startups That Rely On Health Law On Tenterhooks About Their Future
- Public Health and Education 2
- Decrease In Teen Suicide Attempts Linked To Same-Sex Marriage Laws
- Exercise Program Helps Cancer Patients 'Keep Calm And Fight On'
Latest From California Healthline:
Some terminal patients, typically high-dose opioid users, who choose to end their lives have taken many hours, even days, to die. (JoNel Aleccia, 2/21)
Trump opponents — and even some supporters — say the election and tumultuous early days of the new administration have left them anxious, angry and afraid of Facebook. (Jenny Gold, 2/21)
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Summaries Of The News:
Billions of dollars have flowed into startups because of the health law, but now Republicans' plans to dismantle the legislation could send devastating ripples through the industry.
The Washington Post:
Obamacare Launched A New Wave Of Start-Ups. Now They’re Bracing For What’s Next.
Four years ago, Noah Lang saw an opportunity in Obamacare. With an eye toward the millions of people set to purchase health insurance on their own for the first time, the 29-year-old Silicon Valley entrepreneur founded a start-up, Stride Health, that helps them compare and choose between plans — and do it all from a smartphone. Steadily and without fanfare, the Affordable Care Act has created a boom in Silicon Valley. (Dwoskin, 2/20)
In other health law news —
San Francisco Chronicle:
State Fears Trump Will Topple Health Care Gains Under Obamacare
For much of the three years since the Affordable Care Act took hold in California, the Golden State has been largely insulated from the most drastic problems of the health care law that plague other states. It enjoys more robust competition among health insurers and has managed to keep premium hikes lower than in most states. But now the Trump administration and congressional Republicans are chipping away at the health law. And so California, often heralded as a model state for the implementation of President Barack Obama’s signature health law, is bracing for what many call “Trumpcare” — a repeal or replacement that threatens to upend the historic progress the state is making in getting most of its residents insured. (Ho, 2/21)
Capital Public Radio:
At Matsui Health Care Town Hall, A Lot Of Preaching To The Choir
With Congress on recess this week, voters who support or oppose President Trump have the chance to get some face time with their local representatives. Sacramento Democrat Doris Matsui held a town hall meeting on health care Monday. The crowd at Sutter Middle School in East Sacramento was largely liberal, supportive – and white, which was noteworthy for a congressional district as diverse as Matsui’s. (Adler, 2/20)
Orphan drugs are helping patients who otherwise would be facing a lifetime of suffering, but their price tags can be astronomical.
Orphan Drugs Offer Hope For Treating Rare Diseases, Despite High Price Tags
At Sutter Children’s Center in Sacramento this week, the 7-year-old was given an injection of Spinraza, the first drug approved in the U.S. to treat spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA. ... With Spinraza, each thumb-sized 5-milliliter vial – about a teaspoon’s worth – costs $125,000. The recommended dosage is four “loading” injections within about two months, followed by maintenance shots every four months for life. For families such as the Goepperts, that price tag is staggering: roughly half a million dollars just for the initial series of Spinraza shots and $375,000 a year thereafter. (Buck, 2/20)
Related California Healthline coverage: The Orphan Drug Machine
In the year following any state’s adoption of marriage equality, rates of attempted suicide among such high schoolers in that state fell 14% below that group’s rate of suicide attempts in states that had not changed their policies on gay marriage.
Los Angeles Times:
Same-Sex Marriage Laws Helped Reduce Suicide Attempts By Gay, Lesbian And Bisexual Teens, Study Says
More specifically, in a 16-year period during which changes in state marriage laws were sweeping the nation, states that adopted laws allowing same-sex marriage saw an immediate decline in suicide attempts by gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students — a group in which attempted suicide is two to seven times more common than among their heterosexual peers. (Healy, 2/21)
The Triumph Cancer Foundation’s exercise program, now offered at California Family Fitness, hopes to give cancer survivors a road back to health and lowers their risk of recurrence.
Triumph Cancer Foundation Brings Cancer Survivor Classes To California Family Fitness
Dina Moerschbacher sported bright pink knee socks at California Family Fitness, their “keep calm and fight on” slogan visible as she climbed on and off a stack of plastic aerobic steps. Friends gave her the socks while she was undergoing breast cancer treatment last year, she said, and her recovery exercise class seemed the perfect place to show them off. (Caiola, 2/20)
“Public health people want to know the community and know how to get to different target populations,” said Professor Sarah Baron, the leading faculty member running the program at Bakersfield College. “That’s a big tenet of public health. It has to be local.”
The Bakersfield Californian:
BC Rolls Out Public Health Degree To Train 'Change Agents'
Responding to a dearth of homegrown public health specialists and an expanding lack of community literacy in health issues, Bakersfield College launched a Public Health Sciences transfer degree this year with plans to add a certificate program within months. The degree, which was approved this month and is the first of its kind in the southern San Joaquin Valley, provides a pathway for students to transfer from BC to a four-year college and receive a bachelor's degree in a public health field. (Pierce, 2/18)
In other health news from across the state —
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Santa Rosa Schools Offer Kids Dental Screenings, Thanks To Pilot Program
Friday’s screenings at Brook Hill were part of a school-based pilot program aimed at improving the dental health of students before they enter school. About 60 kindergarten and pre-K kids were screened during the two-hour dental health assessment effort, which was organized by Sonoma County health and Santa Rosa school officials. It was the second day of screenings in the program, which is made possible through volunteer efforts of dental professionals like [Gina] Fontana as well as a $20,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente. The traveling pilot program, which began last week at Steele Lane Elementary School, will be held at Luther Burbank Elementary School on Feb. 24. (Espinoza, 2/17)
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl Thinks LA County Should Think About Pot Like It Does Alcohol
Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl thinks that marijuana should be treated like alcohol. That's an important thing to know, because she's the one leading the charge on how L.A. County is going to regulate cannabis. Even though pot's legal in California, the state, cities and counties are still deciding how they should treat the drug. L.A. County is in a unique position, given that it's the most populous county in the United States. That makes it the largest county with legal weed. (Margolis, 2/16)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
With Eye On Economy, Services, Sonoma County Becoming More Senior-Friendly
Sonoma County officials and advocates for seniors are doubling down on ways to make the county a better place for older residents to live and thrive. The Board of Supervisors has declared 2017 the “Year of the Senior,” marking a concerted effort to improve services for the county’s aging population while also tapping into the economic potential of older residents, a demographic largely overlooked for too long, advocates say. ... Sonoma County has an estimated 125,000 residents over the age of 60, representing some 25 percent of the area’s population, according to Diane Kaljian, an assistant director of the county’s Human Services department. That figure exceeds both the state and national averages, and is expected to grow to about 28 percent by 2025, Kaljian said. (Morris, 2/20)
Capital Public Radio:
During The Oroville Evacuation, Some Senior Citizens Were Not Evacuated
The Oroville evacuation order went out to 180,000 people last Sunday. But some nursing home and hospital patients in Sutter County didn't go anywhere. Sutter County has a list of assisted living facilities and hospitals that require help moving patients to pre-designated facilities during an emergency. When Sutter County issued its evacuation order, Nancy O'Hara, director of Sutter County's Health and Human Services Department, began calling the facilities on that list. Some of those facilities chose not to evacuate even though she encouraged them to do so. (Moffitt, 2/20)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he does not expect any cooperation from Democrats as Congress works toward dismantling and replacing the health law. Meanwhile, The Associated Press breaks down what's in the Republicans' plans, and the intra-party divide on the right continues to grow.
The Associated Press:
McConnell Intends To Replace 'Obamacare' Without Democrats
Republicans will repeal and replace the health care law and overhaul the tax code without Democratic help or votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday. "It's clear that in the early months it's going to be a Republicans-only exercise," the Kentucky senator said at a news conference before lawmakers left for a weeklong President's Day recess. "We don't expect any Democratic cooperation on the replacement of Obamacare, we don't expect any Democratic cooperation on tax reform." (Werner, 2/17)
The Associated Press:
GOP Health Plan: Lower Costs, Better Care, Or Road To Ruin?
Top House Republicans say their outline for replacing President Barack Obama's health care law is a pathway to greater flexibility and lower costs for consumers. Democrats see a road to ruin for millions who'd face lost coverage and higher medical expenses, particularly the poor. The plan "ensures more choices, lower costs and greater control over your health care," according to talking points GOP leaders handed lawmakers heading home to face constituents during this week's recess. (Fram, 2/20)
GOP Anxiety Rises As Conservatives And Moderates Split On ACA Repeal
Divisions sharpened last week between hard-right and more pragmatic Republicans over both policy and strategy for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Those differences—along with the apparently slow progress in drafting actual legislation that could be scored by the Congressional Budget Office on cost and coverage impact—underscore the tough struggle Republicans face in dismantling Obamacare and establishing an alternative system. (Meyer, 2/18)
In other national health care news —
The Wall Street Journal:
Insurers Voice Concern Over House GOP’s Outline For Health Law Repeal
The new House Republican plan, whose backers include House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), is far from a complete bill, and the limited summary highlighted many GOP divisions over the health overhaul’s future. President Donald Trump has promised to deliver an initial ACA replacement plan next month. Still, insures saw the House document as a key signal and parsed it closely. Many were concerned that they found no answers to some of their most important questions—and some of what they did find was alarming. For instance, insurers said, the outline promised to immediately end enforcement of the ACA’s coverage mandate but appeared to offer no replacement mechanism that would prod healthy consumers to purchase plans. (Wilde Mathews, 2/17)
The New York Times:
With Coverage In Peril And Obama Gone, Health Law’s Critics Go Quiet
For seven years, few issues have animated conservative voters as much as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. But with President Barack Obama out of office, the debate over “Obamacare” is becoming less about “Obama” and more about “care” — greatly complicating the issue for Republican lawmakers. (Martin, 2/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
Alzheimer’s: Pharma’s Great White Whale Is Still Worth Hunting
Alzheimer’s disease is both the largest unmet medical need in the U.S. and the most frustrating challenge for the drug industry. Don’t expect pharma companies to get discouraged anytime soon. Last week marked the latest failed trial of an experimental Alzheimer’s disease treatment when Merck & Co. announced results for verubecestat. Eli Lilly’s solanezumab flunked a clinical trial last November, the third failed late-stage trial for the drug. (Grant, 2/20)