Latest From California Healthline:
An Oakland dental clinic has started screening its patients for depression, and referring them to a mental health counselor down the hall for immediate care if necessary. The program at Asian Health Services could be replicated elsewhere, and make help for mental health problems more accessible to hard-to-reach populations. (Ana B. Ibarra, 2/26)
Good morning! Pharma executives are getting hauled in front of Congress today to face some tough questions about the high costs of drugs. They’re expected to point fingers at the rebate system in the corporate version of “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” More on that below, but first here are your top California health stories for the day.
Jurors Presented With Competing Scientific Viewpoints Over Cancer In Roundup Trial: California resident Edwin Hardeman is claiming that weed-killer Roundup caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma in a trial that kicked off on Monday. Unlike in an earlier trial in California state court that resulted in a loss for Monsanto—which owned Roundup at the time—jurors in this trial will first hear evidence solely on whether Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate caused Hardeman’s cancer. Only if jurors side with the plaintiff will they then hear evidence of alleged misconduct by the company. Hardeman’s lawyers say they will prove their case through epidemiology studies of human populations, animal studies and cellular studies. Meanwhile, on the other side, lawyers are arguing that non-Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer and that its causes are often unknown. Read more in The Wall Street Journal.
Low-Income Californians Are Utilizing Free Transportation To Get To Medical Appointments: A new law that went into effect last year requires that enrollees in all Medi-Cal managed-care health plans have access to free transportation. While a good percentage of them already utilized such services, others fell through the cracks. Now, health plans are reporting a sharp uptick in rides, which they attribute partly toward new awareness of the services. The law is expected to have the biggest effect in California’s rural counties, where transportation can be a challenge. Read more from the California Health Report.
Doctor Wants To Train Tens Of Thousands Of First Responders To Help Trauma Patients In Rural Areas: Dr. Dinesh Vyas points to the recent deadly wildfires as an example of how trauma training for rural first responders can be crucial to saving lives. Especially since, the death rates for trauma patients in rural areas is twice that of those in an urban area, and 13 percent of Californians live in a rural setting. “[The training is] not limited to CPR, it’s not limited to just bleeding control, it’s like a full-body management,” Vyas said. “How you keep communication system on and how you build a team.” Read more from Capital Public Radio.
Are You Stressed Out? Do You Live In Sacramento? You’ve Got Company: A study that analyzed social media of the residents of cities across the country found that people who lived in Sacramento beat out major hubs like Chicago and LA in terms of stress. In fact, six of the top-ten stressed out cities were in California. Why that is? It’s not quite clear. Read more in the Sacramento Bee.
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
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More News From Across The State
Newsom-Meter: Expand Homeless Services
Newsom, a Democrat and San Francisco's former mayor, pledged during the campaign to create a comprehensive set of housing and health services to help the state's 130,000 people without a home. PolitiFact California is tracking now-Gov. Newsom's progress, or lack thereof, on this and other promises through our Newsom-Meter. (Nichols, 2/25)
CA Democrats Propose Raising Taxes On Guns, Oil, Water, Soda
It’s a standard California Republican talking point that Democrats want to raise taxes. And it’s true that Golden State Democrats have introduced, or plan to introduce, legislation that would raise or create several new taxes. If there’s one thing the proposals have in common, it’s that they all reflect some facet of the California Democratic Party’s larger environmental and social justice bent. (Sheeler, 2/25)
Residents Grill Elk Grove, University Officials Over Planned Hospital
With backlash growing in Elk Grove over a proposed 13-story hospital, California Northstate University officials sought to allay concerns about transparency and the project’s potential impacts at a heated community forum Friday. The 250-bed hospital at 9700 W. Taron Drive has generated controversy over its size and location, potential traffic impacts, its planned helistop and the potential for job loss, as the construction would require demolishing the Stonelake Landing shopping center. In particular, residents at the meeting, hosted by Elk Grove City Councilman Darren Suen, stressed that the hospital’s development process has lacked transparency. (Kumamoto, 2/26)
Cold Case: Why Did 5 Northern California Men Disappear In 1978?
On Feb. 24, 1978, five mentally disabled men from around the rural outpost of Marysville – a dot on the map 40 miles north of Sacramento – vanished into the night on their way home from a Chico State basketball game. The disappearance of the “boys,” as they were called by family, authorities and in media accounts despite being well into adulthood, captivated and befuddled the region as it spread from a local interest story to international news. (Egel, 2/26)
Yuba County 5: Who Was Gary Mathias, Where Did He Disappear To?
Four “studs” of the Yuba County special needs community – Jack Madruga, Ted Weiher, Jack Huett and Bill Sterling – met their premature end in freezing Plumas National Forest after a 1978 Chico State basketball game. What happened to the fifth member of their party, Gary Mathias, may never be known. Slim with dark hair, a small birthmark on the right side of his chin and double vision when not wearing glasses, Mathias was an outlier among the Missing Five. The others’ intellectual disabilities became clear in their younger years; Sterling had spent most of his childhood in Napa State Hospital (then called Napa Insane Asylum), according to case files with the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office. (Egel, 2/26)
East Bay Times:
Family Sues Concord Nursing Facility, Says Alzheimer’s Patient’s Suffering Was Exacerbated
The family of an elderly man who died at a nursing home here says the facility caused him excessive suffering and sped up his death. Vernon Charles Watters, 73, died Feb. 28, 2018, at San Miguel Villa, a skilled nursing facility. He had been there since August 2014, when he was admitted with an extreme case of Alzheimer’s disease. Watters’ family filed a lawsuit against the facility Feb. 8. It alleges that facility workers kept Watters sedated with powerful anti-psychotic drugs, hid sores on his body and did not ease his pain. (Hurd, 2/25)
Orange County Register:
Laguna Woods Village Condo Board Eases Caregiver Requirements
The Third Mutual board on Tuesday, Feb. 19, unanimously passed a resolution that revised its Care Provider Policy — now titled the ‘Private Caregiver Policy’ — removing hurdles that affected residents dependent upon part-time and long-term, at-home care. Top resident concerns included the necessity of obtaining a physician’s certification when nonmedical service was needed, the cost of obtaining background and fingerprint clearance as well as paperwork requirements unreasonable to emergency circumstances and quickly changing medical needs, according to a Village Management Services staff report. (Becher, 2/25)
The Mercury News:
Santa Cruz County Real Estate Lawyer Sentenced For Leaving Wife In Bed For Two Years
The practicing real estate attorney whose wife languished in bed for two years — left to urinate and defecate on herself — was sentenced for abusing the woman he vowed more than three decades ago to honor in sickness and in health. Robin Douglas Dakan, 79, even in recent weeks told the court he was innocent, that his wife didn’t want to go to the doctor. Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick on Friday sentenced Dakan to two years in state prison. The District Attorney’s Office sought a four-year sentence. Dakan might serve half of the time ordered, authorities said. (Todd, 2/26)
Los Angeles Times:
Local Ocean Water Deemed Safe After Prolonged Rain-Related Bacteria Advisory
Local ocean water is clear and safe again after a long period of intermittent heavy rain brought runoff to area beaches, county health officials said.An advisory that had been in effect since Jan. 31 for all Orange County beaches was lifted Friday. (Sclafani, 2/25)
The Washington Post:
Drug Industry Defense For High Prices: Blame Insurance Companies
A line of defense is emerging for top prescription drug companies whose top executives will be pulled before Congress Tuesday to testify about high prices for medicine: They are not to blame. It’s a corporate version of a “devil made me do it’’ argument. The industry contends it is trapped in a reimbursement system that has become badly distorted, one that rewards companies for jacking up list prices and then offering deep discounts, in the form of rebates, to win favorable treatment by insurance plans. (Rowland, 2/25)
The Wall Street Journal:
Pharmaceutical Industry CEOs Face Senate Hearing On Drug Prices
Members of the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), are expected to question the executives on their pricing practices and how the companies can reduce costs for patients, according to people familiar with the matter. They are also likely to face questions about their strategies to fight off cheaper generic alternatives, according to the people. The hearing could inform bipartisan legislation this year to target high drug prices. Sen. Grassley and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) have introduced bills to legalize personal importation of lower-priced medicines from Canada, and to curtail patent-infringement-litigation settlements in which makers of brand-name drugs pay generic manufacturers to delay competition. (Hopkins and Loftus, 2/25)
Factbox: Pharma Company Executives To Testify At U.S. Senate Drug Price Hearing
Executives from seven of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies are set to testify about high U.S. prescription drug prices at a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday, amid an intensifying focus on the industry's practices by both political parties. Lowering drug prices and healthcare costs for U.S. consumers has been a key focus of President Donald Trump, and rival Democrats are stepping up congressional scrutiny of drug price hikes after gaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives. (2/25)