- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Will Healthcare.gov Get A California Makeover?
- State’s Medi-Cal Bill For Undocumented Kids Could Rise
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- California One Of Eight States To See Significant Decrease In Uninsured
- Marketplace 2
- After Allegations Of Improper Insurance Sales Practices, Zenefits CEO Resigns
- Dignity, GoHealth To Open Northern California Urgent Care Centers In Joint Venture
- Public Health and Education 2
- Physician Weighs In On Controversial CDC Recommendations Regarding Women And Alcohol
- Researchers: 'There's No Silver Bullet' To Eliminating Mosquitoes, But Progress Can Be Made
- Around California 2
- Legal System Impacted By New Medical Understanding Of 'Shaken Baby Syndrome'
- In Surprise Move, Santa Clara Officials May Renew Ambulance Contract
Latest From California Healthline:
Feds propose taking a page out of Covered California’s book and moving to a simplified health insurance marketplace. (Pauline Bartolone, CALMatters, 2/9)
Officials in Sacramento may have undercounted the number of kids who will be newly eligible for full Medi-Cal coverage starting in May — and that means their care could cost the state more than it has estimated. (David Gorn, 2/9)
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More News From Across The State
Gov. Jerry Brown has been working with insurers for months to establish a proposal, and a spokeswoman for the governor says the legislature's bill “reflects the administration’s proposal.”
The Associated Press:
Lawmakers Unveil California Health Plan Tax Proposal
The California Legislature on Monday unveiled a bill imposing a new tax on health insurance plans that would prevent a massive $1.1 billion hole in the state budget. The tax is designed to allow California to continue receiving matching funds from the federal government to pay for health insurance for the poor. It would replace a tax that applied only to Medi-Cal managed care organizations, which the federal government said it would not renew. (2/9)
The eight states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and New York — with statistically significant coverage gains in the National Health Interview Survey represent a political grab bag.
The Associated Press:
Gov't Report: Drop In Uninsured In 8 States
Eight states, [including California,] saw a significant drop last year in the number of residents going without health insurance, according to a government report out Tuesday that has implications for the presidential campaign. All but Florida had accepted a Medicaid expansion that is one of two major pathways to coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law. The law's other coverage route is subsidized private insurance, available in all 50 states. (2/9)
The head of the digital health startup came under fire after a series of investigations found the company may have not complied with some regulations on insurance sales.
The New York Times:
Zenefits, In A Shake-Up, Appoints New C.E.O., Replacing Parker Conrad
Zenefits, a fast-growing San Francisco start-up that has attempted to shake up the health insurance brokerage industry, said on Monday that Parker Conrad, its co-founder and chief executive, had resigned from the company and from its board of directors. Mr. Conrad was replaced by David Sacks, who joined Zenefits a year ago as its chief operating officer. Mr. Sacks previously had led his own start-up, Yammer, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2012. Mr. Conrad’s recent tenure was rocked by lapses in complying with health insurance regulations in several of Zenefits’ markets. (Manjoo, 2/8)
The San Francisco Business Times:
Scandal Fallout: CEO Parker Conrad Resigns At Zenefits
Parker Conrad, CEO and co-founder of once high-flying Zenefits, has resigned amid a scandal involving allegations that employees sold insurance without holding proper licenses to do so. (Rauber, 2/8)
The joint company in California will be equally owned by urgent-care developer GoHealth and Dignity. The fragmented urgent-care market is drawing significant attention from providers and investors. In other news, bond measures to pay for hospitals that will hold up in earthquakes go on the ballot.
Private-Equity Backed Urgent Care Developer Taps Dignity Health For California Expansion
The private-equity backed urgent-care developer GoHealth Urgent Care will enter California in a joint venture with Dignity Health. Atlanta-based GoHealth and Dignity, a health system headquartered in San Francisco, plan to develop a dozen urgent-care centers together in Northern California. GoHealth, backed by global investment firm TPG, has struck similar deals with Portland, Ore.-based Legacy Health and Northwell Health, the system formerly known as North Shore-LIJ Health System, based in Great Neck, N.Y. (Evans, 2/9)
The Fresno Bee:
For New Hospitals, Tulare, Visalia Look To Bond Measures
Two South Valley health care districts are putting bond measures on the ballot to pay for hospitals that will hold up in earthquakes. In Visalia, the Kaweah Delta Health Care District Board of Trustees approved a $375 million bond measure to be voted on May 3 via mail-in ballot. (Griswold, 2/8)
The San Francisco primary care medical group will buy the coaching platform that aims to help consumers lose weight, managing health conditions or find healthy food options. In other health IT news, a team in Sonoma County has developed an implant to relieve chronic back pain.
The San Francisco Business Times:
One Medical Group Buys San Francisco Nutrition Coaching App For $20M
One Medical Group, the tech-savvy San Francisco primary care medical group that grabbed $65 million in funding late last year, is spending a reported $20 million to acquire Rise, a small health and nutrition platform also based here. (Rauber, 2/8)
The Press Democrat:
New Tool To Fight Chronic Back Pain Deployed in Sonoma County
Chronic back pain is a stubborn problem for many Americans, but technology is opening the door to a new drug-free form of treatment in Sonoma County. Local pain management specialists have teamed up with Sutter Health’s surgery center in Santa Rosa to offer a new device that uses electrical pulses to block pain signals from traveling up the spinal cord. (Espinoza, 2/8)
Dr. Ralph Steiger, a physician at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs who works with high-risk pregnancies, says part of the reason for the advice that women of childbearing age should not drink alcohol at all unless using birth control is to protect the fetuses' heart development. In other public health news, a federal task force issues recommendations on screening for depression in adolescents.
The Desert Sun:
Is One Glass Of Wine Too Much? Local Physician On CDC Rules
This month the [Centers] for Disease Control and Prevention came out with new recommendations telling women of childbearing age that unless they're using birth control, they shouldn't drink. Essentially the CDC is saying that if you're planning to get pregnant or not taking steps to prevent a pregnancy you should completely abstain from alcohol. (Newkirk, 2/8)
The Los Angeles Times:
Adolescents Should Be Screened For Depression Too, Federal Panel Says
Amid evidence that fewer than half of depressed adolescents get treatment for their emotional distress, a federal task force has recommended that physicians routinely screen children between 12 and 18 for depression and have systems in place either to diagnose, treat and monitor those who screen positive or to refer them to specialists who can. (Healy, 2/8)
As the Zika virus spreads, scientists are looking for ways to wipe out the species that carry life-threatening diseases, but the solution isn't a simple one. In other news, California doctors find it hard to offer advice to pregnant women as they themselves receive ever-changing information about the virus.
Los Angeles Times:
Fighting Mosquitoes With Mosquitoes: Biological Weapons Target Zika Virus
No other animal has done so much harm to the human race. Each year, [mosquitoes] infect millions of people with malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and other viruses and parasites, killing at least 600,000, the vast majority of them children in Africa. The World Bank estimates that they cost afflicted African countries 1.3% of gross domestic product each year. Which raises the question: Why not try to wipe mosquitoes off the planet? (Dixon, 2/8)
Los Angeles Times:
Zika Virus Raises More Questions Than Answers For Pregnant Women
As public health officials and epidemiologists race to understand the Zika virus, doctors in the United States are struggling to counsel patients and ease their fears amid a flood of constantly changing information. Experts say pregnant women in the United States who haven't traveled to countries with outbreaks have no risk of being infected. But with a rapid stream of new information about how the illness is transmitted, new worries keep emerging among pregnant women. "You can't reassure them," said Dr. Kathleen Berkowitz, an obstetrician who practices in Los Angeles and Orange counties. (Karlamangla, 2/9)
Meanwhile, the president is asking for emergency funding to combat the virus —
The Associated Press:
Obama Asking Congress For Emergency Funding To Combat Zika
President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it here and abroad, but says "there shouldn't be a panic on this." The virus is spreading rapidly through Latin America. While most people experience either mild or no symptoms, Zika is suspected of causing a devastating birth defect — babies born with abnormally small heads — and pregnant Americans are urged to avoid travel to affected areas. U.S. health officials say the money is critical for research into the birth defect known as microcephaly. (2/8)
A pending appeal by a former San Diego daycare owner, jailed for 17 years after an infant died at her center, is at the forefront of new legal challenges. In other court news, two federal agencies back a Palo Alto family's cystic fibrosis-related lawsuit. And Oxnard will pay out $2.9 million to the family of a man who died in custody after he swallowed methamphetamines.
California 'Shaken Baby' Case In Vanguard Of New Legal Challenges
After 17 years in prison for an infant's death at her San Diego daycare center, Suzanne Johnson is in the forefront of legal challenges to "shaken baby syndrome" as courts catch up with medical advances in understanding the mechanisms of childhood brain trauma. A judge last month agreed Johnson deserved to be considered for a new trial in a case that hinged on the syndrome, a 1970s-era forensic diagnosis long accepted as sufficient to convict caretakers accused of harming and even killing babies. (Gorman, 2/9)
The San Jose Mercury News:
Palo Alto: Feds Back Student Transferred For Having Cystic Fibrosis Gene
A Palo Alto student who was temporarily moved to another school because he carries a genetic marker for cystic fibrosis will be backed by two federal agencies in his lawsuit against the school district for alleged discrimination and privacy violations. (Lee, 2/9)
The Ventura County Star:
Oxnard Agrees To Pay $2.9M To Family Of Man Who Died In Police Custody
Oxnard has agreed to pay $2.9 million to the family of a man who died in 2012 as police restrained him after he had swallowed a large amount of methamphetamine. In a negotiated settlement, the city will also pay the family of Robert Ramirez $1.03 million in attorney's fees and costs, Interim City Attorney Stephen Fischer said Monday. (Harris, 2/8)
Some in the county, concerned by the company's past financial troubles urge restraint and caution when deciding who to go with for their medical response services.
The San Jose Mercury News:
Santa Clara County To Consider Renewing Ambulance Contract For Three Years
Santa Clara County officials on Tuesday will consider a three-year contract extension with an ambulance company that has a history of financial woes -- a move that took some observers by surprise. Rural/Metro offered a lowball bid five years ago that turned out to be too good to be true -- the company was soon losing money hand over fist and the contract had to be rejiggered just to keep services afloat. But the new contract now contains significant tweaks worth millions of dollars. (Kurhi, 2/8)
Although much of the president's budget includes proposals -- like Medicaid expansion -- that are dead on arrival in the Republican Congress, ideas such as funding cancer research and opioid treatment could garner bipartisan support in a rancorous election year.
The Washington Post:
Budget Breakdown: What The White House Wants To Spend Money On
President Obama released the final budget proposal of his presidency Tuesday, a $4.15 trillion tax and spending plan that would boost federal government spending by just under 5 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the sprawling Health and Human Services Department, is seeking funding boosts for some of the Obama administration’s top priorities. These include an additional $40 million to prevent, detect and control illness and death related to infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria; $10 million more to protect against domestic and global health threats; and $10 million more as part of a government-wide program to prevent drug overdoses. The agency is also seeking $15 million in new funding to improve health and wellness for Native Americans and $30 million in mandatory funding for suicide prevention. The latter is part of the administration’s proposal to boost federal mental health spending by $500 million over two years to improve access to care and prevent suicides. ... Spending for the Health and Human Services Department’s discretionary programs would decrease slightly, to $82.8 billion, down $1 billion from the president’s budget proposal a year ago. (Sun and Goldstein, 2/9)
The New York Times:
Obama’s Last Budget, And Last Budget Battle With Congress
President Obama on Tuesday sent his final annual budget proposal to a hostile Republican-led Congress, seeking $19 billion for a broad new cybersecurity initiative and rejecting the lame-duck label as he declared that his plan “is about looking forward.” The budget for fiscal year 2017, which starts Oct. 1, would top $4 trillion, although only about one-quarter of that is the so-called discretionary spending for domestic and military programs that the president and Congress dicker over each year. The rest is for mandatory spending, chiefly interest on the federal debt and the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits that are expanding as the population ages. (Calmes, 2/9)
Obama Seeks Tax Hikes On Banks, The Wealthy To Pay For Budget
President Barack Obama’s final budget proposal is a clarion call for Democratic progressivism — a $4 trillion spending blueprint that would pour billions into clean energy, education and Medicaid, and pay for it by raising taxes on big banks and the wealthy. ... The budget boosts spending for Obamacare Medicaid expansion by $2.6 billion over a decade, designed to be an enticement to the 19 holdout states that have yet to take part.
Corporate Winners Of Obama Budget Still Face Long Odds
Ipsita Smolinski, managing director at healthcare research consulting firm Capitol Street, said it was doubtful the Republican Congress would approve Obama's plan to aid the 19 state governments that passed up an earlier offer to expand the Medicaid program for low-income Americans. Such a plan, she said, would benefit hospital companies including Tenet Healthcare and HCA Holdings and Medicaid insurers such as Centene and Molina Healthcare. More palatable to Congress could be Obama's push for $755 million to jumpstart cancer research. But that level of investment without being more targeted may not benefit any specific firms, given that so many drug and biotech companies are invested in developing cancer therapies. (Krauskopf, 2/8)