- California Healthline Original Stories 4
- One GOP Plan Says States That Like Their Obamacare Can Keep It
- Trump’s HHS Choice: First A Letter To Medicare. Then A Campaign Contribution
- What’s Next In Reproductive Health Care?
- Medical Debtors Most Likely To Be Hounded By Collection Agencies
- Pharmaceuticals 2
- In Era Of Tight Medical Regulation, Should Patients Use Cheap Hacks For EpiPens?
- First-Ever Cannabis Czar Working To Set Up Regulatory Framework For Legalized Marijuana
- Public Health and Education 2
- State HIV Program In Disarray After Operator Shift, Advocacy Groups Say
- Officials Crack Down On Those Involved Fatal Overdoses As Opioid Crisis Grips State
Latest From California Healthline:
California and other states could continue to cover people under the ACA or create new approaches, according to a bill introduced Monday. Many Democrats fear such state options won’t draw enough federal funding and will fragment coverage nationwide. (Chad Terhune and Pauline Bartolone, 1/24)
Rep. Tom Price, up for running HHS under President Trump, helped a company that became a top campaign donor, records show. (Christina Jewett and Marisa Taylor, 1/23)
A Kaiser Health News correspondent discusses the GOP’s transformative plans, including the push to defund Planned Parenthood, with California reproductive rights advocates. (1/24)
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports in a new study that 59 percent of people contacted by a debt collector had outstanding medical bills. (Michelle Andrews, 1/24)
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Summaries Of The News:
Michael Laufer, a math professor at Menlo College in Atherton, Calif., figured out how to make a $35 auto-injector to mimic the EpiPen. But is it really safe to use?
Was The EpiPen Hack Ethical?
Should we be free, as individuals, to make and take our own medicine at home? Who’s responsible if we get hurt or die? Do we have to right to do what we wish with our bodies in the interests of survival, healing and self-care? For years, such questions have been at the heart of public health debates over euthanasia – the right to die – and even drug addiction. They also lie at the center of the infamous Mylan EpiPen pricing scandal that began last fall when Heather Bresch, CEO OF Mylan, was hauled into Senate hearings to explain the company’s 548 percent price hike for a simple device that injects a lifesaving anti-allergy hormone, FDA-approved epinephrine — and her commensurate $18 million salary. (d'Adesky, 1/23)
In other pharmaceutical news —
Lori Ajax talks with KPBS about the busy year ahead.
California's Pot Czar Discusses Marijuana Regulations
California's first-ever cannabis czar has nearly a year to come up with a plan to regulate the marijuana industry in the state. Lori Ajax is the chief of California's Bureau of Marijuana Control, formerly the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. The agency is charged with licensing cannabis farmers, product manufacturers, testing labs, distributors and retailers. Those regulations need to be in place by Jan. 1, 2018. (Cabrera and Cavanaugh, 1/23)
Following a switch to out-of-state operators to run the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, patients say their reimbursement claims have been repeatedly rejected, while caseworkers say enrolling patients is taking three or four times longer than it used to.
San Francisco Chronicle:
HIV Patients Call Drug Program Fractured After Shift In Operators
A state program that helps people pay for expensive, lifesaving HIV drugs is in disarray after the Oakland company that managed it for nearly 20 years was replaced by three out-of-state operators, say patients and AIDS advocacy groups. So far, the transition between contractors, which occurred last summer, has mostly proved stressful and time-consuming for patients and their caseworkers. But advocacy groups worry that patients could be delayed in obtaining HIV medications they rely on to stay healthy, which would be problematic not only for them but for programs designed to control spread of the virus. (Allday, 1/23)
Prosecutors say having law enforcement investigate such crimes as homicides has made a significant difference in securing convictions.
Ventura County Star:
Authorities Extend Reach In Drug Deaths
As fatal overdoses linked to heroin and other drugs climb throughout the country, local authorities say they are continuing efforts to arrest and charge suspects allegedly involved "up and down the chain." While the pursuit to charge people connected to overdose deaths is nothing new, changing attitudes in law enforcement to investigate such crimes as homicides has made a significant difference in securing convictions, prosecutors said. Local defense attorneys and public defenders, however, said fatal overdoses should be viewed as a public health crisis and not an opportunity to extend more serious criminal allegations. (Hernandez, 1/23)
In other public health news —
Los Angeles Times:
Addicted To Facebook? Your Genes May Be To Blame
In a paper published Monday in PLOS One, researchers explain that genetic influences have already been shown to play a role in nearly all psychological traits. Therefore it makes sense that our genes are also influencing how much time we spend on our computers. (Netburn, 1/23)
Program Focuses On Tracking Air Pollution At US-Mexico Border
The California Department of Health says asthma afflicts more than 400,000 San Diego County residents. That’s more than one in 10 people, and the rates are higher in congested urban neighborhoods like San Ysidro. “The doctors told us if we could get it under control now, it wouldn’t be a permanent condition. And that’s when we really wanted to see what can we do to help control it,” Rudy Lopez said. Exposure to smoking and air pollution are two primary causes of asthma. (Anderson, 1/23)
LA County Measles Outbreak Said To Spread Among Jewish Day Schools
The measles outbreak that has sickened 20 people in Southern California started circulating in the Jewish community and struck at least two Jewish day schools in Los Angeles County, according to the head of a Jewish health care organization. Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, interim health officer for the L.A. County Department of Public Health, would only say that most of those who got sick are teenagers or young adults from one social group living in L.A. County's 3rd supervisorial district, which stretches from the ocean to Los Feliz and from Venice to San Fernando. (Plevin, 1/23)
First Person: Encinitas Woman Uses Tibetan Bowls To Heal Others
Encinitas resident Diáne Mandle uses sound to help others reduce their pain and stress. She is a sound healer and creates percussive sounds by playing Tibetan bowls. The bowls are made out of a seven-metal alloy: gold, silver, mercury, tin, lead, copper and iron. (Burke, 1/23)
The San Francisco-based Nuna just nabbed $90 million in funding for the tool.
San Francisco Business Times:
SF Startup Nuna Raised $90M For Its Medicaid Data Platform
San Francisco-based Nuna came out of stealth last week, raising more than $90 million in funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The startup has built a cloud database with information on 74 million Medicaid patients in the U.S. Nuna built its data platform based on technology from Amazon Web Services, to work with employers, health plans and Medicare and Medicaid centers to provide and analyze health information faster and at scale. (Siu, 1/23)
Their efforts were part of the White House Healthy Campus Challenge.
The Bakersfield Californian:
Local Students Awarded For Obamacare Enrollments Days Before Trump Lays Siege To Law
The White House awarded two local college students for their work signing up young people for the Affordable Care Act just days before House Republicans, led by President Trump, took initial steps toward gutting the healthcare law. Those students, Alexa Rivera and Vincente Lopez, visited on behalf of Bakersfield College, which, along with about 60 other colleges, took part in the White House Healthy Campus Challenge. That challenge asked campus leaders to encourage young people to sign up for health insurance, noting the high number of youths who have not yet enrolled. (Pierce, 1/23)
Questions are expected to focus on the future of the health law as well as the congressman's past industry dealings. Ethics experts have said that HHS nominee Tom Price has shows "an extraordinary lack of good judgment" when it comes to his campaign and legislative actions.
The Associated Press:
Trump's Pick For Health Secretary Faces New Senate Hearing
A second Senate committee is ready to interrogate President Donald Trump's pick for health secretary, a nominee who's backed by Republicans but under fire from Democrats for his support for tearing down President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and his past stock trades. (Fram and Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/24)
In other national health care news —
Republican Senators Appeal To Trump, Democrats In Obamacare Bill
Seeking to bridge the Obamacare divide between Democrats and President Donald Trump, four Republican senators led by Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine offered a plan Monday to replace the health-care law. The quartet’s proposal could be crucial in the Senate, which Republicans control 52-48. Republicans can’t pass anything without Cassidy, Collins and their co-sponsors Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. A full replacement would need 60 votes, requiring help from Democrats. Republicans have said for years that they want to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. At a news conference at the Capitol, Cassidy said the group’s plan is designed to do everything Trump has said he wants. (Dennis, 1/23)
The Associated Press:
Trump Can Do Plenty On His Own To Unravel Obama Health Law
President Donald Trump can do plenty on his own to unravel the Obama health care law, but some of those actions would create disruptions that undermine his administration's early promises. Other less sweeping steps could open the way for big changes, but might not get as much notice. Suspending enforcement of tax penalties on people who remain uninsured would win Trump immediate cheers from the political right for taking down a widely unpopular requirement. But experts say it would destabilize insurance markets by allowing healthy people to opt out, raising costs for taxpayers and remaining consumers. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/23)
The Washington Post:
The Rush To Get Millennials Health Insurance Before The Possible Repeal Of Obamacare
The outreach workers joined the line at a Michael “Air” Jordan shoe launch. They went to Denny’s after the District’s clubs had closed. They hung out at happy hours with $4 drinks and $7 bar food, laundromats, gyms, and Sunday brunches. This month, as Republicans in Congress moved to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and President Trump signed an executive order weakening its provisions, D.C. health insurance exchange officials were rushing to sign up millennials before the open enrollment period ends Jan. 31. (Brown, 1/23)
The New York Times:
Trump Revives Ban On Foreign Aid To Groups That Give Abortion Counseling
President Trump reinstated a policy on Monday that originated in the Reagan era, prohibiting the granting of American foreign aid to health providers abroad who discuss abortion as a family-planning option. United States law already prohibits the use of American taxpayer dollars for abortion services anywhere, including in countries where the procedure is legal. But Mr. Trump’s order takes the prohibition further: It freezes funding to nongovernmental organizations in poor countries if they offer abortion counseling or if they advocate the right to seek abortion in their countries. (Sengupta, 1/23)
The Associated Press:
Federal Judge Swats Aetna-Humana Insurer Combo
U.S. District Judge John Bates said in an opinion filed Monday that federal regulation would probably be "insufficient to prevent the merged firm from raising prices or reducing benefits," and neither new competitors nor an Aetna plan to sell some of the combined company's business to another insurer, Molina Healthcare Inc., would be enough to ease competitive concerns. (Murphy, 1/23)
The Washington Post:
To Fight Their Negative Image On Prices, Drug Companies Launch A Major Ad Campaign That Doesn’t Mention Them
Just two weeks after President Trump said the pharmaceutical industry is “getting away with murder” on drug prices, the industry's major lobbying group launched its largest-ever ad campaign aimed at rebranding drug companies' image — without even mentioning the topic. Instead of drug prices — which have been the subject of multiple congressional hearings, an issue debated in the presidential campaign and a top concern of consumers — the first television ad focuses on science, patients and the heroism of researchers. (Johnson, 1/23)
The Washington Post:
CDC Abruptly Cancels Long-Planned Conference On Climate Change And Health
With little warning or explanation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently canceled a major climate change conference that had been scheduled for next month in Atlanta. The Climate and Health Summit, which had been in the works for months, was intended as a chance for public health officials around the country to learn more about the mounting evidence of the risks to human health posed by the changing climate. But CDC officials abruptly canceled the conference before President Trump’s inauguration, sending a terse email on Jan. 9 to those who had been scheduled to speak at the event. The message did not explain the reason behind the decision. (Dennis, 1/23)