- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Offering Syringes Along With Prayers, Churches Help IV Drug Users
- Public Health and Education 3
- Police Treat More Of San Francisco's Mental Health Crises
- One Measles Case Touches Ventura, Los Angeles And Santa Barbara Counties
- Key Southern California Air Quality Board Likely To Change Political Focus
Latest From California Healthline:
Some churches and other faith-based organizations are offering clean syringes to IV drug users, while still others are voicing their support for comprehensive treatment, testing and education programs that also help stem transmission of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. (Taylor Sisk, 1/3)
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More News From Across The State
Meanwhile, news outlets also examine California laws that are now taking effect.
Trump Presidency Puts California Legislature In Defense Mode
As California lawmakers return to Sacramento on Wednesday, liberal dreams of expanding safety-net benefits and providing health coverage to immigrants are giving way to a new vision revolving around a feverish push to protect gains racked up in the past. (Cooper, 1/2)
Orange County Register:
New State Laws Could Help Some Workers Catch A Few Breaks
Historically, nannies, home health care aides and other domestic workers were ineligible for overtime. But a 2013 law temporarily granted them standard workplace rights. It was set to expire in 2017. Now a new law, the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, makes the right to overtime permanent. (Roosevelt, 1/1)
Will California’s New 'Right To Try' Law Empower Or Exploit Patients?
Proponents of the “Right to Try” movement had contended that doctors could be hesitant to help such patients because of the risk of using drugs or devices that haven’t passed FDA tests for safety and effectiveness. The new law makes it clear that California doctors can proceed without fear of censure from the state’s medical board. (Feibel, 1/2)
The Covered California customers still need to give officials authority to verify their incomes. Also, a look at how communities with affordable housing sometimes don't meet needs of pregnant women.
Ventura County Star:
Insurance Subsidies At Risk For Nearly 10K
Covered California officials said Thursday they're scrambling to reach nearly 10,000 people across the state who will lose their health insurance subsidies unless they give an OK to have their income verified. The issue revolves around 24,000 people who didn't provide the consent that enables them to receive the income-based subsidies that can reduce premiums of a 55-year-old single man in Ventura with an income of $35,000 by more than $400 a month, according to Covered California estimates. (Kisken, 12/29)
San Francisco Chronicle/CAL Matters:
How California Limits Affordable Care Options For Pregnant Women
Affordable homes with ample lots lure many families to the San Bernardino County town of Apple Valley in the Mojave Desert. But amenities are limited — no department stores, no Costco and, more important, few affordable medical care options for pregnant women. For Cassandra Lindstrom, that meant scheduling the birth of her second baby at a hospital at least an hour away over busy Cajon Pass. “I was worried that I wouldn’t make it in time and (would) give birth on the freeway,” she said. (Canto, 1/1)
The showdown over repealing and replacing the federal health law is set to begin Tuesday as new lawmakers are seated. News outlets look at how a repeal might shake out and how Democrats are planning to counter-punch in a bid to keep parts of the law intact.
Los Angeles Times:
Congress Opens With An Ambitious Republican Agenda For The Trump Era
Republicans remain at odds on some high-profile issues — such as how aggressively to investigate Russian hacking in the 2016 election — and how to fulfill other big-ticket promises, such as replacing Obamacare. Despite firm Republican control of both the White House and Congress, the internal disputes have left them without a clear plan yet for Trump’s first 100 days, or an endgame for the two years of the 115th Congress. (Mascaro, 1/2)
The New York Times:
With New Congress Poised To Convene, Obama’s Policies Are In Peril
The most powerful and ambitious Republican-led Congress in 20 years will convene Tuesday, with plans to leave its mark on virtually every facet of American life — refashioning the country’s social safety net, wiping out scores of labor and environmental regulations and unraveling some of the most significant policy prescriptions put forward by the Obama administration. (Steinhauer, 1/1)
The Associated Press:
Q&A: How Would GOP Repeal Health Care Law?
With the Republicans controlling Congress and Donald Trump entering the White House on Jan. 20, their mantra of repeal and replace is now a top-tier goal that the party's voters fully expect them to achieve — starting this week. But by unwinding the statute, the GOP would kill or recast programs that provide coverage to 20 million Americans who will be wary of anyone threatening their health insurance. And continuing Republican rifts over how to reshape the law, pay for the replacement and avoid destabilizing health insurance markets mean party leaders have a bumpy path ahead. (Fram, 1/2)
The Associated Press:
GOP Congress Feels It Has Mandate To Undo Obama's Agenda
Republicans' grip on all levers of power stands as a mandate to the GOP-led Congress, which will move swiftly to try to undo eight years of outgoing President Barack Obama's agenda. With Republican President-elect Donald Trump just weeks away from assuming office, GOP lawmakers plan to open the 115th Congress on Tuesday and immediately take steps to repeal Obama's health care law. ... House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Democrats "stand ready to fight vigorously" to protect health care and other priorities. (Jalonick, 1/2)
Dems, GOP Get Ready For Showdown On Obamacare
The long-standing fight over Obamacare's repeal is about to become a battle over messaging. Instead of doing a victory lap after they start dismantling the law in January, Republicans will not only have to rewrite a massive law, they'll have to quickly sell the public on the idea that their plan is cheaper and won't leave millions of Americans uninsured. An early look at the GOP's plans shows that they will be pushing the idea that "universal access" to health insurance is better than mandatory "universal coverage," which has been the foundation of Obamacare. (Haberkorn and Pradhan, 1/3)
Hill Democrats Outline Counterattack For ObamaCare Repeal, Prep For President's Visit
Top House Democrats gave more clues Monday about how they’ll fight GOP efforts to repeal ObamaCare, sharing enrollment figures and stories about Americans saved by the health care law, ahead of President Obama’s visit Wednesday. ... [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and [House Minority Whip Steny] Hoyer argued that at least 20 million Americans would lose their health insurance, in part subsidized by the federal government, and chided Republicans for having no immediate plan to replace the law, more formally known as the Affordable Care Act. “Understand, repeal and delay is an act of cowardice,” said Pelosi, D-Calif. (Emanuel, 1/2)
The Associated Press:
Democrats Extol Health Care Law In Bid To Derail GOP Repeal
Senior House Democrats on Monday extolled the benefits of President Barack Obama's health care law in hopes of derailing Republican plans to gut the statute and over time replace it. In a conference call with reporters, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the GOP will begin its "assault" on the health care law when the 115th Congress convenes Tuesday. She said abolishing the law, known as the Affordable Care Act, as Republicans have promised will mean that people will pay more for their health insurance while getting much less than they do now. Undoing the law also will undermine Medicaid and Medicare, she said. (Lardner, 1/2)
Obama To Huddle With Hill Democrats On Saving Obamacare
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has promised to stand firm against repeal efforts and subsequently, Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act with a more conservative framework. And a conference call convened by House Democrats earlier this week focused largely on emphasizing the benefits of Obamacare, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) noting that she sees parallels between the current situation and the 2005 effort by then-President George W. Bush to privatize Social Security, according to an aide on the call. (Kim, 12/30)
In other hospital news, flooding after a plugged sewer pipe won't stop the opening of a new wing at the Ventura County Medical Center, and St. Rose Hospital in the East Bay could get $8 million to help make its ends meet.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Buildings At Three Sonoma County Hospital Campuses Still Require Seismic Upgrades
Were a major earthquake to strike Sonoma County, 91 percent of the county’s 68 structures located on hospital campuses would probably remain standing and even continue providing services, state officials said. The bad news is some of the structures would likely be unusable after an earthquake including principal hospital facilities such as Healdsburg District Hospital’s main building, which houses the intensive care unit and medical/surgical patient rooms. Three of the county’s seven general acute care hospital campuses have a total of six buildings that would likely be knocked out of commission during an earthquake. (Espinoza, 1/1)
Ventura County Star:
VCMC Wing's Opening Unchanged Despite Flood
Flooding caused by a plugged sewer pipe in early December likely won’t delay the opening of a new wing at the Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, an official said. “We’re still tracking for May 7,” said Joan Araujo, chief deputy director for the Ventura County Health Care Agency. The flood happened on Dec. 7. Water flowed from two sinks in what will be the emergency department of the $305 million wing. Araujo said the pipe was plugged with construction debris. (Kisken, 12/31)
East Bay Times:
St. Rose Hospital Could Get $8 Million From Alameda County
After at least a decade of struggling to make ends meet, a funding proposal may help land St. Rose Hospital on stable ground while East Bay leaders create a long-term plan to sustain operations. The safety net hospital would get about $8 million under a joint proposal from Alameda County Health Care Services Agency and Alameda Health System. The money would be reallocated from funds set aside for indigent health care services at Alameda Health System facilities to St. Rose. (Moriki, 12/30)
A hostage negotiation team says it is better equipped to handle people dealing with acute mental health problems in emergencies instead of resorting to using lethal force. Elsewhere, Sonoma County officials seek to lower the number of people jailed who have a mental illness.
San Francisco Chronicle:
SF Police See Progress In Dealing With People In Mental Crisis
The San Francisco police hostage crisis negotiation team responded to more calls in 2016 than in any year in recent history, an uptick that officials see as a sign that the department is moving in the right direction in dealing with people suffering from mental health crises. (Ho, 1/2)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Sonoma County Joins Effort To Shift Care Of Mentally Ill Away From Jails
Sonoma County officials seeking to find ways to reduce the number of people jailed with mental illness have joined a national campaign that will highlight the issue, as well as the cost to taxpayers and communities, in a two-day summit later this month in Sacramento. The campaign, featuring local leaders from more than 300 counties across the nation, is billed as a new bid to close gaps in health care and criminal justice that advocates say harm those with mental illness. (Espinoza, 12/31)
However, health officials say the chances of it spreading are low. Meanwhile, since it is cold and flu season, it's helpful to know whether you are contagious as well as the answers to a whole range of other questions. Plus, new insights regarding restaurants and their policies on antibiotics.
Ventura County Star:
Single Measles Case Touches Three Counties
A single measles case has touched Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties, although officials said Friday that the chances of it spreading in Ventura County are low. The case involved a Santa Barbara County resident believed to have contracted the disease in Los Angeles County as part of a measles outbreak that has reached 12 cases and was first reported three days before Christmas. All but the case reported Friday are in Los Angeles County, officials said. (Kisken, 12/30)
Am I Contagious? A Handy Guide For Cold And Flu Season
Doctors say you're generally contagious from about one day before symptoms begin through the second or third day of your illness. Dr. Daniel Vigil, a UCLA physician, explains the timeline this way: "It's that little tickle in your throat and you're thinking, 'I hope this isn't a cold or the flu coming on.' That's about the time when the contagious period starts." (Plevin, 1/3)
Los Angeles Times:
Is Burger King's Antibiotic Policy Less Than Meets The Eye?
Restaurant Brands International pledged Thursday to avoid buying poultry fed antibiotics considered “critically important” to human health — a practice that has been linked to the rise of drug-resistant strains of bacteria that can be lethal to humans. The policy applies to a relatively narrow category of the antibiotics, leaving ample leeway to feed chickens other drugs used in human medicine, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. (Mohan, 12/30)
The board's membership shifted to the right last year and fired the executive officer even though public health and clean-air advocates credited him for years of air-quality improvement. But vacancies are expected to change the board again this week. Also, outlets report on homeowner association use of pesticides, new laws for e-cigarette sellers and ramifications of heavy marijuana use.
Orange County Register:
Changes Coming To SoCal Air Quality Board
Republicans are expected to lose control of the South Coast Air Quality Management District board when an outspoken liberal Democrat is sworn in this week to serve on the panel. The district regulates air pollution in the sea-to-mountains air basin covering Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. (Danelski, 1/3)
Los Angeles Times:
Homeowners Have A Legal Right To Be Notified When HOAs Spray Pesticides Near Their Units
There is a new California law that governs homeowner association use of pesticides, including aerosol pest sprays and total release foggers, but the statute does not apply to owners. (Vanitzian, 1/1)
E-Cigarette Sellers Now Need State License
Stanislaus County health officials lauded state legislation that went into effect Monday that requires sellers of electronic cigarettes, vaping devices and other related products to pay a $265 annual licensing fee. Gov. Jerry Brown on May 4 signed into law state Senate Bill No. 5 and Assembly Bill No. 11, requiring that e-cigarettes be regulated the same as other tobacco products. (1/2)
HighQ: Can DCFS Take Away Your Kids If You Smoke Marijuana?
Even though marijuana is legal in California, it's still possible for the Department of Children and Family Services to remove kids from the home for parental marijuana use, according to Dr. Charles Sophy, the department's medical director in Los Angeles County. (Margolis, 1/1)
Meanwhile, Sacramento has become a destination for Afghan refugees, but their life here does not come without struggle; in San Diego, a group of churches have resolved to inspire improved public health; LA County opens its first "sobering center" on Skid Row; and other news.
The Mercury News:
Fluoride In San Jose: A Checkered Past
After decades of delay and decay, some 230,000 people who are customers of the San Jose Water Co. in East San Jose and Almaden Valley started to receive fluoridated water in December ...There is a back story here, one that does not reflect particularly well on the San Jose Water Co., the 1960s-era Santa Clara County supervisors, or the California Public Utilities Commission. (Sanchez, 12/31)
Afghan Refugees Coming To California Struggle With PTSD
California’s capital has emerged as a leading destination for Afghan refugees who were awarded special visas because of their service to coalition forces in the war. But life in the United States for them has proven a constant struggle. (1/2)
San Diego Union-Times:
Faith Groups Seek Divine Inspiration For Health Improvement
In southeastern San Diego, 21 houses of worship have a head start on a New Year’s resolution that millions of Americans will make for 2017. These congregations are working together to embed heart-healthy habits into every aspect of their ministries, from sermons to Bible study groups. With the help of significant grants from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente, they have launched programs that focus on increasing exercise and promoting nutrition using locally developed technology to help them track their progress. They are tackling one of the toughest problems in modern health care: Getting people to make sustainable lifestyle changes that will aid their fight against heart disease. (Sisson, 1/1)
LA County's Plan To Keep Skid Row's Intoxicated Out Of Jail And The ER
Los Angeles County opens its first sobering center Monday, on Skid Row. It will primarily serve homeless, intoxicated people who might otherwise be picked up by police or paramedics and taken to jail or an emergency room. (Browne, 1/2)
East Bay Times:
Alameda County Study Finds Eden Health District Operations, Management On Track
A report that evaluated the Eden Health District’s management, operations and financial health has given the oft-criticized special district a clean bill of health but did not discount possible options to dissolve it. That 82-page study by Berkson Associates, of Berkeley, found that the district “provides a service of value, including significant expenditure of funds for community health care purposes consistent with its mission as a healthcare district.” It also found that the district’s expenditures for administrative and overhead costs “are not excessive relative to total costs.” (Moriki, 12/29)