- Public Health and Education 3
- Mental Health Organizations Awarded $13M To Help Underserved Communities
- Los Angeles Program Connecting Kids And Seniors Gets Jolt Of Funding
- Health Officials Probe Mysterious Transmission In Fatal Utah Zika Case
- Around California 2
- More West Nile-Positive Mosquitoes Found In Orange County
- Petroleum Refinery In Martinez Among Facilities Included In Pollution Settlement
Latest From California Healthline:
California health officials are collaborating with a dozen hospitals in a first attempt to upgrade the state’s giant cancer database. (Anna Gorman, 7/19)
Sign up to get the daily edition in your inbox
More News From Across The State
The announcement is expected today. Higher increases than in previous years are anticipated.
Covered California Premiums Going up 13.2% Next Year. Here’s Why.
Peter Lee, the agency’s executive director, cited several factors as drivers in this year’s spike. Most notable is an expiring federal “reinsurance” program, created as part of the Affordable Care Act, to spread the risk of so many newly insured people entering the risk pool. Actuarial experts estimate that alone adds 4 to 7 percent to premiums, but it’s viewed as a one-time effect.Rising health care costs, including specialty prescription drugs, are also a factor. (Dembosky and Aliferis, 7/19)
Buying Health Insurance Through California Exchange Could Cost You More Next Year
Rates in Fresno, Kings and Madera counties are increasing by 10.8 percent on average. And rates in Tulare, Merced and Mariposa counties are going up 8.4 percent on average. Rates through some health plans, though, will be rising as much as 23 percent. (Anderson, 7/18)
The Associated Press:
Covered California To Release 2017 Insurance Rates
Covered California is preparing to release 2017 premium prices for people who buy health coverage through the state's health insurance exchange. Tuesday's announcement comes as many other states report big increases in insurance premiums for the fourth year of President Barack Obama's health overhaul. (Cooper, 7/19)
Altria and R.J. Reynolds report almost $17 million in contributions to oppose Proposition 56, a measure that would increase tobacco taxes by $2 a pack.
Tobacco Companies Drop Nearly $17 Million Into Anti-Tax Campaign
After months of eerie silence from the tobacco industry, Altria and R.J. Reynolds reported nearly $17 million in contributions Friday to oppose Proposition 56, which would increase tobacco taxes by $2 a pack in California. Altria contributed $10.8 million through its subsidiary companies: Marlboro-maker Philip Morris, cigar brand John Middleton Co. and e-cigarette brand NuMark. R.J. Reynolds, which makes Camel cigarettes and other brands, gave an additional $6.2 million. The companies organized and funded the campaign to highlight the “many problems with Prop. 56,” said Beth Miller, a spokeswoman for the campaign, in a statement. (Luna, 7/18)
Grants from the California Department of Public Health will go to pilot projects that serve African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, LGBTQ and Native American people. In other mental health news, a survey shows depression risks are high for California school kids. And the FDA provides guidance on the use of electroshock.
Capital Public Radio:
California Mental Health Organizations To Receive $13 Million Boost
The California Department of Public Health will award $13 million to organizations focused on serving the mental health needs of underserved communities. Grants will be given to 11 pilot projects that provide mental health services to African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, LGBTQ and Native American people. Gender Health Center in Sacramento, is one of the organizations selected. (Johnson, 7/18)
Capital Public Radio:
Survey: California School Kids Safer, Depression Risk ‘High’
Results of a statewide survey of California school kids shows safety has improved and drug use is down. But the report also points out that depression risk remains "disturbingly high" among seventh, ninth and eleventh graders. ... Latest results show decreases in alcohol and marijuana use since the previous survey in 2011–13, particularly among eleventh graders. Current use of alcohol, binge drinking, and marijuana use among eleventh graders decreased. (Joyce, 7/18)
The Washington Post:
FDA: Electroshock Has Risks But Is Useful To Combat Severe Depression
After years of consideration, the Food and Drug Administration has determined that for carefully selected patients with profound depression, the benefits of electroconvulsive therapy, long demonized, outweigh the risks of possible memory loss caused by its use. Citing evidence from 60 randomized trials of ECT, once known as electroshock therapy, the FDA acknowledged the risk but said that there is now enough evidence to ease access to the therapy for certain people. (Hurley, 7/18)
The activities provide children with mentors and fight isolation among older Californians. Elsewhere, "Miracle Manor" helps Orange County families cope with critically ill kids.
California Health Report:
How Uniting Kids, Elders Helps Both
It’s a solution for two problems at once: children desperately need mentors to guide them, and isolated seniors yearn for more connection and meaning. The growing intergenerational activities movement received a powerful jolt last year when the Los Angeles-based Eisner Foundation sharpened its focus to solely support intergenerational programming. ... Eisner grant recipient Jumpstart for Young Children saturates 13 preschools with adult mentors over 55 in underserved LA neighborhoods — Compton, South LA, East LA and Echo Park. (Perry, 7/18)
Orange County Register:
'Miracle Manor' In Orange Helps Parents With Sick Children Focus On Them, Less On Finances
Dubbed the “Miracle Manor,” the apartments provide subsidized housing to families with critically sick children. Set up by local nonprofit Miracles for Kids, the Miracle Manor celebrated its grand opening in Orange last week, though residents moved in as early as December. Once a privately owned apartment complex, the buildings – blocks from Children’s Hospital of Orange County – were purchased by Miracles for Kids for $2.9 million and given $760,000 in renovations. (Winslow, 7/18)
The disease does not appear to have been transmitted through a mosquito bite or sexual contact, the two ways previously identified by researchers to spread the virus. And news outlets cover other news on Zika research and prevention taking place in California.
A Mysterious Case Of Zika Raises New Fears Of Person-To-Person Transmission
Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Infection are investigating a worrisome case of Zika virus transmission after the caregiver of a Zika-infected patient who died was found to be infected as well. In late June, an elderly Utah resident who had visited a country where the Zika virus was widely circulating died. Lab tests showed the patient, who suffered from other medical conditions as well, had a viral load more than 100,000 times higher than that usually seen in people infected with Zika. A family member who had cared for the patient was also discovered to be infected, prompting the CDC’s investigation. (Healy, 7/18)
Antibiotic May Help Limit Zika’s Damage, New Study Suggests
New research shows that the Zika virus has two routes by which it can infect a developing fetus, depending on when during a pregnancy the infection occurs. It also shows an existing drug might be able to limit the damage wreaked by the virus. The new study, by scientists at the University of California at San Francisco and the University of California at Berkeley, suggests that an antibiotic called duramycin seems to be able to block Zika’s ability to latch onto the cells it wants to affect. (Branswell, 7/18)
The Wall Street Journal:
Public-Health Officials Across U.S. Race To Build Defenses Against Zika Virus
With summer in full swing, public-health and mosquito-control officials are pulling out the stops to stop the Zika virus taking root and spreading in the continental U.S. The mosquitoes that are able to spread the virus are flourishing this summer in Key West, Fla., just as they did six years ago during an outbreak of dengue—another disease they can transmit, said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. “We’re on high alert,” he said. (McKay and McWhirter, 7/18)
The New York Times:
Zika Data From The Lab, And Right To The Web
Of the hundreds of monkeys in the University of Wisconsin’s primate center, a few — including rhesus macaque 827577 — are now famous, at least among scientists tracking the Zika virus. Since February, a team led by David H. O’Connor, the chairman of the center’s global infectious diseases department, has been conducting a unique experiment in scientific transparency. The tactic may presage the evolution of new ways to respond to fast-moving epidemics. ... But then, instead of saving their data for academic journals, the researchers have posted it almost immediately on a website anyone can visit. (McNeil, 7/18)
Elsewhere, residents around Pyramid Lake want to know if the state could have warned about the algae bloom sooner.
Orange County Register:
More Mosquitoes Test Positive For West Nile Virus
Mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus in Yorba Linda, bringing the number of local cities where infected mosquitoes have been found to eight. Another epidemic season has been predicted by the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District, although so far no human cases have been reported here or anywhere else in California. The district has tested 1,998 mosquito samples and 19 have been positive for West Nile virus. (Perkes, 7/18)
LA Daily News:
People Got Sick At Pyramid Lake Before The State Reported Toxic Algae Bloom. Could It Have Been Avoided?
After watching her 13-year-old son throw up everything he ate when they got home from a day of jet skiing at Pyramid Lake, Sharyn Martinez was angered to learn last week that the state is now urging the public to avoid the water there because of a toxic algal bloom. Martinez and her family were at the Los Angeles County reservoir on July 9. Days later, the department notified the public about the bloom. (Baer, 7/18)
The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency reach a $425 million settlement with two companies to reduce air pollution at six refineries in the West.
Los Angeles Times:
Oil Refiners Agree To Pay $425 Million To Reduce Air Pollution In The West
Concluding a long legal climb to cleaner air, the federal government Monday announced a record $425-million settlement with two oil refiners that is expected to reduce pollution emissions in the West by almost 43,000 tons annually. The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency said the agreement with subsidiaries of Tesoro Corp. of San Antonio and Par Hawaii Refining resolves accusations of Clean Air Act violations against the two corporations. (Anderson, 7/18)
The Associated Press:
Air Pollution Reduction Settlement Reached For 6 Refineries
Federal officials say the settlement will improve air quality for people and the environment because the installed equipment will reduce pollutants, including an estimated 47,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Leaks, flares and excess emissions from the refineries emit dangerous air pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, and seriously harm the environment, the officials said. (Le, 7/18)
These facilities are full-service hospitals and offer a full array of emergency services but may have only a handful of beds for admitted patients. Dignity Health is exploring the model for California.
Kaiser Health News:
Sometimes Tiny Is Just The Right Size: ‘Microhospitals’ Filling Some ER Needs
Eyeing fast-growing urban and suburban markets where demand for health care services is outstripping supply, some health care systems are opening tiny, full-service hospitals with comprehensive emergency services but often fewer than a dozen inpatient beds. These “microhospitals” provide residents quicker access to emergency care, and they may also offer outpatient surgery, primary care and other services. They are generally affiliated with larger health care systems, which can use the smaller facility to expand in an area without incurring the cost of a full-scale hospital. (Andrews, 7/19)
Workers at the coffee company will be able to select a plan from as many as six national and regional carriers, instead of the one currently offered, starting in October.
The Wall Street Journal:
Starbucks Widens Workers’ Health-Insurance Options
Starbucks Corp. on Monday became one of the most high-profile employers to switch its employees to a private health insurance exchange. Instead of the one health insurer and three medical coverage levels they have now, U.S. employees from Chief Executive Howard Schultz to store baristas working at least 20 hours a week will be able to choose from among up to six national and regional carriers, and five levels of medical plan starting in October. (Jargon and Wilde Mathews, 7/18)
Sage is partnering with Whole Foods Market to deconstruct all of the roughly 7,000 items sold in the grocer’s new “365” store chains in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, pathologists at a dozen hospitals team up to improve the state's cancer database.
The New York Times:
An App To Deconstruct Your Food
Ever wondered how long you’d have to swim to burn off the calories in an organic peanut butter cup? Or how far the strawberries or burger on your plate traveled to get there? For answers, ask the Sage Project, one of the latest of the food technology companies helping consumers navigate nutrition. While a number of food apps count calories and track eating habits, Sage goes beyond the food label to give customers additional information about additives and preservatives, how much sugar has been adding during processing or how far a food has traveled. (Strom, 7/18)
Tracking Cancer In Real Time
California is overhauling the way it collects information for its massive cancer database in the hope of improving how patients are treated for the disease. Pathologists at a dozen hospitals in the state are part of a pilot project — the first of its kind in the United States — in which they are reporting cancer diagnoses in close to real-time to the California Cancer Registry. And they are using standardized electronic forms to make their reporting more consistent and accurate. (Gorman, 7/19)
Researchers count on about 1.7 million patients to participate in drug trials around the world each year, but they are resorting to new methods of helping consumers find out about the opportunities and participate because they have trouble retaining patients. Elsewhere, news outlets cover pharmaceutical developments related to placebos and the impact of sun and heat on drugs.
The Wall Street Journal:
Companies Try New Ways To Attract Patients To Drug Trials
Drug companies are testing new ways to get more people to participate in clinical trials for promising medicines. Some companies sift through laboratory-test records to identify people with certain diseases who might qualify for drug trials. Other firms monitor how patients discuss their diseases in online forums to develop effective recruitment approaches. (Rockoff, 7/18)
The Wall Street Journal:
Why Placebos Really Work: The Latest Science
Scientists are finding a growing number of ways placebos appear to bring about real health benefits in patients. The research could someday lead to increased use of placebos—substances that have no apparent pharmaceutical effect—in treatments for common diseases. (Reddy, 7/18)
Sun And Heat Can Make Some Drugs Dangerous While Making Others Less Potent
Some widely used medications can make you far more sensitive to summer’s sunlight and heat than you’d usually be. For example: Certain over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines and common antidepressants reduce your ability to sweat, which makes it difficult for your body to regulate its temperature properly. That makes you more prone to muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can rapidly escalate into an emergency. (7/18)