- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Fear Of Future Health Problems Plagues Porter Ranch Gas Leak Victims
- Health Care Personnel 1
- Nurses At Kaiser Medical Center To Begin Strike For Higher Wages, More Staff
- Health IT 2
- Oscar Insurance Nabs Google Exec For CTO Position
- State Appeals Court Upholds Decision To Block Medical Marijuana Delivery App
Latest From California Healthline:
Even after the gas leak in Porter Ranch has been sealed, worries persist about the long-term health risks for residents. (Anna Gorman, 3/15)
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More News From Across The State
The signature-gathering market is already quite expensive, and the move to pay $10 for every voter signature could cause some campaigns to abandon their cause.
Capital Public Radio:
Tobacco Industry's Threats: Provocative, But Legal
The campaign for a November ballot measure to raise California’s tobacco tax is criticizing reported threats it says came from industry lobbyists. The targets are six anti-tobacco bills passed by the Legislature last week. The threats are provocative. But they're also legal. (Adler, 3/14)
This is the first year they can join the program. The Dolores Huerta Foundation also hopes that by reaching out to the kids now, the foundation will be more prepared to help adults if the state ever decides to expand the program further.
Valley Public Radio:
Outreach To Enroll Undocument Children in Medi-Cal Begins
Immigration advocates are starting a new outreach effort in Kern County to enroll undocumented children in Medi-cal. This is the first year undocumented kids can enroll in the government-sponsored insurance program. There are an estimated 170-thousand undocumented children living in California and a recent change in state law means that for the first time they can sign up for Medi-Cal insurance. (Hess, 3/14)
The county had been classified as "rural," meaning doctors were receiving much less from Medicare than health care providers in such cities as San Francisco. Some hope the change in Medicare payments will make the area more attractive for doctors.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Medicare Pay To Increase For SD Docs
Medicare pays San Diego doctors $12.33 less for a 15-minute office visit than it pays their peers in San Francisco. A broken arm set in Orange County brings a doctor $47.99 more, despite the work being exactly the same. This disparity, caused by Medicare designating San Diego County a “rural” locality, has long been a thorn to the region’s 7,000 or so doctors. (Sisson, 3/14)
Expanded services in the planned facility will include catastrophic burn care, pediatric intensive care burn services, a dedicated suite for burn patients, psychological support services and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
The Bakersfield Californian:
Bakersfield Memorial Plans For Larger Burn Unit
Bakersfield will soon have a larger burn center, officials announced Monday. Dignity Health has struck a deal with Grossman Burn Center to establish a new burn unit at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, shifting away from San Joaquin Community Hospital where it is currently located. The move will allow Grossman to construct a larger facility and service more patients. (Pierce, 3/14)
In other hospital news, Palomar Health is shutting down its smaller emergency department —
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Palomar Closes Downtown ED
Palomar Health on Monday shut down its standby emergency department in downtown Escondido, following through with a plan first announced last year. Ambulances have delivered patients to the newer Palomar Medical Center since 2012, but the downtown hospital kept open a smaller version of its old emergency department to serve patients suffering less-severe conditions. (Sisson, 3/14)
The 1,200 RNs will picket every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Kaiser LA Medical Center RN's To Strike Over Staffing, Wages
Registered nurses at Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center will begin a week-long strike Tuesday to press for higher wages and increased staffing in what would be their first collective bargaining contract since joining the California Nurses Association last summer. (3/14)
Elsewhere, home workers have ratified a new contract to increase wages —
Bay Area News Group:
Contra Costa County Home Care Workers Ratify Contract
Contra Costa County home care workers have overwhelmingly ratified a new contract that raises their wage in two steps to $12.25 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017. The county board of supervisors is expected to vote to approve the contract Tuesday. (Richards, 3/14)
Startup Oscar, which has been valued at $2.7 billion, counts on technology to help set it apart from rival health insurers.
Google’s Warren Joins Oscar Health Startup As Technology Chief
Oscar Insurance Corp., the health insurance startup whose cartoon ads promise an easier way of getting medical care, hired Alan Warren from Google as chief technology officer to help it improve its underlying computer systems. (Tracer, 3/15)
The panel says the app violates a voter-approved law that restricts medical marijuana.
The Associated Press:
Appeals Court Upholds Injunction Against Pot Delivery App
A state appeals court has upheld a judge's decision to block a smartphone app that allowed people in Los Angeles to have medical marijuana delivered to them. (3/14)
But health leaders are making efforts to alleviate the problem with expanded residency programs and new medical schools.
Physician Shortages Continue To Plague Inland Empire
The two-county San Bernardino-Riverside area continues to lack an adequate safety net for uninsured residents and faces a serious doctor shortage, especially in primary care and psychiatry, says a report released Monday. The Inland Empire’s supply of physicians is far below state levels, at 120 per 100,000 compared to the state average of 194 per 100,000, according to the report commissioned by the California Health Care Foundation. (Steinberg, 3/14)
Media outlets report on other news from around the state —
The Ventura County Star:
Diabetes Epidemic Threatens More Than Half Of Ventura County Adults, Study Says
More than half of Ventura County's adults have been diagnosed with diabetes or are sliding down a path that could lead to a disease hitting epidemic levels, said UCLA researchers. A study released this month estimated 47 percent of people ages 18 and older in the county have blood sugar levels that make them pre-diabetic. Their lifetime odds of joining the landslide of people developing Type 2 diabetes are about 70 percent; 30 percent could get there in five years. (Kisken, 3/14)
Court House News:
Kern Families Sue Petro Over Toxic Gas Leak
Dozens of families in a rural California town had to evacuate their homes after a natural gas pipeline under their neighborhood started leaking toxic gas, the families claim in court. The families, including several minor children, sued the owner of the pipeline, Petro Capital Resources, in Kern County Superior Court Thursday, claiming that Petro never disclosed that the pipeline ran under their Nelson Court neighborhood in Arvin. (Kearn, 3/14)
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington-based fiscal watchdog, said the Republican presidential candidate's proposals would also drive up the deficit by as much as $500 billion over the next 10 years.
The Los Angeles Times:
Trump Health Plan Would Increase Deficit And Leave Millions Uninsured, Report Says
Donald Trump's recently released plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act would drive up the federal deficit by nearly $500 billion over the next decade and cause 21 million Americans to lose health coverage, according to a new independent analysis. (Levey, 3/14)
In other 2016 election news —
Beleaguered Theranos CEO To Hold Fundraiser For Hillary Clinton
The blood-testing company Theranos has been immersed in controversy in recent months, accused of violating government standards and overhyping its technology. Despite the public storm, Theranos Chief Executive Elizabeth Holmes will be hosting a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Monday at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., according to the technology news website Re/code. (Boodman, 3/14)
The Wall Street Journal:
Bernie Sanders To Unveil HIV/AIDS Research Initiative
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who criticized opponent Hillary Clinton for her recent comments on former first lady Nancy Reagan and AIDS, will propose his own platform Monday to spur development of drugs that treat the disease. Mr. Sanders, who is advocating a single-payer health system, will propose establishing a $3 billion annual fund to reward developers who come up with new treatments for HIV and AIDS. The candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination wants to award money from the HIV/AIDS prize fund and permit generic competition for the newly developed drugs immediately after they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. (Armour, 3/14)
The rate is half of the 2014 spike, but Express Scripts, the company that issued the report, forecasts that the prices will only continue to climb for the next two years.
The Associated Press:
Report: 2015 US Drug Spending Up 5 Percent, Half 2014's Rise
Spending on prescription drugs for insured Americans rose about 5 percent last year, driven by both greater medication use and higher prices, mainly for very expensive drugs termed specialty medicines. Still, the increase was half the rate in 2014, which saw the biggest price jump since 2003. A report by the largest U.S. prescription benefit manager, Express Scripts Holding Co., also found the average price of brand-name drugs already on the market increased by 16.2 percent in 2015 and has jumped 98.2 percent since 2011. One-third of brand-name prescription drugs had price increases exceeding 20 percent last year. (3/14)
Cancer And Arthritis Drugs Drive Up Spending On Medicines
Spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. rose 5.2 percent in 2015, driven mostly by increased costs of expensive specialty medications to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to data from the largest manager of employers' drug benefits. Spending on specialty medications rose 18 percent, while spending on standard prescription drugs rose less than one percent, according to a new report by Express Scripts. The report is based on the prescription drug spending for the company's 80 million covered patients. The measure — called "drug trend" in pharmaceutical industry parlance — includes increases in the use of medications and price hikes. (Kodjak, 3/14)