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- Lawmaker Proposes Californians With Suicidal Impulses Could Voluntarily Join Do-Not-Sell Gun List
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- Don't Let Your Guard Down: Another Strain Of The Flu Is Sweeping In What's Become A Long, Vicious Season
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- Despite Worries Over Dignity Health Merger, Workers Secure Raises In New Contract
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Latest From California Healthline:
As supplies of injectable morphine, Dilaudid and fentanyl dwindle, hospitals are struggling to shore up supplies or find alternatives to keep their patients out of pain. (3/20)
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Summaries Of The News:
The case, coming out of California, brings together two contentious issues: freedom of speech and abortion. However, whatever the court decides would affect the legality of the procedure.
Supreme Court Mulls California Law on Anti-Abortion Facilities
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday tackles a dispute over whether a California law requiring Christian-based facilities that counsel pregnant women against abortion to post signs disclosing the availability of state-subsidized abortions and birth control violates their right to free speech. The nine justices are set to hear an hour of arguments in an appeal by a group of non-profit facilities called crisis pregnancy centers of a lower court ruling upholding the Democratic-backed 2015 law. (Chung, 3/20)
Pregnancy 'Crisis Centers' Take Abortion Case To Supreme Court
The state of California and abortion rights supporters counter that the law in question — the Reproductive FACT Act — is straightforward and doesn’t trample anyone’s rights. It simply requires the centers to display a written notice about abortion access. They don’t have to discuss or counsel women about it. They just have to post it. Unlike other landmark abortion rights cases that have come before the court, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (or NIFLA) v. Becerra, doesn’t address when, where or under what circumstances a woman can terminate a pregnancy. (Colliver, 3/19)
CORRECTION: A headline in Tuesday’s Daily edition has been updated to correct a mischaracterization of a U.S. Supreme Court case on “Pregnancy Crisis Centers.” The court will hear arguments on whether such centers should be required to post a sign about abortion options.
"A lot of the political opposition to efforts California has taken to address gun violence is around government telling people what they can and cannot do," said Assemblyman Rob Bonta. "This is different. This is an individual saying, 'I want to do this. I'm choosing to do this.' We think it will save lives."
Suicidal Californians Could Join Do-Not-Sell Gun List Under Democrat's Bill
Almost 1,600 people in California used guns to take their own lives in 2016. That statistic, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, represented more than half of the total gun deaths in California that year. (Kobin, 3/20)
In other news, mourners paid respect to the women who were killed in the shooting at a veterans' home this month —
San Francisco Chronicle:
Huge Crowd At Yountville Memorial Honors Women Who ‘Dedicated Their Lives’ To Vets
Health care workers, former soldiers, politicians and mourners from across California gave a tearful farewell Monday to three health care workers shot to death by a troubled veteran at the Pathway Home care facility in Yountville a little more than a week ago. (Dineen and Fimrite, 3/19)
Influenza B, which is particularly bad for children, is making its presence known in California.
Increase In Influenza B Cases And Flu Outbreaks In Calif.
A surge in influenza B cases is providing a lesson to California residents that they cannot let down their guard just because influenza A activity declines. The H3N2 strain of influenza A grabbed headlines early in the flu season, as Californians learned anew of its deadly force, but now influenza B is causing a growing number of flu outbreaks in the Golden State. (Anderson, 3/19)
In other public health news —
Adults Skipping Vaccines May Miss Out On Effective New Shingles Shot
Federal officials have recommended a new vaccine that is more effective than an earlier version at protecting older adults against the painful rash called shingles. But persuading many adults to get this and other recommended vaccines continues to be an uphill battle, physicians and vaccine experts say. (Andrews, 3/20)
Capital Public Radio:
Cancer Test-By-Mail Gets Approval From FDA — But Not Necessarily From Doctors
The Silicon Valley company 23andMe can tell you about your ancestry, your geographic origins and your risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — all based on a swab of saliva. Now, they’ve got approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test for mutations in the a gene that indicates heightened risk for breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers. (Caiola, 3/19)
Orange County Register:
Orange County Will Spend $70.5 Million For Permanent Housing For Homeless, Possibly Add Temporary Shelters In Irvine, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel
Supervisors voted Monday for Orange County to spend $70.5 million on permanent housing for the homeless, and to create temporary homeless camps in Irvine, and possibly in Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel. The vote comes a week after supervisors committed $20 million toward permanent housing for the homeless. (Graham, 3/19)
And members of the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West will also maintain fully paid, employer-provided family healthcare, which union officials called a “key point of contention” in negotiations.
The Bakersfield Californian:
SEIU Workers Reach Contract Agreement With Dignity Health After Multi-Million Dollar Merger
More than 15,000 Dignity Health workers in California signed a five-year contract with their employer this month that included 13 percent raises over five years, ending speculation from employees that the merger between Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives would lead to diminished pay and benefits. The resolution comes after Dignity Health employees, including some in Bakersfield, staged protests last month over concerns that the interests of patients would be ignored after the two companies merged into a $28 billion corporation. (3/19)
In other news —
Ventura County Star:
St. John's Hospital Workers Ratify New Contract
More than 900 workers at St. John's hospitals in Oxnard and Camarillo have come to terms on a new contract that includes 13 percent in pay increases spread out over five years, union officials said Monday. The contract between Dignity Health and SEIU-UHW covers 15,000 workers at Dignity's 28 California hospitals including 538 at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and 373 at St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo. The workers include certified nursing assistants, technicians and other employees outside of registered nurses who have their own union. (Kisken, 3/19)
Outside researchers had criticism about the small scope of the study but praised it for addressing a topic that has not been looked at very carefully.
The Associated Press:
Want To Avoid The Flu While Flying? Try A Window Seat
Worried about catching a cold or the flu on an airplane? Get a window seat, and don't leave it until the flight is over. That's what some experts have been saying for years, and it's perhaps the best advice coming out of a new attempt to determine the risks of catching germs on an airplane. (3/19)
Los Angeles Times:
To Avoid Germs On An Airplane, Consider Booking A Window Seat
What you really need to watch out for is a flight attendant with a cough or runny nose. A single one of them can infect 4.6 passengers during a transcontinental flight. A group that dubbed itself the FlyHealthy Research Team came to these conclusions after flying back and forth from Atlanta to the West Coast on 10 flights and paying extremely close attention to the movements in the economy-class portion of the cabin. (Kaplan, 3/19)
Lawmakers are considering lowering taxes to make it more appealing for customers to frequent legal businesses.
Legal Pot Sales Are Sluggish. Here’s How The Industry Hopes To Compete With A Cheaper Black Market
The sale of recreational marijuana has been legal in California since the turn of the new year. But almost three months in, legal pot is still struggling to establish itself. That's because illegal recreational marijuana is so much cheaper to buy on the black market. (Carpenter, 3/19)
Marijuana Grow Houses Lead To Criminal Charges And Civil Penalties For Sacramento Woman
A Sacramento property owner faces criminal charges and $2 million in civil penalties for allegedly maintaining houses across Sacramento for the purpose of growing illegal cannabis. City officials say Lisa Ung, 63, owns eight homes in south Sacramento where more than 4,000 marijuana plants and clones have been recovered between August 2016 and this month. (Branan, 3/20)
“If we don’t get tougher on drug dealers, we are wasting our time,” President Donald Trump said in New Hampshire while offering an overview of his plan to fight the opioid crisis. While some advocates lauded elements of the blueprint, questions about additional money and a focus on punishment raised some concerns.
The New York Times:
Trump Offers Tough Talk But Few Details In Unveiling Plan To Combat Opioids
President Trump made his first visit to New Hampshire since the 2016 campaign on Monday, unveiling a plan to combat the opioid epidemic that includes a push for the death penalty for drug dealers and a crackdown on illegal immigrants. Mr. Trump spoke in a state with the nation’s third-highest rate of deaths from overdoses and where opioids are a potent political issue. In a speech at a community college here, he offered up more tough talk than he did specifics about his plan, or how he would pay for it. (Haberman, Goodnough and Seelye, 3/19)
Trump Talks Up Death Penalty, Border Wall In Opioid Speech
“If we don’t get tougher on drug dealers, we are wasting our time … and that toughness includes the death penalty,” Trump said — one of six times he invoked the death penalty during remarks in New Hampshire, a state hit hard by the addiction crisis. (Diamond and Ehley, 3/19)
As U.S. Opioid Crisis Grows, Trump Calls For Death Penalty For Dealers
Trump said that he was working with Congress to find $6 billion in new funding for 2018 and 2019 to fight the opioid crisis. The plan will also seek to cut opioid prescriptions by a third over three years by changing federal programs, he said. Addiction to opioids - mainly prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl - is a growing U.S. problem, especially in rural areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016. (3/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump Pledges To ‘Get Very Tough,’ Rein In Opioid Crisis
Mr. Trump’s remarks at a community college here marked the formal unveiling of the next phase of his administration’s plan to attempt to turn the tide of the opioid epidemic, now claiming the lives of more than 100 Americans a day through overdoses of prescription opioid pills, fentanyl and heroin. The plan includes a call for opioid prescriptions to be reduced by one-third within three years, in part by encouraging physicians to change their prescribing behavior. It also calls for guaranteed access to overdose-reversal drug naloxone and for the Justice Department to seek more death-penalty cases against drug traffickers. (Radnofsky, 3/19)
Los Angeles Times:
Trump Talks Up Combating Opioids, Yet His Funding Shortfall And Medicaid Cuts Would Blunt His Plans
Although Trump once again spoke extensively about expanding the federal death penalty for drug dealers, his administration released a three-page list of proposals before his speech that ruled out any change to existing federal law, suggesting instead that the Justice Department would take a more aggressive stance toward those offenders already eligible to be put to death based on other capital offenses, such as drug-related murders. (Bierman and Levey, 3/19)
The Associated Press Fact Check:
Trump Exaggerates Pros Of Anti-Opioid Ideas
President Donald Trump has laid out a new plan for tackling the deadly opioid epidemic that has ravaged communities across the nation. But some of the president's proposals have proven ineffective in the past. From renewing his call for "spending a lot of money" on commercials to scare young people from experimenting with drugs, to pushing for the death penalty for certain drug dealers, Trump's ideas are sometimes driven more by his gut instincts than past success. (3/20)
Trump Says Proposals Targeting High Drug Prices Coming Soon
The administration will unveil a slate of proposals soon to address high prescription drug costs in the U.S., President Trump announced Monday. "You'll be seeing drug prices falling very substantially in the not-so-distant future, and it's going to be beautiful," President Trump said during a press conference on opioids in New Hampshire. (Hellmann, 3/19)
It's also unlikely that measures to shore up the health law marketplace will make it into the final version of the legislation. Lawmakers are facing down a third shutdown in as many months.
Congress Struggles to Meet Deadline For Government Funding Bill
The U.S. Congress, facing a Friday midnight deadline, toiled on Monday to finish writing a $1.2 trillion bill to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, as several thorny issues lingered, including funding President Donald Trump's border wall. (Cowan, 3/19)
The Associated Press:
Abortion Impasse May Shut Down Effort To Reduce Premiums
The polarizing politics of abortion have burst into the congressional budget debate, overwhelming bipartisan efforts to help millions of consumers who buy their own health insurance policies get relief from soaring premiums. On Monday, Senate and House Republicans released their latest plan to stabilize the Affordable Care Act's insurance markets. It calls for new federal money to offset the cost of treating the sickest patients and restores insurer subsidies that President Donald Trump terminated last year. (3/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
Policy Feuds Keep Spending Bill In Flux
A bipartisan congressional effort to shore up the Affordable Care Act was likely to be excluded from the bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) told House Republicans Monday evening, although Senate Republicans had been pushing late Monday to get it in the legislation. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) had hoped to include a plan from Mr. Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) to restore payments to insurers that offset their costs for providing mandatory subsidies to some low-income consumers on the ACA. Mr. Trump ended those payments last year, and many insurers raised premiums as a result. That meant people who don’t get federal assistance to help with premiums saw their costs rise. (Peterson and Armour, 3/20)