- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Minimum Wage Hike A Welcome Boost To Home Care Workers
- Zooming In On Millennials
Latest From California Healthline:
New law will raise California’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022-2023, offering “underpaid” home care workers some financial relief. (Emily Bazar and David Gorn, 5/10)
Zoom, a medical group and insurer, is targeting millennials in Oregon and Washington with quick, accessible care as well as fitness, yoga and cooking classes. (Anna Gorman, 5/10)
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Summaries Of The News:
"One of the reasons people request aid in dying is so they can die at home, so they don’t have to die in a hospital," said Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices.
Will It Matter If Hospitals Opt Out Of California's Assisted Suicide Law?
Huntington Hospital in Pasadena is considering joining the state's Catholic hospitals in opting out of participating in the physician-assisted suicide law that takes effect on June 9. But it's unclear that such a move would have much practical effect. (O'Neill, 5/9)
The Sacramento Business Journal has complied a database of the doctors on the list released by the Medical Board of California.
The Sacramento Business Journal:
This Database Lists Nearly 500 California Doctors On Probation
The Business Journal has posted a slideshow of 22 local doctors facing probation or holding a probationary license. But the Medical Board of California has a list of nearly 500 doctors on probation across the state. Those doctors are listed below in a Business Journal database. Search for doctors by last name or by county of practice. In the results, click on a specific doctor's date of effective probation to see the full disciplinary terms. (5/9)
The Sacramento Business Journal:
These 22 Doctors Are On Probation In The Sacramento Area
Nearly 500 doctors in California are on probation for some kind of disciplinary action, including nearly two dozen physicians in the Sacramento area, according to new information from the Medical Board of California. As of last month, there were 20 doctors facing disciplinary action and two other doctors who have been granted probationary licenses in the four-county Sacramento region. (5/9)
Those familiar with the situation say the drug maker has opened its books to both Pfizer and Amgen, after slapping down Sanofi's takeover offer.
Exclusive: Medivation Succumbs To Pressure To Explore Sale - Sources
Medivation Inc will actively seek to sell itself after the US cancer drug maker rejected a $9.3 billion takeover offer from France's Sanofi SA, according to people familiar with the situation. The San Francisco-based company has agreed to open its books to both Pfizer Inc and Amgen Inc, those people said. The move comes less than two weeks after Sanofi made its approach public by publishing a letter to Medivation's chief executive David Hung that contained details of the offer. However, there is still no certainty that Sanofi's rivals will press ahead with bids for Medivation, the people cautioned. (Barbaglia, 5/9)
In other pharmaceutical news —
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Study: Expanding Generic Drug Use Could Save Billions
Health insurers and patients could safely save many billions of dollars annually by swapping out a more expensive drug for a less expensive generic in the same class of drugs, according to a study published Monday. (Fikes, 5/9)
The major players in the health care landscape will offer new guidelines and strategies to cut back on both high dosages and the number of patients who are prescribed painkillers.
How Kaiser, Blue Shield Will Seek To Limit Opioid Overdoses
With research indicating that the risk for fatal overdose dramatically increases when people take higher doses of opioids, two of California's major health players -- an HMO and an insurance company -- are launching efforts aimed at getting doctors to prescribe the painkillers in smaller amounts. The HMO -- Kaiser Permanente of Southern California -- is having the doctors on its payroll gradually reduce the dosages of opioids they prescribe until they're below a level that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined constitutes a high overdose risk. The insurance company -- Blue Shield of California -- is using its power as a treatment authorizer to bring the dosage of its network doctors' opioid prescriptions down to the same level targeted by Kaiser. (Plevin, 5/10)
Meanwhile, staffing issues hamper Ventura County's efforts to fight its drug problems —
The Ventura County Star:
Ventura’s Drug Problem Grows As Resources Shrink
In the early 2000s, the city of Ventura had a dedicated narcotics division and another unit dedicated to property crimes. That changed around 2004, when the two merged to form one street crimes unit. When that happened, staffing was nearly cut in half, from 13 to seven officers, where it is now. Fewer officers, changing laws that make it harder to prosecute and higher instances of other crimes including identity theft mean getting a handle on the city's drug problem is harder than ever, Sgt. Terry Medina said. (Martinez, 5/9)
The community-based outpatient clinic ranks as one of the worst in the country for wait times, and U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, organized a meeting for veterans and their family members to tell their personal experiences with it.
The Ventura County Star:
Frustrated Veterans Tired Of Waiting For Care At Oxnard Clinic
Records show wait times for scheduling appointments at an Oxnard clinic for veterans rank among the nation's worst. And if regional Veterans Affairs leaders had any doubts about the impact of the wait times, they likely no longer do after a nearly two hour meeting with dozens of frustrated veterans in Camarillo on Monday. (Kisken, 5/9)
The demographics and need are there in the region, but there aren't a lot of facilities dedicated to memory care, says Jon Tattersall, managing director with Maverick Partners West.
The Sacramento Business Journal:
Local Firm Planning Memory-Care Centers In Folsom, Granite Bay
Seeing a niche within a growing market, a Roseville firm is developing two memory-care centers in the region. One of those centers is already nearing completion. Jon Tattersall, managing director with Maverick Partners West, said his firm is almost finished building CountryHouse Granite Bay at Barton Road and Douglas Boulevard. Broadstone Memory Care in Folsom, approved by that city last week, is the firm's other center. Both projects are partnerships with Bay Area-based Agemark, which will operate the two centers after they’re built. (van der Meer, 5/9)
In other health care news from across California —
The Bakersfield Californian:
County Considers 'Urgent' Moratorium On Pot Shops
Kern County supervisors will launch the newest round in their fight against medical marijuana shops Tuesday when they consider a moratorium on the establishment of new storefronts. The “urgency” ordinance, which would take effect immediately, would stop new medical marijuana cooperatives from opening their doors in unincorporated areas for at least 45 days. (Burger, 5/9)
The Sacramento Bee:
Sacramento State Students Pursue HIV Research With Federal Grant
Professor Katherine McReynolds’ team of chemistry students hasn’t cracked the case on HIV prevention yet, but it’s getting closer in a beaker-strewn lab on the California State University, Sacramento, campus. The students spend 40 to 60 hours each week creating new chemical compounds. The goal is to find a group of molecules that can bind to protein structures on the surface of HIV cells, which would prevent the virus from infecting T-cells – white blood cells that help the body’s immune system respond to pathogens. (Caiola, 5/9)
Redlands Daily Facts:
Blood Donors To Get Admission Vouchers To Hangar 24 Airfest
People who complete a blood donation today at LifeStream’s San Bernardino, Riverside or Ontario centers can get free admission to the Hangar 24 Airfest and 8th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday at Redlands Municipal Airport, 1755 Sessums Drive. Hangar 24 Brewery is offering blood donors a complimentary admission voucher, which must be exchanged for an admission ticket at the brewery, 1710 Sessums Drive in Redlands, no later than midnight Friday. (Emerson, 5/9)
However, an aide to the candidate says the study, released by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute Health Policy Center, wildly exaggerates the cost and understates the savings from the health plan.
The Associated Press:
Study: Sanders' Economic Plan Piles $18T On Federal Debt
Sen. Bernie Sanders' tax and spending proposals would provide new levels of health and education benefits for American families, but they'd also blow an $18-trillion hole in federal deficits, piling on so much debt they would damage the economy. That sobering assessment comes from a joint analysis released Monday by the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute Health Policy Center, well-known Washington think tanks. Democratic presidential candidate Sanders would raise taxes by more than $15 trillion over 10 years, with most of that paid by upper-income earners. But that wouldn't be enough to cover the cost of his proposed government-run health care system. (5/9)
Bernie Sanders' $33 Trillion Spending Explosion
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has proposed a whopping $33 trillion federal spending increase over 10 years, according to a new report likely to fuel complaints his campaign promises are unrealistic. His proposed tax increases would not come anywhere close to covering those costs, the centrist Tax Policy Center said Monday. ... The Tax Policy Center got it “half right,” a Sanders aide said in a statement. While the analysis found Sanders' plan would help low- and middle-income people even more than the campaign estimated, Warren Gunnels said the center “wildly exaggerated” the cost of Sanders’ health care plans. “This study significantly understates the savings in administration, paperwork, and prescription drug prices that every major country on earth has successfully achieved by adopting a universal health care program,” said Gunnells, Sanders’ policy director. “If every other major country can spend less on health care and insure all of their people, so can the U.S.” (Faler, 5/9)
On the Republican side of the 2016 election —
The Guessing Game Begins Over Trump's Health Care Picks
A Donald Trump administration is likely to prove as unorthodox as his campaign — and that extends to the health care realm. The presumptive GOP nominee has not named any advisers with notable health care policy experience, and few names have emerged as possible picks for top administration jobs — and some wouldn't want to serve a President Trump. But a few names are being floated as potential HHS secretary — particularly Ben Carson, given his medical pedigree and strong support for Trump. The other names in the ether: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who rose to prominence as CEO of hospital chain Columbia/HCA, and former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who held a top HHS post in the administration of George W. Bush and who was a sworn enemy of Obamacare while he was governor. All three have expressed support for Trump now that he's the presumptive nominee. (Demko, 5/9)
The Government Accountability Office said that the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services has spent about $117 million on Medicare Advantage overbilling audits, but so far has recouped just $14 million.
NPR/Center for Public Integrity:
GAO Audit: Feds Failed To Rein In Medicare Advantage Overbilling
Private Medicare Advantage plans treating the elderly have overbilled the government by billions of dollars, but rarely been forced to repay the money or face other consequences for their actions, according to a congressional audit released Monday. In a sharply critical report, the Government Accountability Office called for "fundamental improvements" to curb overbilling by the health plans, which are paid more than $160 billion annually. The privately run health plans, an alternative to traditional fee-for-service Medicare, have proven popular with seniors and have enrolled more than 17 million people. The plans, which were the subject of a Center for Public Integrity investigation, also enjoy strong support in Congress. (Schulte, 5/9)
What food the agency deems healthy is constrained by rules first defined in the 1990s when low-fat content was the main concern of health professionals and sugar wasn't even on the radar. Under the current guidelines, a sugary cereal might be called healthier than salmon or nuts. “The problem, of course, is that the foodscape can change quickly, but Food and Drug Administration regulations change very slowly," says David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.
The Wall Street Journal:
FDA Seeks To Redefine ‘Healthy’
What’s healthier than a Pop-Tart? Not almonds, according to today’s regulatory rules. That could change as the Food and Drug Administration kicks off a review of the 1990s official definition of “healthy” at the urging of food companies and lawmakers. The regulator is planning to ask the public as well as food experts for comment on what should be the modern definition of healthy, setting off a process that could take years to complete. But the decision to redefine the term marks a major step in the FDA’s effort to catch up to changing ideas about health and eating habits. (Gasparro, 5/10)
In other national health care news —
The Wall Street Journal:
Doctor-Device Deals Need Scrutiny, Report Says
Spinal surgeons are more likely to perform surgery if they profit from the medical devices used in the treatment, according to a congressional study that recommends more safeguards to police such financial incentives. The report by Senate Finance Committee Republicans analyzes the trend in which doctors have ownership interests in commercial entities that act as intermediaries between medical-device makers and hospitals. The surgeons generally get a commission on each sale, which may lead them to perform excessive or unnecessary operations in order to steer business to themselves. (Armour, 5/9)
The Wall Street Journal:
Clues To Better Health Care From Old Malpractice Lawsuits
Doctors are learning valuable new lessons from past malpractice cases about mistakes that could put their patients at risk and expose them to lawsuits. Malpractice insurers and medical specialty groups are mining thousands of closed claims from suits that have been tried, dismissed or settled over the past few years. Their goal is to identify common reasons that doctors are sued and the underlying issues that threaten patient safety. They are sharing those insights with doctors and hospitals, which in turn are using them to develop new safety protocols and prevention strategies. (Landro, 5/9)
The Washington Post:
‘Salvaging Some Good’: The Unexpected Side Effect Of The Tragic Opioid Epidemic
America's opioid epidemic has had far-reaching and generally devastating consequences. Now, the impact is being seen in organ donations. Coinciding with a rise in drug-related deaths, the number of organ donors who died of drug overdoses has sharply increased in recent years — "a silver lining to what is absolutely a tragedy," Alexandra K. Glazier, president of the New England Organ Bank, recently told U.S. News & World Report. Last year, 848 organ donors died of drug intoxication, according to Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network data. And while such organ donors have become more common over the decades, the recent numbers show a staggering jump. (Izadi, 5/9)