- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- Bad Hombres, Russian Hackers And … A Medical Device Tax?
- Did Gender Bias Derail A Potential Birth Control Option For Men?
- 'Durable Cure' Is Goal For Childhood Cancer, But Recent Patients Have Persistent Issues
- Campaign 2016 1
- Scathing Attacks Fly As National Spotlight Focuses On California Proposition To Curb High Drug Prices
- Hospital Roundup 1
- Outpatient Clinic Offers Relief To Severely Underserved Coachella Valley Residents
Latest From California Healthline:
Why an obscure revenue raiser for the Affordable Care Act has found its way into a number of congressional campaign ads. (Julie Appleby, 11/7)
A study that showed positive results in terms of contraceptive efficacy but may have been linked to depression has sparked debate about possible bias in contraceptive research. But the issues may not be so simple. (Shefali Luthra, 11/8)
People treated in the 1990s report worse health problems later in life than those treated in the two previous decades. (Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, 11/8)
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Summaries Of The News:
“Court records alone show these drug companies have the morals and ethics of junkyard dogs,” says Garry South, the “Yes” campaign’s chief strategist.
Drug Pricing Fight In California Turns Even Uglier As Voting Nears
The bitter campaign over high drug prices in California is heating up as it’s winding down. New polls show Californians deadlocked over a ballot proposition that would cap the amount some state health plans pay for medications. In an 11th hour bid to rally support for the measure, Senator Bernie Sanders is canvassing the state Monday with events in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Meanwhile, his allies in the “Yes” campaign just put out a series of brutal online “Wanted” ads painting pharma execs as criminals. (Robbins and Keshavan, 11/7)
California’s Drug Price Initiative: Will Voters ‘Send A Signal To Washington’?
This year, Mary O’Connor and her father made voting a family affair. O’Connor’s father is a Vietnam veteran, so she was especially interested in his views on Proposition 61, a California ballot measure that would peg the state’s payments for prescription drugs to prices paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s widely believed the federal program for military personnel gets some of the deepest discounts in the country. (Bartolone, 11/7)
The San Diego Union Tribune:
California Ballot Propositions Rake In A Record $473 Million In Campaign Cash
The two most expensive measures are the ones potentially most damaging to the profits of the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries. Pharmaceutical companies have been the force behind the campaign to defeat Proposition 61, an initiative to influence prescription drug costs. At more than $109 million, it's one of the most expensive ballot measure campaigns in California history, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics...Tobacco companies have mounted the second largest campaign cash effort this season in their bid to defeat Proposition 56, which would impose a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes. Tobacco giant Philip Morris alone has spent more than $44 million to oppose the measure. (Bollag, 11/7)
At Some Hospitals, Patients Get Their Ballots Hand-Delivered
In the June 7 presidential primary, roughly 59 percent of 8.5 million California voters used vote-by-mail ballots, according to the secretary of state’s office. Under state election laws, any voter who missed the absentee ballot deadline but cannot get to the polls “because of illness or disability” can make a signed, written request for an absentee ballot. That request can be delivered by someone they designate, such as a family member or hospital staffer, to the county elections office where they’re registered to vote. (Buck, 11/7)
“When I found out about the pavilion I knew my prayers were answered,” Angelina Castelberry said. The current rate of medical care offered in the area is one physician per 9,000 people. It should be one for 2,500.
The Desert Sun:
Outpatient Pavilion Planned For Indio
This 12,000-square-foot pavilion planned for the corner of Smurr and Civic Center streets is only the first step in bringing more medical care to the severely understaffed eastern valley. The current rate is one physician per 9,000 people but it should be one for 2,500. The outpatient pavilion will be run by Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in cooperation with Social Action Corps Health System, a nonprofit community health-care corporation that provides affordable health-care services for all, but primarily serves uninsured patients and their families. (Brenon, 11/7)
The researchers have used gene-editing technology to correct the mutation that causes the disease.
The Mercury News:
Bay Area Scientists Use CRISPR-Cas9 To Aid Sickle Cell Disease
A team of Bay Area scientists has used a powerful new gene-editing technique to fix the mutation that causes sickle cell disease, a key step towards a cure for the deadly immune system disease. While more work is required before it is offered to patients, the researchers — from UC Berkeley, UCSF’s Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland and the University of Utah — have corrected the gene in enough cells to improve health. (Krieger, 11/7)
In other news on CRISPR —
CRISPR Patent Case Headed For Oral Arguments Soon
It may not be Game 7 of the World Series, but biotech and patent law wonks, mark your calendars: Oral arguments in the fight over who deserves the key patent on the CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology are set for next month. Come 10 a.m. on Dec. 6, the parties in the case will be able to present 20-minute arguments — as well as rebut the other side for five minutes — before three US Patent and Trademark Office judges in Alexandria, Va. The judges will also be able to grill the parties on what they have filed in their voluminous motions. (Joseph, 11/7)
Tansi A. Casillas says her employer had her meet patients about treatment for sleep apnea and other breathing problems but Medicare would be later billed for a doctor's visit.
Medicare Fraud Whistleblower Gets $631,200 From Fresno County Jury
Tansi A. Casillas, 51, of Fresno, alleged that her employer, Central California Faculty Medical Group, eliminated her position at University North Medical Specialty Center in retaliation for the fraud complaints she made and for refusing to perform medical services outside the scope of her respiratory care license. In her lawsuit, Casillas said doctors left the responsibility to her to have face-to-face evaluations with patients on continuous positive airway pressure, a treatment that keeps the airways open for people who have sleep apnea and other breathing problems. The patient and Medicare were later billed for a doctor’s visit, even though the patient was not seen by a doctor, the lawsuit said. (Anderson, 11/4)
Cucumbers that had been delivered to the locations have been recalled.
The Bakersfield Californian:
Dozens Of Schools May Have Served Contaminated Cucumbers
Kern County public health officials reported Monday that certain lots of cucumbers delivered to multiple locations in Bakersfield — including as many as 26 schools, three hospitals and two restaurants — have been recalled due to potential salmonella contamination. While the information may have hit the streets too late to prevent possible illness, there have been no foodborne illnesses reported as a result of the potential salmonella contamination, said Michelle Corson, a spokeswoman at the Kern County Department of Public Health Services. As many as 19 elementary schools in the Bakersfield City School District and seven campuses in the Greenfield Union School District received the cucumbers, which may have been served in salad bars at the schools between Oct. 19 and last Friday, the department said in a news release. (Mayer, 11/7)
The use of the "waiting rooms," which one enrollment activist described as nearly “constant,” comes unusually soon in the open enrollment window.
The Wall Street Journal:
HealthCare.Gov Site Straining To Keep Up With Enrollees
HealthCare.gov has been straining to handle this year’s would-be enrollees, who are frequently being placed in holding areas on the site to avoid crashing the sign-up system, enrollment workers around the country say. Online “waiting rooms,” where people are sent at times when the site’s capacity is stretched, have been deployed regularly since the new sign-up period began last Tuesday, Nov. 1. (Radnofsky, 11/7)
In other national health care news —
The New York Times:
U.S. Enforcing Insurance Law To Help Fight Opioid Abuse
In one of President Obama’s last major health care initiatives, the administration is stepping up enforcement of laws that require equal insurance coverage for mental and physical illnesses, a move officials say will help combat an opioid overdose epidemic. A White House task force on Oct. 27 said insurers needed to understand that coverage for the treatment of drug addiction must be comparable to that for other conditions like depression, schizophrenia, cancer and heart disease. (Pear, 11/7)
Federal Judge Grants Nursing Home Arbitration Injunction
The AHCA argued that the rule exceeds the CMS' statutory authority and is wholly unnecessary to protect the health and safety of residents. In a 40 page-decision released Monday, Judge Michael Mills said he agreed. “As sympathetic as this court may be to the public policy considerations which motivated the rule, it is unwilling to play a role in countenancing the incremental 'creep' of federal agency authority beyond that envisioned by the U.S. Constitution,” Mills wrote. (Dickson, 11/7)
The Wall Street Journal:
Senate Panel Urges FTC To Review Mylan
Lawmakers continued criticizing Mylan NV over its EpiPen injector, with two leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for the Federal Trade Commission to review whether Mylan engaged in anticompetitive practices. Committee chairman Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) said in a letter to the FTC that the agency should look into issues including school contracts that restricted purchases of EpiPen competitors. (Beckerman, 11/7)
Will FDA Approve A New Antibiotic Despite 'Significant' Safety Issues?
In a dramatic squeaker, a regulatory panel of experts last Friday narrowly recommended that an antibiotic from Cempra, an upstart developer, should be approved for use. But the 7-to-6 vote suggested an acknowledgement of what one Wall Street analyst calls a “screaming unmet” need for new treatments that outweigh the sort of safety concerns surrounding the product. The meeting was closely watched for two reasons: Cempra pitched solithromycin as an answer to the problem of antibiotic resistance, a huge public health issue. At the same time, the Cempra antibiotic demonstrated a “significant safety signal” and is structurally similar to Ketek, an older antibiotic that caused fatal liver injuries, according to a regulatory review, which was released last Wednesday. (Silverman, 11/7)