- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- What Would A Public Insurance Option Look Like In California?
- Trump’s Debate Claim On Health Care Costs: It Depends What You Mean By 'Cost'
- Marketplace 1
- Blood Testing Startup Theranos Engaged In 'Series Of Lies,' Investor Alleges In Lawsuit
- Public Health and Education 2
- Health Groups Urge Seniors To Get Flu Shots
- Experts Cautious On Pregnant Women Using Marijuana To Ease Morning Sickness
Latest From California Healthline:
California might not need one, UCLA health policy expert Gerald Kominski said in an interview — but he added that it could provide a backstop against potential future retrenchment by private sector health plans in the state's ACA insurance exchange. (Pauline Bartolone, 10/11)
Although many consumers are feeling the heat from increased health care spending, the overall bill may not be larger. (Julie Rovner, 10/10)
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Summaries Of The News:
In his David vs. Goliath fight with the pharmaceutical industry, Michael Weinstein considers the fact that the initiative has gotten people to talk about curbing drug prices a victory in itself.
Spending Big On Sex And Drug Initiatives, AIDS Activist Michael Weinstein Says He ‘Can’t Lose’
Weinstein, 64, leads the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an organization he willed from a 25-bed hospice near Dodger Stadium to a global powerhouse that rivals the American Cancer Society. AHF, as it is known, has a projected $1.3 billion budget, more than 600,000 clients and operates in 37 countries. Weinstein still can’t be described as beloved, and his latest attempt to curb drug prices isn’t helping his cause. (Cadelago and White, 10/10)
LA Daily News:
Mothers, Consumer Advocates Promote Proposition 61 To Stop Drug Price Gouging
Prop. 61 would require all prescription drugs purchased by the state of California to be priced at or below the price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which pays the lowest price of any federal agency. (Smith, 10/10)
A San Francisco-based hedge fund that invested $96 million in Theranos is now suing the company.
The Wall Street Journal:
Major Investor Sues Theranos
One of Theranos Inc.’s biggest financial backers has sued the embattled startup and its founder for allegedly lying to attract its nearly $100 million investment, according to a fund document and people familiar with the matter. Partner Fund Management LP, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, filed the suit in Delaware Court of Chancery Monday afternoon, a letter to the hedge-fund’s investors says. (Weaver, 10/10)
San Francisco Business Times:
Major Theranos Investor Sues, Accusing It Of 'Series Of Lies' And Securities Fraud
A San Francisco hedge fund has reportedly sued Theranos, accusing it of lying to get a $100 million investment, and that those lies amounted to securities fraud. (Schubarth and McDermid, 10/11)
Thousands are expected to lose their current Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan coverage.
Medicare Sign-Ups: How To Prepare For 2017 Changes And Avoid Scams
Although final numbers will not be released until mid-October, Medicare officials say a number of current Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans are exiting the California market, starting in January. More than 11,700 seniors in Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties who have Medicare Advantage plans are likely to be affected, according to Nakabayashi. A number of Part D prescription drug plans also are disappearing next year. (Buck, 10/10)
Officials are blaming staffing and budget shortages, broken equipment and the difficulty in recruiting and training highly skilled employees for the massive backlog that has the city on edge.
Los Angeles Times:
Massive L.A. Coroner Backlog Comes At A Price For Loved Ones Of Those Lost
It was a sweltering day in Pomona in August 2015 when Katie Dix collapsed during a rave at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. She went into cardiac arrest and died at a nearby hospital. Dix’s family expected that an autopsy and lab tests would take a few weeks, but as months went by they grew frustrated and angry. Her relatives would call repeatedly, only to be told: “Next month.” “It was excruciating for her parents,” said Lee Sherman, the family’s attorney. “It is horrible enough to deal with your child’s death — the reports, the speculation. They just wanted answers.” (Winton and Sewell, 10/9)
The cuts include 15 jobs in Sacramento, 20 in Roseville, eight in Yuba City and 14 in Modesto.
Sutter’s Visiting Nurses Program To Cut 154 Jobs In Northern California
Sutter Care at Home is cutting 154 jobs in Northern California, part of a reorganization of its visiting nurses program, officials announced Monday. ... Sutter Health officials said the job losses do not affect staffers who provide patient care, such as home health care or hospice. The positions are either being consolidated or outsourced. The program “made the difficult decision to move to a new staffing model that reduces some non-patient-care positions,” said Karen Stander, chief home health executive for Sutter Care at Home, in an email. (Buck, 10/10)
Sacremento Business Journal:
Sutter Cuts 154 Jobs In Reorganization Of Visiting Nurse Program
Sutter Care at Home is reorganizing to focus more resources on patient care, the company says. (Anderson, 10/11)
In a matchup with symptom-checker apps, a real physician outperformed them by a margin of more than 2 to 1, according to a new report.
Los Angeles Times:
Your Phone May Be Smart, But Your Doctor Still Knows More Than An App
If you’re feeling sick and you want to know what’s wrong with you, there’s an app for that. But the diagnosis won’t be as accurate as the one you’d get from a doctor — not by a long shot. In a head-to-head comparison, real human physicians outperformed a collection of 23 symptom-checker apps and websites by a margin of more than 2 to 1, according to a report published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. (Kaplan, 10/10)
In other health technology news —
Robot Extends Reach Of Bakersfield Surgeons
Since January, Kern Medical Center has been one of only four hospitals in California that have the da Vinci Xi surgical system. This fourth-generation development in robotic technology allows a surgeon’s hand movements to be converted into smaller, precise movements of tiny instruments inside a patient’s body. The da Vinci includes a small camera that sends images to a video monitor in the operating room that guides doctors during surgery. Since its acquisition, surgeons in a variety of specialties have performed close to 100 minimally invasive surgeries at KMC using the da Vinci robot. (Mayer, 10/8)
In 1926, at a time when Japanese Americans were often turned away from major hospitals, five local doctors, led by Kikuwo Tashiro, formed a corporation to build and open a facility.
Former Japanese Hospital Could Become LA's Newest Monument
The two-story, cement building on 1st Street in Boyle Heights doesn't look particularly impressive but it hides an exceptional story behind its cement facade. For more than 30 years it was the Japanese Hospital, a medical facility designed to serve the city's Japanese American community. Its story stretches all the way to the Supreme Court and a landmark case — which is what it took to get the hospital built. On Tuesday, the L.A. City Council will vote on whether the former hospital should be designated a Historic-Cultural Monument. (Shatkin, 10/10)
In other hospital news —
East Bay Times:
County Hospital Back To Full Operation; Cause Of Boiler Fire Still Under Investigation
Full operations at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center had resumed by Saturday morning following a Friday afternoon fire that left a boiler damaged. The hospital began accepting emergency patients again by midnight Friday, about nine hours after 45 firefighters descended shortly about 2:30 p.m. on the hospital on Alhambra Avenue to fight a boiler fire. (Richards, 10/10)
A special flu vaccine is being offered this year for people over 65, which includes an immune-boosting ingredient called an adjuvant.
It’s Flu Shot Time, Especially For Seniors
Influenza data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week showed that during the 2015 to 2016 influenza season, vaccination rates dropped 1.5 percentage points among the general population, with 46 percent vaccinating against the flu. Rates dropped by 3 percentage points among adults over 50, and Hispanic and African American adults continued to experience lower vaccination rates than white adults. Older adults are more severely affected by the flu than younger people and are more likely to be hospitalized if they catch it, said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, in a news release. (Caiola, 10/10)
In other news from across California —
KPBS Public Media:
San Diego Caregivers To Get Back Wages, Damages
A residential care business in San Diego has been ordered to pay 15 employees more than $1.1 million in back wages and damages. Family Residential Care, which operates four locations in San Diego and East County, was found in violation of minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the California Labor Code. An investigation was launched in July 2015 after an investigator with the California Labor Commissioner received an anonymous tip. (Fudge, 10/10)
LA Daily News:
Group Seeks To Halt ‘Disastrous’ LA County Plan For Women’s Jail
A report compiled by Californians United for a Responsible Budget highlights how the women’s jail is proposed for an area where Valley fever is more common ... Valley fever is caused by fungal spores in the soil. The fungus enters the body through the lungs, and can cause cold and flu-like symptoms. Although rare, it can be serious, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. (Abram, 10/10)
Orange County Register:
Teens Get A Kick Out Of Helping Kids With Special Needs Play Soccer
Everyone plays. That’s the fundamental tenet of American Youth Soccer Organization, better known as AYSO. Nowhere is the philosophy so evident as in AYSO’s VIP (Very Important Player) program. VIP teams are comprised of children and adults whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to participate on mainstream teams. (Goulding, 10/10)
As Californians get ready to vote Nov. 8 on whether to legalize recreational marijuana, public health experts weigh in on if it's safe for pregnant women to use and other questions.
Orange County Register:
Cannabis Conversation: Is Pot Safe For Pregnant Moms? Does Marijuana Cause Lung Cancer?
There’s a growing body of research that suggests marijuana can help with conditions such as nausea and pain while posing only modest health risks for adults. But as Californians get ready to vote Nov. 8 on whether to legalize recreational marijuana, there are broader public health questions to consider, from whether it affects developing fetuses to the impact of secondhand smoke. (Staggs, 10/10)
In other news —
Ventura County Star:
Ventura To Study Marijuana Measure
The Ventura City Council on Monday directed staff to return with detailed information on what the city might do if recreational marijuana is legalized. Voters will be deciding in November whether to approve Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. (Arlene Martinez, 10/11)
Under the Affordable Care Act, any preventive service that receives one of the USPSTF's top two ratings must be covered by insurance, but three doctors have spoken out against the rule, saying it breeds the possibility of manipulation within the system.
EpiPen Triggers Change In Thinking About Obamacare Requirement
Three doctors who have led a task force that evaluates preventive medical services say the group's recommendations shouldn't be tied by law to insurance coverage. The former chairmen of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force say the link between medical recommendations and insurance coverage leads to financial incentives that can corrupt the process and distort people's health care decisions. (Kodjak, 10/10)
In other national health care news —
The Associated Press:
On Opioid Epidemic, Clinton Offers More Specifics Than Trump
Hillary Clinton calls the scourge of heroin and opioid addiction a "quiet epidemic." Donald Trump marvels that overdoses are a problem in picturesque American communities. "How does heroin work with these beautiful lakes and trees?" he said recently in New Hampshire. "It doesn't." Both presidential candidates agree drug addiction is a major problem in America, but only Clinton has offered a detailed plan to tackle it as part of her campaign. (Ronayne, 10/10)
Providers Say CMS Needs To Push Plans Harder To Prevent 'Surprise Bills'
Providers say the CMS isn't doing enough to protect consumers from receiving surprise bills and ensuring low-income exchange enrollees have access to care. Surprise medical bills come when consumers get care at an in-network facility by an out-of-network specialist. Many times this happens because their insurer hasn't properly informed its customers. In a proposed rule that outlines coverages policies for plans in 2018, the CMS suggested that plans should count enrollee cost sharing for care provided by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility toward the enrollee's annual deductible . The agency proposed the policy for plans both and off the exchange. CMS received 664 comments on the proposed rule by its Oct. 6 deadline. (Dickson, 10/10)
The New York Times:
Cancer In Retreat On One Front: Fewer Children Are Dying
Children are dying less often from cancer, with substantial declines in all races and age groups, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics. From 1999 to 2014, the overall deaths from childhood cancer fell by 20 percent. The rate among 1- to 19-year-olds went down to 2.28 per 100,000 population, from 2.85. Adolescents 15 to 19 were the most likely to die, but their rate fell by 22 percent.(Bakalar, 10/10)