Latest From California Healthline:
In the Golden State and elsewhere, school lunches include less meat, fewer processed foods and more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. One of the challenges nutrition advocates face is a new directive from the Trump administration that cuts the other way. (Mark Kreidler, 10/15)
Good morning! Starting in the new year, Californians will once again face an individual mandate that they have health care insurance. What does that entail? Read more below, but first here are your top California health stories for the day.
Powerful Dialysis Companies Dealt Blow With Newly Signed Law Setting Reimbursement Limits: Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill, known as Assembly Bill 290, in the face of intense opposition from dialysis companies DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, which together control most of California's dialysis clinics. AB 290, which was introduced by Calif. Assemblyman Jim Wood, a Democrat, is meant to stop dialysis companies from collecting what Wood called excessive profits. It caps payments to dialysis companies at Medicare rates or a rate determined by a dispute resolution process when patients' insurance premiums are paid by not-for-profit organizations, such as the American Kidney Fund. While in their public statements the companies focused on how the new law would affect patients, the companies are also likely worried about their bottom lines. Early this year DaVita's then-CEO, Kent Thiry, said that the law could reduce operating income by $24 million to $40 million. DaVita's 2018 revenue totaled $11.4 billion, while its operating income was $1.5 billion. Read more from Shelby Livingston of Modern Healthcare.
San Francisco Mayor Unveils Ambitious $200M Plan To Tackle City’s Dual Mental Health, Homeless Crisis: San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s plan is intended to chart the city’s course for treating and, eventually, housing the roughly 4,000 people in San Francisco suffering from homelessness, psychosis and substance abuse disorder — a population that Breed and health officials admit has been chronically underserved by the city’s existing offerings. Many details of Breed’s plan are still forthcoming, including specifics on how UrgentCareSF will be funded and what costs will be one-time expenses compared to annual budget needs. But the broad contours of Breed’s plan include embarking on a hiring spree for case workers and other health care professionals, creating sobering centers for people addicted to drugs and alcohol, adding about 800 new treatment beds and acquiring board-and-care facilities that provide long-term mental health treatment beds at risk of closing down. Read more from Dominic Fracassa and Trisha Thadani of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Contaminated Drinking Water Found Across State In Systems That Serve Up To 9 Million Residents: State officials released the water quality results on Monday, the first step in what’s likely to be a years-long effort to track the scale of the contamination and pinpoint its sources. The results revealed pockets of contamination, where chemicals widely used for decades in manufacturing and household goods have seeped into the public’s water supply. “This has the potential of being an enormously costly issue both on the health side as well as on the mitigation and regulatory side,” said Kurt Schwabe, an environmental policy professor at UC Riverside. A state law that takes effect in January will require utilities to inform customers if PFAS are found at any level. Read more from Anna M. Phillips and Anthony Pesce of the Los Angeles Times.
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
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More News From Across The State
Californians Must Have Health Insurance In 2020, Or Face Penalty
A new state law going into effect Jan. 1 requires Californians to have health insurance in 2020 or face a penalty on their state taxes.This follows the repeal of the individual mandate at the federal level, which took effect in 2019. California's individual mandate is part of a state budget deal struck by Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom over the summer. (Ruth and Cavanaugh, 10/14)
The Desert Sun:
Med-Cal, Covered California: How To Sign Up For 2020 Insurance
Starting in January, Californians will be required to sign up for health insurance or face a $695 tax penalty under the new state mandate. Covered California open enrollment for 2020 runs from Tuesday Oct. 15 through Jan. 15. If the enrollment period is missed, people won’t be able to sign up for coverage unless they qualify for a special enrollment period because of a major life event, such as having a baby, getting married or losing other coverage. Enrollment for Medi-Cal, the state’s free or reduced-cost taxpayer-funded health insurance program, is available at any time. (Hayden, 10/14)
Los Angeles Times:
California Extends New Protections To Immigrants Under Laws Signed By Newsom
California lawmakers continued the state’s expansion of rights and protections this year for immigrants who enter the country illegally, with laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom allowing them to serve on government boards and commissions and banning arrests for immigration violations in courthouses across the state. The efforts by Newsom and Democrats in the California Legislature to provide refuge to immigrants stand in sharp contrast to the policies of President Trump, who continues to push for a new wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and also crack down on asylum seekers. (WiIllon, 10/14)
Los Angeles Times:
Will Later School Start Times Mean More Sleep Or More Hassles For California?
California students, their parents and educators woke up Monday to a new law that will dramatically impact their morning routines. The state has become the first in the in the nation to mandate that public middle schools can start no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The law, signed Sunday night by Gov. Gavin Newsom, has touched off mixed reaction — cheers from the sleep-deprived to official worries about impending logistical hassles. (Blume, Agrawal and Kohli, 10/14)
Stanislaus CA Schools Will Adapt So Students Get More Sleep
The bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday forbids California middle schools from ringing the opening bell before 8 a.m., and prohibits high schools from starting class before 8:30 a.m. Local school districts have time to prepare for the mandate. Schools must adopt the law before July 1, 2022, or sooner if they have collective bargaining units that allow negotiation before the deadline. (Carlson and Farrow, 10/14)
Whistle-Blower Warns Stanislaus Students Off Nicotine
DeNoble is one of the most prominent anti-tobacco campaigners in the nation. Monday morning at Orestimba High, he kicked off a week of presentations at high schools around Stanislaus County. And the general public can hear his presentation, “Inside the Dark Side: The Biology of Addiction & the Dangers of Vaping,” on Thursday night in Modesto. (Farrow, 10/14)
Los Angeles Times:
Survey Finds Higher Rate Of Sexual Assault At USC
One in four female undergraduates at leading campuses across the country say they have been sexually assaulted by force or because they were passed out, asleep or incapacitated by alcohol or drugs and unable to consent, according to a national survey released Tuesday. USC reported higher numbers, with 31% of female undergraduates saying they were sexually assaulted sometime during their college years. (Watanabe, 10/15)
Deadly Bacteria Legionella Still In California Prison Water
A bacteria outbreak at a state prison in Stockton has cost California $8.5 million and doesn’t appear to be going away seven months after it infected two inmates, one of whom died. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported in March that two inmates had tested positive for Legionella, a bacteria that can cause a life-threatening form of pneumonia when inhaled in water vapor. One of the inmates died. (Venteicher, 10/15)
Los Angeles Times:
Boise, Idaho Is Why L.A. Can't Clear Homeless Encampments
Boise Mayor David Bieter is attempting to challenge a landmark federal court ruling that prohibits cities from ticketing or arresting homeless people for sleeping or camping on public property if there are no shelter beds available as an alternative. The city and county of Los Angeles, along with several local governments in California and elsewhere, have filed court documents supporting Bieter’s bid. (La Ganga, 10/15)
Ventura County Star:
Ventura County Hospitals Penalized For Medicare Patient Readmissions
Six hospitals in Ventura County face federal penalties because of the volume of Medicare patients readmitted within 30 days of being discharged for pneumonia, heart attacks and other illnesses. St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo, Los Robles Health System in Thousand Oaks, Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, Adventist Health Simi Valley, St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura all stand to lose a fraction of their reimbursement for each Medicare patient treated in the fiscal year that began Oct.1. (Kisken, 10/14)
Four Health Care Questions For Tonight's Democratic Debate
If tonight’s Democratic debate is anything like the earlier ones, it will feature an extended back-and-forth about whether to eliminate private health insurance, and then move on from health care. But there’s a whole lot more that’s also worth asking about. (Baker, 10/15)
The Wall Street Journal:
Democratic Debates: What The Presidential Candidates Are (And Aren’t) Saying
A close viewer of the Democratic primary debates so far this year might come away with an informed understanding of the presidential candidates’ views on certain policy areas, such as immigration and health care. ... Everyone in the 2020 Democratic field has taken sides on Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has said she’s “with Bernie” on expanding government-run health insurance, while former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg have argued in favor of letting Americans keep their private insurance plans. Pete Buttigieg: “I propose Medicare for all who want it. We take a version of Medicare, we make it available for the American people, and if we are right, as progressives, that that public alternative is better, then the American people will figure that out for themselves. I trust the American people to make the right choice for them. Why don’t you?” (Secada and Stephenson, 10/15)
Democratic Debate: 12 Candidates Face High Stakes On Biggest Primary Debate Stage Ever
Addressing the health care system -- perhaps the most important issue for progressive voters -- could offer an opening for Sanders, who is keen to reestablish himself as the dominant liberal in the race. He hinted at a more aggressive approach toward Warren in an interview with ABC News' "This Week on Sunday." "There are differences between Elizabeth and myself," he said. (Collinson, 10/14)
Trump Is Trying Hard To Thwart Obamacare. How's That Going?
The very day President Trump was sworn in — Jan. 20, 2017 — he signed an executive order instructing administration officials "to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay" implementing parts of the Affordable Care Act, while Congress got ready to repeal and replace Barack Obama's signature health law. Months later, repeal and replace didn't work, after the late Arizona Sen. John McCain's dramatic thumbs down on a crucial vote (Trump still frequently mentions this moment in his speeches and rallies, including in his recent speech on Medicare). (Simmons-Duffin, 10/14)
Vaping Illness, Deaths Likely Very Rare Beyond U.S., Experts Say
E-cigarette or vaping-linked lung injuries that have killed 29 and sickened more than 1,000 people in the United States are likely to be rare in Britain and other countries where the suspect products are not widely used, specialists said on Monday. Experts in toxicology and addiction said they are sure that the 1,299 confirmed and probable American cases of serious lung injuries linked to vaping are "a U.S.-specific phenomenon," and there is no evidence of a similar pattern of illness in Britain or elsewhere. (10/14)
The New York Times:
Faced With A Drug Shortfall, Doctors Scramble To Treat Children With Cancer
A critical drug that serves as the backbone of treatment for most childhood cancers, including leukemias, lymphomas and brain tumors, has become increasingly scarce, and doctors are warning that they may soon be forced to consider rationing doses. Persistent shortages of certain drugs and medical supplies have plagued the United States for years, but physicians say the loss of this medication, vincristine, is uniquely problematic, as there is no appropriate substitute. (Rabin, 10/14)
The New York Times:
Air Pollution Is Linked To Miscarriages In China, Study Finds
Researchers in China have found a significant link between air pollution and the risk of miscarriage, according to a new scientific paper released on Monday. While air pollution is connected to a greater risk of respiratory diseases, strokes and heart attacks, the new findings could add more urgency to Beijing’s efforts to curb the problem, which has long plagued Chinese cities. Faced with a rapidly aging population, the government has been trying to increase the national birthrate, which dropped last year to the lowest level since 1949. (Qin, 10/14)
The Wall Street Journal:
Amazon Joins Trend Of Sending Workers Away For Health Care
Employers are increasingly going the distance to control health spending, paying to send workers across the country to get medical care and bypassing local health-care providers. One of the latest is Amazon.com Inc., AMZN 0.26% which will pay travel costs for workers diagnosed with cancer who choose to see doctors at City of Hope, a Los Angeles-area health system. More than 380,000 of the Seattle-based company’s employees and families across the U.S. are eligible for the travel benefit. (Evans, 10/15)
The Wall Street Journal:
A Lot Of Women Work In Health Care. But Not At The Top. Why Is That?
Every year for the past four years, Harvard Medical School’s three-day workshop on career advancement and leadership skills for women in health care has sold out. More than 700 women will attend next month in Boston. For women in health, the ambition is there. The numbers are not. The health-care services industry has the highest share of women working in entry-level roles, according to new data from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey& Co. (Weber, 10/15)
Los Angeles Times:
Massive Opioid Case May End With Huge Settlement. Where Would The Money Go?
The largest civil trial in U.S. history is scheduled to begin in a matter of days, putting those who made, marketed, distributed and dispensed prescription painkillers under the legal spotlight. But those on the front lines of the opioid epidemic are already looking beyond the courtroom to the massive settlement they expect will ultimately resolve the case. Experts have little doubt it would be the most complex payout the country has ever seen. It would exact so much, from so many companies. And it would need to do so much for so many people, starting with the 2 million Americans ensnared in addiction. (Healy, 10/14)