- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Medicaid Covers Foster Kids, But Daunting Health Needs Still Slip Through The Cracks
- Courts 1
- Long, Bitter Legal Saga Over CRISPR Patents Likely Over As Appeals Court Rules Against University Of California
- Health Care Personnel 1
- Nurses Claim Restrictive Timekeeping Software At Dignity Health Has Led To Unpaid Overtime
- Public Health and Education 1
- Caregivers For Dementia Patients Should Make Sure To Remember To Take Care Of Themselves Too, Experts Say
Latest From California Healthline:
Nearly all children in the foster care system are covered by Medicaid. Yet, foster parents still struggle to meet the extraordinary health needs of their children. In California, over 67,000 foster kids are enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid. And nearly 23,000 former foster youth are enrolled in the program as a result of the Affordable Care Act. (Phil Galewitz, 9/11)
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Summaries Of The News:
It's unlikely the dispute over CRISPR research between the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the University of California will go to the Supreme Court.
Appeals Court Upholds CRISPR Patents Awarded The Broad Institute
A federal appeals court on Monday struck another blow against the University of California’s hopes of invalidating key CRISPR patents held by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, ruling unanimously that a U.S. patent board correctly concluded that the Broad’s patents did not “interfere” with those that UC had applied for. Barring an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is highly unlikely to accept the case, or a request for the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to consider the case, the long and bitter legal saga is largely over, at least in the U.S. (The fight over CRISPR patents in Europe continues.) (Begley, 9/10)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Court: UC Berkeley Cannot Patent Gene Editing Research
A study published in 2012 by a team of scientists led by UC Berkeley biologist Jennifer Doudna was the first to show how the so-called CRISPR technology could be used to alter DNA. Six months later, a researcher with the Broad Institute, affiliated with Harvard and MIT, issued a study describing the use of the same genetic technology in human cells. UC argued that the publication had lifted the basic idea of its own earlier work and challenged Broad’s patent applications. (Egelko, 9/10)
Registered and licensed practical nurses must, by necessity, stay before and after their shifts begin and end for preparatory purposes, which typically involves 20 to 30 minutes of prep before work, with another 10 to 20 minutes of duty afterward, the nurses' lawsuit claims. But the software doesn't allow them to clock in until seven minutes before their shift.
Timekeeping Software Won’t Let Dignity Health Nurses Log Any Overtime, Lawsuit Says
A recent lawsuit alleges that up to 1,200 Sacramento-area nurses with Dignity Health worked as many as 50 minutes per 12-hour shift of unpaid overtime, three times a week — and that Dignity’s restrictive timekeeping software was part of the reason those hours couldn’t be logged properly. Listing Dignity Health as the defendant, the class action complaint alleges that the plaintiffs were paid for exactly 12 hours of work per shift at hospitals in the greater Sacramento area, “regardless of when they actually clocked in or out,” attorney Bryan Lazarski wrote. (McGough, 9/10)
In other news —
Hundreds Of Sun-Maid Workers Go On Strike Over Wages And Benefits
Sun-Maid workers went on strike Monday afternoon after talks between the company and its workers broke down. ... The union and Sun-Maid officials had been working on settling a new multi-year contract, but more than 500 workers rejected a “minimal pay increase as well as the employees contributing to the company’s high deductible health and welfare plan,” according to the Teamsters Facebook page. ... Earlier this year, a three-year labor contract between Sun-Maid and the Teamsters Union expired. At issue for workers was maintaining their health care benefits at the same level as the previous contract. (Rodriguez, 9/10)
Experts at the annual “Date With a Cure” forum also focus on the importance of getting people into clinical trials for Alzheimer's drugs.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
For Alzheimer's Caregivers, Self-Care Comes First
aregiving for a loved one with dementia can consume your life. But when everything revolves around that person, no time or energy is left to take care of yourself. That’s bad for both of you, said UC San Diego neuropsychologist Guerry (pronounced “Gary”) M. Peavy. An exhausted person won’t be able to provide the best care, she said. Worse, the caregiver’s own health becomes at risk, raising the chance of cardiovascular disease or even dementia. (Fikes, 9/10)
In other public health news —
San Francisco Chronicle:
Injuries Are The Untold Part Of The Scooter Trend, Doctors And Victims Say
Injuries are the part of the electric scooter story that hasn’t yet been fully told. No one has an official count, but doctors in many cities are sharing anecdotes about people being sideswiped, brakes failing and riders colliding with cars or hitting pedestrians when they illegally scoot on sidewalks. (Swan, 9/10)
The Associated Press:
Many California Marijuana Products Failing Safety Tests
Nearly 20 percent of marijuana products in California have failed tests for potency and purity since the state started requiring the checks on July 1, a failure rate some in the industry say has more to do with unrealistic standards and technical glitches than protecting consumer safety. The testing has been especially tough on cannabis-infused cookies, candies and tinctures: about one-third have been blocked from store shelves. (9/11)
There has been little addiction training in medical schools across the country, but a decades-long push may be changing that.
The New York Times:
Most Doctors Are Ill-Equipped To Deal With The Opioid Epidemic. Few Medical Schools Teach Addiction.
To the medical students, the patient was a conundrum. According to his chart, he had residual pain from a leg injury sustained while working on a train track. Now he wanted an opioid stronger than the Percocet he’d been prescribed. So why did his urine test positive for two other drugs — cocaine and hydromorphone, a powerful opioid that doctors had not ordered? (Hoffman, 9/10)
In other news on the crisis —
The New York Times:
Senate Poised To Pass Bill To Stop Flow Of Opioids Through The Mail
The Senate appears poised this week to pass a bill intended to shut a window through which fentanyl and other opioids pour into the United States from China through the mail, as lawmakers search desperately for ways to combat an epidemic affecting people of all ages and income levels across the country. The measure, part of a bipartisan package of legislation to fight the opioid crisis, requires the United States Postal Service to collect electronic information on merchandise arriving in this country, so customs inspectors can screen parcels for fentanyl and other contraband. (Pear, 9/10)
Nearly 30% Of All Opioid Prescriptions Lack Medical Explanation
How large a role do doctors play in the opioid crisis? Nearly 30% of all opioids prescribed in US clinics or doctors' offices lack a documented reason -- such as severe back pain -- to justify a script for these addictive drugs, new research finds. In total, opioids were prescribed in almost 809 million outpatient visits over a 10-year period, with 66.4% of these prescriptions intended to treat non-cancer pain and 5.1% for cancer-related pain, according to a study published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. (Scutti, 9/10)
The Washington Post fact checker compares Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's words during confirmation hearings last week, and his dissent in a case involving religious organizations being required to provided contraception coverage to their employees. Meanwhile, more Democrats are coming out publicly against Kavanaugh's nomination.
The Washington Post Fact Check:
Did Brett Kavanaugh Signal He Supports ‘Going After Birth Control’?
[California Sen. Kamala] Harris took aim at Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh for comments he made regarding “abortion-inducing drugs” when discussing a case brought by an anti-abortion religious group challenging Obamacare rules on providing employees health coverage for contraception. She is not the only Senate Democrat to claim that Kavanaugh might undermine access to birth control if he wins a seat on the court – here’s Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, and Dianne Feinstein – but we will focus on Harris because she tweeted out a video that snipped out a key part of his statement. (Kessler, 9/11)
More Dems Come Out In Public Opposition To Kavanaugh
Several Democratic senators are coming off the fence to announce they will oppose President Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) became the latest Democrats to say they will vote against Kavanaugh. Both senators announced their opposition on Monday. "While much of Judge Kavanaugh’s record remains a mystery, what we do know is extremely troubling and dangerously out of step with the American people, particularly on critical issues including executive power, abortion rights and pre-existing conditions," Shaheen said in a statement. (Carney, 9/10)
In other national health care news —
The Associated Press:
Republicans Lack Votes, And Appetite, To End 'Obamacare'
Arizona's new senator says he'd vote to repeal the nation's health care law. That's one additional Republican ready to obliterate the statute because his predecessor, the late Sen. John McCain, helped derail the party's drive with his fabled thumbs-down vote last year. It could well be too little, too late. After years of trying to demolish former President Barack Obama's prized law, GOP leaders still lack the votes to succeed. Along with the law's growing popularity and easing premium increases, that's left top Republicans showing no appetite to quickly refight the repeal battle. (9/11)
The Associated Press:
Lasker Awards Honor Four Scientists For Genetic Research And Developing Anesthetic
Four scientists have won prestigious medical awards for genetics research and development of a widely used anesthetic nicknamed “milk of amnesia. ”Winners of the $250,000 awards from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation were announced Tuesday. The prizes will be presented later this month in New York. (9/11)
World Suicide Prevention Day: Child Suicides Rising; Reasons Unclear
Samantha Kuberski hanged herself with a belt from a crib. She was 6.Razy Sellars was 11 when he took his life. Gabriel Taye was 8. Jamel Myles was 9. Suicide in elementary school-aged children remains rare: 53 children aged 11 and younger took their lives in 2016, the last year for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has data. But medical professionals and researchers have noted alarming increases in the last decade – deaths more than doubled from 2008 to 2016 – and rising numbers of young children visiting emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts and attempts. (O'Donnell, 9/10)
The New York Times:
Trump Administration Wants To Make It Easier To Release Methane Into Air
The Trump administration, taking its third major step this year to roll back federal efforts to fight climate change, is preparing to make it significantly easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere. Methane, which is among the most powerful greenhouse gases, routinely leaks from oil and gas wells, and energy companies have long said that the rules requiring them to test for emissions were costly and burdensome. (Davenport, 9/10)
The People Answering A Suicide Hotline
The caller on the line is agitated. Minutes earlier, he'd grabbed a knife and held it to his body, threatening to kill himself. Staffers at the group home where he lives wrestled it away, but he still feels like he wants to do himself harm. So he calls a suicide hotline. A crisis counselor named Aaron answers. He listens intently. "Hey, you feeling any better?" Aaron asks after a minute. "Well, just try to hang out with the staff there, OK? Can you stay there with them?" (Criss, 9/10)