- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- California Nursing Board Works To Whittle Down Licensing Backlog
- In Philadelphia, Neighbors Learn How To Help Save Shooting Victims
- Pharmaceuticals 2
- 'Some Child In The Next Few Days Could Die': Calif. Woman Lends Voice To EpiPen Outcry
- A Breathalyzer For Marijuana: Stanford Team Creates Test For Driving While On THC
- Campaign 2016 1
- Clinton’s Pneumonia Raises Questions About Her Overall Health As Well As Campaign’s Transparency
Latest From California Healthline:
The new director of the agency has ramped up efforts to break the logjam, and he says they are bearing fruit. (Eryn Brown, 9/13)
A first-aid class in Philadelphia is designed to help people learn how to keep shooting victims alive until the paramedics arrive. It teaches skills such as applying tourniquets to stop bleeding. (Taunya English, WHYY, 9/13)
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Summaries Of The News:
Doctors, hospitals and labor unions have given almost $20 million to the ballot measure, which if passed will send up to $1 billion in new tax revenue to Medi-Cal.
Doctors Build Broad Coalition To Combat Tobacco Industry, Fund Medi-Cal
The lung, heart and cancer associations, known as “white hat” interests at the Capitol, have battled Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds at the polls for decades. This time around doctors, hospitals, and labor unions have put in most of the $19 million collected so far for the pro-tax campaign, hoping the measure caps a multi-year effort to increase reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance system for the poor. (Luna, 9/13)
The opioid crisis has swept through San Diego, an area where people had rarely died of overdoses.
How Opioid Addiction Caught San Diego Communities Unaware
Opioid deaths had long been common in downtown San Diego and in City Heights, and those numbers stayed steady. But starting around 2007 deaths spiked in communities where people rarely had died of opioid overdoses. Although the numbers weren’t huge, they were a significant increase. (Castaneda, 9/12)
Hospitals that do far fewer procedures than recommended “should go out of business” for that cancer surgery type and refer those patients to a higher volume hospital, says Dr. Bruce Spurlock, board chairman of the California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Taskforce.
Cancer Surgery Volumes At San Diego Hospitals May Warn Of Complications
Getting diagnosed with cancer is scary enough. But if surgery is involved, with all its potential complications, any patient wants to find the best hospital. Unfortunately, there’s no certain way to tell. But CalQualityCare.org, operated by the California Health Care Foundation, can give a strong clue. Most experts agree that for specific procedures such as lung, pancreas, esophageal or rectal cancer surgeries, higher volume hospitals have better outcomes and lower mortality. The Oakland-based nonprofit used a state database to see each hospital’s volume for 11 cancer surgery types. It found that in 2014, an alarming number of San Diego County hospitals did far fewer specific cancer surgeries than what is recommended. (Clark, 9/12)
An expert gives advice on how patients can protect themselves from theft, and what to do if they're at risk.
Pain In The Wallet: How To Protect Against Medical Identity Theft
In 2014, medical identity theft cases jumped an estimated 22 percent compared with the prior year, according to the most recent annual study by the Ponemon Institute, a cybersecurity research firm in Traverse City, Mich. At the same time, more than a third – 35.5 percent – of all U.S. data breaches last year hit hospitals, health care providers and health insurance companies, according to the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center. In the past several years, an estimated 2.3 million U.S. adults have been victims of medical ID theft, according to Ponemon. (Buck, 9/12)
Donna Myrowto has decided to go without the medication rather than give into what she calls the company's price gouging. She is just one of many voices speaking up over the past few weeks as the issue has been brought to light.
The Desert Sun:
Woman Says She'll Go Without Her EpiPen Because Of Price
A bee sting while swimming one year ago prompted Donna Myrowto start carrying a life-saving EpiPen. When a pharmacy recently called to say her cost for a new pen had jumped $100, the Palm Springs retiree felt stung all over again...Myrow's pharmacy told her in August she would be responsible for roughly $300, or about half of the total price for her EpiPen renewal. Medicare and supplemental insurance would cover the rest. A year ago she paid $200. (Newkirk, 9/12)
Police, lawmakers and public health officials have yet to establish a consensus on how much THC in one’s system causes impairment, though.
The Mercury News:
Stanford Engineers Develop 'Potalyzer' Test
A “potalyzer” that can detect whether a driver is under the influence by marijuana is being perfected by Stanford University researchers. Magnetic biosensors on the mobile device developed by materials science and engineering professor Shan Wang and her team can detect the presence of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in saliva, according to a Stanford news release. Like a breathalyzer is used in alcohol impairment cases, police would be able to use a cotton swab to collect a spit sample and results would be available on a smart phone or laptop in three minutes. (Lee, 9/12)
In other news —
San Francisco Chronicle:
Marin Hospital Could Be First In State To Allow Medical Marijuana
The doctor [Larry Bedard] is taking steps toward bringing it out into the open by introducing a resolution at Tuesday’s board meeting for Marin Healthcare District, which governs Marin General. The resolution, if approved, would direct the hospital’s administrative and medical staff to review and research the clinical and legal implications of using medical marijuana in the hospital and report back to the board. Bedard initially planned to introduce a resolution to allow patient use in the hospital but stepped back from that last month after the Drug Enforcement Agency declined to remove marijuana from its list of dangerous drugs, keeping it in the same category as such drugs as heroin and LSD. (Colliver, 9/12)
The upcoming year will see a new company negotiate pharmacy charges for CalPERS beneficiaries.
CalPERS Open Enrollment Begins With More Web Access
CalPERS’ four-week open enrollment period for health benefits began Monday, with a couple changes for its 1.4 million beneficiaries. CalPERS members this year will get expanded resources to choose health care plans online, and to receive health care statements electronically. CalPERS said the milestone marks the first time that a majority of its members automatically will receive health care information online, potentially saving about $1 million a year in publication costs. (Ashton, 9/12)
A narrative has persisted throughout the campaign that there is something direly wrong with Hillary Clinton health-wise. So, whereas other candidates in the past could shake off any concerns about a sick day, Clinton's has provided fodder for Republicans. Meanwhile, several media outlets take a look at the history of transparency and presidential candidates.
The Wall Street Journal:
Hillary Clinton To Release More Medical Records After Pneumonia Diagnosis
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she was feeling much better after a pneumonia diagnosis and promised to release additional medical records this week, moving to contain concerns about her well-being and forthrightness after she stumbled exiting a 9/11 ceremony. The pneumonia diagnosis, belatedly disclosed by her campaign Sunday, has taken Mrs. Clinton off the road and off-message just as her campaign was working to focus on her agenda. (Meckler, 9/13)
Los Angeles Times:
Pneumonia: What Does Clinton's Affliction Say About Her Health?
On Sunday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s bout with pneumonia put this common, and commonly dangerous, infectious disease in the spotlight. When we posed some questions about pneumonia to physicians who specialize in lung health, primary care and women’s health, some surprising facts came to light. (Healy, 9/12)
Los Angeles Times:
How Much Do Presidents And Candidates Need To Tell The Public About Their Health?
How much should presidential candidates tell the public about their health?Hillary Clinton, 68, was recently diagnosed with pneumonia, and the public didn’t know about it until two days later, when she abruptly left a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony feeling unwell and needing to be helped into a vehicle. If Donald Trump, 70, were elected, he would be older than any previous president at the start of his first term — and, like Clinton, he hasn’t released detailed records about his health beyond a doctor’s letter. Both candidates promised Monday to release more detailed medical records soon. (Pearce, 9/13)
The president met with top insurance officials and also sent a letter to the companies that will continue offering coverage under the health law.
The Wall Street Journal:
Obama Pledges Redoubled Efforts To Make Health Law Successful
President Barack Obama made a personal bid Monday to shore up his signature health law as it heads into its final test of his administration, urging insurers selling plans on HealthCare.gov to stay the course and pledging redoubled efforts by the government to make the law a success. In a letter released publicly by the White House on Monday, Mr. Obama thanked insurers for participating in the health exchanges the federal government runs on behalf of three dozen states, which the Obama administration calls ‘the Marketplace,’ and acknowledged some of its recent turbulence. (Tau and Radnofsky, 9/12)
In other national health care news —
GOP Lawmakers Denounce Fraud In ObamaCare
Republican lawmakers are denouncing the Obama administration after a watchdog report found that the ObamaCare marketplaces remain "vulnerable to fraud." The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office submitted applications from fictitious people for ObamaCare coverage. Those applicants in many cases were approved for coverage, with financial assistance, by the administration. (Sullivan, 9/12)
The New York Times:
Failure To Improve Is Still Being Used, Wrongly, To Deny Medicare Coverage
For months, physical therapists worked with Mrs. Kirby, a retired civil servant who is now 75, trying to help her regain enough mobility to go home. Then her daughter received an email from one of the therapists saying, “Edwina has reached her highest practical level of independence.” Translation: Mrs. Kirby wouldn’t receive Medicare coverage for further physical therapy or for the nursing home. If she wanted to stay and continue therapy, she’d have to pay the tab herself. (Span, 9/12)
McConnell Tees Up Short-Term Funding Bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is turning the Senate toward a short-term spending bill as lawmakers face an Oct. 1 deadline to avoid a government shutdown. "I expect to move forward this week on a continuing resolution through Dec. 9 ... that includes funds for Zika control and for our veterans," the Senate Republican leader announced Monday on the Senate floor. McConnell filed cloture on proceeding to a House legislative appropriations bill, which is expected to be the vehicle for the short-term continuing resolution (CR). (Carney, 9/12)
The New York Times:
How The Sugar Industry Shifted Blame To Fat
The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show. The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry. (O'Connor, 9/12)