- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- Medicare Advantage Plans Cleared To Go Beyond Medical Coverage — Even Groceries
- Courts 1
- If Orange County Can't Come Up With Plan For Homeless, Judge Threatens To Ban Anti-Camping Ordinances
- Public Health and Education 2
- People Who Experience Sudden, Dramatic Financial Loss Are 50% More Likely To Die Within 20 Years
- Initiative Aims To Make Texting While Behind The Wheel As Socially Unacceptable As Drinking And Driving
- Around California 1
- Sonoma County Approves $1.9M In Funding For Mental Health, Substance Abuse Services
Latest From California Healthline:
Under new federal rules unveiled this week, these privately run alternatives to traditional Medicare might provide air conditioners, rides to medical appointments and home-delivered meals. In California, which has a high proportion of Medicare beneficiaries in private plans, a San Francisco-based nonprofit already offers similar services to disabled seniors and adults. (Susan Jaffe, 4/3)
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More News From Across The State
Some advocates are pushing for incremental change with universal coverage as the goal, but others are still focused on single-payer legislation.
California’s Path To Universal Health Care Pits Pragmatists Against Single-Payer Holdouts
It’s the pragmatists versus the idealists in California’s latest quest for universal health care. Increasing numbers of lawmakers and advocates are pushing for policy goals that realistically can be accomplished this year. But there’s an unrelenting camp clinging to single-payer-or-bust. The Golden State, which has been pushing back against the Trump administration on multiple fronts, is leaning toward the more incremental approach. This includes bills and budget items that would cover everything from insuring undocumented adults to preventing Medicaid work requirements and shielding the state from insurance products favored by the GOP, such as short-term plans. (Colliver, 4/3)
Coalition Pursuing Package Of Laws To Expand Health Care Access, Reduce Cost
Labor unions, women’s groups, medical organizations, and immigrant and community activists are part of the more than 50 members of the Care4All California coalition. The top of their agenda is expanding Medi-Cal eligibility to all undocumented immigrants and increasing subsidies for people who purchase health insurance plans through the Covered California exchange. (Boyd-Barrett, 4/3)
Officials had removed residents of a homeless encampment along the Santa Ana river trail, but has been struggling to come up with a permanent solution for their relocation.
Los Angeles Times:
Judge Threatens To Bar O.C. From Enforcing Anti-Camping Laws If It Can't Shelter Homeless
The political crisis over homelessness in Orange County approached a crucial moment Tuesday as a federal judge raised the prospect of barring local governments from enforcing anti-camping ordinances if officials cannot create temporary shelters for hundreds being swept out of tent cities. The county for weeks has been struggling to find locations to place the homeless after removing them from an encampment along the Santa Ana River. A plan to place temporary shelters in Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach died amid loud protests from residents last week, and the problem is expected to get worse as officials move to clear out another tent city at the Santa Ana Civic Center. (Fry, 4/3)
The study suggests that financial health is more closely tied to wellbeing than might have been previously assumed.
Los Angeles Times:
A Sudden Loss Of Wealth May Be Hazardous To Your Health
Your financial health may have more bearing on your physical health than you realize. American adults who experienced a sudden and substantial loss of wealth were 50% more likely to die in a 20-year period than were others in their age group whose financial picture remained relatively stable, or improved. (Kaplan, 4/3)
Dawn and Howard Mauer, who lost their daughter to an accident involving another driver texting, are part of the campaign.
A Distracted Driver Killed Their Daughter. Now, Her Parents Are Raising Awareness
We've all seen it: drivers who are talking on their cell phones, or texting, behind the wheel. Despite laws in many states that prohibit drivers from using handheld mobile devices, distracted driving kills nine people every day in the United States and injures 1,000 more. (Carpenter and Ngo, 4/3)
But the Behavioral Health division is confronting a deficit in the current budget year of $8.6 million.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Sonoma County Fills Budget Shortfall In Mental Health Services But Larger Gap Looms
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved the use of about $1.9 million tax and redevelopment funds to continue funding mental health and drug abuse services provided by local nonprofit groups. The funding allows the county Behavioral Health division to continue funding services provided by “community partners” through the end of the current fiscal year. However, officials have said future cuts are likely as the department faces up to a $19 million deficit when the new fiscal year starts in July. (Espinoza, 4/3)
In other news from across the state —
East Bay Times:
Fight Over Sexual Education In Fremont Schools Intensifying
Until further review, a sex education curriculum criticized by many as too graphic for children in grades 4-6 won’t be taught later this month as initially planned. At a March 28 meeting packed by hundreds of parents, teachers and students, the Fremont school board voted 3-2 to examine the course and possibly order modifications before offering it to elementary school students. (Geha, 4/3)
Fresno County Signs Contract With New Jail Medical Provider
Fresno County supervisors approved contracts Tuesday with a Monterey-based health company to take over medical and psychiatric care of inmates at the county jail and the juvenile justice campus . California Forensic Medical Group, Inc., will begin providing care July 1. The five-year contract for jail services is for $121 million. CFMG will replace Corizon Health, which began providing services in June 2014. Fresno County hired Corizon, a Tennessee-based company, to provide jail health services after the county came under fire over inmates’ deaths and became the target of a federal lawsuit. The Bee's 2013 special report "Locked in Terror" chronicled issues with the county's jail medical and psychiatric services. (Anderson, 4/3)
Orange County Register:
CSUF Robotics Researcher Wins $500,000 For Assistive Technology
Known for her work developing novel robotics technologies to assist people with neurological disorders, such as strokes and spinal cord injuries, mechanical engineer Nina Robson has received a $500,000 Early CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. ...Robson’s faculty-student research projects include developing new design methods for multi-fingered robotic hands. (Fawthrop, 4/4)
In all, 11.8 million people signed up for coverage through the marketplaces, down about 400,000 from last year. And while premiums did spike, subsidized consumers are actually paying less because of an odd quirk that came about after the Trump administration cut off payments to insurers.
The New York Times:
The Final Obamacare Tally Is In. About 400,000 Fewer People Signed Up This Year.
The Trump administration said on Tuesday that 11.8 million people had signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces for 2018 — roughly 400,000 fewer than last year. The drop was relatively small, given that Mr. Trump had sharply cut federal outreach efforts and the open enrollment period was half as long as in past years. Virtually the entire decrease came in the 39 states that use the marketplace run by the federal government, HealthCare.gov. (Goodnough, 4/3)
The Wall Street Journal:
Nearly 12 Million People Enrolled In Health Coverage Under The Affordable Care Act
Many analysts had expected a lower sign-up figure because of the abbreviated enrollment window. Groups that support the ACA said the figures showed that Americans are embracing the health law despite Republican efforts to dismantle it. “The American people don’t want to go back to a time when insurers could deny them health care for having a pre-existing condition or be priced out of the market based on their age, gender or medical history,” said Brad Woodhouse, campaign director for the advocacy group Protect Our Care. (Armour, 4/3)
The Washington Post:
Nearly 12 Million People Enrolled In 2018 Health Coverage Under The ACA
In an uncharacteristic move, CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced the fifth-year tally in a series of tweets shortly before the report was issued late Tuesday afternoon. The tweets were a blend of praise for what she called “the most cost-effective and successful open enrollment to date” and the Trump administration’s characteristic naysaying about the marketplaces that were created by the sprawling 2010 health-care law it has been seeking to dismantle. (Goldstein, 4/3)
U.S. Obamacare 2018 Exchange Enrollment Drops 3 Percent: CMS
U.S. President Donald Trump in October cut off billions of dollars in subsidy payments to insurers that help people pay for medical costs, causing insurers to raise 2018 premiums or drop out of selling plans in the Obamacare marketplace. His administration also halved the enrollment period to six weeks and cut the federal advertising and outreach budget by 90 percent. It also has proposed putting cheaper insurance policies offering bare-bones medical coverage on the Obamacare market in 2019 or 2020. (4/3)
The Associated Press:
Premiums Shoot Up, But Many Are Paying Less For 'Obamacare'
Consumers getting financial assistance under former President Barack Obama's health care law will pay lower premiums this year, even though the "list price" for their health insurance shot up. That odd result is reflected in a report issued Tuesday by the Trump administration. After federal aid, the average monthly premium paid by subsidized customers on HealthCare.gov is dropping to $89 from last year's $106. That's a 16 percent savings even though the "list price" premium went up about 30 percent, now averaging $639 for those subsidized customers. (4/3)
Poll: Just 30 Percent Know ObamaCare Mandate Was Repealed
Just 30 percent of the public knows that ObamaCare’s individual mandate has been repealed, according to a new poll. The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that, even after Congress repealed the mandate to have insurance as part of tax reform in December, much of the public is still confused about whether there is a requirement to have health insurance. (Sullivan, 4/3)
The Stat investigation looks at the priorities of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism under Director George Koob. It comes amid a report that NIH researchers were wooing the alcohol industry to support a study about the benefits of moderate drinking.
New Alcohol-Advertising Research Stopped With NIH Branch Director's Arrival
The branch of the National Institutes of Health that studies alcohol abuse has not funded any new research by outside scientists specifically on the effects of alcohol advertising since its current director took over in 2014, according to a STAT analysis of grants. At least seven such studies were funded in the decade before George Koob became director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in 2014. No new grants have been awarded since. (Begley and Joseph, 4/4)
In other national health care news —
Grindr Will Stop Sharing Users' HIV Data With Other Companies
The popular gay hookup app Grindr said late on Monday that it would stop sharing information about its users' HIV status with third-party analytics companies. The announcement came after BuzzFeed News revealed that Grindr had been securely providing two companies — Apptimize and Localytics, commonly used services to help optimize apps — with some of the information that Grindr users include in their profiles, including HIV status and "last tested date." (Ghorayshi, 4/2)
The Associated Press:
CDC: Drug-Resistant 'Nightmare Bacteria' Pose Growing Threat
"Nightmare bacteria" with unusual resistance to antibiotics of last resort were found more than 200 times in the United States last year in a first-of-a-kind hunt to see how much of a threat these rare cases are becoming, health officials said Tuesday. That's more than they had expected to find, and the true number is probably higher because the effort involved only certain labs in each state, officials say. (4/3)
FDA Orders Kratom Distributor To Do Recall Over Salmonella
Federal drug regulators issued their first-ever mandatory recall Tuesday to a company selling several products containing the herbal supplement kratom and contaminated with Salmonella. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it issued the order because Triangle Pharmanaturals of Las Vegas refused to cooperate. (O'Donnell, 4/3)