- Pharmaceuticals 1
- State Senator Calls Out Pharma Company For Promoting Help Center For Patients Who Can't Afford Insulin
- Health Care Personnel 1
- USC Faculty Pushes For President's Ouster As Number Of Patients Suing University Over Gynecologist Ticks Up
- Public Health and Education 2
- Mobile Syringe Exchange Greenlit By State Despite Vocal Local Opposition
- California Panel Takes Stricter Stance On Pesticide After EPA Decides Not To Ban Chemical
- National Roundup 4
- Administration Loosens Restrictions On Short-Term Plans, But The Coverage Comes With A Lot Of Fine Print
- Trump Officials 'Very Comfortable' With Immigrants' Treatment In Detention Facilities
- Why Does U.S. Spend So Much On Health Care? One Reason Is No One Really Knows True Cost Of What They're Buying
- Bitter Dispute Over Documents On Kavanaugh's Records Signals Bumpy Road Ahead For Confirmation
Latest From California Healthline:
At the state Capitol on Tuesday, mothers rallied to bring attention to the fallout from violence in communities of color, including anguish, fear and mental health problems. (Alex Leeds Matthews, 8/1)
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More News From Across The State
“We will fight this rule at every turn,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is leading a coalition of 13 attorneys general who say the proposals for how Title X funding is distributed are unconstitutional. Governors have also added their voices, saying they'll back out of the program if the rule is implemented.
The Washington Post:
Governors, Attorneys General Oppose Rule Changes To Title X Family Planning Program
Governors from a growing number of states are fighting back against a proposal by the Trump administration to bar clinics that provide abortion services or referrals from receiving federal family-planning funds. New York's Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and 13 others have threatened to sue. Washington state's Jay Inslee, Oregon's Kate Brown and Hawaii's David Ige, also Democrats, vowed to pull their states from the program if the changes are implemented. On Monday, 13 attorneys general, all Democrats, added their voices to the opposition, arguing that the changes are unconstitutional. (Cha, 7/31)
“If pharmaceutical companies like yours priced their drugs reasonably, there would be no need for a help line,” said state Sen. Ed Hernandez, who helped co-sponsor California's transparency bill aimed at lowering drug prices.
California Lawmaker Scolds Lilly For Failing To Comply With Transparency Law
Eli Lilly (LLY) was admonished by a California lawmaker for promoting a diabetes help center for patients who cannot afford their insulin while at the same time failing to lower prices or comply with a new state law that requires drug makers to disclose pricing details. In a harshly worded letter sent on Monday, state Sen. Ed Hernandez, who sponsored the transparency law, criticized the company for touting its Diabetes Solution Center at the same time that prices for insulin, made by several companies, has risen dramatically in recent years. An analysis published two years ago found that the cost of insulin, on average, more than tripled — from $231 to $736 a year per patient — between 2002 and 2013. (Silverman, 7/31)
The faculty at the university has concerns that C.L. Max Nikias, who in May agreed to begin a transition to a new president, isn't planning on actually leaving. “We find ourselves in a state of turmoil and uncertainty,” the petition said, noting that students return to campus in less than three weeks. “President Nikias cannot be the one who stands up to greet new students at the Convocation.”
Los Angeles Times:
Number Of Patients Suing USC Over Sex Abuse Claims Tops 300 As Faculty Push For Nikias' Exit
The number of former patients suing USC for allegedly failing to protect them from sexual abuse at a campus health clinic increased to more than 300 this week amid a new push by university faculty to speed the departure of the outgoing president, C.L. Max Nikias. The university’s trustees announced in May that Nikias had “agreed to begin an orderly transition” to a new president. (Ryan and Hamilton, 7/31)
But in response to the counties' concerns, the state has limited the program both to smaller service areas than proposed in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana and a tighter schedule.
Orange County Register:
State Gives OK To Orange County Mobile Syringe Exchange Program, Over Local Objections
A mobile needle exchange program universally opposed by the county and four affected cities was approved this week by the California Department of Public Health. State officials decided Monday to let the Orange County Needle Exchange Program operate for two years starting Monday, Aug. 6, according to an email and letter from the department. Supporters say such programs help reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, and are often the only regular contact injection drug users have with health care professionals. (Robinson, 7/31)
In other public health news —
Ibuprofen Safe For Infants, Sutter Sacramento Doctor Finds
A study pioneered by a Sutter Sacramento doctor has determined Ibuprofen is safe for children under 6 months old. Ibuprofen is primarily used on infants to treat fever, but children 6 months old or younger need a prescription to be treated with ibuprofen. (Holzer, 7/31)
Inmate Advocates Sue Sacramento County Over ‘Dangerous, Inhumane’ Conditions Inside Jails
Charging that Sacramento County’s two jails confine inmates in “dangerous, inhumane and degrading conditions,” inmate advocates filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against the county seeking wholesale changes in how the jail system is run. The suit, which seeks class action status for the roughly 3,700 inmates held in the jails each day, follows years of negotiations by the groups and the county to agree to a settlement that would avoid legal action. (Stanton, 7/31)
The members of the California's Scientific Review Panel agreed that the pesticide had negative effects on children's health.
Capital Public Radio:
The Feds Decided Not To Ban A Pesticide. Then California Opted To List It As Toxic.
A few months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruled to not ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, California's Scientific Review Panel unanimously agreed this week that it should be listed as a toxic air contaminant. Chlorpyrifos is used to control pests that harm more than 60 crops, but the group of nine scientists agreed that is has severe and irreversible negative effects on children’s developing brains. (Romero, 7/31)
And in other news —
Company Won’t Pay More Than $5,000 After Pesticide Exposure Sickens 17 Farmworkers
The Monterey County agricultural commissioner plans to issue a single fine of up to $5,000 against a Salinas produce company that employed 17 celery workers sickened in a pesticide drift incident last year. The commissioner's decision has angered farmworker advocates and re-energized their push for stronger pesticide enforcement laws. (Goldberg, 7/31)
The administration released the final rule on Wednesday expanding the amount of time people can be covered under the plans. But they're less expensive for a reason. “We make no representation that it’s equivalent coverage,” said James Parker, a senior adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Insurers and analysts are worried that the plans will attract healthier consumers away from plans that meet the guarantees of the Affordable Care Act, driving premiums up for the rest of the marketplace.
The Associated Press:
Officials Are Promoting Lower-Cost, Short-Term Health Plans
The Trump administration is clearing the way for insurers to sell short-term health plans as a bargain alternative to pricey Obama-law policies for people struggling with high premiums. But the policies don’t have to cover existing medical conditions and offer limited benefits. It’s not certain if that’s going to translate into broad consumer appeal among people who need an individual policy. Officials say the plans can now last up to 12 months and be renewed for up to 36 months. But there’s no federal guarantee of renewability. Plans will carry a disclaimer that they don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s requirements and safeguards. More details were expected Wednesday. “We make no representation that it’s equivalent coverage,” said Jim Parker, a senior adviser at the Health and Human Services Department. “But what we do know is that there are individuals today who have been priced out of coverage.” (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/1)
The New York Times:
‘Short Term’ Health Insurance? Up To 3 Years Under New Trump Policy
The new plans will provide “much less expensive health care at a much lower price,” Mr. Trump said. The prices may be lower because the benefits will be fewer, and insurers do not have to cover pre-existing conditions or the people who have them. (Pear, 8/1)
The Washington Post:
Trump Administration Widens Availability Of Skimpy, Short-Term Health Plans
The new rules are the second tool the administration has devised lately to foster low-price insurance that circumvents the Affordable Care Act’s coverage requirements and consumer protections. In June, the Labor Department issued rules that will make it easier for small companies to buy a type of insurance known as association health plans and, for the first time, allow them to be sold to people who are self-employed. The pair of new rules carries out an executive order President Trump signed in October, directing agencies to broaden access to these two small niches in the insurance market to promote “a health-care system that provides high-quality care at affordable prices for the American people.” (Goldstein, 8/1)
Trump Administration To Allow Renewable, Short-Term Insurance That Lasts Up To A Year
After the administration issued the proposed rule to expand short-term limited-duration insurance back in February, many insurers, provider groups, and consumer advocates said plans could harm consumers who don't understand the limitations of the coverage they are buying. Critics also argued that premiums in the individual market would rise as young, healthy people leave exchanges that need those young people to balance out the risk pool. The final rule largely ignores their concerns. (Livingston, 8/1)
The Wall Street Journal:
Cheaper Health Plans With Less Coverage Move Forward
Health analysts say the short-term plans that would be allowed under the new proposal would likely appeal to healthier customers seeking inexpensive alternatives to ACA plans, while higher-risk consumers would remain in traditional insurance coverage. That could cause their premiums to rise, because healthier consumers are needed on the ACA’s individual market exchanges to offset costs of older and sicker people, analysts say. (Armour, 8/1)
Trump Whacks Obamacare By Boosting Short-Term Health Plans
The new rules take effect in 60 days, before the next Obamacare enrollment season opens Nov. 1. CMS, which oversees the ACA insurance marketplaces, expects Obamacare enrollment to shrink by 500,000 next year — and by 1.3 million over a decade — because of the increased availability of short-term plans. (Demko, 8/1)
“These individuals have access to 24/7 food and water,” said Matthew Albence, the acting No. 2 official at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “They have educational opportunities. They have recreational opportunities, both structured as well as unstructured.” Meanwhile, another official testified that he warned higher-ups about the psychological trauma the separations could have on children.
The New York Times:
Migrant Detention Centers Are ‘Like A Summer Camp,’ Official Says At Hearing
Not until the day it was announced did senior officials from three key agencies learn of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to deter migrants from illegally entering the United States by threatening jail sentences and separating children from their parents. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, the officials said they were given few instructions and had no plans for reuniting the families when the policy was announced on April 6. One official, Cmdr. Jonathan D. White of the United States Public Health Service, said he learned of it from watching television. (Nixon, 7/31)
U.S. Senior Official Says He Flagged Risks For Children From Border Separations
A senior official at the U.S. agency charged with caring for migrant children believed separating them from their parents carried "significant risk" of harm and said on Tuesday concerns had been raised internally before the Trump administration made it official policy. Jonathan White, a senior U.S. Public Health Service official, told Congress that the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), where he worked until March 2018, had "raised a number of concerns" about the proposed policy in the year preceding its implementation. (Torbati and Cowan, 7/31)
The Wall Street Journal offers a look on some of the problems with the pricing structure of the U.S. health system. And, in other news, Democrats, hoping to take back the House in November, are already laying the groundwork for a Medicare for All vote.
The Wall Street Journal:
Why Americans Spend So Much On Health Care—In 12 Charts
The U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other developed nation. It will soon spend close to 20% of its GDP on health—significantly more than the percentage spent by major Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations. What is driving costs so high? As this series of charts shows, Americans aren’t buying more health care overall than other countries. But what they are buying is increasingly expensive. Among the reasons is the troubling fact that few people in health care, from consumers to doctors to hospitals to insurers, know the true cost of what they are buying and selling. (Walker, 7/31)
Liberal Dems Lay Groundwork To Push 'Medicare For All'
Democrats are laying the groundwork to make a push for “Medicare for all” legislation if they win back the House in November. More than 60 House Democrats launched a Medicare for All Congressional Caucus this month, a sign of the popularity surrounding the concept of a government-run health insurance system for everyone that’s supported by liberal firebrands like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Sullivan, 7/31)
“The Republican majority has cast aside Democratic wishes for openness and transparency and has made a partisan request for only a small subset of Judge Kavanaugh’s records,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday morning. “It is such a break from precedent that you have to wonder: What are the Republicans hiding about Judge Kavanaugh’s record?” But, there are signs that two moderate Republican senators who are being watched closely for their votes may back the nominee.
The Washington Post:
‘Unprecedented Partisan Interference:’ Senate Escalates Bitter Fight Over Kavanaugh’s Record
Senators escalated a bitter dispute over Brett M. Kavanaugh’s documents — signaling a contentious confirmation fight ahead for the Supreme Court nominee even as senators on Tuesday successfully installed another appellate judge under President Trump. Infuriated with Republicans for requesting only a portion of Kavanaugh’s records from his tenure in the George W. Bush White House, Democratic senators sent a wide-ranging request to the National Archives demanding that his entire paper trail be provided to Congress. (Kim, 7/31)
Los Angeles Times:
Key GOP Senators Side With Party As Democrats Seek Documents About Trump's Supreme Court Nominee
Republican senators expected to hold key votes on President Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court are showing subtle signs of support for the effort to put Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the bench. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine said Tuesday that they were satisfied with the GOP plan to limit the scope of documents to be released regarding Kavanaugh’s record, despite Democrats’ call for a fuller review of the candidate’s work in Washington, particularly his years as staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House. (Wire, 7/31)