Latest From California Healthline:
Americans routinely skirt federal law by crossing into Canada and Mexico or tapping online pharmacies abroad to purchase prescription medications at a fraction of the price they would pay at home. Is it safe? Not necessarily. Here’s some advice. (Bernard J. Wolfson, 8/21)
Good morning! Despite the internal strife plaguing the NRA, the organization demonstrated its clout after a single phone call convinced President Donald Trump to walk back promises about tougher background checks. More on that below, but first here are your top California health stories of the day.
California Lawmakers Ask Nevada Colleagues To Meet To Discuss Strengthening State’s Gun Laws: The proposal from more than two dozen California lawmakers was made just weeks after a 19-year-old who had bought a gun in Nevada legally opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California, killing three people and wounding 13. “While California has enacted numerous gun safety measures, this tragedy underscores the need for California to work closely with neighboring states to close loopholes and advance common sense gun safety measures,” said the letter signed by 27 Democratic legislators including Assembly members Jesse Gabriel of Encino, Reginald Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles and Buffy Wicks of Oakland. Gabriel said there are two California laws he would like to see adopted in Nevada that would have blocked the Gilroy shooter — a ban on assault weapons and a prohibition on selling guns to anyone under age 21. Read more from Patrick McGreevy of the Los Angeles Times.
California’s Inland Empire Considered By Federal Government As Location For New Center To Hold Detained Migrant Youth: The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is seeking to lease a 74,000-square-foot facility for 17 years that can house up to 430 children and 143 staff, with a projected opening date of December 2020. California currently has at least nine other residential facilities for migrant children run by nonprofit service providers under contract with ORR. Many of them came under fire earlier this year after a report from Disability Rights California found that many children in ORR custody who suffered from trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disabilities were not receiving proper counseling or treatment. Although the proposed 430-bed Inland Empire facility would not be the nation's largest shelter for so-called unaccompanied alien children, it would be the biggest in California by far. And that has raised alarm among immigrant advocates. Read more from Michelle Wiley of KQED.
State Senator Asks Attorney General To Investigate Whether AIDS Healthcare Foundation Misused Savings From Federal Drug Discount Program: The concerns from state Sen. Ben Hueso (D-Chula Vista) center on the 340B program, which requires pharmaceutical companies to sell their drugs at steep discounts to participating hospitals and other providers that serve a significant percentage of indigent patients. The providers, including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, are then allowed to turn around and charge public programs like Medicaid and Medicare for the standard amount. The providers then use the difference to enhance staffing and provide services to help low-income patients. But none of the savings reaped from 340B — or virtually any federal grant or funding program — can be used for lobbying or any kind of political expenses. Read more from Carla Marinucci and Victoria Colliver of Politico.
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
Los Angeles Times:
L.A. Unified Schools Regain Full Control Of Programs For Their 64,500 Disabled Students
The Los Angeles Unified School District, which educates about 64,500 students with disabilities, will regain full control over programs that serve their special needs, after decades of costly court-ordered outside supervision, officials announced this week. The court-approved agreement will end a consent decree dating back to 1996, when district officials acknowledged they were not meeting their legal obligations to serve students with a broad range of disabilities, including dyslexia, autism, aphasia, blindness and paralysis. (Blume, 8/21)
Teachers Union Says Charter Schools Take Fewer Disabled Kids
The study by the California Teachers Association, which is spending millions on legislation to restrict charter school growth, found charter schools in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego school districts enroll a smaller share of disabled students than traditional schools in those districts. It also found that disabled students at charter schools in those districts tend to have less severe disabilities. (Bollag and Wiley, 8/21)
Why Did So Many Opioid Pills Get Distributed To Stanislaus County?
The numbers soared during the seven-year period, increasing from 25 million distributed in 2006 to 36 million distributed in 2012. There were about 98 prescriptions per 100 people in 2006, increasing to about 112 prescriptions per 100 people in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rate maps.T Though Stanislaus County made up about 1.37% of California’s population in 2012, it received 2.71% of the pills sent to the state during the seven-year period, according to an analysis of the data by The Modesto Bee. (Shuman, 8/20)
California Northstate Seeks State Bonds For Elk Grove Hospital
California Northstate University hopes to sell up to $900 million in tax-exempt bonds through a state agency to finance its proposed medical center in Elk Grove, indicating the hospital may become a nonprofit operation. The private university’s proposed 250-bed, 12-story hospital has been mired in controversy since its initial announcement. Residents have expressed concern about its size, location, planned helistop, flooding issues, the demolition of Stonelake Landing shopping center required to make way for the project, and a lack of transparency. (Yoon-Hendricks, 8/20)
Pioneering Neonatal Doctor Retires At Sutter Health
He was a pioneer in medical care for the Sacramento region’s tiniest and most vulnerable patients, who in his 45 years at Sutter Health transformed its neonatal unit into a regional powerhouse. And at his retirement ceremony this month, Dr. Andrew Wertz shared some wisdom he’s learned over the years: “Listen to the nurses, pay attention to what (they) are telling you,” Wertz said. “We are a team.” (Ghisolfi, 8/21)
San Francisco Chronicle:
San Mateo’s Housing Crisis Response? Barracks For Cops Commuting Two Hours Each Way
On Monday, the San Mateo City Council unanimously approved a plan to convert a portion of an old fire station into a sleeping barracks for far-flung officers who can’t afford the average $1.4 million Peninsula home. The $520,000 project will provide bunks and showers for up to 12 officers at a time at Fire Station 26 at 1812 S. Norfolk St. In addition to the barracks, the building will be a police substation and vehicle storage site. (Dineen, 8/20)
UC Davis Works With Pharma Company To Research Cannabis
The University of California, Davis will be partnering with a pharmaceutical company to research cannabis ahead of the planned launch of its Cannabis and Hemp Research Center. In a news release, UC Davis announced its partnership with DEA-registrant Biopharmaceutical Research Company, which is an applicant to manufacture cannabis for federally-approved research into the drug. (Moleski, 8/20)
Hey Gen X And Millennial Travelers: You May Need Another Measles Vaccine
In California, four of the five outbreaks that occurred in the state this year were linked to international travel. Most travelers were infected in the Philippines or Ukraine, which are experiencing severe outbreaks, and 37% of cases were imported from Europe overall. New measles infections continue to be reported, with California now at 65 cases as of Aug. 14. (Dembosky, 8/20)
For Low-Income Parents, Most Child Support Goes To The State — Not The Kids
Thomas Lam Jr. says he has always tried to do right by his two daughters, but for a while, he found himself in an untenable situation: His child support payments were eating up most of his income, but most of the money wasn't even going to his kids. Lam's case isn't isolated: Some 250,000 families in California only get $50 a month in child support payments because they're receiving government assistance, like welfare or Medi-Cal. (Lagos, 8/20)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Santa Rosa Doctor Pleads Not Guilty To Murder Charges Connected To Four Patient Deaths
Santa Rosa neurosurgeon and pain specialist Dr. Thomas McNeese Keller pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Sonoma County Superior Court to second-degree murder charges for allegedly causing the deaths of four patients by overprescribing pain medications, choosing to engage in a legal battle against state prosecutors that could land him in prison for life. In an unprecedented California case that puts the scourge of opioid abuse front and center, Keller, 72, faces not only the murder charges, but a single felony count of elder abuse and four counts of issuing prescriptions without legitimate medical purposes in connection with four other patients. Prosecutors alleged the doctor’s illicit activity occurred between 2013 and 2018, according to a criminal complaint filed Aug. 8. (Callahan, 8/20)
The New York Times:
N.R.A. Gets Results In One Phone Call With The President
President Trump spent at least 30 minutes on the phone Tuesday with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, the latest conversation in an aggressive campaign by gun rights advocates to influence the White House in the weeks since the back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. The call ended the way that Mr. LaPierre had hoped it would: with Mr. Trump espousing N.R.A. talking points in the Oval Office and warning of the radical steps he said Democrats wanted to take in violation of the Second Amendment. (Haberman, Karni and Hakim, 8/20)
Trump’s Phone Calls With NRA's Wayne LaPierre
“It’s going to be great, Wayne,” Trump said, according to both a former senior White House official and an NRA official briefed on the call. “They will love us.” And if they—meaning the roughly 5 million people who make up the NRA’s active membership, and some of Trump’s electoral base—didn’t, Trump reportedly assured LaPierre, “I’ll give you cover.” “Wayne’s listening to that and thinking, Uh, no, Mr. President, we give you cover,” the former senior White House official said in describing the conversation. The president reportedly asked LaPierre whether the NRA was willing to give in at all on background checks. LaPierre’s response, the sources said, was unequivocal: “No.” With that, “the Rose Garden fantasy,” as the NRA official described it to me, was scrapped as quickly as it had been dreamed up. (Plott, 8/20)
Los Angeles Times:
Wary Of Alienating His Base, Trump Retreats On Gun Control Proposals
The about-face followed a familiar pattern for Trump, a native New Yorker who lacks a personal affinity for guns but has championed gun rights since entering politics. Before he ran for president in 2015, he supported restrictions championed by Democrats, but now he fears upsetting his hardcore Republican supporters — especially as he heads into what polls indicate will be a difficult reelection race. (Megerian, 8/20)
The Washington Post:
Parkland Students Unveil Sweeping Gun-Control Proposal And Hope For A Youth Voting Surge In 2020
The student activists who crashed the political arena after the mass shooting last year at their high school in Parkland, Fla., are throwing their weight behind a new and ambitious gun-control program that they hope will set the tone for the debate following the most recent mass shootings and headed into the 2020 elections. The students are speaking out for the first time since 31 people were killed in one weekend in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. They hope their plan — unveiled Wednesday morning — will be considered by President Trump as well as his Democratic presidential rivals and will serve as a catalyst for a surge of youth voters next year. (Alemany, 8/21)
The Wall Street Journal:
Gun Sellers Are Sneaking Onto Facebook’s Booming Secondhand Marketplace
Gun sellers are using a simple trick to do business on Facebook Inc. Marketplace at a time when more mass shootings in the U.S. have renewed the debate in Washington over access to firearms. The Marketplace feature, which Facebook launched four years ago, enabled its more than two billion users to buy and sell almost any secondhand item by clicking a button on their home page. However, the private sale of many items, including guns, is specifically forbidden under Facebook policy. (Olson and Elinson, 8/20)
The New York Times:
The Flores Agreement Protected Migrant Children For Decades. It’s Under Threat.
Nearly 35 years ago, long before the current mass influx of Central American families making their way to America’s southern border, a different and more brutal migrant crisis was unfolding. In El Salvador, government death squads were stalking suspected insurgents. Farmers, human rights activists and even priests were being caught in the crossfire. The widening civil war would leave more than 75,000 people dead, and send tens of thousands of people fleeing to the United States. (Jordan, 8/20)
The Administration Rushed On A Sweeping Immigration Policy. We Found Substantive, Sloppy Mistakes.
This month, the Trump White House unveiled a new policy it had aggressively pushed through the regulatory process that makes it much harder for low-income immigrants, especially those who had used public benefits, to come to or remain in the United States. The proposal — known as the “public charge” rule, since it creates a complicated test to determine whether an immigrant is “likely to be a public charge” — has the potential to dramatically restrict who’s allowed to settle in the country. And many people who work with immigrants, including social service providers and local and state governments, are worried that it will scare them away from using benefits they and their families need to thrive. (Lind and Torbati, 8/20)
The Associated Press:
Former VA Pathologist Charged In Deaths Of 3 Patients
A pathologist fired from an Arkansas veterans hospital after officials said he had been impaired while on duty was charged Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of three patients who authorities say he misdiagnosed and whose records he later altered to conceal his mistakes. A grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday charged Dr. Robert Morris Levy in the patients' deaths and on multiple charges of fraud and making false statements for his alleged attempts to conceal his substance abuse and incorrect diagnoses. (8/20)
The Associated Press:
Guidelines Say More Women May Need Breast Cancer Gene Test
More women may benefit from gene testing for hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, especially if they've already survived cancer once, an influential health group recommended Tuesday. At issue are genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2. When they're mutated, the body can't repair damaged DNA as well, greatly increasing the chances of breast, ovarian and certain other cancers. Gene testing allows affected women to consider steps to lower their risk, such as when actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventive mastectomy several years ago. (8/20)
Drugmakers Endo, Allergan Agree To $15 Million In Settlements In Major Opioid Case
Endo International Plc and Allergan Plc have agreed to pay $15 million to avoid going to trial in October in a landmark case by two Ohio counties accusing various drug manufacturers and distributors of fueling the U.S. opioid epidemic. The tentative deals disclosed on Tuesday came ahead of the first trial to result from 2,000 lawsuits pending in federal court in Cleveland largely by local governments seeking to hold drug companies responsible for the deadly epidemic. (8/20)