- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- How Would Repeal Of The ACA Affect Californians’ Health Coverage?
- GOP’s Timetable For Getting Repeal To Trump May Be Ambitious
- COBRA, Retiree Plans, VA Benefits Don’t Alleviate Need To Sign Up For Medicare
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- State Senator: It's Crucial Federal Subsidies, Expansion Funds 'Do Not Go Away'
- Public Health and Education 1
- 'It Burns My Throat, It Burns My Eyes': Residents Say Paramount Processing Plants Threaten Health
Latest From California Healthline:
Our interactive map gives a county-by-county look at the percentage of people covered by Covered California and Medi-Cal expansion. (Pauline Bartolone and Lydia Zuraw, )
Republicans say they plan to pass a bill to overhaul the federal health law in the 17 days between when Congress convenes and Inauguration Day. But past congressional budget veterans say that could prove to be very difficult. (Julie Rovner, )
Thousands of people mistakenly think that if they have insurance, they can wait to sign up for Medicare Part B. Generally, insurance other than that provided by a current employer will not exempt them from Medicare’s strict enrollment requirements. (Susan Jaffe, )
More News From Across The State
State Sen. Ed Hernandez speaks with the Sacramento Bee on what the uncertainty surrounding the health law means to California.
How Would Repealing Obamacare Affect California?
State Sen. Ed Hernandez, chair of the Senate Health Committee, warns of a major financial hit on millions of Californians if Obamacare is repealed. (Buck, 12/13)
The state auditor said that if the board does not come up with a plan to resolve the problem by March 1, the legislature should consider moving the board’s enforcement responsibilities to the state Department of Consumer Affairs.
The Mercury News:
California Auditor Blasts State Nursing Board For Investigation Delays
In a blistering report issued Tuesday, the California state auditor warned the Board of Registered Nursing that its delays in resolving complaints against nurses accused of negligence involving patient injury or death pose a serious threat to others. Among the cases cited in the audit was a complaint alleging that a nurse caused a toddler’s death by administering the wrong dose of medication. The audit said the nursing board initially assigned the complaint to its investigative unit, but the board’s chief of investigations acknowledged that it did nothing with the complaint for roughly 18 months. (Seipel, 12/13)
A hearing board will decide on Wednesday whether to take action against the businesses.
Struggling To Breathe In Paramount
Since late October, the South Coast Air Quality Management has been investigating extremely high levels of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium in Paramount. The agency has identified at least two metal processing firms that it says are responsible. On Wednesday, the air district's hearing board will consider ordering the companies to stop the operations resulting in the emissions. (Plevin, 12/14)
In other news on toxins and health —
The Desert Sun:
California's Small Water Utilities Struggle With Safety
Small public water systems across the state made up the vast majority of systems found to have high levels of lead in their drinking water or testing violations since 2010, the analysis found. These systems typically exist in rural areas and serve less than a few thousand people. Some serve only a few hundred or even a few dozen people, sometimes at a single school or business. The results are evidence that while most water utilities across the state have clean records when it comes to lead, smaller agencies with limited resources struggle more often to comply with safety protocols. Neither the state nor the small water systems have the capacity to monitor for safety of drinking water as often as larger water systems do. (Newkirk, 12/13)
Orange County Register:
Anaheim Firm Settles With EPA Over Lead Paint Violations
Anaheim-based home improvement firm Powerstar Home Energy Solutions will pay a $11,429 penalty for failing to comply with lead-based paint rules, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. Powerstar has also agreed to spend $34,000 to purchase equipment to test blood in children. The blood lead analyzers will be donated to 10 community health clinics in San Bernardino and Orange counties. (Madans, 12/13)
Culver City Moves To Ban Polystyrene Food Containers
Culver City has moved a step closer to banning single-use polystyrene containers and other utensils at restaurants. The council voted unanimously to direct city staff to draft an ordinance that would prohibit restaurants, grocers and other retailers from using the kind of plastic foam cups, bowls and plates common in takeout food. It would also ban the use of polystyrene-based plastic utensils. (Frank, 12/13)
It's hard to know just how antidepressants affect fetuses because it's unethical to do tests on pregnant women, but there's a working consensus that they're relatively safe.
Capital Public Radio/KXJZ:
Depressed While Pregnant? A Confusing Decision, But Choosing Treatment Is Better Than Not
More and more women of childbearing age in the United States are being diagnosed with and treated for depression. And pregnancy itself can come with an increased risk for serious mood disorders. At this point little is known about the effects of antidepressants on an unborn fetus. But many healthcare providers agree - the consequences of going off medication can be disastrous. (Budner, 12/13)
Scientists want to dig down to the molecular level to figure out how children's genes respond to exercise.
Orange County Register:
UCI Awarded $4.5 Million For Study Of The Genetic Benefits Of Exercise
UC Irvine will receive $4.5 million for a six-year study of the impact of exercise on children to examine how their genes respond, with the goal of developing personalized prescriptions for movement, the National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday. (Perkes, 12/13)
In other news from across the state —
Orange County Register:
Newport Beach Firm Settles FTC Suit Over Blood Pressure App Claims
Aura Labs Inc., which operates out of Newport Beach, has settled with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that it deceived customers in claiming its Instant Blood Pressure app was as accurate as a standard blood pressure cuff. Aura Labs, which also does business as AuraLife and AuraWare, makes apps that measure blood pressure and heart rate. A judgment of $595,945.27 against the company was suspended because Aura was unable to pay, according to documents the FTC filed in federal court on Friday to settle a suit it filed against Aura on Dec. 2. (Madans, 12/13)
CalPERS Ready To Drop Tobacco Investment Ban
The staff of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, after an eight-month study, is recommending that the nation’s largest public pension fund drop its ban on investing in tobacco stocks. CalPERS’ investment committee is expected to vote on the recommendation next Monday. (Kasler, 12/13)
San Jose Mercury News:
Wigs For Cancer Patients
Cancer CAREpoint and Sobrato Cancer Center staff and volunteers put together a one day “wig bank” for cancer patients in San Jose on Tuesday. At the wig bank volunteers helped cancer patients who are losing their hair find wigs, hats and scarves.The event took place at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Sheryl Brown, director of operations at Cancer CAREpoint, said she expected about 30 women to try on items with the help of trained volunteers. (Smith, 12/13)
The $6.3 billion measure, which includes funding for drug treatment, precision medicine, cancer research and other initiatives, will likely be the last measure that he signs into law during his presidency.
Obama Signs $6.3 Billion Law For Cancer Research, Drug Treatment
President Obama signed a $6.3 billion bill to fund drug treatment, a precision medicine initiative and Vice President Biden's signature effort to "end cancer as we know it." In an emotional bill signing ceremony — likely the last one of this presidency — Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act in a White House auditorium. The signing brought full circle Obama's State of the Union challenge to Congress to "surprise the cynics" by tackling some of the biggest health priorities facing the country. (Korte, 12/13)
White House Moves Quickly To Release Opioid Money
With $500 million in hand to fight the opioid epidemic, White House officials are moving quickly to get that money flowing to the hardest-hit states—and pushing local officials to spend the new dollars on treatment above other addiction-related initiatives. (Shesgreen, 12/13)
In other national health care news —
Obamacare Report Card Claims Next Year's Higher Premiums Are 'One-Time Adjustment'
The Obama administration on Tuesday released a wide-ranging, positive report card on the Affordable Care Act, describing how Obamacare has driven down the rate of people without health insurance "to its lowest level in history," increased financial security and access for consumers who seek medical care, and bent the cost-curve of health-care spending. (Mangan, 12/13)
We’ve Updated Dollars For Docs. Here’s What’s New.
Today we’ve updated our Dollars for Docs interactive database, adding an additional year of data and some new features that make it easier to see how much money your physician receives from pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Dollars for Docs now includes payments made from August 2013 through December 2015. (Grochowski Jones, Tigas and Ornstein, 12/13)
The Wall Street Journal:
Judge Takes Aim At Anthem’s Defense Of Cigna Deal
A federal judge put a lawyer for Anthem Inc. on the hot seat Tuesday, probing potential weaknesses in the insurer’s argument that its proposed acquisition of Cigna Corp. wouldn’t harm competition. ... Phase one of the two-part trial, focusing on whether the deal would harm large national employers, ended Tuesday. The judge brought in lawyers from both sides to pepper them with questions about the evidence they have presented so far. While both sides at times faced tough questions, Anthem appeared to have the rockier ride. (Kendall, 12/13)
The Wall Street Journal:
Eli Lilly Offers Discount For Insulin As Prices Soar
Eli Lilly & Co. said Tuesday it would discount the list prices of its insulin brands by as much as 40% for uninsured patients and others paying for the drugs largely out-of-pocket, following an outcry over soaring prices of diabetes treatments sold by Lilly and its competitors. The price concession, intended for patients who currently pay the highest of out-of-pocket costs, is the latest sign that some drugmakers are bowing to public pressure to rein in prices. (Loftus and Jamerson, 12/13)
The New York Times:
Extensive Brain Defects Seen In Babies Of Mothers With Zika
Babies born to Zika-infected mothers are highly likely to have brain damage, even in the absence of obvious abnormalities like small heads, and the virus may go on replicating in their brains well after birth, according to three studies published Tuesday. Many types of brain damage were seen in the studies, including dead spots and empty spaces in the brain, cataracts and congenital deafness. There were, however, large differences among these studies in how likely it was that a child would be hurt by the infection. (McNeil and Belluck, 12/13)
The Washington Post:
How Do Dogs’ Genes Affect Their Behavior? Your Pet Could Help Scientists Find Out.
Doberman pinschers are more prone than other dog breeds to compulsive behaviors like blanket-chewing. And in 2014, researchers unveiled some clues to a cause: Obsessive-compulsive disorder is in some dogs’ genes. Studies like this that examine how DNA affects dogs’ behavior and thinking could, in theory, shed light on why some breeds have better memories than others, what genes make Labs so good at retrieving, or even what drives some dogs to bark at the UPS guy. Linking behaviors to genes is simpler in dogs than in humans: Thanks to generations of selective breeding, dog DNA is far less variable than ours. (Brulliard, 12/13)