Latest From California Healthline:
Federal officials regulate the handling of vaccines that are provided through the Vaccines for Children program, which offers the medicines generally for children whose families could not afford them. But there is no federal oversight of how these drugs are stored among other health care providers. (Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, 2/13)
Good morning! Even though “Medicare for All” has become somewhat of a litmus test for 2020 progressives, not all potential Democratic candidates are rushing to back the idea. More on that below, but first, here are your top California health news stories for the day.
In State of the State, Newsom Touches On Expanding Health Coverage, Curbing High Drug Prices: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s State of the State address was a clear pivot in strategy from former Gov. Jerry Brown. Where Brown often embraced incrementalism, Newsom is calling for speed. “There are problems that have been deferred for too long and that threaten to put the California dream out of reach for too many,” he says in the Los Angeles Times’ coverage.
Newsom used the address to once again lay out his ambitious health care goals, which include creating a state individual mandate; expanding Medi-Cal to immigrants who are young adults living in the state illegally; and pressing toward a single-payer system. The governor also touted his plan to work toward a single-purchasing system for prescription drugs, which he says will cut costs.
During the speech, Newsom talked about some of his public health priorities, including dementia and homelessness. To that end, he announced that former California first lady Maria Shriver will lead a new Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force. “The Golden State is getting grayer. We need to get ready for the major demographic challenge headed our way,” Newsom said, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Meanwhile, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg will be leading the Commission on Homelessness & Supportive Housing. Steinberg is a proponent of addressing the root societal and behavioral problems of homelessness instead of solutions that involve emergency shelters. For more information, check out Capital Public Radio's coverage.
Background Checks, Other Campus Reforms Included In Settlement Over USC Gynecologist: The case involves hundreds of students and alumni who have accused former USC gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall of committing sexual or inappropriate conduct during physical exams. Beyond the monetary damages in the settlement, USC will have to agree to conduct background checks that delve into prior history of sexual harassment, improve employee training, and bolster staffing so that female students always have the option of seeing a female doctor. The university will also be asked to create a position for “an independent women’s health advocate” to ensure complaints about improper sexual or racial conduct are investigated. Read more from the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press.
In related news, six male graduates have filed a lawsuit against another USC doctor. The suit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that Dr. Dennis Kelly made demeaning remarks to defendants, all recent graduates who identify as gay or bisexual, about their sexual practices and performed unnecessary rectal exams designed to embarrass them or “to satisfy his own prurient sexual desires.” Read more of Los Angeles Times’ coverage here.
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. Media outlets report on news about mental health, hospitals, wildfires, domestic violence, the flu, depression in pregnant women, and more.
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More News From Across The State
Los Angeles Times:
L.A. County Supervisors Vote To Replace Men's Central Jail With Mental Health Hospital For Inmates
Los Angeles County supervisors narrowly approved a plan Tuesday to tear down the dungeon-like Men’s Central Jail downtown and build at least one mental health treatment facility in its place. The new plan modifies a $2.2-billion proposal that would have created the Consolidated Correctional Treatment Facility, which was slated to house 3,885 “inmate patients” in a rehabilitation-focused center in the footprint of the Central Jail, which was built in 1963. (Lau, 2/12)
The Mercury News:
Santa Clara County Moves Forward On Hospital Purchases, Despite Uncertainty
Santa Clara County is proceeding with the purchase of O’Connor Hospital in San Jose and Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, despite uncertainty generated by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s efforts to block the sale and a recent vote by nurses at the two hospitals to authorize a strike. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved funding for the salaries and benefits of the hospitals’ employees and rose a spending cap on legal expenses related to acquiring the facilities to $2.05 million. (Vo, 2/12)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
St. Joseph Health Doctors And Hospitals Form Managed Care Network In Sonoma And Napa Counties
St. Joseph Health has created a managed care network that brings together several local hospitals and more than 360 primary and specialty care physicians in Sonoma and Napa counties. The network, called the St. Joseph Health Medical Network, includes St. Joseph Health physician practices and clinics and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Queen of the Valley Medical Center and Petaluma Valley Hospital. Patients using the network will have access to a full range of primary care doctors and specialists, hospitals, outpatient and urgent care centers. (Espinoza, 2/12)
Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire Cleanups In California Now Underway
Thrown together as teammates in the new wildfire-fight era, California and federal officials have not exactly gotten along. The state’s emergency response chief last summer accused the feds of “re-victimizing” wildfire survivors in Sonoma and Napa counties by allowing cleanup crews to damage property and over-scrape the remnants of homes destroyed in the blazes. And federal officials repeatedly have said the state has done poor disaster fund management. Both sides suggested the other was inviting potential fraud. (Bizjak, 2/13)
Ventura County Star:
'Typical' Flu Season Brings Five Deaths To Ventura County
Although the illness is considered widespread across the county and California, the severity isn’t near last year’s record levels. Over a flu season that lingered into April, the illness contributed to at least 49 deaths, with 40 of them coming by early February. As of Tuesday, this season’s flu had contributed to five deaths in Ventura County. Three involved people 65 and older. The total is in sync with what the region sees most years. ...Statewide, the flu has contributed to 181 deaths since September. (Kisken, 2/12)
Meth’s Comeback: A New Speed Epidemic Takes Its Toll On San Francisco
Methamphetamine is back. In San Francisco, over the last five years, Drug Enforcement Administration seizures of meth have jumped, hospitalizations and emergency room visits have spiked and deaths have doubled. The toll the drug is taking on the city’s public health, emergency response and police departments is now spurring the mayor to establish a task force to combat the new speed epidemic. (Dembosky, 2/12)
The Bakersfield Californian:
Dignity Health Joins Prevention Initiative Focused On Heart, Brain Health
With cardiovascular disease and stroke now among the top causes of death in Kern County and the rest of the country, Dignity Health Bakersfield is taking action to help turn that around for local residents. Dignity Health is partnering with the American Heart Association to participate in its Life is Why: Kern County initiative. The three-year, $300,000 investment will fund education and outreach efforts promoting heart and brain health in the community. (Luiz, 2/12)
The Mercury News:
Dating Class Teaches California Teens How To Leave Abusive Relationships
A program aimed at helping adolescents get out of abusive relationships is now in demand in Orange County’s middle schools.Laura’s House, a domestic violence agency in Ladera Ranch, launched HEART (Healthy Emotions & Attitudes in Relationships Today) in 2007. The idea was to bring a Dating 101 presentation to high school and college students to teach them what a healthy relationship looks like: safe, respectful. (Basheda, 2/12)
Sherrod Brown Separates From Dem Pack On Medicare, 'Green New Deal' Proposals
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is declining to say whether he supports "Medicare for all" and "Green New Deal" proposals pushed by other members of his party as he considers a run for president, saying he doesn't need to weigh in to underscore that he's progressive. Brown has been pressed on the health care and climate change ideas as he's toured early primary states and fielded questions from voters and reporters. He has said that he broadly supports the philosophies of expanding Medicare and fighting climate change. Senate colleagues running for president, including Sens. Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, have gotten behind the proposals. (Strauss, 2/12)
The Associated Press:
Parkland Anniversary Highlights Democratic Shift On Guns
In the final weeks before the 2008 election, Barack Obama's campaign sent mailers to Florida voters reassuring them that he supported the Second Amendment. In the opening days of the 2020 Democratic primary, it's hard to imagine any candidate feeling the need to make a similar gesture. "Guns are no longer the third rail," said Steve Schale, a political operative who ran Obama's Florida campaign in 2008. "Ten to 12 years ago, Democrats had to — for political necessity — be really careful about how they talked about it. Now, if you don't talk about it, you're not part of the political conversation." (2/12)
The Wall Street Journal:
New Mothers At Risk Of Depression To Get Counseling Services, Covered By Insurance, Under New Guidelines
Women who are pregnant or have just given birth should receive counseling if they have risk factors for depression, a U.S. panel of experts has recommended for the first time, forcing many health plans to cover such services at no additional cost. The recommendation was made Tuesday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group whose guidance most insurance plans are required to follow. (Abbott, 2/12)
The New York Times:
Trump Pledged To End H.I.V. But His Policies Veer The Other Way.
In his State of the Union address, President Trump announced a bold plan to end the scourge of H.I.V. by 2030, a promise that seemed to fly in the face of two years of policies and proposals that go in the opposite direction and could undermine progress against the virus that causes AIDS. In November, the Trump administration proposed a rule change that would make it more difficult for Medicare beneficiaries to get the medicines that treat H.I.V. infection and prevent the virus from spreading. (Pear, 2/12)
Health Plans Don’t Want Patients On Opioids. So What Are They Doing For Pain?
The national effort to curb the opioid crisis faces another big potential obstacle — insurers who won’t pay for less-addictive ways to control patients’ pain. Patients seeking other pain treatment options often find that their insurers won’t foot the bill or are forcing them to jump through maddening hoops to get coverage. Experts in and out of government worry that this will make it more difficult to reverse the deadly opioid crisis that killed more than 47,000 people nationwide in 2017, even as doctors cut back on opioid prescribing and state and federal governments step up efforts to prevent and treat addiction. (Demko, 2/12)
The New York Times:
Congress Poised To Help Veterans Exposed To ‘Burn Pits’ Over Decades Of War
Everywhere he went in Iraq during his yearlong deployment, Ryne Robinson saw the burning trash pits. Sometimes, like in Ramadi, they were as large as a municipal dump, filled with abandoned or destroyed military vehicles, synthetic piping and discarded combat meals. Sometimes he tossed garbage on them himself. “The smell was horrendous,” said Mr. Robinson, who was in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. (Steinhauer, 2/12)