- Coverage And Access 1
- Legal Challenges To Universal Health Care Not Insurmountable, But They Could Prove Tricky
- Public Health and Education 1
- Santa Ana Shut Down A Needle Exchange Because Of Syringe Litter, But Experts Say They Actually Help
Latest From California Healthline:
Two women, 80 and 91, from opposite poles, agree on the art of aging. (Bruce Horovitz, 2/7)
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Summaries Of The News:
Revamping the state's health system would take some cooperation from the Trump administration, which is not favorable to the idea of universal health care as California envisions it.
These Legal Hurdles Could Trip Up Universal Health Care In California
On Wednesday, the State Assembly's Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage wraps up hearings assessing possible paths the state could follow to get to universal care for all Californians. On Monday, the panel considered some of the federal and state legal hurdles California lawmakers could face if they pursue a radical revamp of the health care system. (Faust, 2/7)
LA supervisors said Southern California veterans who run into trouble often don’t know what services are available or how to take advantage of them, which “can lead at-risk veterans toward trajectories of financial despair, family discord, isolation, substance misuse, homelessness and/or involvement with the justice system."
LA County Exploring A System Of 'Battle Buddies' Helping Other Veterans
On Tuesday, the board approved a motion asking the Los Angeles County Health Agency, the L.A. Homeless Services Authority, and other agencies to team up with the VA and veteran-focused nonprofits to create a plan for establishing a “veteran peer access network” in L.A. County. (Denkmann, 2/7)
"If you have a syringe litter problem, you need more needle exchanges not less, because they give people an incentive to safely dispose of their syringes," says Ricky Bluthenthal, a professor at the University of Southern California.
How Effective Are Needle Exchange Programs?
Santa Ana has shut down the only needle exchange program serving Orange County. The city denied the program permits to continue operating because of complaints about an increase in discarded needles around the city's Civic Center. (Henderson, 2/6)
In other public health news —
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Rising Alarm Over Xanax Abuse By Sonoma County Students
As the nation wrestles with an opioid crisis, another category of prescription drugs is popping up on Sonoma County school campuses. A growing number of kids are abusing the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, school and law enforcement officials say, and it’s not just in high schools. It’s part of a class of psychoactive drugs known as benzodiazepine, and they also are creeping into middle schools throughout Sonoma County, where 765 students were suspended this past school year for drugs, including alcohol and marijuana. (González, 2/6)
"There’s no nobility in spreading germs," said Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for the Diocese of Sacramento, about St. Mary School's closing.
More Than 40 Flu Absences Hit Sacramento Elementary School, Causing Closure
St. Mary School in East Sacramento closed Tuesday after 40 kids came into the office with fever or other flu symptoms, according to Diocese of Sacramento officials. Monday, 11 faculty and staff members were also absent because they weren’t feeling well, said Kevin Eckery, spokesman for the Diocese of Sacramento. (Sullivan, 2/6)
In other news from across the state —
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Program Aims To Saves Money By Paying Homeless Healthcare
San Diego County plans to spend about $22 million on health care for homeless people over the next three years, but intends to save even more in the process. The Whole Person Wellness program was launched last month after the county Health and Human Services Agency signed contracts with the groups Exodus Recovery and PATH — People Assisting The Homeless — to bring health services to 1,049 homeless people countywide who have been identified as frequent users of emergency care services. (Warth, 2/6)
Lawmakers are getting close to a deal to fund the government that includes several health care wins for Democrats, such as extending funding for community health clinics. But the proposals to pay for the new policies take some of the wind out of those victories.
The Associated Press:
House And Senate Pursue Spending Deals As Shutdown Looms
Democratic leaders have dropped their strategy of using the funding fight to extract concessions on immigration, specifically on seeking extended protections for the "Dreamer" immigrants who have lived in the country illegally since they were children. Instead, the Democrats prepared to cut a deal that would reap tens of billions of dollars for other priorities — including combatting opioids — while taking their chances on solving the immigration impasse later. Tuesday night's 245-182 House vote, mostly along party lines, set the machinery in motion. (2/7)
The Washington Post:
Senate Leaders See Two-Year Budget Deal Within Their Grasp
Top Senate leaders were working Tuesday to finalize a sweeping long-term budget deal that would include a defense spending boost President Trump has long demanded alongside an increase in domestic programs championed by Democrats. (DeBonis and Werner, 2/6)
Senate Eyes Changes To The House Stopgap Health Package
The sizeable healthcare package unveiled Monday night by House GOP leaders may get a face lift in the Senate. The House assembled a packet of legislation that includes two-year funding of the community health centers, a two-year delay of the payment cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals, and two-year funding extensions for Medicare programs rural hospitals in particular depend on. The CHRONIC Care Act, which would, among other things, expand telemedicine and adapt Medicare Advantage plans for chronically ill enrollees, is also included. But all the programs came at a cost House Democrats don't like, most notably a $5 million chunk out of the Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund. (Luthi, 2/6)
Lobbyists Monitor Health Care Provisions In Spending Bill
Community health center officials, safety-net hospital administrators and others say they are relieved that the stopgap spending bill released Monday night would keep money flowing to their institutions. But the proposals to pay for the new policies could be controversial and the underlying bill is mired in a broader partisan dispute. House Republicans hope to check several items off of Congress’ health policy to-do list this week as part of the proposed six-week stopgap spending bill. The continuing resolution filed Monday night by Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., would provide $3.6 billion for community health centers for each of the next two years and extend certain expired Medicare programs. (McIntire, 2/6)
House Bill Cuts ObamaCare Public Health Fund By $2.85 Billion
The House’s short-term bill to fund the government cuts $2.85 billion over 10 years from an ObamaCare public health fund, using the money to help pay for a range of health-care programs. The cut is drawing criticism from public health groups who warn that it will harm work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in areas like vaccination and anti-smoking. (Sullivan, 2/6)
House Funding Bill Includes Bipartisan Medicare Reforms
The House’s short-term bill to fund the government also includes a range of bipartisan Medicare reforms aimed at making the program more efficient and saving money over the long term. The measure, known as the Chronic Care Act, has largely flown under the radar because it has been mainly free of political controversy. (Sullivan, 2/6)
Kratom advocates say the botanical substance is a good way to wean people off of opioids. But new research reinforces Food and Drug Administration's concerns about kratom’s “potential for abuse, addiction and serious health consequences, including death," Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says.
The Washington Post:
FDA Ramps Up Warnings About Kratom, Calling Unregulated Herb An 'Opioid'
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday intensified its warnings about kratom, saying new research provides strong evidence that the unregulated botanical substance has “opioid properties” and is associated with 44 deaths. “We feel confident in calling compounds found in kratom, opioids,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. The agency's conclusion is based on recent computational modeling and on scientific literature and reports of adverse effects in people, he said. The new data, he added, reinforced agency concerns about kratom’s “potential for abuse, addiction and serious health consequences, including death.” (McGinley, 2/6)
In other national health care news —
The Wall Street Journal:
Taxing This High Earner But Not That One: Hospital Nonprofits Wrestle With New Rules
Phoenix-based hospital system Banner Health employed 11 people who earned over $1 million in 2015—the kind of high nonprofit pay Congress targeted in the sweeping tax overhaul enacted in December. But a quirk of the law means Banner likely will owe tax on just five of these executives, while other large nonprofits, such as Michigan-based Trinity Health, could be taxed on more such employees. (Evans and Fuller, 2/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
A Breakthrough Stroke Treatment Can Save Lives—If It’s Available
Minutes mattered to two Atlanta-area residents who showed severe-stroke symptoms last autumn. The right treatment done quickly can help prevent brain damage. An ambulance raced a 74-year-old man to a hospital nearby that wasn’t an institution capable of offering the most-advanced procedure. He arrived Oct. 30 at 9:30 a.m. with right-side weakness, unable to speak. (Burton, 2/6)
The New York Times:
Far More U.S. Children Than Previously Thought May Have Fetal Alcohol Disorders
More American children than previously thought may be suffering from neurological damage because their mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy, according to a new study. The study, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, estimates that fetal alcohol syndrome and other alcohol-related disorders among American children are at least as common as autism. The disorders can cause cognitive, behavioral and physical problems that hurt children’s development and learning ability. (Belluck, 2/6)
The New York Times:
A Brain Implant Improved Memory, Scientists Report
Scientists have developed a brain implant that noticeably boosted memory in its first serious test run, perhaps offering a promising new strategy to treat dementia, traumatic brain injuries and other conditions that damage memory. The device works like a pacemaker, sending electrical pulses to aid the brain when it is struggling to store new information, but remaining quiet when it senses that the brain is functioning well. (Carey, 2/6)