- Public Health and Education 2
- Doctors Should Screen All Adults For Depression, Task Force Urges
- Five From California, All Who Traveled Abroad, Infected With Zika
- Covered California & The Health Law 2
- Health Law Requirements Hit Low-Profit-Margin Agriculture Industry Hard
- Premiums And Costs Could Rise If Republicans Win Obamacare Lawsuit, Study Finds
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Summaries Of The News:
New guidance from a federal panel urges that all adults, specifically pregnant women and new mothers, should be screened for depression as a routine part of health care. The recommendation, expected to galvanize many more health providers to provide screening, comes in the wake of new evidence that maternal mental illness is more common than previously thought.
Concerns in the states rise after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its travel advisory over the virus, but other officials say it is unlikely the U.S. will be hit with an outbreak. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is calling for accelerated research efforts to find a vaccine.
The Los Angeles Daily News:
Health Warnings About Zika Virus Increase, Five Californians Infected
Concern about Zika virus arriving to the United States from abroad rose Tuesday after federal health officials posted additional travel alerts about two more countries affected by the mosquito-borne disease. (Abram, 1/26)
The Orange County Register:
CDC Expands Travel Advisory As Reports Of Zika Virus Increase
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday added two new destinations – the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands – to its travel advisories related to the mosquito-borne disease Zika. Reports of Zika are rising rapidly across the Americas. (Chandler, 1/26)
Big Zika Virus Outbreak Unlikely In The U.S., Officials Say
The outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil and other countries has raised concern that the pathogen could start spreading widely in the United States, as well. But federal health officials and other infectious disease specialists say so far that seems unlikely. "Based on what we know right now, we don't think that widespread transmission in the United States is likely," says Dr. Beth Bell, director of National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Stein, 1/26)
The Associated Press:
Research Begins Into Possibility Of A Vaccine For Zika Virus
The U.S. government is beginning research into a possible vaccine for the mosquito-borne Zika virus that is suspected of causing an unusual birth defect as it spreads in Latin America. Don’t expect protection anytime soon — vaccine development typically takes years. (Neergaard, 1/26)
Obama Briefed On Zika Virus, Urges Faster Work To Develop Tests And Vaccines
President Obama received a briefing from top government health officials on the Zika virus Tuesday, and urged faster research to develop better diagnostic tests and vaccines to stop the spread of the virus, the White House announced. (Nather, 1/26)
The unfunded liability represents the cost the state must pay over time to cover health and dental benefits promised to state employees.
The Associated Press:
California Unfunded Health Liability Grows
State Controller Betty Yee says California's unfunded liability for retiree health and dental benefits has grown to $74 billion. The figure released Tuesday is up $2.4 billion from compared with last year's liability. Still, it's lower than the controller's office predicted, in part because claims did not rise as rapidly as expected. (1/26)
"Either I pay for health insurance, or I pay the rent and utilities," says Agostin Garcia, a farm worker affected by the legislation. In other Affordable Care Act news, Covered California's enrollment deadline is Sunday.
Farming Industry Balks At Obamacare Requirements
Obamacare is throwing the agricultural industry into a tailspin. Farm labor contractors who must now offer their workers health insurance are complaining loudly about the cost in their already low-margin business. (Dembosky, 1/26)
Ventura County Star:
Covered California Enrollment Deadline Is Sunday
People who want health insurance through Covered California face a Sunday enrollment deadline. Covered California is the marketplace created through the Affordable Care Act. It's designed to provide coverage to the uninsured. People who meet income standards may qualify for subsidies. (1/26)
In House v. Burwell, Republican lawmakers are challenging the health law's “cost sharing reduction” payments to insurers to help reimburse the coverage of lower-income enrollees. Meanwhile, as the enrollment period draws to a close, The Associated Press reports on potential fines for millennials who remain uninsured
Study: GOP Win In ObamaCare Suit Would Hike Spending
A new study indicates that a favorable ruling for House Republicans in their ObamaCare lawsuit would cause a large disruption, but would not cripple the law. The study from the Urban Institute finds that if Republicans win in the case of House v. Burwell, cutting off certain payments to insurers under the health law, insurers would face a major adjustment and have to hike premiums, but government subsidies would increase to help make up the difference and the system would likely not face major negative consequences. (Sullivan, 1/27)
The Associated Press:
Health Care Fines Press Millennials As Deadline Nears
Millions of young adults healthy enough to think they don't need insurance face painful choices this year as the sign-up deadline approaches for President Barack Obama's health care law. Fines for being uninsured rise sharply in 2016 — averaging nearly $1,000 per household, according to an independent estimate. It's forcing those in their 20s and 30s to take a hard look and see if they can squeeze in coverage to avoid penalties. (1/26)
The group wants pharmacies to be required to take back expired medications, and it wants the drug companies to pay for it.
The Sacramento Business Journal:
Coalition Wants Drug Companies To Pay For Disposal Of Old Medicines
A coalition representing 100 cities, water agencies and politicians is lobbying for rules requiring pharmacies to take back expired medicines — with drug companies footing the bill. The group wants local governments and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop programs for safely disposing of excess drugs instead. Medications flushed into the waste stream can end up in water supplies. (Anderson, 1/26)
The board has asked for regulations it could put in place instead of outright prohibiting medical marijuana enterprises. In other local news, county planners say a project to transport heavy crude oil by rail is too risky to the public's health.
The Ventura County Star:
County Blocks Medical Marijuana Enterprises For Now
A board Tuesday prohibited medical marijuana enterprises in unincorporated areas of Ventura County, but allowed that the action may be temporary. The unanimous vote by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors preserves the county's ability to regulate land use for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries, manufacturing and cultivation. But the board also asked managers to return in eight to 10 weeks with a list of people who could recommend thoughtful regulations in place of outright bans. (Wilson, 1/26)
California County Planners Oppose Phillips 66 Oil-By-Rail Project
County planners want to squash Phillips 66's proposal to transport heavy crude by rail to one of its California refineries, saying it is too risky to public health and the environment. The staff of San Luis Obispo County's planning commission this week recommended that commissioners reject the project because of "significant and unavoidable" impacts from toxic emissions and contaminated water to fires and explosions if trains derail or leak. (Hays, 1/26)
On Tuesday, a group of 10 anti-abortion leaders wrote an open letter to Iowa voters imploring them to vote for "anyone but Donald Trump," saying they worry about his commitment to the cause.
Anti-Abortion Groups Say They Distrust Trump
Donald Trump says he's ardently anti-abortion. But some of the most active anti-abortion groups are skeptical of his conversion and furiously lobbying for anyone but Trump. “He worries me a lot,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, citing the billionaire’s comments that he might consider former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown as a running mate — or his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, as a Supreme Court justice. Both Brown and Barry support abortion rights. “One has to question how deep it goes,” she said. (Haberkorn, 1/26)
Why Donald Trump Would Have The Same Problems As Democrats On Medicare Drug Prices
Donald Trump stunned the health care world Monday night with his call for Medicare to negotiate drug prices — an idea that’s straight out of Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders playbooks, and one that other Republicans won’t touch. (Nather, 1/26)
Sanders Blocks Obama Nominee To Lead FDA, Citing Industry Ties
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said on Tuesday he has placed a hold on President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration, claiming he is too close to the pharmaceutical industry to be an impartial regulator. The move by the U.S. senator from Vermont comes one day after Democratic Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts also placed a hold on the nomination until the agency agrees to reform its process for approving opioid painkillers. (Heavey, 1/26)
The company says it does not believe the information is being used improperly, but as the latest in a series of data losses in the industry it's another blow to consumer confidence in health IT security.
The San Francisco Business Times:
Hard Drives Holding Health Data Missing At Medical Insurer
The latest in a series of huge data losses in the health care realm — health insurer Centene's loss of six hard drives containing personal information on 950,000 enrollees — raises more questions about the security of health data that consumers entrust to insurance companies, hospital systems, Medicare, Medicaid and other big players. Centene is based in St. Louis and in the midst of wrapping up a $6.8 billion acquisition of Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc., which has about 2.9 million California enrollees. (Rauber, 1/26)
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is urging hospitals to team up with social workers and non-medical personnel in an effort to cut back on readmission rates for many minority and low-income patients.
Feds Push Hospitals To Improve Care After Discharging Minority Patients
Federal officials are urging hospitals to improve care for minority and low-income Medicare patients so they don't wind up back in the hospital soon after they're discharged. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is issuing guidance to hospitals Tuesday on how to improve communication and care for these disadvantaged patients if they want to avoid penalties when these people have to be readmitted within 30 days of discharge. (O'Donnell, 1/26)