- Coverage And Access 1
- U.S. Health System To Be Further Strained As Undocumented, Uninsured Immigrants Age
- Public Health and Education 2
- Calif. Advocates Dismayed By Presidential AIDS Council Firings, View It As 'Retribution'
- Profit Mining The Opioid Crisis: The Dark Underbelly Of Lucrative Addiction Treatment Industry
- Pharmaceuticals 1
- As Recreational Marijuana Becomes Legal, Cops Worry About People Driving Under The Influence
- Around California 1
- San Diego, Still Reeling From Hep A Outbreak, Shifts Attention To Aggressive Flu Season
Latest From California Healthline:
More than 7 million California adults enrolled in Medi-Cal regained coverage for critical dental care, including crowns and partial dentures, this month. (Emily Bazar, 1/3)
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Summaries Of The News:
Few undocumented residents are able to obtain help for chronic aging issues before their problems become bad enough to send them to the ER, where they are guaranteed emergency care. The financial burden of treating an aging, uninsured population in the coming years will put stress on a system that is already struggling with high costs.
Aging, Undocumented And Uninsured Immigrants Challenge Cities And States
For decades, the United States has struggled to deal with the health care needs of its undocumented immigrants — now an estimated 11 million — mainly through emergency room care and community health centers. But in the coming years, that struggle will evolve. As with the rest of America, the population of people living here illegally is aging and beginning to develop the same health problems that plague senior citizens generally and are a lot more expensive to treat: chronic diseases, cognitive disorders and physical injuries. Many undocumented adults lack health insurance, and even though they’re guaranteed emergency care for acute problems such as heart attacks, senior citizens without documentation don’t have access to care for chronic issues such as kidney disease and high blood pressure. (Wiltz, 1/3)
The Trump administration just fired the six remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS several months after a half-dozen of the advisers left in protest of the administration's policies.
The Mercury News:
Activists Worry After Trump Administration Dismisses HIV/AIDS Advisors
In past years, the council has helped create a helpful “cross-pollination” between people working on different facets of the epidemic, said Bishop Yvette Flunder of Oakland’s City of Refuge United Church of Christ. She was appointed to the council by Obama before resigning in February. Flunder, whose husband died from HIV complications and who has presided over almost 150 funerals of AIDS victims in her East Oakland congregation, predicted that the Trump administration would mount a “hostile and conservative takeover” of the panel, filling it with anti-LGBT members or advisers skeptical of using condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV. (Tolan, 1/2)
In other public health news —
Should Police Violence Be Viewed As A Public Health Issue?
Some local health professionals are advocating that the impact of police violence should be studied and treated as a public health issue. Advocates say people of color are the most at risk, yet the responsibility for providing healing resources has fallen on community members to take care of their own. (Garces, 1/2)
Los Angeles Times:
Autism Spectrum Disorders Appear To Have Stabilized Among U.S. Kids And Teens
Researchers have a new reason to believe that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in the U.S. has reached a plateau. The evidence comes from the National Health Interview Survey, which polls American households about a variety of conditions. When a participating family includes children, one of those kids is selected at random to be included in the interview. (Kaplan, 1/2)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Teens Who Start Vaping Are More Likely To End Up Smoking, UCSF Study Finds
Youths who vape are more likely to light up. That’s the conclusion reached by UCSF researchers, who found that using any form of tobacco — including electronic cigarettes, chewing tobacco, water pipes and snuff — makes a teenager more likely to get hooked on conventional cigarettes. (Rubenstein, 1/2)
The opioid epidemic has sparked a huge growth in the extremely profitably addiction treatment industry -- but there is little regulation around these centers that are making a lot of money off sick and needy patients. The New York Times offers a deeper look.
The New York Times:
The Giant, Under Attack
On the last day of his life, Gary Benefield expressed hope for the future. He was finally about to “get right,” he said. A Harley-riding tough guy and retired utility worker, Mr. Benefield had let addiction get the better of him. He was downing a dozen Budweisers a day and smoking nonstop, despite needing an oxygen tank to breathe. But that July day in 2010, he was headed to A Better Tomorrow, a California treatment center promising 24-hour care while he got sober. (Corkery and Silver-Greenberg, 12/27)
Read the rest of the series here.
There is no standard for how much THC can be in a person's body to drive safely, like the .08 blood level for alcohol. And scientists have yet to come up with a reliable alternative measure of impairment.
Los Angeles Times:
Recreational Marijuana Is Legal. But Smoking In Public And Driving Stoned Are Not, LAPD Warns
As Los Angeles moves toward allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, joining cities across the state in the newly legal enterprise, police here offered a stern word of caution. Yes, recreational pot will be legal to sell (and buy, and consume, and cultivate). But there are limits. And the Los Angeles Police Department will help enforce them. "Let me be clear," Assistant Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday. "The use of marijuana needs to be done in a responsible manner that's consistent with the law." (Mather, 1/2)
LAPD's Main Worry About Legal Pot Is Stoned Drivers
With the advent of the legal recreational marijuana business, it's "a new day in law enforcement" in California, a senior LAPD official said Tuesday. He said officers will pay particular attention to drivers who are impaired by the drug and anyone supplying it to a minor. (Stoltze, 1/2)
San Diego Marijuana Outlets See Brisk Business
A handful of San Diego outlets saw brisk business as it became legal to sell recreational marijuana in California this week. ...Early in the first week, San Diego, San Jose and Oakland are the largest markets in California where you can buy marijuana without a doctor’s recommendation. (Walsh, 1/2)
How To Navigate New Recreational Pot Delivery Laws
Walking into one of the new state-licensed shops isn't the only way to get legal weed. You can also have it delivered to your door -- in some areas. Some California cities have blocked pot delivery services, but how can those rules be enforced? (Ngo, 1/2)
The current flu season has produced a new-case rate five times higher than the prior three-year-average.
San Diego Union-Times:
As Hepatitis A Outbreak Wanes, San Diego County Turns Focus To The Flu
San Diego County supervisors voted Tuesday to continue the hepatitis A emergency declared in September, although there were just six new cases added to the outbreak total in the last two weeks and the death total has held at 20 for more than two months. But they were much more interested in what's going on with the flu, which is nearing epidemic levels throughout the region. (Sisson, 1/2)
Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said that getting rid of the health law and tackling Medicaid regulations would be top priorities for the coming year. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has called on Congress to fully re-fund the CHIP program, saying that the lawmakers' short-term solution isn't good enough.
House GOP Whip: Entitlement Reform, ObamaCare Repeal On 2018 Agenda
ObamaCare repeal and entitlement reform are at the top of the agenda for House Republicans in 2018, Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Tuesday. "The next big thing you're going to see is a need for workers, and I think the next thing we can do is to go and reform those welfare programs that are trapping people in a failed welfare state," Scalise said on "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday morning. (Hellmann, 1/2)
Conservative Groups Push For 2018 Repeal Of ObamaCare
Conservative groups are pushing President Trump to make ObamaCare repeal a priority in 2018, even as some Republicans signal a desire to move on from the issue. A letter to Trump signed by 43 right-leaning groups calls for health-care reform to be the focus of the fast-track process known as reconciliation this year. Using that process would allow Republicans to repeal ObamaCare in the Senate without Democratic votes, but it would also preclude them from using the tool for other priorities like welfare reform. (Sullivan, 1/3)
The Wall Street Journal:
Congress Faces Long To-Do List, Short Deadlines
At the end of 2017, Congress punted the long-term resolution of a number of thorny issues into this year. Here’s a rundown of what lawmakers will need to hammer out in early 2018. ... While lawmakers broadly support a five-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, they have yet to decide how to pay for it. In its latest short-term spending bill, Congress made $2.85 billion available to shore up states’ funding for the program. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have indicated that should be enough to get states through the end of January or early February, a House GOP aide said. But states have signaled they need more certainty. (Peterson, 1/3)
Clinton: Short-Term CHIP Extension 'Doesn't Cut It'
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday called on Senate Republicans to bring a full extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program to the floor for a vote. “This alleged extension until March doesn’t cut it as states freeze enrollment & send out letters warning that coverage will end,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee tweeted. (Weixel, 1/2)
Advocates Urge Congress To Provide Long-Term Funding For Children's Health Insurance Program
CHIP provides health insurance to 1.4 million California kids, and nine million nationwide. CHIP funding expired last September, but Congress funded the program for three more months right before the holidays. (Goldberg, 1/2)
In other news from Congress —
Hatch's Exit Will Influence Health Policy Debates
The news that Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah would retire after this year resonated in health policy circles Tuesday. Hatch’s decades-long influence over health issues is hard to overstate. In the near term, Hatch will oversee a long-term renewal of financing for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which he and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., created in 1997. The politically popular program extended coverage to the children of poor families who didn’t qualify for Medicaid, the program for the poor. CHIP was reauthorized multiple times over the last two decades, and Hatch is currently trying to extend the program’s financing for another five years. (Siddons, 1/2)
In Orrin Hatch's Retirement, Pharma Loses Chief Congressional Ally
Drug makers are about to lose a key ally in Washington. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a longtime advocate for the drug industry, announced Tuesday he will retire at the end of his term this year. Across a four-decades-long career in the Senate, Hatch used influential positions atop the Finance Committee, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Judiciary Committee to advance the industry’s major policy priorities. (Mershon, 1/2)