- California Healthline Original Stories 1
- California’s Tax On Millionaires Yields Big Benefits For People With Mental Illness, Study Finds
- Sacramento Watch 1
- California Already Has Some Of Strictest Gun Rules In Country. Lawmakers Want To Go Further.
- Pharmaceuticals 1
- We're Creating Miracles People Can't Afford, Former Calif. Lawmaker Henry Waxman Says Of High Drug Costs
- Women's Health 1
- 'It's Every Clinic's Nightmare': Recent Malfunctions At Fertility Centers Shake Industry, Consumers
- Marketplace 1
- Why Aren't Americans Getting Good Bang For Their Buck On Health Care? Blame High Salaries And Prices
- Around California 1
- New Costa Mesa Task Force Will Try To Tackle Problems Related To Sober Living Homes
- National Roundup 3
- Following Weeks Of Infighting And Scandal At VA, Trump Mulls Ousting Embattled Secretary
- House Fails To Pass Right-To-Try Bill In Surprising Defeat To Trump, Conservatives' Agenda
- 'People Need Not Be Limited By Physical Handicaps': Stephen Hawking Dies At 76 After Living With ALS For Decades
Latest From California Healthline:
The research, focused on Los Angeles County, casts a positive light on a 2004 initiative that expanded mental health services statewide. A recent state audit, however, suggested hundreds of millions of dollars from the initiative were piling up, left unspent by counties. (Anna Gorman, )
More News From Across The State
Following the mass shooting in Florida, gun control has returned to the spotlight.
Capital Public Radio:
California Lawmakers Eye New Gun Bills After Parkland Shooting
As students across the country prepare to walk out of class to protest for tighter restrictions on firearms, California lawmakers and policy advocates are preparing their own responses after the Parkland shooting. Bills introduced or being considered in the Assembly would tackle a variety of gun control issues, from raising the minimum purchase age for all firearms to 21-years-old to making it easier to rapidly issue gun violence restraining orders. (Bradford, 3/13)
San Jose Mercury News:
Grenade Launchers, Guns Seized Through California Program
State officials announced Tuesday the recovery of an array of illegally owned weapons — including three grenade launchers — under a one-of-a-kind California program that’s gained more attention in recent months amid a wave of mass shootings across the country. (Salonga, 3/13)
Henry Waxman sat down with Stat to talk about high drug prices and what can be done to solve the problem.
Henry Waxman Says Lawmakers 'Derelict' If They Don't Address Drug Prices
Henry Waxman is a household name in pharmaceutical circles — during his three decades on Capitol Hill, he helped write the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He sponsored the 1984 Hatch-Waxman Act, which set up the modern infrastructure for bringing generic drugs to market, and chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health-related issues, from 2009 to 2011. Since his retirement from Congress in 2015, Waxman has served as chairman of Waxman Strategies, a lobbying firm that has been active on health issues, especially the 340B drug discount program. (Swetlitz, 3/14)
The New York Times offers a guide on what to look for while deciding what clinic to use to freeze eggs. Meanwhile, people who stored their eggs and embryos at the facilities grieve over the loss of their "future families."
The New York Times:
What Fertility Patients Should Know About Egg Freezing
The failure of systems used to store frozen eggs and embryos at two fertility clinics has rattled people who count on such clinics to help them realize their hopes of having children. But the breakdowns at clinics in Cleveland and San Francisco, each apparently involving the temperature or level of liquid nitrogen in one storage tank, have damaged at least some eggs and embryos belonging to potentially hundreds of people. (Belluck, 3/13)
San Jose Mercury News:
Lawsuit Filed Over Lost Eggs At San Francisco Fertility Clinic
In this first suit to be filed after a rare malfunction that remains under investigation, the woman, who remains anonymous for privacy, is seeking compensation for negligence and breach of contract from the Prelude Fertility, where she received treatment in 2016, and Pacific Fertility Center, which stored her eggs. The law firm, Sauder & Schelkopf of Berwyn, PA, is asking the court to certify the case as a class action, saying that at least 400 individuals may have been harmed by the incident. (Krieger, 3/13)
Devastated Parents In Two Cities Grieve Their Lost Embryos
When Kate and Jeremy Plants were making plans for their 2014 marriage, they had no idea the future they would face. Just months after they tied the knot, Kate was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a deadly form that the American Cancer Society says takes more lives than any other female reproductive cancer. Because treatment could affect Kate's fertility, doctors encouraged the newlyweds to consider banking Kate's embryos so they could have children someday. (LaMotte, 3/13)
A new study looks at why Americans are spending twice as much as other high-income countries on health care. And debunked some common myths along the way.
US Spends Twice As Much As Other Wealthy Countries On Health Care
The United States spent twice as much on health care than ten other high-income countries in 2016, largely because of the high costs of prescription drugs, administrative overhead and labor, a new study released Tuesday indicates. While Americans don't use more services than people in high-income countries, the U.S.'s overall health spending still topped that of the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Hellmann, 3/13)
The Washington Post:
The Real Reason The U.S. Spends Twice As Much On Health Care As Other Wealthy Countries
A sweeping new study of health-care expenditures found that the United States spends almost twice as much on health care as 10 other wealthy countries, a difference driven by high prices — including doctors' and nurses' salaries, hospital charges, pharmaceuticals and administrative overhead. For years, it has been clear that Americans are not getting a good bang for their buck on health care. The United States spends more than any other country and gets much less, at least as measured by life expectancy or infant mortality. Policy fixes have tended to focus on the idea that medicine is being overused. The thinking goes that the American health care system is uniquely set up to incentivize wasteful imaging scans, oodles of unnecessary prescriptions and procedures that could have been prevented. (Johnson, 3/13)
Los Angeles Times:
With Healthcare, It's Not What You Spend But How You Spend It
Americans did rank at or near the top in several categories of healthcare utilization. For instance, they ranked first in coronary artery bypass graft surgeries (79 per 100,000 people; the average for all countries was 54 per 100,000) and total knee replacements (226 per 100,000 people; the average for all countries was 163 per 100,000). They also got the most CT scans (245 per 1,000 people; the average was 151 per 1,000) and the second-most MRIs (118 per 1,000 people; the average was 82 per 1,000). But overall healthcare use was “relatively similar to other high-income nations,” the researchers found. Even in the areas where the U.S. was at or near the top, “this utilization did not appear to explain a large part of the higher spending in the U.S.” (Kaplan, 3/13)
Americans Spend More On Prescription Drugs Than Other Wealthy Countries
As Americans grapple with the rising cost of medicines, a new analysis shows that the U.S. had the highest spending per capita among nearly a dozen other high-income countries. Specifically, U.S. spending per capita on pharmaceuticals was $1,443, despite the fact that generics represented 84 percent of the U.S. market, the largest tally among the 11 countries that were examined. The mean spending per capita was $749, according to the analysis, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Retail spending per capita was also highest in the U.S., at $1,026. (Silverman, 3/13)
The funding request comes as valley fever cases are spiking statewide to epidemic levels and sprawl outside of traditional endemic regions in the Central Valley.
The Bakersfield Californian:
Assemblymen Ask State For $7 Million In Fight Against Valley Fever To Fuel Research, Spread Awareness
Bakersfield Assemblymen Vince Fong and Rudy Salas submitted a bipartisan $7 million budget proposal Monday to combatting valley fever, an insidious respiratory disease endemic to Kern County. If approved, it will be the largest amount of money the state has ever designated at one time to research and raise awareness of the orphan disease, which in 2017 infected at least 5,121 people in California, according to state data. The proposal requests a $3 million grant to fund treatment, research and outreach at the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical Center; $1 million for the California Department of Public Health to create an outreach and awareness campaign to educate the public about the disease; and $3 million to the University of California system for valley fever research. (Pierce, 3/13)
"We like to feel that we're a compassionate city and we know that people who are battling substance abuse problems need help, but at the same time, there needs to be a balance between the peace and tranquillity of our neighborhoods and recovery homes," Mayor Sandy Genis said.
Los Angeles Times:
O.C. District Attorney Announces Plans To Form Sober-Living Task Force
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says his office will create a group geared toward tackling issues related to sober-living homes. The Sober Living Home Accountability Task Force, announced Monday, would include participants from cities, law enforcement and other agencies, Rackauckas told a crowd of about 90 people at the Costa Mesa Senior Center. (Money, 3/13)
In other news from across the state —
Capital Public Radio:
Around 100,000 San Joaquin Valley Residents Live Without Clean Water; Study Suggests Access Is Close
There are almost 100,000 San Joaquin Valley residents living without access to clean drinking water. ... A majority of those without safe drinking water in these small rural places are people of color — Hispanics make up 57 percent of all the people that get water from out-of-compliance water systems in the eight counties represented. (Romero, 3/13)
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, following a travel scandal, spoke about rousting political foes in the agency who he said were trying to undermine him. As President Donald Trump takes other steps to re-align his cabinet, Shulkin may be the next to go.
The New York Times:
In Replacing Tillerson With Pompeo, Trump Turns To Loyalists Who Reflect ‘America First’ Views
As the White House absorbed the news about Mr. Tillerson, rumors swirled that the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, and the secretary of Veterans Affairs, David J. Shulkin, would soon follow him out the door. The sense of disarray was deepened by the purging of Mr. Tillerson’s inner circle and the sudden dismissal of a personal aide to Mr. Trump. (Landler, Haberman, and Harris, 3/13)
The Associated Press:
Trump Considers Ousting His VA Secretary In Cabinet Shuffle
President Donald Trump is considering ousting embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who has faced an insurgency within his department and fresh allegations that he used a member of his security detail to run personal errands. Trump has floated the notion of moving Energy Secretary Rick Perry to the VA to right the ship, believing Shulkin has become a distraction, according to two sources familiar with White House discussions. The sources were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations. (3/13)
The legislation, which critics said gave patients false hope, needed a two-thirds majority to pass. The House can still work on the Senate's version, which would only require a simple majority vote, if lawmakers want to move forward with a bill.
The New York Times:
House Rejects Bill To Give Patients A ‘Right To Try’ Experimental Drugs
In a surprising rebuff to President Trump and Republican leaders, the House derailed a bill on Tuesday that would have given patients with terminal illnesses a right to try unproven experimental treatments.The bill was considered under special fast-track procedures that required a two-thirds majority for passage, and it fell short. When the roll was called, 259 House members supported the bill, and 140 opposed it. (Pear, 3/13)
The Associated Press:
House Rejects GOP Bill Easing Use Of Unproven Drugs
The vote for the measure was 259-140, but that fell seven votes short of the two-thirds majority the GOP needed to prevail under special procedures. Since the Senate approved similar legislation last August, Republicans could well revisit the legislation under rules that would require only a simple majority for passage, perhaps after reworking the measure. (Fram, 3/13)
Democrats Sink House Vote On Trump-Backed Drug Bill
“This legislation delivers the false hope to patients and their families that they will receive a cure to their underlying disease or condition,” House Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone said. The bill is also “based on false premise that patients are not receiving access to investigational treatments as a result of the Food and Drug Administration." (Karlin-Smith, 3/13)
When he was first diagnosed with the disease, Stephen Hawking was given two years to live. He went on to become one of the world's most well-known scientists.
The New York Times:
Stephen Hawking, Who Examined The Universe And Explained Black Holes, Dies At 76
Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, died early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76. His death was confirmed by a spokesman for Cambridge University. (Overbye, 3/14)
Physicist Stephen Hawking, Who Unlocked The Secrets Of Space And Time, Dies At 76
The power of his intellect contrasted cruelly with the weakness of his body, ravaged by the wasting motor neuron disease he developed at the age of 21. Hawking was confined for most of his life to a wheelchair. As his condition worsened, he had to resort to speaking through a voice synthesizer and communicating by moving his eyebrows. ... In the book he related how he was first diagnosed: "I felt it was very unfair - why should this happen to me," he wrote. "At the time, I thought my life was over and that I would never realize the potential I felt I had. But now, 50 years later, I can be quietly satisfied with my life." (3/14)
The Washington Post:
Stephen Hawking’s Secret To Surviving His Terrible Condition? A Sense Of Humor.
The fact Hawking survived into his 70s is remarkable in its own right. “He is known as one of the longest, if not the longest, surviving patients with ALS in history,” the International Business Times wrote in 2012. “What’s happened to him is just astounding,” Leo McCluskey, the medical director at the University of Pennsylvania’s ALS Center, told Scientific American in that same year. “He’s certainly an outlier.” In a January 2016 question and answer session, Hawking credited “my work and a sense of humour” with keeping him alive. (Swenson, 3/14)
What Is ALS, The Disease Physicist Stephen Hawking Lived With For Over Five Decades?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS, is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease. It affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that make the muscles of both the upper and lower body work. Those nerve cells lose their ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which leads to paralysis and death. People with the condition lose control of muscle movement, eventually losing their ability to eat, speak, walk and, ultimately, breathe. (McKirdy, 3/14)