- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Anthem-Cigna Merger Proposal Takes A Grilling
- CT Scans For Minor Injuries On A Rapid Rise In California Emergency Rooms
- Marketplace 2
- Insurance Commissioner Has 'Significant Skepticism' About Anthem-Cigna Merger
- After Serving 1 Million People Through Eye Charity Initiative, VSP Aims For A Million More By 2020
- Health Care Personnel 2
- Egregious Errors And Ethics Violations By California Doctors Detailed By Consumer Reports
- Nurse Recruiter Raises $3.3M From Private Equity Lender
- Around California 1
- Loma Linda Research Projects To Focus On Oxygen Deprivation's Effects On Fetuses
Latest From California Healthline:
The state insurance commissioner and consumer advocates expressed skepticism at a hearing on the huge insurance deal. (Ana B. Ibarra, 3/30)
Researchers say they're reporting the facts, but not taking a stand on CT "overuse." (Stephanie Stephens, 3/30)
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Summaries Of The News:
Industry officials are asking Gov. Jerry Brown to veto legislation that would put the same regulations surrounding traditional cigarettes on electronic cigarettes. "We are the largest anti-tobacco group and anti-smoking group in the country," Josh Krane, owner of Craft Vapery in Torrance said during a news conference at the capitol. "We believe we are part of the harm-reduction equation."
The Associated Press:
Industry Urges California Governor To Veto Anti-Vaping Bill
The fast-growing vaping industry promoted itself Tuesday as a partner - not a scourge - in the effort to reduce smoking, as representatives urged California Gov. Jerry Brown to veto a bill that treats the products like tobacco. The bill, one of six anti-smoking measures awaiting action by the Democratic governor, would subject electronic cigarettes to the same restrictions as traditional cigarettes, including workplace smoking bans. (Cooper, 3/29)
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones will be responsible for making a recommendation to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission about the $54 billion proposed deal.
The Associated Press:
California Insurance Commissioner Probes Anthem-Cigna Merger
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says he has "some significant skepticism" about the benefits of Anthem Inc.'s proposed acquisition of rival insurer Cigna Corp. Jones spoke at a public hearing on the proposed $54 billion merger Tuesday in San Francisco. (3/29)
The program provides free eye exams and glasses. VSP will partner with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to get the initiative into 10 more cities.
The Sacramento Business Journal:
VSP Hits 1 Million Mark In Charity Eye-Care Program
Rancho Cordova-based VSP Global said Monday it has now served 1 million people with a program to provide free eye exams and glasses. Since 1997 the company has invested about $175 million in its Eyes of Hope charity initiative. The company says it plans to serve a million more people in the next four years. (Anderson, 3/30)
Consumer Reports' Safe Patient Project investigates a database maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services that is only accessible to some groups like hospitals and law enforcement.
The Washington Post:
A Doctor Removed The Wrong Ovary, And Other Nightmare Tales From California Licensing Records
The main job of state medical boards is to license doctors and to investigate complaints. But their findings are often difficult for the average consumer to access, meaning that many Americans are none the wiser that the doctor they may be visiting is on probation for egregious errors or ethics violations. In a report published Tuesday, Consumer Reports took a deep dive into the list of California doctors on probation — but still practicing — and what they found is unsettling. One pediatrician was disciplined 13 times for what the board cited as being “under the influence of drugs to such an extent as to impair her ability to practice medicine with safety to her patients and public.” An orthopedic surgeon was so inattentive to a man’s fractured thighbone that the patient ended up having to get his leg amputated. One OB-GYN surgically removed the wrong ovary rather than one that was cystic. The list goes on and on. (Cha, 3/29)
Valley Healthcare recruits nurses and uses an online portal to make sure they have the proper credentials, licenses, background checks and testing to work in California. “There is a huge shortage of nurses in California, and it is getting worse,” said Jose Blanco, managing partner of Central Valley Fund.
The Sacramento Business Journal:
Fast-Growing Sacramento Nursing Recruiter Gets Private Equity Financing
The Sacramento-based traveling nurse recruiter Valley Healthcare Staffing raised $3.3 million from the Central Valley Fund, the Davis-based private equity lender reported Tuesday. Valley Healthcare was started in 2002 to recruit nurses and physicians to work in California. The company in recent years has concentrated primarily on nurses. (Anderson, 3/29)
Lawmakers are urging federal agencies to step in to cut prices of Xtandi, a prostate cancer drug that's price is four times more expensive in the United States than in other developed countries.
The Associated Press:
Another Drug Company In The Crosshairs Of Congress
Another pharmaceutical company is being targeted by lawmakers over drug pricing. Shares of Medivation tumbled more than 6% in premarket trading Tuesday after a group of lawmakers opened a campaign to potentially lower the price of its prostate cancer drug. They are asking for public hearings over the drug, which they say was developed at the University of California, Los Angeles, through taxpayer-supported research grants. It is sold by Japanese drug maker Astellas Pharma. (3/29)
A new app will allow healthy people to order a 3-month supply of PrEP, a drug that can reduce a patient's chance of contracting HIV by more than 90 percent, without a doctor's visit.
The San Jose Mercury News:
New App To Deliver HIV Prevention Meds Without A Doctor's Visit
It would have been unthinkable three decades ago, when San Francisco was in the grip of the AIDS epidemic and the city's gay community was living in terror of the mysterious, deadly virus. But now, preventing HIV may be as simple as pushing a few buttons on a smartphone. (Kendall, 3/29)
In other news, a Stanford medical student's app is helping fight a global pandemic —
Stanford Start-Up Tackles Dangerous Counterfeit Drugs In East Africa
Jessica Vernon, now a medical student at Stanford, is co-director and one of the original founders of Miti Health. She lived in Kenya for two years prior to starting medical school. During her time there, she was surprised to learn that her friends and co-workers would go to private pharmacies for health care instead of using the public health system. Chemist shops are everywhere, Vernon says, “pretty much on every street corner, all over Kenya and all over Africa,” so their convenience can’t be beat. But the quality of medication prescribed was always a gamble. (Pickett, 3/29)
The scientists believe the study could reveal information on how to fight chronic diseases that crop up later in life.
Loma Linda University To Study Fetal Development At High Altitudes
Local researchers will study how lack of oxygen can affect fetus development. Sheep fetuses. What they find could unlock the mystery of reversing chronic diseases humans suffer later in life. Loma Linda University School of Medicine was recently awarded a $6.29 million grant from the National Institutes of Health that will be used to task a team of researchers at the Center for Perinatal Biology with studying pregnant sheep kept at high altitude, officials announced Tuesday. (Steinberg, 3/29)
However, HHS says that was to be expected because the Affordable Care Act provided coverage to patients who had been previously denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions.
In a rare move, the justices -- seemingly divided 4-4 -- ordered both sides to submit briefs on how women working for religious employers might be able to get insurance coverage for contraception without violating the rights of their bosses. Both sides found hope in the order.
The president spoke about the national crisis at a summit in Atlanta, announcing an array of new measures such as expanding drug treatment centers and increasing the use of drugs, like naloxone. However, he said that “this is still an area that’s grossly under-resourced.”