Latest From California Healthline:
Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, is recommending that employees and dependents use one of 800 imaging centers identified as providing trustworthy care. (Phil Galewitz, 5/15)
Good morning! Here are some of your top California health stories for the day.
Newsom Sells Necessity Of Individual Mandate As He Drums Up Support For His Health Agenda: Gov. Gavin Newsom is launching a five-day statewide tour— visiting San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego — to talk up his plan for health care in the state. One of the tougher sells? A reinstated individual mandate. “Without the mandate, everybody’s premiums go up,” Newsom said during a discussion with healthcare leaders and small-business owners at a Covered California enrollment office in Sacramento. The new penalties would go toward Newsom’s plan to offer subsidies of about $100 a month to help people who earn as much as 600% of the federal poverty level pay for their insurance plans. That means a family of four earning about $150,000 a year would qualify, as would individuals making around $72,000. The proposal is part of Newsom's budget, which he's now negotiating with lawmakers. Read more from the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press.
CalPERS Health Insurance Premiums May Jump As Much As 24 Percent For Some Plans: The estimated increases, presented at a CalPERS board meeting, were the first public glimpse of the 2020 premiums, which take effect Jan. 1. The most popular CalPERS plan, an HMO offered by Kaiser Permanente, would go up about 6 percent. The second most popular plan, a PPO called PERS Choice, would increase about 5 percent, to $801 for an individual, according to the estimates. The largest projected increase, of 24 percent, is for an HMO called Health Net Smart Care. That jump resulted from the plan taking on about 10,000 new Bay Area policyholders after Blue Shield left the region, where medical care is expensive. Board members expressed frustration at the rising premiums. Read more from the Sacramento Bee.
Sacramento Gambled $5M On A Unique Homeless Shelter That Tried To Reach The Unreachable. Was It Worth It?: The shelter’s main purpose during its 17 months of operation was to get the city’s chronically homeless off the streets and riverbanks, connect them with resources and get them housed. In an effort to reach more people, it allowed people to bring their pets, partners and possessions, and no one was turned away just for having drugs and alcohol in their systems. The city paid more than $5 million in city and private funds to run the Railroad Drive shelter—and Of the 658 people who rotated through Railroad Drive, only 164 landed in permanent housing. Another 100 were placed in temporary housing, and the rest went back to the streets. As the city prepares to open four new large shelters modeled after Railroad Drive this year and next, advocates say there can be lessons learned from past mistakes. Read more from the Sacramento Bee.
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
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More News From Across The State
California Labor Board Says Union Can Represent UCD Residents
California’s Public Employment Relations Board, the agency charged with enforcing collective bargaining laws for public workers, has certified that the Committee of Interns and Residents can represent roughly 800 fellows and residents at UC Davis Health in collective bargaining with management. “We want UC Davis Medical Center to meet us at the table, so that we can begin to negotiate a fair contract that values the work of resident physicians and ultimately helps improve patient care,” said Dr. Edwin Kulubya, a neurosurgery resident, in a prepared news release. (Anderson, 5/14)
Los Angeles Times:
In L.A. And The Bay Area, Environmental Law Is Used To Block Homeless Shelters
State and local governments have dedicated billions of dollars in recent years toward homeless housing and services, even as the state’s unhoused population has increased to nearly 130,000 residents. But some efforts to build temporary and permanent housing have run into a form of opposition that could only happen in California. (Dillon and Oreskes, 5/15)
Capital Public Radio:
Your Questions About Measles And Vaccinations In California, Answered
The United States is seeing the highest level of measles infections in more than two decades, and California has seen 45 cases this year. Meanwhile, some lawmakers are pushing to make it harder for parents to get exemptions from vaccinations.The proposals and the outbreaks have prompted confusion, and a lot of questions. (Caiola, 5/14)
Opioid Prescriptions Drop Sharply Among California State Workers
The agency that manages health care for California’s massive state workforce is reporting a major reduction in opioid prescriptions, reflecting a national trend of physicians cutting back on the addictive drugs. Insurance claims for opioids, which are prescribed to help people manage pain, decreased almost 19 percent in a single year among the 1.5 million Californians served by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. CalPERS manages health benefits for employees and retirees of state and local agencies and public schools, and their families. (Cone, 5/14)
The Desert Sun:
Chickenpox Cases Among Asylum Seekers Waiting To Enter U.S.
Since late January, U.S. immigration officials have been forcing some Central American asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for judges to decide their cases; the controversial program took effect at the Calexico border crossing in mid-March. Now, as migrants crowd into shelters in Mexicali, facility operators and Mexican state health officials are dealing with a new challenge: At one shelter, at least a dozen adults and children, including Briseba Aracely, have developed chickenpox in the past month. ...Meanwhile, at a press conference Monday, a Baja California state health official, Oscar Efren Zazueta Fierro, said he was not overly concerned about the chickenpox cases at the Alfa y Omega shelter. He said there were 12 confirmed chickenpox cases at the shelter, explaining that some suspected cases had not been confirmed. None had required hospitalization, he said. (Plevin, 5/14)
The New York Times:
Alabama Lawmakers Vote To Effectively Ban Abortion In The State
The Alabama Senate approved a measure on Tuesday that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, setting up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the case that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy. The legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the mother’s life is at serious risk, but not for cases of rape or incest — a subject of fierce debate among lawmakers in recent days. (Williams and Blinder, 5/14)
Los Angeles Times:
Georgia Governor Postpones L.A. Visit Amid Hollywood Clash Over Abortion Law
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has postponed a trip to Los Angeles next week amid mounting criticism over the state’s controversial abortion bill that he signed into law last week. But Kemp has plans for a later visit. “We have confirmed a date to go out to L.A. this fall,” Kemp’s spokesman, Cody Hall, said in a statement to The Times on Tuesday. At next week’s visit in L.A., Kemp had planned to tout his state’s ties to Hollywood productions. (Saad, 5/14)
The New York Times:
Where Steve Bullock Stands On The Issues
Steve Bullock, the latest Democrat to enter the presidential race, was twice elected governor of deep-red Montana. In 2016, in fact, more than 20 percent of Trump voters also voted to re-elect him. ... Most of the Democrats running for president are calling for universal health care, but Mr. Bullock isn’t. Asked last year whether he supported Medicare for all, he demurred, saying there were “any number of different paths” to make health care “affordable, accessible and of quality.” He did shepherd an expansion of Medicaid through the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature in 2015. He also supports the Affordable Care Act and has spoken out against attempts to repeal or undermine it, accusing the Trump administration and congressional Republicans of trying to “sabotage” the law. (Astor, 5/14)
Kamala Harris Escalates Gun Control Agenda
Kamala Harris' unilateral crackdown on guns is expanding. At a presidential campaign event Wednesday in New Hampshire, Harris will pledge to take executive action banning the importation of AR-15-style assault weapons — a move that comes just three weeks after the California Democrat rolled out her sweeping gun-control proposal. (Cadelago, 5/15)
Dem House Chairman, Top Republican Release Measure To End Surprise Medical Bills
The Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday released a discussion draft of a measure to protect patients from getting massive, unexpected medical bills, a sign of bipartisan momentum on the issue. The release from Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) comes after President Trump called for action on the issue last week. (Sullivan, 5/14)
The Wall Street Journal:
Hospital Drug-Making Venture Picks Antibiotics As First Products
Two critical antibiotics will be the first products supplied by a group of hospitals that are trying to overcome high drug prices and short supplies by producing the medicines themselves. Civica Rx, the nonprofit drugmaking venture established by the hospitals, plans to begin distributing vancomycin hydrochloride and daptomycin before the end of September, according to Civica’s chief executive. (Evans, 5/15)
The Washington Post:
Justice Department Says FDA ‘Lacks Jurisdiction’ Over Death-Penalty Drugs
The Justice Department says in a new legal opinion that the Food and Drug Administration does not have authority over drugs used in lethal injections, a stance sure to be challenged by death-penalty opponents. The department’s Office of Legal Counsel said that “articles intended for use in capital punishment by a state or the federal government cannot be regulated as ‘drugs’ or ‘devices.’ ” The legal opinion, issued this month, comes as states have struggled in recent years to obtain drugs for lethal injections, which remain the country’s primary method of execution even as the number of executions has declined. (McGinley and Berman, 5/14)
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Births Fall To Lowest Rates Since 1980s
About 3.79 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2018, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. That was a 2% decline from the previous year and marked the fourth year in a row that the number fell. The general fertility rate—the number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44—fell to 59.0, the lowest since the start of federal record-keeping. With the latest decline, births in the U.S. have fallen in 10 of the last 11 years since peaking in 2007, just before the recession. Many demographers believed that births would rebound as the economy recovered, but that trend hasn’t materialized. (DeBarros and Adamy, 5/15)