- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- Survey: Consumers Broadly Satisfied With New Coverage Through Health Law Expansions
- Marketplace 2
- California, Washington Sue J&J In Latest Legal Action Against Vaginal Mesh Implants
- Gusto Pounces On The Spoils Of Zenefits' Implosion
- Health Care Personnel 1
- Ahead Of Picket, Bakersfield Memorial Says It 'Prides Itself' On Its Nurse Staffing Levels
- Public Health and Education 1
- Depression Medication Too Often Being Used As 'Do Something' Drug To Treat Other Conditions
Latest From California Healthline:
A new national pediatric guideline proposes that every school have a nurse on staff. In California, 57 percent of school districts do not employ nurses. (Ana B. Ibarra, 5/25)
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Summaries Of The News:
The Commonwealth report also finds that 60 percent of people who got coverage through the health law's marketplaces or expanded Medicaid could not find insurance before.
Los Angeles Times:
Obamacare Is Helping Millions Get Needed Healthcare, New Survey Finds
More than 60% of working-age Americans who signed up for Medicaid or a private health plan through the Affordable Care Act are getting healthcare they couldn’t previously get, a new nationwide survey indicates. And consumers are broadly satisfied with the new coverage, despite some cost challenges and an ongoing Republican campaign to discredit the law. Overall, 82% of American adults enrolled in private or government coverage through the health law said they were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied, according to the report from the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund. (Levey, 5/24)
The plastic mesh is used to treat pelvic organ prolapse. In response to thousands of injuries from the mesh, the Food and Drug Administration early this year re-labeled the products high risk instead of moderate and announced new federal scrutiny for them.
The Associated Press:
Washington, California Sue Over Pelvic Mesh Implants
Washington state and California sued Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday, saying that for years the company misrepresented the risks of vaginal mesh implants it sold to repair pelvic collapse. In the latest legal actions over the problem-prone devices, Attorneys General Bob Ferguson of Washington and Kamala Harris of California accused the New Jersey-based health care giant of neglecting to tell patients and doctors about the risks and occurrences of dire, sometimes irreversible complications. Those include urinary dysfunction, loss of sexual function, constipation and severe pain. (5/24)
The San Francisco startup plans to begin selling health insurance plans to customers on Tuesday.
As Zenefits Stumbles, Gusto Goes Head-On By Selling Insurance
After HR startup Zenefits lost its founding chief executive officer this year in an embarrassing regulatory compliance scandal and cut 250 jobs, another San Francisco startup saw an opportunity to capitalize on its larger rival's implosion. Gusto, a venture-backed unicorn specializing in payroll software, is pushing harder into Zenefits' main business: selling insurance to small companies. (Huet, 5/24)
The California Nurses Association says it is also picketing because it wants the hospital to address unsafe working conditions.
The Bakersfield Californian:
Bakersfield Memorial Defends Nurse Staffing Levels In Advance Of Picket
Bakersfield Memorial Hospital defended its nurse staffing levels Tuesday in advance of a labor union-led informational picketing event set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday outside the medical center. The hospital said in a email it was disappointed by the California Nurses Association’s decision to picket because "we pride ourselves (for being) compliant with California state-mandated RN staffing levels and excellent, safe patient care.” (Cox, 5/24)
In other news, the nurse to student ratio in California schools is grim —
California’s Glaring Shortage Of School Nurses
California falls significantly short of a new recommendation by an influential group of pediatricians calling for every school in the United States to have at least one nurse on site. Fifty-seven percent of California’s public school districts, with 1.2 million students, do not employ nurses, according to research from Sacramento State University’s School of Nursing. (Ibarra, 5/25)
A new study finds that doctors are treating a range of conditions such as migraines, menopausal symptoms, attention deficit disorders and digestive system disorders with antidepressants.
Los Angeles Times:
Antidepressants Aren't Just For Depression Anymore, Study Finds
Antidepressants didn’t get to be the third-most commonly prescribed medication in the United States for nothing. In fact, says a new study, the medications taken by more than 10% of American adults may be so ubiquitous because they are used to do so much. Depression medication, a new study suggests, has become a “do something” drug for primary care physicians to offer when a patient’s complaints may only be vaguely related to depression. In a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. on Tuesday, researchers reported that close to three in 10 antidepressant prescriptions written between 2006 and 2015 by general practitioners in Quebec, Canada, were for conditions for which the medications have not been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (Healy, 5/24)
The costs are triple what a family paid in 2001.
Average Family Healthcare Costs Have Tripled Since 2001
The costs of providing health care to an average American family surpassed $25,000 for the first time in 2016 — even as the rate of health cost increases slowed to a record low, a new analysis revealed Tuesday. (Mangan, 5/24)
The bill is the first significant update to chemical safety laws since the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Both the Senate and President Barack Obama are expected to approve the sweeping regulations.
The Associated Press:
House Approves Bill to Regulate Toxic Chemicals
The House on Tuesday easily approved a bipartisan bill that would for the first time regulate tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in everyday products from household cleaners to clothing and furniture. Supporters said the bill would clear up a hodgepodge of state rules and update and improve a toxic-chemicals law that has remained unchanged for 40 years. (5/24)
The Wall Street Journal:
House Passes Sweeping Chemical Safety Bill
The bill, the first significant update to federal chemicals safety law in 40 years, is expected to be passed by the Senate as soon as this week and signed into law by President Barack Obama. It passed 403 to 12. It gives the Environmental Protection Agency authority to evaluate and impose restrictions on chemicals used in everything from dry-cleaning to grease removal to paint thinners. In most cases, that authority pre-empts states from passing laws to regulate a chemical while the EPA is making its determination. (Berzon and Harder, 5/24)
The New York Times:
House Set To Subject 64,000 Household Chemicals To Regulation
Public health advocates and environmentalists have complained for decades that the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act is outdated and riddled with gaps that leave Americans exposed to harmful chemicals. Under current law, around 64,000 chemicals are not subject to environmental testing or regulation. Efforts to tighten the law have stalled for years, in part because of opposition from the chemical industry. The bipartisan authors of the bill say their breakthrough represents a pragmatic, politically viable compromise between better environmental standards and the demands of industry. In particular, Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, worked closely with the American Chemistry Council to come up with language that would win the support of the industry and pass through the generally regulation-averse Republican Congress. (Davenport, 5/24)
Politics are adding a layer of complexity to efforts to battle the outbreak. Among other issues, Republicans are worried about the perception of supporting abortion or contraception, while Democrats are concerned about the environmental impact of pesticides. However, public officials say, mosquitoes don't pay attention to party lines.
The New York Times:
Political Battles Color Congressional Feud Over Zika Funding
The feud on Capitol Hill over responding to the rapidly spreading Zika virus would seem to be largely a fight over how much money is needed to fight the mosquito-borne scourge. But lurking just beneath the surface are issues that have long stirred partisan mistrust, including Republicans’ fears about the use of taxpayer money for abortion and possible increased use of contraception, and Democratic worries about protecting the environment from potentially dangerous pesticides. Public health officials warn that the virus will not stop to check party affiliation — the mosquitoes that carry it bite Republicans and Democrats alike. (Herszenhorn, 5/24)
Meanwhile, the FTC is issuing warnings for consumers over products marketed to protect against Zika —
The Washington Post:
FTC: Beware Of Companies Peddling Products To Protect Against Zika Mosquitos
That mint oil Mosquito Shield wristband you picked up last week to protect against Zika as mosquito season rolls into the United States? It's not going to cut it. The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday issued a strong warning to consumers that some companies may be trying to unscrupulously capitalize on fears about the virus. The FTC announcement focused specifically on on Viatek Consumer Products Group's Mosquito Shield Band, which is sold in stores and on the Home Shopping Network. (Cha, 5/24)