Latest From California Healthline:
As alarms proliferate, hospitals in California and across the nation are working to sort through the cacophony that can overwhelm staff and cause them to overlook real signs of harm. (Melissa Bailey, )
Good morning! A quick note: California Healthline will not publish Nov. 28-Nov. 29. We’ll be back in your inboxes Dec. 2. Happy holidays!
Trump Wants To Take Action On Homelessness In California, But His Options Are Limited: Trump administration officials have floated a range of potential plans — including using police to clear skid row and other encampments, reducing regulations for building new housing, and increasing temporary shelter space by making federal facilities available or erecting temporary structures. Advocates and officials in California say they would welcome a truly cooperative effort with Washington. But some warn that Trump, who has attacked liberal cities and often pitted himself against California in particular, may try either to push legal limits to punish homeless people or to take more symbolic action that would further stigmatize the population. Read more from Noah Bierman of the Los Angeles Times.
CDC Announces More Cases Linked To Salinas’ E. Coli Outbreak: The CDC reported no fatalities but said the outbreak affected 19 states, up from 16 on Friday, and resulted in a total of 39 people being hospitalized, up from 28. Six people also had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, according to the agency. The strain involved in the current outbreak, known as E. coli O157:H7, produces a Shiga toxin that causes vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. The CDC linked the current outbreak to the same strain of E. coli that caused outbreaks linked to leafy greens in 2017 and to romaine lettuce in 2018. No one knows why this is happening, exactly. There are inferences, speculation and intriguing clues, but the best minds of the U.S. government, the lettuce-growing states of California and Arizona, and the leafy greens industry have failed to figure out why romaine keeps getting contaminated — or how they can stop it from happening again and again. Read more from Abdi Latif Dahir of The New York Times and Kimberly Kindy and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post.
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.
More News From Across The State
Capital Public Radio:
California Disability Advocates Say Visibility During Campaign Season Is A First
In last week’s Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren mentioned people with disabilities while rattling off a list of people who struggle to afford housing. Disability advocates say it’s one of the first times a politician has referenced the group since George H.W. Bush introduced the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. (Caiola, 11/26)
Los Angeles Times:
Are Drug-Addicted Mothers Liable For Babies’ Deaths?
Legal experts have raised questions about how the justice system is policing women’s bodies and treating mothers who struggle with addiction.California’s penal code defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being or unborn child. The statute was amended to include the word “fetus” in 1970. Legislators made the change after the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Stockton man charged with murder for beating his estranged pregnant wife and causing her to lose the baby. (Wigglesworth, 11/26)
Long-Awaited Low Barrier Shelter Opens In Modesto
The homeless can bring pets or support animals into the 182-bed low-barrier addition to the Salvation Army Berberian Shelter at Ninth and D streets. The new shelter is also different in that people can stay during the daytime to access services to help with housing, mental health issues, substance abuse, job search and legal matters. (Carlson, 11/26)
UC Workers Say Their Union Still Charges Them Fees
A UC Davis Medical Center worker is suing his union, saying AFSCME 3299 made it difficult for him to leave and is still charging him fees. Terrance Marsh, a brain scan specialist at the Sacramento hospital, left the union in February after four months of trying, according to a legal complaint filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. Once he managed to leave, the union informed him he would have to pay a “service” fee equal to his membership dues, according to the complaint. The UC system is still collecting the fee despite his repeated efforts to stop paying it, the complaint says. (Venteicher, 11/27)
Los Angeles Times:
Suicides, Overdoses, Other 'Deaths Of Despair' Fuel Drop In U.S. Life Expectancy
It’s official: Americans are dying much sooner in life. Preliminary signals of declining health were neither a false alarm nor a statistical fluke. A reversal of American life expectancy, a downward trend that has now been sustained for three years in a row, is a grim new reality of life in the United States. (Healy, 11/26)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Santa Rosa Junior College Nursing Students Step Up Amid ‘Urgent Need’ Of Kincade Fire
Many seeking refuge were frail, elderly people evacuated from senior care homes around Sonoma County. There were patients that required around-the-clock help with cardiac and respiratory issues, diabetes, hypertension, eating disorders, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Many had wheelchairs and walkers. Three patients were blind. Some were in hospice care. Several others were enrolled in a methadone program, which required hailing Uber rides to take them to a clinic. (Beck, 11/26)
Capital Public Radio:
Rancho Cordova Says Focus On Illegal Pot Enforcement Has Yielded Results
The Rancho Cordova Police Department says more attention to illegal cannabis operations has yielded results, but some in the pot community who say there are other options than enforcement. Two years ago, the department says community complaints prompted it to add an officer focused only on illegal pot grows. (Moffitt, 11/26)
Clashes Among Top HHS Officials Undermine Trump Agenda
President Donald Trump’s health secretary, Alex Azar, and his Medicare chief, Seema Verma, are increasingly at odds, and their feuding has delayed the president’s long-promised replacement proposal for Obamacare and disrupted other health care initiatives central to Trump's reelection campaign, according to administration officials. Verma spent about six months developing a Trump administration alternative to the Affordable Care Act, only to have Azar nix the proposal before it could be presented to Trump this summer, sending the administration back to the drawing board, senior officials told POLITICO. Azar believed Verma’s plan would actually strengthen Obamacare, not kill it. (Pradhan, Cancryn and Diamond, 11/26)
The Associated Press:
US Judge Bars Trump’s Health Insurance Rule For Immigrants
A U.S. judge in Oregon on Tuesday granted a preliminary injunction blocking a Trump administration proclamation that would require immigrants to show proof of health insurance to get a visa. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon said in a written opinion that the proclamation could not take effect while a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality makes its way through the courts. (11/26)
Supreme Court Abortion Lawsuit: Opening Brief Filed By Center For Reproductive Rights In June Medical Services V. Gee Monday
The lawsuit that will decide the future of abortion access in Louisiana – and the rest of the country – is officially underway. A 63-page opening brief was filed late Monday night by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) in a Supreme Court case that could leave Louisiana without access to legal abortion and provide a roadmap for other anti-abortion access states to follow. (Smith, 11/26)
The New York Times:
Fertility Rate In U.S. Hit A Record Low In 2018
The fertility rate in the United States fell in 2018 for the fourth straight year, extending a steep decline in births that began in 2008 with the Great Recession, the federal government said on Wednesday. There were 59.1 births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age in the country last year, a record low, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate was down by 2 percent from the previous year, and has fallen by about 15 percent since 2007. (Tavernise, 11/27)
U.S. Prosecutors Open Criminal Probe Of Opioid Makers, Distributors
Federal prosecutors are investigating six pharmaceutical companies for potential criminal charges in connection with shipping big quantities of opioid painkillers that contributed to a healthcare crisis, according to regulatory filings. Five companies have received subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York as part of the investigation: drugmakers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Mallinckrodt Plc, Johnson & Johnson and Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc, and distributor McKesson Corp, regulatory filings showed. (11/26)
Our Drug Policy Prioritizes Eliminating Rare Disease. Is That The Right Goal?
Dr. Peter Bach wants to turn the entire philosophical underpinnings of America’s health care system upside down. In a new argument — first laid out in a zippy 10-minute speech at last week’s STAT Summit in Cambridge, Mass. — Bach suggests the incentives created by policymakers to improve public health aren’t actually the best ideas for achieving that overarching goal. It centers on a seemingly heretical question: Is Washington’s obsession with eliminating rare diseases really the best use of taxpayer resources? (Florko, 11/26)
The Associated Press:
Trump Order Creates Task Force On Missing American Indians
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday creating a White House task force on missing and slain American Indians and Alaska Natives. The task force will be overseen by Attorney General William Barr and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. It will develop protocols to apply to new and unsolved case and create a multi-jurisdictional team to review cold cases. Trump called the scourge facing American Indian women and girls “sobering and heartbreaking.” (11/26)
New Report Hints At Why Vaping Illnesses May Have Sprung Up In 2019
Anew report adds to the evidence that vitamin E acetate might play a role in a spate of vaping-related illnesses that have sickened thousands. It could also offer an early clue about why the illnesses appeared seemingly suddenly this year — though experts caution it’s too soon to rule out other potential culprits. The chemical — used as an additive or thickener in some vaping products — was found in vaping products used by 11 of 12 patients sickened with vaping-related illness in Minnesota, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. (Thielking, 11/26)
How Difficult Is A $1 Billion Health-Tech Fraud?
Building a health-technology startup on nothing but hot air may be easier than you’d think — at least, according to a federal indictment unsealed Monday and related civil charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Federal prosecutors charge that executives at Outcome Health, a high-flying startup, are guilty of defrauding their clients, lenders, and investors, leading to nearly $1 billion in fraudulently obtained investments and debt. The SEC made its own complaint, alleging that Outcome raised $487 million by falsely portraying itself as a success to its investors, which included Goldman Sachs, Google-affiliated CapitalG, and the Pritzker Group. (Herper, 11/26)
With Ketamine, Researchers Rewrite Memories In Bid To Curb Drinking
Our memories are immensely powerful. For a person with alcohol use disorder, a memory triggered by a simple cue — like walking by a favorite bar or spotting a beer billboard — can drive a desire for a drink. But they’re also surprisingly pliable. And scientists are trying to curb harmful drinking by dredging up memories and rewriting them — with the help of a dose of ketamine, a longtime anesthetic which is also used recreationally and to treat certain mental health conditions. (Thielking, 11/26)