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California Healthline Original Stories
Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to help an estimated 850,000 Californians pay their health insurance premiums and would fund his plan with a tax penalty on people who don’t have coverage. If he succeeds, California would be the first state to subsidize middle-income people who make too much to qualify for federal financial aid. (Samantha Young and Ana B. Ibarra, 6/3)
Good morning! Here are your California health stories for the day.
Gov. Newsom Signals Hesitation Over Controversial Vaccination Bill That’s Working Its Way Through The Legislature: The legislation from state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) would strip the final authority for medical exemptions from doctors and put it in the hands of a state officials. Pan says he was prompted to create the bill after seeing doctors advertise their willingness to provide exemptions for vaccines. Over the weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom voiced doubts about the idea. “I believe in immunizations … however I do legitimately have concerns about a bureaucrat making a decision that is very personal,” Newsom said.. “That’s just something we need to pause and think about.” Read more from Hannah Wiley and Sophia Bollag of the Sacramento Bee.
Meanwhile, in other news on the governor, Newsom is encouraging women in states that are passing restrictive abortion laws to come to California for the procedure. “California will continue to uphold women’s equality and liberty by protecting their reproductive freedom, educating Californians about their rights to reproductive freedom, welcoming women to California to fully exercise their reproductive rights, and acting as a model for other states that want to ensure full reproductive freedom for women,” Newsom wrote. Read more from Sophia Bollag of the Sacramento Bee.
Patients With Certain CalPERS Health Insurance At Particular Risk For Being Hit With Surprise Medical Bills: At risk are the about 250,000 CalPERS members with PERS Choice, PERS Select and PERS Care PPO plans. About 1.25 million other people with HMO and Medicare supplement plans from CalPERS aren’t exposed. PPO plans typically split treatment costs with patients on a percentage basis. So the insurer might pay 80 percent of the price it has negotiated with a specialist for a given procedure, while the patient would pay 20 percent. If the insurer doesn’t have a contract with the specialist, the specialist might charge much more than the insurer wants to pay. The insurer might then pay 80 percent of what it has determined is the right price, and the patient is left paying the rest of what the specialist thinks the price should be. California passed a law in 2016 to protect many people with insurance from that type of surprise billing, but that law didn’t cover the type of PPO plan that the 250,000 CalPERS members have. Read more from Wes Venteicher of the Sacramento Bee.
In Paradise, Health Care Workers See A Chance To Build A Better System From The Ashes: As Paradise beings to not only recover but rebuild from the devastating wildfires, some see themselves as uniquely positioned to aim for a better, more flexible “They have the really unique perspective right now to create something based on need that can grow in the community as it looks toward the future,” said Brock Slabach, senior vice president with the National Rural Health Association. The new vision for health care here builds on primary care based in the community, with telemedicine access to specialists. Whether the town will have a hospital of its own — or just an emergency facility, at least for the next few years — is an unresolved question. Read more from Victoria Colliver of Politico.
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
Reveal: How One Northern California Community Decided That Jailing Migrant Children Is An Act Of Compassion
Dozens of shelters across the country had contracts to house children like these—minors who had crossed the border into the U.S. unaccompanied by a parent or guardian—but Yolo County’s was different. It was one of only three places that were holding children in the concrete cells of a juvenile detention center. These lockup facilities, which the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the federal agency that oversees the care of unaccompanied children, calls “secure placement,” are the highest-security settings in which the government houses migrant children. (Michels, 6/3)
Ventura County Star: Measles Case Spreads Concern Of Exposure In Ventura
A Santa Barbara man who works in Ventura has been diagnosed with measles, triggering public health efforts Friday to reach people who may have been exposed to the highly contagious infection. Rigoberto Vargas, director of Ventura County Public Health, said the man is employed at a small work site and officials believe the exposure in Ventura County is limited to that site. Vargas declined to identify the workplace. As of late Saturday, officials had identified 15 people at the site who may have had close contact with the person and have contacted and updated vaccinations for all of them. (Kisken, 5/31)
Sacramento Bee: Butte, Glenn County Measles Cases Brings Nationwide Total To 942
Two more measles cases were confirmed in Northern California on Friday afternoon, bringing the state’s total number of measles cases to just shy of 50 people. Both Butte and Glenn counties announced separately that they had received confirmation of one adult measles case in their county. Butte County Public Health Department spokeswoman Lisa Almaguer said both counties’ patients were linked back to a measles outbreak that occurred in Butte County on March 24. (Morgan, 5/31)
The Mercury News: Food Stamp Benefits To Be Available For California Residents On SSI
People receiving supplemental income from the government will be eligible to apply for food stamps starting Saturday. In Alameda County about 48,000 low-income seniors or people with disabilities get financial help through the federally funded Supplemental Security Income program, commonly known as “SSI,” and through the State Supplementary Program, which augments it. (Hegarty, 5/31)
KPBS: KPBS Lawsuit Reveals Unanswered Citizen Complaints Against Sheriff’s Department
After an almost yearlong battle, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department released data to KPBS about how long it took to respond to citizens’ complaints about its officers. KPBS filed a lawsuit for the records after multiple women said they reported a Sheriff’s deputy for sexual misconduct but never received a response or received a delayed response. (Trageser ,6/3)
Modern Healthcare: CommonSpirit Reports $100 Million Operating Loss
Two months into the merger that formed CommonSpirit Health, rising expenses and slumping revenue led to a $100 million operating loss in the quarter that ended March 31. The Chicago-based health system created through the Feb. 1 merger of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health reported the loss in the third quarter of its fiscal 2019. It represented a noteworthy swing from the system’s operating gain of $144 million in the prior-year period. The earlier period was derived by combining the results of the two separate systems. CommonSpirit’s operating margin fell from 2% to -1.4% in that time as expense growth far outpaced a slight decline in revenue. (Bannow, 5/31)
Stat: Grail, The Liquid Biopsy Startup, Shows ‘Impressive,’ If Early, Results
Could a blood test detect cancer in healthy people? Grail, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, has raised $1.6 billion in venture capital to prove the answer is yes. And at the world’s largest meeting of cancer doctors, the company is unveiling data that seem designed to assuage the concerns and fears of its doubters and critics. But outside experts emphasize there is still a long way to go. The data, from a pilot study that Grail is using to develop its diagnostic before running it through the gantlet of two much larger clinical trials, are being presented Saturday in several poster sessions at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. (Herper, 5/31)
Sacramento Bee: CA Insurer Speeds Up Approval Process For Workers’ Comp
This summer, workers’ compensation providers in California will be able to test out new software that lets them get authorizations for patient treatments in real-time – through their electronic medical records – rather than waiting several days for decisions to come via fax. Dr. Dinesh Govindarao, chief medical officer for the State Compensation Insurance Fund, said his agency decided to fund development of the software because leaders wanted to get care approved faster for injured workers. State Fund, the second largest workers’ compensation insurer in California, serves state employees and employees of private-sector companies that can’t get coverage from a commercial carrier. (Anderson, 6/3)
Ventura County Star: Obstetrics Unit At Santa Paula Hospital To Close
The obstetrics unit at Santa Paula Hospital will close June 30, a decision tied to competition and a general decline in births, county officials said. Bill Foley, director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency, said low demand is prompting the shutdown. The number of births at the county-run hospital has sunk by 48 percent over the past five years, dropping from 351 in 2014 to 182 last year.The figure is averaging 10 to 12 a month so far this year. With births poised to fall further now that the doctor who performed most of the deliveries has resigned, officials decided to close the 13-bed unit, Foley said. (Wilson, 5/31)
Capital Public Radio: Lady Gaga Foundation Wants More Mental Health Resources For California Teens
Like Lady Gaga’s dance hits, her nonprofit Born This Way Foundation is all about empowerment. She and her mom founded it to help teens take control of their mental wellness. This week, the organization released a survey showing most young people in California are willing to seek help with mental health, but roughly half aren’t sure where to go. (Caiola, 5/31)
The Bakersfield Californian: More Than Just About Football: Carr Brothers Promote Healthcare Services
David and Derek Carr have first-hand knowledge of the importance of having quality health care facilities accessible to those in need of vital medical treatment. The two brothers have both experienced situations in which they, themselves, or immediate family members have required the services of a hospital. …Six years ago, [Derek’s] son, Dallas, was born with tangled intestines and had to have multiple surgeries at Children’s Hospital Central California to correct the issue. Influenced by the experience, Derek became a spokesman for Valley Children’s Healthcare and started the DC4KIDS fund to ensure that pediatric kids are afforded top-notch health care. (Lynch, 6/1)
KPBS: Palomar College Considers Allowing Homeless Students To Sleep Overnight In Campus Parking Lots
Palomar Community College in North San Diego County is considering ways to help students who can’t afford the region’s expensive housing market. Palomar’s Associated Students’ governing body is pushing for the College District Board to allow students who are homeless to sleep in their cars overnight in a campus parking lot. (St John, 6/3)
KPBS: People Living In Vehicles Call New San Diego Law Prohibiting It Unfair
In San Diego it is now illegal to live out of a vehicle. The law was passed with the idea that people can go to city funded “safe parking” lots to sleep overnight — but while some people are looking to get out of their vehicles, others are not. (Hoffman, 6/3)
The Wall Street Journal: American Voters Have A Simple Health-Care Message For 2020: Just Fix It!
Nine years after Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act and more than a year after Republicans failed in their effort to repeal it, health care promises once again to be a major issue in the 2020 elections. Drug costs are rising, as are insurance premiums. Rural hospitals are closing. Even as an estimated 20 million people have gained coverage under the ACA, widely known as Obamacare, nearly 30 million people remain uninsured. Surveys consistently find that Americans see the health-care system as broken. (Armour, 6/2)
The Washington Post Fact Checker: Would Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-For-All Save Americans Money?
During a town hall on Fox News, 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said his Medicare-for-all plan would save most Americans money by reducing the cost of health care. According to Sanders, any tax increase as a result of his plan would be less than what an average family currently pays in premiums, co-payments and deductibles for health insurance. (Mirza, 6/3)
The Associated Press: Trump’s Dig At McCain Skews Facts On Vet Care
President Donald Trump is making up facts about a veterans’ health care program in his latest dig at late Sen. John McCain. He says he’s no fan of McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and tortured prisoner of war, faulting him for failing to pass a program that gave veterans the option to see a private doctor at public expense. “He was never able to get Choice. I got Choice,” Trump said Thursday to reporters. His jab at the late senator came as he defended a Trump administration order to keep a Navy ship named for McCain hidden from view during his recent trip to Japan as likely “well-meaning,” though Trump said he knew nothing about the request. (6/3)
The Associated Press: 2020 Hopeful Gillibrand Unveils Plan To Protect LGBTQ Rights
Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand has unveiled a comprehensive plan to protect the rights of LGBTQ people to mark the start of Pride Month. If elected, the New York senator says she’d direct the Justice Department to consider gender identity and sexual orientation a protected class. She would also ban discrimination against transgender members of the military and federally recognize a third gender in identification documents, denoted by an “X” on ID cards. (6/1)
The Washington Post: Trump, Who Cast Himself As Pro-LGBT, Is Now Under Fire From Democrats For Rolling Back Protections
President Trump, who appeared to break with Republican orthodoxy in 2016 by pledging to be a “real friend” of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans, is facing fresh attacks from Democrats and advocates who say his administration has instead become their worst enemy. Trump and his aides have issued a wave of regulations, executive orders, legal briefs and personnel appointments aimed at reversing large parts of the Obama administration’s civil rights agenda, winning plaudits from religious conservatives who form the bedrock of Trump’s political support. (Olorunnipa, 5/31)
The Associated Press: Study: More Blacks Got Timely Cancer Care After ‘Obamacare’
New research suggests that states that expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act eliminated racial differences in being able to quickly start on treatment after a diagnosis of advanced cancer. The law that is often called “Obamacare” let states expand Medicaid eligibility and offer subsidies to help people buy health insurance. (6/2)
The New York Times: Congress Weighs Whether To Allow Guantanamo Prisoners To Travel To The U.S. For Medical Care
With the military putting a new focus on the health care needs of aging detainees at the Guantánamo Bay prison, Congress is considering again whether to allow the Pentagon to move wartime prisoners temporarily to the United States for emergency or complicated medical care not available at the base in Cuba. The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a provision in a larger military authorization bill that would allow temporary medical transfers to the United States. The panel in the Republican-controlled Senate has pushed the provision for seven years, only to see it stripped from final legislation over still-strong objections from both parties to bringing foreign terrorist suspects to American territory for treatment. (Rosenberg, 6/1)
The Associated Press: Judge Says Missouri Clinic Can Keep Providing Abortions
A judge issued an order Friday to keep Missouri’s only abortion clinic operating over the objections of state health officials, delivering abortion-rights advocates a courtroom victory after a string of setbacks in legislatures around the U.S. St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer said Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic can continue providing abortions despite the Missouri health department’s refusal to renew its license over a variety of patient safety concerns. He said the temporary restraining order was necessary to “prevent irreparable injury” to Planned Parenthood. (5/31)
The New York Times: Virginia Beach Gunman Said He Was Quitting, Then Went On A Shooting Rampage
The resignation email arrived in the morning, and the gunfire started in the afternoon. DeWayne Craddock, an engineer who had worked for the City of Virginia Beach for about 15 years, notified his superiors on Friday that he intended to quit. Then at around 4 p.m., he embarked on a rampage in Building No. 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, turning its offices and corridors into a battleground. When it was over, 12 people lay dead and Mr. Craddock was fatally wounded. (Thrush and Blinder, 6/2)
ProPublica: Over 200 Allegations Of Abuse Of Migrant Children; 1 Case Of Homeland Security Disciplining Someone
From 2009 to 2014, at least 214 complaints were filed against federal agents for abusing or mistreating migrant children. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s records, only one employee was disciplined as a result of a complaint. The department’s records, which have alarmed advocates for migrants given the more aggressive approach to the treatment of minors at the border under the current administration, emerged as part of a federal lawsuit seeking the release of the names of the accused agents. (Thompson, 5/31)
The New York Times: Cannabis Companies Push F.D.A. To Ease Rules On CBD Products
It was Hempy Pet CBD Soft Chews, Mile High Labs and Women Grow, among countless others, squaring off against the likes of the Marijuana Victims Alliance, concerned primary care doctors and a lawyer who admitted he couldn’t wait to sue — all jammed into an overflowing auditorium for hours Friday on the Food and Drug Administration campus. F.D.A. hearings are usually tedious affairs. But this one — called to begin the process of figuring out which products in the burgeoning cannabis industry can be legally sold in the United States — was the hottest ticket in the capital. (Kaplan, 5/31)
The New York Times: A Drug Prolonged Life In Younger Women With Advanced Breast Cancer
A drug that can slow the progression of advanced breast cancer has been shown for the first time to lengthen survival in women whose disease started before or during menopause, researchers reported on Saturday. In patients who took the drug along with a standard treatment, 70 percent were still alive three and a half years later, compared with only 46 percent of those given the standard treatment alone. (Grady, 6/1)