Latest From California Healthline:
California Healthline Original Stories
Governor’s ‘Mental Health Czar’ Seeks New Blueprint For Care In California
Thomas Insel, who ran the National Institute of Mental Health for 13 years before casting his lot with Silicon Valley, is taking a temporary break from his senior position at a health care startup to advise Gov. Gavin Newsom on how to remake mental health care in the Golden State. (Rob Waters, 8/28)
News Of The Day
Good morning! We have lots of California health news for you today ranging from a lack of oversight for hospices in the state to gene-editing patent battles. More on all that below, but first here are some of your other top stories.
California Legislature Sends Newsom Bill Requiring Kaiser Permanente To Disclose Its Profits For Each Facility: Under the bill, Kaiser would have to change how it releases financial information. Currently the health system lumps the data together for its 35 hospitals in the state, segmenting it only by those in Northern and Southern California. The hospitals would have to break out their revenue and profits by each facility, and show how much they’re earning from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. Since Kaiser has an integrated health plan, the measure would also require actuarial data to justify rate increases in the Obamacare small group and individual exchange markets. Kaiser health plans would have to report their justifications to the Department of Managed Health Care or the insurance department. These particular demands on Kaiser are linked to a protracted dispute between the health system and SEIU. Read more from Susannah Luthi of Modern Healthcare.
S.F. General Amends Controversial Policy That Kept Psychiatric Patients Awake In Order To Shorten Their Visits: For the past 18 months, the majority of people who entered the psychiatric emergency unit at San Francisco General Hospital were only allowed to sit upright in armchairs that did not recline. That policy, called “vertical treatment,” was created in 2018 so patients — often homeless, mentally ill and drug-addicted — were less likely to stay in the unit for more than a few hours at a time. The policy was relaxed this month: The armchairs can now recline between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. Still, the majority of patients who come through the unit must sit upright during the day so clinicians can “assess their needs as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Mark Leary, interim chief of psychiatry. While Leary said the policy is a well-intentioned attempt at managing the spike in distressed patients, critics have called it a heartless and counterproductive move for patients who come to S.F. General at all hours looking for help and rest. Opponents also argue that it provides a distressing window into how the hospital is rushing to discharge patients from the psychiatric unit, without necessarily increasing the quality of care. Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.
California Is Taking Legal Steps To Ban Chlorpyrifos Across State, But workers Could Be Exposed To Toxins For Another Two Years: Farmworkers, teachers and parents living in this heavily agricultural region in Monterey County suspect that chlorpyrifos and other pesticides sprayed on nearby crops may be harming the health of local kids. Community members report high rates of autism, attention-deficit disorder and asthma among children in the region, where nearly a fourth of the households rely on agriculture-related jobs. So when California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced this month that it’s taking legal action to ban chlorpyrifos across the state, those campaigning for pesticide reform in the region felt that their work was finally paying off. The state said it’s sent formal notices to manufacturers and pest-management companies to cancel registrations they hold for chlorpyrifos products. Still, it could take as long as two years for California to complete the cancellation process, DPR spokeswoman Charlotte Fadipe said. Read more from Claudia Boyd-Barrett of the California Health Report.
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.
Sign up to get the daily edition in your inbox
More News From Across The State
Sacramento Bee: California Lacks Oversight Of Hospice Facilities, Caregivers In California, where the population is rapidly aging and end-of-life care is on the rise, patient advocates and researchers say the state’s oversight of hospice facilities and hospice care has not caught up. Largely subsidized by federal money through Medicare, hospice care consists of nurses entering hospitals, nursing homes or patients’ homes to ease patients’ pain in their last months of living. Interviews and documents reviewed by The Sacramento Bee show a system marred by lax oversight and an inability of regulators to take meaningful action against hospices that may have violated rules and jeopardized the health of patients. (Chen, 8/28)
KPBS: Study: San Diego Senior Centers Unprepared For Over 65 Population Surge This cohort makes up nearly a third of San Diego’s ever-expanding senior population and the region is unprepared to serve them, according to a new study by the San Diego Seniors Community Foundation. There are almost half a million people in San Diego County over the age of 65 and the number will hit 1 million by 2030, the study said.Currently, San Diego County has 28 senior centers that serve only 8% of the area’s total senior population, according to the study. (Sridhar, 8/27)
Stat: Patent Office Narrows The Battleground In CRISPR CaseThe contours of the latest battle over patents on the CRISPR genome editing technology are becoming a little clearer: In a decision released Monday evening, the U.S. patent office told the Broad Institute, on one side, and the University of California and its allies, on the other, what they’ll be allowed to fight about. And in tennis terms, it’s advantage, Broad. (Begley, 8/27)
Los Angeles Times: Audit Finds Deep Failures At LAHSA, L.A.’s Top Homeless AgencyThe homeless outreach agency that was meant to move hundreds of people from the streets into housing, shelters or treatment for mental illness and substance abuse has failed dramatically to meet the goals of its contract with the city of Los Angeles, according to an audit set to be released Wednesday by Controller Ron Galperin. The audit found that, despite having more than doubled its staff of outreach workers in the last two years, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority missed seven of nine goals during the 2017-18 fiscal year and five of eight last fiscal year. (Smith, 8/27)
Capital Public Radio: Sacramento To Consider Allowing Homeless People To Live Out Of Their Cars In Designated Lots A Sacramento council member wants to make it legal for homeless people to park and live out of their cars in designated parking lots citywide. A common complaint by unhoused residents is that they not only feel unsafe in their cars, but also that they are unfairly targeted by parking services. (Moffitt, 8/27)
Los Angeles Times: Homeless Man Burned To Death In Skid Row AreaA homeless man was burned to death on skid row on Monday night, and Los Angeles police have captured one suspect in connection with the gruesome killing, authorities said late Tuesday. The incident occurred near 6th and San Pedro streets about 11:30 p.m. Monday, according to Capt. Gisselle Espinoza, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman. (Queally, 8/27)
Health Care Professionals
Los Angeles Times: Fountain Valley Doctor’s Medical License Revoked After Accusations Of Sexual MisconductOn July 19, Administrative Law Judge Matthew Goldsby affirmed the accusations in a Medical Board of California complaint against Dr. Sean Ataee and agreed to revoke his medical license. The decision was adopted by the medical board on Aug. 6 and becomes effective Sept. 5, according to documents. The woman went to Health Atlast on Oct. 21, 2016, and received B-12 injections from Ataee, the clinic’s medical director and part owner. (Sclafani, 8/27)
Los Angeles Times: Amid Scandals, USC Continues Reputation Reboot With New Provost AppointmentAs it navigates a raft of high-profile scandals, the University of Southern California has selected a new provost and second-in-command: Charles F. Zukoski, an accomplished chemical engineer and the current provost of the University at Buffalo. President Carol L. Folt announced her choice on Tuesday, marking her most significant appointment since taking over the helm of USC this summer and pledging to rapidly address the university’s challenges. (Hamilton, 8/27)
Modesto Bee: For Labor Day, Health Workers Get Grim Drowning RefresherLupe Yamashiro arrived at a Doctors Medical Center trauma symposium on Tuesday morning intent on sharing her drowning-prevention message with a room of nurses, respiratory therapists and other medical professionals. But when she got to the conference room doors and saw pictures of her son Julian projected on screens, she realized she wouldn’t be able to get the words out.There was her little boy, smiling sweetly. (Farrow, 8/27)
Ventura County Star: Gold Coast Health Plan Reports $51.9 Million Loss For 2019The Gold Coast Health Plan’s budget deficit mushroomed to nearly $52 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30. In June alone, the publicly funded plan sustained a $8.9 million loss, officials announced at a Ventura County Medi-Cal Managed Care Commission meeting Monday night. Gold Coast administers Medi-Cal health insurance for more than 190,000 low-income Ventura County residents. The financial report — a centerpiece of commission discussion for several months — brought renewed alarm and questions in a four-hour meeting. (Kisken, 8/27)
Capital Public Radio/KXJZ: California Health Workers Split On Whether To Be Independent Contractors Or Employees California’s health care workforce is a scramble of independent contractors, part-time workers and full-time staff. Some people work directly for hospitals, while others work for medical groups that hospitals contract with. In clinical or group practice settings, anyone from a lab tech to a neurologist could be working independently. (Caiola, 8/28)
The San Diego Union-Tribune: Tentative Deal Could Restore Psychiatric Emergency Services Back At Tri-City Medical Center In Oceanside A tentative agreement between Tri-City Medical Center and San Diego County would build a new stand-alone psychiatric hospital to replace the units that the Oceanside medical provider shuttered in 2018, causing a significant lack of services for those with urgent mental health needs in coastal North County. Word of the deal surfaced suddenly Tuesday afternoon in a joint statement released by county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and state Rep. Tasha Boerner Horvath, who said they will suspend a request for a state audit of the public health care district that runs Tri-City. The audit request was to be made before the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee on Wednesday. (Sisson, 8/27)
NBC News: Purdue Pharma Offers $10-12 Billion To Settle Opioid ClaimsThe maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, and its owners, the Sackler family, are offering to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits against the company for $10 billion to $12 billion. The potential deal was part of confidential conversations and discussed by Purdue’s lawyers at a meeting in Cleveland last Tuesday, Aug. 20, according to two people familiar with the mediation. Brought by states, cities and counties, the lawsuits — some of which have been combined into one massive case — allege the company and the Sackler family are responsible for starting and sustaining the opioid crisis. (Strickler, 8/27)
The New York Times: Sacklers Would Give Up Ownership Of Purdue Pharma Under Settlement ProposalThe Sackler family would give up ownership of Purdue Pharma, the company blamed for much of the opioid epidemic, and pay $3 billion of their own money under terms of a settlement proposal to resolve thousands of federal and state lawsuits, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The discussions have been going on for months as Purdue and the Sacklers have sought to prevent any new lawsuits against individual members of the family as well as their company. (Hoffman, 8/27)
Reuters: Purdue Pharma In Discussion On $10 Billion-$12 Billion Offer To Settle Opioid Lawsuits: SourcesThe plan under discussion envisions Purdue restructuring into a for-profit “public benefit trust” that would last for at least a decade, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Purdue would contribute between $7 billion and $8 billion to the trust, with some of the money coming from the sales of its drugs, including those that combat opioid overdoses, the person said. Additional payments would come from the company’s cash and insurance policies, the person said. Three experts would be approved by a bankruptcy judge as trustees who would select board members to run the trust, this person said. (8/28)
USA Today: OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Offers Up To $12B Deal, Report Says“While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals,” the company said Tuesday in a statement. “The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome.” (Bomey, 8/27)
The New York Times: Why This Joe Biden Health Care Ad Stands OutJoseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign on Tuesday made an extraordinarily emotional appeal for his candidacy and his health care proposal through a new ad that highlights his struggles with grief and family loss, a message that reminds voters of the good will and empathy many have for the former vice president while accentuating one of his central policy goals. In the 60-second television spot, called “Personal,” Mr. Biden tells the stories of his family tragedies that he often shares on the campaign trail as he discusses the importance of health care access. But the ad is striking for the wrenching images of Mr. Biden with his two sons who survived a car crash that killed his first wife and a daughter in 1972. One of those children, Beau Biden, would die of cancer in 2015, a development that drew widespread sympathy in Washington and around the country toward the end of Mr. Biden’s second term in the Obama administration. (Glueck, 8/27)
The Hill: 2020 Democrats Sit For Interviews With Health Care ActivistA slate of Democrats running for president in 2020 are sitting down for interviews with activist Ady Barkan to discuss health care policies as the party’s presidential primary heats up. Barkan, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2016 and has garnered social media fame with his activism fighting for more affordable health insurance, said the current primary is not engendering substantial discussions or plans on the topic. (Axelrod, 8/27)
Politico: Poll: Dems More Likely To Support Candidate Who Backs Medicare For All Over Fixing ObamacareAs the Democratic presidential field continues to grapple with plans to address health care, a significant majority of Democratic voters are more likely to back a 2020 primary candidate who supports “Medicare for All” than building on the Affordable Care Act, a new poll found. According the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll out Wednesday, 65 percent of Democratic primary voters would be more likely to support a candidate who wants to institute a single-payer health care system like Medicare for All; 13 percent said they’d be less likely to back a candidate based on that support. (Oprysko, 8/28)
The New York Times: Philip Morris And Altria Are In Talks To MergeThe tobacco giants Philip Morris International and the Altria Group are in talks to reunite, the companies said on Tuesday, in a deal that would combine the most popular brands of both traditional and electronic cigarettes. The merger would be a boost for Altria’s investment in Juul, the e-cigarette juggernaut. Juul has been trying to expand overseas, but it lacks the global distribution network of Philip Morris, which has grown since it was spun off from Altria in 2008. (Kaplan, 8/27)
The Washington Post: Heart Disease Progress Is Slowing Or Stalling, Study Says. Obesity Is Likely To Blame.Progress in reducing the number of deaths related to cardiovascular disease has been waning in recent years, heightening concerns that the obesity epidemic in the United States is undoing improvements in heart health. A research letter published Tuesday in Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that although the death rates from heart disease, diabetes, stroke and related disorders have been decreasing for decades, the rates have recently slowed or stalled. (Bever, 8/27)
Politico: Mystery Youth Vaping Disease Reveals Gaping Holes In RegulationA mysterious outbreak of critical lung disease in scores of teenagers and young adults is forcing federal agencies to grapple with a vast, nearly unregulated market of nicotine- and marijuana-based vaping products. At least 193 potential cases, including one death, have been reported to the federal government this summer. Yet since the first case was logged in June, agencies have released no product recalls, nor any details or broad public awareness campaigns about which specific vaping products might be causing the illness. (Owermohle, Ehley and Roubein, 8/27)
The New York Times: The Deadly Toll Of Air PollutionAir pollution, even at modest levels, is deadly. An international team of researchers used data from 652 cities in 24 countries to correlate levels of particulate matter pollution with day-to-day mortality rates. They measured the concentrations of two microscopic particles of soot, PM 2.5 and PM 10, particles small enough to enter the lungs or the bloodstream. (Bakalar, 8/27)
The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Task Force To Recommend Wider Screening For Hepatitis CAdults of a wide range of ages should be screened for hepatitis C, according to a new draft recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that could greatly expand the number of people treated for the disease. The independent panel of volunteer experts, backed by the government, aims to recommend that all adults ages 18-79 undergo screening for hepatitis C, a viral infection that can damage the liver and lead to long-term and potentially fatal health problems including cirrhosis and liver cancer. (Abbott, 8/27)