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California Healthline Original Stories
Purveyors Of Black-Market Pharmaceuticals Target Immigrants
Illegal medications, sold in immigrant communities around the United States, can cause serious harm to consumers, authorities say. Law enforcement officers are cracking down, but some think more must be done. (John M. Glionna, 9/13)
News Of The Day
Good morning! There was lots of movement in the Legislature this week, with bills on maternal mortality rates, police use of force, and drug prices all head toward or cleared from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. More on that below, but first here are some of your other top California health care stories for the day.
Unique Factors To California’s Homelessness Crisis Likely To Derail Trump Administration’s Plans: The White House effort has taken state officials by surprise, as the president has shifted from criticizing California’s management of homelessness on social media to proposals that would insert the federal government directly into the crisis, including relocating homeless people living on the street and in tent camps to a federal facility. But the state’s growing homeless problem hasn’t been contained by similar policy initiatives in the past. It is an unusual crisis stemming in part from the state’s economic success and one where the lack of political will, rather than a lack of public resources, is often the primary obstacle to resolving it. The Trump administration’s proposal, as it has been outlined by advisers, would do little to alter the challenging local politics or the legal protections that allow people to sleep on California’s streets. As of January, Los Angeles County had just shy of 59,000 homeless people, while within the city, the number was more than 36,000 — a 16% annual increase.
Read more from Scott Wilson of The Washington Post and Chris Megerian and Benjamin Oreskes of the Los Angeles Times.
Legislature Sends Bills That Would Require Bias Training For Medical Workers To Newsom: Doctors, nurses, lawyers and court workers in California may soon be asked to confront their prejudices under a trio of legislative proposals that are headed to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Legislature passed the final bill on Thursday, one of two approved this week that would mandate implicit bias training as a continuing education requirement for many medical professionals and court workers. A third measure that passed this week is aimed at ensuring pregnant black women receive equal treatment with similar training for those involved in perinatal care. Studies have shown that black people in particular face subtle discrimination that can cause them to receive subpar medical treatment or harsher punishments in courts, inequities that can have life-or-death consequences. Read more from Anita Chabria of the Los Angeles Times.
Despite California’s Individual Mandate, State’s Uninsured Level Still Stalls: California has seen its rate of uninsured residents drop every year since the state’s affordable care marketplace, Covered California, began offering insurance policies, but 2018 was the exception. The rate stalled last year at 7.2 percent, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Covered California leader Peter Lee says that number can be deceptive, though. Roughly 60 percent of uninsured Californians are immigrants who do not qualify for the federal subsidies offered by Covered California because they are undocumented. Currently, Lee said, about 3 percent of eligible Californians are uninsured. Read more from Cathie Anderson of 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
Capital Public Radio/KXJZ: Who’s In, Who’s Out Of AB 5? Doctors, real estate agents and hairdressers can keep their independent contractor status. But not truckers, commercial janitors, nail salon workers, physical therapists and — significantly — gig economy workers, who will gain the rights and benefits of employees in California under sweeping workplace legislation passed Wednesday. Gov. Gavin Newsom has committed to signing the bill, which cleared the Assembly 56-15 in a challenge both to the longstanding trend toward outsourcing labor and to the business model of companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, who have threatened a $90 million fight at the ballot box. (Lin, 9/12)
Capital Public Radio: Law Enforcement-Backed California Use Of Force Measure Signed By Gov. Gavin Newsom Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a measure linked to California’s new police use of force law. It sets statewide “best practices” and training for law enforcement. Democratic Sen. Anna Caballero’s bill, SB 230, is one of two measures that arose in response to last year’s Sacramento police shooting of Stephon Clark. It follows the law signed last month that raises the legal standard for when police can use deadly force from “reasonable” to “necessary.” (Adler, 9/12)
KPBS: California Legislature Approves Bill To Reduce Maternal Mortality Rate For Black WomenCalifornia has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the country, according to the United Health Foundation’s health rankings. But black women in California continue to die at a rate three to four times higher than white women from pregnancy or delivery complications. (Hindmon, 9/12)
Politico Pro: ‘Pay For Delay’ Bill Targeting Drug Maker Deals Heads To NewsomCA AB824 (19R) by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) would codify the presumption that so-called pay-for-delay deals — when brand name drug manufacturers pay generic companies to keep lower-price drugs off the market — are anti-competitive if “something of value” is exchanged. Sponsored by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the bill seeks to speed the entry of generic drugs on the market. (Hart, 9/12)
Sacramento Bee: PG&E Reaches $11 Billion Settlement With Wildfire InsurersPG&E Corp. said Friday it has reached an $11 billion settlement with insurance companies over the 2017 and 2018 wildfires, marking a major turning point in its efforts to exit bankruptcy. The utility said the tentative settlement covers 85 percent of the insurance claims stemming from the wine country fires of October 2017 and last November’s Camp Fire. The Camp Fire destroyed most of Paradise and killed 86 people, more than any other fire in the state’s history. (Kasler, 9/13)
KPBS: San Diego Collaborating With State, Feds Amid 12 Local Cases Of Vaping-Related Illness Officials in San Diego County are continuing to investigate reports of a mysterious vaping-related respiratory illness after confirming 12 local cases. The lung disease linked to electronic smoking devices has surged across the country in recent months, sickening hundreds in more than 30 states and killing at least six. San Diego health officials are working with state and federal agencies to help pinpoint the cause of the illness. (Mento, 9/13)
The New York Times: A Ban On Flavored E-Cigarettes Would Sharply Cut SalesA ban on flavored e-cigarettes would not only severely dent sales of Juul Labs’ popular vaping products, but also have a chilling effect on the little regulated $2.6 billion industry of roughly 20,000 vape and smoke shops that sprung up across the country in the past few years. But a day after Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, said the Food and Drug Administration would draft a plan within weeks that would remove flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine pods from the market, there were already signs that some companies were considering legal challenges or lobbying efforts to keep two flavors safe — mint and menthol. (Creswell and Kaplan, 9/12)
The Wall Street Journal: Juul Debates Pushing Back On E-Cigarette BanJuul Labs Inc. is debating internally whether to embrace or push back on part of the Trump administration’s plan to pull most e-cigarettes from the market, according to people familiar with the matter. The policy—affecting sweet and fruity vaping products along with mint and menthol—would be a crippling hit to the startup, which generates more than 80% of its sales from flavors that would be banned. But Juul insiders agree that the move could help curb underage vaping and avert an even bigger threat to the market-leading e-cigarette maker: the possibility that the Food and Drug Administration could take Juul off the market altogether. (Maloney, 9/12)
Politico: From Vaping To Opioids: Trump Redefines Health Care For 2020 RunThe Trump administration’s assault on e-cigarettes is the latest move by the White House to salvage Donald Trump’s health care agenda ahead of the 2020 elections. Turning away from the bitter Obamacare debates that have been a disaster for Republicans, Trump’s been building his disease-by-disease agenda all year, aimed at suburban voters who may be put off by the Democrats’ left turn on health care. (Kenen and Diamond, 9/12)
The Associated Press: US Officials Revise Vaping Illness Count To 380 In 36 StatesThe U.S. government has refined how it is measuring an outbreak of breathing illnesses in people who vape, now counting only cases that are most closely linked to electronic cigarette use. Health officials on Thursday said 380 confirmed cases and probable cases have been reported in 36 states and one U.S. territory. That marks a decrease from the 450 cited last week, when officials were also including “possible” cases. (9/12)
Fresno Bee: Fresno County CA Joins Effort To Criminalize Homeless Camping Fresno County is joining with several other governing boards in a push to overturn a recent court ruling that forbids cities and counties from criminalizing homeless camping. The Board of Supervisors decided this month to follow the lead of other local governments, like the city and county of Sacramento, in opposing the decision in the case of Martin v. City of Boise. The coalition will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision. (Miller, 9/12)
The New York Times: Attacks On Biden In Debate Highlight Divide Over The Obama LegacyFacing all of his closest competitors for the first time in a debate, Mr. Biden, the Democratic front-runner, repeatedly invoked President Barack Obama’s name and policy record as a shield against rivals who suggested his own record was flawed, or implied his agenda lacked ambition. On health care, immigration, foreign wars and more, Mr. Biden’s central theme was his tenure serving under Mr. Obama. By constantly invoking Mr. Obama, a popular figure among Democrats, Mr. Biden sought to mute the ideological and generational divisions that have left him vulnerable in the primary race. (Martin and Burns, 9/12)
The Washington Post: September Democratic Debate Highlights: Democrats Argue Over Health Care, Guns, ImmigrationBiden, Warren and Sanders opened the debate with a clash over health care that was a proxy argument over the future of the Democratic Party. Warren and Sanders arguing that Medicare-for-all would save Americans money and Biden, joined by the more moderate candidates, made a case against a wholesale overhaul of the health-care insurance industry as too expensive and unpopular. It was part of a broader divide onstage, between candidates who favor less sweeping but more attainable goals and those calling for huge structural change. (Sonmez, Wootson and Viser, 9/13)
Reuters: Some Democrats Snipe, Others Unite In Third Presidential DebateAn anticipated fiery matchup between Biden, the moderate former vice president, and Elizabeth Warren, a liberal senator who has gained the No. 2 spot in recent opinion polls, did not quite materialize. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, running a close third, sounded hoarse as he expounded on his favorite progressive topics, including healthcare, political corruption and income inequality. (9/13)
Reuters: Biden Attacks Warren, Sanders Over Cost Of Healthcare Plans In Democratic DebateBiden, who served as vice president for eight years under Barack Obama, said he would build on Obama’s landmark 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. He accused Warren and Sanders of wanting to tear it down with Medicare for All, a proposed government-run healthcare program that would eliminate private insurance. “I know that the senator says she’s for Bernie. Well I’m for Barack. I think Obamacare worked,” Biden said, asking Warren and Sanders to explain how they would pay for their plans. “This is about candor, honesty, big ideas.” (9/13)
The Wall Street Journal: The Moments That Mattered In Thursday’s Democratic DebateThe former vice president was backed up by Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. “It says that we will no longer have private insurance as we know it,” she said of the Sanders bill. “That means that 149 million Americans will no longer be able to have their current insurance. That’s in four years. I don’t think that’s a bold idea, I think it’s a bad idea.” Ms. Warren responded that her policies would be paid for by the wealthiest. “Costs are going to go up for wealthier individuals and costs are going to go up for giant corporations,” she said. “But for hardworking families across this country, costs are going to go down.” (Parti and McCormick, 9/13)
The Fact Check: Dems Draw Link Between Trump, El Paso MurdersTen Democrats seeking the presidency tripped over some details Thursday night as they sparred in a debate thick with policy and personal stories. Several made provocative accusations that President Donald Trump inspired the deadly shooting in El Paso, Texas, last month. On the policy front, Bernie Sanders claimed his approach to health care has a stamp of approval from everyone who studies such matters, which is not the case. Joe Biden misrepresented recent history when he said the administration he served as vice president didn’t put migrant kids in “cages.” (9/12)
The Washington Post: Fact Check Of The Third Democratic Debate“We didn’t lock people up in cages; we didn’t separate families.”— Former vice president Joe Biden. Contrary to Biden’s claim, the Obama administration did use caged enclosures beginning in 2014 to hold families apprehended along the southern border by U.S. authorities. There is photographic evidence showing the cages in 2014. (Kessler, Rizzo and Kelly, 9/12)
The Wall Street Journal: Top 2020 Democratic Candidates Spar Over Health Care In Third DebateThe candidates largely agreed on what they see as the most important issues facing the country—a lack of universal health care, income inequality, the threat of climate change and the prevalence of mass shootings—but they diverged on how to address them. Mr. Biden, who has been atop the polls, drew fire from several candidates, but they saved the sharpest words for President Trump over his rhetoric and trade policies. (Day, Collins and Glazer, 9/13)
Los Angeles Times: Beto O’Rourke: ‘Hell, Yes, We’re Going To Take Your AR-15’When the Democratic presidential debate turned to gun control, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke became emotional as he told of meeting a woman who watched her daughter bleed to death after a mass shooting. There were too many victims, he said, and not enough ambulances after the attack in Odessa, Texas. He talked of the devastation wrought by high-velocity rifle rounds that cause massive internal injuries when they smash into their human targets, including victims in the attacks in Odessa and in his hometown of El Paso. (Pearce, 9/12)
CalMatters: As D.A., Kamala Harris Prosecuted A Mentally Ill Woman Shot By Police. The Jury Didn’t Buy It.When San Francisco police broke down a door inside a group home for mentally disabled people in 2008 and shot a 56-year-old resident, then-District Attorney Kamala Harris didn’t charge the officers with a crime. Instead she prosecuted the schizophrenic woman who was severely injured in the shooting. Harris charged Teresa Sheehan with assaulting the officers, alleging she came at them with a kitchen knife after they forced their way into her room. But the jury was not convinced. It deadlocked in favor of acquitting Sheehan on the assault charges, and found her not guilty of threatening to kill a social worker who had called the police for help to get Sheehan into a psychiatric hospital. (Rosenhall, 9/10)
The Associated Press: Trump Vows To Protect 2nd Amendment After Gun BriefingPresident Donald Trump pledged Thursday to protect the Second Amendment, hours after huddling with top advisers to discuss gun control measures he might be willing to publicly stand behind. Speaking to reporters before flying to Baltimore for a Republican retreat, Trump insisted “a lot of progress” had been made on background checks “and various things having to do with guns” during Thursday’s discussion. But he also made clear that he’s weary of angering gun proponents, suggesting Democrats’ push for new gun control measures following a summer of mass shootings might be nothing more than “a ploy.” (9/12)
The New York Times: Partisans Dig In As Executives Call For Action On GunsWhen a letter signed by about 150 leaders of some of the nation’s most recognizable companies called on Thursday for tighter gun control measures, the reactions cut largely along partisan lines. Democrats like Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said the letter, which was signed by companies including Levi Strauss, Yelp and the Gap, pointed to a “groundswell” of support for restrictions on firearms. “The letter reflects a seismic political dynamic that is really sweeping the country,” he added. (Corkery, 9/12)
Stat: Right To Try ‘Remains A Bust,’ As Many Drug Makers Prefer FDA ReviewsDespite the hubbub over the “right-to-try” law, a recent survey found that nearly half of drug makers indicated they would require regulators to review a decision to provide an experimental treatment to a person with a life-threatening disease. Specifically, 13 of 29 drug companies indicated they want a relevant regulatory authority to review requests that are granted to such people. Of these, six specified they would ask the Food and Drug Administration to conduct a review and five stated they require a research ethics committee or institutional review board, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. (Silverman, 9/12)
The Wall Street Journal: Purdue Pharma Made, Then Ditched, Plans For Opioid-Treatment NonprofitOxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP nixed plans earlier this year to launch a foundation to fund opioid-addiction treatment and research as the company rethought its strategy amid hundreds of lawsuits and a possible bankruptcy filing. Purdue staff pitched the foundation concept several years ago, and the drugmaker’s owners and executives spent several months developing the latest version, according to people familiar with the matter and internal company emails viewed by The Wall Street Journal. (Hopkins, 9/12)
The Washington Post: What Trump’s Authoritarian Push On Homelessness Is Really AboutIf you want to find an emblematic policy tale of the Trump presidency, you can’t do much better than the president’s newfound interest in homelessness. He just discovered a problem that has existed for decades. His administration has been actively making the problem worse. His ideas about it are driven by his disturbing psychological quirks. The solutions he’s considering are authoritarian and unconstitutional. He wants to use it as part of a reelection campaign based on hatred and division. (Paul Waldman, 9/12)
The New York Times: Trump’s Vague Plans On HomelessnessDonald Trump likes speaking in declarative sentences and promising to solve big problems. He revels in the appearance of activity and the development of vague plans. And it is in this spirit that Mr. Trump has turned his attention to homelessness in California. There is no question that California is in the throes of a crisis. In the state’s most populous county, Los Angeles, a county report in June found the homeless population had spiked to an estimated 59,000 — a 12 percent increase over June 2018. (9/12)
The New York Times: You Call It The Gig Economy. California Calls It ‘Feudalism.’Labor leaders cheered in the balcony and lawmakers embraced on the floor of the California Senate on Tuesday as it passed a landmark measure that defines employees, a move that could increase wages and benefits for hundreds of thousands of struggling workers. But the bill is as much a starting point as an endgame: It will drive a national debate over how to reshape labor laws fashioned in the industrial era of the 1930s to fit a 21st-century service and knowledge economy. (Miriam Pawel, 9/12)
CalMatters: Turning Off Power To Combat Wildfires Could Harm The Very People Who Need ProtectionCalifornia utility companies are increasingly triggering power outages by their own accord to try to prevent wildfires. But the practice may endanger elderly people and individuals with power-dependent medical devices. While intentionally shutting off power may be a practical way to prevent power lines from sparking wildfires, is it worth the risks? Indeed, planned power outages may be hurting the very populations they seek to protect. (Joie Acosta and Regina Shih, 9/12)
Sacramento Bee: Insurance Commissioner’s Financial Scandals Erode CredibilityWill Ricardo Lara survive his first term as California’s insurance commissioner? We can’t say for sure. While it’s hard to dislodge an elected constitutional officer from office, career implosions are not completely unprecedented in politics. Just ask former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush. The Republican tendered his resignation in 2000 after the scandals engulfing his office made it impossible for him to continue. (9/11)
San Francisco Chronicle: SF Has To Replace — And Fill — Long-Term Mental Health Care BedsWhen the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced it would transform a long-term mental health care facility at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital into one that offered only short-term care, it walked into a public firestorm. The public was right to be concerned. There’s a serious shortage of long-term mental health care beds in San Francisco. The results can be seen in the suffering on our streets. (9/12)
Sacramento Bee: Sacramento Is Wrong To Seek Supreme Court Review Of Martin V. BoiseIs Sacramento trying to arrest more homeless people simply because they can’t afford a place to live? That’s what the city seems to be signaling by asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that said prosecuting homeless people for camping violates their constitutional rights. (9/12)
Sacramento Bee: Anti-Camping Ordinance Are Needed To Help Curb HomelessnessCompassion for the homeless is a responsibility we all share. But in the zeal to help, too many have forgotten – or choose to ignore – the negative impact that homeless camps can have on our neighborhoods. Someone needs to also speak up for the community. I haven’t forgotten, nor will I ignore it. This is why I am pleased that Sacramento County is joining with the city of Boise, Idaho, to support their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of a recent court decision that forbids local enforcement of anti-camping ordinances and prevents us from clearing up homeless settlements. I am urging all cities and counties in our region to join with us by doing the same. (Sue Frost, 9/12)
San Jose Mercury News: Santa Clara County Can Do More To Help Solve Root Causes Of HomelessnessThe city of San Jose recently released the 2019 Homeless Census & Survey Report. The report focuses on unhoused individuals priced out of the expensive Bay Area market. While I wholeheartedly agree that we must assist the unhoused who struggle to find affordable housing, we must look at other root causes — mental health issues and drug/alcohol abuse — if we hope to solve the problem of homelessness. (Johnny Khamis, 9/13)