News Headlines for September 25, 2018

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Health Care Package Gets Gov. Brown’s Signature, ‘Public Option’ Still In The Cards
Capital Public Radio

Gov. Jerry Brown signed five bills this weekend that seek to make health care more accessible to low and middle income Californians.

The package came from lawmakers and advocates who want to see all Californians insured. Their single-payer efforts were shelved last year, and the governor recently turned down their budget proposal to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented adults and further subsidize Covered California.

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Physician burnout taking center stage
The Washington Post

The medical establishment may finally be coming to grips with the issue of physician burnout. The evidence: two studies published in the American Medical Association journal JAMA.

One study found that nearly half of junior physicians were having burnout symptoms at least one day a week.

The other underscored how hard it is to assess the problem. After reviewing previous studies, researchers found huge variations in definitions of burnout and estimated rates among doctors, which ranged from 0 to 80 percent.

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Paralyzed people are beginning to walk with a new kind of therapy
The Washington Post

Kelly Thomas woke up in a Florida hospital four years ago with no recollection of the car accident that had robbed her of the ability to walk. Thomas, an active college student who had barrel raced in rodeos, moved to Kentucky for a year to try out a research study that she hoped would retrain her spinal cord on how to walk.

In February, a trainer who had been scooting along the floor at Thomas’s feet, helping her move her legs and place her feet as she used a walker, stopped and stood up.

“What are you doing?” Thomas asked, alarmed.

“You’re doing it,” the trainer, Rebekah Morton, told her. “You don’t need me.”

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Doctors Often Fail to Listen to Black Mothers, Complicating Births, Survey Finds
California Health Report

A first of its kind survey of California mothers about their birth concerns and outcomes offers two findings: Health providers often don’t listen to mothers about their birth preferences and African American women are the least likely to be listened to.

Disregarding input from pregnant women increases the risk of death and complications for the mothers and their babies.

“We know what works with childbirth in this country, we just aren’t doing it,” said Stephanie Teleki, director of maternity investments at the California Health Care Foundation, which funded the survey. “The status quo for too many California women, particularly black mothers, is care that produces poor outcomes, is not in keeping with their preferences, and is often needlessly expensive. That needs to change.”

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5 Things To Know About Trump’s New ‘Public Charge’ Immigration Proposal
Kaiser Health News

A proposed rule from the White House would make it harder for legal immigrants to get green cards if they have received certain kinds of public assistance — including Medicaid, food stamps and housing subsidies. Green cards allow them to live and work permanently in the United States.

“Those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement.

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Improving Care For Californians
HealthAffairs Blog

On the heels of our September 2018 issue, “California: Leading The Way?,” Health Affairs will return to Sacramento on Monday, October 15, for a special event.

As Californians prepare for new leadership to address challenges both new and old, this is the perfect time to survey California’s health policy landscape and examine topics including: purchasing for value and quality, addressing social determinants and integrating care, and the pros and cons of consolidation.

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Congress keeps IMD provision in final opioids package
Modern Healthcare

Congress finalized its deal on opioids legislation late Monday afternoon, including one long-shot measure to free up Medicaid funds for inpatient addiction treatment.

Although the specific legislative text has not been released, the opioid package includes a so-called IMD exclusion bill authored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). The proposal would temporarily lift the ban on Medicaid funds for institutional treatment of substance use disorder. Unlike the House bill, Portman’s measure would treat all addiction, not just opioids and cocaine.

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Tremors can be a sign of Parkinson’s but also of more-benign conditions
The Washington Post

‘I thought I had Parkinson’s disease!” the 65-year-old stock analyst exclaimed.

Over the past six months, her handwriting had deteriorated to the point that she was having difficulty signing checks. Because a good friend of hers had recently received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, she feared the worst.

I began to suspect that her concern was groundless when I noticed that both of her hands shook and that she had a barely noticeable to-and-fro motion of her head — two signs that are uncommon in Parkinson’s disease.

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Workers Overdose On The Job, And Employers Struggle To Respond
Kaiser Health News

Jimmy Sullivan prepared for his job as a bricklayer the same way every morning for years: injecting a shot of heroin before leaving his car.

The first time he overdosed on the job, in 2013 at a Virginia construction site, a co-worker who is his cousin stealthily injected a dose of Narcan, an opioid antidote, into Sullivan’s leg. He woke up and went straight back to work.

The second time, in 2014, his cousin revived him again, and after resting for an hour in his car, Sullivan was back on the job. His boss told him not to let it happen again.

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WeWork to open collaboration spaces for cancer research
Modern Healthcare

WeWork is teaming up with the Biden Cancer Initiative to offer space where cancer researchers, patients and oncology companies can work and collaborate in major U.S. cities, including New York.The fast-growing coworking startup said today that it will create “collaboration hubs” in Manhattan, Boston and San Francisco that will include office space. It also will host events in partnership with the Biden Cancer Initiative. The goal is to encourage information-sharing that could lead to better treatments.The Manhattan hub will open Oct. 1 at WeWork’s 750 Lexington Ave. location.

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Gilead to launch generic versions of hepatitis C drugs
Modern Healthcare

Gilead Sciences said Monday it will launch generic versions of Harvoni and Epculsa, its top-selling hepatitis C drugs. Gilead will sell its chronic hepatitis C generics at a $24,000 list price for the most common course of therapy come January 2019. This represents a significant discount compared to the price for its branded alternatives, which can cost nearly $100,000 for a full course of treatment. The authorized generics are priced to more closely reflect the discounts that health insurers and government payers receive today, the company said in a news release.

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Health Care Digest: Genentech’s neuro legacy, uBiome’s haul, plus saving moms
San Francisco Business Times

The biggest biotech IPO last year — and a highly anticipated one this year — come via an unlikely source: Genentech Inc.

The South San Francisco biotech pioneer, best known for its cancer-fighting drugs, is the progenitor of Denali Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: DNLI) and Alector Inc., which are probing the brain for therapeutic answers to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.

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OODA Health Nabs $40.5 Million

OODA Health, a company looking to transform healthcare payment systems, has completed a $40.5 million round of Series A funding, led by Oak HC/FT and DFJ.

OODA Health wants to revamp the healthcare payment system by enabling collaborative, real-time interactions between providers (physicians, hospitals), payers (insurance companies), and members (patients). The company will use the capital to further develop its product platform, expand its team, and deepen and grow its payer and provider relationships.