News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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The Health 202: Single-payer health care gets a second Captiol Hill hearing today.
Washington Post

Medicare-for-all is poised for another big day on Capitol Hill, as the House Budget Committee convenes this morning to examine the intricacies and challenges of any U.S. transition to a unified health-care system run by the government.

As in a similar House Rules Committee hearing last month, there will be plenty of back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans over whether a single-payer system would be a good idea at all.

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Medicare for All: 5 things to look for in second House hearing
Modern Healthcare

Medicare for All is back in Congress for a second committee hearing just two weeks after lawmakers on the House Rules Committee broke new ground with theirs.

But on Wednesday, the House Budget Committee will take its own approach to the issue that has gained huge momentum in the last few months, focusing on recent Congressional Budget Office analysis for how a single payer design could look in the U.S.

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A Medical Sanctuary For Migrant Farmworkers
Kaiser Health News

On the 15-mile drive between his two Central Valley medical clinics, Dr. J. Luis Bautista often passes armies of farmworkers stooped over in the fields, picking onions, melons and tomatoes.

Most of the 30,000 annual office visits to his small staff of doctors and nurses in downtown Fresno and the nearby rural town of Sanger are by these farmworkers. Many of them are undocumented.

The 64-year-old physician has personal insight into the struggles of these laborers: He was once one of them. As a boy, he picked fruit alongside his parents and nine siblings in Ventura County. The family made $4,000 a year back then, a little over $30,000 in today’s dollars — rarely enough to spare for doctor’s visits.

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Anti-vaxxers target communities battling measles
Washington Post

In a suburban shopping center an hour north of New York City, hundreds of mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered in a sex-partitioned ballroom to hear leaders of the national anti-vaccine movement.

Sustained applause greeted Del Bigtree, a former television-producer-turned-activist who often wears a yellow star, similar to those required of Jews in Nazi Germany, to show solidarity with parents ordered to keep unvaccinated children at home.

igtree described the purported dangers of childhood vaccines in phrases that also conjured the Nazis.

“They have turned our children into the largest human experiment in history — all of history,” he said.

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For Civilians, Finding A Therapist Skilled In PTSD Treatments Is A Tough Task
Kaiser Health News

Lauren Walls has lived with panic attacks, nightmares and flashbacks for years. The 26-year-old San Antonio teacher sought help from a variety of mental health professionals — including spending five years and at least $20,000 with one therapist who used a Christian-faith-based approach, viewing her condition as part of a spiritual weakness that could be conquered — but her symptoms worsened. She hit a breaking point two years ago, when she contemplated suicide.

In her search for help, Walls encountered a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Commentary: Holistic system of care essential to achieving mental wellness for children, teens
Modern Healthcare

Just before turning 3, Gavyn Bailey received a kidney transplant. Thereafter, he began to require anti-rejection medications, which create additional health concerns, including thickening of the heart muscle, necrosis of the hip, gastrointestinal issues and bacterial infections. The pain and challenges associated with his chronic condition propelled the now 21-year-old into a deep depression. To cope, Gavyn self-medicated and exhibited other forms of self-injurious behavior.

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Scientists Modify Viruses With CRISPR To Create New Weapon Against Superbugs
National Public Radio

Alphonso Evans rolls his wheelchair into a weight machine in the gym at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga.

“I’m not so much worried about dying from a heart attack or diabetes, because I’m active. I know what to do to work against it: watch what I eat, exercise,” Evans says. “But what do I do about an infection? Or fighting off a bacteria — something inside me that I don’t see until it’s too late?”

Evans, 67, is fully paralyzed from the chest down and has only partial use of his hands. And like a lot of spinal cord injury patients, he’s prone to infections, especially bladder infections.

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Federal judge signals reluctance to block short-term plans
Modern Healthcare

A federal judge on Tuesday indicated he wasn’t willing to block the Trump administration’s rule expanding access to short-term, limited-duration health plans since Congress didn’t limit them in the Affordable Care Act or in the six years after its passage.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon heard a second round of arguments in the lawsuit over the Trump administration’s reversal of the Obama administration’s cap on short-term plans.

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How data is catapulting health care innovation in California
San Francisco Business Times

In just over two years, California’s health information exchange, Manifest MedEx, has swelled to 17 million medical records, about 40 percent of people living in the state.

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The Struggle To Hire And Keep Doctors In Rural Areas Means Patients Go Without Care
National Public Radio

Taylor Walker is wiping down tables after the lunch rush at the Bunkhouse Bar and Grill in remote Arthur, Nebraska, a tiny dot of a town ringed by cattle ranches.

The 25-year-old has her young son in tow, and she is expecting another baby in August.

“I was just having some terrible pain with this pregnancy and I couldn’t get in with my doctor,” she says.

Visiting her obstetrician in North Platte is a four-hour, round-trip endeavor that usually means missing a day of work. She arrived to a recent visit only to learn that another doctor was on call and hers wasn’t available.

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‘Stonewall Generation’ Confronts Old Age, Sickness — And Discrimination
Kaiser Health News

Two years ago, nursing professor Kim Acquaviva asked a group of home care nurses whether they thought she was going to hell for being a lesbian. It’s OK if you do, Acquaviva said, but is the afterlife within your scope of practice?

After Acquaviva’s talk, an older nurse announced she would change how she treats LGBTQ people under her care.

“I still think you’re going to hell, but I’m going to stop telling patients that,” the nurse told Acquaviva.

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Blood sugar monitoring proves attractive to investors as diabetes startups draw over $1 billion in funding since 2014
San Francisco Business Times

As technology has improved, it has become easier for diabetes patients to monitor their blood sugar levels. The number of businesses offering monitoring devices is competitive, however.

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PD Editorial: Emergency room waits are leaving patients at risk
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

There’s nothing fun about a visit to the emergency room — whatever brings you there. But it’s even less pleasant when the emergency room is overcrowded and you end up waiting hours for the urgent care you need, and hours longer if you need to be admitted to the hospital.

In California, emergency room patients more likely than not encounter that situation. In 2017, the median wait time for patients before admission to hospitals was 336 minutes, or more than 5½ hours. For patients discharged without admission, the wait time was more than 2½ hours.

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Medical groups slowly taking on more risk
Modern Healthcare

Physician groups derived a larger share of revenue from payment models requiring them to take on risk in 2018 than in previous years, according to a survey by the AMGA.

The survey of 75 multispecialty medical groups, integrated delivery systems and independent physician associations showed that 56% of respondents’ federal program revenue came from value-based payment models in 2018. That’s up from 45% in 2015.

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Seeking to save billions of dollars, employers turn to Bay Area companies to help with diabetes
San Francisco Business Times

For diabetic workers, access to a refrigerator and insulin breaks are not a workplace perk. They are potentially a matter of life and death.

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Support falters for law to compel treatment of SF’s mentally ill
San Francisco Chronicle

A law that would allow San Francisco to expand involuntary treatment for the city’s mentally ill population is on thin ice, and it’s unclear if it has the votes to pass the full Board of Supervisors next month.

But if the board knocks down the legislation at its June 4 meeting, one supervisor said he is open to another plan: putting the issue before voters in November.

On Monday, the Rules Committee — composed of Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Gordon Mar and Shamann Walton — did not support the local implementation of a state conservatorship law, SB1045.

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National Institutes of Health launches $9 million genetic testing center at UC Davis
Sacramento Business Journal

The federal government’s medical research agency is launching a new center to develop genetic editing tools with the University of California Davis. 

The National Institutes of Health is funding the new center with a $9 million grant announced Monday. Those dollars are earmarked for primate research projects to improve the safety and efficacy of genetic editing tools. The new center has been dubbed the UC Davis Nonhuman Primate Testing Center for Evaluation of Somatic Cell Genome Editing Tools.

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