News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Health Care Gets Heated On Night 2 Of The Democratic Presidential Debate
Kaiser Health News

On Thursday, the second night of the first Democratic primary debate, 10 presidential hopefuls took the stage and health issues became an early flashpoint.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) opened the debate calling health care a “human right” — which was echoed by several other candidates — and saying “we have to pass a ‘Medicare for All,’ single-payer system” — which was not.

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Joe Biden urges building on Obamacare instead of adopting Bernie Sanders’ ‘Medicare for All’
CNBC

Joe Biden defended the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, calling for building on it rather than replacing it with the “Medicare for All” system pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“The quickest fastest way to do it is build on Obamacare, to build on what we did,” Biden said Thursday night during the chaotic second night of the first Democratic debate of the 2020 cycle.

Biden leads the 20-plus candidate presidential primary field in the polls. Sanders usually polls second.

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Trump Has Blessed States’ Exploration Of Importing Drugs. Will It Catch On?
Kaiser Health News

Seeking a solution to the soaring costs of drugs, Colorado, Florida and Vermont are making plans to import medications from Canada, where prescriptions are cheaper.

President Donald Trump has offered his support, marking the first time drug importation has won a presidential endorsement.

The states’ plans are in their infancy. But they signal how frustration among consumers — especially those shouldering greater portions of their health bills through high-deductible health plans — is putting pressure on federal and state officials.

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Health insurers are still profiting from Obamacare in 2019
Modern Healthcare

Coming off of a profitable 2018, health insurers were still making money selling plans on the individual insurance market, including the Affordable Care Act exchanges, during the first three months of this year, an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows.

Insurers remained profitable even though the individual mandate requiring most people to buy health coverage was zeroed out and cheaper, skimpier short-term plans became widely available, researchers found.

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Pelosi Aims For Feds To Negotiate Drug Prices, Even For Private Insurers
Kaiser Health News

As House Democrats hash out a proposal empowering the federal government’s top health official to negotiate lower drug prices, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking it a step further and pushing a plan that could benefit even those Americans with private health insurance.

A draft plan spearheaded, but not yet released, by Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders would ensure that prices negotiated on the most expensive drugs would apply not only to the government but to all payers, including employers and insurers, a Democratic aide said.

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Sneaky deals are keeping cheaper generic medicines off the market
Los Angeles Times

It’s bad enough drug companies charge sky-high prices for brand-name prescription meds and raise those prices with regular frequency. Some also cut secret deals to keep cheaper generic alternatives off the market — a practice known as pay for delay.

It’s a bad-faith ploy that affects millions of people, potentially endangering the lives of patients who can’t afford needed medicine.

And it could become illegal in California.

A bill — AB 824 — now making its way through the Legislature would prohibit agreements among drug companies involving “anything of value” changing hands to delay introduction of a generic alternative to a brand-name medicine.

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House Dems question Gilead’s HIV drug donations
Modern Healthcare

Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee want Gilead Sciences to reveal whether its decision to donate more than 2 million doses of its HIV-prevention medication Truvada was connected to an ongoing patent dispute.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) asked whether the company’s decision to donate Truvada was in some way connected to the company’s dispute over its patent for the drug.

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Five Things We Found In The FDA’s Hidden Device Database
Kaiser Health News

After two decades of keeping the public in the dark about millions of medical device malfunctions and injuries, the Food and Drug Administration has published the once hidden database online, revealing 5.7 million incidents publicly for the first time.

The newfound transparency follows a Kaiser Health News investigation that revealed device manufacturers, for the past two decades, had been sending reports of injuries or malfunctions to the little-known database, bypassing the public FDA database that’s pored over by doctors, researchers and patients. Millions of reports, related to everything from breast implants to surgical staplers, were sent to the agency as “alternative summary” reports instead.

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Building For Better Mental Health
Silicon Valley Business Journal

A severe shortage of inpatient beds, spurred by reimbursement shortfalls, puts pressure on mental healthcare providers throughout Santa Clara County. Here’s how local health providers are adapting to a growing need.

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A New Way To Test For Signs Of Consciousness In Unresponsive, Brain-Injured Patients
National Public Radio

Patients who are brain-injured and unresponsive may appear unconscious, but a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine repurposed a widely-used technology to demonstrate that the brains of some of these patients are still active.

The researchers used electroencephalography or EEG to look for signs of brain activity in a group of brain-injured patients, finding that 15% of those studied had residual activity despite being unable to speak or move.

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Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb joins Pfizer’s board of directors
USA Today

Scott Gottlieb, who stepped down as Food and Drug Administration Commissioner in April, will join Pfizer’s board of directors, the company announced Thursday.

Gottlieb resigned from the FDA this spring after nearly two years at the helm. During his tenure, Gottlieb advanced a number of prescription drug policies, including to push the FDA to speed up generic drug approvals and use its powers to encourage wider use of biosimilars, or copycat versions of complex and often costly biologic drugs.

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Hospital CEOs tell why grabbing bankrupt Verity’s assets made sense
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Integration of facilities and staff from Verity Health into Santa Clara County’s hospital system and El Camino Hospital is going well, CEOs say.

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Blue Shield of California launches marketplace with a new approach to wellness
MedCity News

In a nod to changing trends in the wellness industry, San Francisco-based insurer Blue Shield of California has built a new network meant to connect members with vetted community-based programs and digital therapeutics. Done in partnership with Phoenix, Arizona company Solera Health, the program represents a major revamp of the insurer’s longstanding Wellvolution wellness platform that provides tools and resources to help members live healthier lives.

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Hospital committee approves a very brief budget
Fort Bragg Advocate News

The Mendocino Coast District Hospital Board of Directors’ Finance Committee approved a budget for fiscal year 2020 at its meeting on Tuesday, June 25.

But interim Chief Executive Officer Wayne Allen, the architect of the spending plan, said Tuesday that without major revisions – mostly cuts in spending and possible elimination of hospital services, the budget that will go before hospital directors June 26 “would lead to a bankruptcy filing”.

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