After the Pandemic Hit Nursing Homes Hard, Lawmakers Push to Tighten Licensing Rules
Legislators are proposing an overhaul of California’s licensing system for nursing homes that would make it the most stringent in the country. They argue that disreputable and unlicensed owners and operators have harmed residents. The industry describes the proposed requirements as excessive. (Samantha Young, 5/15 )
California To Allow Higher Payouts In Medical Malpractice Lawsuits: The California Legislature on Thursday agreed to increase how much money people can win in medical malpractice lawsuits, raising a cap on damages for the first time in 47 years. The state Assembly voted 60-0 to send the bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has said he will sign it into law. Read more from AP.
S.F. Scientists Unveil Breakthrough That Could Change The Way We Think About Disease: A global team led by San Francisco researchers unveiled Thursday the first draft of a “human cell atlas” — a groundbreaking endeavor that could transform scientists’ grasp of molecular biology, including how they think about and treat disease. Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Below, check out the roundup of California Healthline’s coverage. For today's national health news, read KHN's Morning Briefing.
Modesto Bee: Modesto Abortion Rights Advocates To Rally On National Day Abortion rights supporters will rally in Modesto on Saturday as part of a national day of action against the U.S. Supreme Court’s anticipated decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. The Bans Off Our Bodies rally in front of Modesto’s Planned Parenthood on McHenry Avenue will be one of hundreds of events planned across the county. The Stanislaus County event is being co-sponsored by Indivisible Stanislaus, Stanislaus County Commission for Women and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. (Rowland, 5/12)
Fox News: Roe Reversal Draft Fallout: Alito Gives Update On Supreme Court Status Amid Abortion Protests Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito briefly addressed the status of the court amid pro-choice protests after Politico published Alito's leaked draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade (1973). Alito spoke remotely from the court building, addressing a crowd at the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University Thursday night. Both the court and the justices have received ramped-up security amid protests following the draft's release. (O'Neil, 5/13)
The Washington Post: Alito Reluctant To Discuss State Of Supreme Court After Roe Leak In his first public address since the explosive leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion he wrote that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. breezed through a detailed examination of statutory textualism, and renewed a disagreement over the court’s decision saying federal discrimination law protects gay and transgender workers. But he was a little stumped by the final audience question from a crowd at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University: Are he and the other justices at a place where they could get a nice meal together? (Barnes and Lumpkin, 5/12)
Politico: Dems Face Facts: They Need A November Turnaround To Save Roe Democrats are facing up to their grim reality: After Roe v. Wade likely falls next month, they’ll need a comeback November win to save it. Constrained by narrow majorities, Democrats have virtually no legislative power to prevent the Supreme Court from striking down five decades of abortion rights precedent. So outraged lawmakers are instead taking the fight to voters — many of whom are pleading for a more immediate solution as the high court prepares to rule in June. (Ferris and Levine, 5/12)
The New York Times: The Looming End To Abortion Rights Gives Liberal Democrats A Spark Around the country — from South Texas to Chicago, Pittsburgh to New York — the looming loss of abortion rights has re-energized the Democratic Party’s left flank, which had absorbed a series of legislative and political blows and appeared to be divided and flagging. It has also dramatized the generational and ideological divide in the Democratic Party, between a nearly extinct older wing that opposes abortion rights and younger progressives who support them. (Weisman, 5/12)
The New York Times: Harris Emerges As The Voice Of Abortion Rights In The Biden Administration With three words last week, Vice President Kamala Harris inserted herself forcefully into the roiling debate over abortion rights — and may have finally seized on an issue that is popular among key Democratic voters, plays to her strengths and is central to the future of her party. “How dare they?” she demanded. (Shear and Gupta, 5/12)
CapRadio: Driver Rebates, More Funding For Reproductive Health In Newsom's Revised California Budget Proposal Governor Gavin Newsom wants to send rebates to California drivers and $1,500 bonuses to hospital and nursing home employees as part of his proposed budget plan. The governor’s administration unveiled the proposal ahead of his revised budget presentation Friday morning. It also includes billions in additional aid for rental assistance and utility bills for Californians affected by the pandemic. (Nixon, 5/13)
The Hill: Senators Press DOD On Abortion Protections For Service Members A group of eight Senators is urging Pentagon officials to ensure that service members can get access to an abortion even if the medical procedure becomes illegal in states where they are based. The lawmakers, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), are pressing the Department of Defense (DOD) to act quickly on the matter following the leaked draft ruling from the Supreme Court made public last week. The draft document indicates the court is set to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States. (Mitchell, 5/12)
The 19th: Military Mothers Push Army To Change Parenthood With TRICARE Policies Austin Carrigg wanted more children, but it wasn’t easy to grow her family, especially since her husband was an active-duty soldier in the Army. The family frequently moved from one base to another, and access to health care was in constant flux. Carigg and her husband wanted to avoid passing on a life-threatening genetic condition that their second son was born with, so they paid for intrauterine insemination procedures — which is not covered by TRICARE, the Defense Department’s health care system — and used a sperm donor. The attempts didn’t work, and the couple couldn’t afford in vitro fertilization procedures. Carrigg noted that there are some Army and Navy programs that offer infertility care — but those are accessible to only those fortunate enough to be assigned to certain bases. (Padilla, 5/12)
The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat: How The Nationwide Baby Formula Shortage Is Affecting Sonoma County Retailers A nationwide shortage of leading brands of baby formula is now affecting several stores in Sonoma County. “The easiest way to put it is we’ve been impacted,” said Scott Osterman, manager of the Walgreens on Sonoma Highway in Santa Rosa. Osterman said the store has received insufficient stock notices each time it tries to order baby formula. (Swanson, 5/12)
The New York Times: White House, Under Pressure, Says It Will Address Baby Formula Shortage The Biden administration said on Thursday that it was working to address a worsening nationwide shortage of infant formula, announcing efforts to speed manufacturing and increase imports as pressure mounted to respond to a crisis that has desperate parents scouring empty store aisles to feed their children. Officials outlined the plan after President Biden met with retailers and manufacturers, including Walmart, Target, Reckitt and Gerber, about their efforts to increase production. They also discussed steps the federal government could take to help stock bare shelves, particularly in rural areas, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail the conversation. (Karni, 5/12)
Bloomberg: Baby Formula Shortage: Biden Under Fire For FDA Response The White House raced Thursday to show it’s trying to ease a national baby formula shortage, as Republicans showered criticism on President Joe Biden for a crisis that has left frantic parents scouring store shelves to feed their children. Biden spoke with formula manufacturers, including Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC and Gerber Products Co., and retailers including Walmart Inc and Target Corp and announced new actions intended to increase supply. The administration is asking more states to relax rules on sizes and types of formulas eligible for government benefits, allowing parents to use subsidies for whatever products are in stock. (Sink and Edney, 5/12)
Bloomberg: Infant Formula Shortage: Abbot Factory Bacteria Risk Spotted Last Year Federal inspectors spotted the potential for baby formula made at an Abbott Laboratories plant to become contaminated months before a recall that exacerbated a nationwide shortage, a government document shows. A Food and Drug Administration report obtained by Bloomberg News through a freedom of information request showed that during a routine visit to Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan, manufacturing facility in September, inspectors determined that employees may have transferred contaminants including deadly cronobacter from surfaces to baby formula. In one instance, the report said, records showed Abbott detected cronobacter in a finished batch of formula that may have been tainted by a worker who touched a contaminated surface without changing gloves. That batch wasn’t distributed. (Edney, 5/12)
NPR: Senator Says Biden Should Consider Defense Production Act For Baby Formula The infant formula shortage "is a life or death issue" for a lot of babies in the U.S. and a national emergency, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says. The New York Democrat told All Things Considered that she will ask President Biden to consider using the Defense Production Act to get more manufacturers on line to address the dire situation. Regular and specialized formulas, made for babies with allergies and metabolic disorders, have been running low across the U.S. for some time. (Martin and Diaz, 5/12)
NBC News: Breast Milk Banks Get Surge In Calls From Parents Amid Baby Formula Shortage A baby formula shortage has prompted a “major surge in interest” in donor breast milk, according to Lindsey Groff, the executive director of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, which accredits nonprofit milk banks. With the formula shortage worsening in recent weeks, “every milk bank that I have spoken with has seen a major increase in demand,” Groff said, adding that premature or medically fragile infants, such as those in the neonatal intensive care unit, receive priority for donor milk but that healthy, full-term babies can be recipients as well. (Chuck, 5/12)
The Washington Post: The Faux Outrage That Biden Is Stockpiling Baby Formula For Undocumented Immigrants Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) sparked a furor Thursday when she posted photos that compared what she said were stockpiles of baby formula for undocumented immigrants with empty grocery shelves for Americans in local stores. “You see the American government sending by the pallet thousands and thousands of containers of baby formula to the border, that would make my blood boil,” she said. (Kessler, 5/12)
Modesto Bee: Foster Farms Plant Asked Trump To Help Evade COVID Rules Major meatpacking companies, including the San Joaquin Valley’s Foster Farms, worked with Trump administration officials to keep workers in unsafe conditions at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a congressional report released on Thursday. The 61-page report shows that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat and poultry processing, worked with leaders of meatpacking companies to keep workers on the job by evading local and state regulations established during the pandemic. (Brassil, 5/12)
San Diego Union-Tribune: COVID-19 Numbers Ebb And Flow In San Diego County San Diego’s latest coronavirus numbers show a pandemic that is rolling along at a pace of 500 to 600 new cases per day, occasionally spiking almost to 1,000. It is a level of activity that shows the virus is still spreading, though existing levels of vaccine-created and natural immunity appear to be keeping the kind of hockey stick curve from forming in the week-by-week trend that everyone has learned to keep a wary eye on since early 2020. (Sisson, 5/12)
Modesto Bee: COVID Omicron Subvariants On The Rise In Stanislaus County Subvariants of the COVID-19 omicron strain are spreading in Stanislaus County, which is likely to signal a return to some precautions as people live with the reality of coronavirus illness. Kamlesh Kaur, a spokesperson for county public health, said the omicron BA.1 and BA.1.1 subvariants have been detected in the county. The so-called omicron “stealth” subvariant (BA.2) has shown up in wastewater surveillance since late April, but no BA.2 cases have been reported. (Carlson, 5/12)
The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat: Sonoma County’s Health Officer Optimistic Climbing COVID Cases Will Soon Begin To Drop. But Not Everyone’s So Sure. Addressing the public on a Zoom conference Wednesday, Sonoma County health officials attempted to toe a delicate line. They spoke of “widespread transmission” of coronavirus in the community, while emphasizing that better days lie just ahead — and reminding everyone of the bad times that came before. (Barber, 5/12)
San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Zero COVID Deaths’: Why Officials Are Pushing Paxlovid To Defang The Coronavirus When Martha Smith came down with a cough that turned out to be COVID in late April, she figured she’d be able to get Paxlovid, the antiviral pill that’s now in increasingly ample supply at many pharmacies, pretty quickly. “I thought it was going to be easy,” said Smith, who lives in Oakland. “We’ve been at this for two years, surely we’ve developed some processes around this.” (Ho, 5/13)
Sacramento Bee: What Happens If I Or My CA Coworker Tests Positive For COVID? After two years away from your office, you’re finally back. Then a coworker tests positive for COVID-19. What do you do? Is anything required of your employer? The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health strongly advises employees be vaccinated and boosted, but the reality is the workplace is mixed with mask preferences and vaccination statuses. And determining the next steps after hearing about a workplace COVID-19 exposure is the latest addition to the in-person work culture. (Taylor, 5/13)
Axios: U.S. And World Leaders Pledge More Than $3B To Fight Pandemic Globally The U.S. and other world leaders pledged Thursday more than $3 billion in new funding to fight the pandemic globally at the Biden administration's second Global COVID-19 Summit. "This includes over $2 billion for immediate COVID-19 response and $962 million in commitments toward a new pandemic preparedness and global health security fund at the World Bank," the White House said. (Doherty, 5/12)
Axios: Biden Orders Flags At Half-Staff For 1 Million COVID Deaths President Biden ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on Thursday to honor the Americans who have died from COVID-19 as the death toll nears 1 million. "One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a Nation forever changed because of this pandemic," Biden said in a statement. "As a Nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow," he added. "To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible." (Saric, 5/12)
CalMatters: California Spent Millions To Boost COVID Vaccination Rates Of Medi-Cal Members — But The Lag Even More To boost COVID-19 vaccination rates among California's low-income residents, last year the state launched a $350 million incentive program. But since then, the gap between those Medi-Cal members and the general population has actually grown wider. (Ibarra, 5/12)
Los Angeles Times: ICE Released Sick And Dying Detainees, Avoiding Responsibility Johana Medina Leon spent years advocating for the LGBTQ community and HIV awareness before fleeing the violence she faced as a transgender woman in El Salvador. The 25-year-old nurse technician had hoped to start a new life in California. But just over a month after she was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and booked into New Mexico’s Otero County Processing Center, her health was in free-fall. She was transferred to an El Paso hospital, where she died on June 1, 2019. (Castillo and Zou, 5/13)
Orange County Register: New Equipment Improves Access To Newport Harbor For Those With Disabilities Newport Beach’s waterways are a place where boaters can relax, finding solace in the saltwater. But not everyone could easily access the seaside town’s pristine harbor – until now. The city on Thursday, May 12, unveiled a new lift system that will help people with disabilities or anyone who needs assistance transfer onto vessels in the harbor. It is believed to be the first of its kind on a public dock in Southern California. (Connelly, 5/12)
Los Angeles Daily News: Trebek Center Homeless Shelter Opens At Site Of Former Northridge Roller Rink A new homeless shelter on the site of the former Northridge roller rink celebrated its opening on Thursday, May 12, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The 107-bed housing facility was named The Trebek Center in honor of the late Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, and will offer a path to permanent housing, providing services and outreach. (Grigoryants, 5/12)
San Francisco Chronicle: Ambitious S.F. Plan To Shelter All Unhoused Homeless People Hits Resistance A plan to require San Francisco to offer enough shelter for all of its homeless residents who currently sleep outside is being reworked after advocates for unhoused people pushed back against the effort. Opponents felt the plan would encourage encampment sweeps that clear the streets of tents without advancing longer-term solutions to homelessness. (Morris, 5/12)
Modesto Bee: Modesto Has $1.7M Grant For Apartment Building For Homeless Modesto has its second grant from Project Homekey, the state effort to provide permanent housing with services for people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. The City Council on Tuesday accepted a $1.7 million grant. It is for a newly constructed seven-unit apartment building next to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Modesto office called the James Street Apartments. (Valine, 5/13)
Los Angeles Times: Republican ‘Pro-Life’ Advocacy Ends With A Child’s Birth From red-state capitals to Washington, Republican politicians are conceding what’s been obvious for decades: Their “pro-life” advocacy ends with a child’s birth. That’s not what they intend to convey, of course. Since the leak last week of the draft Supreme Court opinion to end the constitutional protection for abortion rights, Republicans have rushed to mics, TV studios and social media to promise that once the justices rule there will come a new phase in the “pro-life” crusade: support for government aid for needy pregnant women, mothers and kids. (Jackie Calmes, 5/13)
Los Angeles Times: Texas Gives Us A Glimpse Into A World Without Abortion Care Training We’re getting a clearer picture every day of the devastating effect of Texas’ near-total abortion ban. Many people are traveling out of state to get abortion services, and some have come to San Francisco, where I work. With the Supreme Court now poised to overturn the constitutional right to abortion in a matter of weeks, the national impact will be enormous as many more states ban abortion care. One consequence we haven’t fully reckoned with is how these antiabortion laws will affect the training of healthcare workers. (Jody Steinauer, 5/13)
East Bay Times: Charlie's Law Could Save Lives Of Those With Blood Cancer I was alone with my doctor in the hospital when she told me I had no bone marrow matches in the world. I cried a lot that day. I was admitted two weeks prior, after relapsing from acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer. As a husband, father and criminal prosecutor, I’ve dedicated my life to caring for my loved ones and protecting my community. Now, leukemia was threatening my life, and there was no one who could protect me from it. (Charlie Huang, 5/13)
East Bay Times: Lifelong Abortion Rights Activist Terrified Of Society Moving Backward The now infamous Supreme Court draft opinion repealing Roe v. Wade is not just a shameful ransacking of a 50-year-old precedent, it is an epic assault on the fundamental right of women to participate as equals in American society. For Roe is not just about the medical procedure of abortion and protecting women’s health and lives, it is also about women’s autonomy, dignity and status as citizens. A woman’s choice whether or not to bear a child lies at the very core of her being, and when politicians seize control of that choice, she is relegated to second-class citizenship and deemed incapable of making her own life decisions. (Kate Michelman, 5/13)
Health Care Survey The 2022 CHCF California Health Policy Survey
This recent statewide survey found that one in four Californians had trouble paying a medical bill in the last 12 months. The survey also captures Californians' health care priorities for the governor and legislature to address.
Listening to Black Californians Black Californians on Racism and Health Care
CHCF commissioned interviews with 100 Black Californians to understand their views on health and well-being, their perceptions of discrimination and bias in the health care system, and their views on what a quality health care system looks like.
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Only about 10% of people with a substance use disorder (SUD) in the last year received treatment. This report provides an overview of substance use and addiction in California.
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