Aug 30, 2023

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

State Sues School District Over Transgender Policy: California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit Monday against the Chino school district, ordering an end to a policy that requires notifying parents if their children change their gender identity. Read more from the Los Angeles Times, Bay Area News Group, San Francisco Chronicle, and Politico. Keep scrolling for more LGBTQ+ health news.

In Surprise Development, California Gun Restrictions Might Still Be Enforceable: When the Supreme Court overturned New York’s restrictions on carrying guns in public last year, it was widely believed that the ruling would strike down comparable laws in California. But now a state appeals court says California’s law differs from New York’s and remains valid. Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Below, check out the roundup of California Healthline’s coverage. For today's national health news, read KFF Health News’ Morning Briefing.

Medicare Drug Prices

AP: Biden Administration Targets Diabetes Drug, Blood Thinner, Others For Medicare Price Negotiations The blood thinner Eliquis and popular diabetes treatments including Jardiance are among the first drugs that will be targeted for price negotiations in an effort to cut Medicare costs. President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday released a list of 10 drugs for which the federal government will take a first-ever step: negotiating drug prices directly with the manufacturer. (Murphy, Seitz and Megerian, 8/29)

CNBC: Biden Administration Unveils First 10 Drugs Subject To Medicare Price Negotiations The drugs listed Tuesday are among the top 50 with the highest spending for Medicare Part D, which covers prescription medications that seniors fill at retail pharmacies. The 10 medicines accounted for $50.5 billion, or about 20%, of total Part D prescription drug costs from June 1, 2022, to May 31, 2023, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS. (Constantino, 8/29)

Stat: The 10 Drugs Up First For Medicare Price Negotiation The drugs include Eliquis, Jardiance, Xarelto, Januvia, Farxiga, Entresto, Enbrel, Imbruvica, Stelara, and insulins that go by names including Fiasp and NovoLog. The new prices will be announced on Sept. 1, 2024 and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2026. The drugs were chosen from a list of 50 drugs that cost Medicare’s pharmacy drug benefit the most money. (Cohrs, 8/29)

Politico: Will Drug Price Negotiations Work? Here’s What You Need To Know. The Biden administration on Tuesday is expected to take the first step in a new effort to cut prescription drug costs for millions of Americans, a move that the president is touting as one of his signature policy achievements. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will release a list of 10 drugs whose prices will be subject to negotiation for Medicare patients, a plan green-lighted in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. But the effort will face hurdles — including lawsuits from drugmakers — before older adults see cost savings on their medications. Here’s how things could play out. (King and Lim, 8/28)

Axios: Drugmakers, Investors Say They've Already Changed Bets In IRA's First Year In the year since the passage of Democrats' drug pricing law, pharmaceutical companies and venture capitalists have shifted their priorities and placed less emphasis on developing synthetic drugs that will be subject to price negotiations faster than biologics. Pharmaceutical interests say it's proof that Democrats' signature health policy achievement is driving investment away from some mainstays of modern medicine. (Reed, 8/29)

LGBTQ+ Health

San Bernardino Sun: LGBTQ Students On New School Rules: ‘It’s Clear Our Lives Aren’t Important’ Willow Scharf remembers being called a “monster” at a Temecula City Council meeting. She was 15 at the time. “The only hate I’d ever faced was from kids who don’t think for themselves yet. But here, there were adults who spoke so horribly to me,” Scharf said. ... Like Scharf, many LGBTQ students and those who support them are returning to school campus environments that have changed in the past year — and not for the better, they say. (Yarbrough, 8/28)

Los Angeles Times: Can Public Schools Legally 'Out' Trans Students To Their Parents? Experts Weigh In As a wave of California public school districts explore policies around students and gender identity, the extent to which state law grants young people privacy rights from their parents has come under a sharp spotlight. And while the state’s Democratic leaders contend such privacy rights are clear-cut, constitutional experts say the legal realities are more nuanced, igniting a heated debate likely to move its way through the courts. The question of what responsibility schools have for alerting parents if students say or do something to identify as gender-nonconforming is popping up on school board agendas in conservative pockets across California. (Vega, 8/29)

The Press-Enterprise: Who’s Behind Transgender Policies In Southern California Schools? Sidelined in Sacramento, California conservatives went back to school. They won school board seats last fall and are now working to advance what they see as an agenda that respects parents’ rights. (Horseman, 8/28)

Bay Area Reporter: Report Details Attacks On Pro-LGBTQ School Policies Cloaked As 'Parental Rights' A new report has documented in stark detail how efforts to restrict what students learn and read about in schools have been sweeping across the country over the last two years. Cloaked under the banner of "parental rights," the policies and legislative proposals are largely aimed at making it easier to put the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups back into an educational closet. (Bajko, 8/28)

Sacramento Bee: California anti-transgender activists to unveil 3 proposed ballot measures at Capitol A group calling itself Protect Kids California will take to the Capitol steps Monday to promote three proposed anti-transgender ballot measures. (Sheeler, 8/28)


Los Angeles Times: COVID Cases In L.A. County Keep Rising. 'The Pandemic Isn’t Over' Coronavirus cases are continuing to rise locally and across the nation. Experts say travel, the back-to-school season and new Omicron subvariants are the likely culprits. New outbreaks have been reported in Los Angeles County’s nursing homes, and one Hollywood studio temporarily imposed a mask mandate after several employees were infected. Experts say the numbers remain low but are urging caution. (Lin II, 8/28)

The Mercury News: Santa Clara County Asks Judge To Increase Fines Owed By San Jose Church For Violating COVID Orders In the latest development in the lengthy legal between Santa Clara County and Calvary Chapel, a judge rejected a Santa Clara County bid to increase the $1.2 million court ordered fines owed by the San Jose church for ignoring public health mandates at the height of the pandemic. (Hase, 8/28)

CNN: Covid-19 Has Changed, And So Has Our Immunity. Here’s How To Think About Risk From The Virus Now Covid-19 was never just another cold. We knew it was going to stick around and keep changing to try to get the upper hand on our immune systems. But we’ve changed, too. Our B cells and T cells, keepers of our immune memories, aren’t as blind to this virus as they were when we first encountered the novel coronavirus in 2020. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has screened blood samples and estimates that 97% of people in the US have some immunity to Covid-19 through vaccination, infection or both. (Goodman, 8/28)

CIDRAP: Omicron Variant May Be Less Likely To Lead To Long COVID Infection with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant is less likely to lead to long COVID than previous variants, and prior infection—but not monovalent (one-strain) vaccination—helps protect against persistent symptoms, suggests a study published late last week in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. (Van Beusekom, 8/28)

Health Care Industry and Pharmaceuticals

San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Nurses To Hold ‘Solidarity March’ In Support Of Striking Writers, Actors Nurses plan to hold a “solidarity march” and rally Tuesday. Aug. 29 in Los Angeles, supporting Southern California’s striking writers and actors who are concerned about the growing use of artificial intelligence in their industries. (Smith, 8/28)

Bloomberg: Walmart, CVS, Walgreens Want To Disrupt Doctors With New Treatment Options Walmart Inc., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and CVS Health Corp. are rolling out new care options normally only available at doctor’s offices. Testing and treatment services for strep throat, flu and Covid-19 are now available from Walmart pharmacists in 12 states, the company said in a statement Tuesday. Walgreens will soon have a similar offering across 13 states. And CVS pharmacists will evaluate symptoms and prescribe flu antiviral medicine and cough suppressants in 10 states, although they won’t offer tests. (Rutherford and Case, 8/29)

Modern Healthcare: Hospital Portfolios Shrink As Systems Sell Non-Essential Businesses Hospital systems are returning to their roots as they look to cut costs and simplify operations. Over the past two decades, many health systems have acquired long-term care, rehabilitation, home health, nursing home and hospice businesses, seeking to keep patients within their system. Owning these services allowed providers to generate extra revenue while closely overseeing care transitions and quality. (Kacik, 8/28)

Stat: FDA Delays Enforcement Of Law To Stop Counterfeit Drugs In response to growing complaints, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has postponed its plans to enforce a law designed to thwart counterfeit or diverted medicines passing through the pharmaceutical supply chain. The law was supposed to be fully enforced in late November, but the agency now says it will not take action until November 2024. (Silverman, 8/28)

Reuters: Pfizer Could Restart Production At Tornado-Hit Plant By Early Q4 Pfizer said on Monday it expects to restart production at its North Carolina plant by the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2023 as it seeks to repair tornado damage to one of the world's largest sterile injectable drug facilities. The facility was struck by a tornado on July 19, and Pfizer had earlier said some drugs, including painkiller fentanyl, could see a supply disruption. Pfizer has since placed limits on how much supply of those drugs its customers can buy. (8/28)

Environmental Health

The Hill: Sustained Exposure To Wildfire Smoke Reducing Life Expectancy In Parts Of California: Report Sustained exposure to wildfire smoke is taking a toll on human health in California, where residents of one county are losing an average of two years off their lives due to the air they breathe, a new report has found. Twenty of the nation’s top 30 most polluted counties in 2021 were located in California, according to new data released by the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) of the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute. (Udasin, 8/29)

The Hill: ‘Valley Fever’ Fungus Surging Northward In California As Climate Changes Workers across California are grappling with yet another climate change-induced threat: a rapidly spreading fungus that can land its unsuspecting victims with prolonged flu-like symptoms, or far worse. The culprit is a soil-dwelling organism called coccidioides, which is now spreading the disease coccidioidomycosis — known as “Valley fever” — farther and farther north of its Southwest origins. Rather than spreading from person to person, Valley fever results from the direct inhalation of fungal spores — spores climate change is now allowing to flourish in new places. (Udasin, 8/28)

CapRadio: How To Fight West Nile Virus In Your Backyard If you’re at home right now, the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District wants you to do something really quick: Go outside and flip over that bucket. You know the one. It’s sitting in the shade behind the wood pile and it always has a small pool of water in it. Flip it over, and while you’re at it, tip the water out of your neglected bird bath (no judgment!). Before you get rid of the liquid, you might notice a row of small black dots along the water’s edge, or some fuzzy green moss rippling near the surface. That’s what we’re trying to avoid, the District says, mosquito eggs and adolescent insects. (Wolffe, 8/28)

Race and Health

NBC News: Asians In U.S. Have Highest Exposure To Cancer-Linked 'Forever Chemicals' Among All Races The findings, published last week on Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal, showed that different racial and socioeconomic groups are likely exposed to varying sources of the harmful substances, known as PFAS. The family of thousands of synthetic chemicals are used in a vast array of consumer products, from rugs to straws, due to their resistance to stains, grease and water. The report highlighted a longstanding need for more research around the effect of PFAS on people of Asian descent, said Shelley Liu, lead study author. (Yam, 8/28)

CNN: Shooting Survivors Have ‘Distressingly High’ Risk Of Repeat Firearm Injury, Study Finds, Especially Young Black Males Along with the physical and emotional effects, survivors of firearm injury carry a “distressingly high” risk of being shot again, Dr. Kristen Mueller, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and others wrote in the new study. About 1 of every 14 gunshot victims will be harmed by a firearm again within a year, according to the new research. Within five years, that risk rises to about 1 in 8, and it jumps to about 1 in 6 after eight years. “That is pretty comparable to your risk of a second heart attack or a second stroke,” said Mueller, the lead author of the new study. (Christensen, 8/28)

Housing Crisis

VC Star: Thousand Oaks' Planned Homeless Shelter Gets $5.8M State Grant Thousand Oaks took a step toward opening its first homeless shelter when it won a competitive state grant of $5.8 million last week. On Wednesday, the California Interagency Council on Homelessness announced $38 million in funding to seven cities and counties to support shelters and other programs for homeless people. (Biasotti, 8/28)

San Francisco Chronicle: Homeless Women Face ‘Overwhelming’ Violence In San Francisco Around 6,000 women experienced homelessness in San Francisco over the past year — a vulnerable population that’s often resilient in the face of unique risks. Unhoused women must confront challenges from how to afford tampons to how to protect their bodies. Many survive abuse that pushes them into homelessness, while others are assaulted living on the streets or inside city homelessness facilities. Some are pressured into selling sex to survive or exchanging it for a place to stay. Those who become pregnant face health risks if they don’t get adequate prenatal care. (Moench, 8/28)

San Francisco Chronicle: Homeless Women In S.F. Share Stories Of Survival And Resilience Julianna Cheng had a fear while living on the streets of San Francisco that she said most men didn’t: falling asleep alone at night and becoming a victim of rape. “I’m constantly under threat. I must stay awake. … Sleeping is unsafe,” she said in April beside the tent she shared with her partner in a SoMa alley. “Ladies, if you’re by yourself, you’re probably unsafe.” (Moench, 8/28)

Politico: Ad Campaign: LA Ballot Measure To Rent Hotel Rooms To Homeless People Would Be ‘Hell’ Coming soon to the Los Angeles airwaves: A provocative campaign blasting a city ballot measure that would require hotels to rent vacant rooms to homeless people. The newly-launched website television ad, dubbed “Hotel Hell,” will be paired with a new television ad that depicts a homeless man panhandling with an ice bucket in a hotel hallway and washing his laundry in a pool. Over jaunty music, a narrator asserts the proposal “would be funny, if it wasn’t so scary.” (Mason, 8/28)

Opioid Crisis

Los Angeles Daily News: How Can LA Combat Its Fentanyl Crisis? MacArthur Park Offers Clues A walk through the alleyways around MacArthur Park reveals the harsh landscape of Los Angeles’s fentanyl epidemic. (Harter, 8/28)

Los Angeles Daily News: Fentanyl Addiction Fuels Underground Shoplifting Economy In LA’s MacArthur Park Fifty dollars a day. That’s how much Elliot, a 24-year-old living on the streets of MacArthur Park, says he must come up with to avoid fentanyl withdrawals, a debilitating pain that “feels like dying.” For someone with no phone, no home, no job and no more possessions than can fit into a backpack, this is no easy task. So Elliot, like many others battling addiction, makes money for fentanyl by selling shoplifted goods to street vendors around MacArthur Park. (Harter, 8/28)

Los Angeles Daily News: My Fight With Fentanyl: Stories From Three People Battling Addiction In any given week, hundreds of people come to the neighborhood to purchase and use fentanyl, a synthetic opioid responsible for 1,504 fatal overdoses in Los Angeles County in 2021, according to the most-recent available data from the county’s Department of Public Health. (Harter, 8/28)

Public Health

Los Angeles Times: Americans Face An Epidemic Of Loneliness. For Some, Supermarket Self-Checkouts Make It Worse In an age of increased isolation and loneliness, some Americans see skipping self-checkout as a path toward connection. (Gerber, 8/28)

AP: Need To Know About Lifesaving CPR? A New Study Says It's Probably Wise Not To Ask Alexa Or Siri Ask Alexa or Siri about the weather. But if you want to save someone’s life? Call 911 for that. Voice assistants often fall flat when asked how to perform CPR, according to a study published Monday. Researchers asked voice assistants eight questions that a bystander might pose in a cardiac arrest emergency. In response, the voice assistants said: “Hmm, I don’t know that one" and “Sorry, I don’t understand.” (Johnson, 8/28)

State Sues School District Over Transgender Policy:In Surprise Development, California Gun Restrictions Might Still Be Enforceable: