Brown Vetoes Adult Day Health Bill; Future of Program Unknown

There is a 45% increased risk of death in people who are lonely compared to not lonely, according to a UCSF study.

The state has tried to eliminate adult day health care in the past.  (Photo: Getty Images)

By David Gorn, California Healthline

On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill to codify Community Based Adult Services as a Medi-Cal benefit and continue offering it as a benefit into the future.

“It puts everything up for grabs. It’s a real step backward.”
The state has attempted to eliminate adult day health care in the past. The CBAS program, serving some of the oldest, most frail Californians on Medi-Cal, is the result of a 2011 settlement of a lawsuit challenging the state the last time the state tried to cut the program.

The veto Monday of AB1552 by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) leaves an uncertain future for CBAS. The agreement in the 2011 settlement expired at the end of August, but CBAS is included as a Medi-Cal benefit in a proposed amendment of the state’s Medicaid waiver and is included in the Coordinated Care Intitiative. CMS is expected to approve the amendment by the end of this month. Continue reading

Video: San Pablo Line-Dancing Class Helps People Step to Better Health

By Lynne Shallcross


Soul Line Dancers from Lynne Shallcross on Vimeo.

On a recent Tuesday night in San Pablo, singer Patti LaBelle’s voice blared from a black stereo inside a florescent-lit classroom in the newly built San Pablo Community Center.

Inside, nearly two dozen dancers were working up a sweat to LaBelle’s soulful voice as Patricia Lowe called out dance steps for them to follow.

“Five, six, seven, eight! Go one-two! One-two! One, two, three, four. Now shake it!”

Two days a week, Lowe — whose dance name is Chocolate Platinum — leads what she calls a “soul line dance” class. It’s a chance for community members to get together and dance for health and wellness, and have fun at the same time.  Continue reading

Brown Signs Package of Assisted-Living Reform Bills

(Neon Tommy)

(Neon Tommy)

By Deborah Schoch, Center for Health Reporting

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Monday a bill imposing a 100-fold increase in the top fine for violations of state regulations at assisted-living homes for the elderly.

The top fine will now be $15,000, for violations causing death or serious injury, up from $150.

The relatively low fines were highlighted in a series of stories produced last year by the CHCF Center for Health Reporting and the U-T San Diego. The series focused on 27 deaths and hundreds of injuries at homes in San Diego County caused by abuse and neglect.

The bill to increase fines, co-authored by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, (R-San Diego), was amended during the legislative process to allow a four-step appeals process. Also, a proposal to boost fines for some lesser offenses to $1,000 from $150 was removed from the bill amid lobbying from smaller assisted living homes. Continue reading

Prop. 46, Inspired By Tragedy, Pits Doctors Against Lawyers

After Troy and Alana Pack were killed by an impaired driver, their father became an advocate for change, ultimately writing Prop. 46 on November's ballot. (Photo Courtesy: Bob Pack)

After Troy and Alana Pack were killed by an impaired driver, their father became an advocate for change, ultimately writing Prop. 46 on November’s ballot. (Photo Courtesyof Bob Pack)

Troy and Alana Pack had spent the day at their neighborhood Halloween party in Danville. Ten-year-old Troy went as a baseball player, and 7-year-old Alana was a good witch. In the afternoon, they changed out of their costumes and set out for a walk with their mother down Camino Tassajara. Destination: Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors.

“Alana, she liked anything with chocolate,” says their father, Bob Pack. “Troy, for sure, bubble gum ice cream, ’cause he liked counting the bubble gums that he would get.”

Bob Pack stayed home to rest. His family made it only half a mile down the road before his phone rang: “I received a call from a neighbor screaming there’d been an accident. And I raced down there,” he says.

An impaired driver had veered off the road and hit Troy and Alana head-on. Pack was doing CPR on Troy when the paramedics arrived. Continue reading

Immigrants Scramble to Prove Eligibility for Covered California

A report from Berkeley's Greenlining Institute called on Covered California to make its enrollment website available in more languages than English and Spanish.

(Screen shot from the Spanish-language version of the Covered California website.)

By Daniela Hernandez, Kaiser Health News

When Fabrizio Mancinelli applied for health insurance through California’s online marketplace nine months ago, he ran into a frustrating snag.

The deadline is midnight, Tuesday, for those who were notified to provide documents proving their legal status.

An Italian composer and self-described computer geek, Mancinelli said he was surprised to find there wasn’t a clear way to upload a copy of his O-1 visa. The document, which grants temporary residency status to people with extraordinary talents in the sciences and arts, was part of his proof to the government that he was eligible for coverage.

So, the 35-year-old Sherman Oaks resident wrote in his application that he’d be happy to send along any further documentation. Continue reading

Shining Light on the Cost of Diabetes Test Strips

(Victor/via Flickr)

Test strips — the white strip in the photo above — vary dramatically both in cash price and in insurance coverage. (Victor/via Flickr)

Since early this summer, KQED and our partners, KPCC and ClearHealthCosts.com, have been crowdsourcing the costs of common health care procedures.

‘Every time someone moves to a new insurer, the pricing will be different on test strips. Nobody is going to send you a breakdown.’

If you’re one of the 29 million people in America who has diabetes, we’re turning now to you. We know that many people with diabetes must check their blood sugar, also called glucose, level several times a day.

For those of you who don’t have diabetes, the reason for frequent checking is because in diabetes, sugar can build up in the bloodstream because the body is not able to process it. That can be dangerous. Depending on the severity of the disease, many people with diabetes must check their glucose level several times a day to make sure it is neither dangerously high nor dangerously low.

To check their blood sugar, people with diabetes have a glucose meter. Each time they test their blood, a test strip is inserted into the meter. Then they use a special needle to prick a finger and place a drop of blood on a test strip. The meter displays the result. Continue reading

Governor Signs Bill Giving $3 Million to Doctors Medical Center

State officials have until Monday to submit plan. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill giving $3 million to financially troubled Doctors Medical Center in western Contra Costa County. The hospital has been in danger of closing for weeks.

SB883 appropriates the money from the state’s Major Risk Medical Insurance Fund to the West Contra Costa Healthcare District, which oversees Doctors Medical Center. It is considered “bridge funding,” according to a release from Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), an author of the bill, so that the hospital and health care district have time to identify more secure funding.

“Doctors Medical Center is the safety net hospital for Richmond, San Pablo and other West Contra County communities. Its closure would leave a community in need without emergency care, cardio, dialysis and other critical hospital services,” Skinner said in a statement.
Continue reading

Vaccine Opt-Out Rate at Son’s School is 32% — ‘Should I Freak Out?’

(Jeff J. Mitchell: Getty Images)

(Jeff J. Mitchell: Getty Images)

Statewide, there has been a dramatic increase in parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. The rate of parents opting out by filing what’s called a “personal belief exemption,” or PBE, doubled over seven years.

Parents check a school’s test scores in advance. Why not vaccine rates?

Earlier this month, State of Health published a chart where people could look up any elementary school in California and see the PBE rate at their children’s schools.

Hours after we published, Cosmo Garvin of Sacramento sent me a tweet. “Really nice work,” the tweet said. “But just found out PBE rate at my kid’s school is 32 percent. Should I freak out?”

Thirty-two percent. That means one in three kids is not vaccinated.

Assessing Risk to Your Own Child Continue reading

Marijuana Legalization Move Begins (Again) in California

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The Marijuana Policy Project, a national advocacy group, took the first formal steps Wednesday toward a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in California.

The group officially filed papers with the secretary of state to register a new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California. The registration allows the committee to start soliciting and spending funds.

Ballot language will not be drafted until early 2015, but the goal is to regulate pot in a similar way to alcohol, the group says. Continue reading

Medi-Cal Backlog Will Be ‘Down Significantly’ in Six Weeks

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By David Gorn, California Healthline

At an Assembly Committee on Health hearing yesterday, Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas said the backlog of Medi-Cal applications — at one point in March topping 900,000 unprocessed eligibility claims — now is down to about 250,000 applications and will be “down significantly” from that by the start of November.

Douglas answered a number of concerns at the hearing, including announcing a shift in DHCS policy regarding asthma and allergy testing, as well as Denti-Cal and special-needs dental care issues.

The counties and DHCS, Douglas said, reduced the Medi-Cal application backlog by 650,000 over six months — more than 100,000 a month. A similar pace in the next month-and-a-half would get it down to about 100,000 applications. Continue reading