First Edition: October 15, 2014
Today's headlines include the latest news regarding the second Dallas health worker diagnosed with Ebola and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's strategy to deal with the threat.
Kaiser Health News: California Prop. 46, Inspired By Tragedy, Pits Doctors Against Lawyers
KQED’s April Dembosky, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: “Prop. 46 would make it mandatory for doctors to consult the database. California would become one of nine states requiring doctors to check before prescribing painkillers to first-time patients. After passing similar laws, Tennessee and New York saw a significant reduction in the number of narcotics prescriptions written. Studies have verified the correlation, but acknowledge that drug abusers may be turning to street drugs, like heroin. Many doctors in California like the database. Some have called it ‘indispensable.’ But they don’t like being told how to practice medicine” (Dembosky, 10/14). Read the story.
Los Angeles Times: California Will Cancel Obamacare Coverage For 10,000 Over Citizenship
California's health insurance exchange is canceling Obamacare coverage for 10,474 people who failed to prove their citizenship or legal residency in the U.S. Covered California, the state-run insurance exchange, enrolled more than 1.2 million people during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act this year. For most consumers, the exchange said, it could verify citizenship or immigration status instantly with a federal data hub (Terhune, 10/14).
The New York Times: California: 10,500 Could Lose Health Care
State officials plan to cancel coverage for about 10,500 people participating in the state health insurance exchange because they could not prove that they were citizens or legal residents of the United States. Covered California, the state-run insurance exchange, sent notices to nearly 150,000 people last month asking them to submit documentation to prove their legal status. Those living in the United States illegally are not eligible for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Medina, 10/14).
The Washington Post: Ohio’s John Kasich Wants To Redefine The Republican Party
If Kasich were to run in 2016, he would probably face some serious obstacles, in part because he has not spent the past year getting ready to run. GOP strategists suggest he would enter as a candidate at the top of the field’s second tier, as neither a purely establishment nor purely tea party candidate. He would carry baggage among conservatives for having expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act but could point to success in Ohio as a sign of how he might do in general-election battlegrounds (Balz, 10/14).
The New York Times: Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics To Stay Open
The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to reopen, blocking a state law that had imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. Had the law been allowed to stand, it would have caused all but eight of the state’s abortion clinics to close and would have required many women to travel more than 150 miles to the nearest abortion provider (Liptak, 10/14).
The Washington Post: Supreme Court Blocks Texas Abortion Law
The court’s order, staying a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that the law could go into effect, will allow more than a dozen of the clinics to resume operation, according to the group that challenged the law, the Center for Reproductive Rights. The court’s brief order did not say why it was disagreeing with the appeals court. Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have allowed the law to go into effect while abortion providers pursued their claims that it is unconstitutional (Barnes, 10/14).
The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Blocks Some Texas Abortion Restrictions
The high court’s order covered a provision in a Texas abortion law that requires clinic facilities to meet building standards for new “ambulatory surgical centers.” It also exempted clinics in El Paso and McAllen from a part of the law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The Supreme Court order reinstated an August U.S. District Court ruling that had struck down those provisions as unconstitutional. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had allowed the regulations to take effect while the state appealed the district-court ruling. The case now goes back to the Fifth Circuit for further proceeding (Bravin, 10/14).
USA Today: Supreme Court Eases Impact Of Texas Abortion Law
The court allowed most of the law to take effect, with two major exceptions. It blocked a provision that would have required clinics to meet the same construction and nursing-staff standards as ambulatory surgical centers. And it exempted abortion providers in McAllen and El Paso — remote corners of the sprawling state — from needing admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The compromise appeared to have been endorsed by six justices, because the other three — Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — said they would have let the entire law stand (Wolf, 10/14).
Politico: SCOTUS Impedes Texas Abortion Law
The court, in a 6-3 decision, said that Texas cannot immediately enforce the part of the law that requires the clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers across the state. Texas argued that the upgrades were needed to protect women’s health. The abortion providers said that the requirements warranted costly upgrades that they felt were unnecessary and were aimed less at enhancing safety than limiting women’s access to abortion. The Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit on Oct. 2 had said that the provision could be enforced immediately. That led to the swift closure of more than a dozen clinics across the state (Haberkorn, 10/14).
Los Angeles Times: Doctor Goes To Great Lengths To Keep Abortion Accessible
Dr. Carol Ball was two-thirds of the way through her morning commute when she heard the news. The first leg of her journey, a scooter ride to the Twin Cities airport, had been uneventful. Not so for the second leg — a 200-mile flight to Sioux Falls — as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law keeping protesters at least 35 feet from abortion clinics. The loss of any kind of protection is a blow in Ball's line of work, and the Massachusetts case had been widely watched. But the ruling will have no direct effect on the doctor in running shoes and khakis who performs abortions far from home. Because losing protection means you have some to begin with (La Ganga, 10/14).
Los Angeles Times: Second Texas Healthcare Worker Tests Positive For Ebola
A second healthcare worker who provided care for the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. has tested positive for the disease, public health officials announced early Wednesday (Charky, 10/15).
The Wall Street Journal: Second Health-Care Worker In Texas Tests Positive For Ebola Virus
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that it was actively monitoring 76 health-care workers who helped treat Mr. Duncan for potential Ebola exposure after Ms. Pham had contract the virus from Mr. Duncan, though CDC director Tom Frieden said there was no reason to think any of them were infected. The 76 workers are in addition to 48 people who were already being monitored because they were in contact with Mr. Duncan, or with people who themselves had been in close contact with the Liberian man before he was admitted to the hospital Sept. 28 (Bustillo, 10/15).
The Washington Post: Dallas Hospital Learned Its Ebola Protocols While Struggling To Save Mortally Ill Patient
The hospital that treated Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had to learn on the fly how to control the deadly virus, adding new layers of protective gear for workers in what became a losing battle to keep the contagion from spreading, a top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday (Nutt Phillip and Achenbach, 10/14).
The Associated Press: Dallas Nurses Cite Sloppy Conditions In Ebola Care
A Liberian Ebola patient was left in an open area of a Dallas emergency room for hours, and the nurses treating him worked for days without proper protective gear and faced constantly changing protocols, according to a statement released late Tuesday by the largest U.S. nurses’ union. Nurses were forced to use medical tape to secure openings in their flimsy garments, worried that their necks and heads were exposed as they cared for a patient with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting, said Deborah Burger of National Nurses United (10/15).
The Washington Post: CDC Director: We Could Have Done More To Prevent Second Ebola Infection In Texas
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency regretted its initial response to the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States, acknowledging that more could have been done to combat infection at the hospital treating the patient. “We did send some expertise in infection control,” Thomas Frieden said during a news conference Tuesday. “But I think we could, in retrospect, with 20/20 hindsight, have sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from day one about exactly how this should be managed” (Berman, 10/14).
The New York Times: Philadelphia Teachers Hit By Latest Cuts
Money is so short at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, a public middle school here, that a nurse works only three afternoons a week, leaving the principal to oversee the daily medication of 10 children, including a diabetic who needs insulin shots. On the third floor filled with 200 seventh and eighth graders, one of two restrooms remains locked because there are not enough hall monitors. And in a sixth-grade math class of 33 students with only 11 textbooks to go around, the teacher rations paper used to print out homework equations. … The latest fund-raising effort came last week when the School Reform Commission, the state-appointed board that oversees the Philadelphia schools, unilaterally and abruptly canceled the union contract for teachers and required them to pay minimum health care premiums from $25 to $67 a month for a single person. Until now, teachers have not paid for health insurance (Rich, 10/14).
Los Angeles Times: UCLA Study Offers Hope On Emergency Room Crowding
A new UCLA study has found that while people enrolled in low-cost, government-run health plans visit emergency rooms at high rates soon after becoming insured, the number falls dramatically within a year. That's good news, said study author and UCLA professor Dr. Gerald Kominski, because patients' long-neglected health problems are being "addressed during the first year, and because of that there's a drop-off." Some worry that the expansion of health coverage under the Affordable Care Act will not ease emergency room crowding as President Obama and others have predicted, but will instead encourage more people to go to the hospital (Karlamangla, 10/14).
The Washington Post: America’s Fastest-Growing Profession Is Joining A Very Public Fight For Higher Wages
Knowing what a difference higher pay can make, Reece has joined a new movement launching this week to raise wages and improve workplace protections for home health-care aides nationwide. Backed by the Service Employees International Union, the effort seeks to replicate the “Fight for 15,” a push earlier this year to raise the income of fast-food workers through high-profile strikes. On Wednesday, Reece will rally on D.C.’s Freedom Plaza to demand the same for home health-care aides. It’s part of actions in nine states aimed at putting the concerns of the nation’s fastest-growing workforce — one that’s 91 percent female, 56 percent non-white and highly dependent on public aid — on the political agenda. About 600,000 of the country’s 2.1 million home health-care aides are members of the SEIU (DePillis, 10/14).
The Wall Street Journal: Arizona Agrees To Improve Prison Conditions In Settlement With ACLU
The state Department of Corrections will take more than 100 measures to change its practices on providing prisoners with medical and mental-health care, according to terms of the deal, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Arizona. The settlement covers Arizona’s state prison system, which holds more than 33,000 inmates. The new measures, according to the agreement, will allow mentally ill prisoners who are held in isolation to have better access to treatment and 19 hours a week outside their cells; will provide more medical and dental care for the overall prison population; and will restrict the use of pepper spray to situations that jeopardize the safety of prisoners or guards or compromise prison security (Lazo, 10/14).
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