Latest Morning Briefing Stories
Some consumers in North Carolina are receiving robocalls that come across like ads for plans with names like “Trump Health Care” touting affordable coverage. But those options are often skimpy and don’t offer even some of the basic coverage Americans have grown used to under the Affordable Care Act. The deadline for signing up for a 2020 plan is Sunday. News comes out of Georgia, Florida and California, as well.
Vivitrol, manufactured by Alkermes, is meant to help those recovering for addiction, but it also lowers tolerance to opioids. That means if patients relapse while taking it they are far more vulnerable to overdoses.
The FTC, however, says the deals cost U.S. consumers an estimated $3.5 billion annually. In other pharmaceutical news: anti-trust probes, a billionaire couple’s work to move the House drug pricing bill through, the strategy behind Novartis’ recent acquisition, brain boosting supplements, and more.
Following reports that President Donald Trump has changed his mind on the flavor ban, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D., Ill.) wrote to the OMB and FDA to inquire into the status of the proposed regulation on flavors. Public advocates were also left disappointed. “If the Trump administration backs off for political reasons, it will create a public health crisis that we will live with for decades,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said. Meanwhile, California is joining the ranks of those suing Juul over its marketing.
A gunman walked into a backyard and started shooting at a south Fresno home, where a gathering of about 35 family and friends was watching a football game. Earlier in the week, a 16-year-old gunmen in California opened fire on his fellow students before turning the gun on himself.
Saugus High School in Los Angeles is the latest site of a mass shooting, where a 16-year-old gunman opened fire on his fellow students and then turned the weapon on himself. There have been a total of 84 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2019, according to nonprofit group Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
Autopsy reports are still pending on some of the students. Three of the deaths are confirmed as suicides. Meanwhile, the university sent a letter to staff and students Tuesday night warning about the dangers of drug use — specifically opioids — and the potentially lethal mix of alcohol and drugs.
Self-harm behavior, like cutting, can often be met with fear and an overreaction from parents. But now researchers are starting to better understand the root causes of such actions. In other mental health news: sadfishing, teens seeking care for crises, and a call to action in San Francisco.
Researchers project that under the law — which bars parents from citing personal beliefs as a reason for not vaccinating children — 1.87% of children will remain unvaccinated compared to 2.36% without the law. Meanwhile, across the country there is an increase among parents citing religious objections to vaccinations.
President Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal aid from California because of how Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is handling the wildfires. But the tweets were quickly met with pushback, with Newsom saying, “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.” Others accused the president of playing “political roulette with the lives of our firefighters.”
Controversial power outages aimed at preventing wildfires are causing disruption across California, but health care providers dealing with life-and-death matters say it’s particularly vexing for them. Meanwhile, the threat of vicious Santa Ana winds looms over the state that’s already been battered in recent days by the raging fires.
Media outlets report on news from Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Ohio.
The National Weather Service office took the unusual step of labeling the fire weather conditions an “extreme red flag” warning to impart the severity of the situation. In other news on the wildfires: California’s disparities are put on display during disasters; a deepening skepticism emerges around PG&E’s power outage plan; parents worry about calming anxious children; and more.
Beyond fighting the flames, Californians face a myriad of negative health impacts from the large wildfires. From smoke pollution to power and cellphone outages to mandatory evacuations, the natural disasters are hitting vulnerable residents who are barely recovered from last year’s blazes.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is working to ensure enough pharmacies are kept open on generators in communities without electricity so that residents have access to needed medications. Meanwhile, mandatory evacuations affected nearly 180,000 people. On Sunday, Newsom visited three evacuation centers in Petaluma, including one where three dozen patients from a skilled nursing facility specializing in dementia care were taken.
Of those who have fallen ill, about 85 percent reported using THC-containing products. But health officials say they’re continuing to look at a wide range of chemicals in trying to determine the causes for the outbreak. Meanwhile, NPR takes a look inside command central and at the doctors who are scrambling to investigate the disease.
As California continues to burn for the third record year in a row, some experts warn that we need to reconcile the fact that fires aren’t going away. “I think the perception is that we’re supposed to control them. But in a lot of cases we cannot,” said John Abatzoglou, an associate professor at the University of Idaho. “And that may allow us to think a little bit differently about how we live with fire. We call it wildfire for reason — it’s not domesticated fire.”
The second round of blackouts are going into effect and while some might be shorter than the last time, more customers might be affected this weekend when stronger winds are forecast. News on California wildfires looks at the slow recovery efforts in Paradise, as well.
The class-action lawsuit accused Sutter Health of using its dominance in the region to corral insurers so that patients could not go elsewhere for less expensive or higher quality care. Health care costs in Northern California, where Sutter is dominant, are 20% to 30% higher than in Southern California.
The outages that were geared toward preventing any wildfires effected California residents in a wide-range of ways. That included interruption of care from machines that help with things such as severe sleep apnea.