1. Mental Health

Legislature Passes Newsom’s Proposal to Retool Mental Health Services Act

The California Legislature greenlighted Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest plan to build more housing and increase addiction treatment as part of his response to the state’s homelessness and drug crises. (Molly Castle Work, 9/15 )

CalMatters: ‘We Are Horrified’: Late Changes To California Gov. Newsom’s $6 Billion Mental Health Bond Surprise Providers
A last-minute change to one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature mental health proposals this week shocked advocates for disabled Californians, who called the move a “bait and switch” that could open the door to the involuntary institutionalization of people with mental health illnesses. (Hwang, 9/14)

  1. Health Care Environment

58,000 Health Workers Authorize Strike Against Kaiser Permanente: Tens of thousands of Kaiser Permanente workers have voted to authorize a strike if no agreement is reached with their unions by the end of September. It could be the biggest strike by health care workers in U.S. history. Read more from the Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee, and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Los Angeles Times: Bill Requiring Pharmacies To Report Prescription Errors Heads To Newsom
California state lawmakers approved a bill Thursday that would require pharmacies to report every prescription error — a move aimed at lowering the estimated 5 million mistakes pharmacists make each year. The bill — AB 1286 — still must be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has not indicated whether he supports it. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Petersen, 9/14)

Los Angeles Times: Will California Health Workers Get A $25 Minimum Wage? Legislature Sends Bill To Newsom After Long Fight
Even union-friendly Democrats were initially reluctant to approve the worker-focused bill, worried that rural community hospitals already facing bankruptcy would collapse under mass wage increases or pass costs on to patients. Under the bill, workers at large healthcare facilities would earn $23 per hour starting next year, $24 per hour in 2025 and $25 in 2026. That applies to all staff, including nursing assistants, medical coders, launderers and hospital gift shop workers. (Mays, 9/14)

KFF Health News: As More Patients Email Doctors, Health Systems Start Charging Fees
Meg Bakewell, who has cancer and cancer-related heart disease, sometimes emails her primary care physician, oncologist, and cardiologist asking them for medical advice when she experiences urgent symptoms such as pain or shortness of breath. But she was a little surprised when, for the first time, she got a bill — a $13 copay — for an emailed consultation she had with her primary care doctor at University of Michigan Health. The health system had begun charging in 2020 for “e-visits” through its MyChart portal. Even though her out-of-pocket cost on the $37 charge was small, now she’s worried about how much she’ll have to pay for future e-visits, which help her decide whether she needs to see one of her doctors in person. Her standard copay for an office visit is $25. (Meyer, 9/14)

CalMatters: A $25 Minimum Wage Is In Sight For California Health Care Workers Under New Legislative Deal
Tens of thousands of California health care workers stand to see their minimum wage climb to $25 an hour over the next several years in an amended legislative proposal that has support from both labor groups and employers. (Ibarra, 9/12)

Los Angeles Times: L.A. Care To Pay $1.3 Million To Settle Patient Privacy Violations
L.A. Care, a Los Angeles-based health plan for Medi-Cal recipients, has agreed to pay $1.3 million in a settlement to resolve two privacy and security rule violations and chart a corrective plan to secure their members' information. The violations involve the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that covers what specific healthcare organizations can share about patients without their consent. (Garcia, 9/11)

  1. Schools

Los Angeles Times: Condoms, Bathrooms, Suspension: Changes To Come In California Schools
Condoms, gender-neutral bathrooms and an end to some suspensions? These are three ways California lawmakers want to make schools a haven for all. Here’s what you need to know about three education bills that lawmakers passed this week and are now heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom. He has until Oct. 14 to sign or veto bills for this year. (Sosa, 9/14)

Modern Healthcare: Telehealth In Schools Faces Uncertainty As COVID-19 Funding Ends
Mental health startups are opting for a business model that starts in school. Elementary school. A growing number of mental telehealth companies are offering their services to school-age children by working with local schools. Many received federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds, but with usage of this money set to expire, companies are looking to prove their value to cash-strapped school districts. (Turner, 9/8)

  1. Children’s Health

Los Angeles Times: State Halts Some Pediatric Intensive Care Admissions At Santa Barbara Hospital
A key unit at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital has been restricted from accepting new patients under a California program for chronically ill children until it addresses dozens of concerns raised by state regulators. The California Department of Health Care Services found that the pediatric intensive care unit at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital had fallen short of standards for the California Children’s Services program, which serves young people up to age 21 with chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, cerebral palsy, traumatic injuries and hemophilia — a group that the agency called “our youngest and most vulnerable Californians.” (Reyes, 9/15)

CIDRAP: SARS-CoV-2 Infections May Trigger Islet Autoantibodies In Kids At Risk For Diabetes
Children with a high genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes see an increase in islet autoantibodies, which develop against pancreatic β-cell proteins, shortly after infection with SARS-CoV-2, illustrating a temporal relationship between COVID-19 and islet autoantibodies not seen with influenza. The study was published in JAMA. ... Of 885 children who agreed to participate in the study, SARS-CoV-2 antibodies developed in 170 children at a median age of 18 months, and islet autoantibodies developed in 60 children. Six of the 60 children tested positive for islet autoantibodies and SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the same time, and six tested positive for islet antibodies after having tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies 2 to 6 months earlier. (Soucheray, 9/11)

  1. Social Security Disability Benefits

KFF Health News and Cox Media Group: Social Security Overpays Billions To People, Many On Disability. Then It Asks For The Money Back.
Justina Worrell, 47, works part time as a kitchen helper in an Ohio nursing home. She has cerebral palsy, an intellectual disability, and a cardiac condition that required she get an artificial heart valve at age 20. A year ago, she was earning $862 a month and receiving about $1,065 in monthly Social Security disability benefits when a letter arrived from the federal government. The Social Security Administration had been overpaying her, the letter said, and wanted money back. Within 30 days, it said, she should mail the government a check or money order. For $60,175.90. (Hilzenrath and Fleischer, 9/15)

  1. Health Insurance

KFF Health News: KFF Health News' 'What the Health?': Underinsured Is The New Uninsured
The percentage of working-age adults with health insurance went up and the uninsured rate dropped last year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported this week. There isn’t much suspense about which way the uninsured rate is now trending, as states continue efforts to strip ineligible beneficiaries from their Medicaid rolls. But is the focus on the uninsured obscuring the struggles of the underinsured? (9/14)

  1. LGBTQ+ Issues

Controversial Travel Ban Is Repealed: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 447 into law, ending the 7-year-old travel ban that prohibited state money from being used to pay for travel to states with anti-LGBTQ laws. Read more from The Sacramento Bee and Bay Area Reporter.

  1. Sick Pay

Los Angeles Times: California Moves One Step Closer To Five Paid Sick Days, With Unions Banking On COVID Lessons
California employers will be required to provide workers with five days of paid sick leave under legislation passed by the state Legislature on Wednesday, up from the current three-day requirement. While similar attempts to expand paid sick leave have stalled in the past, politically powerful unions are banking on workplace lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to be enough to get Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the bill this time around. (Mays, 9/13)

  1. Racism and Disparities

NBC News: Anti-Asian Racism In The Medical Field Is A Common Reality, Yale-Led Survey Finds
Throughout his career in medicine, David Yang, 32, says he’s acutely felt the impacts of his race. A Chinese American emergency medicine fellow at the Yale School of Medicine, Yang said he’s had slurs hurled at him by patients, faced racist comments tying him to Covid, and has been confused with his Asian colleagues. He knew there were others who shared his experience, but he said meaningful research on the subject of anti-Asian racism in the medical field just didn’t exist. So he put forth his own study, and surveyed two dozen medical students. (Venkatraman, 9/13)

Stat: New Generation Of Researchers Unravel 'Hispanic Paradox'
For 40 years, researchers have unsuccessfully tried to explain — or debunk — the “Hispanic Paradox,” the finding that Hispanic Americans live several years longer than white Americans on average, despite having far less income and health care and higher rates of diabetes and obesity. Now, armed with more comprehensive data, powerful genomic tools, and a rich cultural awareness of the communities they study, a new generation of scientists is finally making headway. (McFarling, 9/14)

  1. Poverty

CalMatters: California Keeps Its Title As Having The Nation's Highest Poverty Rate
Congratulations California, you’ve done it again — retained your title of having the highest level of poverty of any state. The Census Bureau released new economic data Tuesday, including both official poverty rates for 2022 and what are called “supplemental” rates. (Walters, 9/13)

AP: Child Poverty In The US Jumped And Income Declined In 2022 As Coronavirus Pandemic Benefits Ended
Child poverty in the United States more than doubled and median household income declined last year when coronavirus pandemic-era government benefits expired and inflation kept rising, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. At the same time, the official poverty rate for Black Americans dropped to its lowest level on record, and income inequality declined for the first time since 2007, when looking at pre-tax income, due to income declines in the middle and top income brackets. (Schneider, 9/12)

  1. COVID

Politico: Anthony Fauci: We ‘Need To Be Prepared’ For Likely Covid Uptick This Winter
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former top infectious disease expert in the U.S., isn’t sounding alarm bells on the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. yet, but he did caution that the trend will continue into the fall and winter months. “I wouldn’t say that I’m alarmed but I’m certainly keeping an eye on it,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. The former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is now a professor at Georgetown University. (Garrity, 9/10)