Policy Updates 11/11/2022

  1. Mental Health


How Climate Change Puts Mental Health at Risk
Climate change can threaten our mental health and psychosocial well-being. In our International Insights newsletter, Shanoor Seervai explores some of the things governments can do — and are doing — now to strengthen their mental health systems in advance of climate disasters.



Addressing Children’s Behavioral Health Needs in School
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated young people’s behavioral health issues, increasing rates of teen suicide, anxiety, and depression. Child behavioral health expert Laura Conrad writes on To the Point that many schools lack counselors or the administrative resources necessary to comply with paperwork requirements. But she says increased federal funding and a new technical assistance center are helping.



CBS News: Poor Worker Mental Health Costs The U.S. $48 Billion Per Year, Survey Suggests
A Gallup survey of nearly 16,000 working adults in the U.S. found that nearly one in five workers rate their mental health as only "fair" or "poor," with those employees taking an average of 12 unplanned days off annually. Extrapolated across the entire workforce, the collective missed days cost the economy nearly $48 billion annually in lost productivity, the researchers said. (Cerullo, 11/4)

The New York Times: How Well Do Antidepressants Work And What Are Alternatives?
Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety soared, and many Americans turned to antidepressant medication to help them cope. Even before the emergence of Covid, 1 in 8 American adults was taking an antidepressant drug. According to one estimate, that number rose by 18.6 percent during 2020. Zoloft is now the 12th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States. Given this, you might assume that the question of how — and how well — these drugs work has been clearly answered. And yet recent papers have challenged their efficacy and actions in the brain. Some researchers even say the medications are barely better than a placebo and ask whether they warrant such widespread use. (Smith, 11/8)

CNN: Eating Disorders In Young People Skyrocketed During Pandemic, Study Shows
Alongside the many impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on pediatric care, researchers have seen a stark increase in young adults seeking treatment for disordered eating behaviors. (Holcombe, 11/7)

CNN: Eating Disorders In Young People Skyrocketed During Pandemic, Study Shows
Alongside the many impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on pediatric care, researchers have seen a stark increase in young adults seeking treatment for disordered eating behaviors. (Holcombe, 11/7)

  1. COVID




Joseph Nwadiuko and Arturo Vargas Bustamante

AP: WHO Reports 90% Drop In World COVID-19 Deaths Since February
The World Health Organization chief on Wednesday said a nearly 90% drop in recent COVID-19 deaths globally compared to nine months ago provides “cause for optimism,” but still urged vigilance against the pandemic as variants continue to crop up. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that last week just over 9,400 deaths linked to the coronavirus were reported to the WHO. In February of this year, he said, weekly deaths had topped 75,000 globally. (Keaten, 11/9)

Los Angeles Times: COVID-19 Still A Leading Cause Of Death In L.A. County
The coronavirus continues to play an outsized role in the mortality rate in Los Angeles County, new data from the Department of Public Health show. According to an analysis from the county health department, COVID-19 was the second-leading cause of death in the first six months of 2022, illustrating the outsized impact the pandemic has had on mortality rates despite widespread availability of vaccines and the arguably less-severe Omicron strain. (Lin II, Money and Reyes, 11/8)

  1. Disparities

The New York Times: Medication Treatment For Addiction Is Shorter For Black And Hispanic Patients, Study Finds
Researchers have long known that racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to be prescribed lifesaving addiction treatment options than white people. But even when Black and Hispanic patients start a prescription for buprenorphine — the most popular medication to help those in recovery fight cravings — the typical duration of their treatment is shorter than that of white patients, according to a new data analysis published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry. (Baumgaertner, 11/9)

  1. Children’s Health

AP: In A First, Doctors Treat Fatal Genetic Disease Before Birth
A toddler is thriving after doctors in the U.S. and Canada used a novel technique to treat her before she was born for a rare genetic disease that caused the deaths of two of her sisters. Ayla Bashir, a 16-month-old from Ottawa, Ontario, is the first child treated as fetus for Pompe disease, an inherited and often fatal disorder in which the body fails to make some or all of a crucial protein. (Aleccia, 11/9)

Modern Healthcare: RSV Wave Has Children's Hospitals In 'Crisis Mode'
Children’s hospitals are being pushed to the brink as they confront a surging respiratory disease outbreak in addition to rising COVID-19 cases and a mental health epidemic. It's a multifaceted threat that may recur without policy fixes. (Hudson and Kacik, 11/4)

  1. Health Care Coverage

Stopping the Churn: California and Other States Want to Guarantee Medicaid for Kids

California is looking to stop the churn of children who go off and on Medicaid and is weighing new continuous-enrollment policies for youngsters up to age 5, no matter if their household income changes. (Phil Galewitz, 11/9 )

Covered California Opens Up To More People: Hundreds of thousands of Californians previously shut out of Covered California — the state program that offers discounted health insurance — soon can participate because the eligibility requirements are changing. Read more from CalMatters.

Roll Call: Possible End Of Emergency Spurs Debate On Medicaid
The potential end of the COVID-19 public health emergency has reinvigorated debate over the merits and costs of expanding Medicaid. A provision of a 2020 COVID-19 relief bill required that states keep people continuously enrolled in Medicaid through the end of the month in which the COVID-19 public health emergency ends in exchange for more federal funding. (Papp, 11/7)

  1. CA Election

What Passed, And What Didn't? California will enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution and uphold a ban on flavored tobacco, but it won’t tighten kidney dialysis regulations or allow betting on sports games. Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

  1. Healthcare Workforce

Healthcare Dive: Half Of Nurses Consider Leaving The Profession, Survey Finds
Half of nurses have considered leaving the nursing profession, according to recent polls by staffing agency ConnectRN. Staffing shortages were the top reason nurses cited for planning to leave their jobs, followed by needing better work-life balance, the survey out Tuesday said. Nurses also said they planned to leave their roles because their mental health is at risk and they feel a lack of appreciation. (Mensik, 11/8)

  1. Women’s Health

Bonta Leads Push For OTC Birth Control Pills: About a week after the FDA postponed a meeting to discuss HRA Pharma's birth control pill for over-the-counter use, 21 attorneys general, led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, penned a letter urging the regulator to approve the option. "Access to OTC birth control is more important than ever," the letter said. Read more from Becker’s Hospital Review.

  1. Poverty

CalMatters: Poverty Drops In California Due To Safety Nets
Poverty fell in California during the COVID pandemic, recent data shows, largely due to state and national safety net programs, especially the expansion of federal child tax credits. (Fry, 11/7)

  1. Hospital Overcrowding

Becker's Hospital Review: Patients Hospitalwide More Likely To Die When ED Is Overcrowded: Study
Emergency department crowding affects death rates hospitalwide, according to a recent study from University Park, Pa.-based Penn State and the University of California San Francisco. Researchers examined more than 5 million discharge records from California hospitals between October 2015 and December 2017, according to a Nov. 4 article on Penn State's website. They compared these with the number of people in the hospitals' emergency departments to complete their analysis, which was published in the journal Health Sciences Research. (Kayser, 11/4)