Friday, August 12, 2022 | California Healthline

Friday, August 12, 2022 | California Healthline

All California Schoolchildren Now Get Free Meals: California’s department of education is implementing a Universal Meals Program for schoolchildren. Starting this school year, all public school students can get free lunch and breakfast, regardless of income status or eligibility for free or reduced programs. California is the first state to have a statewide free school meals program. Read more from The Sacramento Bee.

Social Media Addiction Bill Won’t Advance: California lawmakers killed a bill Thursday that would have allowed government lawyers to sue social-media companies for features that allegedly harm children by causing them to become addicted. Senators dispensed of AB 2408 through a secretive process known as the suspense file. Read more from The Sacramento Bee, The Wall Street Journal, and AP.

Below, check out the roundup of California Healthline’s coverage. For today’s national health news, read KHN’s Morning Briefing.

California Healthline:
Inflation Reduction Act Contains Important Cost-Saving Changes For Many Patients — Maybe For You

The legislation, which the House is expected to pass Friday, would allow the federal government, for the first time, to negotiate the price of some drugs that Medicare buys. It also would extend the enhanced subsidies for people who buy insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. (McAuliff, 8/12)

California Healthline:
Big Pharma Went All In To Kill Drug Pricing Negotiations

For more than a century, the drug industry has issued dire warnings of plunging innovation whenever regulation reared its head. In general, the threat hasn’t materialized. (Allen, 8/12)

House Dems Set To Overcome GOP For Climate, Health Care Win 

A flagship Democratic economic bill perched on the edge of House passage Friday, placing President Joe Biden on the brink of a back-from-the-dead triumph on his climate, health and tax goals that could energize his party ahead of November’s elections. Democrats were poised to muscle the measure through the narrowly divided House Friday over solid Republican opposition. They employed similar party unity and Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote Sunday to power the measure through the 50-50 Senate. (Fram, 8/12)

Los Angeles Times:
Sinema’s Last-Minute Push On Democrats’ Climate Bill Added $4 Billion To Combat Western Drought 

When Sen. Joe Manchin III and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer landed a surprise agreement on a healthcare, climate and tax bill last month, all but one Senate Democrat accepted the deal rather than risk collapse with further negotiation. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the inscrutable Arizona Democrat who has at times voted against her party’s demands, staked her vote on two changes. Most attention focused on her push to eliminate a proposed tax on wealthy investors. But Sinema’s last-minute efforts also added $4 billion to address the water crisis along the Colorado River as the region endures its most intense drought in centuries, a 23-year run of extreme dryness compounded by the effects of climate change. (Haberkorn and James, 8/11)

In Biden’s Big Bill: Climate, Health Care, Deficit Reduction 

The biggest investment ever in the U.S. to fight climate change. A hard-fought cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors in the Medicare program. A new corporate minimum tax to ensure big businesses pay their share. And billions left over to pay down federal deficits. All told, the Democrats’ “Inflation Reduction Act” may not do much to immediately tame inflationary price hikes. But the package heading toward final passage in Congress and to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature will touch countless American lives with longtime party proposals. (Mascaro, 8/12)

Los Angeles Times:
L.A. County Drops Out Of High COVID-19 Level As Surge Eases

Los Angeles County officially moved out of the high COVID-19 community level Thursday as one top state health official expressed hope that California is at the end of the pandemic’s latest wave. Officials continue to urge caution, noting that coronavirus case rates remain high and still strongly recommend universal masking in indoor public spaces as schools resume classes. (Money and Lin II, 8/11)

Thousands Living With Long COVID In San Diego

Sue Shrinkle-Emmons, had been careful to avoid COVID since the pandemic began. She took every precaution she could. It wasn’t until April of this year that the 39-year-old eventually caught it, after she and her husband had traveled to Hawaii for their honeymoon. (Dawson, 8/11)

Berkeley, Oakland Residents Grapple With COVID Burnout

It’s the third year of the pandemic and COVID-19 is not even close to disappearing. The latest surge, driven by the highly transmissible sub-variant BA.5, has created a plateau of high case rates that have persisted over several months, only beginning to subside in the last week or so. In Berkeley and Oakland, people have been taking the virus seriously for years—the majority of people are vaccinated and boosted; Berkeley’s death rate is among the lowest in California, and mask-wearing remains high even in schools and stores where it’s not required. (Markovich and Piper, 8/11)

Los Angeles Times:
Parents Have New Back-To-School List Amid COVID, Year Three

It’s been a while since Sherry Jones’ 15-year-old son has worried about familiar back-to-school activities — getting a fresh haircut, buying school supplies and shopping for cool clothes for the first day. “He’s more himself now,” said Jones, a Carson resident. “He’s excited about the upcoming school year. He’s seeing his friends and playing sports.” (Reyes-Velarde and Blume, 8/12)

NBC Bay Area:
Pharmacists Can Directly Prescribe Paxlovid, But There’s A Catch 

The antiviral drug that treats COVID-19, Paxlovid, must be taken within five days after symptoms begin. To expand quick access to the medication, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised the Emergency Use Authorization for Paxlovid in July to authorize state-licensed pharmacists to directly prescribe it. “We were seeing some really low uptake and even within the pharmacy we were seeing just the medication sit on shelves because prescriptions weren’t coming in,” said Richard Dang, president of the California Pharmacists Association. (Nguyen and Carroll, 8/10)

CDC Eases Covid-19 Quarantine And Testing Guidelines As It Marks A New Phase In Pandemic

People who are not up to date with their Covid-19 vaccines and who are exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus no longer need to quarantine, according to updated recommendations issued Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, they should just wear a mask for 10 days in indoor settings and test on day 5,  according to the guidance. They were previously recommended to stay home. The new guidelines could also ease the testing burden on schools. (Joseph, 8/11)

CDC Unveils Streamlined COVID-19 Guidance 

One of the biggest changes is quarantine guidance for people exposed to the virus. Instead of quarantining, the CDC recommends wearing a high-quality mask, watching for symptoms for 10 days, and getting tested on the fifth day. People who are mildly sick with COVID-19 should still isolate for at least 5 days while wearing a high-quality mask. After isolating, people who are recovering should avoid contact with vulnerable people for 11 days. The CDC recommends longer isolation periods for people with moderate and severe illness. Another major change is that the CDC no longer recommends screening asymptomatic people who don’t have known exposures. (Schnirring, 8/11)

New CDC Guidance For Schools Aims For Normalcy

The agency’s general masking guidance for schools remains unchanged, recommending a mask in medium-level community risk areas for only immunocompromised or high-risk individuals or those with high-risk close contacts, and recommending that everyone ages 2 and older should don one indoors in areas of high-level community risk. “We know that Covid-19 is here to stay,” said Greta Massetti, author of the CDC report that outlines the new guidelines, during a Thursday briefing. “Currently, high levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection and the many tools that we have available to protect people from severe illness and death have put us in a different space.” (Mahr, 8/11)

FDA: Take 3 Home Tests If Exposed To COVID To Boost Accuracy 

If you were exposed to COVID-19, take three home tests instead of two to make sure you’re not infected, according to new U.S. recommendations released Thursday. Previously, the Food and Drug Administration had advised taking two rapid antigen tests over two or three days to rule out infection. But the agency says new studies suggest that protocol can miss too many infections, and could result in people spreading the coronavirus to others, especially if they don’t develop symptoms. (Perrone, 8/11)

Los Angeles Times:
Hundreds Receive Monkeypox Vaccine At L.A. Clinic

Mark Webber and Doug Brown rose before dawn to make the trip from Agoura Hills, arriving around 6 a.m. at the Leimert Park clinic in the hopes of getting vaccinated against monkeypox. “We came out in the ‘80s. We remember when HIV blew through,” said Webber, 54, a Maryland resident who has been in Southern California to care for his late father. As monkeypox has arisen as a health threat, “we take it very seriously.” (Reyes, 8/12)

FDA Chief Backs Alternate Method For Injecting Bavarian Nordic’s Monkeypox Shot

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief on Thursday defended a plan to administer Bavarian Nordic’s (BAVA.CO) monkeypox shot intradermally after the company raised doubts about the safety of the method, citing a lack of data. The company had on Tuesday said there was some evidence that a shot of Jynneos between the layers of the skin could result in increased reactions compared to the approved method of injecting it underneath the skin. (8/11)

CBS News:
U.S. Monkeypox Cases Surpass 10,000 As CDC Still Aims For “Containment”

Cases have been reported in every state but Wyoming while 15 states and the District of Columbia have reported more than a hundred cases. The largest numbers are in New York, California and Florida. No U.S. deaths have so far been reported, out of the 12 monkeypox fatalities the World Health Organization has tallied so far this year. (Tin, 8/11)

The New York Times:
Sharing Monkeypox Sores On Social Media

When Matt Ford, 30, an actor in Los Angeles, tested positive for monkeypox in June, he posted videos on Twitter and TikTok to show what it was like. Wearing a gray T-shirt and staring directly into the camera, he offered viewers close-ups of the “gross spots” all over his body, including his face, arms, belly. He also mentioned “some in my more sensitive areas, which also tend to be the most painful.” (Bernstei, 8/11)

New Data From States Show Racial Disparities In Monkeypox Infections

New data emerging from some states and localities closely tracking monkeypox outbreaks show extreme racial disparities that are alarming experts. In Georgia, 82% of people with the disease are Black. In North Carolina, it’s 70%. But in other places that have released detailed demographic data, there are fewer and sometimes no apparent racial or ethnic disparities in monkeypox cases. (McFarling, Gilyard and Muthukumar, 8/11)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Kamala Harris’ VP Portfolio Is Full Of Unwinnable Issues. Abortion Isn’t One Of Them

Nearly two years and several ill-fitting assignments into her vice presidency, Kamala Harris may have found her voice as the nation’s leading advocate for abortion rights. She tried out that voice Thursday in the safest of environments — her former home city of San Francisco, where abortion opponents are rarer than sunny July days. Her tone was measured as she led a roundtable discussion of two dozen state legislators and local officials, many of whom have held key roles in trying to make California a national haven for abortion-seekers. (Garofoli, 8/11)

5 Policies That Will Test Gavin Newsom’s National Dreams 

Should California loosen its laws to allow drug use in certain settings? State Sen. Scott Wiener thinks so. The San Francisco Democrat’s proposal to let some of California’s big cities test supervised injection sites is already on Newsom’s desk. Another Wiener bill that would decriminalize hallucinogens and ecstasy is a couple of votes away. (White, 8/11)

Supervised Drug Injection Sites: How Will They Work?

For years, the idea of establishing supervised drug injection sites has been a long-standing goal for some progressive California leaders looking to address the burgeoning overdose crisis. Efforts to launch such programs have come close, but never to the finish line. Now, as the latest legislation seeking to sanction these sites heads to the governor’s desk, proponents are gearing up to make these injection sites a reality — and they hope a success — in the Golden State. (Ibarra, 8/11)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
Here’s How The Monkeypox Crisis Reminds Me Of The Early Days Of The HIV/AIDS Epidemic 

I spent the first 17 years of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. Thirteen of those years (1985-1998) were spent facilitating discussion groups and helping produce community forums about HIV- and AIDS-related topics. I worked mostly with gay men. I cannot speak to what happened in San Diego in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, but my experience in San Francisco provides an interesting perspective. (Jerry Turner, 8/10)

Los Angeles Times:
Op-Ed: Better Sex Education In Schools Can Help Young People Affected By Abortion Bans

Recently, Kansas voters soundly rejected a referendum that would have ensured more abortion restrictions in the solidly red state. This led to predictions that conservatives may pay a price in upcoming elections for the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, which undid the constitutional protection for abortion rights long established by Roe vs. Wade. But while abortion debates grab headlines, for many women, especially poor ones, the battle for reproductive justice begins in the classroom, with the fight for comprehensive sex education. Only 29 states, and Washington, D.C., require that sex education be taught, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Only 16 states require that the information taught in sex education be medically accurate. Meanwhile, 39 states mandate that sex education must cover abstinence, with 28 of those states requiring that abstinence be stressed. Before the Dobbs ruling, that meant that plenty of young people were not being provided with sufficient tools and resources to avoid unplanned pregnancies. In a post-Roe world it means students will have increasingly limited options should an unplanned pregnancy occur. (Keli Goff, 8/12)

Capitol Weekly:
Primary Care Provider Key To Achieving Health Equity

California is gearing up to make history. The state will achieve near universal health coverage in 2024 by expanding Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, to all income-eligible Californians. Immigration status will no longer be an obstacle. This milestone follows Medi-Cal access expansions to all income-eligible children in 2016, young adults in 2020, and older Californians this year. But expansion of coverage alone is not the end game. (Palav Babaria and Kiran Savage-Sangwan, 8/11)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
Newsom Takes On Hometown San Francisco In Needed Showdown Over California Housing Crisis 

On Tuesday, the housing agency launched its first-ever formal investigation into why it takes San Francisco longer than anywhere else in California to approve and complete projects. Its intent is to set up a practical framework that ensures that projects that check certain boxes have clear paths to completion — addressing the “shifting goalposts” phenomenon of developers addressing a series of obstacles only to realize there will always be new ones. (8/11)

Friday, August 12, 2022