Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | California Healthline

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | California Healthline

Nearly 2,000 Mental Health Workers Walk Off The Job At Kaiser Permanente: Thousands of Kaiser therapists across Northern California went on strike Monday, pushing for improvements in staffing and shorter wait times for clients — a move that left a large number of members without immediate access to mental health resources starting this week. Read more from Bay Area News Group, The Sacramento Bee, Oroville Mercury-Register, SFGate, and AP.

Watch video coverage of the strike —

Mental health workers at Kaiser Permanente explain their frustrations and demands in these videos from NBC Bay Area, The Sacramento Bee, and KCRA.

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

US Offers More Monkeypox Vaccine To States And Cities

U.S. officials said they are able to ship out more monkeypox vaccine doses than previously planned — because of a strategy shift that allows more shots to be drawn from each vial. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had previously anticipated allowing 221,000 doses to be ordered starting Monday. But officials said they would release 442,000 doses for order by state, local and territorial health departments. (Stobbe, 8/15)

Vanity Fair:
“A ‘Hunger Games’ Contest”: How Unforced Errors Hobbled America’s Monkeypox Response

The first diagnosed case of monkeypox in the US, on May 18, did not seem like a major cause for alarm. Unlike the virus that causes COVID-19, monkeypox was not novel, not airborne, and rarely fatal. In fact, the US government already possessed a robust arsenal of tools that could be used to combat it. In 2003 the US government began developing a detailed response plan for smallpox, a far more lethal virus that belongs to the same family as monkeypox. The plan, which over two decades grew to fill 333 pages, offered a playbook for how to mount an effective response to such pathogens. (Eban, 8/16)

Routine COVID-19 Testing Ends At Sacramento City Unified For Upcoming School Year

Sacramento City Unified School District students shuffled through COVID-19 testing once a week last school year, regardless of their symptoms. This year, that program is ending, district officials said at Thursday’s board meeting. The change to the so-called “surveillance testing” is a response to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated Thursday. The CDC says it no longer recommends students exposed to COVID-19 test negative to continue going to class, as long as they’re feeling fine. That change is for all, regardless of vaccination status. (Salanga, 8/15)

UK Becomes First Country To Approve Moderna’s Dual Covid-19 Vaccine

Britain on Monday became the first country in the world to approve a dual Covid-19 vaccine, which tackles both the original virus and the newer omicron variant. The updated Moderna vaccine — known as a bivalent because it targets two variants — is expected to be available to adults as a booster jab from the fall after receiving the go-ahead from the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on Monday. (Gilchrist, 8/15)

Novavax Seeks U.S. Authorization For COVID Vaccine Booster 

Novavax Inc said on Monday it had filed for U.S. authorization for use of its COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose in people who had either received its shots or a different vaccine. … [Novavax] is a protein-based vaccine that uses purified pieces of the virus to spur an immune response, a technology that has been used to combat diseases including hepatitis B and influenza. (8/15)

The Boston Globe:
100-Year-Old Tuberculosis Vaccine May Protect Against COVID

A small study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital suggests that a widely used, 100-year-old vaccine for tuberculosis also may offer protection from COVID-19. The findings, published in Cell Reports Medicine on Monday and conducted in volunteers with type 1 diabetes, found that the BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccine was 92 percent effective versus a placebo in protecting against infections. (Bartlett, 8/15)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Polio Vaccines: How Long Do They Last, And Should I Get A Shot Now?

Polio, once one of the most feared diseases in the U.S., is again causing concern across the country after New York recently issued an alert that the poliovirus had been detected in its wastewater – indicating that the virus is probably circulating locally, after a case was confirmed last month. Officials urged all unvaccinated New Yorkers to immediately seek inoculations, warning that polio can lead to permanent paralysis – as occurred with the New York patient – and even death in some cases. (Hwang, 8/15)

The Hill:
Biden To Sign Health And Climate Bill On Tuesday 

President Biden will sign into law the sweeping climate, health care and tax legislation that has been Democrats’ priority for more than a year during a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday.  The signing will represent a major milestone for Biden and his domestic economic agenda. The prospects of his climate proposal appeared hopeless a month ago but were dramatically revived in an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) at the end of July. (Chalfant, 8/15)

Biden To Sign Massive Climate, Health Care Legislation

Biden is set to sign the bill during a small ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House, sandwiched between his return from a six-day beachside vacation in South Carolina and his departure for his home in Wilmington, Delaware. He plans to hold a larger “celebration” for the legislation on Sept. 6 once lawmakers return to Washington. (Miller, 8/16)

Fierce Healthcare:
Here Are 4 Key Health Policy Items In The Inflation Reduction Act 

The bill expands who can qualify under the Low-Income Subsidy Program that helps meet Part D cost-sharing burdens like deductibles. Currently, a beneficiary qualifies for the program if they earn up to 135% of the federal poverty level and get partial benefits for 135% to 150% of the level. The law would expand full benefits to those who earn between 135% and 150%, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (King, 8/15)

Inflation Reduction Act’s Health Care Provisions Could Affect Employers

With the expansion of enhanced premium tax credit subsidies until 2025, it becomes more likely that the higher subsidies will eventually be made permanent, health care policy experts say. One consequence could be to make ACA marketplace plans a more appealing health care option for employers, who could opt to forgo group health plans and meet the ACA’s coverage requirements by funding individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements (ICHRAs), which allow employees to purchase their own coverage on ACA exchanges. (Miller, 8/16)

Yahoo Finance:
The Inflation Reduction Act Will Not ‘Fix American Health Care’: GoodRx CEO

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which now sitting on President Joe Biden’s desk, will soon mark a milestone in the battle to lower drug pricing in the U.S., though it is still nowhere near widespread cost control for the entire population. GoodRx (GDRX) co-CEO Doug Hirsch, whose company aims to find the best prices for generics as well as for some brand drugs, says that’s why his company is under no immediate threat from the IRA. (Khemlani, 8/15)

Deadline To Close Nursing Home Extended By 2 Months 

The deadline to close a nursing home administered by the city of San Francisco has been extended by two months and patients will no longer be transferred or discharged as part of a federally-mandated closure plan, local, state and federal officials said Monday in a joint statement. Laguna Honda was set to close on Sept. 13. Officials had been ordered to discharge or transfer more than 600 patients whose care is paid for by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS. Last month, regulators agreed to pause the transfers after several patients died after leaving the nursing home. (8/16)

Orange County Register:
Rehab Doctor Randy Rosen Pleads Guilty To Insurance Fraud 

The surgeon who was accused of building a luxurious life on the backs of often-desperate drug users eager to make a buck — even if it meant enduring unnecessary surgeries, getting unnecessary lab tests and receiving unnecessary injections for inflated prices — pleaded guilty to several charges in two separate cases on Friday, Aug.12, according to court records. (Sforza, 8/15)

Thousands Of Californians Waited Weeks For Disability Payments While EDD Grappled With Fraud

One morning in March, an undocumented farmworker on the Central Coast got ready to make a phone call she’d made dozens of times before, to a state agency where a human rarely answered. It had been three months since she’d applied for the partial wage replacement most California workers are eligible for — regardless of immigration status — when they are disabled due to pregnancy or other health reasons. (Romero, 8/15)

Times Of San Diego:
Judge Denies Injunction Request In Lawsuit Filed Over Alleged High County Jail Death Rate

A federal judge Monday denied a request from attorneys representing people incarcerated in San Diego County’s jails to make immediate changes to the region’s jail policies in order to curb deaths among those behind bars. The ruling stems from a lawsuit alleging the county’s policies and procedures are insufficient to protect inmates and contribute to what the attorneys allege is a higher jail death rate than other large California counties and the nation at large. Attorneys representing inmates say 18 people died in the county’s jails last year, and that mark was on pace to be exceeded in 2022. (Ireland, 8/15)

Tuesday, August 16, 2022