Tuesday, November 8, 2022 – California Healthline

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.
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.
Below, check out the roundup of California Healthline’s coverage. For today’s national health news, read KHN’s Morning Briefing.
Elections
AP: California Races Could Determine Control Of US House 
The outcome in a string of highly competitive California U.S. House races will play into control of Congress next year, potentially helping Republicans seize control or providing a Democratic buffer as the party struggles to maintain its teetering majority. (Blood, 11/8)
Stateline: Abortion Access Hinges On State Elections
Five states — California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont — will have abortion-related questions on the ballot, the most ever. And the outcome of gubernatorial and legislative races in six states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — will determine whether abortion is legal in those states. (Vestal, 11/7)
Axios: Abortion, Medicaid Highlight State Health Ballot Tests
While inflation and the economy have been foremost on voters' minds across the nation this election cycle, some of the most high-profile health care battles are being decided at the state level on Tuesday. Voters in Michigan, Kentucky, Vermont, California and Montana are weighing abortion ballot questions that drive home how key reproductive rights battles post-Roe are being waged outside the federal realm. (Reed, 11/8)
The New York Times: The Gender Gap In The Abortion Debate 
The male vote — and any lack of motivation among men — is critical for tight elections, as Democrats have made championing abortion rights a centerpiece of their midterm campaign. In the five decades that Roe v. Wade guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion, polls showed no significant difference in men’s and women’s views on the issue: A similarly sized majority of each supported legalized abortion, especially in the first trimester. Now there is an intensity gap. While men and women are still as likely to think abortion should be generally legal, men’s responses suggest that abortion remains for them a relatively remote issue. (Zernike, 11/7)
Reuters: Some In White House Worry Abortion Message Bungled Before Midterms 
Some senior White House officials have been second-guessing their messaging to voters around abortion in recent weeks, sources familiar with the matter said, as forecasts turned in Republicans' favor in the run up to the midterm elections. Many Democrats are no longer optimistic about retaining one or both houses of Congress in Tuesday's midterms, and some have asked if party leaders and the Joe Biden White House should have spent more time talking about the U.S. economy, and less about women's reproductive rights. (Bose, 11/7)
The Guardian: These Companies Claim To Support Abortion Rights. They Are Backing Anti-Abortion Republicans
The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly was one of the most vocal opponents of a sweeping anti-abortion law that passed in its home state of Indiana, last August, saying that the measure would make it hard to attract talent and would force it to look outside the state for growth. But in the weeks and months that followed, Lilly continued to financially support Republican candidates and politicians who support bans on abortion across the country, including many who celebrated the reversal of Roe v Wade. (Kirchgaessner and Aratani, 11/6)
Stat: Amid Concerns Over U.S. Democracy, Pharma Helped Finance Committees That Support Election Deniers 
As Americans head to the polls, some candidates continue to deny the results of the 2020 presidential election – and several of the largest players in the pharmaceutical industry have contributed to their campaigns. (Silverman, 11/7)
After Roe V. Wade
USA Today: Latinas Disproportionately Impacted By Abortion Bans, Study Finds
Latinas are the largest group of women of color affected by current or potential state abortion bans and restrictions, according to an analysis of data published by two advocacy groups. More than 6.5 million Latinas – or 42% of Latinas ages 15 to 49 – live in the 26 states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion, according to the report by the National Partnership for Women & Families and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice. (Fernando, 11/7)
Veterans Health Care
The Hill: VA To Prioritize Veterans With Cancer In Line For Benefits From New Toxic Exposure Law
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will give priority to veterans with cancer when it begins processing benefits claims under the landmark toxic exposure law signed this summer, VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced Monday. “I’m proud to announce for the first time today, on National Cancer Awareness Day, that we’re expediting benefits delivery for veterans with cancer conditions covered by law,” McDonough said during an appearance at the National Press Club. (Mitchell, 11/7)
Military.Com: VA To Move Veterans With Cancer To Front Of The PACT Act Line
The VA is set to begin processing claims for benefits filed under the toxic exposure bill, known as the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics, or PACT, Act, on Jan. 1. The law designated 23 diseases as presumed to be linked to burn pits used during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and other airborne pollutants and environmental hazards from earlier conflicts, meaning veterans with those ailments will now have a streamlined process for claiming health care and disability benefits. (Kheel, 11/7)
Military.Com: VA Starts Doing Toxic Exposure Screenings As Advocates Press For Medical Testing
Primary care physicians within the Veterans Health Administration will begin asking their patients this week whether they think they were exposed to environmental hazards during their service — a conversation Department of Veterans Affairs officials say should lead to increased awareness and treatment for medical conditions linked to burn pits, pesticides, industrial chemicals and other toxins vets encountered in the military. But advocates for military personnel and veterans say the five-minute screening doesn't go far enough and are pressing the VA for medical screenings, including cancer tests, for those who served in geographic areas with the most likelihood for exposure. (Kime, 11/7)
Stars And Stripes: Toxic Screening Will Expand To All VA Facilities, Veterans Enrolled In The Agency’s Health Care System
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday will expand toxic screening to all veterans enrolled in its health care system in the United States under a new law that expands eligibility for care and benefits for those exposed to burn pits and other toxins, agency officials announced Monday. (Samora, 11/7)
Reuters: Supreme Court Rebuffs U.S. Veteran's Disability Case, One Conservative Justice Dissenting
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a dispute involving an Air Force veteran's bid to reinstate certain disability benefits denied by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, prompting a sharp dissent by conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch. (Chung, 11/7)
KATU: Service Members At Risk? Young Female Veterans Face Devastating Breast Cancer Diagnoses 
Spotlight on America dug into the prevalence of breast cancer among servicewomen and learned that military women have a 20-40% higher risk than their civilian counterparts, according to a 2009 study published by the National Institutes of Health. (Daniels, Nejman and Brauer, 11/7)
The Free Lance-Star: Army Veteran ‘A Testimony’ To Breast Cancer For Men
As the radiologist drew a tissue sample for a biopsy, Army veteran Boyd Elliott knew by the look on her face that something wasn’t right, but he wasn’t prepared for the news that followed. He had cancer — breast cancer. (Dyson, 11/6)
RSV
Sacramento Bee: RSV: California Case, Hospital Numbers Show Very Early Surge
Infections and pediatric hospitalizations for respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, have jumped to levels not usually seen for another two to three months in California, where the virus usually peaks around mid-winter, state health data show. (McGough, 11/7)
Coronavirus
San Francisco Chronicle: COVID In California: Positive-Test Rate Creeps Back Up In S.F.
The seven-day rolling coronavirus test positivity rate in San Francisco has started to creep back up after falling steadily since July. It was 5.1% as of Oct. 31, the most recent date with reliable data, after dropping as low as 4.5% the previous week. (Fracassa and Vaziri, 11/7)
The New York Times: Covid Patients Coming Off Ventilators Can Take Weeks To Regain Consciousness 
The brains of unconscious Covid patients bear a striking resemblance to those of turtles that spend the winter encased in ice, argued Dr. Nicholas Schiff, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, and his collaborator, Dr. Emery Brown, a computational neuroscientist at M.I.T. The turtles survive by putting their neurons into an unusual quiet state that lasts for months. Dr. Schiff and Dr. Brown believe that the combination of Covid and sedatives prompts a similar response in people. (Zimmer, 11/7)
The Washington Post: Did Pandemic Stress Change Women’s Periods? 
During the pandemic, many women experienced high levels of stress as they took on a disproportionate share of child care and housework and dropped out of the labor force in large numbers. Now, a new study suggests that all of this extra stress may have changed women’s menstrual cycles in a variety of ways. Some women who reported high levels of stress also reported early or delayed periods. Others had heavier menstrual flow or increased spotting between cycles. Some women said that during pandemic stress, their periods lasted more days than usual, while others said their periods got shorter. (Morris, 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)
Sacramento Watch
Bay Area News Group: Fentanyl Crisis: New California Bill Aims To Stop Kids From Overdosing At Schools After Two Kids Nearly Die In San Jose 
Within weeks of educators reviving students at two San Jose high schools, a Bay Area legislator announced Monday he plans to introduce a new bill to address the rising number of young people dying from the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. (Nickerson, 11/7)
Around California
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)
Fresno Bee: Should California Warn Residents When Pesticides Are Sprayed Near Homes? How To Weigh In
State officials are seeking public input on a pilot program that requires local agriculture operations to alert nearby communities when they plan to spray hazardous pesticides. (Montalvo, 11/7)
Modesto Bee: Is Modesto Ready To Clean Up The ‘Mess’ Left By Chemical?
June Bug’s bar opens at 6 a.m. every day. As men and women leave the graveyard shift at Frito-Lay, Del Monte Foods, Pacific Southwest Container and other nearby food factories, they line up at the pool tables or take seats at the bar, where manager Cortney Bradshaw greets the regulars. She keeps tabs on customers. She knows how many kids and grandkids they have, and when an elderly customer doesn’t show up one day, she calls to check in. What Bradshaw doesn’t know is whether those she serves — and herself, for that matter — are safe breathing the air inside the bar. (Echelman, 11/7)
Theranos Trial
The Wall Street Journal: Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Is Denied A Bid For New Trial 
A federal judge denied Elizabeth Holmes’s bid for a new trial, the latest setback for the Theranos Inc. founder who was convicted of fraud in January. U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, who oversaw Ms. Holmes’s trial which began last year, said in a ruling late Monday that the arguments in her three motions for a new trial didn’t introduce material new evidence or establish government misconduct, adding that a new trial was unlikely to result in an acquittal. (Somerville, 11/8)
Health Care Survey The 2022 CHCF California Health Policy Survey
This recent statewide survey found that one in four Californians had trouble paying a medical bill in the last 12 months. The survey also captures Californians' health care priorities for the governor and legislature to address.
Listening to Black Californians How the Health Care System Undermines Black Californians’ Pursuit of Good Health
CHCF commissioned a study that listens deeply to Black Californians talking about their experiences with racism and health care. This report summarizes in-depth interviews with 100 Black Californians and 18 focus groups, as well as a statewide survey of 3,325 adult Black Californians.
Mental Health Mental Health in California
Using the most recent data available, CHCF’s 2022 Almanac provides an overview of mental health statewide: disease prevalence, suicide rates, supply and use of treatment providers, and mental health in the criminal justice system.
© California Healthline 1998-2022. All Rights Reserved.
California Healthline is a service of the California Health Care Foundation produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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