#PNN In Other News

Here are some other local, state or national stories we are reading that may impact you, your practice or your patients.

How a Health Care Trial Could Have a Chilling Effect | Sutter Health, a sprawling system of 24 hospitals and 5,500 affiliated doctors, faces trial in San Francisco over accusations that it used its dominance in Northern California to stifle competition and force patients to pay higher medical bills. You can expect the courtroom to be standing room only for the Sutter antitrust trial. The case is being brought by the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, along with employers and unions that say they have been harmed by Sutter’s actions. Because Sutter is able to force health plans to include all of its hospitals and doctors in their networks, patients can’t go elsewhere for care that is cheaper or better quality, Mr. Becerra said. He describes Sutter as showing signs of being a “bully.” Sutter’s critics say this leads to much higher prices in Northern California for medical care than in the southern part of the state. Hospital care for a heart attack costs around $25,000 in San Francisco, according to research by the Petris Center at the University of California at Berkeley

How Does Racism Affect Health? California Doctors Speak Out | It’s not uncommon for Dr. Ilan Shapiro to confront ailments in his child and teen patients that defy a straightforward medical explanation. At his practice at AltaMed Health Services in Los Angeles, the pediatrician has treated children with insomnia, teens whose hair is falling out and kids who have stopped trying in school, despite being academically capable. Often, these children are struggling with depression, anxiety and stress. But there’s also a deeper, less tangible cause, Shapiro said. Racism, whether overt bullying at school, or the less obvious day-to-day toll of social exclusion and economic disadvantage, underpins many of these children’s health issues, Shapiro has found. Experiencing racism can undermine a child’s physical and mental wellbeing from an early age, and increase the risk of lifelong health problems, research shows. “It’s a cumulative effect,” Shapiro said. “Some kids are fine and resilient, but others respond physically to what’s happening … Over the long term you start seeing the kids that have issues with the way they’re managing anger, depression. All those little things start adding up.”

Santa Clara County: Health care workers walk out, join striking county employees | Hundreds of Santa Clara County health care workers walked off the job Thursday morning (Oct. 3) to join other county workers who are striking for a second day. Union workers with Service Employees International Union Local 521 have for months been asking the county to address alleged unfair labor practices and understaffing throughout county offices. Health care workers, including administrative staff, mental health providers, homeless program specialists and other staff, joined employees in other county departments who had started striking Wednesday. "When the county decided to unlawfully reorganize the Department of Family and Children's Services without bargaining with the workers, it was a clear example that they were not interested in coming to an agreement that benefits our residents," Riko Mendez, SEIU Local 521 Chief Elected Officer, said in a statement.

Med Student Mental Health 'Crisis': Experts Urge Nationwide Action | Combating burnout and improving well-being among physicians has garnered increased attention in recent years, but the mental health of medical students is equally important and needs urgent and immediate action, experts say. "Arguably, [medicine] is the noblest profession and we should not stress out our students and prevent them from becoming the best doctors they can be. This is a critical issue, it's a crisis, and we need to have a sense of urgency about it," Augustine Choi, MD, dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, said here at the first-ever National Conference on Medical Student Mental Health and Well-Being. The 2-day conference brought together more than 350 medical school educators, students, and researchers to discuss the increasing rates of psychological distress among medical students nationwide and how to combat it.

Trump Pushes Telehealth, mHealth Adoption in Medicare Executive Order | President Donald Trump is ordering Medicare to adopt more telehealth programs and pave the way for new technologies, including mHealth tools and services. In a scheduled visit to a Florida retirement community on Thursday [Oct. 3], the President signed an Executive Order that, among other things, aims to give the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services more leeway to use connected health services, particularly in Medicare Advantage programs. Specifically, the order calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to, within a year, “propose a regulation to provide beneficiaries with improved access to providers and plans by adjusting network adequacy requirements for MA plans to account for … “the enhanced access to health outcomes made possible through telehealth services or other innovative technologies.”

Federally Funded Obria Prescribes Abstinence To Stop The Spread Of STDs | Inside Obria Medical Clinics, conviction — not condoms — is summoned to stop the spread of chlamydia. The Christian medical chain, awarded $1.7 million in federal family planning funds for the first time this year, does not offer hormonal birth control or condoms; instead, its doctors and nurses teach patients when they’re likely to be fertile and counsel them in restraint. Reproductive health care providers have bristled over Obria’s inclusion in a federal program, known as Title X, established to help poor women avoid unwanted pregnancies. But clinics receiving money also are expected to detect, treat and prevent sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and Obria’s prohibition against condoms means its prevention efforts — whether for single millennials or aging married couples — rest on abstinence. In its application for federal funding, Obria pledged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and recognized medical standards for preventing STDs. Used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective at preventing transmission of STDs, according to the CDC, a finding echoed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other major medical associations.

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