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California vaccination wars at the Capitol in Sacramento

Lack of faith in scientific consensus is a sad but permanent feature of our social media-driven world. Paranoia is an effective business model. Parents who oppose vaccines are not stupid; in fact, they are often surprisingly well-educated, considering the pseudoscience and unfounded claims they are willing to embrace. It should come as no surprise, then, that many have found a way around the law, which still allows for medically necessary exemptions. Read more here. Reprinted from Los Angeles Times by Robin Abcarian Photo courtesy of Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Newsom's first budget puts health care access, costs front and center

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Gavin Newsom released his first state budget proposal on Thursday, including a number of new goals and programs aimed at making health care more affordable and accessible to all Californians. The governor is following through on a key campaign promise by investing more than $1 billion in Proposition 56 tobacco tax revenue to increase access for Medi-Cal patients. That investment will help make it easier for low-income patients throughout California to see a physician and make Medi-Cal coverage more meaningful and effective for patients.  Much of Newsom’s health ...

Gov. Newsom signs executive order expanding health care access

Within hours of being sworn in as California’s 40th governor on Monday, Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that will help control health care costs and expand access to care for millions of Californians. Gov. Newsom announced the creation of the nation’s first state-run purchasing program for prescription drugs to help bring down costs via bulk purchasing. He also announced his intention to expand Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented Californians up to age 26. (California current allows anyone under age 19 to receive Medi-Cal benefits, regardless of immigration status.) The governor also ...

New Laws 2019: What physicians need to know

The California Legislature had an active year, passing many new laws affecting health care. In particular, there was a strong focus on health care coverage, drug prescribing, public health and mental health issues. To help physicians understand the most significant new health laws, the California Medical Association has published its annual new laws round up, “Significant New California Laws of Interest to Physicians for 2019.” This document is free to all interested parties.

CDPH hosts webinar on California Parkinson's Disease Registry

On July 1, 2018, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) launched the California Parkinson’s Disease Registry, a statewide population-based registry that will be used to measure the incidence and prevalence of Parkinson's disease.  MD’s, DO’s, PA’s, and NP’s who diagnose or treat Parkinson’s disease patients are required to report. The first deadline for data submission is March 29, 2019, for cases encountered during the first quarter the law was in effect (July 1 to September 30, 2018).  Details on the reporting obligation can be found in the Implementation Guide, ...

Medicare publishes 2018-2019 influenza vaccine pricing

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published an update on Medicare’s influenza vaccine payment allowances and effective dates for the 2018-2019 flu season. The Medicare Part B payment allowance limits for seasonal influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are calculated at 95 percent of the average wholesale price. Payment allowances and effective dates for the 2018-2019 flu season:​ Code Labeler Name Drug Name Payment Allowance Effective Dates 90653 Seqirus ...

Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus San Bernardino

Two mosquitoes collected in the City of San Bernardino tested positive for West Nile Virus. These are the first mosquitoes that tested positive in 2018 within the area served by the Division of Environmental Health Services Mosquito and Vector Control Program (MVCP). MVCP is taking steps to eliminate mosquito breeding hazards. People bitten by an infected mosquito may develop West Nile fever and experience flu-like symptoms which may include fever, body aches, skin rash, and fatigue. In some people, West Nile fever can develop into a more serious form of ...

House votes to expand health savings accounts

On July 25, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills (H.R. 6199 and H.R. 6311) that would expand how health savings accounts (HSAs) and other tax-preferred accounts can be used on health care spending. HSAs, which are paired with high deductible health plans, allow people to contribute pre-tax earnings each year and save for medical expenses.  The first bill—H.R. 6199, which passed 277 to 142—would allow individuals with HSA-eligible high-deductible health plans to use up to $250 a year (or $500 a year for families) on services like primary ...

Health Officer issues smoke advisory from Holy Fire

San Bernardino County Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare advises county residents with sensitive health conditions who live near areas affected by the Holy Fire to stay alert to changing smoke levels and be prepared to act accordingly. The Holy Fire is burning to the east of Trabuco Canyon near the border of Orange County and Riverside County within the Cleveland National Forest. Although the fire is burning in surrounding counties, conditions may bring smoke into portions of San Bernardino County. Smoky conditions can be hazardous for young children, the elderly, individuals ...

2017 MIPS performance scores and 2019 payment adjustments now available

Physicians can now log in to the Medicare Quality Payment Program (QPP) website to view their final 2017 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) performance scores and payment adjustment information for the 2019 payment year. It is important to note the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will not be sending out letters this year, so physicians are encouraged to log into the QPP website to learn about any payment adjustments they will receive in 2019. Physicians should be aware that the MIPS payment adjustment is required to be budget neutral. That means ...