March 29, 2018 Edition

Legislature Returns from Spring Recess Next Monday

Sacramento was quiet this week as the California Legislature was away on its weeklong Spring Recess. The Senate and Assembly will be back in session next Monday, April 2 where a whirlwind of a month is expected in April. The Legislature faces two significant upcoming deadlines:

  • April 27: The last day for policy committees to hear and report fiscal bills introduced in their house of origin
  • May 11: The last day for policy committees to hear and report non-fiscal bills introduced in their house of origin

As such, the Legislature will be very busy with policy- and budget-related hearings occurring over the coming weeks.

There are no specific updates on bills this week given the Spring Recess. Our CHEAC Legislative Committee will be reviewing a significant amount of gut and amend bills today, and any new bills or positions will be reflected in next week’s bill chart. A handful of bills have been set for hearing, reflected in this week’s version of the CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart.

UC Berkeley Report Examines Health Care Market Concentration, Finds Disparate Costs between Northern and Southern California

On Monday, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health Nicholas C. Petris Center for Health Care Markets and Consumer Welfare released a report entitled, Consolidation in California’s Health Care Market 2010-2016: Impact on Prices and ACA Premiums. The report examines the rapid and significant consolidation of hospital, physician, and health care insurance markets throughout California and finds that highly concentrated markets are associated with higher health care costs for consumers.

Costs for medical procedures were found to be up to 30 percent higher in Northern California than in Southern California, even after adjusting for the Bay Area’s higher cost of living and wages. On average, in Northern California costs for inpatient care were 70 percent higher and costs for outpatient care were up to 55 percent higher when compared to Southern California. Premiums for health insurance plans purchased through the individual marketplace were also found to be 35 percent higher in Northern California. The report determines that Northern California’s health care markets are “considerably more concentrated” than Southern California across all health care market measures analyzed.

The report is likely to garner significant attention from state officials and lawmakers in California, particularly as health care coverage and affordability issues continue to be a major focus of the Legislature. On Monday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and UC Berkeley Petris Center Director Dr. Richard Scheffler held a press conference on the release of the report. Attorney General Becerra indicated his office will review the report, but declined to detail what actions he may take related to the investigation of anticompetitive practices among health care-related entities.

The full UC Berkeley report may be accessed here.

APHA’s National Public Health Week 2018 Set for Next Week

The American Public Health Association’s (APHA) National Public Health Week (NPHW) is set to occur next week, April 2, 2018 – April 6, 2018. NPHW is utilized to highlight the ever-important work of public health in creating the healthiest nation in one generation. The week celebrates the power of prevention, advocacy for health and fair policies, the sharing of strategies for successful partnerships, and the championing of the role of a strong public health system.

During each day of National Public Health Week, a different public health area or topic critical to success in creating the healthiest nation will be highlighted:

More information about National Public Health Week 2018 is available here. Several events are also scheduled throughout the week, including a NPHW Forum with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Monday, April 2 and a NPHW Twitter Chat on Wednesday, April 4. Additional event information is available here.

New Report Details Labor and Economic Impacts of Opioid Crisis

This week, the American Action Forum released a report examining the labor market and economic impacts on the nationwide opioid epidemic. The report measures the direct cost on the economy and estimates the number of workers absent from the labor force due to opioids, hours lost at work, and the subsequent decline in real economic output. Notable findings of the report include:

  • In 2015, nearly 1 million Americans were not in the labor force due to opioids
  • Between 1999 and 2015, the decline in labor force participation cumulatively cost the economy 12.1 billion work hours
  • Between 1999 and 2015, the reduction in work hours and labor participation decreased the real annual economic growth rate by 0.2 percentage points, cumulatively costing $702.1 billion, or approximately $44 billion each year, in real economic output

The report explores data and impacts on the overall U.S. economy and suggests that policymakers address the opioid epidemic when considering ways to grow the economy and boost the labor supply. The full report is available here.

National Physical Activity Plan Releases Report on Walkable Communities

The National Physical Activity Plan Alliance (NPAPA) recently released the report Promoting Walking and Walkable Communities – Cross-Sector Recommendations. The report includes recommendations to identify and prioritize the most critical activities that will result in the greatest impact to improve walkability and increase walking throughout the country.

A number of cross-sector strategies and tactics are detailed in the report, such as framing walking as an obesity and non-communicable disease prevention activity, promoting active transportation options, and conducting transportation safety initiatives. The report is intended for public health practitioners, community planners, local jurisdictions, and education professionals, and transportation departments. The full report is available here.