FROM Charles Ornstein
Privacy and Abortion Rights The fight over abortion rights has taken a new turn. More and more, anti-abortion activists are trying to uncover personal details about women who get abortions and doctors who perform them. Their tactics range from public records requests to dumpster diving outside abortion clinics. This brings up all kinds of privacy concerns. And now the fight is playing out in courts around the country.
New Hospital, New Hope to Replace King Drew Medical Center When King Drew Medical Center opened in South L.A. in 1972 it was more than just a hospital. It was a symbol of hope and empowerment for L.A.’s African-American community. The hospital represented healing for people still recovering from the Watts riots. But over time, that promise faded. King Drew had such a bad reputation it was known as “Killer King.” The hospital was finally shut down eight years ago -- after aLos Angeles Times investigation detailed years of malpractice and mismanagement. This summer, a brand new facility is opening in its place. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital starts treating patients in July. Is it the beginning of a new era?
The New “Ebola Czar” President Obama appointed Ron Klain as the administration’s so-called Ebola czar today, putting him in charge of coordinating the government’s response to the virus. Klain served as chief of staff to Vice President Biden and former Vice President Al Gore, but doesn’t have a healthcare background. Is that a problem?
The Patient's Right to Know - About Their Doctor’s Other Relationships The so-called Sunshine Act, which is part of Obamacare, mandates financial disclosure by drug companies and the makers of medical devices. How much have they paid to doctors, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, and optometrists; not just for medical research, but for promotional speaking, consulting and dinners out? A new, federal website is now online, and the non-profit investigative journalism organization ProPublica maintains its own records on a website called Dollars for Docs .
Surgeon Wins $10 Million Settlement in UCLA Whistleblower Suit Yesterday the University of California handed a $10 million settlement to the former chairman of UCLA's orthopedic surgery department. Dr. Robert Pedowitz sued UCLA, the UC Regents, colleagues and university officials for allegedly retaliating against him after he spoke up in 2010 about what he called widespread conflicts of interest involving UCLA doctors' financial ties to medical device companies. UC officials have denied any wrongdoing in the case, and claim there is no evidence that patient care was affected. The university maintains it settled to avoid the cost and inconvenience of further time in court. Note: We asked UCLA to participate in this discussion but, unfortunately, the University was not able to provide an official by the taping of this interview. It did provide us with the following statement: "UCLA acted fully within the scope of law and UC policy in this case."
Glaxo Will No Longer Pay Doctors to Promote Its Drugs It's been standard practice for drug companies to pay doctors for promoting their products in speaking engagements and elsewhere, making some doctors rich but raising ethical questions. Now GlaxoSmithKline says it won't do that any more . But today's announcement from the sixth largest drug company -- maker of Advair, Lovaza and other products -- may be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. That's according to Charles Ornstein, senior reporter at ProPublica and past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
Kathleen Sebelius on the Hot Seat, Obamacare under Fire President Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services was grilled for more than three hours today on Capitol Hill. Kathleen Sebelius apologized to the American people and vowed to solve the problems of Healthcare.gov -- but Republicans were not cutting her any slack. She took responsibility for the "debacle," but said the Affordable Care Act will be good for America. We hear excerpts from the proceedings and look at charges and counter-charges about President Obama and his most-prized achievement. Has he told the whole truth? Are Republicans attacking a plan that's of their own making?
Will Digital Disaster Upend the Affordable Care Act? The White House has promised that Healthcare.gov will be running smoothly by the end of November, but yesterday, it crashed again. At today's briefing, Press Secretary Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, "We have several teams, many teams of highly qualified experts who are addressing the identified and isolated problems that do exist and have existed with the website, and they are fixing them incrementally as Jeff Zients and others have talked about." Why has so much gone so badly so soon for the signature accomplishment of President Obama's first term? Some website programmers say it started too late and too big. They warn that the planned "tech surge" could make things worse, rather than better. With Democrats demanding delays in signups and penalties and Republicans calling for heads to roll, the urgency of finding a fix grows by the day.
Sudden Overhaul of the State Nursing Board On Sunday, the nonprofit news service ProPublica published a scathing report on the state Board of Registered Nursing in cooperation with the Los Angeles Times. Yesterday, Governor Schwarzenegger fired three of six sitting board members , and another had already resigned. Today, the executive director stepped down. Charles Ornstein writes for ProPublica .
Japanese Yakuza and Liver Transplants in the US The UCLA Medical Center is a world-renown center for organ transplants. Between 2000 and 2004, organs were scarce, but Tadamasa Goto and three other Japanese gangsters got ahead of the line. Goto, who leads a Japanese gang called the Goto-gumi, is barred from the United States. The FBI helped him get the visa hoping for information on organized crime. They never got it, but Goto got a new liver. That's according to today's Los Angeles Times in a story co-written by Charles Ornstein.
Federal Regulators Begin Survey of King-Harbor Thirteen federal inspectors arrived unannounced yesterday at King-Harbor Hospital with plans to stay for at least a week. At stake is the loss of $200 million dollars, which County Supervisors say will force them to shut down the facility.
King Harbor Hospital on Life Support Closing down LA County’s King/Harbor hospital once seemed unthinkable. Yesterday, Los Angeles County Supervisors asked the health department to draw up contingency plans. After years of substandard care and needless deaths, the federal government has threatened to withdraw their half of the budget. After pleas for delay and promises to retrain the staff, more than 40% of licensed vocational nurses failed to pass tests on their professional skills. The incident that best dramatizes conditions at King/Harbor is the videotaped death of a woman who writhed on the floor while hospital staff ignored her. Edith Isabel Rodriguez was buried yesterday in Tehachapi.
Harbor-UCLA to Take Over King/Drew Hospital The King/Drew Medical Center was opened by LA County after the Watts Riots of 1965, to provide much-needed medical care in South Central Los Angeles. But King/Drew has been plagued by years of bad management and inadequate staffing, which led to the unnecessary deaths of an alarming number of patients. Late last month, King/Drew flunked yet another federal inspection , and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid decided to pull out $200 million--half the hospital's budget. Though the hospital won't go out of business, it won't be the same, either. County Supervisors today agreed unanimously to put it under the control of Harbor-UCLA , another County facility 10 miles away. How much will medical services be cut back for the people who live in South-Central LA? Will doctors, nurses and other staff be able to keep their jobs? What are the consequences for Harbor-ULCA? We talk with some of the major players.
King/Drew Fails Test Federal officials say it's all over for King/Drew Medical Center , the hospital created by LA County after the Watts Riots of 1965. Now, three years after a series of patient deaths, the County has spent $17 million to make things right. But last week, King/Drew failed the last in a multitude of inspections. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have formally announced withdrawal of $200 million in funding, half the hospital's annual budget. Today, the Board of Supervisors held a closed-door meeting to decide what to do.
'Do-or-die' time on healthcare bill President Trump has demanded a House vote today on replacing Obamacare…whatever the details might be. Despite his campaign promise that nobody would lose health insurance, that's possible for 24 million people if he were finally to sign this bill into law.
Trump's travel ban and the long-term agenda The Trump Administration's revised travel ban may be good news for some visa holders and others, but it's still being challenged as unconstitutional. Some reporters call it the beginning of a long-term effort to change the demographic make-up of the United States.
House Republicans release their Obamacare replacement As two House committees take up "repeal and replacement" of "Obamacare," there may be life left in the Affordable Care Act after all. Even Republicans are divided, and proposed changes won't make good on President Trump's promise to provide "health insurance for everybody."
Getting answers on phone taps, Russia and leaking The Directors of the FBI and the NSA testified on Capitol Hill today there's no evidence for President Trump's claim he was wire-tapped by former President Obama. We'll hear about that and the investigation into Russian tampering with last year's presidential campaign.