November 1, 2018


Most UK physicians refuse to prescribe cannabis. The World News reports, “Only a minority of [United Kingdom] patients who stand to benefit from potentially life-changing medicinal cannabis prescriptions will be able to access it after laws change on 1 November, experts have warned.


“Despite the potential to help thousands with conditions like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and nausea from cancer treatment, The Independent has learned that most doctors are so far refusing to prescribe.”


Australia’s medical cannabis industry could expand 200 times this decade. SBS News reports, “A report on Australia’s fledgling medicinal cannabis industry suggests it could expand to almost 200 times its current size within a decade.”


CBD becomes mainstream panacea. The New York Times reports, “It’s hard to say the precise moment when CBD, the voguish cannabis derivative, went from being a fidget spinner alternative for stoners to a mainstream panacea.”


Legalization of medical pot comes with unpleasant side effects for medical users. The Montreal Gazette reports, “For patients who have been legally using medical cannabis, the legalization of recreational pot appears to have come with some unpleasant side effects— shortages of product and the realization that prices are lower for recreational consumers.”



Amazon needs to buy a PBM to have pharmaceutical market impact. Axios reports, “Pharmacies are tethered to PBMs in the current system. That means Amazon will have to play ball with the big guns that often create favorable contracts for themselves, or ‘Amazon needs to buy a PBM (which is possible) to have a meaningful impact on market share,’ Ann Hynes of investment bank Mizuho Securities USA wrote in a note to Wall Street.”


Huntington gets $1 million Bloomberg grant to fight opioids. WOWK reports, “The City of Huntington continues to be a leader fighting the opioid epidemic. This time, by better equipping first responders with mental health resources thanks to a new $1 million dollar grant the city won by participating in the Bloomberg Philanthropies US Mayors Challenge.”


Free Narcan (Naloxone) given to public libraries. YMCAs. KOMO reports, “Narcan, that drug meant to help prevent an opioid overdose, is becoming more readily available. “Seattle police carry it. It’s available at CVS and Walgreens without a prescription. And now, it’s going to be available at thousands of public libraries and YMCAs nationwide.”


Unger says recovery coaches can serve as a bridge to recovery. The Journal reports, “Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley and president of the nonprofit group Greater Recovery and Community Empowerment, also known as GRaCe, said trained recovery coaches can serve as a bridge between individuals and resources in recovery.”


Snohomish County, Washington, treats opioid epidemic as natural disaster. NPR reports, “Snohomish County in Western Washington is taking a unique approach to tackle the problem.


“Last year, leaders declared the opioid epidemic a life-threatening emergency. The county is now responding to the drug crisis as if it were a natural disaster, the same way it would mobilize to respond to a landslide or flu pandemic.”


For the Sake of the Children considers opioid crisis


For the Sake of the Children held the last event of its 2018 policy roundtable on Monday, Oct. 29, at the University of Charleston. Several policy issues were discussed, but this writer could only stay for the first issue—universal screening programs as part of comprehensive obstetric care.


The statistics are jarring. Because of the opioid crisis, West Virginia has seen a 113 percent increase in adoptions; 6,600 children are in foster care; 50.6 of every 1,000 births see a child born with neonatal abstinence syndrome; and about 15 percent of all births are drug-exposed babies.


A number of hospitals currently perform newborn screenings according to institutional policies. Insurance companies do not always cover screening costs. Boone County Judge William Thompson said the screenings promote an unintended consequence of drug-using mothers refusing to give birth in hospitals, fearing adverse action against them or their children.


Department of Health and Human Resources Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples called the children-associated opioid crisis an “upstream problem.” He said family planning services must be offered to prevent births as well as parents being educated about the danger of opioid drug use.


Highland CEO Cynthia Persily said more treatment capacity should be developed before universal testing is instituted.


We are delighted to partner with the West Virginia Adverse Childhood Experiences Coalition and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care to host this discussion about the impact of the opioid crisis on our most vulnerable citizens – our children.” said Dr. Michelle Easton, dean of the UC School of Pharmacy, in her opening remarks. “It is my hope that by working together and keeping the dialogue open we will continue to identify best practices and implement meaningful solutions to this issue.”



Natural gas leaders don’t want severance tax increase. WV News reports, “Last year saw the state Legislature pass West Virginia House Bill 4268, known as the Co-Tenancy and Majority Protection Act which was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice. Although controversial, it was approved by members of the energy industry as a means of speeding up natural gas production. Now, leaders of the industry say they don’t want to see the natural gas severance tax go up.”


Thought bubble: A severance tax increase is often mentioned as a way to fund a long-term PEIA fix.



Longwell attempts to unseat Clements in 2nd The Intelligencer reports, “ Political newcomer Denny Longwell seeks to unseat incumbent Charles Clements in West Virginia’s 2nd District Senate race.”


Manchin, Morrisey clash on health care. The Washington Times reports, “With just one week until Election Day in a contest that could prove crucial in determining which party controls the Senate, incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III clashed … with his Republican foe, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, as both men tried to undermine the other’s credibility on health care and continued protections for preexisting conditions.”


Miller, Ojeda talk jobs. WCHS reports, “Jobs have easily been the closest issue to many voters’ hearts. “With the Bureau of Labor Statistics saying unemployment rates are dropping in all West Virginia District 3 counties except Wyoming County since the same period of 2017, it will be up to either Republican Carol Miller or Democrat Richard Ojeda to keep that trend going after the Nov. 6 mid-term election.”


…Nothing is certain in House race. The New York Post reports, “Most polling suggests that Democrats should flip the House of Representatives in the midterm elections — but some analysts warned that nothing is certain a week before the pivotal contests.”


Panhandle campaign finance activities listed. Herald Media reports, “Candidates in contested state legislative offices in the Eastern Panhandle have reported the following campaign-finance activities for the 2018 election cycle…, according to West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner’s finance-reporting system.


…Democratic challengers barely outspending opponents in Kanawha Senate races. The Gazette-Mail reports, “As of the final weeks of the 2018 election, Democratic challengers in Kanawha County’s state Senate districts outspent Republican incumbents — barely.”


Walker to become chief justice. WCHS reports, “Beth Walker, who nearly a month ago was publicly reprimanded and censured by the West Virginia Senate, will become the chief justice  of the state Supreme Court Jan. 1.”


Ambler, Baldwin, neither ever elected to Senate, run in District 10. MetroNews reports, “No matter who is elected to represent District 10 in the West Virginia Senate, it will be their first time elected to the chamber.

“Sen. Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, began serving in October 2017 after being appointed in light of then-Sen. Ron Miller’s resignation…

“As for Delegate George Ambler, R-Greenbrier, he has three terms in the House to point to regarding his legislative experience.”


Beach defends against Oliverio. WV News reports, “With the 2018 General Election just over a week away, two candidates are hoping to represent District 13 of the West Virginia Senate, with Democratic incumbent Bob Beach defending his position against Republican candidate Mike Oliverio.”


Trump to rally for Morrisey. The Herald-Dispatch reports, “President Donald Trump is returning to West Virginia to rally for Republican U.S. Senate nominee Patrick Morrisey.”



Flu isn’t playing around. HuffPost reports, “The flu isn’t playing around. Experts say it’s been particularly severe, with more than 60,000 Americans testing positive for influenza since Oct. 1 (and that number will keep rising).”


Hospital closings rising in rural communities. The New York Times reports, “Hospitals are often thought of as the hubs of our health care system. But hospital closings are rising, particularly in some rural communities.”


LA flea-borne typhus cases hit 107. The Daily Mail reports, “The number of flea-born Typhus cases in Los Angeles has hit 107.”


Paper identifies factors that lead to retransmission of public health social media messages. Illinois News Bureau reports, “A new paper co-written by a University of Illinois scholar who studies social psychology identifies four factors that lead to the retransmission of social media messages from expert accounts, creating data-driven recommendations for online public health messaging.”


States using Medicaid to address social determinants of health. Axios reports, “States are increasingly using their Medicaid programs to focus on addressing social determinants of health, like access to housing and food, as a way to make health care more comprehensive and cost-effective.”


DOA, DOE, WVU partner to bring fresh foods to schools. The Dominion Post reports, “The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is partnering with the West Virginia Department of Education and WVU Extension Service to expand market opportunities for local farmers. This project will allow the three organizations to collaboratively develop a five-year strategic plan to increase the accessibility of fresh food in West Virginia schools, while supporting West Virginia farmers.”


California tightens vaccinations requirements. Thinks some medical exemptions bogus. The Los Angeles Times reports, “In the 2017-18 school year, 95.1% of kindergartners had all of their immunizations, according to the California Department of Public Health.


“However, the elimination of personal belief exemptions was offset to some degree by an increase in medical exemptions. Prior to the passage of SB 277, only 0.2% of students had a medical exemption, the health department said. By 2017-18, that figure had more than tripled, to 0.7%.


“Part of that increase was legitimate, the study authors explained: Some parents whose children could have qualified for medical exemptions obtained personal belief exemptions instead because they were easier to get.


“But many of the additional medical exemptions were bogus, health officials suspect.”


Stars use their platforms to question vaccines. NBC reports, “…Stars use their platforms to question the safety of vaccines for childhood diseases like measles and for seasonal maladies like the flu. In 2007, the MTV star Jenny McCarthy appeared on ‘Oprah’ to say her ‘mommy instinct’ told her that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine had caused her son’s autism.”


Public Safety

Pensions key to recruitment and retention of public safety officers. Forbes reports, “Offering pensions is particularly important in the public sector where salaries are low and employers can’t offer benefits like stock options. The recruitment and retention effects of pensions are key reasons why the public sector has maintained this type of retirement plan, especially for public safety officers.”

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