Thursday, May 16, 2024 – KFF Health News

Hawaii study: Respiratory, lung problems plague many Maui wildfire survivors

The Washington Post and AP report on a new University of Hawaii study on the impacts of the Lahaina wildfire. Among other things, the researchers found that 74% of the 679 people surveyed had elevated blood pressure levels, meaning the risk of heart disease was higher. Other news from across the country comes from California, Missouri, North Carolina, West Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana and others.

AP: Hawaii study shows nearly 75% of participants in Maui wildfire survey have respiratory problems

A University of Hawaii study examining the health effects of last year’s deadly wildfires on Maui found that 74% of participants may have difficulty breathing and otherwise have poor respiratory health, and nearly half Symptoms of decreased lung function appeared. The data… Researchers hope this will be a long-term study of wildfire survivors lasting at least a decade. Researchers released preliminary results of that research on Wednesday. (McAvoy, 5/16)

Washington Post: Health conditions of Maui fire survivors worsening

In western Maui, thousands of people are living in burned areas — in or near homes that have inhaled massive amounts of toxic smoke from the deadliest wildfire in U.S. history. Many residents say their health is compromised or declining due to exposure to ash, debris and smoke, according to a new health report released Wednesday and first reported by the Washington Post. (Sacks, 5/15)

On other developments across the country –

Politico: Lawmakers demand plan for minimum wage for health care workers

State lawmakers expressed frustration Wednesday over the lack of details on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s promise of a $25 an hour minimum wage for health care workers, saying they need to know soon as they consider his new proposed budget. Working to pass. “We have to look at this quickly, because we need to pass this budget in a month,” Assembly Health Budget Chairman Akila Weber told administration representatives at a hearing Wednesday. (Bluth, 5/15)

KFF Health News: California’s $12 billion Medicaid makeover banks on nonprofits’ buy-in

For most of his young life, Jorge Sanchez regularly gasped for air, sometimes coughing so hard that he almost vomited. His mother took him to the emergency room late at night and slept with him to make sure he didn’t stop breathing. “He’s had these problems since he was born, and I couldn’t figure out what was causing his asthma,” Fabiola Sandoval said of her son, George, now 4. “It’s very difficult when your child is in pain. I was willing to try anything.” (Heart, 5/16)

AP: Missouri lawmakers renew crucial $4B Medicaid tax program

Missouri’s GOP-led legislature on Wednesday renewed a more than $4 billion Medicaid program that had been blocked for months by a Republican faction that had used it as a bargaining tool. The bill will now go to Gov. Mike Parson to renew a long-standing tax on hospitals and other medical providers. Money from the tax is used to fund $2.9 billion in federal funding, which is given back to providers to care for low-income residents on Medicaid health care. (Ballantine, 5/15)

AP: North Carolina lawmakers introduce bill to ban most public mask-wearing, citing crime

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are moving forward on their plan to repeal a pandemic-era law that allows mask-wearing in public for health reasons, a move inspired by demonstrations against the war in Gaza, including Masked protesters are also included. College campus. The legislation was approved in the Senate on Wednesday by a 30-15 vote along party lines, despite multiple efforts by state Senate Democrats to change the bill. (Seminar, 5/16)

Missouri Independent: Missouri bill banning pesticide cancer suits faces tall hurdles

With time running out for legislation that would make it harder to prosecute pesticide manufacturers over claims that their products cause cancer, an unusual coalition of opponents is working to ensure they block the bill’s progress. Has stopped. Critics argue that the bill protects large corporations at the expense of everyday Missourians who suffer from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which they attribute to the use of pesticides derived from glyphosate – most prominently, Roundup. (Kite, 5/16)

Colorado Sun: Colorado looks to take lead on aviation fuel

The gas you put in your car has an octane rating between 85 and 91 in Colorado, but airplanes require a little more energy to get off the ground. Standard aviation fuel for piston-engine planes – think Cessna and other small planes – has an octane rating of at least 100. But that extra pop comes with a price: The fuel usually contains lead. (Ingold, 5/15)

Lexington Herald Leader: 2 more whooping cough cases in Lexington schools, 6 total.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is spreading in Lexington schools, with a total of six cases so far, Lexington-Fayette Health Department officials said Wednesday, and all Central Kentucky families should pay attention to symptoms while making sure children are receiving their vaccines. Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease spread by coughing and sneezing. It affects people of all ages but may be most severe in infants and people with chronic illnesses, officials said. (Spears, 5/16)

Current: Louisiana teen patients travel hours for mental health care

Until this year, Acadiana had no inpatient beds for children under the age of 12. Now, the only local facility providing these services to patients under the age of 18 has 10 beds available, but resources still fall short compared to the growing need for adolescent mental health services. “This area is under-resourced for inpatient adolescent and pediatric needs and really all psychiatric needs,” said Dr. Foster Cordish, who oversees Lafayette General’s emergency department. ERs are often the entry point into the mental health care system for people in crisis. (Maskley, 5/8)

Billings Gazette: Utilities ignore health effects of Colstrip pollution

Colstrip Power Plant owners and politicians are ignoring the public health impacts of air toxic emissions as they blame the EPA for costly air pollution controls, several health and environmental organizations said Tuesday. Since the Environmental Protection Agency imposed tighter standards on mercury and air toxic emissions on April 25, Montana elected officials and power plant owners have denounced the new rules as unreasonably costly, a potential power plant killer for Colstrip. But the rules have been in the works for years and the health benefits not mentioned are significant, speakers said during Tuesday’s press conference. (Lutei, 5/15)

KFF Health News: Doctors say police weapons caused bleeding and broken bones at UCLA protests

Inside the protesters’ camp at UCLA, beneath the glare of hanging flashlights and a deafening backdrop of exploding flash-bangs, OB-GYN resident Ellen Chan suddenly felt like police on a battlefield after an hours-long standoff. Entering the camp. Chan, 31, a medical tent volunteer, said protesters were seriously injured, but there was little hope of getting them to hospital because of the chaos outside. (Castle Work and Kelman, 5/16)