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Despite House Vote, IPAB Lives
Health Leaders Media

Thursday’s House vote to eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB as it is commonly known, provides Republicans and some Democrats with symbolic bragging rights and not much more. There’s very little likelihood that the Democrat-controlled Senate, which is home to some of IPAB’s biggest boosters, will even take up the issue during this legislative session.

That means IPAB, which is part of the massive Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, remains the law of land…for now.

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Palm Drive Hospital’s budget deficit creating ‘very big hole’
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Administrators at Palm Drive Hospital are scrambling to put together a new financial plan in an attempt to reverse the hospital’s budget deficit.

The hospital at the end of February had a deficit of $864,158 and 15 days of cash on hand.

“That’s a very big hole,” said Rick Reid, Palm Drive’s interim chief executive officer and chief financial officer.

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Hospitals Can Save $800M in Claims Costs by Open Adjudication Process
Becker's Hospital Review

Health insurer Blue Shield of California and the Hospital Association of Southern California, which represents 175 acute-care hospitals in Southern California, announced they have collaborated on a program that could save hospitals nationwide $800 million on administrative costs for claims processing.

Blue Shield of California and HASC have worked together since 2010 to reduce claims operating costs through a program called the Partnership in Operational Excellence and Transparency.

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Health reform already affecting most Californians
HealthyCal.org

Today marks the second anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the federal health reform law. Supporters have been celebrating all week. On Monday, opponents of the law will go before the United States Supreme Court to ask that the law be struck down as unconstitutional. But while its future may seem uncertain, the Affordable Care Act is already affecting the lives of millions of Californians — expanding access to insurance, and care, for people who had been falling through the cracks.

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House Votes to Block IPAB, Approve Malpractice Caps
Health Leaders Media

In a vote primarily along party lines, the House of Representatives voted Thursday to repeal the portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that would have created the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

By a 223-181 vote the House approved HR 5 (the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011) with four amendments:

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San Francisco health care experiment being watched nationwide
San Francisco Business Times

An effort to control costs and improve the quality of health care for about one-fourth of the enrollees covered by San Francisco’s cash-strapped city government may have national implications. Those covered are city employees, retirees and dependents.

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SVMH narrows affiliation candidates to three
The Mercury News

Trimming its list of potential partners in half Thursday, the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital board chose three health care organizations to move into the second round of the affiliation process. By a unanimous vote, the board decided to invite Natividad Medical Center, HCA Healthcare and Vanguard Health Systems to make presentations on their affiliation proposals at a special board meeting Tuesday. The public meeting will be held at 5 p.m. in the hospital’s Cislini Plaza board room.

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Oroville City Council approves $15 million bond for hospital
Oroville Mercury-Register

After a long discussion Tuesday night to make sure a bond request wasn’t to buy land, the Oroville City Council approved a $15 million bond for Oroville Hospital. The item took a long discussion, with one issue being whether the hospital could use the bond to buy additional property. The city attorney and other legal officials noted the contract and IRS regulations prohibit it.

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Volunteer teen chefs cater to cancer patients
California Watch

Every Thursday evening during her harrowing treatments for leukemia, Eve Goldberg received Tupperware containers full of nourishment and hope.

The 58-year-old documentary filmmaker, who survived her ordeal, appreciated that the savory organic dishes like rosemary-roasted salmon and minted carrot salad arriving at her doorstep had come from a novel local source: a group of fledgling volunteer teenage chefs dedicated to providing a nutritional edge to people with cancer.

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Two insurers’ rate hikes called ‘excessive’
Modern Healthcare

Two insurers’ rate hikes planned for enrollees in nine states were deemed “excessive” as part of the Obama administration’s latest effort to shame insurers into lowering planned rate increases.

The flagged rate increases planned by John Alden Life Insurance Co. and Time Insurance Co., both based in Milwaukee, included increases of up to 24%. Both companies are part of Assurant, based in New York City, where a spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

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Democrats mark health law’s anniversary touting its benefits
Modern Healthcare

Moments after House members voted to repeal another provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, House Democrats hosted a news conference to promote the law on the eve of its second anniversary.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) introduced a handful of Americans who have—or will—benefit from the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, including the mother of a young child with a pre-existing condition, a senior citizen grateful for relief in his prescription drug costs, an

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5 things Dems got wrong on health care
POLITICO

President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies thought their political assumptions were airtight during the yearlong battle to overhaul the health care system. Voters would reward them, they thought, even if Democrats muscled a bill through without Republican support. It was just a matter of getting out of Washington and selling the law. Obama would lead the charge, and rank-and-file Democrats would proudly campaign on the achievement.

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El Camino board explains need for more members
Mountain View VOICE

El Camino Hospital is reaching out to the community in an effort to help people better understand the recent decision to recruit and appoint new board and committee members to oversee the health care organization. In a pair of public forums set for this week, held March 19 at El Camino’s Los Gatos campus and March 21 in Mountain View, hospital officials sought to explain the recent decision to create several new advisory committees and add three members to one of its boards of directors — by appointment, not election.

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Sutter ‘navigators’ steer routine patients out of emergency rooms
Sacramento Bee

More and more these days, emergency room staffs see a stream of patients who shouldn’t be there.

There are uninsured people with sinusitis or ingrown toenails. Parents who bring in babies with everyday problems like diaper rashes or runny noses. Some patients are insured, but don’t know who their assigned doctor is or can’t get an appointment.

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Sutter Tracy nurses vote to unionize
RecordNet

Registered nurses at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital voted last week to join the California Nurses Association, marking the first time in the hospital’s 64-year history that its nurses will be represented by a labor union.

During an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, 83 nurses voted in favor of union representation; 70 voted for maintaining the status quo.

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Catholic hospital groups look to link with others
San Francisco Business Times

The Bay Area’s Catholics are on the move, though in different directions and for different reasons. Daughters of Charity Health System, based in Los Altos Hills, last week signed a preliminary agreement to affiliate with Ascension Health Alliance, a much larger Catholic system based in St. Louis. Dignity Health, formerly Catholic Healthcare West, in late January changed its name and loosened its affiliation with the Church and its sponsoring religious orders. It now plans to expand dramatically, acquiring Catholic and non-Catholic facilities nationwide.

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New clue in quest to predict heart attacks
Monterey Herald

Too often, people pass a cardiac checkup only to collapse with a heart attack days later. Now scientists have found a clue that one day may help doctors determine if a heart attack is imminent, in hopes of preventing it.

Most heart attacks happen when fatty deposits in an artery burst open, and a blood clot then forms to seal the break. If the clot is too big, it blocks off blood flow.

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Senate panel backs choice in Medi-Cal coverage of Sacramento County kids dental care
Sacramento Bee

The Legislature took its first formal step Thursday to free Sacramento County’s poor children from the confines of mandatory managed dental care.

A Senate committee unanimously approved a proposal by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, to give Sacramento County children on Medi-Cal a choice for their dental coverage.

The legislation also would establish stricter standards for dental plans and tougher enforcement by state agencies.

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Calif. company offering ACO reinsurance
Modern Healthcare

HCP National Insurance Services, Aliso Viejo, Calif., is now offering accountable care organization reinsurance for participants in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

The company, which also specializes in providing medical malpractice insurance, described reinsurance for ACOs as “a big growth area” for the company in a news release.

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California seeks limits on small-business self-insurance trend
Los Angeles Times

Sensing a fresh threat to state and federal healthcare reforms, California insurance officials are seeking new limits on a controversial form of health coverage insurers are selling to small employers.

At issue is a new type of self-insurance for small businesses with as few as 25 workers.

Critics said insurers such as Cigna Corp. are using these new plans to game the system and cherry-pick companies with healthier workers.

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Insurers speed health care overhaul preparations
The Mercury News

The nation’s big insurers are spending millions to carry out President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul even though there’s a chance the wide-reaching law won’t survive Supreme Court scrutiny. It’s not that health insurers want to bet big that the court will uphold the Affordable Care Act. It’s that they can’t afford not to. It will take at least several months and lots of resources for insurers to prepare to implement key elements of the law, which includes a controversial requirement that most Americans have health insurance by 2014.

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Health care law unlikely to ignite voter passion
San Francisco Chronicle

The Affordable Care Act doesn’t poll particularly well. On the campaign trail, saying “I’m going to end Obamacare” is an easy applause line for Republican presidential candidates. It ignites social conservatives like the Catholic bishop of Oakland, who will be protesting its contraception coverage provisions today in San Francisco. None of that matters to President Obama’s re-election campaign. It is not backing away from the signature achievement of Obama’s first term, it is embracing it.

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Desert Valley Hospital opens new heart center
Victorville Daily Press

Desert Valley Hospital has opened its new heart center this week after the state granted a license.

The center brings together cardiac and vascular surgeons, interventional cardiologists, anesthesiologists, interventional radiologists and support staff to provide treatments for heart and vascular problems, according to a press release.

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Marin General raises $9 million
San Francisco Business Times

Hidden away in recent Marin Healthcare District board meeting minutes are some juicy tidbits about the Greenbrae-based public district and Marin General Hospital, which it operates. Among them: The hospital’s foundation has raised $9 million in the 18 months following Marin General turnover to the district by Sutter Health, which had run the hospital on a long-term lease for many years, according to hospital and District CEO Lee Domanico in Feb. 14 meeting notes.

Opinion/Editorial

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No Rx for Medicare
Los Angeles Times

Two years after Congress enacted a sweeping healthcare reform measure, lawmakers are still battling over how to rein in the rising cost of medical care. On Thursday, the House voted to eliminate one of the main cost controls in the 2010 law: the Independent Payments Advisory Board, whose purpose is to keep a lid on the growth of Medicare’s budget. The board may be a blunt instrument, but it’s not the threat that its detractors claim.

The advisory board is something of a fallback plan in case the slew of other cost-control measures in the healthcare reform law don’t pan out.

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‘Obamacare’ and the rationing myth
Los Angeles Times

As part of their ongoing efforts to dismantle “Obamacare,” a.k.a. the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, House Republicans are set to vote Thursday on a bill to repeal one of the law’s main cost-control features: the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the panel of experts tasked with keeping a lid on rising Medicare costs. But the IPAB is just a more explicit — and probably less onerous — way to do something House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposes in his own Medicare overhaul.

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Affordable Care Act for a healthier America
San Francisco Chronicle

Imagine being a parent whose child has a pre-existing condition like asthma or diabetes – a condition that drives medical bills through the roof and forces you to choose between paying the mortgage and paying for the next doctor’s appointment. Imagine being a college senior getting ready for graduation, looking forward to a successful career – but you cannot accept your dream job because it doesn’t offer health insurance.

Blogs

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Health Reform Year Two: Tens of Millions Served
San Francisco Chronicle

As we mark the second anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) now is a good time to have what in medical parlance is called a “time out” and reflect on how far we have come and where we need to go. Some states are challenging the legality of vital provisions such as Medicaid expansion and the mandate for all Americans to carry health insurance. Candidates vying for President Obama’s job vow a complete repeal of the ACA.

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The health reform revulsion
Gridley Herald

As the Scalia Court prepares its next assault on Democratic policymakers, I wanted to share a column in Time last week by Fareed Zakaria reminding us of why it was important to enact health care reform in the first place: The U.S. has the most expensive, least efficient health care system in the developed world. If you don’t mind spending 17 percent of GDP on health care while our competitors spend 5 to 10 percent of GDP on better health care for them, then you will applaud the Supreme Court’s move to turn back the clock.

  

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