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Union seeks to cut California hospital billings, boost care for poor
Los Angeles Times

As healthcare workers gathered outside California hospitals recently to collect signatures for two proposed ballot initiatives, they told voters the measures would rein in excessive hospital billings and expand healthcare for the poor.

Unspoken in the public pitch was the fact that the measures, backed by the Service Employees International Union and aimed at private hospitals, would have a major effect on facilities the union has tried unsuccessfully to organize, while exempting those where many of its members work.

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Health Care Act Offers Roberts a Signature Case
New York Times

When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. takes his usual center seat on the Supreme Court bench on March 26, he will begin presiding over an extraordinary three days of arguments that will determine the fate of President Obama’s sweeping health care law. The decision in the case, expected by June, will have practical consequences for tens of millions of Americans without health insurance, and it may affect Mr. Obama’s re-election chances.

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Healthcare Job Growth Accelerating
Health Leaders Media

Job growth in the healthcare sector has been strong in the first two months of 2012, accounting for one in five new jobs in the overall economy, and even surpassing the robust pace of job growth throughout most of 2011, new federal data shows.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the healthcare sector created 49,000 jobs in February, including 28,200 jobs in ambulatory services, and 15,400 jobs in hospitals.

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What should you expect from the healthcare reform today, tomorrow, and into the future?
Live Insurance News

No matter what you may think about the reforms from the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010, the changes are already under way and they will continue on until they are required to be set in place in 2014. By that time, Americans will all be required to have some form of healthcare insurance coverage. However, there are still a large number of people in the country who are not yet fully aware of what the changes entail and how they – and their families – will be effected by them. The following are some of the more significant alterations to the healthcare system:

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Million-dollar hospital bills rise sharply in Northern California
Sacramento Bee

A million dollars can buy a mansion in one of Sacramento’s nicest neighborhoods, near its best schools and parks.

Or it can buy an ever-dwindling number of weeks in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.

Bradley Showalter, an Arden gas station attendant and laid-off construction manager, can’t afford either of those expenses, but the cancer eating his liver didn’t get the memo, so he’s steeling himself for a massive bill related to a future organ transplant.

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Obama’s health care law: A trek, not a sprint
San Francisco Chronicle

It took only a year to set up Medicare. But if President Barack Obama’s health care law survives Supreme Court scrutiny, it will be nearly a decade before all its major pieces are in place. And that means even if Obama is re-elected, he won’t be in office to oversee completion of his signature domestic policy accomplishment, assuming Republicans don’t succeed in repealing it.

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Health Care Exchange Rules to Be Set
New York Times

The Obama administration is about to carry out a major provision of the new health care law by issuing standards for health insurance exchanges, the markets where consumers and small businesses will be able to buy coverage from competing private plans. To encourage states to set up the exchanges, federal officials said, they will give state officials broad discretion to decide the operational details. However, the federal officials made clear that they would set up and operate an exchange in any state that refused to do so.

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Small businesses running out of time for health care tax credit
Sacramento Business Journal

Many small employers qualify for a small business health care tax credit under the federal health reform law — but they must file by the March 15 corporate tax filing deadline, according to the California Chamber of Commerce. The credit is intended to help small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations afford the cost of providing health benefits for their employees.

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AMGA pushes physician-payment alternatives
Modern Healthcare

The public policy team of the American Medical Group Association expressed little optimism that Congress would ever get around to replacing the sustainable-growth rate formula for Medicare payments to physicians, but they told attendees at the AMGA’s annual conference in San Diego that the organization was advocating for two alternatives and offered a suggestion for what they could do to prod Congress into action.

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As the Uninsured Go Without Care, Health Districts Hold Reserves of Money
New York Times

When Roron Chen went to a public clinic to try to see a doctor, she was put on the waiting list at the San Mateo Medical Center. A California state law requires counties to provide health care to people like Ms. Chen who cannot afford health insurance and have no other alternatives. Ms. Chen, a homemaker from San Mateo whose husband lost his job three years ago, had to wait nearly a year to see a doctor through the program. Like thousands of other uninsured people in San Mateo County, Ms. Chen waited and waited because the county did not have the money to subsidize her health care.

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Mostashari to docs: We need your guidance on meaningful use
Modern Healthcare

Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the national coordinator for health information technology, urged, pleaded and cajoled his audience during a talk at the American Medical Group Association annual conference to send comments on the proposed Stage 2 meaningful-use requirements that providers must meet in order to qualify for federal IT subsidies. “We’ve gotten to this place because we’ve been listening,” Mostashari said at the conference, noting that every comment is read and responded to and that his office needs AMGA members’ feedback to make the program more useful.

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The Web Is Awash in Reviews, but Not for Doctors. Here’s Why
New York Times

For all the debate about which Web sites have the best model for reliable reviews — paid or unpaid, anonymous or real name, Angie’s List or Yelp or TripAdvisor — one thing is certain: a robust ecosystem exists online for restaurant and hotel reviews that has changed those industries for the better. So it is puzzling that there is no such authoritative collection of reviews for physicians, the highest-stakes choice of service provider that most people make.

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Healthcare adds 49,000 jobs in February
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals added 15,400 jobs in February, a 0.3% increase that brought employment in the sector to 4.81 million jobs, according to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Looking at the 12-month period ended in February, hospital employment grew by 2.3%, or 109,600 jobs.

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Merced nonprofit helps with health care
Modesto Bee

A Merced nonprofit is working to ensure eligible Hmong children and their families enroll in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform.

The Healthy House Within a MATCH Coalition has received two grants to help enroll at least 700 Hmong children and adults for health insurance under the law, said Candice Adam-Medefind, the nonprofit’s executive director.

Opinion/Editorial

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‘Obamacare’ plaintiff Brown’s bankruptcy: Instant karma?
Los Angeles Times

What do you call it when someone who is suing to overturn the healthcare reform law files for bankruptcy, listing $4,500 in unpaid medical bills?

Karma? Fate? A lucky break for President Obama?

Really, you can’t make this stuff up. Here’s what The Times’ David Savage wrote Thursday:

Mary Brown, a 56-year-old Florida woman who owned a small auto repair shop but had no health insurance, became the lead plaintiff challenging President Obama’s healthcare law because she was passionate about the issue.

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Mary Brown, ‘Obamacare’ foe — and broke
Los Angeles Times

Mary Brown, whose case against the 2010 healthcare reform law is pending before the Supreme Court, argues that the government shouldn’t be able to force her to carry health insurance. Joined by three other individuals and a small-business trade association, she’s asking the justices to rule that the law’s insurance mandate is unconstitutional and that the rest of the act should be thrown out with it. But new revelations about her own situation make the case for the other side.

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Obama’s healthcare albatross
Los Angeles Times

There’s a seeming paradox in the way Americans view the healthcare law that President Obama and the Democrats passed two years ago this month.

Most people tell pollsters they like the parts of the law that have gone into effect: health insurance for people with preexisting conditions, a clause that allows children to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26 and discounts for prescription drugs on Medicare.

  

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