News Headlines for July 2, 2015

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CMS will modify—not scrap—’two-midnight’ rule
Modern Healthcare

The CMS plans to soften but keep the controversial “two-midnight” rule governing short hospital stays in spite of aggressive calls from providers and policy experts to abandon the policy. In a proposed payment rule posted Wednesday, the Obama administration said it plans to allow physicians to exercise judgment to admit patients for short hospital stays on a case-by-case basis.

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Study Finds Doctors Order Fewer Preventive Services For Medicaid Patients
Kaiser Health News

Gynecologists ordered fewer preventive services for women who were insured by Medicaid than for those with private coverage, a recent study found.

The study by researchers at the Urban Institute examined how office-based primary care practices provided five recommended preventive services over a five-year period. The services were clinical breast exams, pelvic exams, mammograms, Pap tests and depression screening.

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Health IT Underused in Care Coordination
HealthLeaders Media

Using health IT to support care coordination is inconsistent in primary care practices, especially when it comes to the care coordination activities that matter most to clinicians, according to new research in the Annals of Family Medicine.

“The activities that the clinicians were most interested in were not ones that were necessarily most supported by health IT,” says lead author Suzanne Morton, MPH, MBA, senior healthcare analyst for the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

In addition, the research found that the care-coordination activities that practices had most commonly implemented were not the ones with the greatest degree of health IT support.

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Weight-Loss Surgery Better Than Diet and Exercise in Treating Type 2 Diabetes, Study Finds
The Wall Street Journal

A growing body of evidence suggests that weight-loss surgery is more effective than diet and exercise at getting rid of Type 2 diabetes.

A small but rigorous randomized trial published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery provides the latest evidence showing the superiority of bariatric surgery over lifestyle changes in resolving the chronic condition involving high blood sugar.

In the trial, 61 obese adults with diabetes were randomly assigned to one of two surgical procedures or intensive lifestyle intervention and followed for three years. Forty percent of those who had received a gastric bypass procedure and 29% who received a gastric band were considered in remission from diabetes and no longer needed to take medication after three years. In comparison, no one in the group who received intensive lifestyle intervention resolved their diabetes.

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Poll: 62 percent of public supports Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare
Washington Post

Twice as many Americans support the Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold a key provision of the health-care law as are opposed, according to a poll released Wednesday. When told that the court ruled to allow Americans to continue receiving subsidies to afford health insurance in all states, about 6 in 10 surveyed said they approve of the decision while about one-third disapprove, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Obama Asks GOP To Work With Him To Improve Health Care
Kaiser Health News

President Barack Obama called on Republicans Wednesday to find a bipartisan way to fix problems in the nation’s health care system rather than continue to fight over the health law.

“Part of what I’m hoping is with the Supreme Court case now behind us what we can do is … focus on how we can make it even better because it’s not as if we’ve solved all the problems in our health care system,” Obama said in remarks at an elementary school in Nashville, Tenn. “America still spends more on health care than any other advanced nation and our outcomes aren’t particularly better.”

In a 6-3 ruling, the high court last week rejected a challenge that would have ended federal premium subsidies in at least 34 states for individuals and families buying insurance through the federal government’s online marketplace. Such a result would have made coverage unaffordable for millions and created price spirals for those who kept their policies, many experts predicted.

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Vaccine Bill Referendum Filed
capital public radio

California’s vaccine debate may not be over yet.

One day after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the end of the personal belief exemption into law, a leading opponent has filed a referendum on the measure with the Attorney General’s office.

That opponent is former Republican Assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly. He’ll have 90 days from Tuesday, the day the bill was signed into law, to collect more than 365,000 valid signatures from California voters.

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Nearly a Quarter of Californians Are Obese, Study Finds
HealthyCal.org

Nearly a quarter of Californians are obese, and the disease disproportionately affects low-income people and certain racial and ethnic groups, a new study reports.

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that 24.8 percent of adults were obese in 2011–2012, compared to 19.3 percent a decade earlier.

“Healthy eating requires a combination of money, time and resources, which not everyone has,” Joelle Wolstein, lead author of the study, said in a release. “Obesity results from a complex web of factors. Can you get fresh vegetables nearby? If not, can you get to the store? Is there a safe place to exercise nearby?”

Nearly 18 million California adults and adolescents are considered overweight or obese, and about 7.4 million of them can be classified as obese, according to the report, published June 25 on the UCLA Center’s website.

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Industry Payments To Doctors Are Ingrained, Federal Data Show
KQED Radio

Few days went by last year when New Hampshire nephrologist Ana Stankovic didn’t receive a payment from a drug company.

All told, 29 different pharmaceutical companies paid her $594,363 in 2014, mostly for promotional speaking and consulting, but also for travel expenses and meals, according to data released Tuesday detailing payments by drug and device companies to U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals. (You can search for your doctor on ProPublica’s updated Dollars for Docs interactive database.)

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Doctors, hospitals get $6.5 billion from drug, medical device firms last year
Los Angeles Times

Doctors and teaching hospitals received $6.5 billion last year from drug companies and medical device firms for research, consulting and other reasons, new federal data show. The details published Tuesday by the Obama administration mark the second batch of data on industry ties to medical providers.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, federal health officials released information last year on payments made for five months of 2013. The latest data cover all of 2014.

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Costly Decision to Cut Mental Health Care
The Sacramento Bee

A jury of our peers rendered a verdict that any one of us understands all too well: The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors has failed to provide care for people who desperately need it, the severely mentally ill.

The Sacramento County grand jury honed in on the ramifications of a dreadful decision made by the Board of Supervisors in 2009 to shut a 50-bed crisis unit for people in the throes of a mental illness crisis. The grand jury urges restoration of the crisis unit, among several other steps.

Sacramento County supervisors did increase funding in 2015, and mental health officials are gamely trying different approaches to improve care. But the failures remain brutally evident.

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Insurers to get almost $8 billion in health care reform reimbursements
Business Insurance

The federal government will pay out nearly $8 billion in claims reimbursements to 437 health insurers under a reinsurance program created by the health care reform law.

Under the first year of the three-year Transitional Reinsurance Program — intended to encourage insurers to provide coverage in the individual market — health insurers writing coverage in the individual market are reimbursed by the government for 2014 claims between a $45,000 attachment point and a $250,000 ceiling.

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NantHealth, Allscripts swap hundreds of millions of dollars
Los Angeles Business Journal

In a move that sets NantHealth up for an IPO by the end of the year, Allscripts (NASDAQ: MDRX) has purchased a 10 percent stake in the Culver City, California, healthcare IT company for $200 million in cash. In return, NantHealth founder Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has invested $100 million in the Chicago-based company through NantCapital.

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Sutter Health initiative works to reduce sepsis deaths; condition is No. 1 killer in US hospitals
Lake County News

The No. 1 killer in U.S. hospitals claims more lives than prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. It creeps into intensive care units, emergency departments and medical surgical units and claims 30 to 50 percent of its victims. Sepsis is a common condition that is not commonly recognized by Lake County residents. Sepsis occurs when the bloodstream is overwhelmed with bacteria, usually in response to an infection.

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Kaiser and city trumpet railyard medical center, but details are few
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente put a flag in the ground for its future development of a medical center in the railyard Wednesday. But officials with the nonprofit medical giant also said there’s not a lot more to share yet.

“We’ve just gotten the land acquired,” said Ron Groepper, senior vice president/area manager for Kaiser’s Sacramento Medical Center. “We have no renderings or concepts even yet.”

Speaking after a formal announcement near the 18-acre northwestern railyard site for the medical center, Groepper did provide some other details. Both the center and new Kaiser medical offices a few blocks south in downtown Sacramento will focus on clinic and outpatient procedures, he said, following the trend in medical care. And Kaiser also will hold onto land it owns in Natomas near the Promenade development for building a medical office, he said.

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