News Headlines for October 1, 2014

News Headlines Article

Viewpoints: No on Proposition 45
Los Angeles Times

Angered by rapidly rising premiums for automobile insurance, voters approved Proposition 103 in 1988 to give the state insurance commissioner the power to veto unreasonable rate hikes for auto policies. Now, after years of premium hikes in health insurance, voters have the chance to extend that authority to individual and small-group health policies. Proposition 45 would let the commissioner reject any change in premiums, deductibles or related factors found to be excessive, inadequate or “unfairly discriminatory.”

News Headlines Article

Open Payments Site Launches to User Complaints
HealthLeaders Media

The federal Open Payments website, displaying drug and medical device company payments to physicians and teaching hospitals was launched Tuesday and physicians weren’t the only ones expressing displeasure. Users of the new site immediately began reporting difficulties with the usability of the site and the data. During a news conference, moments before the 2 p.m. ET rollout, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services official signaled that there were problems, and said that the website would be further simplified and easier to use “within the next month.”

News Headlines Article

After Surgery, Predicting a Speedy Recovery
The New York Times

After surgery, some patients rebound quickly, and some endure weeks of fatigue or pain.

What if a blood test could predict which path recovery will take? Surgery could be planned better, and recuperation strategies could be made more effective or less expensive.

A new study opens a door to such prediction tools. By analyzing blood from patients having hip replacements, scientists and doctors found that certain activity in patients’ immune systems correlated to different recovery times.

News Headlines Article

Payer Calls for More Primary Care Docs, Team Care
HealthLeaders Media

Better access to primary care doctors is linked to reduced hospital admissions and emergency department visits, a report from UnitedHealth Group’s Center for Health Reform & Moderation shows.

“What this report does try to highlight is that primary care is a cornerstone of an effective and high-performing healthcare system,” says Lewis G. Sandy, MD, an internist and executive vice president, clinical advancement, at UnitedHealth Group.

News Headlines Article

Covered California marks 1st year with millions more insured
San Francisco Chronicle

Covered California, the state-run health insurance marketplace created by the federal Affordable Care Act, turns a year old Wednesday.

During that time, more than 1.3 million Californians — far more than any other state — have enrolled in private plans, and nearly 2 million have been added to Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.

News Headlines Article

Cancer centers limited under Covered California
Los Angeles Daily News

The health care plan Mike Merkel carefully settled on last November seemed like a blessing.

The West Covina resident enrolled in the Blue Shield platinum plan for a family of four. Because he and his wife earn just above the federal maximum income level, they did not receive any subsidies or breaks in their insurance costs. But he was paying $1,000 less a year for him, his wife, Nina, and two children compared with a previous plan. He’d be getting what he wanted, he was told.

News Headlines Article

Covered California signs $14M temporary call center deal
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California has signed a $14 million contract for peak-time call center in south Sacramento that’s expected to hire 500 people in the next 30 days. InSync Consulting Services in Roseville is partnering with Virginia-based Faneuil on the deal. Faneuil just signed an agreement with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange for similar services as these programs gear up for the start of open enrollment Nov. 15.

News Headlines Article

Governor vetoes surgical-tech standards bill
Sacramento Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Monday that tried to establish minimum standards for the 9,000 surgical technologists working in California.

Assembly Bill 2062 by Democratic state Sen. Roger Hernandez from West Covina sought to fill a gap in regulation: Surgical technologists are the only members of a surgical team in an operating room with no mandated minimum level of education, training or certification.

News Headlines Article

Governor signs one hospital workplace safety bill, vetoes another
Sacramento Business Journal

California nurses won one and lost one of their more high-profile legislative battles with hospitals this year.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1299, which imposes new requirements on hospitals for workplace violence plans and reporting. But Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 2616, which assumes hospital employees who get a difficult-to-treat staph infection got it at work — and qualify for workers’ compensation coverage.

News Headlines Article

Brown vetoes hospital merger bill
Capitol Weekly

Facing a deadline, Gov.

News Headlines Article

Sacramento-area officials closely watching Texas Ebola case
KCRA

Although this is the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., more than 6,500 cases have been diagnosed in Africa. California and Sacramento-area health officials are closely watching the Texas case. So, how would some local hospitals deal wth the virus? Is everyone ready? KCRA 3’s Richard Sharp explains.

News Headlines Article

Metro Fire and CA Hospitals React to Ebola in Texas
Fox40

When someone’s sick and calls out to Metro Fire for help, every Sacramento patient gets treated the same way.

“Every patient we treat as if they have a contagious disease…so on your basic patient we’re gonna have our gloves on and eye protection,” said Metro Fire Captain Michelle Eidam.

That kind of body substance isolation standard has long been in place and with its many layers has safely carried department personnel through H1N1 flu flare-ups and pop-up cases of tuberculosis.

News Headlines Article

Database shows $3.5 billion in industry ties to doctors, hospitals
Los Angeles Times

Pulling the curtain back on long-hidden industry relationships, the federal government revealed that U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals had $3.5 billion worth of financial ties with drug and medical-device makers in the last five months of 2013.

The details published Tuesday in a new government database have been sought for years by consumer advocates and lawmakers concerned that conflicts of interest in the medical profession are jeopardizing patient care and costing taxpayer-funded health programs.

News Headlines Article

Detailing Financial Links of Doctors and Drug Makers
New York Times

Pharmaceutical and device makers paid doctors roughly $380 million in speaking and consulting fees, with some doctors reaping over half a million dollars each, during a five-month period last year, according to an analysis of federal data released Tuesday. Other doctors made millions of dollars in royalties from products they helped develop. The data sheds new light on the often murky financial ties between physicians and the health care industry.

News Headlines Article

Death-with-dignity movement springs back to life in California
Los Angeles Times

Seventeen years ago, Oregon became the first of five states to offer what became known as death with dignity. Now a renewed effort is underway to add California to the list.

Past attempts have failed here, but Compassion & Choices, the nonprofit organization involved in the Oregon aid-in-dying movement, has hired staff in California and has begun recruiting supporters in Santa Barbara and San Mateo counties.

News Headlines Article

BRAIN Initiative Bets on Wearable Scanners, Laser-Controlled Cells
National Public Radio

Eighteen months after its launch, President Obama’s plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain is finally taking shape. During separate events Tuesday, the White House and National Institutes of Health offered details about which projects are being funded and why.

At a morning press conference, NIH officials announced $46 million in grant awards to more than 100 investigators. Most of the researchers are working on tools that can “transform how we study the brain,” said NIH Director Francis Collins.

News Headlines Article

Mayor says he’s OK with time it took ambulance to reach wife
San Francisco Chronicle

One week after critics called for her resignation over ambulance response times, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White is defending her agency again, this time over whether it got an ambulance quickly enough to a car crash involving Mayor Ed Lee’s wife on Monday afternoon.

No one was seriously injured in the crash, but information from the Fire Department indicated that it took 12 minutes for the first ambulance to arrive.

News Headlines Article

No-cost mammogram program at SV Hospital
Sonoma Valley Sun

Sonoma Valley Hospital’s Women’s Health Center is offering no-cost mammograms for uninsured and underinsured Sonoma Valley women over the age of 40 during October. The screening program, known as Project Pink, is made available as a community service through a special grant from the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation. “Early detection is key to survival rates,” said Selma Blanusa, Foundation Executive Director.

News Headlines Article

UCSF, GE, agencies team up to define, attack traumatic brain injuries
San Francisco Business Times

UCSF will collaborate with General Electric, other universities, the Defense Department and other government agencies, and patient advocacy groups through a $17 million, five-year project to devise better ways to run clinical trials aimed at new drugs and medical devices for traumatic brain injuries. The project will look at data from thousands of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, patients to find effective measures of brain injury and recovery. It will use blood biomarkers, new imaging equipment and software and other tools.

News Headlines Article

Alameda County’s pioneering drug disposal law upheld in federal court
San Francisco Chronicle

A federal appeals court rejected a challenge Tuesday by the pharmaceutical industry to an Alameda County ordinance, the first in the nation to require drug manufacturers to pay disposal costs for consumers’ unused medications.

Drug companies, backed by trade associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, argued that the 2012 ordinance illegally shifts local costs to out-of-state producers and interferes with interstate commerce.

Commands