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Overdose Deaths Overwhelm Coroners
NBC News

Soaring numbers of overdose deaths are adding to woes already plaguing medical examiner and coroner offices, resulting in a shortage of places to store bodies and long delays in autopsies and toxicology testing.

The Connecticut medical examiner’s office has considered renting a refrigerated truck to store extra bodies because its storage area has neared capacity at times.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office sometimes has to put bodies on Army-style cots in its refrigerated storage area because it runs out of gurneys. The Hamilton County coroner’s office in Cincinnati has a 100-day backlog of DNA testing for police drug investigations, largely because of increased overdose deaths.

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Doctors, patients urge legislation to improve hospice, palliative care
Modern Healthcare

Doctors and lawmakers Thursday touted legislation to train more providers who specialize in hospice and palliative care and improve options for patients with serious chronic illnesses.At a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said he is introducing a bill that would allow for more pilot programs and Medicare waivers regarding hospice care. It would also allow hospice and curative care to be provided to a patient at the same time and would provide for home services before a patient is homebound.

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You have one week to tell the government what to do about cancer
Washington Post

Have an idea about how to make progress against cancer? The federal government wants to know, but the suggestion box closes next Friday.

For months, the National Cancer Institute has been gathering research ideas from the public and experts around the country via a special portal, CancerResearchIdeas.cancer.gov. The suggestions are being funneled to seven working groups looking for the best opportunities for speeding up progress against cancer. But the NCI is facing a series of deadlines, so the portal will be shut down at end of the next work week.

So far, the cancer institute has gotten 616 suggestions — more than 400 through the portal and another 200 by phone and email — on topics such as expanding clinical trials; enhanced data sharing; pediatric cancer and prevention and early detection. Some of the ideas are highly technical; others are commonsensical and a few are downright wacky.

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Playing catch-up in hospital innovation
Tech Crunch

Earlier this year, the White House made a bold bid against cancer, announcing a new, nationwide “Moonshot” initiative to do away with the disease — once and for all. Mark Zuckerberg also made headlines recently by promising to bankroll research efforts.

Billions of dollars in increased funding and more brainstorming toward a cure is a very good thing. With the costs of cancer care hovering around $157 billion a year, heart disease/stroke at $315.4 billion and the human toll of both at 1.2 million per year, these unrelenting illnesses need the most attention.

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White House slams GOP’s ObamaCare replacement plan
The Hill

President Obama’s chief spokesman on Wednesday ripped the House Republicans’ long-awaited plan to replace ObamaCare, calling the proposal too little, too late. “For six years now, Republicans have vowed to put an ObamaCare alternative on the floor of the Congress.

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Supreme Court decision deals blow to health coverage efforts in California
Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court decision Thursday effectively blocking President Obama’s immigration programs also comes as a blow to California legislators who have been fighting to offer health insurance to people living in the country illegally.

Immigrants living in the U.S. without authorization can’t enroll in Obamacare and make up a large portion of those who remain uninsured in California. But an unusual state policy allows those granted temporary relief from deportation to sign up for Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health program.

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Cutting healthcare costs shouldn’t be this painful
Los Angeles Times

When my son was circumcised, Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” was playing on a radio at the hospital. The pediatrician glanced over at me and said, “Some day, he’ll hear that song and won’t know why it makes him uncomfortable.”

Snip.

I recalled this experience while speaking the other day with Matt Williamson about his own son’s quiet storm of foreskin loss. The issue wasn’t the procedure, which I know some people question. The issue was the cost.

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As Marijuana Legalization Initiative Heads For California Ballot, Health Groups Weigh In
California Healthline

With an initiative to legalize marijuana in California likely heading to the November ballot, medical providers, health care experts and industry groups are sharply divided over the controversial measure.

It is already legal in California to use cannabis with a doctor’s prescription. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act would allow adults 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of it and grow up to six plants for non-medical use. The initiative also would impose a 15 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales.

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Filling A Prescription? You Might Be Better Off Paying Cash
Kaiser Health News

Some consumers who use health insurance copays to buy prescription drugs are paying far more than they should be and would be better off paying with cash, especially for generics.

The added cost runs as high as $30 or more per prescription, say pharmacists, and the money is largely being pocketed by middlemen who collect the added profit from local pharmacies.

Cash prices started to dip below copays a decade ago when several big box stores started offering dozens of generics for as little as $4 per prescription.

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Colon Cancer Screening: Five Things To Know
Kaiser Health News

It’s a predictable passage in life: Hit 50, get lots birthday cards with old-age jokes, a mailbox full of AARP solicitations — and a colonoscopy.

But millions of Americans — about one-third of those in the recommended age range for colon cancer screening — haven’t been tested. Some avoid it because they are squeamish about the procedure, or worried about the rare, but potentially serious, complications that can occur as a result of it.

Now, an influential panel has added some new choices, aiming to get more Americans screened for colorectal cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.

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Payers, telehealth vendors getting value out of partnerships
HealthcareDIVE

Health insurers are increasingly looking to telemedicine to ease provider shortages, expand access to care, increase patient satisfaction and lower costs. With advances in data sharing, payers and telehealth companies are also making strides in managing patient populations to improve outcomes.

Teladoc, the nation’s largest telehealth provider, is currently working with 28 health plans, including Aetna, Oscar and Blue Shield of California. Others, like RelayHealth and Cirrus MD, are also partnering with insurers.

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About 5% of home healthcare agencies show potential signs of fraud
Modern Healthcare

More than 500 home healthcare agencies—about 5% of the total—and 4,500 doctors across the country share characteristics that often point to home healthcare fraud, according to a report released by HHS‘ Office of Inspector General on Wednesday.

An alert that accompanied the report warned that the federal government is stepping up enforcement when it comes to such crimes.

According to the Office for Inspector General, home healthcare fraud cases typically involve five characteristics, including high percentages of:

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The Insurer Fee Disconnect
The Health Care Blog

A message to health insurance CEOs, COOs, and CFOs. I believe there to be a fundamental disconnect between typical health insurer provider reimbursement strategies and the long term good of our healthcare delivery system and its financing.

Let me give you some examples which I know, as a former health insurer COO and CEO, to be true.

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California Insurance Commissioner Weighs In Against Aetna-Humana Deal
Kaiser Health News

California’s insurance commissioner on Thursday recommended that federal officials block Aetna Inc.’s proposed $37 billion acquisition of Humana Inc., saying the deal would suppress market competition and harm consumers.

The official opinion of Dave Jones came just three days after California’s other health insurance regulator, the Department of Managed Care, approved the planned transaction. Just a week ago, Jones urged the federal government to block another mega-merger, Anthem Inc.’s $54 billion offer for Cigna Corp, also on competitive grounds.

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Sutter Health and Alameda Health redirect ER hoppers with new software
Modern Healthcare

Sutter Health and Alameda Health System have teamed to install software at six Oakland, Calif., area hospitals in an effort to reroute patients who frequent their emergency departments to other appropriate care and services.

The hospitals used grant funding to install PreManage ED system, a product widely used in Oregon and Washington, that alerts the participating hospitals when a patient jumps from ER to ER, Sutter and Alameda announced this week.

Once identified, the hospitals attempt to coordinate the patient’s care with navigators or others, including social service agencies, to ensure that they are being seen in the appropriate setting, the health systems said.

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Boeing partners with MemorialCare to offer healthcare direct to workers
Los Angeles Times

Aerospace giant Boeing Co. has established a preferred partnership with MemorialCare Health System to offer most of its Southern California employees a health plan option that eliminates much of the role of a traditional insurer.

Starting in January, Boeing employees who choose the MemorialCare option will have smaller paycheck deductions for healthcare coverage, no co-payments for primary care office visits and full coverage for generic drug prescriptions.

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UC Davis Children’s hospital ranked among nation’s best
ABC News

U.S. News & World Report has ranked UC Davis Children’s Hospital in five pediatric specialties in the new 2016-17 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.

UC Davis Children’s Hospital ranked 19th in neonatology, 29th in diabetes and endocrinology, and 43rd in nephrology. UC Davis Children’s Hospital also ranked 32nd in urology and 38th in orthopaedics, in collaboration with Shriners Hospital for Children – Northern California, its longstanding partner in caring for children with burns, spinal cord injuries, orthopaedic disorders and urological issues.

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‘We’ve created a tremendous learning environment at Kaweah Delta’
Visialia Times-Delta

Dr. Ty Philipson celebrated his final shift in the Kaweah Delta Medical Center emergency room Wednesday evening. The shift came after three years of strenuous work in the district’s first residency program.

Philipson, along with 11 other resident physicians, began his journey with the district in 2013.

“There’s like a brotherhood,” he said about the program. “ER medicine is a team effort.

 

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