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How To Make Sense Of Health Insurance Alphabet Soup
National Public Radio

What’s in a name? When it comes to health plans sold on the individual market, these days it’s often less than people think.

The lines that distinguish HMOs, PPOs, EPOs and POS plans from one another have blurred, making it hard to know what you’re buying by name alone, assuming you’re one of the few people who know what an EPO is in the first place.

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Audit: Obamacare medical-device tax not meeting revenue target
Modern Healthcare

An Obamacare tax on medical devices is falling short of its revenue target because thousands of companies aren’t paying it, according to a government audit released Tuesday.

The audit by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration says the IRS needs to do a better job policing the tax. The tax agency, however, doesn’t have adequate tools to identify which companies owe it, the audit said.

The report could add fuel to efforts to repeal the tax, which is opposed by Republicans and many Democrats.

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Obamacare poll: Californians of all political stripes show increased support of health care law
Contra Costa Times

The nation’s new health care law is surging in popularity in the Golden State, according to a Field Poll, which finds more Californians today — of all political stripes — support the Affordable Care Act than at any time since it was signed into law four years ago.

And by a 2-1 margin, they praise the successful way it’s been rolled out in the state, compared to the federal government’s glitch-ridden system.

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Covered California to review lessons learned for open enrollment
Sacramento Business Journal

The Covered California board will get an update on health plan contracting at a meeting in Sacramento on Thursday. Also on the agenda is a review of lessons learned in the first open enrollment and plans for the next one this fall. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Covered California Tahoe Auditorium at the agency’s new headquarters at 1601 Exposition Blvd. The public part of the meeting is expected to begin at noon.

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Obamacare support in California grows
Orange County Register

California voters, who have always favored the Affordable Care Act by a large majority, now support it more strongly than ever, according to an opinion survey published Tuesday.

A new Field Poll, conducted from late June to mid-July, shows that 56 percent of registered voters in the state favor the health reform law, also known as Obamacare, while 35 percent are opposed. That compares with 53 percent in favor and 38 percent against in a similar Field Poll conducted last year.

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Field Poll: Strong support for California health insurance rate-regulation measure
Sacramento Bee

A California initiative on the fall ballot requiring that health insurance rate changes be approved by the elected insurance commissioner is receiving strong support from voters statewide, according to the latest Field Poll.

Nearly 70 percent of registered voters back Proposition 45, while 16 percent say they would oppose it and 15 percent remain undecided ahead of the Nov. 4 election. Support came from 75 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans.

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California’s health care safety net under stress
Sacramento Business Journal

The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Californians get health insurance, but an estimated 4 million are likely to remain uninsured when the law is fully implemented in 2019, according to a new report by The Greenlining Institute.

While a significant portion of the uninsured immigrated illegally, many did not. Some still can’t afford insurance. Others have experienced temporary loss of insurance due to unforeseen life events, knowingly decided not to buy insurance or haven’t signed up for Medi-Cal even though they may qualify for coverage.

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U.S. won’t reveal records on HealthCare.gov security
Modern Healthcare

After promising not to withhold government information over “speculative or abstract fears,” the Obama administration has concluded it will not publicly disclose federal records that could shed light on the security of the government’s healthcare website because doing so could “potentially” allow hackers to break in.

The CMS denied a request by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act for documents about the kinds of security software and computer systems behind the federally funded HealthCare.gov. The AP requested the records late last year amid concerns that Republicans raised about the security of the website, which had technical glitches that prevented millions of people from signing up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

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Report workforce health data publicly, to benefit workers, companies and investors
Washington Post

How would you react if your boss asked for your blood pressure? What about your smoking habits? Or your Body Mass Index? What if everyone in your workplace was asked to report his or her health metrics – privately and confidentially – as part of an effort to make you and your co-workers healthier?

Too many Americans are dying prematurely from preventable heart disease, diabetes, cancers and lung diseases.

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Opponents of medical-malpractice initiative take battle to airwaves
Los Angeles Times

A ballot-measure battle over medical-malpractice awards and drug testing of doctors arrived on the airwaves Tuesday, with opponents of the initiative rolling out statewide television and radio ads. The ad buys mark the first major salvo in the contest over Proposition 46, which is primed to be one of the costliest fights of the November election.

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Medi-Cal denies patients access to now-basic genetic tests
San Francisco Chronicle

Jessica Lucas, a Central Valley resident, rushed her 10-year-old son, Curtis, to the emergency room last month when he passed out shortly after tussling with his 3-year-old brother. Cardiologists at Madera Children’s Hospital (Madera County) suspected that Curtis might have Long QT syndrome, a hereditary condition that can cause sudden death from physical exertion. Curtis’ great-aunt had died from LQTS while swimming, and several other family members had been identified as carriers.

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Medicare patients’ hospital stays for heart-disease plunge
The Californian - Salinas

Hospitalizations for heart disease and stroke fell by about one-third over the past decade, according to a new study of nearly 34 million Medicare recipients.

The number of Medicare patients hospitalized with heart attacks fell 38 percent from 1999 to 2011, while the number hospitalized with blood clot-related strokes fell 34 percent, according to a study in Circulation.

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Eisenhower doctor successfully treats flesh-eating disease
The Desert Sun

A doctor at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage has successfully treated a Coachella Valley patient with a dangerous kind of necrotizing fasciitis, or “flesh-eating disease,” experts announced this week.

Dr. Anibal Gauto, medical director of inpatient wound care and founder of Eisenhower’s Wound Care Center, used a pioneering new treatment he has started to roll out in his practice over the past two years, NovaBay’s NeutroPhase Wound Cleanser. The hospital was only the second in the U.S. to use the cleanser.

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Cardiologist Speaks From The Heart About America’s Medical System
National Public Radio

As a young doctor working at a teaching hospital, Sandeep Jauhar was having trouble making ends meet. So, like other academic physicians, he took a job moonlighting at a private practice, the offices of a cardiologist. He noticed that the offices were quick to order expensive tests for their patients — even when they seemed unnecessary.

It was “made very clear from the beginning” that seeing patients alone was not financially rewarding for the business, he says.

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Blood-test prices range from $10 to $10,000, study says
San Francisco Chronicle

Prices for common blood tests ranged from as a little as $10 to more than $10,000 for the identical test at California hospitals, according to a UCSF study released last week. Researchers looked at how much 150 hospitals around the state charged for 10 common blood tests. The tests included lipid panels, basic metabolic panels and complete blood counts with differential white blood cell counts. Charges for the basic metabolic test ranged from $35 to $7,303, with a median charge of $214.

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Simple measures made hospital patients 70% more likely to quit smoking
Los Angeles Times

A free supply of nicotine replacement medication and a handful of automated phone calls made smokers who wanted to quit much more likely to succeed, according to results of a clinical trial published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

The researchers who designed the trial said they were looking for a simple and inexpensive way to aid smokers who were already motivated to kick the habit. They estimated that once their 90-day program was set up, it could be maintained at a cost of less than $1,000 per quitter.

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Kaiser South Sacramento testing patient for possible Ebola
Sacramento Bee

Fears of an Ebola outbreak in the United States hit home Tuesday as health officials announced that a patient at a Sacramento hospital was being tested for the virus that has killed an estimated 1,200 people in west Africa.

Doctors at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center took a blood sample from the patient that was subsequently sent by the Sacramento County Public Health Laboratory to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

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Anthem Blue Cross sued again over narrow-network health plans
Los Angeles Times

Health insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross faces another lawsuit over switching consumers to narrow-network health plans — with limited selections of doctors — during the rollout of Obamacare.

These types of complaints have already sparked an ongoing investigation by California regulators and other lawsuits seeking class-action status against Anthem and rival Blue Shield of California.

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UCSF study: Hand-wringing over hospital handwashing
San Francisco Business Times

Handwashing using antibacterial soap may expose doctors, nurses and other hospital staffers to “significant and potentially unsafe levels of triclosan,” a commonly used chemical that’s under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a clinical study led by researchers at UC San Francisco.

Triclosan, described by UCSF as a “synthetic antibacterial agent,” is also found in thousands of consumer products, researchers said, including soaps, cosmetics, acne creams and some brands of toothpaste.

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El Camino Hospital among best in San Jose metro area
Los Altos Town Crier

U.S. News & World Report recently ranked El Camino Hospital as one of the top hospitals for 2014-2015 in the San Jose metropolitan area.

The annual U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings, now in their 25th year, recognize hospitals that excel in treating the most challenging patients.

“We are honored to be recognized among the best hospitals in the nation and as one of the top performers in our area,” said Tomi Ryba, president and CEO of El Camino Hospital.

 

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