News Headlines

Today’s News Headlines

News Headlines Article

In California, West Nile deaths highest in nearly a decade
Southern California Public Radio

While much of the nation has been focused on Ebola recently, hundreds of Californians have been contracting another virus: West Nile. There have been 752 cases of West Nile Virus reported in California so far this year. That’s more than three times the average number of annual cases over the past five years.

More than half of 2014’s cases have come from Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to state data.

News Headlines Article

Which states need the most primary care physicians to end their shortage?
Becker's Hospital Review

There are nearly 6,100 total primary care health professional shortage area designations in the United States, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent report.

HPSA designations are used to identify areas and population groups within the country that are experiencing a shortage of primary medical, dental and mental health professionals. HPSAs are designated for primary medical care by computing the population to provider ratio which must be at least 3,500 to 1 (or 3,000 to 1 if there are unusually high needs in the community).

The following 15 states need the most health practitioners in order to achieve a population-to-primary care physician ratio that would no longer qualify for HPSA designation.

News Headlines Article

CMS names first chief data officer
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has named Niall Brennan as essentially its first Big Data czar. Brennan will head the new Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics at the CMS as its first chief data officer, “tasked with overseeing improvements in data collection and dissemination as the agency strives to be more transparent,” according to a CMS announcement Wednesday.

Brennan, who has been serving as the acting director of the CMS’ Offices of Enterprise Management, was appointed to the newly created position after leading various CMS data programs and initiatives at OEM.

News Headlines Article

Ebola Response in Liberia Is Hampered by Infighting
The New York Times

The global response to the Ebola virus in Liberia is being hampered by poor coordination and serious disagreements between Liberian officials and the donors and health agencies fighting the epidemic, according to minutes of top-level meetings and interviews with participants.

Even now, three months after donors began pouring resources into Liberia, many confirmed cases still go unreported, countries refuse to change plans to erect field hospitals in the wrong places, families cannot find out whether their relatives in treatment are alive or dead, health workers sent to take temperatures sometimes lack thermometers, and bodies have been cremated because a larger cemetery was not yet open.

The detailed accounts of high-level meetings obtained by The New York Times, the most recent from Monday, lift the veil on the messy and contentious process of running the sprawling response to Liberia’s epidemic, one that now involves more than a hundred government agencies, charities and donors from around the world.

News Headlines Article

Perfect storm brewing for bipartisan health-care reform
CNBC

Americans might finally have their say in the debate over genuine bipartisan health-care reform, an opportunity that they missed when Democrats steamrolled Obamacare through Congress in 2009 without a single Republican vote.

The occasion presents itself as the Supreme Court announces that it will hear a significant statutory dispute against the technically titled Affordable Care Act (ACA). The case, King v. Burwell, challenges the authority of the federal government to provide subsidies in states that have not created their own health-insurance exchanges.

News Headlines Article

Immigrants remain uninsured under ACA coverage expansions
Modern Healthcare

Immigrants living in the U.S. illegally are almost twice as likely as U.S.-born residents to report making no doctor visit in the past year. And even with the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that doesn’t seem apt to change unless President Barack Obama extends coverage to them when he issues an expected executive order attempting to reform U.S. immigration policy without Congress.

News Headlines Article

Study: Few employers eliminating health-care coverage for 2015
Sacramento Business Journal

Only 1 percent of employers say they’ll eliminate health-care coverage in 2015, according to a new survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. Benefits are a valuable recruiting tool, association senior researcher Andrew Mariotti said in a news release. “Given the competitive nature of finding skilled workers, human resource professionals view health care as an important element of a strategic benefits package.”

News Headlines Article

Covered California bus makes stop in Modesto to promote health care coverage
Modesto Bee

The Covered California bus stopped Wednesday at Modesto’s McHenry Village on the 10th day of a scheduled nine-day tour of the state.

The health benefits exchange extended the tour for an extra day to deliver the feel-good message that affordable health insurance is available for all.

The second sign-up period for coverage through the Affordable Care Act began Saturday and continues through Feb.15. For coverage to start Jan.1, applicants need to finish enrollment by Dec.15.

News Headlines Article

Insurers draw heat for error-riddled provider directories
Modern Healthcare

A ruling in California that two major health insurers failed to give consumers accurate information about providers participating in their plan networks could force others in the industry to quickly improve their protocols.

The California Department of Managed Health Care released scathing reports Tuesday regarding plans sold by Anthem Blue Cross (a subsidiary of investor-owned WellPoint) and Blue Shield of California on Covered California, the state’s Obamacare exchange.

The report on Anthem found that 12.5% of the physicians listed in the insurer’s provider directory for exchange plans had inaccurate locations. Further, the state called thousands of doctor offices and found almost 13% did not take patients who had Anthem’s exchange plans even though they were listed as in-network.

News Headlines Article

Health plans: We’re trying to fix provider lists
Sacramento Business Journal

One of the health plans slammed by a state regulator for inaccurate provider lists Tuesday says problems are being fixed but timing of the announcement on Day 4 of Covered California’s second open enrollment may cause more confusion.

Phone surveys of doctors listed in June provider directors for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California concluded that a quarter of the doctors listed by the plans were not at the location listed or were not willing to accept Covered California patients, according to reports released by the California Department of Managed Health Care.

News Headlines Article

Stop the guessing game over which doctors are in-network
Los Angeles Times

One of the loudest complaints about the policies sold through Covered California, the state’s new health insurance exchange, is that they provide access to far fewer doctors than promised. On Wednesday, state regulators finally confirmed and quantified the problem with respect to two leading insurers, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California. Yet as is typical in the healthcare industry, it’s not entirely clear who’s responsible, nor is there an easy fix.

News Headlines Article

Redlands Community Hospital to participate in statewide emergency drill on Ebola
Redlands Daily Facts

Redlands Community Hospital will be participating in the statewide Medical and Health Exercise Program from 8 a.m.

News Headlines Article

Doctors stumped as more breast cancer patients remove healthy breasts
Los Angeles Times

Evidence is mounting that too many women with early-stage breast cancer are opting for mastectomies instead of having breast-conserving surgeries that offer the same odds of survival.

A new analysis of more than 1.2 million breast cancer patients in the U.S. found that 37.8% of women who were eligible for breast-conserving surgery wound up getting mastectomies in 2011, the most recent year for which data were available. That’s up from 34.3% in 1998 — an increase large enough to be statistically significant, according to a report published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery.

News Headlines Article

Medicare Cost, Quality Data Tools Weak, Says GAO
HealthLeaders Media

Federal disclosure of quality and cost information that’s necessary to help patients make informed choices about their healthcare is fraught with “critical weaknesses” that limit their use, in part because what is publicly available is heavily influenced by providers, not consumers.

That was one of many criticisms the Government Accountability Office made in its report of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services lack of transparency in cost and quality data on its websites, hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers, physicians, home health agencies, and provider charges.

News Headlines Article

Judge won’t stop L.A. County from sending 91,000 Medi-Cal cancellations
Los Angeles Times

More than 91,000 Medi-Cal recipients in Los Angeles County will be sent letters this week telling them that their state-supported healthcare coverage will end on Nov. 30. A judge this week refused to block the notices, even though health advocates argued that the letters lack important details that would help recipients renew their plans. “I think it’s going to be a big shock when people get notices Thursday or Friday telling them they’ve been terminated,” said Cori Racela, an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services.

News Headlines Article

Slideshow: Reforming Executive Compensation to Accelerate Change
HealthLeaders Media

The evolution to value-based care delivery is ushering in a new set of realities for organizations, particularly the importance of recruiting, developing, and retaining innovative healthcare executives.

Adjusting executive compensation structures provides an opportunity for organizations to positively impact retention and decrease turnover. An overwhelming majority of executives surveyed for this HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report identified the need for changes to executive compensation to attract, retain, and engage leaders.

In fact, 33% of executives said the compensation structure in their organization needed major enhancements, while 49% said only minor enhancements were needed.

News Headlines Article

6 Pitfalls To Avoid When Picking Insurance On The Job
National Public Radio

You don’t get a pass this year on big health insurance decisions because you’re not shopping in an Affordable Care Act marketplace. Employer medical plans — where most working-age folks get coverage — are changing too.

Rising costs, a looming tax on rich benefits packages and the idea that people should buy medical treatment the way they shop for cellphones have increased odds that workplace plans will be very different in 2015.

News Headlines Article

Gilead Buys Shortcut For FDA Drug Review For $125 Million
National Public Radio

How much is a fast track for the Food and Drug Administration review of a new drug worth? Try $125 million.

In an auction, Gilead Sciences, a maker of HIV and hepatitis medicines, just bought a coupon good for the accelerated review of a drug of the company’s choice from Knight Therapeutics, a Canadian company. The priority review voucher entitles Gilead to move a drug of its choice through the FDA four months faster than the normal track.

News Headlines Article

Health Net inks bigger deal with Cognizant; Rancho job transition to play out next year
Sacramento Business Journal

Health Net Inc. quietly inked a seven-year deal with Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. on Nov. 3, but employment fallout — if there is any — won’t be known for months. The Woodland Hills-based insurer has a workforce of roughly 2,300 in Rancho Cordova. About 800 work for Health Net’s federal services division and will not be affected by the deal. Impact on the 1,500 other local Health Net employees remains unclear.

News Headlines Article

CORONA: Hospital partners with UC Irvine
The Press-Enterprise

UC Irvine doctors will advise physicians at Corona Regional Medical Center under a new partnership that hospital officials said will enhance their medical care. In addition to the announcement, hospital officials today also released a construction timetable for an expanded emergency room that will more than double the size of the current ER. Finally, hospital officials said they have joined with a Corona physician to open a primary care facility in Eastvale.

News Headlines Article

UCSF Medical Center Opens $1.5 Billion, “Next Generation” Hospital Complex at Mission Bay Campus on Feb. 1, 2015
UCSF Today

After more than 10 years of planning and construction, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay will open Feb. 1, 2015 on UC San Francisco’s world-renowned biomedical research campus. UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay comprises UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, UCSF Betty Irene Moore Women’s Hospital and UCSF Bakar Cancer Hospital. The new facilities include a 289-bed hospital complex, with children’s emergency and outpatient services that will integrate research and medical advancements with patient-focused, compassionate care.​

News Headlines Article

Southland employers expect 4.8% hike in health-benefit costs
Los Angeles Times

Southern California employers expect their health-benefit costs to rise 4.8% next year as the economy recovers and mandates under the federal health law kick in, a new survey shows.

Nationwide, more people are expected to sign up for health benefits at work during the current open enrollment season as new federal rules begin taking effect in 2015 and penalties increase for being uninsured.

 

Commands