Key state agencies earned a “B-minus” in a telephone survey designed to gauge how ready California government is to handle a surge of consumer questions as the nation embarks on its biggest change in health care since the inception of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
As the clock moves closer to 2014, when the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act kick in, it will be crucial for the state to provide effective help to consumers to help them navigate the system and make informed health care choices, said officials of the Sacramento-based Health Access Foundation.
California lawmakers are moving to crack down on taxpayer-funded health care districts that have banked tens of millions of dollars at the expense of funding community-health projects.
A bill moving through the Legislature targets the spending habits of these little-known governmental agencies that were created to run hospitals, which many of them no longer do. These districts are run by publicly elected boards that have power over multimillion-dollar budgets.
The grim effects of smoking, drinking, and poor eating are commonly cited by doctors as appalling and expensive health scourges. Yet for aging Californians, an often hidden health plague can be just as deadly: loneliness.
Social isolation and its common offspring – loneliness – became a political hot potato when California recently cut back on its adult day health care program, disqualifying 20% of the state’s older and disabled citizens from its attendance rolls.
Even as Americans debate whether to scrap President Obama’s healthcare law and its promise of guaranteed health coverage, many far less affluent nations are moving in the opposite direction — to provide medical insurance to all citizens.
China, after years of underfunding healthcare, is on track to complete a three-year, $124-billion initiative projected to cover more than 90% of the nation’s residents.
HHS officials offered for public comment on Friday alternative “rules of the road” to govern a coming national health information network. A finalized set of rules will be offered in a future rulemaking process.
The network, authorized as part of the electronic health record incentive program included in the 2009 stimulus law, will govern the exchange of any type of health information by providers, patients and researchers.
The American Hospital Association would have liked to have seen more from the CMS’ final rules on both Medicare’s conditions of participation and its plans to streamline reporting requirements for hospitals, released May 10, according to a statement from Richard Umbdenstock (PDF), president and CEO.
“CMS misses some important opportunities to further modernize the rules to better reflect how care is organized and delivered today,” Umbdenstock said.
Since he took office early last year, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has made health care reform his top priority. Now he’s backing a ballot measure – the Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act – that would give him the power to block health insurance rate increases he deems excessive.
He spoke to The Bee recently about the initiative and President Barack Obama’s health care reform act under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
As physicians, our primary concern is ensuring the health and safety of our patients. The Food and Drug Administration has offered a new concept to make more prescription drugs available over the counter (OTC). Proponents claim it could improve patient health and outcomes, reduce patient costs and promote proper medication use. We are skeptical that it would achieve any of these goals.
In the fall of 2009, at the height of fears over swine flu, our research group discovered that a majority of clinical trial data for the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu ― data that proved, according to its manufacturer, that the drug reduced the risk of hospitalization, serious complications and transmission ― were missing, unpublished and inaccessible to the research community. From what we could tell from the limited clinical data that had been published in medical journals, the country’s most widely used and heavily stockpiled influenza drug appeared no more effective than aspirin.
Mark Laret has been CEO of UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, including UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, since April 2000.
Under his leadership, UCSF Medical Center reversed what had been a $60 million annual loss in 2000. Within five years, the medical center produced a $70 million annual gain. Strong financial performance has enabled the non-profit medical center to pursue expansion and modernization of its facilities and equipment.
When Shelly Hagen’s 6-year-old son caught a cold that crept into a persistent cough, she made a trip to Santa Clara Urgent Care. It turned out to be a routine respiratory infection, but the visit was nothing less than extraordinary — it was free.
Like 250,000 other Santa Clara County residents, Hagen is uninsured. As a self-employed, single mother with a pre-existing condition, she said she can’t afford the $850 per month it would cost to have private insurance.
Yvonne Yacoub has been a nurse for half a century.
In 50 years, she has seen her profession redefine itself to meet the challenges of change, yet continue to struggle with shortages of new practitioners.
Yacoub, 72, who has worked at Cape Canaveral Hospital here for 36 years, is decades older than the 46-year-old average age of employed registered nurses. Some veteran nurses continue to work, but many more have hung up the scrubs for good or are counting the days until retirement.
A Sonoma couple who owns one of the nation’s largest independent staffing firms is donating $3 million toward construction of a new emergency center at Sonoma Valley hospital.
Gary and Marcia Nelson cited personal reasons for making the gift. When their son Justin was 3-months-old, physicians at Sonoma Valley prevented his death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Wholesale acute-care hospital prices increased 0.3% in April for the second straight month, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index. Hospital prices climbed 0.1% in April 2011, the index shows. For the year that ended last month, hospital wholesale prices increased 2.2% compared with 1.9% the prior year.
Using data from government agencies and private watchdogs, several websites provide consumer information on hospitals.
CalHospitalCompare.org (www.calhospitalcompare.org) enables you to compare selected hospitals on dozens of measures, including infection prevention, intensive care mortality rate and overall patient experience. The site, run by the California HealthCare Foundation, offers the option of searching by hospital name, location or medical condition.