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Calif. court rules nurses can give anesthetics
San Francisco Chronicle

Nurses who are trained as anesthetists do not need a doctor’s supervision to give anesthetics to California hospital patients, a state appeals court has ruled. Thursday’s decision by the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco was particularly important for rural areas, where nurses commonly administer anesthesia in hospitals, under a doctor’s orders but without in-person supervision. The ruling allows that practice to continue.

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CBO sees Obama budget lowering Medicare outlays
Modern Healthcare

In its analysis of President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget (PDF), the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the president’s policies to lower Medicare spending would reduce outlays to the federal program by $276 billion over 10 years.

These savings are based on proposals to change payments to providers, modify cost-sharing responsibilities for certain Medicare beneficiaries, and reduce waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare.

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Pace of Hospital M&As Likely to Accelerate
Health Leaders Media

Expect the wave of hospital mergers and acquisitions to grow, says the author of a new report from Moody’s Investor Service.

The only thing that might slow the accelerating pace of M&As of not-for-profit hospitals and health systems would be if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

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Final Rule Released for Medicaid Expansion
Health Leaders Media

The Department of Health and Human Services released Friday its final rules for the expansion of the Medicaid program under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The final rule, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2014, expands access to the Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), establishes eligibility and enrollment provisions for health insurance exchanges, simplifies the application and renewal processes for the program, eliminates obsolete eligibility categories, and establishes a single income standard for determining eligibility.

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High court will post audio of health care debate
San Francisco Chronicle

The Supreme Court rejected requests from news organizations Friday for live, televised coverage of this month’s historic arguments on President Obama’s health care overhaul but agreed to release audio recordings of the proceedings on the same day. The court will post audio files and transcripts on its website – www.supremecourt.gov – within two hours of the end of the proceedings on each of the three days set aside for argument, March 26-28.

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How health care law affects lives of 7 Americans
San Francisco Chronicle

A father lost his job at a medical device company that is facing a new tax. A young woman got back on her parents’ insurance and was able to get surgery for an injury that could have hobbled her. A part-time sales woman stopped putting off a colonoscopy and cancer screenings and saved nearly $3,000 because health plans now must pay for preventive care without co-pays. A business owner received a tax rebate for providing health coverage to her employees.

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Medical directives speak for you
Monterey Herald

The California Hospital Association publishes procedures for the medical treatment of patients in hospitals. One such publication — “Consent Requirements for Medical Treatment of Adults” — provides hospital staff and physicians with a hierarchy of “consent givers.”

The first consent giver is an adult patient with capacity, followed by a surrogate decision maker, an agent, conservator, court-appointed surrogate decision-maker, closest available relative and, finally, a multi-disciplinary committee for patients who do not have next of kin.

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Seniors see savings on Rx drugs under 2010 health care law
USA Today

Almost 4 million seniors saved about $2.16 billion through discounts for their prescription medications in 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today.

This, administrators say, should help keep costs to the government down in the future. “Before, many beneficiaries were forced to stop taking the drugs,” said Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. “This reduces costs through better management.”

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Sutter nurses vote to join union
Sacramento Business Journal

Registered nurses at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital have voted for representation by the California Nurses Association, increasing the number of Sutter hospitals with a union presence to 16 out of 26. It was a close vote by secret ballot after an acrimonious three-month campaign. A total 83 nurses voted for union representation; 70 voted against it. Results were announced Friday.

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RNs at Sutter’s Tracy hospital vote to join California Nurses Union
San Francisco Business Times

Registered nurses at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital have voted to join the California Nurses Association, after a bruising battle with management, but the vote was fairly tight. RNs voted 83 to 70 to join the Oakland-based union, a longtime bête noire of Sacramento-based Sutter Health, which operates 24 hospitals in the region and has had a truculent relationship with several powerful health care unions over the decades.

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Health care entrepreneurs spurred by good intentions
San Jose Business Journal

How much do personal interests play into what types of companies investors want to put their money toward? Diana Samuels writes about it on Silicon Valley BizBlog. Are they willing to take a lower return if it’s a company that does some good? The companies, analysts and investors I spoke to for a story this week about angel investing in health care said the do-good aspect of health businesses is indeed helping them raise money.

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Court weighs making health coverage a fact of life
The Mercury News

Death, taxes and now health insurance? Having a medical plan or else paying a fine is about to become another certainty of American life, unless the Supreme Court says no. People are split over the wisdom of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, but they are nearly united against its requirement that everybody have insurance.

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Marin chosen for Medicare hospital program
North Bay Business Journal

A partnership between Marin County public health and two of the county’s hospitals is among 30 similar programs nationwide — and the first in all of California — that will be recognized as a “Community-based Care Transitions Program,” an initiative stemming from health care reform that aims to curb costly hospital readmission among Medicare patients.

Advanced Care Transitions, or ACT, is a new partnership between Marin County’s Division on Aging and Adult Services and Marin General and Novato Community hospitals.

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Wealthy Families Skip Waiting Rooms With Concierge Medical Plans
San Francisco Chronicle

Doctors on-call day or night. Medical care while traveling outside the U.S. Emergency-room grade equipment, modeled on gear used in the White House, installed in the client’s home. Well-heeled executives and their families increasingly are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for high-end medical services that aren’t covered by insurance.

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Desert Regional Medical Center chief Karolee Sowle retiring in August
The Desert Sun

Karolee Sowle, who’s led Desert Regional Medical Center for nearly six years as president and chief executive officer, is retiring Aug. 1, the hospital announced Friday.

Her retirement is the culmination of a 50-year career in the medical field that led her to Desert Regional in March 1997.

Sowle began as chief nursing officer, but she was promoted to chief operating officer in January 2003.

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Salinas panel to explore ‘hidden’ health care jobs
The Californian - Salinas

Teenage boys, those with a wary eye on an uncertain jobs future, often skip over promising health care fields.

It’s all based on a chronic misunderstanding, said Elaine Hermann, a registered nurse who noticed the trend.

“Male (high school) students hear ‘health care.’ Right away, they assume ‘jobs for women,’ ” Hermann said.

“Or they think only of male doctors. They figure they don’t have the money to become a doctor.”

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Doctors’ life-support skills fade after training
Yahoo! News

Doctors and nurses are trained in how to save a cardiac arrest victim’s life, but those skills can fade quickly if they’re not used, a new study shows. In a review of 11 international studies, researchers found that health providers’ skills in advanced life support typically deteriorated six months to a year after training, based on test performance. That’s concerning, since the standard guideline calls for re-training every two years, note the researchers, led by Dr. Matthew Huei-Ming Ma of National Taiwan University Hospital.

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IOM panel offers ways to monitor progress on caring for HIV patients
Modern Healthcare

An expert committee convened by the Institute of Medicine released a report that identified core HIV-related indicators for HHS to evaluate the country’s success in caring for patients with HIV.

The committee did so as part of a request by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy to assess progress of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the country’s national HIV/AIDS strategy in treating HIV patients.

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HHS issues reform rule to limit insurer risk
Modern Healthcare

A final rule issued Friday will implement several provisions of the 2010 federal healthcare law that aim to shift funds among insurance plans when many of the industry’s practices designed to maintain their solvency are banned in 2014.

The rule finalizes the designs of programs for risk adjustment, reinsurance, and risk corridors.

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HHS Releases Final Medicaid Expansion Rules
Health Leaders Media

The Department of Health and Human Services released Friday its final rules for the expansion of the Medicaid program under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The final rule will make it easier for eligible individuals and families to enroll in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by cutting back on red tape and coordinating enrollment with health insurance exchanges.

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Trading a hotel for health care
San Mateo Daily Journal

It was supposed to be the W Hotel right across the street from the first Bay Meadows development off of Highway 101 and Hillsdale Blvd, but the economy changed that. For many years. the designated space remained vacant. Meanwhile, the city of San Mateo built a new police station across the way. So while it wasn’t in the original plans, San Mateo was happy to see the space filled by a more viable occupant, the new Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices.

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Health-care reform still standing
POLITICO

Despite all the bombs thrown at the health reform law — and there have been bombs aplenty — two years after President Barack Obama signed his crowning domestic achievement, the core provisions remain essentially unscathed, and reform is kicking in haltingly around the country. The country remains surprisingly clueless about the Affordable Care Act, repeated polls have found. Indeed, one recent poll found that more than one in seven think the U.S. Supreme Court already struck it down.

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Inland Empire Health Plan chief honored
The Press-Enterprise

The chief medical officer for Inland Empire Health Plan, Dr. William W. Henning, was recently inducted as president of the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California. Henning was sworn into office in February during the President’s Banquet held at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay in San Diego. Dr. Martin Levine, president of the American Osteopathic Association, presided over the induction ceremony.

Opinion/Editorial

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State needs to overhaul its dated mental health law
Sacramento Bee

Mental health advocates are preparing to press lawmakers to overhaul the 45-year-old law governing mental health care in California. Their important undertaking ought to be taken seriously by legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown.

All too often, the issue of untreated severe mental illness grabs headlines when a psychotic person senselessly kills someone or is tragically killed. Far more commonly, the problem is ignored, manifesting itself as it does in homelessness, suicide, early death and petty crime.

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Hurray for Health Reform
New York Times

It’s said that you can judge a man by the quality of his enemies. If the same principle applies to legislation, the Affordable Care Act — which was signed into law two years ago, but for the most part has yet to take effect — sits in a place of high honor. Now, the act — known to its foes as Obamacare, and to the cognoscenti as ObamaRomneycare — isn’t easy to love, since it’s very much a compromise, dictated by the perceived political need to change existing coverage and challenge entrenched interests as little as possible.

Blogs

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Why States Should Move Forward with Health Insurance Exchanges
The Health Care Blog

Imagine that you’re being required to buy a car. You will have to pay for most of it, but you can’t choose exactly what you want. There are so many restrictions on your options that you’re forced to choose from a few used, four-cylinder, two-door sedans with manual transmissions. And there’s one more catch: If you don’t choose one yourself, the dealer will decide for you. It’s not an enviable position to be in, but most of us would grudgingly decide that if we have to get one of the cars, it’s better to have a small say in what we get than to have someone else decide for us.

  

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