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Few options if top court strikes part of health law
HealthNews

The Supreme Court doesn’t have to strike down all of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law to leave his plan to extend healthcare coverage to millions of uninsured Americans in a state of political turmoil. If the high court opted only to reverse the law’s unpopular individual mandate, which requires most adults to purchase health insurance, the Obama administration could look to several alternatives to ensure that enough people participate in coverage to make the law work as envisioned.

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Obama healthcare law not yet resonating with public
Los Angeles Times

As President Obama and his allies gear up to defend the landmark healthcare law he signed two years ago, they confront an unforgiving math problem: Just a tiny fraction of Americans has experienced a major benefit from the law.

At the same time, tens of millions have continued to see insurance premiums and medical bills rise as they did before the legislation was signed.

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Health reform enters 2nd year amid broad changes, challenges
California Watch

As the second anniversary of the health care reform law approaches, California health advocates hailed the changes that have been made and those on the horizon. They also noted the difficulties for California, which is emerging as one of the most aggressive states in implementing reform.

While the Affordable Care Act has been a political hot potato in many states, it has been a catalyst for a dizzying array of reforms in California.

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Provider groups, lawmakers blast Ryan Medicare, Medicaid plans
Modern Healthcare

Provider groups and lawmakers wasted no time criticizing the House Republicans’ fiscal 2013 budget plan that would offer a premium-support model for Medicare and shift Medicaid to a block grant program for states. The plan was released earlier by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

“Medicaid works. It provides coverage to more than 60 million Americans at lower administrative costs than private insurance and lower per-capita costs than Medicare,” Dr.

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HealthGrades expands list of top-performing hospitals
Modern Healthcare

Denver-based healthcare ratings organization HealthGrades has expanded its annual report of top-performing hospitals (PDF), adding 50 additional hospitals to its usual list of top 50 honorees. The hospitals that made this year’s top 50 had the lowest complication and mortality rates over the last seven to 10 years, while the remaining 50 hospitals on the top 100 list were high performers over the last four years, HealthGrades said.

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Free medical clinics in Oakland, Sacramento
San Francisco Chronicle

A volunteer medical corps of doctors and nurses that provided free health care for about 7,000 patients last year in Oakland and Sacramento is back this week with plans to help even more people. Remote Area Medical – or RAM, as the group is known – will hold two, four-day clinics – one at the Oakland Coliseum starting Thursday and a second March 30 through April 2 in Sacramento’s Cal Expo.

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Supreme Court deals blow to medical test patents
San Jose Business Journal

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected two patents for a medical test that could be a blow to thousands of other similar patents in the biotechnology industry. Justices unanimously ruled against granting patents sought by Prometheus Laboratories Inc., a unit of Nestle SA, that doctors use to determine drug dosages for patients with Crohn’s disease.

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Supervisors appoint task force to work on federal health care bill implementation
Lake County News

Facing new federal health care requirements for employers, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday appointed a task force of county officials to address the law’s implementation.

At the request of the County Administrative Office, the board voted unanimously to appoint the task force to report back to the board with policy recommendations on how to fulfill the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Multiple colon tests use costly sedation, study finds
USA Today

Few people want to be wide awake during their colonoscopy exams, but new research suggests too many are getting extra sedation treatment, costing as much as $1 billion yearly in potentially needless services. Use of anesthesiologists to monitor sedation during colonoscopies and other digestive imaging tests has more than doubled in recent years, and they’re used most often for low-risk patients who typically don’t need the extra help, the study authors said.

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Studies Link Daily Doses of Aspirin to Reduced Risk of Cancer
New York Times

Taking aspirin every day may significantly reduce the risk of many cancers and prevent tumors from spreading, according to two new studies published on Tuesday.

The findings add to a body of evidence suggesting that cheap and widely available aspirin may be a powerful if overlooked weapon in the battle against cancer. But the research also poses difficult questions for doctors and public health officials, as regular doses of aspirin can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and other side effects.

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U.S. panel votes against drug for rare cancer
USA Today

A panel of U.S. cancer experts voted against an experimental Merck drug for a rare type of cancer, saying the company’s trials did not show a meaningful benefit for patients. The Food and Drug Administration panel voted 13-1 against Merck’s ridaforolimus to help patients with sarcoma control their cancer after it is in remission. The vote is not binding, but the agency usually follows its recommendations.

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FDA panel backs Glaxo drug for rare sarcoma cancer
USA Today

A panel of cancer experts rejected an experimental Merck drug for a rare form of cancer on Tuesday while recommending approval of a GlaxoSmithKline treatment for the same disease. Neither drug appears to help patients live longer, but panelists said Glaxo’s Votrient helped delay tumor growth in the most vulnerable patients. The FDA panel reviewed the two drugs submitted to treat sarcoma, a rare class of tumors that form in the fat, muscles and bone in the limbs and abdomen. An estimated 11,000 people in the U.S.

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US Republican budget targets Medicare, tax reforms
HealthNews

U.S. House Republicans unveiled an ambitious plan on Tuesday to cut and simplify taxes, slash spending and make a fresh run at overhauling the Medicare health program in a bid to draw a stark election-year contrast between their budgetary vision and that of President Barack Obama. While it has little chance of becoming law, Republicans in the House of Representatives are looking for the plan from Congressman Paul Ryan to provide a party-defining lift to their re-election fortunes in November.

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Valley Medical Center Foundation seeks old iPads
San Jose Business Journal

As the sale of the latest version of Apple Inc.’s iPad computer soar past the 3 million mark since hitting the market just four days ago, the head of Valley Medical Center Foundation hopes those who must have the latest technology will thoughtfully donate their “old” iPads to medical science. Well, at least to his organization, a nonprofit dedicated to raising money and awareness of programs operated by Valley Medical Center, Santa Clara County’s public hospital, which operates a 574-bed medical center in San Jose.

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Study finds rise in childhood obesity rates in California is slowing
EdSource

A UC Davis study has found that the rise in childhood obesity rates in California is slowing, which researchers think may be the outcome of improved nutrition and physical fitness programs in the state’s public schools.

In their February report, “Obesity and Physical Fitness in California School Children,” published in the American Heart Journal, the researchers found that between 2003 and 2008, the rate increased by a mere 0.33 percent per year among the California students in their study.

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More obese people have joint pain, heart conditions
USA Today

A new government survey helps quantify what doctors and public health officials have long known: Obese adults are significantly more likely to report having joint pain, heart conditions, high cholesterol and diabetes than people at a healthy weight. In fact, 58% of adults who are obese (roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight) said they suffered from joint pain, vs.

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Health care debate shifts to Medicare panel
KSBW

In the bitter political debate over health care reform two years ago, one of the most contentious issues was a proposed advisory board that would recommend how to achieve needed but as-yet-unreachable Medicare savings. Opponents dubbed the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) a “death panel” that would ration medical coverage for senior citizens based on cost and effectiveness, rather than decisions reached between patient and doctor.

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GOP senators: Cost-cutting panel could be appointed without lawmakers’ consent
Modern Healthcare

Two Republican health policy leaders warned that the president could appoint the members of a controversial cost-control panel without congressional consent. The warning came as part of a regular report the two Senate Republicans issued Tuesday to predict coming problems with the 2010 federal healthcare law. Sens.

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GOP Medicare plan borrows from and repeals Obama’s
San Francisco Chronicle

House Republicans say their new budget would repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. But it would also put future retirees in a version of Medicare that resembles one of the main features of Obama’s law. Like Obama, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the top GOP budget writer, is borrowing the idea of insurance exchanges from Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care law. They’re competitive new marketplaces where consumers can shop for a policy.

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Hospital contract dispute means higher charges
The Press-Enterprise

Anthem Blue Cross health insurance customers should expect bigger bills if they visit Riverside Community Hospital for most nonemergency care. As of March 3, the hospital is no longer part of Anthem’s provider network because of a contract dispute between the insurer and Nashville-based HCA, which owns Riverside Community Hospital and four other medical facilities in California, according to hospital and Anthem officials.

Opinion/Editorial

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We all have a stake in healthy vaccination rate
Sacramento Bee

In San Diego in 2008, a 7-year-old boy who had not been immunized contracted measles on a trip to Switzerland and spread it to his unvaccinated siblings and then his schoolmates.

Parents of many of those children had invoked a loosely written California law that permitted them to decline to have their children immunized based on their personal beliefs. As a result, the public health authorities found that 11 additional people got measles, including two infants. One had to be hospitalized.

  

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