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Judge rules California violated disclosure law
Sacramento Bee

The state Department of Health Care Services violated disclosure law last year by refusing to provide background information on Medi-Cal cuts, a Sacramento Superior Court judge has ruled.

Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers last year approved a 10 percent cut in payments to doctors and other providers of Medi-Cal services to help balance the 2011-12 budget – a reduction that a federal judge has since blocked. Under federal law, the department had to show that Medi-Cal cuts would not undermine access to care.

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Sutter Memorial garners ‘Baby Friendly’ status
Sacramento Bee

Sutter Memorial Hospital has joined a small group of birthing centers nationwide that meet the highest international standards for encouraging new mothers to breast-feed their infants.

The east Sacramento hospital announced today it has earned the title “Baby Friendly.”

The World Health Organization and UNICEF created the label for sites that follow certain practices to promote breast-feeding.

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CMS plans advanced-practice nursing demo
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals that want to train and develop advanced-practice nurses have two months to apply for a new demonstration project, the CMS announced Wednesday.

Authorized under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—which Congress passed two years ago today—the Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration will select up to five hospitals that must partner with nursing schools and non-hospital, community-based settings to provide clinical training to advanced-practice registered nurses, including nurse practitioners, clinical-nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists or nurse midwives.

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GOP targets new cost-cut board in Obama health law
San Francisco Chronicle

Republicans are revamping their strategy against President Barack Obama’s health care law: If they can’t repeal the whole thing, they’ll try to pick off pieces. Even better if it’s a new and unfamiliar bureaucracy. The House began debate Wednesday on legislation to abolish the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a yet-to-be-appointed body created by the law to keep Medicare costs from ballooning.

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Healthcare Reform Poses Challenges for Academic Medical Centers
Health Leaders Media

Academic medical centers, those bastions of clinical care, medical research, and medical education, face a number of challenges as healthcare reform becomes more ingrained in the delivery of medical care.

Of course, AMCs have always conducted business in a challenging environment, but the difference now is that a lot of things are happening all at once, explains Alicia Harkness, principal at PwC’s Health Research Institute.

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Court weighs US power over states in health case
San Francisco Chronicle

Congress will help pay for your roads, but your state can’t lower its drinking age below 21. There’s federal money for colleges, but they can’t discriminate against women in the classroom or on the athletic field. Federal cash comes with strings. Now 26 states are telling the Supreme Court that President Barack Obama’s health care law has stretched an old rule too far. The new law’s requirements for expanding Medicaid amount, in their view, to coercion that violates the U.S. Constitution’s division of power between the national government and the states.

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House to vote on repealing Medicare cost board
San Francisco Chronicle

The House is set to vote Thursday on repealing a new Medicare cost-control board that few people have ever heard of. The Independent Payment Advisory Board was created by President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law to keep Medicare costs from zooming out of control. Called IPAB for short, the panel has yet to be appointed. But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from labeling it a rationing panel.

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States Moving ‘Assertively’ with ACA Provisions
Health Leaders Media

Even as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to debate the constitutionality of the individual mandate, and Republican presidential hopefuls vow to scrap “ObamaCare” if they win in November, nearly every state is quietly implementing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, a review shows.

The study by The Commonwealth Fund found that as the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act nears, 49 states and the District of Columbia have already acted to support implementation.

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Hospital CEO recognized
The Press-Enterprise

Loma Linda University Medical Center CEO Ruthita J. Fike has been recognized in a who’s-who of hospital leaders. She is being listed by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of “100 Non-Profit Hospital, Health System CEOs to Know.” Becker’s Hospital Review, a leading publication for the hospital industry that offers business and legal news and analysis relating to hospital and health systems, identified the presidents and CEOs from non-profit hospitals and health systems across the country who showed superior clinical, financial and operational performance.

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Doctors Making House Calls? ER Direct Does
East Bay Express

A few weeks ago, when John LeBourgeois’ daughter was struck with symptoms of the flu, he figured he had 48 hours to act. If he got her Tamiflu within that time period, he knew she’d have a greater chance of fighting off the virus. But because LeBourgeois doesn’t have health insurance, going to the doctor wasn’t an option. He also wanted to avoid the emergency room — the last time he’d visited Alta Bates’ with his daughter (to put three stitches in a cut finger), he wound up with a $1,400 bill.

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Fitch doesn’t see reform ruling affecting ratings
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not expected to affect the ratings or outlooks of healthcare companies, analysts at Fitch Ratings said.

The Supreme Court will hear three days of oral arguments, totaling a monumental six hours, starting March 26. Although there are several distinct issues at hand, chief among them is whether the government can require U.S. citizens to buy health insurance.

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Director who sued hospital quits board
Hi-Desert Star

Dr. Dennis Wilcox resigned last week from the Hi-Desert Memorial Health Care District board. The district announced his resignation Thursday, March 15. Wilcox was appointed to the Board of Directors in December 2008. He had been practicing at Hi-Desert Medical Center since May 2007, as a surgeon specializing in the gastrointestinal tract. Wilcox left the hospital in December 2010, although he continued to serve on the district’s Board of Directors until his resignation Tuesday.

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Uncertainty the only sure thing
Chico News and Review

Earlier this year, Enloe Medical Center CEO Mike Wiltermood described national health-care-reform legislation thus: “It all comes together in this difficult-to-understand series of events. I think it’s going to play out for years, with constant attempts to tweak the system. All we can do is wait and see how the pendulum swings.” Enloe’s chief financial officer, Myron Machula, summarized it as “pretty much a moving target.” John Dahlmeier, a Butte County insurance broker, put it this way: “Roll the dice and see what the courts come out with.”

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Doctors’ online practices need improvement
Modern Healthcare

A research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that most state medical licensing boards have reported cases of “physician violations of online professionalism,” and some of these violations have resulted in serious disciplinary actions such as license revocation or suspension. In a survey of 68 licensing boards, researchers found that inappropriate online patient communications or sexual misconduct were reported to the boards at 69% of the 48 boards responding.

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Friends, foes mark second anniversary of reform law
Modern Healthcare

On the second anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, House Democrats vowed to support and fight for the law’s survival, while House Speaker John Boehner released a new video in which he said the only way to fix the law is to repeal it.

Boehner noted that the House has voted to repeal, defund or break apart pieces of the law 25 times, and will vote this week to overturn the section of the ACA establishing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the 15-member governing panel the law created to suggest ways to slow Medicare cost growth.

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Tulare hospital expansion work continues
Visialia Times-Delta

With 60 percent of the current hospital expansion completed at Tulare Regional Medical Center, planning is under way for a second tower.

Mike McGuire, construction manager for the hospital, said he met with city and school officials to map out parking for the second tower that — if approved by the hospital board -†would be built just west of the current tower under construction.

Opinion/Editorial

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Media drips poison in Medicare debate
Orange County Register

One thing that we in the so-called mainstream media – those of us who still believe in striving for some semblance of fairness and objectivity – need to avoid is adopting the partisan vocabulary of left or right and treating it as neutral. On Medicare, we’re flunking that test. As is well-known, Medicare is now the federal government’s third-largest program, with spending in fiscal 2010 of $520 billion, behind only Social Security ($701 billion) and defense ($689 billion).

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The health-care stool
Chico News and Review

As Evan Tuchinsky reports in this issue , next week the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s monumental health-care-reform effort, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. It could be the most significant ruling of Chief Justice John Roberts’ tenure. The focus will be on the act’s so-called individual mandate, which requires people to purchase health insurance. As Massachusetts’ experience with Romneycare has shown, the act’s success will depend on that mandate.

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Why women should care about the Affordable Care Act
San Francisco Chronicle

As the U.S. Supreme Court takes up next week whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, women should remember what the act does for them — attempts to ensure equity in health care. The act: – Bans gender rating in 2013. Health care insurers charge women more than men. This would no longer be allowed.

Blogs

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Rejecting Affordable Care Act Is rejecting Constitution
The Health Care Blog

Next week, while the Republicans continue their search for a candidate to stand against President Obama in the fall election, the president’s central legislative triumph – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 – will come before the Supreme Court. The justices have the power to declare the law unconstitutional and thereby kill “Obamacare” before it even leaves the birthing chamber. While some believe that such an outcome would be proper, we disagree. A court decision overturning the Affordable Care Act would be an egregious misreading of the Constitution.

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Health Insurance Exchange Regulations and the Health Reform Challenge
The Health Care Blog

I had the opportunity to hear Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine speak in Philadelphia about his state’s progress towards building an exchange the very next day (I was speaking later on the program).

  

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