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GPOs Back Obama Order on Drug Shortages
Health Leaders Media

The American Hospital Association and two hospital group purchasing organizations say they support President Barack Obama’s executive order this week to reduce the nation’s prescription drug shortage.

Steven Lucio, director for clinical pharmacy solutions at Novation, told HealthLeaders Media that the federal government really can’t go much beyond the president’s order.

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Preterm births decline in U.S., but some states show high rates
Los Angeles Times

The rate of preterm births has been getting better overall, but the U.S. still gets a “C” grade on the March of Dimes 2011 Premature Birth Report Card.

The report, issued Tuesday, shows that the country’s preterm birth rate has been decreasing since 2006, when it was 12.8%. In 2009 that rate was 12.2%, but still short of the March of Dimes’ goal of 9.6% by 2020.

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Mayor Ed Lee backs Malia Cohen’s health care fix
San Francisco Chronicle

After vetoing one proposal to close a loophole in the San Francisco law that requires employers to provide some funding for their uninsured workers’ health care expenses, Mayor Ed Lee signaled Tuesday that he would sign on to another plan intended to tackle the same problem. Employers now contribute up to $4,252 a year to a health care reimbursement account for every uninsured worker.

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California gets “B” for preterm births
Sacramento Business Journal

California received a “B” on the March of Dimes 2011 Premature Birth Report Card, but there’s bigger news about improvements made in the state’s preterm birth rate. Preterm birth — birth before 37 weeks — is a serious health problem that costs the U.S. more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death and babies who survive often face significant health challenges.

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Blue Shield Opens First Retail Health Insurance Store in California
brand channel

If you want to get an American enraged, get them talking about health insurance. Whether they have or they don’t, they tend to have a story somewhere in there, often not buried very far, about some kind of insurance situation gone awry or another. As health care becomes more and more a political battling point, Blue Shield of California is looking to try and help make things a little clearer to consumers and has taken the bold step of opening a store in San Francisco to aid that effort.

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When Medical Errors Happen, Executives Shouldn’t Hide
Health Leaders Media

When a provider makes a tragic mistake that harms a patient, most healthcare organization executives and their staffs are told to hide. If they say anything, they will be more likely to be sued, they think.

Instead of promptly reaching out to empathize and console with food, housing, money, and social support for those whose lives are irreversibly altered, hospital executives and staff often take a “willful blindness” posture.

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Integrated Healthcare Association Examines Accountable Care Organizations’ Principles and Practices
Market Watch

According to a new white paper released today by the Integrated Healthcare Association (IHA), Accountable Care Organization (ACO) principles have captured the interest of health plans and providers that are under pressure to moderate the costs of care and the premiums they are charging employers and individuals.

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Cancer rate doubled for transplant patients
San Francisco Chronicle

Organ transplant recipients are twice as likely as the average American to get cancer, in large part because they must suppress their immune system to avoid organ rejection and that leaves them more vulnerable to infections that can cause cancer, according to a large national study. Transplant patients have an increased risk of developing 32 types of cancer in all, especially skin cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cancers associated with the organ they had removed, according to the National Cancer Institute study.

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Senate OKs small increase in FDA funding
Modern Healthcare

The Senate easily passed a Food and Drug Administration funding bill with a small increase over the previous fiscal year. By a vote of 69-30 the upper chamber approved a larger bill Tuesday that combined three traditionally separate appropriations bills and included FDA funding of $2.497 billion, which is a slight increase from the $2.447 billion appropriated in the last fiscal year.

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Doc pay cut revised down to 27.4%
Modern Healthcare

Physicians will face a slightly smaller but still massive cut in their Medicare payment rates under a revised schedule the administration issued Tuesday for the fees it plans to pay starting in 2012.

An across-the-board Medicare payment reduction of 27.4% is expected, according to the new fee schedule, which is slightly less than the 29.5% cut the administration had previously anticipated. The cuts are mandated under the program’s cost-control funding formula established by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

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San Francisco nears compromise on employer health funds
San Francisco Examiner

The Board of Supervisors’ effort to close a loophole in San Francisco’s landmark universal health care law remains the center of debate despite months of discussions and political wrangling over how to fix the problem.

But it appears a compromise has emerged that everyone can live with.

One proposal introduced by Supervisor David Campos was approved by the board, but only with six votes, and then Mayor Ed Lee vetoed it last week.

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Inspectors urged to focus on overall patient-quality issues
Modern Healthcare

When inspectors investigate serious never events at hospitals, they need to do a better job focusing on overall patient-care quality issues and then disclosing to hospitals and accreditation agencies exactly what occurred, an audit from the HHS inspector general’s office has found (PDF).

The report follows a 2008 inspector general’s study that estimated as many as 25% of all Medicare beneficiaries were harmed during hospital stays in October of that year, including 13% that involved a prolonged hospital stay, permanent harm, life-sustaining intervention or death.

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Bowles supportive of raising Medicare age
Modern Healthcare

The former co-chairman of the president’s fiscal commission responded favorably to the concept of increasing the eligibility age of Medicare beneficiaries during a hearing of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Tuesday. “We did not have that in our plan,” Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said in the hearing’s question-and-answer period.

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Feather River Hospital cancer center upgrades begin
Chico Enterprise Record

The Feather River Hospital Cancer Center’s Radiation Oncology Department will soon be using some new software and instruments. Work has begun on installing the new systems, which include RapidArc, four-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (4-D CRT) and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR). RapidArc technology is able to deliver precise treatment in a very short time.

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CMS Pushed to Improve Reporting on Adverse Events
Health Leaders Media

A new Office of Inspector General report criticizes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for failing to notify accreditation agencies, such as the Joint Commission, in two out of three sampled cases involving serious adverse events in hospitals. These include immediate jeopardies such as medication and surgical errors, physical abuse by hospital staff, and patient suicide.

CMS regional offices notified accreditors of only 28 of the 88 sampled complaints against accredited hospitals,” the report says.

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Hospital sends buy-out notices
Burbank Leader

Voluntary buy-out notices have been mailed to full-time employees at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank as the organization attempts to cauterize financial wounds inflicted by the protracted recession, a spokeswoman said.

The notices were sent to several medical centers under Providence Health & Services Southern California, including Saint Joseph, last week, hospital spokeswoman Patricia Aidem said.

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CMS releases outpatient, ASC payment updates
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has released a final rule with comment period updating Medicare payment policies and rates for hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgical center services. As the name implies, most provisions in the 1,552-page document are final (PDF) and go into effect Jan. 1, but there are certain issues—such as interim values—which the CMS is accepting comments on, and it will respond to the feedback in next year’s final rule.

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County offers to sell hospital land for $300,000
Willows Journal

Glenn County is offering to sell the hospital property to Glenn Medical Center for $300,000.

That announcement came Tuesday following a closed session conference between the Board of Supervisors and County Counsel Huston Carlyle Jr.

The offer will go to the medical center’s negotiators on Nov. 7, Board Chairman Steve Soeth said.

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Medicare will boost dialysis pay 2.1%
Modern Healthcare

Dialysis facilities paid under the end-stage renal disease, or ESRD, prospective payment system will see an overall increase of 2.1% in their Medicare payment rates in 2012, which the CMS estimates should total about $8.3 billion in payments. The payment update reflects a marketbasket increase of 3% minus a productivity adjustment of 0.9%, according to the CMS, which issued a final rule for the ESRD payment system (PDF) late Tuesday.

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Judge dismisses Community Memorial lawsuit alleging financial coverup
Ventura County Star

A judge has dismissed a 3-year-old lawsuit alleging an attorney and accountants covered up a former Ventura hospital CEO’s alleged financial improprieties.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kent Kellegrew ruled leaders of Community Memorial Hospital waited too long in making allegations against its former lawyer, Peter Goldenring, and his Ventura law firm, Goldenring & Prosser.

Opinion/Editorial

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The Bush-Obama Rx Shortages
The Wall Street Journal

This week President Obama finally confronted a major U.S. health-care disgrace—the growing shortages of lifesaving drugs, especially anticancer therapies. For some reason the White House lumped its executive order with its “we can’t wait” campaign against House Republicans, but the pity is that we will have to wait, because the only genuine fix is a liberal anathema: market prices.

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