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Physicians Medical Group awarded $475,000 for quality initiatives
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Physicians Medical Group has been awarded $475,000 from Blue Shield of California to bolster efforts to track patient care.

It’s one of 18 grants totaling nearly $20 million Blue Shield awarded to California hospitals, health systems, clinics and physicians to help them participate more effectively in “accountable care organizations,” a payment model expected to become more common under federal health care reform.

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UCLA reviewing policies after patient information was stolen
Modern Healthcare

The UCLA Health System is reviewing its policies after the system announced that the personal information for 16,288 patients was contained in an external hard drive that was stolen in an early September home invasion. According to the system, the information was encrypted, but the password needed to de-code the information was written on a piece of paper near the hard drive and had not been found.

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More people landing in the ER after abusing muscle relaxant
USA Today

The number of people winding up in the emergency room because of the misuse or abuse of the prescription muscle relaxant carisoprodol has more than doubled, a new federal report warns. Between 2004 and 2009, such visits went from 15,830 to 31,763, investigators from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found.

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Kaiser office mixes sports and medicine
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente is trying something different in Elk Grove. Its $38 million medical office building on Promenade Parkway, slated to open Nov. 11, features a sports center — a first for the health system. Like the electronic medical record and Level 11 trauma center pioneered at Kaiser’s South Sacramento Medical Center, the sports center is expected to become a national model of where Kaiser wants to go with health care in the future.

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Organizers hope South L.A. healthcare initiative expands
Los Angeles Times

Maria Sencion has been feeling dizzy. Not all the time, but for a few minutes each week — just enough to make her wonder if she should see a doctor.

With that nagging worry in the back of her mind, the 47-year-old mother of four went on Saturday to the healthcare enrollment fair staged by Building Health Communities South Los Angeles.

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Kaiser Permanente’s Q3 takes hit from Wall Street woes
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente ’s nonprofit hospital and health plan units said Nov. 4 that their third-quarter profit took a gigantic hit due to non-operating losses, such as Wall Street investments. The Oakland-based health care giant had a net third-quarter loss of $45 million after posting a $634 million profit a year earlier – a nearly $680 million swing due primarily to a $365 million non-operating loss for the quarter.

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Blue Shield 1st state insurer with retail presence
San Francisco Chronicle

At a Lucky supermarket in San Francisco, shoppers will be able to pick up some health insurance along with their fruits and vegetables. Blue Shield of California will open a 500-square-foot brick-and-mortar store within the supermarket Monday as a way to attract new customers and serve existing members who may want to talk to an insurance representative face- to-face rather than over the phone or by e-mail.

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Kaiser swings to a big loss
Sacramento Business Journal

Declines in financial markets played havoc with nonprofit Kaiser Permanente ’s margin in the third quarter of 2011, causing a huge swing from solid profitability to a net loss of $45 million. The Oakland-based health plan and health system generated operating revenue of $11.9 billion for the quarter ended September 30, up from $11.1 billion for the same period last year.

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Medicare prescription savings pass $1B mark
San Francisco Chronicle

Medicare says seniors with high prescription costs have saved more than $1 billion thanks to the new health care law. President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul provides Medicare recipients in the coverage gap called the “doughnut hole” with a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs this year, and a smaller break on generics. The discounts gradually increase until the coverage gap closes in 2020.

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After emergency care in Canada, differences from U.S. approach are evident
Washington Post

A few months ago, I wrote about my experience at a Canadian hospital emergency department following my disastrous encounter with a patch of gravel while cycling in Quebec in July. My impression of emergency care across the border: mostly positive, despite a conspicuous lack of high-tech diagnostic equipment or physician specialists.

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Romney proposal makes Medicare voucher-like system
Associated Press

Mitt Romney on Friday unveiled a plan to fundamentally re-shape Medicare, tackling one of the 2012 presidential contest’s most delicate issues before a skeptical crowd of tea party activists. To cut costs, the Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts governor would introduce vouchers, or “premium supports,” to future recipients of the popular health insurance program for the elderly.

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Healthcare Job Growth Slows in October
Health Leaders Media

Healthcare created 11,600 jobs in October—a significant drop from the 45,000 jobs created by the sector in September.

However, even with the decline, healthcare remains a leading source of job creation in the overall economy, and was responsible for 15% of the 80,000 new jobs across all sectors in October, new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

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More not-for-profit board members receiving compensation: survey
Modern Healthcare

Compensation of not-for-profit hospital and health system board members increased during the past two years, results of a newly released survey show.

Conducted by the consulting and education company the Governance Institute, the 2011 biennial survey found 15% of hospitals and systems compensated some or all board members compared with 10% in 2009.

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Not all women at higher risk in families carrying breast cancer gene
USA Today

Women who have a relative with breast cancer linked to the high-risk BRCA genetic mutation understandably worry about their own risk. Now, a new study suggests that women who don’t test positive for the mutations are not at an extremely high risk of getting breast cancer, even if they have a relative with BRCA-related breast cancer. Their risk is similar to that of women with relatives with non-BRCA-related cancers, the new research indicates.

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Doctors Await Decision on SGR, Pay Cuts
Health Leaders Media

The nation’s physician workforce anxiously awaits the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction recommendation to Congress on how to avoid the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which is poised to take the largest chunk in history—nearly two of every three dollars—out of their Medicare fees.

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FDA clears blood thinner for irregular heart beat
USA Today

Federal health officials have expanded approval of a blood thinning drug to millions of new patients with a common heart problem that can cause deadly strokes and blood clots. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Xarelto for patients with atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes the heart’s upper chambers to beat chaotically and ineffectively. About 2.2 million people in the U.S. have the condition, which is a leading cause of stroke.

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Crowd-sourcing Medical Bills
The Health Care Blog

What if everyday purchases were priced and consumed like healthcare services? These days you’d have to try hard not to know the price of a product or service before you buy it. So imagine booking an airline ticket with zero knowledge of the cost, only to return home to a bunch of outstanding bills for the trip. One statement may cover the seat rental and fuel used. Another bill may itemize each time the flight attendant handed out drinks. A few weeks later a bill for the pilot’s flying time may roll in. Can you imagine the resulting confusion, stress and angst?

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Christie on Obama’s “Government Takeover”
The Health Care Blog

A “government takeover of health care” is back. At least it is in the mind of New Jersey governor Chris Christie. In an interview with talk radio show host Dom Giordano, the governor, who supports Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, dished out strong clues about how Republicans are going to fight the health reform law. The weapon of choice: Frank Luntz’s focus-group tested messages.

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What if the Supreme Court Strikes Down the Individual Mandate?
The Health Care Blog

Any ruling by the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s controversial individual mandate isn’t likely for at least another several months, but it’s worth thinking about what might happen after the case is decided. The first scenario is easy: If the Court upholds the mandate, the ACA goes forward as planned to the continued objections of many conservative Americans and politicians.

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Another Unpleasant Surprise from Obamacare
The Health Care Blog

Whatever the disadvantages of the new health care law, Obamacare proponents appeared to be on solid ground when they said that it would extend affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. No longer. At the hearing of the health subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cornell University economics professor Richard Burkhauser showed that in 2014, millions of low-income Americans may be unable to get subsidized health insurance through the new health care exchanges.

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