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Health nonprofit regains stability, plans growth
Sacramento Business Journal

Hit by layoffs after a period of rapid growth, The Effort Inc.

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Hospital reinstates pension matches, gives salary raises
The Record Gazette

Just a little over a year after San Gorgonio Hospital informed its employees that it was temporarily freezing annual employer contributions to employee pension plans, its board has approved reinstating them — and giving employees raises.

“We had promised our associates that we would reinstate their employer pension contributions once we could do so prudently,” said CEO Mark Turner. “Part of the excitement is that, as an organization, we’re getting stronger fundamentally, and we’re seeing the number of patients increase.”

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Exec urges transparency in healthcare pricing
Modern Healthcare

In a Senate hearing Thursday, the head of Virginia Mason Health System called for more transparency in healthcare pricing and said if public healthcare programs change their payment systems, the private sector will follow. “I think Medicare and our state governments who have similar economic challenges have an opportunity to—in a substantive way—modify payment, and we will see the private sector move as well,” Dr.

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Lawyers, doctors team up to reduce health disparities
California Watch

On Kate Marr’s first day practicing law at The Children’s Clinic in Long Beach last week, she met with the mother of an asthmatic 7-year-old. Health clinic workers sent the woman, a Mexican immigrant, to Marr’s office because they suspected there was a connection between the boy’s asthma and the family’s apartment – where paint peels from the walls, cockroaches inhabit the floorboards and only one electrical outlet functions.

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Hospital Admission Doesn’t Guarantee Inpatient Benefits
KGO

An increasing number of chronically ill patients are scratching their heads to learn that during hospital stays of up to 13 days, Medicare never considered them inpatients. In some cases, they’re unaware of their “observation status,” until billed for a share of diagnostic tests, prescription medications and other services Medicare covers more generously for inpatients.

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Sutter names Krevans as system’s No. 2 executive
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health has promoted its longtime Sacramento-area executive Sarah Krevans to a new job as chief operating officer for the health system, effective Jan. 1. The position has been vacant since Pat Fry was promoted to chief executive officer of the 24-hospital system in 2005. The appointment comes at a time when Sutter is redesigning health care delivery to be more competitive as the industry changes under federal health care reform.

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Patient satisfaction to play a role in Medicare reimbursements
Southern California Public Radio

Starting next year, a provision in the Affordable Care Act mandates that Medicare reimbursements will be based on patient satisfaction surveys, as well as other quality of care criteria. If patients say they got great care, the hospital gets more money back from the feds. But if hospitals get negative reviews they’ll see reduced revenue.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the governmental group overseeing the plan, says this is an historic switch from quantity based reimbursements to quality based.

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Court says nothing about health care appeal
San Francisco Chronicle

The Supreme Court is not immediately saying whether it will make an election-year determination on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Justices met in private conference Thursday to consider new cases to hear next year. Appeals surrounding the health care overhaul were on the list to be discussed, but there was no announcement as to whether the hot-button issue had even been discussed.

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CHA Pulls Out Of CHART Initiative
Payers and Providers

The California Hospital Association has withdrawn its support for the CHART healthcare quality program, a dramatic move that raises questions about the future of the landmark initiative. The California Hospitals and Assessment Reporting Task Force was launched in 2004, and is one of the first coordinated efforts to report on the quality of care in a state’s hospitals.

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Insurance commissioner files brief supporting rights of people suffering from mental illness
Lake County News

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Thursday filed a friend of the court brief supporting the rights of people suffering from mental illness to receive full coverage from their insurers for all medically necessary treatment of their illnesses.

“Individuals suffering from mental illnesses have long faced disparity in the coverage they receive from their insurers, and the time is now to end this practice,” Commissioner Jones said.

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No word from high court on reform case
Modern Healthcare

Supreme Court justices met in a closed-door conference Thursday to discuss which cases they may take up in coming months, but they did not issue any notice about when or whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be included in their spring 2012 term. The next time the court is expected to issue an order list for upcoming cases is Monday morning.

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Medical testing companies’ Medicare deal scrutinized
USA Today

The Senate Finance Committee is probing medical testing companies to determine if they offer insurers heavy discounts in exchange for the insurers funneling all of their Medicare tests their way, Senate investigators and a former company employee have told USA TODAY. Researchers also fear doctors may be ordering tests that don’t need to be performed so they can receive kickbacks from insurers.

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California’s big health insurers profited in 2010, data show
Los Angeles Times

California’s largest health insurance companies enjoyed a profitable year in 2010 even as they complained about shouldering rising costs for hospital care, doctors’ services and prescription drugs, new data show.

The state’s insurers and health plans collected $105 billion in revenue last year, and the largest insurers posted profits after paying medical claims for their policyholders, according to the California HealthCare Foundation’s annual Health Care Almanac.

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Fresno doctor sues over state peer-review system
Fresno Bee

A Fresno perinatologist who had his hospital privileges and credentials terminated by Kaiser Permanente is asking a federal court to find that the system used to revoke his standings violated his rights. Attorneys for Dr. Hamid Safari of Fresno filed a complaint earlier this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco alleging California’s hospital peer-review system violates due process, as well as physicians’ civil rights.

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