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California Readies Medicaid EHR Incentive Program
iHealthBeat

California has taken one large step forward in its goal to make electronic health records a ubiquitous part of health care provider practices in the state. Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for inventive payments under Medicare and Medicaid.

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Vacaville Kaiser hospital gets trauma center designation
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente ’s Vacaville Medical Center began providing Level III trauma services Monday morning. The hospital won trauma center designation from county emergency services officials last month. This is the second hospital to begin providing trauma services in Solano County. NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield received the designation in September and opened its doors to patients Sept. 30.

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Seneca District Hospital passes annual audit with flying colors
Plumas County News

“You can pat yourself on the back for an excellent year and then go back to work,” said certified public accountant Jerrel Tucker, TCA Partners, LLP, to the Seneca Healthcare District board of directors Sept. 29.

Tucker’s comment immediately followed his positive report on the audit for fiscal year 2010-11.

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Massive medical clinic comes to Sports Arena
Los Angeles Times

Nearly 5,000 people with toothaches, blurry vision and other health problems lined up outside the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Monday to receive a plastic wristband, their ticket to a massive free medical clinic beginning later this week.

The clinic, organized by the nonprofit, L.A.-based CareNow, will run Thursday through Sunday and include volunteer services by cardiologists, dentists, podiatrists and other medical professionals.

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Stanford Hospital faces expired healthcare contract
The Stanford Daily

Patients and healthcare providers are lingering in a state of uncertainty as negotiations between Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield continue. The contract between Stanford and Anthem Blue Cross expired Aug. 31, which leaves Stanford Hospital, Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH) and Stanford Medical Group no longer authorized for coverage in the Anthem Blue Cross network. The contract between LPCH and Blue Shield also expired last August.

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Surgical Care Affiliates signs lease for KBS property
Sacramento Business Journal

An affiliate of KBS Realty Advisors of Newport Beach, Calif., has signed an 8,000-square-foot lease with Surgical Care Affiliates LLC at City Gate Plaza, 2450 Venture Oaks Way, KBS announced Monday. One of the company’s funds, KBS Real Estate Investment , acquired the 105,003-square-foot property in 2008. Scott Kingston and Eric Ortiz of Colliers International represented Surgical Care Affiliates, an Alabama-based owner and operator of more than 140 ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals.

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CHW confirms it’s talking to Community Health Systems about selling Reno hospital
San Francisco Business Times

Funny thing about many non-profit hospitals and systems. They like to do good, but they don’t like to lose lots of money doing it. As the nuns like to say, a very simple bottom line is involved: “No margin, no mission.” Which basically explains why 40-hospital Catholic Healthcare West is aiming at become a 39-hospital system instead. It’s a matter of stewardship — marshaling resources for the greater good.

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HealthGrades sees hospital mortality rates fall
Modern Healthcare

Hospital mortality rates are dropping, but wide gaps in quality persist from one facility to another, according to an analysis of healthcare quality from Denver-based HealthGrades.

From 2008 to 2010, in-hospital mortality rates improved 13% across 18 measures and procedures, HealthGrades said in its 14th annual report. The authors rated nearly 5,000 U.S. hospitals using data on 27 procedures and diagnoses, such as heart bypass surgery, sepsis, stroke and total knee replacement. As in past years, HealthGrades found that hospital care varies significantly.

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Mini-medical schools helping people age in better health
Sacramento Bee

Dr. Michael McCloud started off thinking small. He expected only a handful of people to show up in early 2002 for what he thought would be a one-time series of classes on healthy aging, his spin on the growing “mini-medical school” concept.

In general, mini-medical schools – a public outreach program with a catchy name – provide classroom sessions on the health sciences for laypeople. Universities across the country have used them primarily to showcase their institutional research.

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‘Preventive’ breast cancer surgery has some docs alarmed
USA Today

Lisa Bonchek Adams was only 37, with a new baby and two older children, when her doctor noticed something strange during a routine breast exam. Although her doctor didn’t feel a lump, one breast felt “different” from the other. A few weeks later, Adams learned that she needed a mastectomy. Follow-up tests indicated there were cancer cells throughout Adams’ left breast, dispersed too widely to be removed with a lumpectomy.

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Autism five times more likely in low birth weight infants
USA Today

Low-birthweight babies are five times more likely to develop autism than normal-weight babies, a new study says. It included 862 premature, low-birthweight infants born in New Jersey between October 1984 and July 1989 and followed until they were 21 years old. Their birthweights ranged from 500 grams (1.1 pound) to 2,000 grams (4.4 pounds). Five percent of the children in the study developed autism, compared with 1 percent of those in the general population, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing researchers found.

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Doctors: Pap smear remains best test for cervical cancer
USA Today

There’s more news on cancer screening tests — this time for women. Scientists advising the government say a Pap test is a good way to screen young and middle-aged women for cervical cancer, and it’s only needed once every three years. But they say there is not enough evidence yet to back testing for HPV, the virus that causes the disease.

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Study: More false alarms with annual mammograms
USA Today

A new study supports getting mammograms every other year instead of annually. It finds that more than 60 percent of women who get tested each year for a decade will be called back at least once for extra tests that turn out not to show breast cancer. Screening every other year, as a government task force recommends, drops this false alarm rate to 42 percent without a big risk of cancer being found at a late stage, the study suggests.

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Doctors urge patients to be informed partners in making medical decisions
Washington Post

Medical decisions can seem overwhelming, especially when you’re sick and scared. In their new book, “Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You,” oncologist and New Yorker writer Jerome Groopman and his wife, endocrinologist Pamela Hartzband, team up to help readers recognize the many influences on their medical decisions and encourage them to chart their own path. They recently discussed their book with me.

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Blue Shield awards $20M in grants for accountable care
Sacramento Business Journal

Adventist Health , Catholic Healthcare West and Hill Physicians Medical Group Inc. are among 18 California hospitals, health systems, clinics and doctor groups to receive grants totaling almost $20 million from Blue Shield of California to help them participate in accountable care organizations. So-called “ACOs” are encouraged by federal health care reform. They stem from agreements between providers and health plans to share financial risk — and information — in order to provide efficient, integrated, high-quality care.

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Blue Shield of California to grant $20M to help Golden State health care organizations form ACOs
San Francisco Business Times

Blue Shield of California said Monday it’s giving nearly $20 million to 18 California hospitals, health systems, clinics and medical groups to “help them participate more effectively in accountable care organizations” or ACOs, including about $6 million in the greater Bay Area. Locally, those organizations include San Francisco’s Brown & Toland Medical Group ($1.7 million), San Ramon-based Hill Physicians Medical Group and partner Catholic Healthcare West ($1.8 million), Physicians Medical Group of Santa Cruz ($475,000), San Francisco’s Chinese Co

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Southland hospitals to get Blue Shield grants
Los Angeles Times

Eighteen teams of healthcare providers will share $20 million in grants from Blue Shield of California to form new partnerships aimed at delivering medical care more efficiently, company officials said.

The recipients that will receive their grants by Dec. 1 include St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.

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UnitedHealth 3Q profit slips as medical costs rise
San Francisco Chronicle

UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s third-quarter net income edged slightly lower as medical costs climbed and some health care use picked up, but the insurer’s revenue grew and it raised its 2011 earnings forecast.

The Minnetonka, Minn., managed care company’s medical claims paid rose 7 percent to $18.41 billion compared to last year’s quarter, mainly due to price increases. UnitedHealth also said Tuesday it saw a “modest increase” in utilization trends for doctor’s offices and outpatient care.

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CLASS repeal would have no effect: CBO
Modern Healthcare

The Congressional Budget Office will assume the long-term care insurance program included in last year’s healthcare reform law is defunct when calculating baseline budget projections that will be issued in January, CBO Director Douglas Elmdendorf said in a blog post. Elmdendorf wrote that his office received several inquiries about the budgetary implications after the news from HHS on Friday that the agency will not implement the CLASS Act.

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CMS Kicks Off Innovation Advisors Program
Health Leaders Media

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Monday that it is accepting applications for a program designed to help healthcare professionals drive improvements to patient care and reduce healthcare costs.

CMS administrator Don Berwick, M.D., was on hand to kick-off the $6 million program, which will recruit up to 200 innovation advisors “with the knowledge and the vision to find innovative ways to improve care and reduce costs for beneficiaries in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.” The CMS Innovation Center will manage the program.

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Massachusetts Tries to Rein in Its Health Cost
New York Times

On the Republican campaign trail, the health care debate has focused on the mandatory coverage that Mitt Romney signed into law as governor in 2006. But back in Massachusetts the conversation has moved on, and lawmakers are now confronting the problem that Mr. Romney left unaddressed: the state’s spiraling health care costs. After three years of study, the state’s legislative leaders appear close to producing bills that would make Massachusetts the first state — again — to radically revamp the way doctors, hospitals and other health providers are paid.

Opinion/Editorial

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Obama shouldn’t be hiding records on doctor errors
Sacramento Bee

Here’s what we know about California Physician No. 5039.

There have been 15 malpractice cases against No. 5039, including two in which he or she left items in patients’ bodies during surgery, and one that resulted in permanent injury. We also know that the Medical Board of California has taken no action against No. 5039 and more than 700 other physicians with similar records.

Blogs

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The Health Care Reform Law: What’s the Big Deal?
The Health Care Blog

I’m not an attorney, so I cannot help the federal judges struggling to figure out whether the individual insurance mandate in President Obama’s healthcare law violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. But as a taxpayer (and formerly a professor of public policy), it’s hard for me to understand what all the fuss is about. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created a monetary incentive for all taxpayers to obtain health insurance.

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