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Uninsured receive free protection from flu
Merced Sun-Star

Santiago Sandoval has been uninsured for the past two years after losing his job. The 56-year-old is a casualty of the dismal economy that has left many out of work. Merced County’s unemployment rate was 16 percent last month. When the Merced resident lost his construction job, his health care coverage vanished as well. Since then, Sandoval has submitted several job applications but hasn’t had any luck. “The economy is slow,” he said in Spanish. “There’s not a lot of construction” going on.

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Heart doctors looking beyond cholesterol
Monterey Herald

For heart health, you’re supposed to know your numbers: Total cholesterol, the bad LDL kind and the good HDL kind. But your next checkup might add a new number to the mix.

More doctors are going beyond standard cholesterol counts, using another test to take a closer look at the bad fats — a count of particles that carry LDL through the blood.

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Health care shift will stress system
RecordNet

Quality. Service. Cost. Pick any two.

Dr. Robert Pearl is reminded of that business mantra when he thinks about the dysfunctional state of much of America’s health care system today. The leader of Kaiser Permanente’s 7,000 physicians in Northern California – the nation’s largest medical group – shared his thoughts on health care reform with about 100 leaders of San Joaquin County’s medical and education communities last week at the 10th annual, invitation-only Community Health Forum at University of the Pacific.

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Children should be screened for cholesterol, panel says
Los Angeles Times

As Americans — including even young children — continue to get fatter, their risk for heart disease is climbing too. So a panel of experts now is recommending that all kids have their cholesterol checked at least once between ages 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 21.

Although children typically don’t have heart attacks and strokes, evidence has been mounting for years that the roots of those diseases begin early in life, and the rising rates of obesity have only fueled the risk.

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Medicaid Red Tape Stymies Innovation, States Say
Health Leaders Media

State Medicaid directors say the federal government’s focus on bureaucratic process measures has quashed innovation efforts in the Medicaid program and resulted in inefficiencies and duplications.

“The current policies and procedures bog states down in endless, repetitive reporting and change requests and do not prepare states with the tools Medicaid needs to succeed,” says a report from the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

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Doctors see surge in newborns hooked on mothers’ pain pills
USA Today

Medical authorities are witnessing explosive growth in the number of newborn babies hooked on prescription painkillers, innocent victims of their mothers’ addictions. The trend reflects how deeply rooted abuse of powerful narcotics, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, has become. Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem, classified as an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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California Health Insurers Bring in $105B in Revenue in 2010
Becker's Hospital Review

Health insurers in California recorded $105 billion in revenue in 2010, and five carriers — Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Blue Shield of California and United Healthcare — accounted for 75 percent of that total, according to a California HealthCare Foundation report. Despite overall losses in enrollment, most California insurers also were profitable in 2010, according to the report. Some of the report’s key findings include the following:

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Report: 522M people could have diabetes by 2030
USA Today

The International Diabetes Federation predicts that one in 10 adults could have diabetes by 2030, according to their latest statistics. In a report issued on Monday, the advocacy group estimated that 522 million people would have diabetes in the next two decades, based on things like aging and demographic changes. The figure includes both types of diabetes. The group expects the number of cases to jump by 90 percent even in Africa, where infectious diseases have previously been the top killer.

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Health Law Puts Focus on Limits of Federal Power
New York Times

If the federal government can require people to purchase health insurance, what else can it force them to do? More to the point, what can’t the government compel citizens to do? Those questions have been the toughest ones for the Obama administration’s lawyers to answer in court appearances around the country over the past six months. And they are likely to emerge again if, as expected, the Supreme Court, as early as Monday, agrees to be the final arbiter of the challenge to President Obama’s signature health care initiative.

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Study Finds Co-Payments Discourage Drug Treatments
New York Times

A new study published on Monday shows patients are more likely to take their medicine when they do not have to help pay for the prescriptions. The study, which appears online in the New England Journal of Medicine, focused on patients with health insurance who had heart attacks.

“When patients pay more for services, they will use less of them,” said Dr. Niteesh K. Choudhry, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who was the study’s lead author.

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Supreme Court will hear health care case this term
San Francisco Chronicle

The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear arguments next March over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul — a case that could shake the political landscape just as voters are about to decide if Obama deserves another term. The decision to hear arguments in the spring allows plenty of time for a decision in late June, just over four months before Election Day. This sets up an election-year showdown over the White House’s main domestic policy achievement.

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$1 billion in grants to boost health care workforce
San Francisco Chronicle

The Obama administration will announce today as much as $1 billion in funding to hire, train and deploy health care workers, part of the White House’s broader “We Can’t Wait” agenda to bolster the economy after President Obama’s jobs bill stalled in Congress. Grants can go to doctors, community groups, local government and other organizations that work with patients in federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

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Doctors’ group fights proposed Medicare fee cut
San Francisco Chronicle

The lobbying clout of doctors is being tested by a 27 percent Medicare fee cut that Congress may be unable to reverse as lawmakers grapple with proposals to pare the deficit by $1.2 trillion. Doctors hope a congressional debt panel will delay the reduction, as Congress has done often in the past decade. If lawmakers agree, the cost – $22 billion in 2012 or more than $300 billion in a decade – may be offset by tax increases and budget reductions for other government programs.

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New rating system can help seniors choose Medicare Advantage plan
Sacramento Bee

Seniors trying to wade through the complicated process of choosing a Medicare Advantage plan have a new tool this year.

Medicare has introduced a five-star rating system that ranks the privately run plans on preventive care, managing chronic conditions, customer service, satisfaction and pharmacy services.

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Red tape hampers care for patients who are poor and disabled
Los Angeles Times

M.C. Kim had four heart attacks in as many years. Each time, he left the hospital not knowing why his heart had failed.

When he tried to enter a cardiac rehabilitation program to learn how to reduce the odds of having more heart trouble, the Medicare office told him to call Medicaid. The Medicaid office told him to call Medicare. In the end, he said, both denied coverage.

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Ballot initiative would target health care premiums
Sacramento Business Journal

Debate over the controversial issue of health care rate regulation came roaring back midweek. That’s when Consumer Watchdog, the Los Angeles advocacy group that makes health plans bristle, announced it has filed a proposed ballot initiative with the California Attorney General that would regulate health care premiums. The initiative goes further than Assembly Bill 52, a hotly contested rate regulation bill withdrawn by its author in the final days of the last legislative session.

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Get the facts about health insurance for your 20something child
Sacramento Bee

When it comes to health insurance for your adult children, I feel it’s always best to explore all your options.

Case in point: Your 22-year-old has just landed a restaurant job that offers medical benefits. Sounds perfectly fine to you because you’ll be off-loading one more drain on your wallet.

But there’s a larger issue that complicates things. The health-care premiums are really going to lighten your son’s paycheck, and you’re now feeling the need to help out financially.

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Sutter Health lifts longtime exec to COO
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento-based Sutter Health named a longtime executive as its next chief operating officer Friday, the health network’s first since 2005.

Sarah Krevans, president of Sutter Health’s Sacramento Sierra Region the past several years and a Sutter executive since 1999, will step into the post in January.

Opinion/Editorial

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A better health care system now within reach
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Occupy Wall Street emerged as a grass-roots campaign against excessive corporate wealth and political power. Having been bailed out by the U.S. government, large banks are making record profits and paying huge bonuses while lobbying for less regulation of the activities largely responsible for our country’s financial collapse.

Embedded in this corporate culture is the health care industry, composed of insurers, pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers.

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The Medicare trap
Los Angeles Times

Time is running out for the “super committee” in Congress to agree on a plan to reduce the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade. The hang-up, as expected, has been getting Republicans and Democrats to compromise on revenue increases and entitlement cuts. Although there’s been some movement on both fronts, it’s not been enough to produce a deal — yet.

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Jill Kinney: Health clubs can play an even larger role in wellness
North Bay Business Journal

Jill Kinney, the founder and of Club One, Inc. and the managing director of Clubsource, began working in corporate wellness in 1979, for a Marin County cardiologist who she said decided to take a proactive approach to health, particularly executives. She was chief operating officer of Western Athletic Clubs for eight years before she started Club One.

Since then, she’s developed over 100 clubs, including many corporate fitness centers.

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Gary Greensweig: Moving from ‘episodic’ to ‘longitudinal’ care
North Bay Business Journal

Family practice physician Dr. Gary Greensweig is currently the chief medical officer for St. Jospeh Health System-Sonoma County, overseeing medical operations at Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley hospitals, as well as numerous outpatient and mobile clinics. He has practiced as a primary care physician in Santa Rosa since 1979.

He was the founding medical director of the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Mobile Health Clinic and served in that role between 1991 and 1998.

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