News Headlines

Daily News
Health care news from around the state and nation

Headlines

News Headlines Article

California Hospital Association to take legal action against MediCal cuts
Plumas County News

It took a week longer than expected, but the California Hospital Association will move ahead this week with either a request for an injunction or a temporary restraining order to halt MediCal cuts from going into effect until its suit challenging the legality of the reductions can be heard.

The change in timing came after the state announced it would take at least three or four weeks to implement the cuts. More hospitals have also signaled that they want to participate in the suit.

News Headlines Article

CMS pressed on Part D reimbursement again
Modern Healthcare

Prescription drug plan sponsors do not have access to data that would ensure reimbursement is limited to a drug’s medically accepted indications, according to HHS‘ inspector general’s office.

A report released today (PDF) found that among the three prescription drug plan sponsors interviewed in 2011, none collect diagnosis information unless using prior authorization because the data is not required for Medicare Part D claims.

News Headlines Article

State budget may push Kern Valley Hospital to the brink
Kern Valley Sun

The prospect that Kern Valley Hospital could become another casualty in the country’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression is more than a remote possibility, according to Kern Valley Healthcare District CEO Tim McGlew. If State lawmakers and Governor Jerry Brown have their way, it will be a certainty. The Budget Act of 2011, signed by Governor Brown on March 24, includes a reduction to Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for SNFs that are distinct parts of hospitals.

News Headlines Article

Medicare revamp could hit ‘modest users’: study
Modern Healthcare

A restructured Medicare benefit design with a new limit on beneficiary cost-sharing could produce savings and help some, but also could impose additional costs on a majority of program beneficiaries who are relatively healthy and “modest users” of medical care, says a new study from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The analysis, Restructuring Medicare’s Benefit Design: Implications for Beneficiaries and Spending (PDF), comes a week before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s deadline for a proposal to cut $1.5 trillion in federal spending.“

News Headlines Article

CT angiography precedes costly tests more often: study
Modern Healthcare

Medicare beneficiaries who received coronary computed tomography angiography procedures in an outpatient setting were more likely to later undergo costly and invasive cardiac testing procedures than those patients who received stress testing, according to a new study.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published the analysis of almost 300,000 Medicare patients in the Nov. 16 issue.

News Headlines Article

Consumer Group Wants Full Access to National Practitioner Data Base
Health Leaders Media

A consumer advocacy group is calling for full and unfettered public access to the National Practitioner Data Base to help patients identify problem doctors in their states.

The Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project said new restrictions imposed on the database last week by the Department of Health and Human Services would protect the identities of problem doctors at the expense of patients.

News Headlines Article

High-resolution CT scans having costly follow-ups
San Francisco Chronicle

Patients who had high-resolution CT scans to check for heart disease ended up having far more invasive tests and follow-up procedures for a cost of $4,000 more per patient than those who underwent basic stress tests, according a study by Stanford researchers. What the study, published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association, didn’t determine was whether those extra tests and surgeries translated into healthier outcomes.

News Headlines Article

F.D.A. Is Urged to Issue More Alerts About Drug Risks
New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to issue “safety signals” when it is alerted to potential health risks of prescription drugs isn’t working well to notify the public or guide doctors to alternative medicines, new research indicates.

In an article published online Monday in The Archives of Internal Medicine, doctors who wrote a two-page research letter said about half of the potential “safety signals” about adverse events listed on the F.D.A.’s Web site from 2008 to the end of 2010 resulted in labeling changes, but most were listed in an “updated Warnings and Precautions se

News Headlines Article

County revises hospital sale to allow more time
Willows Journal

Glenn County revised its sale offer Tuesday of the hospital property to Glenn Medical Center.

The $300,000 purchase price remains the same, but county officials extended the time period for funding the hospital’s expansion and remodeling from six months to two years.

The financing extension comes at the request of Glenn Medical Center’s negotiators who discussed the county’s Nov. 1 proposal with Supervisors Steve Soeth and Mike Murray.

News Headlines Article

Supes support fix for health care law
San Francisco Chronicle

A plan to close a loophole in San Francisco’s landmark health care ordinance won preliminary backing from a split Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The vote came after Mayor Ed Lee vetoed different legislation last month intended to address the same problem. The new plan, said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who co-sponsored the legislation, will “hopefully better balance the health care needs of employees in San Francisco while at the same time doing what we can to minimize job layoffs.”

News Headlines Article

Medical center offers $69 doctor visits
Daily Pilot

Those without health insurance can get low-cost medical care through the end of the year at Eastbluff Medical Walk-In & Urgent Care, a company spokesman said this week.

The Newport Beach medical facility at 2507 Eastbluff Drive is offering $69 office visits beginning Wednesday, which coincides with Urgent Care Awareness Week.

News Headlines Article

White House cites progress on payment errors
Modern Healthcare

Various Medicare and Medicaid auditing initiatives have sharply lowered erroneous excess payments under the programs over the past three years, according to the Obama administration, and new initiatives will lower such mistaken spending further. Federal waste reduction measures have led to Medicare’s overall error rate falling to 8.6% in 2011 from 10.2% in 2010, federal officials announced today. Specifically, Medicare’s fee-for-service error rate fell to 8.6% from 9.1% last year, and Part D reported a first-time composite error rate of 3.2%, well below the government average.

News Headlines Article

Union representing San Bernardino health care workers takes new approach to labor talks
San Bernardino Sun

The union that represents nearly 1,500 employees at two hospitals here began contract negotiations Tuesday with a platform focused on reducing chronic diseases in California. The Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers West, represents 14,000 health care workers at 31 sites owned by San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West.

News Headlines Article

Insurance Mandate May Be Health Bill’s Undoing
New York Times

As Barack Obama battled Hillary Rodham Clinton over health care during the Democratic presidential primaries of 2008, he was adamant about one thing: Americans, he insisted, should not be required to buy health insurance. “If things were that easy,” Mr. Obama told the talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in February of that year, “I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t.”

News Headlines Article

Voters OK tax to keep San Pablo hospital open
San Francisco Chronicle

Voters in west Contra Costa County overwhelmingly passed a parcel tax Tuesday to resuscitate Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, which has the region’s only full-service emergency room. Measure J won by 74 percent, according to semiofficial results. It needed a two-thirds majority to pass. “We’re very pleased that voters recognize the importance of keeping this hospital open,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia.

News Headlines Article

Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Health Care Reform Before 2012 Election
Courthouse News Service

Florida’s challenge to the nation’s new health care law, which a federal appeals court agreed was unconstitutional this summer, will go to the U.S. Supreme Court before the 2012 presidential election. The court accepted three related petitions, consolidating two and highlighting points to consider. In addition to considering the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the justices will address whether an unconstitutional provision can be struck out to leave the rest of the legislation intact.

News Headlines Article

Hospital PPI up 0.4%; doc-office figures flat
Modern Healthcare

Wholesale acute-care hospital prices increased 0.4% in October after a rise of 0.1% the prior month, according to the latest monthly figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Producer Price Index figures for the four most-recent months are preliminary. The index for acute-care hospitals in October 2010 was up 0.6%.

For the 12-month period ended in October, the acute-care hospital index increased 1.9% compared with 1.8% a year ago.

News Headlines Article

Mission Hospital names new CEO
Orange County Register

Mission Hospital has named Kenneth McFarland as president and chief executive officer after a national search, the hospital announced Tuesday. McFarland, 50, has worked as the interim CEO since May after the resignation of Peter Bastone. Bastone is currently interim CEO at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. McFarland started working at the nonprofit hospital in 1998 as chief financial officer. In that role, he led the hospital’s three-year implementation of electronic medical records, which was completed in the spring.

News Headlines Article

Call Yourself an ACO? Prove It
Health Leaders Media

Healthcare providers that boast they’re accountable care organizations may now have their services vetted by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, which on Monday announced a three-tiered accreditation program to verify and score those claims.

“There’s lots of organizations who are going to call themselves an ACO,” Raena Grant Akin-Deko, the NCQA’s Assistant Vice President for Product Development tells HealthLeaders Media.

Opinion/Editorial

News Headlines Article

Health care decision
RecordNet

Next spring the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging the constitutionality of last year’s health care overhaul bill.

Likely a decision will come in June, about four months before Americans go to the polls to pick a president.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for President Obama, whose signature legislative achievement is health care reform.

News Headlines Article

Healthcare at the high court
Los Angeles Times

After last year’s sweeping healthcare reform law drew more than 30 lawsuits challenging its constitutionality, it seemed just a matter of time before the measure had a day of reckoning at the Supreme Court. On Monday, the court announced that day would come next year, in advance of the presidential election, when it has agreed to hear appeals on five of those lawsuits and to consider at least four separate legal issues.

Blogs

News Headlines Article

NYT Defines Obamacare Success: Fewer Options, but Better Coordinated
reasononline

Contrived in secrecy; approved in a sordid backstairs intrigue that took place, like all true debauchery, in the deepest hours of a Saturday night; signed in a muted, regretful ceremony; unpopular with voters; hated by states; inflationary, monopolizing and cruel: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act yet reigns, according to The New York Times’ Reed Abelson, Gardiner Harris and Robert Pear.

Commands