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Kaiser, docs sue nurses over walkout
San Francisco Business Times

Chuck Idelson, a spokesman for the Oakland-based California Nurses Association , didn’t directly respond to the substance of Kaiser Permanente ’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court. But he told the San Francisco Business Times late Friday that Kaiser allegedly is taking the step as part of plans for an East Coast expansion move, to New York, New Jersey and the Washington, D.C., area (where it already has a regional unit). “Kaiser has dreams of empire,” Idelson said, and wants to fund its expansion on the backs of workers. He said that is CNA’s only statement on the suit.

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HHS launches tool to compare health plans
Modern Healthcare

HHS introduced an online tool that compares health plan benefits and costs for small-business owners.

The tool was added to Healthcare.gov, a website mandated by the Affordable Care Act, according to an HHS news release. It allows small-business owners to research health plan products that are locally available.

More than 530 insurers have provided information about more than 2,700 plans, according to HHS.

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F.D.A. Revokes Approval of Avastin for Use as Breast Cancer Drug
New York Times

The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration on Friday revoked the approval of the drug Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer, ruling on an emotional issue that pitted the hopes of some desperate patients against the statistics of clinical trials. The commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, said that clinical trials had shown that the drug was not helping breast cancer patients to live longer or to meaningfully control their tumors, but did expose them to potentially serious side effects like severe high blood pressure and hemorrhaging.

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Memorial Medical Center in Modesto is most-preferred
Modesto Bee

For the 10th consecutive year, Memorial Medical Center in Modesto won a Consumer Choice Award as the hospital most preferred by Stanislaus County residents. The awards, given over the past 16 years by the National Research Corp., recognize the top hospitals in more than 300 markets nationwide. Memorial is part of Sutter Health, a network that serves more than 100 communities in Northern California.

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Hospitals try to find savings, cut unnecessary care
USA Today

At five Bon Secours Health System hospitals on the East Coast, giving fewer blood transfusions during heart surgeries has had some counterintuitive results: Not only did costs fall, but care improved, officials say. “People think transfusions are good, but … the higher rate of transfusions that people get, that’s associated with a longer hospital stay and a higher death rate,” chief medical officer Marlon Priest says.

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High court invites two Washington lawyers to take part in reform law arguments
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Supreme Court invited two esteemed Washington lawyers to join the marathon oral arguments scheduled for its review of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In an order issued Nov. 18, H. Bartow Farr was asked to argue as a friend of the court that the requirement that individual’s buy health insurance can be severed from the rest of the law, meaning its many other provisions could survive if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional.

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AHMC Healthcare affiliate acquires Calif. plan
Modern Healthcare

AHMC Central Health, Alhambra, Calif., announced the acquisition of Central Health Plan of California from a privately held investor group in Diamond Bar, Calif., according to a news release. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. AHMC Central Health is a newly formed California company and part of AHMC Healthcare.

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Chemobrain found to be cancer therapy side effect
San Francisco Chronicle

Susie Brain always had a strong ability to juggle multiple tasks. But after she underwent intensive chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2004, she found she could no longer do so and eventually quit her job as executive director of a small, environmental nonprofit organization. “When I finished treatment at the end of that year, I just didn’t know what my head was doing. I tried to keep going with my work, but I found I could not,” said Brain, now 61, of Palo Alto.

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Top 12 Uncertainties Hovering Over Healthcare
Health Leaders Media

Get ready for 2012. It’s going to be a wild ride, for sure. 1.The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, a.k.a. the Super Committee: This bipartisan panel has just hours – by Wednesday Nov. 23 – to come up with a plan to reduce all federal spending by $1.2 trillion over 10 years to avoid the “sequester,” which would mean an automatic 2% across the board cut in payments to Medicare providers starting in 2013.

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Kaiser sues California Nurses Association over strike
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the California Nurses Association violated a no-strike clause in its collective bargaining agreement when it called a statewide strike by Kaiser nurses in September. Billed as the largest nurses’ strike in state history, CNA called a massive walkout Sept. 22-23 by as many as 22,700 nurses, including 17,000 at Kaiser, 5,000 at Sutter Health and 700 at Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Other workers at other unions joined the walkout, too.

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Lodi Memorial Hospital expands services through its new partnerships
Lodi News-Sentinel

Lodi Memorial Hospital has announced a new partnership with Regent Surgical Health and 17 area physicians. It is with the hope that patient care will improve, since providers will be able to talk to one another about the patients via electronic medical records and align great care, said hospital spokeswoman Carol Farron. The move will also strengthen the hospital’s mission to serve the community with local doctors, according to Joe Harrington, hospital president and chief executive officer.

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Ability to Pay Drives Hospital Length of Stay
Health Leaders Media

Uninsured patients spend less time in the hospital than insured patients, according to a study that suggests that ability to pay plays a greater role than medical need when determining length of stay.

“The only two explanations we could come up with are either people without insurance are being discharged prematurely or hospitals are keeping people who can pay longer to increase revenue,” Arch G. Mainous, III, the author of the study, told HealthLeaders Media.

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County trauma center earns national stamp of approval
Ventura County Star

Some 16 months after it was launched to provide care for the most severely injured patients, a Ventura County trauma center has received a national stamp of approval.

The American College of Surgeons this month verified the Ventura County Medical Center as a Level 2 trauma center after a rigorous evaluation and inspection process.

“It just shows the dedication to making sure the facility is really providing the best trauma care possible within that community,” said Cory Petty, spokeswoman for the Chicago-based College of Surgeons.

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Small Towns, Large Integration
HealthyCal.org

A silver water tower looms over the local middle school just down Main Street from the Family Education Center, two of only a handful of buildings in this tiny community. Downtown Cutler is merely a blip on the radar to anyone driving through California farm country. Few visitors to this nondescript burg would imagine it as home to one in a series of cutting-edge health clinics that raise the bar on low-cost, community-based healthcare with a sophisticated set of integrated services spanning primary care to alternative medicine and social outreach.

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CDC: Diabetic vision problems reported decreasing
USA Today

People with diabetes are reporting fewer vision problems, a new U.S. government report shows. Since 1997 the percentage of diabetics reporting vision problems dropped from 26 percent to 18.6 percent, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. “Our findings are consistent with other findings,” said lead researcher Nilka Borrows, a CDC epidemiologist. “There is better blood glucose control, blood pressure control and cholesterol control in people with diabetes.”

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Medical cost-cutting also can improve care
USA Today

Efforts to rein in health care costs are putting pressure on doctors to abandon outmoded or unnecessary practices and choose less expensive treatments, actions cost-control advocates say also can improve care. Health care systems, insurers and government agencies are using sophisticated data to identify doctors and hospitals operating outside medical norms. The goal: to wean doctors off procedures that don’t necessarily benefit patients.

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Supreme Court Names Two Lawyers to Argue Points in Health Care Law
New York Times

The Supreme Court on Friday made two prominent Washington lawyers very happy and very busy, appointing them to argue on behalf of positions that neither side in the challenges to the 2010 health care law has chosen to embrace.

The lawyers will submit briefs as friends of the court, and they will participate in the marathon arguments likely to take place in March.

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Ovary-saving hysterectomy linked to early menopause
USA Today

Younger women who have a hysterectomy that spares the ovaries are almost twice as likely to go through early menopause as women who do not have their uteruses removed, according to a new study. “Hysterectomy is a common treatment for many conditions, including fibroids and excessive bleeding,” said the study’s lead author, Patricia G. Moorman, an associate professor in the department of community and family medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C., in a Duke news release.

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Less invasive treatment offers hope to those with aneurysms
USA Today

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Rebecca Terry suddenly started seeing double and feeling confused — signs that a brain aneurysm she’d lived with for decades had grown dangerously large. Doctors told her the bulge in her brain artery might rupture, which could happen without warning and kill her. Yet its size, shape and location at the base of her skull made it inoperable with traditional methods.

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Obama-Roberts Legacies to Be Shaped by Court Health-Care Ruling
San Francisco Chronicle

The Supreme Court’s review of the U.S. health-care overhaul all but guarantees a legacy-shaping ruling for both President Barack Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts. The court’s ruling will help determine Obama’s political future as he seeks re-election in November. The court could burnish Obama’s credentials as a problem-solver or leave him to go before the electorate stripped of his signature legislative achievement.

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Cigna makes changes in executive ranks
Modern Healthcare

Health insurer Cigna, Bloomfield, Conn., announced that Bertram Scott, president of U.S. commercial markets, was leaving the company and that two executives were promoted to new senior positions. Matthew Manders, president of U.S. services, clinical and specialty businesses, was promoted to president, regional and operations. Manders, 50, will keep his current responsibilities as he takes on oversight of regional accounts, and has 24 years experience with Cigna, according to a news release.

Opinion/Editorial

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Unhealthy disrespect of the law?
Lompoc Record

After the protests and flaming rhetoric, President Obama’s health-care law — the presumed centerpiece of his first four years in office — will get its day in the highest court in the land. But will it get a fair trial? U.S. Supreme Court justices are supposed to be beyond reproach, but, apparently, they are not. The very day the full court met behind closed doors to decide whether to take up the legality of the health-care law, two of the court’s more conservative justices enjoyed a dinner paid for by principals in the law firm that will argue against the law before the court.

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‘Essential’ also must be affordable
San Francisco Chronicle

The Affordable Care Act, landmark health care reform legislation, was signed into law nearly two years ago. The most difficult – and potentially costly – part of implementing health care reform begins now. On Nov. 21, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will hold the last of 10 regional listening sessions here in San Francisco as the agency develops an “essential health benefits package” – the basic health services that must be included in coverage purchased by individuals and small employers, as required by the law.

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The conservative case for healthcare reform’s individual mandate
Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court will rule next year on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform passed in 2010. But constitutionality notwithstanding, Republican opposition to the new law has been vigorous and consistent. In recent GOP presidential debates the candidates have been unanimous in condemning it, in particular objecting to the requirement that almost all Americans obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.

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