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UCLA health care program gets $1.4 million grant
Los Angeles Business Journal

The UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Institute, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and others, has been given a grant by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families to develop a national health literacy program. The Health Care Institute, a venture between the UCLA Anderson School of Management and Johnson & Johnson, will receive $1.4 million out of the $12 million grant over four years for its role in the Office of Head Start National Center for Health.

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The facts about Medicare premiums
Times-Standard

You may have heard rumors lately that Medicare Part B premiums are shooting up — by as much as 200 percent. Those rumors are completely false, I’m happy to say. In fact, for most people with Medicare, the Part B premium will rise by $3.50 per month in 2012. That means the total monthly premium will be $99.90. Medicare is divided into four parts: A, B, C and D. Part A pays for hospital inpatient care, skilled nursing care, hospice and some home health care.

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A special room, and a hospital program, for profoundly ill kids and their families
San Francisco Chronicle

“Here’s our Jeffrey,” said Tarassa Humphrey, proudly pointing to a photo of her only son. In it, Jeffrey’s floating happily in a swimming pool, held up by a therapist, a huge smile spread across his face. The photo, carefully laminated by strips of clear tape to preserve its shape, is worn from being carried in Tarassa’s purse for so long after Jeffrey’s passing in 2009. He was only six years old.

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Aetna, Banner collaborate on ACO plan
Modern Healthcare

Banner Health, Phoenix, and the insurer Aetna will begin in late November to market to small employers a health plan for a newly created accountable-care organization. The health plan will offer Banner Health financial incentives to manage costs and reach quality and patient satisfaction targets, said Dr. Charles Kennedy, CEO for Aetna’s accountable-care solutions. Members will have incentives to use Banner Health and affiliated physicians in the health plan’s limited network.

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Kaweah Delta Rehabilitation Hospital Gets Specialty Accreditation
KSEE

Kaweah Delta Rehabilitation Hospital has been accredited as the only amputation specialty program in the Central Valley. Kaweah Delta was awarded the highest level of accreditation this month from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) International following a survey visit this year. CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body that establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of programs and services.

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More U.S. firms using high-deductible insurance plans
Los Angeles Times

U.S. employers, struggling to contain rising healthcare costs, are expanding their use of high-deductible insurance plans, which help reduce monthly insurance premiums by shifting a greater share of medical expenses to workers, a new survey shows.

In 2011, 32% of companies with 500 or more employees offered high-deductible plans. That was up from 23% in 2010, according to the survey of 2,844 private and public employers by the benefits consulting firm Mercer.

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Madera children’s hospital gets research grant
The Business Journal

St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, has named Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera as one of 30 institutions that will share $1.8 million in infrastructure grants.

More than 160,000 children worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year, and it remains the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States.

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UnitedHealthcare to buy XLHealth
Modern Healthcare

UnitedHealthcare announced it will buy privately owned XLHealth Corp., Baltimore, a provider of Medicare Advantage health plans. Terms of the all-cash deal were not disclosed in a UnitedHealthcare news release. UnitedHealthcare, Minnetonka, Minn., expects the acquisition to allow it to better serve chronically ill Medicare recipients as well as dual-eligibles.

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Tenet sells $900 million in new notes
Modern Healthcare

Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas, has completed its sale of $900 million in new notes (PDF), according to a news release. The notes are due in 2018 and carry an interest rate of 6.25%. Tenet announced the offering earlier this month, initially proposing to sell $750 million in new notes but later expanding the offering to $900 million.

Most of the proceeds of the offering will go toward paying off Tenet’s 9% notes due in 2015.

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Acupuncture safe for children, review finds
USA Today

When done by well-trained professionals, acupuncture can be a safe treatment for children, new research suggests. In an analysis of 37 studies or case reports, Canadian researchers found that in over 1,400 children treated with acupuncture, just 168 experienced a mild adverse reaction, such as crying or pain. The investigators found 25 reports of serious adverse events. “In trained hands, acupuncture seems safe in children,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Sunita Vohra, a professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Alberta in Canada.

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Thin people may be at greater risk for post-surgery death
USA Today

Thin people appear to have a higher risk of dying within 30 days of an operation than heavier people, researchers have found. The reason for the finding isn’t clear, the study authors said. They set out to see what effect obesity had on survival after surgery, but instead found that the thinner a patient was, the greater the risk of death. The measurement the investigators used was body mass index (BMI), which takes into account both height and weight.

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HHS cites Pa. insurer’s premium hike as ‘excessive’
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration’s first review of an insurer’s planned rate changes resulted in it condemning a coming rate increase by a Pennsylvania plan. HHS announced Monday that its review of a 12% rate increase planned for the small business plan of Everence Insurance of Pennsylvania is “excessive.” The authority to review annual health insurance rate increases over 10% was granted to HHS by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Keeping up with healthcare reform
Victorville Daily Press

In an effort to reduce the number of uninsured, federal healthcare reform will expand Medicaid eligibility and subsidize premiums for low-income individuals and families starting January 2014.

That may provide relief for some of the onefourth of adults in San Bernardino County who have no health insurance.

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Calif doctors sue government over Medi-Cal cuts
Sacramento Bee

A coalition of medical professionals filed a lawsuit Monday against state and federal Medicaid administrators over the approval of broad cuts to the program known as Medi-Cal in California.

Trade associations for medical professionals say the approved 10 percent cuts to reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal didn’t go through appropriate legal channels, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

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Medigap policies get scrutiny from officials looking to reduce Medicare spending
Washington Post

Margaret Fisher is among the millions of seniors with private, supplemental health insurance that takes care of most of the medical bills Medicare doesn’t cover. If she has a health crisis, she reasons, it won’t become a financial crisis, too.

But officials looking for ways to cut the federal deficit are suggesting that these Medigap policies help explain why the government’s Medicare bill is rising so fast.

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Catholic Healthcare West announces new leader in Sacramento
Sacramento Bee

A longtime health care executive is Catholic Healthcare West’s new Sacramento-area senior vice president of operations.

Michael Taylor will assume the role Dec. 6, officials said. He will become senior vice president of operations for CHW’s Greater Sacramento-San Joaquin service area.

Taylor comes to Catholic Healthcare West from Dallas, where he served in the same role for the not-for-profit Baylor Health Services, overseeing acute care and specialty heart hospitals. He succeeds Sister Bridget McCarthy, who served in an interim role.

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Retired public workers assured promised benefits
San Francisco Chronicle

The California Supreme Court says retired public workers are entitled to promised health care benefits. The Los Angeles Times ( http://lat.ms/tCqOCI) says Monday’s unanimous ruling in an Orange County case makes it difficult for budget-trimming state and local governments to cut health benefits to retirees. Justice Marvin Baxter wrote that there’s an implied contract requiring lifetime benefits and the county is prevented from changing a health care plan that hikes retiree premiums.

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