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Hospitals Sue To Block Medi-Cal Cuts
KPBS

The California Hospital Association is asking a federal judge to block a recently approved 10-percent cut to Medi-Cal providers. Hospitals say the cut will hurt their bottom line, and will reduce access to care.

Last month, the federal government approved California’s request for the 10-percent reduction in Medi-Cal payments. State officials said the cut will help save money, and won’t limit access to care.

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Lack of record access drives up costs at L.A. hospitals for poor
Los Angeles Times

The emergency room at White Memorial Medical Center on Los Angeles’ Eastside was buzzing when paramedics arrived on a Friday night with an elderly man slurring his words and complaining of aching bones.

The nurse in the receiving bay immediately ran through standard triage questions: “Are you diabetic? Do you have high blood pressure? Are you allergic to any medications?” Each drew the same response: “I don’t know.”

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Medicare back on the brink over cuts to doctors
San Francisco Chronicle

Politicians of both parties outdo each other vying for the approval of seniors, but their inability to compromise on the federal budget has put Medicare in the crosshairs again. Unless Congress acts before Jan. 1, doctors face a 27 percent cut in their fees for treating Medicare patients. That could undermine health care for millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries.

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ICD-10: Mandate and Opportunity
Health Leaders Media

As the clock continues to tick down toward October 2013, when ICD-10 takes effect, hospital leaders are hopeful that the coding changes will result in improved quality of care. Still, many remain wary of the inevitable learning curve that comes with the mandate. In the long run, the increased specificity of the coding structure will enable physicians to better tailor patient care, says Greg Walton, CIO of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA. But in the short term, it will cause problems and communication confusion, he says.

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Memorial of Modesto upgrades assessment, treatment of heart attacks
Modesto Bee

For patients suffering a heart attack, there is a critical window for getting treatment that will save their lives or prevent permanent damage to their hearts. Hospitals such as Memorial Medical Center of Modesto are working with emergency service agencies to change their protocols so that life-saving treatments are provided more quickly to these patients.

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Four common meds send thousands of seniors to hospital
USA Today

An estimated 100,000 older Americans are hospitalized for adverse drug reactions yearly, and most of those emergencies stem from four common medications, a new study finds. The four types of medication — two for diabetes and two blood-thinning agents — account for two-thirds of those drug-related emergency hospitalizations. “Of the thousands of medications available to older patients, a small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications caused a high proportion of emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events among elderly Americans,” said lead study author Dr.

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Taking healthcare to students
Los Angeles Times

As soon as the school day ended, the rush at the health clinic began.

Two high school seniors asked for sports physicals. A group of teenagers lined up for free condoms. A girl told a counselor she needed a pregnancy test.

The clinic, at Belmont High School near downtown Los Angeles, is part of a rapidly expanding network of school-based centers around the nation offering free or low-cost medical care to students and their families.

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Medicare’s drug coverage gap shrinks
San Francisco Chronicle

Medicare’s prescription coverage gap is getting noticeably smaller and easier to manage this year for millions of older and disabled people with high drug costs. The “doughnut hole,” an anxiety-inducing catch in an otherwise popular benefit, will shrink about 40 percent for those unlucky enough to land in it, according to new Medicare figures provided in response to a request from The Associated Press.

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Nonprofit medical clinic opens to serve North Highlands neighborhoods
Sacramento Bee

“What’s your insurance?” nurse practitioner Christine Phillips asked Wednesday as she gently touched Sou Sae- turn’s left ankle, swollen and stained with wide, purple bruises.

“I don’t actually have insurance,” replied the 27-year-old, who had landed on an opponent’s foot playing basketball five days before. He was laid off from an Elk Grove warehouse job a year ago, he said, and his health coverage ended six months later.

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Geriatric doctor doesn’t shy from tough talk
Los Angeles Times

Gene Dorio, an old-school doctor who makes house calls in Santa Clarita, drives a 1990 Volvo with 362,000 miles on the clock and duct tape holding things together. His patients have a lot of miles on them, too. Dorio is a geriatric physician.

“Medical technology allows us to live longer, but is it with the quality of life we want?” Dorio wrote after reading a column I wrote about my father’s failing health.

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Emergency hospitalizations of elderly often tied to key medications
Modern Healthcare

A handful of commonly prescribed drugs are responsible for two-thirds of emergency hospitalizations among older adults, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Using three years of data from 58 hospitals participating in an adverse drug-event surveillance project, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified four high-risk blood thinners and diabetes medications that account for a disproportionate share of serious events such as overdoses.

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Bay Area tries to pull together to help seniors in need at upcoming health summit
The Mercury News

Advocates for Bay Area seniors this week will convene around a vexing social problem: As the number of elderly living in poverty grows, safety net programs from Meals on Wheels to basic medical coverage continue to shrink. Wednesday’s Bay Area Senior Health Policy Forum will bring a busload of seniors from Santa Clara County together with state legislators and federal officials, Gray Panthers, doctors, affordable housing advocates and social workers.

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Healthy S.F. is Harvard innovations award finalist
San Francisco Chronicle

In a political era in which government is often blamed as a problem rather than a solution, Harvard University’s Innovations in American Government Awards hopes to show the converse can be true. And one of its six finalists – out of 563 applicants from around the country – is Healthy San Francisco.

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Buyout Puts Insurer at Odds With Monarch
The Laguna Beach Independent

In an unexpected move, Blue Shield of California confirmed it will no longer do business with Irvine’s Monarch HealthCare if its pending merger is finalized, which could affect 19,000 Orange County residents. As long as Blue Shield’s agreement is in place, members should continue to have access to their Monarch physicians, said Juan Davila, Blue Shield’s senior vice president for network management, in a statement.

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Insurer’s Dollars Push Specialists Onto EHR Highway
Information Week

Health insurance provider Capital District Physicians Health Plan (CDPHP) recently announced that it will offer $1 million to help 800 specialists within its network implement health IT. The money builds on more than $10 million that the company has already invested to help its providers digitize their medical records and support interoperability of clinical data.

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SVMHS recognized for treatment of heart failure
The Californian - Salinas

The American Heart Association presented an award to Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System at the recent board meeting for achievements in the treatment of heart failure.

The Get With The GuidelinesìHeart Failure Silver Quality Achievement Award recognizes Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital’s advanced expertise in providing quality patient care to patients with congestive heart failure.

Opinion/Editorial

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Settlement is a win for adult day care
Sacramento Bee

Until last week, Adult Day Health Care, a vital state program that helps keep frail elderly in their homes and out of expensive nursing homes, was headed for extinction. Because of state budget cuts, some 300 centers across the state were to close Dec. 1.

The threatened closures made no sense either on fiscal or humanitarian grounds. The state’s burgeoning populations of fragile adults go to these centers to socialize and exercise.

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State should plan for anticipated shortages of health care
Sacramento Bee

If every meteorologist in the state warned of torrential downpours all weekend, would you keep your plans for a picnic? No, you’d grab your umbrella and rain jacket and plan accordingly.

California’s policymakers, health providers and educators would be wise to heed the forecast for another brewing storm that will last longer and adversely affect millions of people throughout the state.

For years, researchers, economists and health care providers have warned that much of the state will have too few health workers for patients who need care.

Blogs

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Drawing a Hard Line on Resident Work Hours
The Health Care Blog

Last year, Public Citizen and other groups filed a petition – the second in 10 years – calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take over responsibility for enforcing medical resident work hours from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). This past September, the Obama administration denied our groups’ petition on the grounds that the ACGME is the appropriate entity to handle the issue, an identical argument to one put forward by the Bush administration nine years earlier to justify the denial of our first petition.

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Are Doctors Becoming Obsolete?
The Health Care Blog

The idea that physicians are going to be far less important in the medicine of the future seems to be a central assumption of many next-generation health companies, an assertion that, like undergraduate Shakespeare productions set in the present day, may once have felt daring and original, but now seems merely tedious. The logic goes something like is: Patients are accustomed to seeking insight from their doctors but doctors are far less good at providing this advice than most patients realize.

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Massachusetts and Hawaii Offer the Most Cost-Effective Health Insurance Coverage
The Health Care Blog

What makes a state’s health insurance successful for its citizens? It should be affordable, it should cover a lot of people, and it should manage its members well, keeping people healthy as measured both by preventive care as well as actual health outcomes. It turns out that, using those criteria, the state with the highest Health Insurance Success Score (HISS) is Massachusetts.

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