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Health care news from around the state and nation


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California Hospital Association seeks court injunction to stop Medi-Cal cuts
Healthcare Finance News

The California Hospital Association last week petitioned a federal district court to grant a preliminary injunction against California’s Medicaid program, called Medi-Cal, to prevent it from making 10 percent reimbursement cuts primarily affecting hospital-based skilled nursing facilities.

The cuts, proposed earlier this year by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), were aimed at helping the state close broad budget deficits. In all, Medi-Cal cuts were projected to save California $623 million.

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Merced hospital gets vein-finding device
Modesto Bee

Patients at Mercy Medical Center no longer have to be poked several times before getting an intravenous drip or having their blood drawn. The medical center is using a new technology that makes it easier to find veins in patients. The VeinViewer device projects a bright green light on a patient’s arm and makes veins highly visible.

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Doctors Medical Center in Modesto has new CEO
Modesto Bee

Tenet Healthcare Corp. has hired a former Bay Area hospital administrator as the chief executive officer for Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. The Dallas-based company announced that Warren Kirk started work at the 398-bed Modesto hospital Monday. The Florida Avenue center has been without a CEO since Denny Litos departed in July to become a health care industry consultant.

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Hospitals protect the sanctity of silence
North County Times

North County hospitals are trying to tone it down for the sake of sleeping patients. Tri-City Medical Center and Palomar Pomerado Health have instituted pilot programs in recent months that celebrate the sanctity of silence, hoping to give patients a better chance to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Tri-City conducted a program in late August and September that sought to lower noise and lighting levels in one of its medical and surgical units for 90 minutes in the afternoon.

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Queen of the Valley Hospital: On a wellness mission
North Bay Business Journal

Having opened its 59,000-square-foot Wellness Center back in 2006, long before wellness became seamlessly interwoven in the corporate business lexicon, it’s perhaps not surprising that Queen of the Valley in Napa extended the concept to its workforce.

What is perhaps surprising is the amount of employees buying into the concept — some 73 percent of more than 1,500 employees, or more than 1,000, are taking part in the medical center’s wellness program, according to the hospital, which is Napa County’s largest private sector employer.

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Lack of health insurance increases risks
The Orion Online

Having access to health care is important, but some students go without it due to unaffordable costs. The California Health Professional Student Alliance is taking matters into its own hands by trying to reform health care to make it more affordable. The United States is the only developed country without a universal health care plan for citizens, said Noah Ferns, a senior international relations major and president of the California Health Professional Student Alliance.

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Angioplasty patients may be at risk for rehospitalization
USA Today

About one in 10 people who have angioplasty to open blocked heart arteries will land back in the hospital within 30 days, a new study indicates. And a second, related report found that rehospitalization after angioplasty or stent placement remains a risk even three years after the procedure. Both studies, which appear in the Nov. 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, highlight the need for better methods of identifying and treating high-risk individuals.

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Blue Shield returning millions to customers
Sacramento Business Journal

Credits ranging from 18 percent to 54 percent of one month’s premium will appear on December bills as Blue Shield of California fulfills a pledge to limit its net income to 2 percent of revenue. Starting this week, letters will be mailed to subscribers and business customers who are eligible to receive a credit as part of the giveback. The credit is based on premiums from August 2011.

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Court Ruling Requires Insurer to Pay Cost of Residential Treatment for Eating Disorder
Market Watch

In the wake of a federal court ruling this summer that a California woman’s insurance company should pay for residential treatment that she received for anorexia nervosa, psychologist Dr. Gregory Jantz echoed the court’s opinion that residential care can be medically necessary to treat severe eating disorders.


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Medical tests are pointless when results don’t reach the doctor or the patient
Washington Post

Medical tests can reveal critical information about a person’s health, but only if the results are communicated to clinicians and patients. Sometimes, the ball gets dropped somewhere between the lab or the radiology department and the clinician who ordered the test and the patient.

In Peggy Kidwell’s case, a mix-up over doctors’ names led to a year-long delay in a breast cancer diagnosis.

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Researchers urge mammograms for women in their 40s regardless of family history
Modern Healthcare

A new study says that women in their 40s with no family history of breast cancer would benefit from annual mammography screenings, a suggestion that counters the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s recommendation against annual screenings for women in this age group.

The study, which will be presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting in Chicago today, found that women in their 40s with no family history of breast cancer are as likely to develop invasive breast cancer as women with a family history of the disease.

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Drug reps’ overtime case goes to high court
Modern Healthcare

The long-running legal battle of many of the nation’s 90,000 pharmaceutical sales representatives to be granted overtime wages has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which on Monday agreed to hear arguments in a class-action lawsuit against drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. Two Glaxo employees, Michael Shane Christopher and Frank Buchanan, say they are entitled to overtime because they are not technically salesmen—a position upheld by the Labor Department in a related by separate lawsuit last year.

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Cost Containment Under Healthcare Rules
Health Leaders Media

Generally, as services and retail products get broader distribution, as competition kicks in and as those services get democratized, they get cheaper. Healthcare doesn’t follow those economic rules. It gets more expensive every year—and usually outpaces the rate of inflation, salaries, and everything else. That clearly can’t continue ad infinitum.

The challenge of cutting costs under one reimbursement system while preparing for the advent of another adds a degree of complexity as well.

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Reform law a mixed bag for docs, AMA president says
Modern Healthcare

The healthcare reform law has delivered good news to patients, but it’s been a mixed bag for physicians, Dr. Peter Carmel, president of the American Medical Association, said Monday.