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How Physician Employment Affects Hospitals, Patients
Health Leaders Media

With a struggling economy and imminent Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement cuts, physician practices nationwide are embracing employment at the hospitals and health systems they once eschewed. Doctors are being warmly welcomed by healthcare organizations eager to augment market share and leverage large numbers of employed physicians for payer rate negotiations. With growing numbers of physicians joining hospitals and health systems, how does the shift from independence affect the physician, the hospital, and the patient?

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Reducing nurses’ stress pays off for Kaiser patients
KALW

Technology has done great things for medicine: Machines can help keep hearts beating and lungs breathing. Electronic medical records help doctors keep track of their patients’ treatment and prevent mistakes. But all that technology needs a lot of monitoring – and that can be frustrating for nurses who want to be tending people, not machines. To combat this problem, healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente is implementing a new program to help nurses relax a bit, and shift their focus back to what’s really important.

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Most Providers Unprepared for HIPAA Audit
Health Leaders Media

Most healthcare organizations charged with HIPAA compliance are not fully prepared for a privacy and security audit by federal regulators, a November survey conducted by HCPro, Inc. reveals.

For hospital leaders, already challenged on the technology front to implement ICD-10, electronic medical records systems, and pursue meaningful use certification, that’s not great news. The government has already begun conducting audits.

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Judge issues temporary order to halt IHSS cuts
Inside Bay Area

A federal judge in Oakland has issued a temporary restraining order to keep California from implementing a 20 percent across-the-board cut in the In-Home Supportive Services program on Jan. 1.

IHSS is meant as an alternative to nursing homes or other out-of-home institutionalization for the elderly, disabled and blind. The deep cut was part of the state budget deal passed earlier this year.

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Cedars-Sinai to close most psychiatry programs
Los Angeles Business Journal

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center plans to close its in-patient and outpatient psychiatry programs over the next year. The Los Angeles hospital will keep its psychiatric services in the emergency room, transplant center, cancer center and other inpatient clinical areas, while other patients will gradually move to other facilities. The nonprofit hospital also plans to phase out its psychiatry residency program.

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Mt. Diablo health district names executive director
The Mercury News

The embattled Mt. Diablo Health Care District hired its first executive director in nearly 15 years Thursday night, inking an offer to pay a consultant $10,000 a month for each of the next six months or perhaps longer if it can ward off a dissolution threat. The five-member elected board voted 4-1 in favor of a deal to bring on board former retired Petaluma Health Care District chief executive officer Daymon Doss of Kenwood. Directors Grace Ellis, Jeff Kasper, Nick Adler and Roy Larkin voted for the pact. Director Frank Manske dissented.

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Data breach prevention not a high priority: survey
Modern Healthcare

Almost all—96%—of the 300 individuals from 72 healthcare organizations participating in a data security survey said that their organization had experienced a patient-information breach in the past two years, according to a report from the Ponemon Institute, a privacy and security research firm based in Traverse City, Mich. The average number of records lost or stolen in those breaches this year was 2,575.

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Medicare adds obesity-prevention coverage
Sacramento Business Journal

Federal health officials have added obesity prevention to basic health coverage available at no extra cost under Medicare, the government health care program for seniors. Obesity screening and counseling for eligible beneficiaries by primary care providers in settings like doctor’s offices are covered under the new benefit. The move may prompt private-sector health plans to follow suit, as Medicare sets a national standard for coverage.

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Employers Skeptical of Health Care Reform, But Few Project Dropping Health Insurance Coverage
Sacramento Bee

Even in an environment of uncertainty about the future of health care reform, a majority of employers surveyed (56 percent) say that they are likely to continue to offer employer-sponsored health insurance after health care reform is enacted, according to a new survey of benefit decision-makers conducted by GfK Custom Research North America. Only 12 percent of benefits decision-makers say they would be very or somewhat likely to drop coverage, and another 32 percent of the 502 private-sector companies surveyed are unsure what they will do.

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Pay ban on donor organs doesn’t include bone marrow, court says
Los Angeles Times

A federal law banning compensation for organ transplants doesn’t extend to bone marrow harvested from a donor’s blood, a federal appeals court said Thursday in a ruling that could attract thousands of new donors in a national campaign to save the lives of those afflicted with cancer and genetic disorders.

The 1984 National Organ Transplant Act included bone marrow in its list of “organs and parts thereof” for which donors could face criminal charges and five years in prison for providing them in exchange for money or other “valuable consideration.”

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Med students might brush up on hand-washing: study
Modern Healthcare

Knowledge of proper hand hygiene may be sorely lacking among doctors-to-be, according to a study.

Researchers from Hannover Medical School in Germany surveyed 85 third-year medical students, asking them to indicate appropriate times for hand-washing. Only one-third of the students were able to identify all of the five correct scenarios, including “after removal of gloves,” and “before preparation of intravenous fluids,” from a list of seven.

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Henry Mayo named baby-friendly hospital
The Signal

Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital has been named one of nine baby-friendly hospitals in Los Angeles County for November 2011.

The Valencia hospital received the honor after a lengthy application process and two-day on-site survey in September organized by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

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Sierra Vista Hospital names new Chief Financial Officer
KSBY

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center has named Rollie Pirkl as their new Chief Financial Officer, and Thursday marks the start of his position.

As chief financial officer, it will be his job to oversee all financial, accounting, admitting, case management, information systems, health information systems, and materials management functions.

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Bariatric surgery can give teens new life
USA Today

Tipping the scales at more than 400 pounds, Keenan Henderson knew he was overweight. But the teen thought bariatric surgery was too drastic a step for someone his age. “I didn’t think it was for me, just because I was 17,” he said. “Thinking about doing something that would completely alter my life at 17 was big.” But after he attended a seminar on the procedure with his sister, his interest was piqued. And in August 2010, he had the surgery. He hasn’t regretted it.

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Free mammograms for uninsured in Sacramento
Sacramento Bee

Women without health insurance can receive free mammograms at the Clara’s House clinic in east Sacramento through March 31.

The breast cancer screenings, which include mammograms, are available to women 40 and older who have low incomes and no insurance. A $100,000 grant from the local branch of the national organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure is covering the screening costs.

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Psych Care at Risk in Cedars Shutdown
NBC Los Angeles

The decision by Cedars Sinai Medical Center to phase out most of its mental health services will rip a hole an already tenuous network of care, rattled providers said Thursday.

The news that within a year the non-profit hospital system would shut down its 51 psychiatric beds and release the 1,800 people who come for outpatient counseling and medication ripped through the region’s mental health community.

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California children’s hospitals rarely offer healthy food, study finds
Southern California Public Radio

Only 7 percent of hospital entrees at California’s 14 major children’s hospitals were deemed healthy.

Researchers with the UCLA School of Medicine and RAND Corporation visited the cafeterias and food courts of California’s 14 major children’s hospitals last year.

What they found was food that might land a person… back in the hospital.

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Report notes decline in IRF use by Medicare beneficiaries, blames policy changes
Modern Healthcare

Over the past seven years, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, which face continued federal funding cuts, saw a 26% decrease in utilization by Medicare beneficiaries, according to a report. “Rehabilitation hospitals deliver high-quality care and provide unique clinical value for patients who require hospital-level care and intensive rehabilitation after an illness, injury or surgery,” said Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “Any further payment reductions would inappropriately reduce patients’ ability to access these important services.”

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FDA approves generic cholesterol-lowering Lipitor
USA Today

India’s largest maker of generic drugs won approval late Wednesday to sell a generic version of cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor. The world’s top-selling drug ever lost U.S. patent protection earlier in the day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it granted Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. approval to sell a generic verson of Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor, called atorvastatin calcium. The last-minute decision ended widespread speculation over the outcome of a delay caused by long-standing manufacturing issues at some Ranbaxy factories.

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Mental Health Care May be Mandated in California, But Most Aren’t Getting Treated
KQED Radio

More than two million adults in California say they need mental health care, but about half of them aren’t getting it, according to a report released Wednesday by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

California mandates health insurance companies provide equal care for mental and physical health problems. But mental health services are often inadequate–or they don’t exist at all, says lead author David Grant.

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San Francisco Health Improvement Partnerships Tackles Public Health Problems
UCSF Today

UCSF and an array of community, academic and civic collaborators are wrapping up the first year of an ambitious effort to build partnerships to enhance the well-being of San Francisco residents and eliminate health disparities.

San Francisco Health Improvement Partnerships (SF HIP), a cross-cutting initiative of the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), aims to connect the University’s research capital with the expertise and needs of community partners.

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Kaiser Permanente To Build On Kearny Mesa Site
10News.com

Kaiser Permanente will build its new San Diego hospital in Kearny Mesa, the health care organization announced Thursday. The site at 5201 Ruffin Road, just south of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, is currently home to the county Registrar of Voters Office. It was selected over another potential location on the Alliant University campus in Scripps Ranch.

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EHR adoption for office docs at 57%: survey
Modern Healthcare

Rates of electronic health-record system adoption among office-based physicians grew significantly in 2011, according to a national report card on EHR adoption. In a survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics between February and June, 56.9% of physician respondents said their practice uses electronic health records in some capacity other than for billing. That’s up from the 50.7% of respondents who replied the same in 2010 (PDF).

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Part of Mississippi Healthcare Suit Placed on Hold
Insurance Journal

A federal judge has put on hold portions of a Mississippi lawsuit against Obama administration’s health care law.

U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett, in a ruling issued Nov. 23, stayed consideration of parts of the April 2010 lawsuit not involving medical privacy issues. He said those issues were pending before the Supreme Court in a case out of Florida.

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Obama Says He Will Seek More Money for AIDS Programs
New York Times

President Obama won plaudits from AIDS groups that have criticized him in the past with his announcement on Thursday that he is seeking additional federal money for efforts to prevent and treat the disease in the United States and globally. “So make no mistake, we are going to win this fight,” Mr. Obama told an audience of international activists, celebrities and lawmakers of both parties assembled at George Washington University for the annual World AIDS Day, 30 years after the disease was identified. “But this fight is not over — not by a long shot.”

Opinion/Editorial

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Health care reforms are contradictory
Napa Valley Register

With health care reform right around the corner, California should be preparing for an infusion of two to three million more Californians in the Medi-Cal program. As we face implementation of this expansion, California and the Obama administration should be doing everything to make sure there are enough doctors participating in Medi-Cal to ensure access to quality care for all patients.

Blogs

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Judge grants reprieve to 372,000 on cuts in in-home care
San Francisco Chronicle

A federal judge has apparently granted at least a temporary reprieve to 372,000 elderly and disabled Californians who faced a 20 percent cut in their in-home care on Jan. 1. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland issued a temporary restraining order Thursday that prohibits the state from taking any immediate steps to carry out the reductions — in particular, from mailing out notices to all recipients, starting next week.

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Do We Really Spend More and Get Less?
The Health Care Blog

The conventional wisdom in health policy is that the United States spends far more than any other country and enjoys mediocre health outcomes. This judgment is repeated so often and so forcefully that you will almost never see it questioned. And yet it may not be true. Indeed, the reverse may be true. We may be spending less and getting more.

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Will Health Insurance Reform Reach Those Who Really Need It?
The Health Care Blog

Issues that affect our lives don’t happen in a vacuum. Everything affects everything else, and there’s no area where that’s truer than health and access to care. So I’m going to take a slight detour from the financial and economic issues I write about most of the time to say a bit about the Affordable Care Act, which marks a historic expansion of access to health care. Thanks to the law, an estimated 32 million previously uninsured Americans will be able to purchase health insurance in 2014.

  

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