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Nurses at Sutter hospitals in Bay Area announce one-day strike for Dec. 22
Sacramento Bee

The union that represents nurses who work at Sutter hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area said thousands of nurses will be walking off the job for one day later this month.

About 4,000 registered nurses who work at eight Sutter hospitals will stage the one-day strike Dec. 22, the California Nurses Association announced.

Charles Idelson, a spokesman for the California Nurses Association, said the planned strike would not involve any Sutter medical facilities in the Sacramento region.

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VCMC cleared to receive federal funds
Ventura County Star

Federal authorities no longer plan to withhold funding from Ventura County Medical Center now that the public hospital has been cleared in a state inspection.

In a letter issued late last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said the hospital will continue to be reimbursed for care delivered to people 65 and over covered by Medicare.

That also makes the institution eligible to bill for Medicaid, the government insurance program covering many low-income parents, children and people with disabilities.

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Report shows that 9 million adults lost their health insurance coverage
Live Insurance News

A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that the recession of 2007-2009 had a major impact on the number of adults who had health insurance in the U.S. The report notes that the recession was the most severe and disruptive financial crisis faced by the U.S. in recent history. The economic impact of the crisis was widely felt and its affects linger today. In the health insurance industry, the recession claimed more than 9 million health care policies, leaving former policyholders without insurance coverage for the duration of the crisis.

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Health insurance premiums rising faster than incomes for California families, study reveals
The Mercury News

Everyone knows health insurance costs are rising rapidly, but a new study reveals just how heavy a toll that takes on businesses, families and single people. The numbers are sobering, and they are one reason why wages have stagnated, experts say. From 2003 to 2010, the combined average amount that California families and their employers paid for health coverage shot up 52 percent, reaching $13,819 annually, according to a recently released study by the Commonwealth Fund.

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Keeping California healthy
Santa Maria Times

A federal analysis of state-by-state health-care spending in 2009 reveals a lot of interesting data about California, and there are a couple of ways the information can be interpreted. The federal report shows, for example, that California spends less per person on health care than all but eight states, which sounds, at first glance, to be cause for alarm. But one interpretation of the data also reveals that California is, by and large, a younger, healthier place, thus the lower level of spending on health care.

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Perry: Romney still backs required health coverage
San Francisco Chronicle

Rick Perry insists that GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney continues to support requiring health care coverage for all individuals, and says even a $10,000 bet isn’t going to change that. Perry tells “Fox News Sunday” that in the hardcover edition of his book, Romney supported the individual mandate. Perry says that passage was removed in the paperback edition.

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NorthBay HealthCare gets ‘heart attack hospital’ designation
North Bay Business Journal

NorthBay Medical Center has been designated by Solano County as the preferred hospital for heart attack patients, a designation that comes just two months after the 132-bed hospital became the county’s first level III trauma center.

The hospital recently received final approval from the county Emergency Medical Services Agency, and ambulance and first responders are now directed to transport heart attack patients to the Fairfield hospital for cardiac care, according to NorthBay Healthcare.

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Child obesity prevention interventions can be effective
USA Today

Obesity prevention interventions in children can be effective, according to a review published online Dec. 7 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Elizabeth Waters, M.P.H., D.Phil., from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues reviewed available literature to update a previous Cochrane review on childhood obesity prevention research. Studies that used a controlled design and evaluated interventions, policies, or programs in place for twelve weeks or more were included.

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Tiniest babies are growing up healthy despite odds
USA Today

One is a healthy first-grader, the other an honors college student majoring in psychology. Once the tiniest babies ever born, both girls are thriving, despite long odds when they entered the world weighing less than a pound. A medical report from the doctor who resuscitated the infants at a suburban Chicago hospital is both a success story and a cautionary tale. These two are the exceptions and their remarkable health years later should not raise false hope: Most babies this small do poorly and many do not survive even with advanced medical care.

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CDC proposes project to analyze cost data on health interventions
Modern Healthcare

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proposed a project that would collect and analyze cost data from participants in the Community Transformation Grant program as part of an effort to predict chronic disease outcomes and their financial impacts. In September, HHS awarded more than $103 million to 61 recipients—state, local and tribal government agencies and not-for-profit organizations—for interventions that address chronic-disease management, tobacco cessation, preventive services, healthy eating and other community wellness topics.

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Kids’ CT scans raise fears of cancer risk as use soars
USA Today

A child gets rushed into an emergency room and doctors order a CT scan — one of the most reliable diagnostic tools to check for maladies from appendicitis to traumatic injuries. But computed tomography imaging, the technology that took away the guesswork, has caused another medical puzzle. Doctors increasingly order the tests but don’t really know how many of the procedures expose a child to enough radiation to cause cancer.

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Sonoma County’s retiree health costs resume upward march
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Three years after a highly controversial rollback in retiree medical benefits, Sonoma County government’s costs for retiree health care and its long-term liabilities again are on the rise.

The increase is shown in a county report made public last week and headed to the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday for acceptance.

It reveals what one supervisor, Shirlee Zane, called a “disappointing” picture of escalating costs that the county sought to cap in 2008 with benefit reductions approved over the protests of current and former workers.

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Medical imaging company to close 2 centers in Sacramento area, lays off 46
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento medical imaging firm Radiological Associates of Sacramento laid off 5 percent of its workforce and is closing two of its imaging centers at the end of the year in the firm’s first-ever layoffs.

RAS president Jonathan Breslau said 46 employees were let go Dec. 2. Hardest hit was RAS’ diagnostic imaging division, losing 39 employees, in what Breslau on Friday called “the last, least desirable step in a process of strategic cuts.”

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Study: Few women get breast reconstruction after mastectomy
USA Today

Few women undergo breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, despite the known cosmetic and psychological advantages, a new study indicates. “The immediate reconstruction rates are higher in women with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ, an early stage cancer) than with invasive cancer,” said Dr. Dawn Hershman, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City.

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U.S. Will Halt Subsidies for Early Retiree Health Coverage
San Francisco Chronicle

A $5 billion program to help companies such as AT&T Inc. pay health premiums for retirees under age 65 will end because it’s almost out of money, the U.S. said. Claims to the reinsurance program filed after Dec. 31 will be rejected, the U.S. said in a notice today. The Obama administration said in February that money for the subsidies would last through the end of fiscal 2012. A total of $4.5 billion has been paid out as of today, the U.S. said.

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Rounds: In Accountable Care, Oncology Teams Take the Lead
Health Leaders Media

The idea behind accountable care is that a diverse team of physicians of different disciplines would combine with other top clinicians including care navigators, social workers and nurses to provide the patient with the best evidence-based care, ready access to information and a team working together.

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Bariatric surgery may help teens, but insurers often exclude them
Washington Post

As obesity among young people continues to rise, a growing number of clinicians and researchers say that weight-loss surgery may be their best chance to take off significant weight and either correct or avoid such conditions as diabetes and heart disease, which often go hand-in-hand with obesity. But although health plans frequently cover bariatric surgery in adults, coverage for the procedure in patients younger than age 18 is spotty.

Blogs

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Obamacare to the Rescue
The Health Care Blog

I want to apologize to President Obama. But first, some background. I found out three weeks ago I have cancer. I’m 49 years old, have been married for almost 20 years and have two kids. My husband has his own small computer business, and I run a small nonprofit in the San Fernando Valley. I am also an artist. Money is tight, and we don’t spend it frivolously. We’re just ordinary, middle-class people, making an honest living, raising great kids and participating in our community, the kids’ schools and church.

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Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance – In 1798
The Health Care Blog

The ink was barely dry on the PPACA when the first of many lawsuits to block the mandated health insurance provisions of the law was filed in a Florida District Court. The pleadings, in part, read: The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage.

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Shopping for Health Coverage Versus Shopping for Health Care
The Health Care Blog

As I read the spirited debate over whether Obamacare will drive health insurers out of business (here and here), I wonder if we need to bring the discussion back to fundamentals: The key problem with U.S health insurance is that there is too much of it – whether provided by private insurers or government. Avik Roy and Rick Ungar disagree on the likely outcome of Obamacare: Private-insurance monopolies or government monopoly (a.k.a. “single payer”).

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