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Health care news from around the state and nation


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New Calif. law requires more pregnancy leave coverage, applies to more small businesses
Southern California Public Radio

California will require more employers to continue health care coverage for women on pregnancy disability leave under a new law.

Right now, both state and federal law regarding family leave requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide 12 weeks worth of medical coverage when an employee goes on pregnancy leave. The amount of coverage must match what the employer provided before the worker’s leave.

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SVMH nurses defer scheduled pay raise
The Californian - Salinas

The registered nurses of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital voted overwhelmingly Wednesday night to put off a pay raise for two years, a spokeswoman said.

RN Jeanne Hiyashi, speaking on behalf of the nurses organization, said the group voted 256 to 23 to defer the scheduled wage increase in an effort help ease the burden on the financially struggling public hospital.

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4 Health Plan Trends for 2012
Health Leaders Media

What’s in store for health plans in 2012?

Health plans—at least, most of the big nationals—have money burning a hole in their pockets, and they are on the hunt for investments. Health plans specializing in government health insurance programs continue to be attractive acquisition targets but insurers also are looking for ways to diversify their holdings to influence the cost structure along the continuum of care.

Here’s how the year may play out for health plans.

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California: stingy on health care?
Chico News and Review

A new report finds that only eight states in the nation spend less on health care per resident than California. The study, conducted by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and based on data collected from 2005 to 2009, found that total health-care sending per Californian equaled $6,238—the national average was $6,815—according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Nurses set to strike at 8 Bay Area hospitals
San Francisco Business Times

About 4,000 nurses are set to begin a one-day strike Thursday at eight Bay Area hospitals, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The nurses, members of the California Nurses Association, are protesting proposed contract changes from Sutter Health concerning sick days and union representation. The affected hospitals are Alta Bates Summit sites in Berkeley and Oakland, the Mills-Peninsula hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley and San Leandro, Sutter Delta in Antioch and Sutter Solano in Vallejo.

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UC Davis gets $2M in research grants
Sacramento Business Journal

The University of California Davis has been awarded $2 million to research cell mechanics and the genetics of common diseases. The W.M. Keck Foundation , one of the country’s largest philanthropic organizations, gave the university two $1 million grants, the campus announced Wednesday. One of the $1 million grants goes to chemistry professor Gang-Yu Liu and to Ian Kennedy, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

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GAO finds lingering barriers to development of pediatric devices
Modern Healthcare

A 2007 federal law that aimed to spur the development of pediatric medical devices spent $5 million over its first two years and led to the commercial availability of three devices, according to a Government Accountability Office report (PDF).

The three devices were among 107 pediatric devices that received some form of assistance through the FDA approval process by a few private consortia formed to assist them and funded by the federal government.

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New health coverage coming to north valley
Chico Enterprise Record

A new health-coverage program for very poor people is coming to the north valley on Jan. 1. Path2Health, as it’s called, is a sort of pilot program for the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform. This new program is for adults who are U.S. citizens, are between the ages of 19 and 64, and whose incomes are about $10,890 a year or less — the federal poverty level or lower.

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Health grant helps low-cost breast care
Chico Enterprise Record

The nonprofit California Health Collaborative has received a $4,500 grant to further its assistance to low-income individiuals in and around Butte County to overcome barriers to clinical and social services for breast care. The money will go to the Clinical, Education, Coordination and Nurse Navigation Program, or CECaNN. The grant is one of 28 awarded by Sierra Health Foundation, a Sacramento-based private philanthropy that promotes improved health and quality of life for Northern Californians.

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Long Beach Nurses Stage Hospital Strike
Fox News

Long Beach – Some 2,000 registered nurses at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and the affiliated Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach went on strike for 24 hours beginning this morning, but the targeted hospital system said it had hired replacements and would keep the strikers locked out until next week. The walkout by the nurses, who are represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, began at 7 a.m. today, according to the union. Over recent days, some 1,500 signs were prepared for the occasion.

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Nurses to picket Sutter facilities
Sacramento Bee

Nurses planned to picket Sutter Health’s Sacramento headquarters and nine of its Bay Area hospitals today in a dispute over contract negotiations.Some 4,000 registered nurses represented by California Nurses Association/National Nurses United are participating in the one-day walkout at the Sutter facilities, including those in Berkeley, Oakland and Vallejo.The nurses union had threatened the one-day strike if Sutter officials did not pull what union officials called “major concessions in patient care protections” from the bargaining table.

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Program brings mobile clinics to churches

Seeking to extend health care to the poor, medical teams from Loma Linda University Medical Center and a few other hospitals are turning to organizations long accustomed to neighborhood service: churches. “If you look at what contributes to chronic disease, a lot of it comes down to lifestyle and values, so faith communities are a good partner in helping to promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Dora Barilla, director of community benefits for Loma Linda University Medical Center and an assistant professor in health policy and management at the Loma Linda University School of Public Heal

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Thinner brains could signal Alzheimer’s
USA Today

New research suggests that the outer edges of the brain are thinner in older people who may be destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease, but there’s currently no way to use the information to help people fend off dementia. Still, the findings could help researchers test Alzheimer’s medications by allowing them to track the progression of the disease, said study co-author Dr. Brad Dickerson, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.

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Tri-City directors support plan to double hospital’s size
North County Times

Hospital directors gave initial approval Tuesday to a conceptual plan that could roughly double the size of Tri-City Medical Center. Joe Kasper, Tri-City’s vice president of support services, wheeled out a scale architectural model that showed what is, for all intents and purposes, a new hospital built on the western half of Tri-City’s 31-acre campus at Vista Way and Thunder Drive. Most prominent is an 216-bed, seven-story medical tower, which Kasper said would have ocean views from the third floor up.

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Residents of Coachella Valley suffer high rates of sickness
California Watch

Although they live near the trappings of a fit and healthy lifestyle, close to lush golf courses and luxury day spas, Coachella Valley residents are sicker and in poorer health than other Californians, according to a new analysis of multiple health studies.

In a comparison of research released last week, the Palm Desert-based Health Assessment Resource Center found that residents in the Coachella Valley had higher rates of diabetes, binge drinking and smoking than people living in other parts of the state and country.

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EHR: A ‘one-stop shop’ for patients’ medical records
Chico News and Review

As a document-heavy enterprise, the health-care industry has an addiction to paper. Medical records, not to mention bills and correspondence, require reams and reams of printouts—stored in thick manila folders, collected in huge filing cabinets. Each medical office, clinic and hospital maintains its own set of records, multiplying the amount of paper per patient to a mass that would make an ecologist cringe. Over the past two years, the federal government has sought to curb this addiction.


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Scenario Planning in a Post-ACO and Post-ACA World
The Health Care Blog

In a prior post, I provocatively suggested that providers, hospital boards and policymakers should hedge their bets and prepare for the possibility of a ”post-ACO world.” If the Group Practice Demo’s disappointing results are any guide, the likelihood of a happy ending for accountable care organizations is on numerical par with Congress’ approval rating. While I like the mutual “win-win” theoretical construct that underlies ACO gain sharing, it also recalls a life-lesson: want you want and what you get are usually two different things.

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Twenty-First Century Personalization of Health Care
The Health Care Blog

The public perception of “personalized medicine” is askew: the term is often viewed as a common treatment option for rare genetic disorders. The truth is that the power of genetic and genomic information allows physicians to offer personalized health care to their patients. Yet personalized health care is not new: ABO blood typing is a superb example of widespread genetics-based personalized healthcare dating back to World War II, and continues to have universal applicability and will for centuries to come.


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Health care reform needs more work
Monterey Herald

When President Barack Obama’s health care reform was making its way through Congress, Republicans and other opponents registered plenty of criticisms: It was too generous, too inflexible and too centralized. But such concerns were brushed aside in the push to get a bill passed.

Today, it’s harder to ignore those flaws. Implementation of the program has brought tougher challenges than the administration led Americans to expect. So it has made some major concessions to reality.