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Health care news from around the state and nation


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HFMA offers guidance on accounting of EHR payments
Modern Healthcare

The Healthcare Financial Management Association issued guidance on hospitals’ accounting of federal electronic health-record payments. The HFMA analysis, issued through its Principles and Practices Board, addresses two accounting approaches, a contingency model and an International Accounting Standards approach based on grant accounting.

The analysis notes that most Securities and Exchange Commission-regulated hospitals are using a contingency approach, although the SEC has not taken a formal stance on which approach is appropriate.

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Federal funds to help counties’ health programs for low-income residents
Sacramento Bee

Thousands of the north state’s rural poor, including residents of the greater Sacramento area, will be able to access medical care in 2012 after more than 30 counties received federal approval and funding to expand their indigent health coverage.The County Medical Services Program, or CMSP, a group of 34 mostly north state counties, received the green light to cover an additional 30,000 uninsured, low-income adults through Path2Health, a new indigent care program that launched Jan. 1.

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Survey shows California healthcare costs rising, benefits shrinking
Los Angeles Times

Fewer California companies offered their workers health insurance last year, and the ones that did charged employees more for their coverage.

That’s among the findings of an annual California Employer Health Benefits Survey released Wednesday by the California HealthCare Foundation, a research and grant-making nonprofit organization.

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Ex-Assemblyman Alberto Torrico joins lobbying firm as counsel
Sacramento Bee

A former Assembly majority leader has joined one of Sacramento’s top lobbying shops. Former Democratic Assemblyman Alberto Torrico is working as an “of-counsel” attorney for Capitol Advocacy, the firm confirmed today.

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Population Health Pays Off
Health Leaders Media

When Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System tapped Donna Rice, MBA, RN, CDE, FAADE, to become president of its new Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute in 2008, the idea was to take a different approach to treating the chronic condition, led by someone with years of experience in the field. Rice, former president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, took the ball and ran.

Baylor, a system that includes 26 acute care hospitals, let Rice, despite her moving away from the system’s more conventional methods.

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Local group in initial wave of health care change
The Desert Sun

In the coming weeks, thousands of Medicare patients across the Coachella Valley will have the chance to join an experimental program aimed at improving their care while cutting costs.

Desert Oasis Healthcare in Palm Springs, through its affiliation with the Heritage Provider Network of Northridge, will run the project, called the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program, over the next three years.

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Dr. Marcia Nelson wins Hospital Association award for her service
Chico Enterprise Record

Dr. Marcia Nelson of Chico was recently presented with the Ritz E. Heerman Memorial Award by the California Hospital Association.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the improvement of patient care.

Nelson is Enloe Medical Center’s vice president of medical affairs.

As a family physician, she also continues to see patients in her private practice at Mission Ranch Primary Care.

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Ambulance agency OKs Emanuel for heart attack victims
Modesto Bee

Ambulances carrying potential heart attack victims no longer will pass the local hospital en route to Modesto.The Mountain Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency, which regulates emergency care systems in Stanislaus County, has designated Emanuel Medical Center an official receiving center for heart attack patients.Emanuel has been expanding its heart services since 2010, when the hospital opened a cardiac cath and intervention lab. Last year, doctors performed the first open-heart surgery at Emanuel.

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Cancer death rates continue to drop
USA Today

Small but continued drops in cancer incidence and deaths in the United States in recent years are charted in a new report. Between 2004 and 2008, death rates for cancer went down by 1.8 percent a year in men and 1.6 percent a year in women, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported Wednesday. And from 1990 through 2008, death rates plunged almost 23 percent for men and just over 15 percent for women.

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Longtime West Contra Costa hospital rep departs
The Mercury News

Gisela Hernandez, the public face of Doctors Medical Center San Pablo for eight years, is moving to Fremont, where she will work for Washington Hospital, she said in a news release Wednesday. Hernandez, whose title at Doctors was director of community and government affairs, was the spokeswoman for the hospital and its owner, the West Contra Costa Healthcare District. The San Pablo-based community hospital, which serves all of West Contra Costa, is recruiting a replacement for Hernandez. For more information, check the hospital’s website at

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Confused about the new health care law? Comic book explains all
Southern California Public Radio

If you can’t figure out what the health care overhaul is all about, there’s a comic book—er, graphic novel—to make it all clear.

In a new approach for the masses, Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economics professor who was intimately involved in the crafting of Governor Mitt Romney’s universal health care plan in Massachusetts and again in President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), distills the seemingly complex changes to the health care system into basic comic strip form.

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FDA orders safety studies of women’s surgical mesh
USA Today

The Food and Drug Administration is ordering medical device manufacturers to study safety complications with surgical mesh widely used to repair women’s pelvic problems. The announcement follows an April FDA report which found that women who have the surgical mesh implanted to support their reproductive organs are at greater risk of pain, bleeding and infection than women who have traditional surgery with stitches.

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State says it will appeal MediCal injunction
Plumas County News

The California Department of Health Services announced today that it would “immediately” appeal the preliminary injunction halting MediCal cuts to skilled nursing facilities. The state said it would seek a stay of the injunction from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A source close to the case says the appeal could be filed as early as this week. How soon the court acts would depend on a number of factors: when the state files, how it files and the court’s caseload. If the state asks for an emergency stay, a decision could come within a month.

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San Diego hospital settles lawsuit on immigrants
Sacramento Bee

The U.S. Justice Department says it has settled a complaint with a major San Diego hospital over how it screens immigrant employees and job applicants.The department said Wednesday that University of California, San Diego Medical Center has agreed to adopt new procedures to verify the immigration status of its workers and pay a $115,000 civil penalty.The federal government sued the hospital last month, saying it demanded excessive documentation from non-citizen job applicants and employees to prove they were eligible to work.

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County to offer health coverage
Hi-Desert Star

Uninsured residents in San Bernardino County now have more options for health care. As of Jan. 1, ArrowCare, the county’s new health care program, is available to individuals who don’t qualify for Medi-Cal or Medicaid. Medi-Cal is the health program run by California for people who are low-income, disabled, pregnant or over the age of 65. Different from the county’s previous indigent care program, ArrowCare offers expanded services, including behavioral health, Ron Boatman, assistant hospital administrator at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, said Tuesday.


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Affordable Care Act doesn’t go far enough
Orange County Register

The United States has a terribly dysfunctional health-care system, unique among the rich countries in the word in its waste and abuse of its citizens. As a nation we spend about twice as much per person as other high-income countries, and yet we have 50 million people uninsured and have worse health outcomes. This is not a result of Medicare or the nearly half of health-care spending that is funded by government, but rather the private insurance companies that dominate the system, as well as pharmaceutical companies.

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Nine Experts Weigh In on 2011 Health IT Progress, Hopes for 2012

2011 was a big year for health IT. Farzad Mostashari took over as the country’s fourth national coordinator for health IT. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT launched pilot projects in which health care providers and public health agencies began exchanging health information using specifications developed by the Direct Project, an “open government” initiative. The first graduates of federally funded health IT training programs hit the job market. CMS issued proposed rules designed to improve consumer access to laboratory testing results.


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The slow integration of community into health care
The Health Care Blog

For a long time now patients have been meeting in online (and offline) communities, sharing experience, advice and more recently data and measurements. And the health care system–which knows that communities improve health–has done virtually nothing–other than some doctors having doctors answer questions on MedHelp. That is just starting to change. Last year Geisinger did a small trial with dLife that showed improvement in diabetics outcomes.