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Health care news from around the state and nation


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Kaiser may face sympathy strike by nurses union
Sacramento Bee

The union representing Kaiser Permanente’s nurses says thousands of its caregivers may walk off the job Jan. 31 in an echo of mass demonstrations at hospitals in September if labor talks between Kaiser and a sister union stall. Kaiser and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which represents mental health professionals, therapists and optical workers in Northern California, have been in contract negotiations for months over pension benefits, health care coverage and staffing issues.

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California lawmakers take another crack at ’single-payer’ health care bill
Sacramento Bee

California’s “Medicare for all” bill goes before a key Senate committee today, the latest chapter in a long-running battle between universal health insurance supporters and business.

Senate Bill 810, introduced by San Francisco Democrat Sen. Mark Leno, would establish a California Healthcare Agency to run a single-payer health care system that would pool employer and employee payments.

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Humboldt County offers no-cost health care program

More than 1,000 Humboldt County residents may be eligible for no-cost health care coverage through a new program called Path2Health. The program, sponsored by the Humboldt County Medical Services Program, provides free medical, dental and vision services to low-income, uninsured adults. About 2,800 residents in Humboldt were enrolled in the program each month during 2010-2011.

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UC Davis study links traditional arts to health
California Watch

Before she died last month at age 70, the respected Pomo basket weaver and activist Luwana Quitiquit was asked by a researcher for her personal definition of wellness.

“Storytelling is wellness,” she said. “And the reason it is wellness for my family is because it puts my kids back in touch with my grandmother, of people they never get to see. It inspires them to carry on their culture. That’s wellness.”

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Single-Payer Health Care Bill Faces Big Hurdle
KCRA Channel 3

The California universal health care bill didn’t make it past the Senate Appropriations Committee last year — but Tuesday, more than 100 advocates plan to present it to the committee again, hoping for a better outcome. Under the single-payer bill, Californians would pay the state — instead of private insurance companies — to negotiate health care. The bill would cover any resident, including the estimated 7 million Californians who don’t have health insurance now.

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Health insurance exhibits no effects for diabetics in developing countries
The Stanford Daily

According to a recent study, those with health insurance do not experience better care or treatment for diabetes than those without insurance in developing countries such as India and China. The study, which will be published on Jan. 24 in the journal of the American Diabetes Association titled Diabetes Care, looked at responses to a global survey by the World Health Organization, using the data from 35 countries that could be described as “low- or middle-income” in 2002 and 2003, according to a press release on Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) for International Studies website.

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More weight loss seen with gastric bypass than banding
USA Today

Gastric bypass surgery results in faster and longer-lasting weight loss than does gastric banding, according to a new study by Swiss investigators. A gastric bypass operation called Roux-en-Y involves reducing stomach size with staples and connecting the smaller “pouch” directly to the small intestine. It is irreversible. Gastric banding, as its name implies, involves placing a band around part of the stomach to reduce its size. This procedure is reversible, the researchers noted.

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Mobile Technology Is Transforming The Health Industry, But To What Extent?
Tech Crunch

Technology is in the process of bringing change to every piece of the health industry — wellness, fitness, healthcare, medicine — you name it. And as it always seems with introduction of new technologies, it’s awe-inspiring how quickly they can transform entire industries yet, at the same time, make us realize just how far we have to go (or how far behind we really are).

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St. Joseph’s simplifies doctor-contact system

“Ding! Attention, please! Doctor Kawaguchi! Doctor Alan Kawaguchi! Please call the nurses’ station at 2 East!”

Imagine you’re in the hospital and you hear that kind of overhead page all day and all night. It is a common occurrence – some would say nuisance – that has permeated the hallways of large hospitals for decades.

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Vitamin D doesn’t ease lung disease symptoms: study

In a new study of people with moderate or severe lung disease, taking large amounts of vitamin D was not linked to any symptom relief, researchers from Belgium report. Prior research suggested that up to three quarters of people with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are deficient in the vitamin. So it was thought that giving them extra vitamin D might help prevent exacerbations in symptoms or trips to the hospital because of shortness of breath or mucus in the airways — but that turned out not to be the case.

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AM Alert: Senate committee considers ‘Medicare for all’
Sacramento Bee

Would “Medicare for all” in California cut medical costs and insurance premiums and also improve access to health care? The Senate Appropriations Committee is taking up a bill today that would set up a state agency to run a single-payer health care system. Senate Bill 810, by Democratic Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco, is running into opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce, as Jon Ortiz reports in today’s Bee. The hearing is set to begin at noon in the Capitol’s Room 4203.


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Should Your Doctor Be Thinking About Society’s Healthcare Costs?
The Health Care Blog

You probably want your doctor to care about people, but how much do you want her to care about all of them? That’s the question I ask when I read articles – generally by bioethicists, often respectable ones – asserting that one of the moral responsibilities of physicians is to be responsible stewards of the healthcare dollar. This rhetoric concerns me, because I worry it may ultimately degrade the already-challenged physician-patient relationship.

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Can You Really Fire Your Insurance, Mitt?
The Health Care Blog

Romney’s remark last week about firing your insurance company apparently harmed him little in the New Hampshire primary. But as the quote has rocketed around, it might be misleading some into thinking that the Massachusetts health care reforms that Romney signed into law made it so people can willy-nilly get rid of an insurer that doesn’t pay their claims on time.


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California needs reasonable controls on health care premiums
The Mercury News

California should join the majority of states across the nation, 36 of 50, that have authority to control health insurance rate hikes. A consumer group is expecting to begin collecting signatures within the next few days to put a regulatory measure on the November ballot. They should work to give California voters the opportunity to voice their opinion on how much regulation is needed over an industry raking in record profits.