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California Assembly votes to outlaw smoking on hospital campuses
Los Angeles Times

Californians may soon be adding hospital campuses to the list of smoke-free workplaces.

The Assembly passed a bill Monday that would expand current limits on smoking at hospitals to entire campuses. Existing law makes it illegal to smoke in buildings and areas adjacent to entrances. Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) argued that the legislation would not only encourage patients, visitors and employees to quit the habit but protect people against exposure to secondhand smoke.

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Anthem refuses to repay claims
American Medical News

Physicians and hospitals who expected to receive a check from Anthem Blue Cross of California after a 2010 settlement over botched claims will have to keep waiting. Despite an order from state regulators, the Blues plan is refusing to pay what the state says the insurer owes doctors and hospitals.

The dispute stems from a 2008 audit by the Dept. of Managed Health Care, which regulates California’s HMOs.

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Disclosure Report Could Reveal HIPAA Breaches
Health Leaders Media

A proposed rule concerning the accounting of disclosures requirement under the HIPAA Privacy Rule would give patients the right to get a report on who has electronically accessed their protected health information, and some legal experts worry that this could pose problems for healthcare providers. People would obtain this information by requesting an access report, which would document the particular persons who electronically accessed and viewed their PHI, explains Nathan A. Kottkamp, JD, a partner with the law firm of McGuireWoods in Richmond, VA.

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Medicare Advantage Overpayments May Top $3B
Health Leaders Media

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services overpaid Medicare Advantage plans between $1.2 billion and $3.1 billion in 2010, and likely overpaid even more in 2011, according to an analysis released by the Government Accountability Office.

The problem came to light after policymakers expressed concern Medicare Advantage plans were reporting greater disease severity levels for their enrollees than claims for fee-for-service beneficiaries indicated.

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Senator’s stroke shows they can hit the young, too
USA Today

When a stroke hits at 52, as it did to Sen. Mark Kirk, the reaction is an astonished, “But he’s so young.” The reality is that strokes do not just happen to grandmother. They can happen at any age, even to children — and they are on the rise in the U.S. among the young and middle-aged. That makes it crucial to know the warning signs no matter how old you are.

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A push for a single payer system, even as reforms take effect
HealthyCal.org

Sen. Mark Leno is trying to get 20 of his fellow California state senators to vote in favor of his single-payer healthcare legislation this week. The proposed law, dubbed the “Medicare for All” bill, doesn’t look likely to pass. Yet the introduction of the bill raises an interesting question: why push for radical changes to insurance and healthcare so soon after President Obama signed historic reforms into law in March of 2010?

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Final rule regarding Medicaid, insurance exchange eligibility may be near
Modern Healthcare

Federal officials could release a final rule in the coming days implementing key provisions of the 2010 federal healthcare overall on Medicaid and insurance exchange eligibility.

Regulations implementing provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expected to expand Medicaid access by 16 million people and to determine eligibility for state exchanges that will insure another 16 million people were submitted for approval late last week from the Office of Management and Budget.

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San Bernardino County working with hospitals to reduce number of elective deliveries
Contra Costa Times

The practice of scheduling early childbirths for convenience has nearly disappeared at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center since the hospital started cracking down three years ago. Last year, Pomona Valley tallied 35 elective deliveries between weeks 37 and 39 of gestation, said Jeannie Badertscher, clinical nurse specialist for women’s services. In 2009, there were 452, or 13 times as many.

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Doctor exposes the dangers of overtreatment
USA Today

The woman walked quietly into the busy emergency room at Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta’s safety net hospital for the poor and uninsured. She waited four or five hours to be seen, sitting patiently on a gurney and clutching a plastic bag. Inside the bag was a moist, light blue towel that held one of her breasts. She was hoping it could be reattached. Doctors in the United States don’t see cancer patients like this every day.

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Autism task force meets to discuss medically necessary treatment
Sacramento Business Journal

The first meeting of a task force that will develop recommendations for medically necessary treatment for autism — and the qualifications of those who provide it — will be held Wednesday in Sacramento. The Autism Advisory Task Force will meet from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 204 at the Sacramento Convention Center at 1400 J St. The meeting is open to the public.

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Los Angeles judge blocks state budget cut to Medi-Cal providers
Sacramento Bee

A Los Angeles federal judge has tentatively blocked Medi-Cal reimbursement cuts to doctors and other providers who treat low-income patients.

U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled today that the state cannot reduce payments by 10 percent to Medi-Cal doctors, dentists, ambulance services and other providers. The tentative decision comes after Snyder previously blocked cuts to hospital-based nursing units and some pharmacists.

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California counties improve stroke system
HealthyCal.org

Seventy-five-year-old Leigh Weimers realized his left arm wasn’t working when he tried to pull his Costco card out of his back pocket. Luckily, he also had another card that helped him understand what was happening to him – one from the Stroke Awareness Foundation that he picked up at a Rotary Club meeting. Weimers realized his numb arm was a sign of a stroke, so he asked his wife to take him to the hospital.

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Doctor says he has duty to tell the truth
USA Today

Otis Brawley says he’s not worried about being called a radical. In eighth grade, Brawley and a friend were walking home from school in Detroit, where he was raised, when they accidentally stumbled into a drug dealer’s crossfire. Brawley scrambled away unharmed, but he never forgot the experience. Now, he says, “letters complaining about me are not the worst thing to ever happen to me.”

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Hospital Receives Grant for Stroke Center
San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Valley Presbyterian Hospital’s Stroke Center received a $30,000 grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation.

“With this gift, we can further advance the essential care we provide to patients in our stroke center and continue to move forward with the latest in advanced telemedicine to make certain stroke patients will have the immediate access they need to care,” Gustavo Valdespino, CEO of the hospital said in a prepared statement.

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Salinas hospital district discloses more executive pensions
Los Angeles Times

A Salinas public hospital that awarded one of the largest public pensions in state history to its former chief executive announced Monday that it would give lucrative retirement packages to four other top officials.

Two outgoing executives at the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, Chief Financial Officer John Fletcher and Chief Operating Office Bev Ranzenberger, will receive supplemental retirement payments of more than $1 million in addition to their regular pensions of roughly $100,000 a year, according to estimates released by the hospital.

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Many tests, treatments not necessary
USA Today

Many patients would be surprised to realize how little of the medicine they receive is actually backed by evidence, says Otis Brawley, author of How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America. And unnecessary tests and procedures have hidden costs. While well-insured patients may not have to pay much out of pocket, they can suffer serious side effects from interventions that have little to no chance of helping.

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Kaiser prepares for strike by NUHW workers
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente is gearing up for a statewide strike Tuesday by what could be more than 23,000 workers. The National Union of Healthcare Workers will strike to draw attention to stalled contract negotiations at five bargaining tables across the state. The California Nurses Association has called a sympathy strike. So has Stationary Engineers Local 39.

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AMN sells home healthcare operations
Modern Healthcare

AMN Healthcare Services, San Diego, exited the home healthcare business with the sale of its home health operations to Bayada Home Health Care, Mount Laurel, N.J., for $9.7 million in cash and retained working capital of $4 million, according to a news release. The deal, which is effective Jan. 30, will allow AMN to focus more on its workforce offerings amid “significant reimbursement changes” and an uncertain regulatory environment in home health, according to an AMN news release.

Opinion/Editorial

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‘‘Medicare for all’ fails again
The Appeal-Democrat

Californians dodged the bullet on universal health care insurance once again when Senate Bill 810 was narrowly defeated last week, falling only two votes short of passage in the state Senate. After the vote, Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he didn’t believe the bill would be approved and signed into law this year.

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