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Sympathy strike by CNA or business school case study?
San Francisco Business Times

With much fanfare, unions representing nearly 22,000 workers are promoting a one-day strike at Kaiser Permanente facilities throughout Northern California today. But the bulk of those workers — 17,000 members of the California Nurses Association — are being asked by union leaders to go out in “sympathy” with another union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

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Outpatient Care Expansion Comes Under Scrutiny
Health Leaders Media

In Southern California, the 223-bed Saint John’s Health Center overlaps competitive space with hospitals more than twice its size. The hospital system decided there was one way to improve its competitive edge: improve its outpatient services.

The Santa Monica hospital in 2011 built a new ambulatory surgery center, ensured that its patients had easy access, and delivered flexible scheduling options.

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Gov. Jerry Brown gets wide array of support for tax-hike initiative
The Mercury News

Early contributions to Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike initiative show a wide span of interests are beginning to line up behind it. In the past two weeks, two business groups — the Occidental Petroleum Corporation and the American Beverage Association — pitched in $250,000 apiece to his ballot committee, Californians to Protect Schools, Universities and Public Safety.

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Safety net ERs not at disadvantage on meeting proposed length-of-stay measures, study says
Modern Healthcare

Safety net hospital emergency departments are not at a disadvantage in terms of meeting the terms of proposed length-of-stay measures for patients both admitted and discharged, according to a new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors wrote that there is a concern that performance measures for EDs approved in 2008 by the National Quality Forum could result in safety-net hospitals being harmed if the measures are used in pay-for-performance programs.

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Kaiser strike apparently fizzles
Sacramento Business Journal

The Kaiser strike that promised to be the largest walkout in the company’s history — wasn’t. More than 21,000 nurses, mental health providers, optical workers and others were called to strike Kaiser Permanente Tuesday, but far fewer appeared to have shown up at the picket lines by the middle of the day. The numbers remain in dispute, however.

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Kaiser Permanente workers in Calif. go on strike
San Francisco Chronicle

Workers at Kaiser Permanente facilities throughout California have gone on strike over contract disputes involving Kaiser’s mental health and optical employees. The National Union of Healthcare Workers says its 4,000 Kaiser employees are staging a 24-hour strike Tuesday over proposed cuts to health care and retirement benefits. The union represents Kaiser mental health and optical employees.

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Study questions proton therapy for prostate cancer
USA Today

A warning to men considering a pricey new treatment for prostate cancer called proton therapy: Research suggests it might have more side effects than traditional radiation does. A study of Medicare records found that men treated with proton beams later had one-third more bowel problems, such as bleeding and blockages, than similar men given conventional radiation.

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Blue Shield agrees to cover autism therapy
Los Angeles Times

A major health insurance company has settled an enforcement action with state regulators over providing special therapy for autism patients.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Tuesday said that Blue Shield of California Life & Health Insurance Co. agreed to immediately cover the cost of applied behavior analysis therapy, which Jones described as a well-recognized and effective treatment.

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On to Colorado, Santorum renews attack on heathcare overhaul
Los Angeles Times

In its essence, Rick Santorum’s pitch to voters boils down to this: I am the only true conservative in the race and the only candidate who is not compromised on the single most important issue of the 2012 presidential election — the repeal of President Obama’s healthcare reform law. Santorum arrived precisely at 10 a.m. Tuesday to address a crowd of about 200 at a suburban golf club half an hour from Denver.

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Judge blocks California from cutting Medicaid payments
Modern Healthcare

A federal judge in California issued a tentative ruling that blocks the state of California from cutting Medicaid payments by 10% for physicians, clinics, pharmacists, dentists, ambulance providers and durable medical equipment suppliers.

Trade associations representing the providers sued the California Department of Health Care Services and HHS arguing that the cuts violated federal law requiring that Medicaid programs ensure access to services, and that federal officials failed to appropriately consider the impact of the cuts in approving them.

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Nurses’ Union “Sympathy” Strike Linked to $2 Million Loan to NUHW Labor Group
Market Watch

The following statement is attributed to C. Duane Dauner, President/CEO, California Hospital Association:

Patients love their nurses. Hospitals do too. Nurses provide the caring touch and clinical expertise that is integral to ensuring high quality patient care every day in hospitals throughout California. Sadly, the labor union that represents less than one-fourth of all California nurses seems to have a different priority.

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F.D.A. Approves New Cystic Fibrosis Drug
New York Times

The first drug that treats an underlying cause of cystic fibrosis, rather than just the symptoms, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday, more than 22 years after the gene responsible for the disease was first identified.

The drug, called Kalydeco and developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, counters the effect of one specific mutation in the gene that accounts for 4 percent — or about 1,200 — cystic fibrosis cases in the United States.

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Kaiser healthcare workers, nurses demonstrate outside south Sacramento hospital
Sacramento Bee

About 150 healthcare workers and nurses are picketing outside Kaiser’s South Sacramento campus this afternoon, one of many similar demonstrations today at Kaiser Permanente’s California facilities over stalled labor negotiations.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers has been in labor talks with Kaiser Permanente for more than a year over benefits and other provisions.

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Autism treatment dispute settled with Blue Shield
San Francisco Chronicle

A state regulator has reached an agreement with Blue Shield of California to provide coverage of a pricey type of autism treatment. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says his department took action against the insurer in July to get Tuesday’s settlement that promises the insurer will comply with the state’s Mental Health Parity law. The law requires coverage for medically necessary behavioral therapies, including applied behavioral analysis therapy.

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Breast Cancer Reexcision Rates Vary Widely
Health Leaders Media

Does a breast cancer surgery patient’s likelihood of enduring a second surgery, called reexcision, vary depending on her choice of hospital and surgeon, as opposed to her clinical profile? And could this lead to unnecessary surgeries?

Apparently, yes, according to a study of 2,206 patients by researchers who found substantial variation in four institutions in reexcision rates for patients who had negative specimen margins after the initial surgery.

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Helping Californians Access, Afford and Adhere to Quality Health Care will Have Dramatic Benefits
HealthyCal.org

Difficult economic times are forcing many Californians to make difficult choices every day about whether to continue taking medication or to feed their families and pay rent, while many Californians are simply unable to afford quality health care. Governor Brown’s recently proposed budget cuts, including reducing reimbursement rates and shifting more Californians into managed care, will make the strain even greater, and will have potentially deleterious health implications for California’s most vulnerable populations.

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Health care reform already working
San Bernardino Sun

Just over one year ago, on Jan. 19, 2011, Republicans in Congress tried their best to reduce health coverage and increase insurance costs for Americans across the nation. On that day, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted unanimously to repeal the historic Affordable Care Act. As more and more Americans begin to reap the benefits of health care reform, we can look back and be thankful this misguided attempt to turn back the clock has not succeeded.

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Breast Cancer Surgery Rules Called Unclear
New York Times

Nearly half of women who had lumpectomies for breast cancer had second operations they may not have needed because surgeons have been unable to agree on guidelines for the most common operation for breast cancer, a new study finds. It also hints that some women who might benefit from further surgery may be missing out on it. Rates of repeat surgery can vary widely by doctor, from zero percent to 70 percent, according to the study.

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Medicare Advantage’s enrollment is up; premiums are down
USA Today

Premiums for the Medicare program that allows recipients to choose private insurance have dropped an average of 7% while enrollment has grown by 10%, according to Department of Health and Human Services statistics to be released today. That continues a trend for the Medicare Advantage program that counters the negative predictions about the effects of the 2010 health care law, which said enrollment would drop and premiums would rise.

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Thousands of Kaiser workers wage one-day strike
The Mercury News

As striking workers circled outside Kaiser Permanente medical centers throughout Northern California on Tuesday, hospital and union leaders traded allegations about the motivations behind the bitter dispute. Much of the controversy centered around the striking nurses, who have a contract through 2014 but walked out in sympathy with mental health and optical workers who are negotiating a new contract.

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Jerry Brown As Insurance Commissioner?
Fox & Hounds

Wait. We know that Jerry Brown is California’s Governor and Dave Jones is our Insurance Commissioner. So what’s up with the title of this column? The fact is, Brown isn’t so much insurance commissioner as he is in the business of selling insurance. To understand this, realize that a major oil company, casino Indian tribes and health care providers have all contributed to Jerry Brown’s campaign to raise taxes on Californians, taxes that will hit average folks especially hard.

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