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Hospital union backs initiatives on prices, care
San Francisco Chronicle

Hospitals in California and their union employees are poised for battle in November over the prices hospitals charge to patients and the amount of charity care they provide. United Healthcare Workers West – an arm of the Service Employees International Union – has begun collecting signatures on two ballot measures to force most hospitals in the state to limit the cost of medical services and to provide a minimum level of free care to poor patients.

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Nurses, Sutter Medical Center agree on new contract
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Registered nurses at Santa Rosa’s Sutter Medical Center announced a tentative agreement Thursday with hospital administration on a new union contract.

The nurses are scheduled to vote on the agreement Tuesday. Some 350 nurses at the hospital are represented by the California Nurses Association. The agreement would raise nurses’ pay by 7 percent over 30 months, CNA spokesman Liz Jacobs said. It also contains provisions for creating a safer environment for nurses, who sometimes face violent patients, she said.

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Hospital HCAHPS Scores Beat Expectations
Health Leaders Media

In the health reform sweepstakes to retrieve their share of $850 million in federal funds, hospitals have been scurrying to improve their patient experience scores under Medicare’s value-based purchasing rules.

Now, according to the latest survey results, their efforts are paying off. For discharges in July, 2011, the month scoring began, patients’ responses were 0.7 % better than they were in June, according to Press Ganey Associates, which distributes and analyzes patient responses to the 27 Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey.

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Reform shrinking ‘doughnut hole’: HHS
Modern Healthcare

About 3.6 million Americans with Medicare who reached the “doughnut hole” saved about $604 on their prescription drugs in 2011, according to data from HHS.

The doughnut hole refers to a coverage gap that requires enrollees who do not qualify for a low-income subsidy to pay the full cost of their drugs. HHS reported Thursday that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—which provides a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs, and, in 2012, a 14% discount on generics—saved those 3.6 million beneficiaries about $2.1 billion on their prescription-drug costs last year.

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Sutter, nurses’ union agree on contract
North Bay Business Journal

Registered nurses and Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa have reached a tentative agreement for a new collective bargaining contract for some 350 RNs represented by the California Nurses Association, the union announced today.

The agreement calls for an across-the-board pay increase of 7 percent over the next 30 months, and includes gains in provisions for governing medical leave, seniority rights and improvements on clinical educational leave, according to the union.

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Healthcare reform law saves 3.6 million Americans $2.1 billion
Contra Costa Times

In its first year, the Affordable Care Act saved 3.6 million Americans with Medicare $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. The act saved 319,429 Californians $171,983,735, or an average of $538, the government said in a statement. The savings were for the number of Medicare recipients who hit the “donut hole,” the gap in coverage on prescription drugs between what Medicare pays and what must be paid out of pocket by Medicare recipients.

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Planned Parenthood Gains Online Push for Komen Funds
San Francisco Chronicle

Planned Parenthood Federation of America may have already replaced the $680,000 in funding it lost from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation for its breast-cancer prevention programs, the group said today. Riding a wave of Internet appeals, Planned Parenthood received pledges of $400,000 from 6,000 donors as of 2 p.m. yesterday, said Tait Sye, a spokesman. Three large donors also surfaced: The Amy and Lee Fikes’ Foundation, run by the head of closely-held Bonanza Oil Co.

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Bay Area groups react to Komen decision to pull breast-screening funds
Inside Bay Area

The nation’s largest and most widely recognized breast cancer advocacy organization faced a rolling avalanche of criticism and major revolt within its own ranks Thursday after a decision to eliminate all funding to Planned Parenthood. The decision by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation to halt grants totaling $680,000 last year — used by 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates across the nation for breast exams — has stirred debate across country since it was announced two days ago.

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Controversy over Komen-Planned Parenthood funding not good for either, advocates say
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The national backlash against the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity for ending breast screening grants to Planned Parenthood has advocates of both groups in Sonoma County pressing for a public relations cease fire.

Komen has been deluged with negative emails, Facebook posts and blog entries accusing it of bowing to pressure from anti-abortion groups in the wake of the disclosure Tuesday that it would halt $680,000 in annual grants to Planned Parenthood for breast exams and related services.

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Group pushes health worker flu vaccinations
Modern Healthcare

A national employer healthcare group joined several provider advocacy groups in urging hospitals to require their employees to obtain annual influenza vaccinations.

The National Business Group on Health, a not-for-profit group representing the health policy interests of some of the largest U.S. employers, urged seasonal flu requirements for hospital workers as a way to reduce risks for healthcare workers and patients.

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What Patients Talk About When They Talk About Doctors
UCSF Today

An analysis of hundreds of reviews posted to physician-rating sites on the Internet revealed that patients generally give their doctors favorable reviews in this forum.

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Don’t Give Up on Dead Claims
Health Leaders Media

Denials can wreck your revenue stream, but physician practices often give up on payment too soon, says Richard J. Quadrino, JD, founding partner with the law firm of Quadrino Schwartz in New York City. Many of your “dead” claims are payable if you know the law, he says.

“Providers often have a lot of denials that they’ve written off, figuring that they don’t have value,” Quadrino says.

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Chief Medical Officer Named at Simi Valley Hospital
San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Simi Valley Hospital now has a chief medical officer, a new position.

John Dingilian, MD, was chosen for the role by hospital President and CEO Darwin Remboldt, who made the announcement in early December 2011. Dingilian began his new role on Jan. 1.

Dingilian, a family medicine specialist and the 2010-2011 chief of the hospital medical staff, applied for the position when it was announced in late summer 2011.

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SVH opens physical therapy clinic
Sonoma Index-Tribune

Sonoma Valley Hospital has opened a new physical therapy clinic at 19312 Sonoma Highway.

“This is a dream clinic,” said Craig Hamley, lead therapist. “We’ve always had the best staff in the Valley, maybe even the county. And now we have a facility that’s commensurate with their expertise and will allow us to serve the community in the best way we can.”Physical Therapist Michael Francisco echoed the thought, “Every time I walk in here, I’m bubbling over. It’s a great place to work. It opens up a huge variety of therapeutic possibilities.”

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Health startup to triple enrollees
San Francisco Business Times

SeeChange Health, a San Francisco-based startup that’s a rare new entrant into the static world of health plans, is growing rapidly now that it has links to Cigna’s California network of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. It only has roughly 10,000 health plan enrollees — a tiny fraction of the tally at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan , Blue Shield of California, Anthem Blue Cross and other giants — but it appears to be filling a niche in the market by providing innovative programs for small to mid-sized employers.

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Poor, minority residents face most health risks with climate change
California Watch

Poor, urban and minority residents are most at risk for health problems linked to climate change, according to a new California Department of Public Health analysis of Los Angeles and Fresno counties.

The department examined social and environmental factors ranging from the rising sea level to public transportation access and found that African Americans and Latinos living in these counties are more likely to be exposed to health and safety risks related to poor air quality, heat waves, flooding and wildfires stemming from climate change.

Blogs

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Breast Cancer Action donations surge after Komen-Planned Parenthood fiasco
San Francisco Business Times

Believe it or not, there is a beneficiary of the controversial decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to not continue funding breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood centers. San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Action saw donations from its recent email alerts surge 30-fold from the average volume of click-throughs from the alerts, said spokeswoman Angela Wall. It sent out two alerts Wednesday about the change in Komen’s grant process, which Planned Parenthood has charged was based on pressure from antiabortion activists, and how the change affects Planned Parenthood.

Opinion/Editorial

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Health care law: Obama’s albatross?
San Francisco Business Times

President Obama did not brag about the health care reform act in his State of the Union address. (He may have internalized the growing disappointment with its provisions and early inflationary impact.) Instead, he listed a few things that he would not “go back to.” (Power to cancel policies, deny coverage or charge women more.) And he said “our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.”

  

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