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Hospital Compare website adds infection data
Modern Healthcare

The CMS‘ Hospital Compare website has been updated with facility-specific data on central line-associated bloodstream infections, a move the agency says will “hold hospitals accountable for bringing down these rates, saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars.” In January 2011, hospitals were required to begin reporting central line infections to the government in order to receive their full payment update for 2013.

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Hearing explores doc-payment innovations
Modern Healthcare

As congressional leaders remain stalled on how to develop a permanent fix to the Medicare physician payment formula, other lawmakers Wednesday learned about potential private-sector solutions from payers and physicians.

Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee that held the hearing to examine rewarding physicians who deliver high-quality, efficient care, said he was “very encouraged” by what he heard from the panel’s five witnesses, of whom four are physicians.

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Job cuts leave more California residents in medical debt, UCLA study says
Sacramento Bee

The Great Recession has left more California families with mounting medical debt and a tenuous grip on the insurance needed to afford care, a new UCLA study revealed.

Some 2.6 million non- elderly California residents carried medical debt in 2009, about 400,000 more than in 2007, according to the report released Monday by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Recession was the prime suspect, as job cuts forced more Californians onto the unemployment line, stripping their employer-supplied health benefits in the process.

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Emergency Surgery Needs Distinct Code Registry, Researchers Say
Health Leaders Media

Surgery is surgery, right? Hernias and intestinal repairs? Gall bladders and appendectomies? Whether they’re prompted by a 911 call or scheduled a week in advance?

No, not anymore. Or at least they shouldn’t be. In fact, the quality and outcomes of these procedures depend enormously on whether the patient’s medical issue is rushed to the operating room emergently, or is done with a scheduled elective appointment.

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Sierra Vista hospital to improve care for trauma patients with new designation
San Luis Obispo Tribune

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center will become San Luis Obispo County’s sole Level III trauma center March 1, allowing it to heighten its level of trauma care to county residents. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning approved the agreement and the designation. “While we have four hospitals that all offer emergency medicine, Sierra Vista will be the only facility with a specialty designation for trauma treatment,” Steve Lieberman, county emergency medical services director, said in an email to The Tribune.

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Enloe Medical Center Could See Baby Boom With New Maternity Ward

A big due date is coming up at Enloe Medical Center in Chico. Enloe’s new Magnolia Tower is nearing completion. The 5-story addition will double the size of the hospital. One of the most anticipated features is a new maternity ward with private postpartum rooms. Once the new addition opens, mothers will be guaranteed a private room after they deliver their babies.

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Supervisors patch VMC’s mid-year budget deficit with mix of funds, cuts
The Mercury News

In a midyear budget move that Santa Clara County officials say will resolve an unexpected $58 million deficit at Valley Medical Center, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to use $30 million in a one-time payment from the general fund, with the balance made up by a combination of $15 million in hospital revenues and $13 million in cuts at VMC.

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Keeping Readmission Rates Low with Treatment Guidelines
Health Leaders Media

An elderly woman was admitted to UPMC Hamot for diverticulitis last year. Upon her arrival back home, her home health nurse detected that the woman had gained about 8 pounds in water weight.

“Rather than be readmitted to the hospital, they got her connected with telehealth, monitored her, and adjusted her diuretics,” says Jim Donnelly, RN, MBA, chief quality officer and chief nursing officer for the 412-licensed-bed Erie, PA, hospital.

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Baucus unsure permanent SGR fix is within reach
Modern Healthcare

Although Democrats have pushed to permanently replace the Medicare physician payment formula as part of extending a package of expiring tax cuts, a senior Democrat indicated Tuesday that a permanent fix was unlikely.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the senior Democrat on the panel negotiating the tax package, downplayed the likelihood of permanently replacing the Medicare sustainable growth-rate formula when asked about it after the group’s fourth meeting.

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Foster City drugmaker pushes HIV preventative pill; AIDS activists urge more testing
Peninsula Press

An organization devoted to ridding the world of AIDS is asking a company developing cutting-edge HIV treatment and prevention drugs to slow down. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation says Gilead Sciences has rushed testing of a controversial drug that would allow people at risk of getting HIV/AIDS to avoid contracting the infection by taking a pill before engaging in risky sexual behavior.

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Valley Presbyterian Receives $100,000 Grant in Support of New Operating Rooms
San Fernando Valley Sun

Van Nuys-based Valley Presbyterian Hospital received a $100,000 donation from The Fritz B. Burns Foundation to support the renovation of its operating rooms.

The grant will go towards a new centralized nursing station that is included in the project, which aims to create state-of-the-art surgery suites, hospital officials said.

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Cost report good news for healthcare district; mammograms now available once again
Redwood Times

The governing board of the Community Healthcare District met in special session on Wednesday, Feb. 1, to hear about the dreaded cost report from Medicare and Medicaid. All board members were present, along with Finance Department staff and Finance Committee members. The cost report is a unique feature of Medicare-Medicaid funding in which medical institutions such as the Jerold Phelps Community Hospital are reimbursed for services through a system that allows audits of those reimbursements after the fact to determine if they were consistent with costs.

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Audit gives KVHD clean bill of health
Kern Valley Sun

The Feb. 1 Kern Valley Healthcare District board of trustees meeting began with Rick Jackson, of the hospital audit firm TCA Partners, providing an overview of the 2011 audited financial statement. Jackson reviewed the Managements Discussion Analysis, which preceded the financial statement. Jackson reported that Medi-Cal skilled nursing reimbursement rates, which are currently on hold, have caused great concern. He further added, “I will let you know that this has caused a lot of fear in hospitals like yours.


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ObamaCare’s Great Awakening
The Wall Street Journal

The political furor over President Obama’s birth-control mandate continues to grow, even among those for whom contraception poses no moral qualms, and one needn’t be a theologian to understand why. The country is being exposed to the raw political control that is the core of the Obama health-care plan, and Americans are seeing clearly for the first time how this will violate pluralism and liberty.

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‘Obamacare’ insurance exchanges: Let’s get going
Los Angeles Times

The 2010 healthcare reform law gave states until Jan. 1, 2014, to create “exchanges” in which individuals and small businesses could shop for insurance policies. If the states don’t, the federal government will operate exchanges for them. The requirement poses a quandary for lawmakers who oppose the federal law: Should they start working on an exchange, or count on the law being repealed by the Supreme Court or by a new Republican-controlled Congress and White House in 2013?