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Not-for-Profit Hospitals’ Community Spending Detailed
Health Leaders Media

Not-for-profit hospitals average more than 11% of total expenses on benefits to their communities, according to a study sponsored by the American Hospital Association.

Beginning in 2009, the Internal Revenue Service required not-for-profit hospitals to file a Schedule H form to assess their community benefit. AHA hired Ernst & Young to collect and analyze the data from 571 not-for-profit hospitals.

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Short-term SGR fix could come today, lawmaker says
Modern Healthcare

A GOP senator serving on the conference committee responsible for finding a solution to Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula said an answer could come today—although it won’t be a permanent one.

Talking to reporters after his remarks at the American Medical Association advocacy conference in Washington, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said the short-term fix could be for 10 months, 12 months or 22 months, although he did not say which of those options is most likely.

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Study questions utility of satisfaction scores
Modern Healthcare

Despite growing reliance on satisfaction scores for evaluating doctor performance, “research suggests a tenuous link between patient satisfaction and healthcare quality,” a study finds.

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Medicare Targeted for Cuts Under HHS Budget
Health Leaders Media

The 2013 budget proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services reflects familiar ideas presented by President Obama to the debt reduction committee: fully fund the Affordable Care Act, reduce Medicare and Medicaid costs, and cut provider reimbursements.

Overall HHS spending is proposed to increase by about 8% from $871.9 billion to $940.9 billion. Only 8% of the HHS budget represents discretionary spending that can be shifted around, increased or eliminated. The 122-page HHS budget proposes increasing that spending by $0.3 billion to $76.4 billion.

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State agency faults city ambulance restrictions
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside city and county officials are considering how to respond to a state agency’s opinion that the city overstepped its authority by limiting ambulance services. American Medical Response, or AMR, has an exclusive contract for 911 ambulance service in most of Riverside County, including the city of Riverside. Non-emergency medical transportation — such as trips between a hospital and nursing home — is an open market in which any company with a permit from the county EMS agency may compete.

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Satisfied patients not always healthiest, UC Davis study shows
Sacramento Bee

The most satisfied patients may not be the healthiest ones.

In fact, satisfied patients are more likely to be hospitalized, have higher health care costs and are more likely to die than less satisfied ones, according to a study released Monday by UC Davis researchers.

“These findings raise concerns that efforts to satisfy patients may have downsides that lead to unnecssarry care and risks without the benefits,” said Joshua Fenton, assistant professor in the University of California, Davis, Department of Family and Community Medicine and lead author of the study.

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New survey about Californians’ end-of-life wishes
The Mercury News

Fewer than one in four Californians has written instructions about how and where they would like to die — risking the immense emotional, physical and financial burden of end-of-life hospital care. Yet an overwhelming majority of Californians would rather die at home, far from the tumult of a hospital, according to a poll released Tuesday.

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Healthcare Experts Zero In On Heart Disease Prevention, Treatment
Long Beach Business Journal

With fewer people smoking and more advanced medicines available, the rate of deaths attributed to heart disease has declined sharply over the last few decades, according to national health statistics. But, local cardiologists and healthcare professionals say there’s no denying the fact that heart disease is still the leading killer in the United States for both men and women and remains the most expensive burden on America’s healthcare system.

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Home health care makes patients, Medicare happy
Times-Standard

There’s no place like home, especially when it comes to health care. ”There are a lot of hospital-acquired infections in even the best of hospitals,” said Margot Julian, the Eureka resident featured in this column a month ago after breaking her leg in a Dec. 11 bedroom mishap. “Then there’s the lack of privacy and the noise levels, which make it hard to sleep. However modest your home may be, that’s where you want to be.”

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Feds recover $4.1B in health care fraud in 2011
San Francisco Chronicle

Federal authorities say they recovered $4.1 billion in health care fraud judgments last year. Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are expected to make the announcement Tuesday. But federal officials told The Associated Press that agencies are doing a better job of screening providers before they get in the system and have beefed up enrollment requirements.

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Health Reform Shifting From Planning to Action
California Healthline

Anthony Wright summed it up pretty well. “I just have to say, I love that we’re here,” Wright said. “That the exchange and health reform are actually happening.” Wright, executive director of Health Access California, was a panelist at the 16th annual Insure the Uninsured Project conference in Sacramento last week. “This is not some pipe dream, this is eminently doable and achievable,” Wright said.

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Reform funding remains priority in Obama budget
Modern Healthcare

President Barack Obama released his fiscal 2013 budget that includes about $5 billion in Medicare payment cuts for that year and aims to save about $364 billion in total federal healthcare spending over the next decade. The administration’s fiscal 2013 budget has requested $76.4 billion for HHS, or about $300 million above fiscal 2012’s funding level. “The budget maintains investments in the administration priorities such as Affordable Care Act implementation and Head Start,” according to an HHS summary (PDF) in the administration’s financial blueprint said.

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Sebelius in L.A. to announce $9.1 million in aid to med students
Los Angeles Times

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited a health clinic in downtown Los Angeles on Monday and announced more than $9 million in funding to help medical students repay school loans if they agree to work in underserved areas.

Sebelius said the program would encourage more students to pursue careers in family medicine and help relieve a shortage of primary care doctors.

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Health center seeks new CEO
Sonoma Index-Tribune

After 18 years with the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, Chief Executive Officer Patricia Talbot retired on Jan. 27, although she doesn’t plan to leave the health care field entirely.

She said the timing was right to make her exit, both personally and professionally.

“The health center is in really good shape, it’s a good time to leave,” Talbot said. “We’re financially very stable. We’re one of the few health centers in the state that hasn’t had to lay anyone off.”

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Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Gets a Move On as Patients, Staff Wheel to New Wing
Noozhawk

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital staff spent Sunday moving 102 patients to its new hospital, a meticulously timed process that administrators had spent two years planning.

The new hospital took a decade to design, build and fund, with the help of a $111 million community capital campaign.

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Survey shows disconnect on end-of-life health care
San Francisco Chronicle

Very few Californians have talked to their doctors about their end-of-life health care despite a desire to do so, according to a poll that revealed a wide disparity between how people want their final days to be handled and what they’ve done to ensure it. The survey, released today by the California HealthCare Foundation, found that two-thirds of Californians said they would prefer a natural death if severely ill and just 7 percent wanted all possible care to prolong their lives.

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UnitedHealth unveils patient info service for MDs
San Francisco Chronicle

UnitedHealth Group’s Optum business is launching a service that allows doctors to share information about patients over the Internet, as health care companies continue their push to improve care with better coordination. The system, known as cloud computing, involves storing information and software applications on remote servers that are accessed through a secure Internet connection.

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Darrell Steinberg wants probe of Sacramento County dental program
Sacramento Bee

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is calling for a state review of a Sacramento County pilot program that provides state-funded dental coverage for low-income children.

A Center for Health Reporting article published in The Bee over the weekend detailed shortcomings of the managed care program, including long wait times and comparatively low rates of dental care among the more than 110,000 Sacramento County children covered by the program.

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Obama health chief visits L.A. clinic, announces plan to help students
Los Angeles Times

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited a health clinic in downtown Los Angeles on Monday and announced more than $9 million in funding to help medical students repay school loans if they agree to work in underserved areas.

Sebelius said the program will encourage more students to pursue careers in family medicine and will help relieve a shortage of primary care doctors.

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Riverside County launches insurance plan for low-income families
HealthyCal.org

Riverside County took a first step toward federal healthcare reform last month with the launch of Riverside County Healthcare, an insurance plan for poor people who don’t qualify for Medi-Cal. Some 20,000 people—about 10 percent of the county’s uninsured population—will be covered. Many of them are newly unemployed and without health care, said Jan Remm, Assistant Administrator of Riverside County Regional Medical Center, who oversees the program.

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Two large Marin nonprofits merge
North Bay Business Journal

Buckelew Programs and Family Service Agency of Marin, two major Marin nonprofits, today announced they will merge, making the agency a “major operating division” of the larger Buckelew organization.

The merger, effective March 1 pending state approvals, would create a stronger organization by combining the two nonprofit organizations to meet a wider spectrum of mental health needs, particularly in an era of health care reform, officials said. They don’t expect layoffs or service reductions.

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Going against AIDS group, FDA pledges quick review of Gilead drug to prevent HIV
San Francisco Business Times

A plan to use an approved HIV-fighting drug from Gilead Sciences Inc. as prevention to the AIDS virus will get priority review by the Food and Drug Administration, the agency said Monday. The move means that the use of Truvada as a way to reduce HIV risk could be approved by June 15, rather than face a standard 10-month agency review. If approved, Truvada would be the first drug for uninfected people to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV.

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Making Sense of the Debate Over Patient Access to Medical Information
The Health Care Blog

“When it comes to health care, information is power.” This comment from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has sparked a heated debate among doctors and patient advocates about the merits and drawbacks of giving patients easy access to their lab results, doctors’ notes and other personal medical information. A deliberation in this month’s issue of SGIM Forum, the newsletter of the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM), is emblematic of how doctors’ and patients’ views on transparency vary.

  

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