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Lawmakers nearing SGR deal
Modern Healthcare

Federal lawmakers on Tuesday evening inched closer to an agreement on a short-term solution to Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula for physicians. If Congress does not act by Feb. 29, doctors who participate in the federal healthcare program will face a 27.4% cut in their Medicare reimbursement. Although a deal is not yet final, aides say the general framework is likely to include a 10-month straight extension of the current Medicare payment rate to physicians.

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Researchers to examine revamp of public health
California Watch

As California continues to forge ahead implementing health reform, state Medi-Cal leaders and UC Davis researchers announced an agreement to examine public health system transformation efforts that may serve as models for the nation.

The researchers will evaluate public hospital systems as they revamp daily operations in ways meant to simultaneously reduce health costs and improve patient health.

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Roche warns of counterfeit cancer drug in US
San Francisco Chronicle

The maker of the widely prescribed cancer drug Avastin is warning doctors and patients about counterfeit vials of the product that have been distributed in the U.S. Roche’s Genentech unit said Tuesday that the fake products do not contain the key ingredient in Avastin, which is used to treat cancers of the colon, lung, kidney and brain. The drug is a huge money-maker for Roche, generating about $6 billion a year.

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Longest Hospital-Bond Rally Since 2006 Imperiled: Muni Credit
San Francisco Chronicle

The longest rally for municipal hospital bonds since 2006 may be doomed as President Barack Obama and U.S. states propose more than $300 billion of health- care spending reductions to close deficits. Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget plan yesterday called for $319 billion of cuts over a decade to Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare, for the elderly and disabled, makes up 43 percent of nonprofit hospital revenue, according to Moody’s Investors Service, which cited the prospect of increased downgrades. Medicaid, the U.S. and state system for the poor, accounts for 11 percent.

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Concern and cautious optimism from IT leaders on possible ICD-10 delay
Modern Healthcare

Members of the physician informatics community expressed surprise, elation and concern in reaction to the CMS‘ announcement that it will reconsider the Oct. 1, 2013 implementation deadline for the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision family of diagnostic and procedural codes. “I am thrilled that folks are listening,” said Dr. Joseph Schneider, chief medical information officer and medical director of clinical information at Baylor Health Care System in Dallas.

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Medicare puzzle: Big rise in artificial feet costs
USA Today

What’s wrong with this picture? Medicare’s bill for artificial feet rose nearly 60 percent in recent years, although foot and leg amputations due to diabetes continued a dramatic decline. Medicare paid $94 million for artificial feet in 2010, according to research conducted for The Associated Press. That was nearly $35 million more than in 2005, even though in 2010, Medicare covered about 1,900 fewer such prostheses.

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Conservatives Sowed Idea of Health Care Mandate, Only to Spurn It Later
New York Times

It can be difficult to remember now, given the ferocity with which many Republicans assail it as an attack on freedom, but the provision in President Obama’s health care law requiring all Americans to buy health insurance has its roots in conservative thinking. The concept that people should be required to buy health coverage was fleshed out more than two decades ago by a number of conservative economists, embraced by scholars at conservative research groups, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, and championed, for a time, by Republicans in the Sen

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FDA: Shortage of kids’ cancer drug can be averted
USA Today

The Food and Drug Administration has managed to avert a “crisis” for children with cancer by preventing a looming shortage of a lifesaving drug, officials announced Tuesday. The shortage of methotrexate — a mainstay of treatment for kids with acute lymphoblastic leukemia(ALL) — is the latest in a series of serious shortages of cancer medications and other drugs that have frustrated doctors and patients over the past year and a half.

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California palliative-care hospital units increase — except in L.A.
Los Angeles Times

More palliative care services are available in California compared with five years ago, according to a new survey from the California HealthCare Foundation. The exception, however, is in Los Angeles.

Palliative care is focused on providing pain relief and comfort at the end of life with an emphasis on following the patient’s wishes. The data, released Tuesday, examine trends in palliative care from 2007 through 2011.

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Despite pleas, Burlingame care center closing
San Francisco Chronicle

Anna Tupou, 76, has lived at the Burlingame Long-Term Care center for the past four years, a resident of one of only five county-run facilities in the state like it. On Tuesday, she was put on notice that she would soon have to find somewhere else to live. Despite almost three hours of passionate and often emotional testimony from residents like Tupou and employees and supporters of the nearly 50-year-old facility, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted not to renew a five-year lease to run the center.

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1 in 6 Americans has no health insurance
Orange County Register

Nearly one out of six Americans was uninsured last year as fewer employers provided medical coverage, according to a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being survey. The survey showed 17% of Americans had no health insurance in 2011, up from 14.8% in 2008 as the recession gathered steam. Meanwhile, well below half of all Americans — 44.6% — got their health insurance through their private or government employer, down from 49.1% in 2008.

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ICD-10 Deadline Review Update
Health Leaders Media

Big news regarding the ICD-10-CM/PCS implementation timeline came Tuesday morning during the American Medical Association (AMA) National Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC.

Per CMS acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner, CMS plans to revisit the current implementation deadline of October 1, 2013. Tavenner said CMS wants to reexamine the pace of implementing ICD-10 and reduce physicians’ administrative burden, according to an AMA tweet.

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Report notes impact of hospital price variation
Modern Healthcare

Hospital price variation accounted for one-third of the difference in health spending in 19 communities, even after accounting for geographic differences in wages and rent, according to a report. The report, by the Center for Studying Health System Change for the National Institute for Health Care Reform, looked at health spending for union autoworkers and dependents across seven states with similar health plans.

Opinion/Editorial

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Insurers driving health-care inflation
Visialia Times-Delta

Hopefully, by the time this is published, the contract issue between Emergency Medical Associates and Anthem Blue Cross is settled and it becomes a moot point.

Certain physicians are referred to as “hospital-based physicians” because they serve a particular purpose to provide services that support the hospital but make it inconvenient for the patient to make a choice of physician.

In most cases patients do not select their anesthesiologist who provides surgical support, radiologists who read x-rays, or pathologists who interpret laboratory studies.

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A fix for rural America’s chronic doctor shortage
Bakersfield Californian

The nation’s physician shortage got a small but symbolically meaningful boost this week when U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came to California to announce a new medical school loan repayment program.

The program of the National Health Service Corps provides as much as $120,000 to students who promise to spend three years as primary-care doctors in underserved areas.

Blogs

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The Perfect EHR
The Health Care Blog

I support over 3000 clinicians in heterogeneous sites of care – solo practitioners, small offices, multi-specialty facilities, community hospitals, academic medical centers, and large group practices. In every location there is some level of dissatisfaction with their EHR. Complaints about usability, speed of documentation, training, performance, and personalization limitations are typical. Most interesting is that users believe the grass will be greener by selecting another EHR.

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Medicine’s Tech Future: the View from the Valley
The Health Care Blog

A few quick impressions from last week’s FutureMed extravaganza put on by Singularity University at the Museum of Computer History, a stone’s throw from Google’s Mountain View headquarters. The event featured an exhibition session where emerging digital health companies (with some others) demo’d their initial products, followed by a plenary session introduced by FutureMed Executive Director (and former MGH medicine colleague) Daniel Kraft, and featuring presentations to the packed house by several leading innovators – including one of the developers of IBM’s Watson, which is pivoting

  

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