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Health care news from around the state and nation


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This strike is against the California Nurses Association
Sacramento Business Journal

Call it strike one against the California Nurses Association. On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco denied the union’s motion to dismiss Kaiser Permanente’s lawsuit over a one-day nurses’ strike in September. Kaiser alleged the action violates a no-strike clause in its collective bargaining agreement. Kaiser filed a grievance against the union Oct. 18 asking the union to arbitrate the issue using a process spelled out in the contract.

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Proposed Doc Fix Would Slash $27B from Hospitals, ACA
Health Leaders Media

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced Wednesday that a joint House-Senate conference committee had reached “an agreement in principle” on a proposal to once again delay the 27.4% in Medicare reimbursement cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1.

The proposed deal would delay hefty Medicare provider reimbursement cuts and would include $27 billion in program cuts to hospitals, home health agencies, and clinical labs, according to a summary document received Wednesday by HealthLeaders Media.

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Feds to postpone ICD-10 compliance date
Modern Healthcare

The federal government plans to delay the date that healthcare organizations have to comply with the ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure codes.

A new compliance date will be announced during a formal rulemaking process to push back the deadline from the one scheduled Oct. 1, 2013. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the move in a news release issued a day after acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said that the CMS “would reexamine the time framen.”

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Millions Of Californians Taking Advantage Of Health Care Reform

Californians are reaping some of the benefits of health care reform. More than nine million Californians received free preventive care last year.

Under health care reform, insurance plans must cover a wide variety of preventive services free-of-charge. Flu shots, colon cancer screenings, and mammograms are all on the list.

Consumers also don’t have to pay for well-baby checkups and routine childhood vaccinations.

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New health center to open in Corcoran
The Business Journal

United Health Centers will open its newest location in downtown Corcoran with a grand opening ceremony on Friday, Feb. 17 at 11 a.m., UHC said in a release. The 4,700 square-foot health center is designed to provide primary care medical and dental services in a state-of-the-art facility.

The more than 20,000 residents of Corcoran will have access to services from a staff of 20, including two medical providers in six exam rooms and two dental providers in four dental working areas.

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State to Shut Down Medical Institute
The Bay Citizen

In a highly unusual move, state regulators will close the Institute of Medical Education Thursday, after finding that the private vocational school in San Jose violated state education laws.

The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education determined the for-profit school falsely claimed in advertisements that it was accredited, violated student enrollment agreements, and operated MRI technologist and ultrasound technician training programs without state approval, among other problems, according to state documents.

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Deal reached on tax bill, doc-payment fix
Modern Healthcare

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced after midnight that a deal has been made on a payroll tax holiday bill that includes a short-term fix for Medicare physician payment rates, a GOP side confirmed. The lawmakers are working on technical details, and more information is likely to come today. The bill will probably be in line with a tentative agreement announced yesterday.

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GOP senators unveil new Medicare overhaul plan
San Francisco Chronicle

Two Republican senators say they have a new Medicare rescue plan for policymakers to debate this political year. The proposal from Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard Burr of North Carolina features an accelerated transition to private health insurance for many seniors, a gradual increase in the eligibility age to 67, and higher premiums for middle-class and upper-income retirees.

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Facing the Care Coordination Challenge
Health Leaders Media

When it comes to clinical quality improvement, CEOs see care coordination as their greatest strategic challenge. In fact, with 10 possible answers, it was the choice of 30% of the CEOs who took the annual HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey. For perspective, improving patient experience, including patient flow, was the top strategic challenge for only 17%, the next most popular choice. How to overcome the care coordination challenge?

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Doc associations rip Medicare pay deal
Modern Healthcare

Physician associations denounced Congress for failing to find a permanent solution to Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula after lawmakers reached a tentative agreement that would force them to revisit the issue at the end of the year.

The deal would avert a 27.4% Medicare payment cut to physicians after Feb. 29 and extend current payment rates through the end of 2012, according to a GOP aide.

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Birth-control rule will apply to self-insured organizations, Sebelius says
Modern Healthcare

The revised rule on insurance coverage of birth control that HHS will formulate, finalize and implement by August 2013 will apply to self-insured entities, as well as policies issued by insurance companies, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters. The details of the revised birth-control rule—announced after a furor from Catholic employers who object to funding something to which they are morally opposed—remain undefined, except that it will require insurance companies to pay for the drugs instead of religious employers.

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Self-Insured Complicate Health Deal
New York Times

The Obama administration thought it had found a way to ease mounting objections to a requirement in the new health care act that all employers — including religiously affiliated hospitals and universities — offer coverage for birth control to women free of charge.

It would make the insurers cover the costs, rather than the organizations themselves.


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To Gauge Hospital Quality, Patients Deserve More Outcome Measures
The Health Care Blog

Patients, providers and the public have much to celebrate. Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Hospital Compare website added central line-associated bloodstream infections in intensive care units to its list of publicly reported quality of care measures for individual hospitals. Why is this so important? There is universal support for the idea that the U.S. health care system should pay for value rather than volume, for the results we achieve rather than efforts we make.