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Hospitals hit too hard in SGR deal: AHA
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals were quick to assess a federal payroll tax bill that includes a short-term fix to Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula, calling it another instance of cutting payments to providers rather than offering real reforms. Richard Umbdenstock, American Hospital Association president and CEO, said in a statement that while the organization is glad that a number of expiring hospital provisions were extended, “we need to ensure that all of the policies are maintained for the remainder of 2012.”

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Notices detail how premiums are spent
Modern Healthcare

HHS unveiled sample notices that health plans must send policyholders beginning this summer to explain how their premiums are spent and informing them when rebates are owed because too little was spent on healthcare services. The notifications—required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—will detail what percentages of premiums go toward various activities, such as underwriting.

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Providers saw revenue rise in 2011: S&P
Modern Healthcare

Medicare and commercial revenue for hospitals and healthcare professionals increased by 5.28% in 2011, according to the Standard & Poor’s Healthcare Economic Indices (PDF).

Medicare revenue, which includes fee-for-service claim costs but not Medicare Advantage, rose 2.51% during the 12-month period. Commercial insurance revenue increased 7.11% for the same period.

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Tool assessing how community health centers deliver ‘medical home’ care may be flawed
UCLA

On the health front, the poor often have at least two things going against them: a lack of insurance and chronic illnesses, of which diabetes is among the most common. The federal Affordable Care Act would expand the capacity of the nation’s 8,000 community health centers to provide care for low-income, largely minority patients — from the current 20 million to about 40 million by 2015. The federal government is also trying to ensure that these community health centers deliver high-quality primary care, including diabetes care.

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June Collison is new president of Community Hospital
Fontana Herald News

June Collison has brought her considerable health care experience and expertise to Community Hospital of San Bernardino.

As the new president of this 343-bed acute care hospital, she is focused on keeping the organization at the forefront of industry change to meet the demands of health care reform and the challenges of a depressed local economy.

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St. Rose Hospital in Hayward seeks sustainable future through merger
The Mercury News

St. Rose Hospital in Hayward is losing money to the tune of $1 million a month. The private nonprofit hospital has been operating in Hayward for 50 years, but the question now is how to keep its doors open. “The way we’re organized right now makes it difficult to maintain a sustainable future,” said St. Rose CEO Michael Mahoney. Over the past year, one solution being explored by hospital officials is a merger with the Eden Township Healthcare District.

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Hospital PPI figures flat in January
Modern Healthcare

Wholesale acute-care hospital prices were flat in January for the second straight month, preliminary figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index show. In January 2010, acute-care hospital wholesale prices increased 0.4%. For the 12-month period ended last month, the acute-care hospital index increased 2.1%, according to the preliminary data. A year ago, hospital prices rose 1.6%.

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Survey: Health costs soar for companies
Redding Record Searchlight

Terry Alvord of Carmona’s Appliance Center in Redding doesn’t need a survey to tell him the cost of providing health coverage to his employees continues to rise.

Carmona’s Appliance has offered health benefits since 2001.

The cost to cover its 36 employees has at least doubled over the last decade to about $60,000 a year, Alvord said.

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Hospital: Voters would approve tax increase
Morgan Hill Times

Some voters said they’re supportive of a sales tax increase to benefit Saint Louise Regional Hospital, according to a recent phone survey the private hospital commissioned; however – the tax is more attractive if it were paired with funding education, fire services, police officers or services for the elderly. After surveying about 500 registered voters in Gilroy by phone in the last weeks of December 2011, “results indicate support for a sales tax increase among likely November 2012 voters,” wrote Saint Louise spokeswoman Jasmine Nguyen via email Wednesday.

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U.S. Seeks Ways to Reduce Excessive Medical Testing
Insurance Journal

A leading group of U.S. doctors is trying to tackle the costly problem of excessive medical testing, hoping to avoid more government intervention in how they practice.

The American College of Physicians (ACP), the largest U.S. medical specialty group, is rolling out guidelines to help doctors better identify when patients should screen for specific diseases and when they can be spared the cost, and potentially invasive procedures that follow.

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Patients like EHRs but worry about data security: survey
Modern Healthcare

Patients generally see electronic health-record systems as a good thing and want their physicians to use them, but a large percentage also see a dark side to EHRs when it comes to data privacy and security, according to a report from the National Partnership for Women & Families. The 76-page report, “Making IT Meaningful: How Consumers Value and Trust Health IT,” contains results of a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and overseen by veteran privacy researcher Alan Westin.

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AMA backs HHS’ ICD-10 delay
Modern Healthcare

The American Medical Association said it supports an HHS decision to move back its Oct. 1, 2013 deadline for implementing the ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure codes. “The American Medical Association appreciates Secretary (Kathleen) Sebelius’ swift response to address the AMA’s serious concerns with ICD-10 implementation,” Dr. Peter Carmel, president of the AMA, said in a news release.

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FDA to review prescription diet pill it once rejected
Sacramento Bee

Next week, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration will recommend whether the agency should approve the first new prescription diet pill in 13 years.

The FDA rejected the drug under review, Qnexa, in 2010, amid safety concerns, and the drug’s manufacturer is now presenting additional data to argue its case.

Opinion/Editorial

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Health care travels a harsh road
Lompoc Record

One of the GOP candidate’s greatest hurdles to receiving the party nomination, is the fact that while he was governor of Massachusetts a statewide program of health insurance was put in place. It is called “Romneycare” by his conservative opponents for the GOP nomination. It appears that the federal law today, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” which was dubbed Obamacare by opponents, was at least in part patterned after the law enacted in Massachusetts.

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Doctor shortage in California will blunt health reform’s effect
The Mercury News

The new health reform law is expected to create 32 million more insured Americans, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The federal government plans to expand Medicaid to low-income adults and subsidize purchases on the health insurance exchanges when it requires most Americans to carry insurance in 2014. However, an insurance card will not mean much to patients without providers to care for them.

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Vision care at risk in health reform plan
San Diego Union-Tribune

While 2014 feels far away, work is already being done around the clock to figure out what health care reform will mean for patients when the legislation takes full effect 23 months from now. As an optometrist who has been practicing in San Marcos for 27 years, employing a staff of three and serving several thousand patients in the San Diego area, health care reform means a great deal of uncertainty for my patients and millions more across the country.

Blogs

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Does ICD-10 Delay Create an Easy Opportunity for Coding Improvement?
The Health Care Blog

Implementation of ICD-10s has been delayed “indefinitely.” Rather than opine on whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I will note that it creates an opportunity for a simple but powerful improvement in the value of the coding. Caveat: I am not a coding expert (I don’t even play one on TV) so there might be something wrong with this idea. The specific reason for the post is to find out whether there is some reason this can’t be done, given the value of doing it.

  

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