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Health care news from around the state and nation


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CPMC hospitals may miss earthquake safety deadline due to length of talks
San Francisco Examiner

Prolonged negotiations between The City and the California Pacific Medical Center over a massive new 555-bed facility on Cathedral Hill will likely cause the hospital group to miss a state deadline to meet earthquake safety standards.

Plans for the new hospital have been in the works for the better part of a decade. CPMC wants to move most of the overnight beds from its four existing San Francisco hospitals to the new facility, so it can comply with the state’s seismic safety mandate without having to retrofit all four facilities.

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Health plans get mixed reviews in annual California report card
Los Angeles Times

California’s annual report card on many of the state’s HMOs and other health insurance plans gave most of those rated high marks for customer satisfaction but said they need to improve treatment for lung disease, attention-deficit disorder and throat infections in children.

The state said more than a third of consumers expressed problems with how the companies resolved complaints.

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RAND Study: Ending Individual Mandate Would Cut Coverage, Hike Government’s Costs
Insurance Journal

Eliminating the federal mandate in the new healthcare law that every individual carry health insurance would sharply lower the number of people gaining coverage, but would not dramatically increase the cost of buying policies through new insurance exchanges, a new study finds.

The number of Americans predicted to get coverage in 2016 under the new law would drop from 27 million to 15 million if the individual mandate were eliminated.

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HealthGrades lists top sites for emergency care
Modern Healthcare

Denver-based HealthGrades has recognized 263 hospitals as top performers in emergency medicine. HealthGrades analyzed three years of patient data covering millions of admissions from the ED for 12 conditions, including pancreatitis, sepsis and stroke.

The highest performing emergency departments, which account for the top 5% of hospital EDs in the country, based on HealthGrades’ metrics, are concentrated in a few regions of the country, according to the Feb. 21 report (PDF). Eighteen are in Chicago, for instance, and 12 more are based in Baltimore.

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Doctor stepping down from Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association board
Ventura County Star

When 91-year-old Dr. Charles Hair started practicing medicine in Ventura County in 1948, family physicians did everything for their patients, from tonsillectomies to delivering babies.

“I’ve seen it go from the practice of medicine to the science of medicine,” he said, adding that today’s doctors are much more specialized than in his day, which is a benefit for patients.

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Oakland pediatric obesity program added groceries
San Francisco Chronicle

Dr. Robert Savio gave 10-year-old Yazmin Peña and her 7-year-old sister, Esmeralda, high-fives as he shared results of the girls’ test results from a pilot project on pediatric obesity at Alameda County’s Highland General Hospital in Oakland. Yazmin’s triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, had dropped more than 25 percent and her sister’s fell by about 17 percent in the eight months since the family joined the program.

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Feds loan $638M for health co-ops in 8 states
San Francisco Chronicle

Health care cooperatives that are being launched in eight states announced Tuesday they will receive a total of $638 million in loans from the Obama administration under the federal health insurance law. The administration said the new nonprofit health insurers will be run by their customers and will be designed to offer coverage to individuals and small businesses. Supporters say the co-ops will keep pressure on private insurance companies for both price and coverage.

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State: California health plans improve diabetes care, exceed national average
Central Valley Business Times

California health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs) have improved on several quality measures including diabetes care, according to a new report from the California Office of the Patient Advocate. But the health plans performed below the national average in testing for many other diseases including lung disease; alcohol and drug dependence treatment; flu shots for adults; appropriately treating children with throat infections; and providing treatment for children with attention deficit disorder.

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County continues to pursue SVMH for possible partnership
The Mercury News

For the third time in four months, Monterey County officials have reached out to Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital representatives, expressing an interest in forming a partnership. The county’s interest is bound to be discussed at today’s town hall meeting to offer a public update on Salinas Valley Memorial’s affiliation process. The most recent overture was made earlier this month by Supervisor Lou Calcagno’s office on behalf of the Board of Supervisors, requesting a meeting with hospital officials to discuss the matter.

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Kaiser gets moving with Roseville walking program
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente will launch a walking club at Westfield Galleria at Roseville on Saturday with an easy-to-follow, mile-long route through the popular mall. Walk to Thrive starts before the mall opens for business: at 8 a.m. in Center Court, near J.C. Penney. The event is free and open to Kaiser members and the general public. Kaiser will give away free shirts and pedometers to those who attend the inaugural walk.

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Cancer-Drug Shortages Targeted by Stopgap U.S. Approvals
San Francisco Chronicle

Cancer-drug shortages that have plagued U.S. hospitals are being targeted by Food and Drug Administration decisions, announced today, giving generic-drug makers clearance to provide stopgap replacements. Use of the drugs Doxil, for treating ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma, and methotrexate, for leukemia and tumors of the breast and lung, will be bolstered by the decisions, the agency said. The cancer drugs are among 220 types of medications deemed to be in short supply in the U.S. by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.


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Healthcare reform’s missing link — nurse practitioners
Los Angeles Times

Within the next two years, if federal healthcare reforms proceed as expected, roughly 30 million of the estimated 50 million uninsured people in the United States — 6.9 million in California — will be trying to find new healthcare providers.

It won’t be easy. Primary care providers are already in short supply, both in California and nationwide. That’s because doctors are increasingly leaving primary care for other types of practices, including higher paid specialties.

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Televise Supreme Court’s health care case? Bad idea
USA Today

Not since Bush v. Gore has a U.S. Supreme Court case roused as much public interest as next month’s highly anticipated review of the 2010 health care law. It would make a spectacular TV show and lift the curtain on the workings of the nation’s highest court. But cameras in the high court are a bad idea. Television, as those of us who have worked in it know well, is a valuable tool but not a neutral observer.

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A Real ‘Doc Fix’
New York Times

In last week’s flurry of budget deals, Congress patched together yet another temporary fix for a flawed formula used to calculate the fees paid to doctors by Medicare. It will hold payments flat for the next 10 months instead of cutting them by 27 percent as the formula required, and the $18 billion to pay for it will be taken from other health care programs. But the fix only lasts until the end of the year. On Jan. 1, doctors will face another big cut unless Congress again steps in.