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Considering When It Might Be Best Not to Know About Cancer
New York Times

After decades in which cancer screening was promoted as an unmitigated good, as the best — perhaps only — way for people to protect themselves from the ravages of a frightening disease, a pronounced shift is under way. Now expert groups are proposing less screening for prostate, breast and cervical cancer and have emphasized that screening comes with harms as well as benefits.

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Medi-Cal cuts could snip safety net for poor
Fresno Bee

California got federal permission last week to cut Medi-Cal payments, a decision that doctors and pharmacists say will make it harder for thousands of low-income residents in the central San Joaquin Valley to get care. The Obama administration’s decision to allow a 10% cut in reimbursements to doctors, pharmacists and hospitals could save the cash-strapped state millions.

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Local diabetes treatment at issue in federal lawsuit
Sacramento Bee

A prolonged dispute between the medical director of a Sacramento diabetes research institute and the founder of an extensive, locally based diabetes treatment network has boiled over into federal court.

In a patent/copyright infringement lawsuit filed this week in Sacramento’s U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Dr. Thomas Aoki claims that Greg Gilbert falsely claimed rights to a diabetes treatment invented and patented by Aoki.

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Organizations want high court to tackle reform law constitutionality
Modern Healthcare

The American Hospital Association and five other organizations representing hospitals have asked the Supreme Court to resolve the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law, and soon. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Thursday (PDF), the associations argue that the uncertainty surrounding the law is bogging down progress on even its most noncontroversial elements, such as demonstration projects testing new delivery and payment models.

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Patient Safety Checklists Cut Costs at Physician Practices
Health Leaders Media

Physician groups looking to make their practices more efficient and increase their bottom lines should develop patient safety lists that address emergent events and routine activities.

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Obama Tries to Speed Response to Shortages in Vital Medicines
New York Times

President Obama will issue an executive order on Monday that the administration hopes will help resolve a growing number of critical shortages of vital medicines used to treat life-threatening illnesses, among them several forms of cancer and bacterial infections. The order offers drug manufacturers and wholesalers both a helping hand and a gloved fist in efforts to prevent or resolve shortages that have worsened greatly in recent years, endangering thousands of lives.

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Study: Asthma drugs raise risk of complications in children
USA Today

When used alone, the asthma medications known as long-acting beta-agonists are associated with an increased risk of serious complications, new research indicates. What’s more, the increased risk of complications, including hospitalization, intubation and death (called the asthma composite outcome), associated with the use of these medications was even higher in children than in adults.

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Obama to order FDA to help reduce drug shortages
Modern Healthcare

Acting once again ahead of Congress, President Barack Obama is directing the Food and Drug Administration to take steps to reduce drug shortages, an escalating problem that has placed patients at risk and raised the possibility of price gouging. A White House official said the president planned to sign an executive order Monday instructing the FDA to take action. The order would be the latest in the president’s campaign to move on initiatives that do not require congressional approval.

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Marin-Sonoma doctors group offers seniors other option
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Doctors with the Marin Sonoma IPA are partnering with Health Net to offer an alternative Medicare plan to Sonoma County seniors.

Many faced losing their Medicare Advantage coverage because of a recent deal between UnitedHealthcare and Sutter Health that steered care to Sutter doctors. The plans, including a zero-premium plan that does not require low-income eligibility, require beneficiaries to choose from a list of Sutter Health-affiliated providers.

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Sports Medicine Said to Overuse M.R.I.’s
New York Times

Dr. James Andrews, a widely known sports medicine orthopedist in Gulf Breeze, Fla., wanted to test his suspicion that M.R.I.’s, the scans given to almost every injured athlete or casual exerciser, might be a bit misleading. So he scanned the shoulders of 31 perfectly healthy professional baseball pitchers. The pitchers were not injured and had no pain. But the M.R.I.’s found abnormal shoulder cartilage in 90 percent of them and abnormal rotator cuff tendons in 87 percent.

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‘Stapled stomach’ patients’ families also lose weight
Inside Bay Area

Obese people who have their stomachs stapled to lose weight cast a halo of more healthful habits that inspire overweight relatives to shed pounds, Stanford researchers have found. In the year after the patients’ bariatric surgeries, a study showed that many relatives took up the post-operation regimen — a high-protein, low-fat, low-sugar diet and increased activity — and on average lost 3 percent of their body fat while doubling their physical activity.

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Healthcare Innovation Advice for Technology Leaders
Health Leaders Media

Innovation and change were common themes at this year’s College of Healthcare Information Management Executives annual forum—from the challenge of working in a disruption-averse industry to the changes that healthcare will face in coming years, whether healthcare leaders want to face it or not.

The U.S. must move toward lower-cost caregivers and venues of care, said keynote speaker Clayton Christensen.

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Early Medicare enrollment period catches many in Sacramento area by surprise
Sacramento Bee

An earlier than usual open enrollment period has brought some added stress for Medicare beneficiaries this year, particularly for those who venture into the complicated world beyond the traditional model.

“We’ve had hundreds of calls,” said Margaret Reilly, program manager at the West Sacramento office of HICAP, the state’s Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program. “People don’t know what to do. They have a lot of questions.”

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Hospitals dispute HHS infection data
FierceHealthcare

New data posted to the Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Hospital Compare website has sparked criticism from hospitals and health systems across the nation. While some hospitals complained the website features outdated information, hospitals in California are contesting its accuracy. In particular, the California Hospital Association (CHA) is questioning Hospital Compare data that indicates some area hospitals have significantly higher blood infection rates than the national average, reports Payers & Providers.

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Bill would give EHR users legal protection
Modern Healthcare

Rep. Thomas Marino (R-Pa.) introduced legislation that would offer limited legal protection to the Medicare and Medicaid providers that use electronic health records. The Safeguarding Access for Every Medicare Patient Act would reduce costs, guarantee incentives for providers to continue to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and promote the use of health IT systems, according to a news release from Marino’s office.

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Hospitals stand on shaky future
Whittier Daily News

When the 1994 Northridge earthquake damaged 11 nearby hospitals, California legislators issued an ultimatum to hospital owners statewide: Fix your highest-risk buildings by New Year’s Day 2008 or the state will shut them down. The law might have brought a burst of new construction to the Southland and a wealth of tough-walled hospitals designed to survive a major rupture on the southern San Andreas Fault, the most dangerous fault in the state.

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Budget Cuts Erase a Lifeline for the Elderly and Disabled
The Bay Citizen

The elderly people who gathered for a recent protest at City Hall in San Francisco waved placards and chanted in English and Chinese, “We won’t go to a nursing home!”

Sitting in folding chairs or wheelchairs, surrounded by caregivers and relatives, the protesters cheered speakers who stood at the top of the City Hall steps and railed against the impending closing of adult day health care centers because of the California budget crisis.

Opinion/Editorial

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States are pushing it on Medicaid cuts
USA Today

To get a sense for how desperate states are to cut Medicaid costs, think about this: Several of them are seeking federal permission to impose short, inflexible annual limits on hospital stays, no matter how sick or severely injured the patient is. While the states face severe budget squeezes, imposing unaffordable burdens on some of their sickest and most vulnerable residents is hardly a responsible answer, or one that will be felt by the poor alone.

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Opposing view: States have little choice but to cut Medicaid
USA Today

We recognize that Medicaid is the foundation of the nation’s health care safety net, providing critical coverage for 60 million Americans at a cost of more than $400 billion in state and federal dollars this year. Medicaid directors take very seriously their obligation to be stewards of taxpayer dollars invested in the program. This is reflected in efforts to contain the program’s inexorable growth and to find the most cost-effective vehicles for delivering high quality health care to its many beneficiaries.

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