News Headlines for August 21, 2017

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Amid Uncertainty Over Health Care, Covered California Appeals to Insurers’ Bottom Lines
KQED Radio

With ongoing uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the board that oversees California’s health care marketplace took action to stabilize the exchange on Thursday. Their goal was to convince insurance companies to continue offering health plans through Covered California.

Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee praised California’s overall success as a health care marketplace, but cautioned that the exchange faces significant challenges.

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Democrats prep for next round of healthcare fight
The Hill

Democrats are heading toward a new phase in the battle over healthcare as they brace for a tough midterm.

With the GOP ObamaCare repeal push largely on ice, Democrats are shifting their focus from defending the Affordable Care Act to pitching their own healthcare ideas.

The long-shot proposals have little chance of passing with Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House.

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Home Visits Help New Parents Overcome Tough Histories, Raise Healthy Children
Kaiser Health News

Seated at a kitchen table in a cramped apartment, Rosendo Gil asked the young parents sitting across from him what they should do if their daughter caught a cold.

Blas Lopez, 29, and his fiancée, Lluvia Padilla, 28, quickly answered: Check her temperature and call the doctor if she has a fever they can’t control.

“I’m very proud of both of you knowing what to do,” Gil said, as 3-year-old Leilanie Lopez played with a pretend kitchen nearby.

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Too Few Patients Follow The Adage: You Better Shop Around
Kaiser Health News

Despite having more financial “skin in the game” than ever, many consumers don’t make any attempt to compare prices for health care services, a newly released study found. In a survey of nearly 3,000 adults younger than 65, about half of the roughly 1,900 who said they spent money on medical care in the previous year reported that they knew in advance what their costs would be. Of those who didn’t anticipate how much they would owe before receiving care, only 13 percent said they tried to predict their out-of-pocket expenses. An even smaller proportion, 3 percent, compared prices from multiple providers ahead of time.

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Top UCSD researchers pitch yoga, massage and integrative medicine for healing
San Diego Union-Tribune

She wielded a kitchen knife, not a scalpel, but Serena Silberman was doing her part Saturday to heal the human body, one chop of parsley, peach and pomegranate at a time. “Food can be medicine,” said Silberman, an instructor at the University of California San Diego Integrative Medicine Natural Healing Cooking Program, as she prepped a meal for more than 200 people at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in La Jolla.

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Covered California will wait until Sept. 30 to announce final rates
Sacramento Business Journal

The move allows the state’s health insurance exchange to determine if Congress will fund crucial subsidies, but it may put individuals and employers in a pinch.

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Industry​ to​ plead​ case​ for​ CMS​ to​ drop​ cuts​ in​ 340B​ program
Modern Healthcare

Providers get their chance this week to tell federal officials what they think of a plan to curtail spending in a popular, yet controversial, drug discount program.The Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment is holding a meeting Monday at CMS headquarters. It plans to discuss the agency’s proposal to reimburse hospitals 22.5% less than the average sales price for drugs acquired under the 340B program. The current payment calculation mimics Medicare’s long-standing policy—6% on top of the average sales price.

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Anthem’s Exit Leaves Thousands With No Choice Of Health Plans
California Healthline

For about 60,000 Covered California customers, choosing a health plan next year will be easier, and possibly more painful, than ever: There will be only one insurer left in their communities after Anthem Blue Cross of California pulls out of much of the state’s individual market.

That means they could lose doctors they trust, or pay higher premiums.

Anthem’s departure is also a blow for the Covered California exchange, which has often boasted that healthy competition among its plans helped lower costs and improve its members’ access to care.

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Despite Advance Directive, Dementia Patient Denied Last Wish, Says Spouse
Kaiser Family Foundation

Bill Harris is blunt: For more than a year, he has been trying to help his wife die.

The 75-year-old retired tech worker says it’s his duty to Nora Harris, his spouse of nearly four decades, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.

“Let me be honest: Yes. It’s what she wanted,” he said. “I want her to pass. I want her to end her suffering.”

Nora Harris, 64, a former librarian, signed an advance directive after her diagnosis to prevent her life from being prolonged when her disease got worse.

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Healthcare’s evolution changing the role of hospitals and their leaders
Modern Healthcare

Marin General Hospital’s only path to the goal of preserving its autonomy has been through partnerships and community support.Since a public healthcare district regained control of the safety net hospital when it split from Sutter Health in 2010, Marin has looked to the community and other healthcare organizations to maintain its independence.Its leadership has formed an array of partnerships and joint ventures that have allowed it to control costs and improve outcomes during an era of consolidation across the healthcare industry, Marin CEO Lee Domanico said.

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Here’s how expanding Medicare could set us on the path to universal health coverage
Los Angeles Times

With Republicans seeming to have abandoned their repeal-or-bust attack on the Affordable Care Act, the path to improving Americans’ health coverage is wide open.

That has given the idea of single-payer a jump-start. But it hasn’t done much to clarify the most important question: How do we get there from here?

Several routes go through Medicare, an enormously popular program that currently covers Americans 65 and older, many dialysis patients, and the disabled. Indeed, “Medicare for All” is a common mantra among single-payer advocates.

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How Can I Tell If Medical News Is Fake or Not?
The Health Care Blog

Is coffee good for you?

A recent headline suggested that people who drink coffee live longer. Sounds great to me. I drink a lot of coffee, so maybe I will be immortal. But, wait, another report links coffee to cancer. Dang. ​ Estrogens were once touted as a life saving elixir for women of elegant ages, until these hormone supplements were linked to increased cancer risk. Wine will either add to your life expectancy or increase chances of breast cancer.

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Single-payer Health Care At The State Level Is Doomed

With members of Congress spending the month of August in their home districts, Republican efforts to do away with President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), appear stalled, at least temporarily.

However, the Trump administration still appears committed to unraveling the ACA. Most prominent are the threats to withhold cost-sharing reductions, which reduce out-of-pocket payments for low-income consumers on the insurance marketplaces.

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A backward move on value-based care
Modern Healthcare

The Trump administration wants to dramatically scale back Medicare’s bundled-payment program. It is the wrong move at the wrong time and should be opposed by all providers and insurers committed to moving from payment for volume to payment for value.The CMS proposal would allow hospitals to opt out of mandatory bundled payments for replacing knees and hips in nearly half the 67 geographic markets currently in the program.