News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Walters: Senate ‘hearing’ seems to be a sham
Fresno Bee

The Sacramento Bee published a lengthy article recently about the proliferation of special committees in the state Senate that rarely, if ever, meet, just as rarely produce worthwhile research, and appear to exist mainly to give senators extra, off-the-books staff. Bee reporter Jim Sanders spent many hours poring through Senate documents, looking — mostly in vain — for evidence that the special committees serve some valid public purpose.

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AHA pushes HHS on Medicaid questions
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals pressed HHS this week to address a range of Medicaid-related uncertainties created by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the federal healthcare overhaul. The Aug. 20 letter from the American Hospital Association to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius primarily sought details on a range of payment issues for hospitals, including the fate of cuts in disproportionate-share hospital payments also included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Patient Experience Journey Lacks Defined Direction
Health Leaders Media

“We’re on a journey here,” says Robert Permut, MD, chief medical officer for Provena Health, a health system that operates six hospitals, 16 long-term care/residential facilities, and other health facilities in Illinois and Indiana. “It’s constant gardening,” says Douglas Luckett, chief operating officer for CaroMont Health, a health system based in Gastonia, N.C. Providing positive patient experiences involves doing a lot of little things right.

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Providers: Make long-term care a priority in health IT
Modern Healthcare

Future federal incentive efforts for the use of electronic health-record systems and EHR design requirements need to focus on longitudinal care plans, transitions of care and patient assessments, post-acute care providers told federal health information technology officials.

At a roundtable with HHS health IT officials, a group of post-acute and long-term-care providers said that the government’s proposed Stage 2 meaningful-use criteria did too little to incorporate measures for tracking care transitions. HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released a summary of the May 3 meeting Monday.

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Free dental services offered Friday, Saturday at Cal Expo
Sacramento Bee

From X-rays to exams, a range of free dental services will be available Friday and Saturday at Cal Expo’s Buildings C and D.

A cadre of volunteering dentists and assistants will throw open the doors at 5:30 a.m. to early risers lining up outside 1600 Exposition Blvd.

They’re hoping to see a virtual flood of up to 1,500 people arriving to obtain free dental and oral health care services during the two days.

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Hospitals explore ACOs and wellness options
Modern Healthcare

A survey of 45 hospitals in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut found that most are still in the early stages of exploring whether to establish accountable care organizations or Patient-Centered Medical Homes.

Only 20% of the hospitals either have or are committed to having an ACO in the next two years, according to the survey, conducted by Cammack LaRhette Consulting. Half of the hospitals surveyed are uncertain about exactly how they would proceed.

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Hospitals gripe about health insurers, too
Southern California Public Radio

It is a truth universally acknowledged that health insurance companies can be a pain for patients. What may be a surprise is that hospitals often complain, too. And the reasons aren’t so different from those of consumers: Denied claims. Low reimbursement. Late reimbursement. Thickets of red tape. Each year ReviveHealth, a hospital PR firm in Santa Barbara, Calif., asks hospitals to name the most problematic payers.

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Poll: GOP-Backed Medicare Proposals Remain Unpopular

With Medicare taking front and center in the presidential race in recent days, a new Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday indicates that GOP proposals to privatize the system remain unpopular among the general public. According to the survey, 72 percent of American adults have heard either a lot or a little about a voucher-like program that would give seniors credit to purchase their own health care coverage–a proposal similar to that pushed by Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman and now-running mate for Mitt Romney.

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Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital to begin search for new CEO
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital’s board will consider hiring an executive recruitment firm this week to help find the hospital’s next top administrator.

The hospital board is slated to vote Thursday on whether to hire IllinoisÐbased Witt/Kiefer to conduct a nationwide search for a new CEO.

The firm, which specializes in health care recruiting and would conduct the search from its Los Angeles field office, was chosen last week as the top candidate from a field of five firms.

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Lawmakers stall basic health plan for poor
Sacramento Business Journal

Legislation that would allow California to establish a Basic Health Plan outside the new health benefits exchange for low-income people who don’t qualify for Medi-Cal has stalled in the state Assembly. Senate Bill 703 by Democratic State Sen. Ed Hernandez from West Covina was blocked by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

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Better food seen as key in AIDS treatment
San Francisco Chronicle

Inadequate access to nutritious food is associated with increased hospitalizations and emergency room visits among HIV-positive individuals, and ensuring that patients have enough to eat may need to be a priority for the doctors and nurses who treat them, UCSF researchers say. In a paper released Wednesday, the scientists reported that 56 percent of HIV-positive patients who are homeless or living in substandard housing are also food insecure, which is defined as a regular inability to obtain enough healthy food.

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Obamacare ‘raids’ Medicare? Not exactly
Los Angeles Times

Responding to accusations by Democrats and liberal groups that Republicans are trying to “end Medicare as we know it,” GOP candidates have been blasting Democrats for cutting billions from Medicare to fund the 2010 healthcare reform law, better known as Obamacare. As the party’s presumptive vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, said last week, “[T]he president took $716 billion from the Medicare program — he raided it — to pay for Obamacare.”