News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Blue Shield of Calif. announces eighth ACO
Modern Healthcare

Blue Shield of California announced plans for an accountable care organization with Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz, Calif., and Physicians Medical Group of Santa Cruz County. It is the insurer’s eighth ACO. The agreement will seek to hold healthcare costs largely flat for enrollees during the first year, according to a news release announcing the deal, which will cover about 8,000 managed-care enrollees and last at least 36 months.

Costs will rise with percentage increases in the low single digits for the second and third years, the release said.

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CBO cuts healthcare spending projections
Modern Healthcare

A $160 billion net decrease from earlier projected federal healthcare spending estimates helped slow somewhat the federal government’s expected accumulation of debt over the coming decade, according to Congress’ budget scorekeeper. The decrease comes despite projections that spending on Medicare and Medicaid providers will increase over the coming decade by $163 billion more than was previously expected, according to a revised outlook from the Congressional Budget Office.

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Aetna-Coventry signals Health Net, WellCare takeovers
San Francisco Chronicle

With takeovers of managed care providers exceeding $14 billion in less than a year, Health Net Inc. and WellCare Health Plans Inc. are among the last remaining targets as aging baby boomers and the new health-care law boost demand. Aetna Inc. said this week it will expand further into plans administering Medicare and Medicaid with a $5.6 billion purchase of Coventry Health Care Inc., the biggest takeover of a U.S. health maintenance organization since 2005, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Stanford Hospital buys CareCounsel health advocacy specialist
San Francisco Business Times

Stanford Hospital & Clinics said late Wednesday it has acquired privately held CareCounsel, which provides employer-sponsored health advocacy and health-care assistance services to 150,000 employees, retirees and their family members. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The 16-year-old San Rafael company helps individuals navigate their way through the health care world using an employer-sponsored benefit.

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Blue Shield of California, Dominican Hospital and Physicians Medical Group to collaborate on coordinated care model to improve quality and reduce healthcare costs
redOrbit

Blue Shield of California, Dominican Hospital and Physicians Medical Group of Santa Cruz County (PMG) today announced a three-year accountable care initiative designed to provide integrated, cost-efficient healthcare to approximately 8,000 Blue Shield HMO members in Santa Cruz County.

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Oral health can be a key to overall health
Sacramento Bee

Your mouth is the gateway to your body, and can affect the health of the rest of your body. Did you know that more than 6 billion bacteria are present inside the mouth?

In essence, you have more bacteria in your mouth than the Earth’s human population! Most of the bacteria in the mouth are harmless, but the wrong bacteria in your mouth can led to tooth decay, gingivitis, heart disease and kidney disease.

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Calif. bill would lower cost of chemotherapy pills
Fresno Bee

Patients undergoing chemotherapy would pay less for pill-based treatments under legislation sent to the governor Wednesday over the objections of some health plans and insurers.

The state Assembly passed AB1000 on 51-12 vote.

It would prohibit health plans and insurance policies from charging more for covering oral chemotherapy than for the intravenous treatment.

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State looking at new rules for autism coverage
Sacramento Business Journal

State regulators have released proposed emergency regulations on health plan coverage of controversial behavioral therapy for autism — with a short window of five days for public comment. Health plans are required to provide the services under state law, effective July 1. Yet Senate Bill 946, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, does not apply to insurers or health plans that contract with the state’s Healthy Families program or the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

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500 Primary Care Practices Named to CMS Payer Partnership
Health Leaders Media

A select group of primary care practices will receive financial incentives to support enhanced, coordinated services on behalf of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Wednesday. Some 500 primary care practices in eight states have been chosen by CMS to participate in a four-year pilot called the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative (CPCI).

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County health care agency names new administrators
Ventura County Star

A longtime nursing executive at Ventura County Medical Center has been named lead administrator of the county health system’s two hospitals, reportedly becoming the first woman and nurse to hold the position.

Cyndie Cole, part of the county system since 1985, has already begun work as hospital administrator and deputy director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency. She leads the 223-bed medical center in Ventura as well as the 49-bed Santa Paula Hospital.

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State struggles with limiting felons in home health care jobs
The Bay Citizen

Three years after the state barred felons from serving as publicly funded home health caretakers, people with criminal histories in theft, prostitution and drug possession have continued to care for the state’s most vulnerable and frail residents.

The situation has led to calls for tougher laws from some district attorneys and lawmakers, who worry the In-Home Supportive Services program is rife with loopholes.

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Father’s age tied to risk of autism
Sacramento Bee

Older men are more likely than young ones to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia, because of random mutations that become more numerous with advancing paternal age, scientists reported on Wednesday, in the first study to quantify the effect as it builds each year. The age of mothers had no bearing on the risk for these disorders, the study found.

Experts said that the finding was hardly reason to forgo fatherhood later in life, though it may have some influence on reproductive decisions.

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Obesity surgery can help prevent diabetes
USA Today

Doctors are reporting a new benefit from weight-loss surgery — preventing diabetes. Far fewer obese people developed that disease if they had stomach-shrinking operations rather than usual care to try to slim down, a large study in Sweden found. The results, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, are provoking fresh debate about when adjustable bands and other bariatric procedures should be offered.

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Health disparities found among black, white and Latino children
Los Angeles Times

Black and Latino children were more likely than white children to be obese, witness gun violence and ride in a car without a seat belt, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found wide ethnic and racial disparities in health behaviors among fifth-graders in Los Angeles, Houston and Birmingham, Ala.

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Senate passes bill expanding aid to pregnant teens
San Francisco Chronicle

The state Senate has passed a bill that would provide cash aid to pregnant teens if they lack financial support. Lawmakers passed AB1640 by Democratic Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles on a 24-12 vote Wednesday. It now moves back to the Assembly for a final vote. Sen. Carol Liu, a Democrat from Pasadena, says the bill allows pregnant teens with no other dependents to become eligible for CalWORKS, the state’s welfare-to-work program. Currently, the state delays aid until the teen’s third trimester.

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Jack Hickey seeks a different seat on the Sequoia Healthcare District board than the one he already has
The Mercury News

In an unusual but legal move, Jack Hickey is running this fall for a seat on the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors, even though he already sits on the board, halfway through his third term. Hickey, who first sought a seat on the board in 2002 with a mission to dismantle it, said a win on Nov. 6 would show that voters agree the district should cease to exist and the tax dollars it collects should be distributed to other agencies.

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Is your doctor burned out?
CNN.com

Job burnout can strike workers in nearly any field, but a new study finds that doctors are at special risk. Nearly 1 in 2 U.S. physicians report at least one symptom of burnout, with doctors at the front line of care particularly vulnerable, the study found — a significantly higher rate than among the general working population.

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Palm Drive Hospital hires new CEO
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

A veteran health care administrator has been hired as Palm Drive Hospital’s chief executive officer, the Sebastopol hospital’s 10th in the past five years.

Tom Harlan, 66, who moved to Sebastopol last year, will be paid $237,000 a year. He will start Sept. 4.

The hospital board made the selection on Tuesday.

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Why Medicare Matters
The Health Care Blog

Now that Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan to be his running mate, a major national debate on Representative Ryan’s so-called ‘premium support’ plan has become certain. Ryan’s plan would replace the current Medicare program for workers under the age of 55. When eligible, they would receive a flat dollar amount—or voucher—that would cover part of the cost of a health insurance plan.

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