News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Flu shot bill lacks penalty for health workers
The Mercury News

Health care workers who don’t get a flu shot wouldn’t have to wear a mask under an amended bill that state lawmakers sent to the governor on Thursday. The initial bill was designed to encourage health care workers to get influenza vaccines so they don’t infect patients. But the California Nurses Association opposed a provision requiring unvaccinated medical employees to wear surgical masks while seeing patients during flu season.

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Organization, skilled subcontractors key for complicated hospital construction
Sacramento Business Journal

Thousands of construction jobs were lost during the Great Recession, but one constant has remained: The $724 million expansion of Sutter Medical Center in midtown Sacramento. The first designs were drawn up about a decade ago. The first shovel of dirt was turned in 2005. By the time it is finished in 2014, hundreds of construction workers will have spent thousands of hours on the site near 28th Street and Capitol Avenue. Someone born on ground-breaking day will be in third grade when the first patients move in.

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Whether smokers should pay more is among the questions in California health care debate
Sacramento Bee

Should smokers pay more for health insurance? The issue was one of several that California lawmakers considered this week as they sent Gov. Jerry Brown bills that carry out the federal health care overhaul by 2014.

Health organizations successfully won provisions that prohibit insurers from charging tobacco users higher premiums on the individual market.

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Dispute between Aetna, California Medical Assn. heats up
Los Angeles Times

Two healthcare heavyweights are exchanging sharper blows and more patients may be caught in the middle of this fight over medical payments.

This week, the California Medical Assn., the largest physician group in the state with 35,000 members, accused health insurance giant Aetna Inc. of refusing to negotiate with member doctors or kicking physicians out of its insurance network as retaliation for a lawsuit filed last month. As a result, the association said, Aetna may be limiting patients’ access to their regular doctors.

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DA drops remaining charge against Tri-City director
North County Times

The San Diego County district attorney’s office has dropped a remaining misdemeanor charge of wrongful influence against Tri-City Medical Center Director Kathleen Sterling, who had been accused of illegally voting on an item in which she had a financial interest.

District attorney Bonnie Dumanis issued a statement Thursday saying the matter had been dismissed “in the interest of justice” after prosecutors determined the case wasn’t strong enough to move forward.

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Program fills void that patients in crisis face
Sacramento Bee

When Leslie Napper finds herself in a mental health crisis, the only place to go now is the worst place to go – the nearest hospital emergency department.

There, doctors ill-equipped to treat mental health crises attend to trauma injuries while Napper and others like her lie on gurneys in hallways for days at a time.

“There’s no choice but to wait it out. One could easily go into a full-blown crisis in the ED,” says Napper, who’s been haunted by hallucinations – what she calls her “shadow people” – since she was a teen.

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Feds notify hospitals of liability for wrongly implanted heart devices
Modern Healthcare

In what experts say is a novel legal tactic to resolve hundreds of ongoing investigations simultaneously, the Justice Department is e-mailing hospitals across the country today with instructions to examine questionable implantable defibrillator surgeries on Medicare patients and estimate potential penalties under the False Claims Act.

Hospitals face a wide range of potential damages.

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Lawmakers tackle health care issues, parks funds as end of session nears
Ventura County Star

Working to meet a midnight Friday deadline, lawmakers sent to Gov. Jerry Brown bills that would pave the way for implementation of federal health care reform, prevent state parks from closing for at least two years by allocating $20 million in previously undisclosed park funds and establish consumer protections for people who purchase used vehicles from so-called “buy here, pay here” car lots.

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Romney’s key goals include repeal of healthcare reform law
Modern Healthcare

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney electrified the crowd at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday when he vowed to repeal the 2010 healthcare law if he’s elected president in November.

That promise came when Romney laid out five goals that he and vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) plan to tackle if they win the White House this fall.

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Health Care: A Real Fixer-Upper
Workforce Management

In 1929 when Baylor University Hospital began offering prepaid hospital visits for 50 cents a month to a small group of public school teachers in Dallas—a program that would morph into iconic insurance giant Blue Cross—few could have predicted that decades later most Americans would get their health care coverage through their employers. What soon became known as a “fringe benefit” is now an expected part of any competitive compensation package.

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Aetna: Valley Santé patients may need new doctors
Fresno Bee

Thousands of people in the central San Joaquin Valley with Aetna health insurance could have to pick new doctors — or pay a lot more to be seen — beginning Saturday.

Aetna has mailed letters, some arriving only this week, to notify people whose doctors are part of Santé Community Physicians that their doctors will be leaving the insurer’s network of providers on Sept. 1.

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New methods needed to cut Rx spending growth: analysis
Modern Healthcare

The rate of U.S. prescription-drug spending growth has declined in recent years, but payers should consider new methods for reducing drug costs, according to an analysis. The National Institute for Health Care Reform published a policy analysis this month that examines the potential of implementing tools used by Australia, the U.K. and other countries to slow prescription-drug spending in the U.S. market.

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Type A Personality Traits Boost Stroke Risk in Study
CBS47.tv

Need another reason to take life in stride and heed the advice, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”?

New research shows that people who are quick-tempered, impatient, aggressive, or naturally hostile may be more likely to have a stroke, compared to their more laid-back counterparts. Having these type A personality traits was associated with a two-fold increase in stroke risk in the Spanish study, published this week in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

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Medi-Cal recipients warned they could lose day healthcare benefit
Los Angeles Times

State healthcare officials are warning certain Medi-Cal recipients that they are in danger of losing their ability to attend adult day healthcare centers, where they receive nursing care, social services and meals.

To continue receiving the benefit, officially called Community-Based Adult Services, eligible Medi-Cal beneficiaries must be in managed care, according to state officials. Nevertheless, thousands of eligible patients have opted out of managed care, said Jane Ogle, a deputy director at the California Department of Health Care Services.

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A vote to limit health choices
Sacramento Business Journal

On Aug 23, the California Health Benefits Exchange board voted to exclude stand-alone vision plans from offering coverage in the California Health Benefits individual exchange. The reasons given were that these plans are “not allowed” to participate and because of administrative complexity and cost.

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Frame Medicare as problem, ex-CBO chief tells GOP
Modern Healthcare

Between now and November, Republicans should frame their Medicare message first by telling voters the country has a serious problem with the decades-old healthcare program, a former Congressional Budget Office director said on the last day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who led the CBO during the George W. Bush administration from 2003 to 2005, joined fellow panelists Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Republican Utah Gov.

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Study: US tops France, Germany, UK in ‘potentially preventable’ deaths
The Hill

Americans younger than 65 are more likely to die from a lack of timely healthcare than their peers in France, Germany or the United Kingdom, according to a new study. Research published in Health Affairs looked at the rate of “potentially preventable” deaths — deaths before age 75 that could be avoided with timely and effective healthcare — and found that the United States lags behind its U.K. and European peers.

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Autism in California: SB 764 makes healthcare accessible with telehealth
San Francisco Chronicle

Since Matthew’s hospitalization last year, he gets very nervous when he’s not feeling well. “I think I need to go back to the hospital,” he’ll say. If he were living at home, I could see him, size up the situation and reassure him. So the folks at Camphill, having determined that a trip to the hospital was not necessary, suggested that we Skype each other. At first I thought this was a silly idea. Who do they think I am, Jane Jetson? And who looks good on Skype, anyway?

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