News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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A top official looks at health care in California
Capitol Weekly

At the epicenter of the health-care discussion in California is Diana Dooley, Gov. Brown’s Secretary for Health and Human Services and the chair of the landmark Health Benefit Exchange, the mechanism that will push ahead federal health care reforms in the state. Capitol Weekly’s Greg Lucas sat down with Dooley last week for an extensive interview.

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Not-for-Profit Hospitals Show Stability in a Challenging Market
Health Leaders Media

Many not-for-profit hospitals have done a good job stabilizing margins after the Great Recession but still face continued challenges with flat inpatient volumes, healthcare reform mandates, and lower reimbursements linked to government budget pressures, a new report from Moody’s Investors Service says. The bond rating agency’s report, U.S. Not-for-Profit Hospital Medians Show Operating Stability Despite Flat Inpatient Volumes and Shift to Government Payers, shows that balance sheet measures improved and cash and investments portfolios remained highly liquid.

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Enter, stage left, the Health Benefit Exchange
Capitol Weekly

The clock is ticking on a crucial aspect of health care reform in California. As the Jan. 1, 2014 deadline approaches, preparations continue at the Health Benefits Exchange, the organization that will oversee the state’s implementation of President Obama’s national healthcare reform. In 2010, California became the first state in the country to enact legislation establishing an exchange, which will allow Californians to shop online for coverage at competitive prices.

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Crackdown on small-business healthcare self-insurance faces delay
Los Angeles Times

Efforts to more closely regulate a controversial form of healthcare self-insurance being sold to small employers ran into business opposition in the final weeks of the Legislature’s session and got shelved for now.

But California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and other backers of the crackdown on company self-insurance vow to bring back the legislation, possibly during a special session on healthcare expected in December.

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How reform is impacting the health care experience
SmartBusiness

Long before the Supreme Court upheld health care reform, health care organizations had begun implementation of substantial changes, moving from a system of caring for the sick to one focused on improving each individual’s health and wellness.

Today’s consumers are increasingly taking control of their health and collaborating as true members of health care teams — for the betterment of themselves and of their communities. To learn more, Smart Business turned to Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System and past chair of the California Hospital Association.

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At DNC, Democrats tout benefits of healthcare reform
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare politics were a constant refrain during Monday’s organizational meetings for the Democratic National Convention, which officially launches Tuesday.

Party leaders regularly invoked popular provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in pre-convention addresses to the various councils representing different demographic and interest groups to which the party is focusing its appeal.

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Democrats’ party platform promotes healthcare security
Modern Healthcare

Democrats used their first party platform since enactment of the healthcare overhaul to promote the most popular provisions of the law and to promise that more benefits are coming. The 2012 Democratic National Platform, released early Tuesday, stated the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will provide “the security that comes with good health care.”

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HHS takes steps toward protecting transgender people under health-care law
Washington Post

In a recent letter hailed by advocates in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, the Department of Health and Human Services clarified that provisions in the Affordable Care Act prohibiting sex discrimination in health insurance apply to transgender people. With HHS declaring that it would be discriminatory for employers, insurers and others to deny health insurance coverage or benefits based on “gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity,” advocates hope that transgender people — those who identify with a sex other than the one they were born as — will take another step toward achieving equality in health care.

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Group seeks reductions in C-sections at Oxnard rally
Ventura County Star

Waving signs and holding babies, close to 30 people rallied on Labor Day in Oxnard to oppose what they said are risky interventions in births.

Spokeswoman Martine Sanchez said the rally was part of a national event that debuted in more than 100 cities Monday. It was organized by ImprovingBirth.org, a group that says unneeded Cesarean sections expose women and infants to major health risks without cause.

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Forget Marcus Welby: Today’s docs want a real life
San Mateo Daily Journal

Don’t call today’s young doctors slackers. True, they may shun a 24/7 on-call solo practice and try to have a life outside of work. Yet they say they’re just as committed to medicine as kindly Marcus Welby from 1970s TV, or even grumpy Dr. House. The practice of medicine is in the midst of an evolution, and millennial and Gen X doctors seem to be perfectly suited for it and in some ways may be driving it. The federal health care law is speeding some of these changes, too.

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Restaurants deny Healthy S.F. needs fix
San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco’s cutting-edge universal health care program continues to be roundly applauded for its goal of ensuring all city residents have medical care – but the way employers are paying for it, or sometimes not paying for it, remains a major controversy at City Hall. At Supervisor David Campos’ urging, the Board of Supervisors is expected to hold a hearing this month or next on businesses, primarily restaurants, that levy a surcharge on customers’ bills to pay for Healthy San Francisco, but pocket some of the money themselves.

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Few doctors know how to treat addiction. A new program aims to change that.
Washington Post

They are seen every day in doctors’ offices, outpatient clinics and hospital emergency rooms: men in their 50s with bleeding ulcers; young adults pulled from car crashes; middle-aged women fighting a losing battle against chronic pain.

As dissimilar as they seem, many of these patients are also suffering from another illness — alcohol or drug abuse — that is at the root of the more obvious ailments that keep them cycling through the medical system. Even so, their addiction is rarely addressed by doctors.

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Autism can have large effects, good and bad, on a disabled child’s siblings
Washington Post

One of the least fun moments I recall from my years of growing up with an autistic brother was when he bit me on the cheek — just in time for my class photo. I was 12 and he was 11. I went into school with visible bite marks, and when they sat me in the chair for my solo shot, I told them that the cat had done it.

That’s one of the bad stories. As for a good one . . . um, to be honest, I have a hard time coming up with much.

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San Jose physician pushing for equal health care access at both political conventions
The Mercury News

San Jose native Dr. Rita Nguyen is spending most of her two-week summer vacation on a bus, visiting the Republican and Democratic National Conventions with one goal in mind: spreading the word about affordable quality health care for all. As a member of Doctors For America, a group of 15,000 U.S. physicians and medical students working to improve the health of the nation by ensuring that everyone has access to health care, Nguyen is passionate about the tour’s message, called “Patients Over Politics.”

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New Massachusetts healthcare reform law has strong support
Modern Healthcare

Despite lingering questions about compliance obligations and potential market fallout, health insurers and employer advocacy groups in Massachusetts largely support a new state law designed to limit escalation in medical care costs.

Scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1, Massachusetts’ health care payment reform law will hold health care providers and insurers jointly responsible for maintaining annual medical cost growth rates in proportion with the rate of growth in the state’s overall economy.

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Fixing Medicare requires seniors to pay quite a bit more
Los Angeles Times

In the Obama campaign’s attack on the Romney-Ryan proposal to “voucherize” Medicare, one accusation is that the plan would force seniors to pay more of their healthcare costs: about $6,400 more per beneficiary, according to a recent TV ad known as “Facts.” Regardless of the “facts” in the ad, this attack takes as a given that any such outcome is undesirable.

Yet asking seniors to pay substantially more is precisely the way to improve Medicare. Here’s why.

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Burnout
The Health Care Blog

It happened again. I was talking to a particularly sick patient recently who related another bad experience with a specialist. “He came in and started spouting that he was busy saving someone’s life in the ER, and then he didn’t listen to what I had to say,” she told me. ”I know that he’s a good doctor and all, but he was a real jerk!” This was a specialist that I hold in particular high esteem for his medical skill, so I was a little surprised and told her so.

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Building a Medical Practice: Does Government Help or Hinder?
The Health Care Blog

Over 30 years ago, I began a cardiology group practice in St. Petersburg, Florida, Bay Area Heart Center. I invested $30,000––all of my savings at the time, and worked 90-110 hours per week for three years before I hired a partner. Since then the practice has grown to about 50 employees, including twelve physicians. I was taken aback by President Obama’s recent remark, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

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