News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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CMS Taps 27 ACOs to Start Shared Savings Program
Health Leaders Media

Using the term “phenomenal” at least three times to describe the health industry’s response, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services executive on Tuesday named 27 accountable care organizations to begin the Medicare Shared Savings Program April 1. Another 150 groups have submitted applications in hope of being accepted for the second group, to start July 1.

“There were some who doubted last year that the rule-making process would produce any ACOs,” CMS’s deputy administrator Jonathan Blum said in a media briefing Tuesday.

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Drug-shortage bill needs penalties: AHA
Modern Healthcare

The American Hospital Association said civil monetary penalties are needed to enforce the early notification requirement included in the Senate working group’s discussion draft of a drug-shortage bill.

In a letter to Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) (PDF), the AHA said that draft is a “significant first step forward … However, we also believe the draft can be further improved to ensure that the true goal of eliminating generic drug shortages is accomplished.”

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State moves closer to setting health insurance standards
Ventura County Star

State lawmakers this week moved toward establishing a minimum standard of coverage that all individual and small-group health insurance policies will have to provide after federal health-care reform takes effect in 2014. The benchmark plan, approved by the health committees in both the Senate and Assembly this week, is the one currently offered as the Kaiser Small Group HMO — a plan that Senate Health Committee Chairman Ed Hernandez, D-Los Angeles, described as one that “balances affordability with coverage of important benefits.”

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Health IT: The Common Ground in Health Care Reform?
California Healthline

Outside the Supreme Court building last month, the crowds of people proclaiming their support or opposition to the Affordable Care Act proved that the federal health care overhaul remains a divisive and highly partisan issue. Stakeholders on one side of the political spectrum touted the law’s current and future benefits, while stakeholders on the other side called for a complete repeal of the legislation.

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AMA, AHA weigh in on shared-savings ACOs
Modern Healthcare

The American Medical Association applauded physicians’ leading role in many of the 27 healthcare organizations (PDF) designated as the first Medicare Shared Savings Program accountable care organizations, while the American Hospital Association expressed support for accountable care’s expansion.

The AMA, in a news release, praised the fact that more than half of the first Medicare Shared Savings ACOs are being led by physicians and said that this bodes well for long-term physician interest and participation in the program.

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Hospitals urged to train staff on visitation policies
Modern Healthcare

Now that nearly all hospitals are legally required to grant full visitation privileges to patients’ same-sex partners, experts say it’s time for hospital boards to adopt new visitation policies and train staff on following them.

A publication issued jointly by the American Health Lawyers Association and the Human Rights Campaign (PDF) urges hospital officials to examine their visitation rules and make sure they comply with the new Medicare condition of participation and the Joint Commission’s revised standards on protecting and promoting patient rights.

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Book Excerpt: Are You Ready for an ACO Environment?
Health Leaders Media

You have read about the ACO requirements and anticipated changes. Now, for the difficult decision—do you want to join an ACO? Hospital administrators, physicians, practice managers, and other healthcare professionals can face this question. One of the first steps is to conduct a self-analysis to determine if you and/or your organization support the ACO philosophies.

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Lawmakers Question Health Districts’ Spending
The Bay Citizen

Taxpayer-funded health care districts should reduce their administrative costs, spend more on public health programs and stop stockpiling money for dubious projects, critics told a state legislative oversight committee Wednesday.

Public health officials and taxpayer groups urged lawmakers to demand more accountability from the roughly 30 health care districts in California that no longer run hospitals, in a departure from their original mission.

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Lawmakers ask about HHS funds going to IRS
Modern Healthcare

Concerned that the Internal Revenue Service may be receiving additional funding from HHS to implement the healthcare reform law, two House lawmakers have asked the federal agency to answer a series of questions by the month’s end.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a physician who serves as chairman of the tax panel’s oversight subcommittee, sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman (PDF) asking if the IRS intends to seek additional funds from HHS to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Hospital receives grant
Redlands Daily Facts

Redlands Community Hospital Foundation received a $100,000 grant from Stater Bros. Charities and Inland Women Fighting Cancer to improve access to care for cancer patients. A check presentation was held at Redlands Community Hospital on April 3. Redlands Community Hospital is one of several local organizations that will benefit from the Annual Believe Walk, which is held in downtown Redlands.

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Hospital, doc-office PPI figures rose in March
Modern Healthcare

Wholesale acute-care hospital price increased 0.3% in March after a 0.1% climb the prior month, preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index show. In March 2011, acute-care wholesale prices rose 0.2%. For the year that ended last month, the index reflects a 2% increase in wholesale acute-care hospital prices compared with 1.8% the prior year. For physician offices, wholesale prices increased 0.6% in March and 0.1% in February, according to preliminary numbers. For the month of March 2011, the physician office prices increased a more modest 0.1%.

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Tribal clinic uses native foods to fight diabetes
California Watch

To walk into the central gathering space of the Potawot Health Village in Arcata, a multi-tribal health clinic, is to be made instantly aware of the concept of traditional native food as medicine. “Got Acorns?” reads a poster. “Got salmon?” “Got seaweed?”

Built, administered and owned by American Indians, Potawot is at the front line of a national resurgence among native peoples to address the link between the loss of ancestral native foods and disproportionate rates of diabetes and other chronic diseases.

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Simi Valley Hospital Recognized for Blood Donation Efforts
San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Simi Valley Hospital was honored by the American Red Cross for its blood donation activities.

Dhobie Wong, director of SVH’s Clinical Laboratory, accepted the hospital’s bronze-level award at the American Red Cross sponsor recognition breakfast last month. The hospital was recognized for achieving an average of 70 to 79 percent donor participation during blood drives held last year.

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Dartmouth Atlas: Poor Care for Terminal Cancer Patients Widespread
Health Leaders Media

In a study that surprised its researchers, National Cancer Institute-designated hospitals as well as academic centers provided their dying oncology patients the same low level of palliative, comfort care or hospice services as community hospitals.

And overall, the amount of aggressive and futile care, such as chemotherapy in the last two weeks of life, was disturbingly higher than expected across all hospital types, and not according to established quality measures, with wide variation among hospitals within each type.

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Senate candidate lobbied health care bill she opposes
Sacramento Bee

It is one challenge that the California Republican Party’s anointed U.S.

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Dickinson questions whether California hospital districts are past their prime
Sacramento Bee

After World War II, California lawmakers created taxpayer-funded hospital districts to serve rural and poor regions, particularly as soldiers required medical care at home.

Some of California’s remaining 73 districts still treat residents who would otherwise go without medical services.

But in a wealthy Southern California beach community, property taxes that once paid for hospital beds now subsidize a 16,000-square-foot playroom with a rock-climbing wall and ropes course, as well as a fitness center that offers yoga and Pilates classes.

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Court should give Congress a do-over on health-care reform
Modesto Bee

Last week, President Barack Obama laid down a marker to the Supreme Court: Invalidate the health care law, and the court itself will become an issue in the election. He warned the justices against taking the “unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

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GOP Senate hopeful defends lobbying on Obama health care bill
Sacramento Bee

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Emken this week defended her work lobbying to include autism coverage in the federal health care overhaul backed by President Barack Obama in 2009, even though she opposed the bill. Emken, one of 23 candidates challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the June 5 ballot, has come under fire from Republican opponents over records showing Autism Speaks sought to influence the outcome of the legislation when she was listed as a top lobbyist for the nonprofit advocacy group.

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Silicon Valley Health Care Hero finalists named
San Jose Business Journal

We polled our community: Who are the best doctors, nurses, researchers, social workers, administrators and others in the health care industry? And our community responded. For our second annual Health Care Heroes publication, we received nearly 100 nominations. Health Care Heroes is a special publication and awards event that seeks out the best of the best in the Silicon Valley health scene.

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