News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Medicare Cuts Threaten 766K Healthcare Jobs, Groups Say
Health Leaders Media

As many as 766,000 healthcare and related jobs could be lost by 2021 with the 2% sequester of Medicare spending that goes into effect Jan. 1, the nation’s leading healthcare professional associations said in a joint warning on Wednesday. The American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the American Nurses Association issued a report Wednesday morning detailing the state-by-state impact of the sequestration as part of their coordinated effort to urge Congress to fix the problem.

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The Calif. Pilot That Could Prove ACOs Work
California Healthline

Or at least, researchers — armed with data that attempt to quantify ACOs‘ impact — made their way to Washington, D.C., last week, drawn to a Health Affairs roundtable on payment reform. Economist Austin Frakt discussed his study, conducted with UC-Berkeley researcher Rick Mayes, on how lessons from capitation have informed ACO development.

Harvard University’s Joel Weissman presented a report that examined the design and implementation of shared savings formulas across various actual programs.

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Pacific Legal Foundation challenges Affordable Care Act as tax
Sacramento Business Journal

In a new spin to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that a penalty levied on folks who fail to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act is a tax, the Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation has launched legal action alleging the tax is illegal because it was introduced in the Senate rather than the House. Revenue-raising bills are required by the origination clause in the U.S. Constitution to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, PLF attorneys allege in an amended complaint to an existing lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court in the District Columbia.

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Uninsured Rate Shrinking, Census Data Shows
Health Leaders Media

Data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau holds good news for the Obama administration as it continues to work to convince a dubious electorate of the power of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

During 2011, the first full year of healthcare reform, fewer people were uninsured than in 2010. Some 48.6 million Americans representing 15.7% of the total population were uninsured compared to 49.9 million uninsured in 2010.

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San Joaquin General to replace outdated sterilizer equipment
Lodi News-Sentinel

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors agreed to spend $250,000 to replace outdated equipment needed to sterilize items used for surgery and maternity procedures at San Joaquin General Hospital. The need is so acute that the Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency on Tuesday to exempt the county from the competitive bid process and having to get approval by public works. The board instead awarded the contract to a company known as Belimed.

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Kaiser Permanente opens new Anaheim Medical Center
Los Angeles Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente Orange County has opened a new, 262-bed Anaheim Medical Center that will expand its health care services to the area. The 434,000-square-foot hospital on La Palma Avenue replaces the current Kaiser Permanente Lakeview Hospital which opened in 1979. Kaiser said the hospital combines cutting-edge technology with a “peaceful, patient-centered, healing environment.”

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S.J. General declares emergency over equipment
RecordNet

San Joaquin General Hospital’s two steam sterilizers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But they’re old and need repair, sometimes at the same time, which has delayed surgical cases, according to county hospital staff.

So the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to declare an emergency, allowing the hospital to circumvent the typical bidding process and shave off months of the time it could take to install new equipment at the hospital.

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Health Net faces suit over refusals to cover treatments
Los Angeles Times

Robert Mendoza of Monrovia says he had to come up with about $30,000 last year to pay for a cancer surgery that his insurer, Health Net Inc., refused to cover because it wasn’t considered “medically necessary.”

Kalana Penner of La Cañada Flintridge says she had the same problem when her doctor recommended surgery for a serious nerve condition, and once again Health Net said it wouldn’t pay. Finally, she got California insurance officials last year to order the Woodland Hills insurer to cover it.

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Mixed views aired on insurance exchange guidance
Modern Healthcare

As a panel of experts and a handful of lawmakers decried a lack of clarity from HHS and a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the health insurance exchanges, others at a federal hearing Wednesday said those states with the political will have made progress and will continue to do so.

“Certainly what I’m seeing is that states that want to move have enough information and are moving,” Heather Howard, director of the State Health Reform Assistance Network, told Modern Healthcare after testifying about exchanges before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.

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Hospital program receives award
RecordNet

San Joaquin General Hospital’s family practice residency training program has received an award of $154,845 through the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development’s Song-Brown grant program.

It represents one of the largest single awards among 29 totaling $2.89 million issued to family practice residency programs around the state in its continuing effort to increase the numbers of primary care physicians in California.

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SVMH CEO search panel formed
The Californian - Salinas

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital’s Board of Directors voted unanimously at a special meeting Tuesday night to form a search committee to find a chief executive officer for the hospital.

The committee will be comprised of all five directors and three members of the medical staff, said spokeswoman Adrienne Laurent.

The committee will work with the Witt/Kieffer executive search firm to find a CEO to replace interim CEO Lowell Johnson.

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High-risk pools likely ‘unsustainable’: Commonwealth Fund
Modern Healthcare

Expansion of Medicaid and newly created insurance exchanges would do more than high-risk pools to offer adults with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health benefits, the Commonwealth Fund said in a new report. Risk pools to cover uninsured individuals who have pre-existing conditions would be “extremely expensive and likely unsustainable,” the Commonwealth Fund said.

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Probe finds Sebelius broke federal law
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has concluded that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated federal law when she made “extemporaneous partisan remarks” during a speech she gave last February in Charlotte, N.C., in her official capacity as head of HHS.

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Dems defend birth control coverage mandate
Modern Healthcare

Democrats defended the Obama administration’s requirement that Catholic hospitals cover birth control services as comparable to federal efforts to desegregate Southern hospitals, during a Wednesday congressional hearing.

The hearing on a range of actions by the administration that Republicans criticized as “abuses” partly focused on the requirement that all insurance plans—including self-insured plans frequently used by religious employers—cover various types of birth control.

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Census report: More insured as poverty rate holds steady
Market Watch

Today’s census numbers on poverty show that more people had healthcare in 2011. The report found that the percentage of people without healthcare coverage fell from 16.3 percent to 15.7 percent and the number of uninsured dropped from 50 million to 48.6 million.

Below are some highlights from the Census Bureau’s findings:

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Fewer Americans without health insurance for first time since 2007
The Business Journal

The number of Americans without health insurance declined last year to 48.6 million, down from 50 million in 2010, according to the Census Bureau. The share of Americans without insurance dropped to 15.7 percent, compared with 16.3 percent in 2010. That’s the first drop in the uninsured rate since 2007. The Census Bureau attributed the decline to two reasons:

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How California ranks in income, poverty and health insurance
Sacramento Bee

California’s median household income of $53,367 was only slightly higher than the national median last year while its poverty rate and its medically uninsured population were among the nation’s highest, according to a new Census Bureau report. The national median income in inflation-adjusted dollars was $50,054, a 1.5 percent decline from 2010. Fourteen other states topped California in median household income last year, with Maryland the highest at $68,876 and South Carolina the lowest at $40,084.

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